The wait is finally over. Ruin and Rising, the highly anticipated conclusion to Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, hit shelves last week. And the epic ending doesn’t disappoint. In Rising, Alina and Mal continue their search for Morozova’s last amplifier and simultaneously discover some dark secrets about their past, which changes they way they go about saving Ravka and defeating the Darkling. We won’t, um, ruin, anything because Ruin and Rising is worth the read. Trust us. Here, Bardugo answered a few of our (spoiler-free!) burning questions and teased her upcoming project.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does it feel to finally be done with the series?
LEIGH BARDUGO: Third books are a scary thing. They come with the weight of so much expectation, and I’ve been keenly aware of that. But I’m glad that the book is finally in readers’ hands. Honestly, the task of answering questions while avoiding spoilers has meant some pretty crazy attempts to bob and weave.
What’s the reaction to Ruin and Rising been like so far?
I didn’t know what to expect, so I sort of battened the hatches and prepared for the worst. But thus far, the response has been so gratifying—lots of tears and “You wrecked me, but I’m sorry it’s over.” I know there’s been some anger too, and that’s not surprising. There’s no ending that will make everyone happy and when you have passionate readers, I think you have to accept that they’re going to be vocal in both their enthusiasm and their frustration.
Did you always know how Ruin and Rising would end? Or did it change over the course of the series?
I outline extensively, and the ending of the third book has never changed. There are hints and signposts throughout the series, and I actually worried that too much of what I planned would be given away early.
What about how things end with Alina and Mal? Was that always the planned outcome?
Yes. This has always been the story of two refugees—orphans who the world views as expendable, the impact they have on the future of their country, and the cost that war exacts from them both.
This is probably like picking a favorite child, but now that you’ve had some time to reflect, can you pick a favorite book from the trilogy?
Wow. Ask me in a year? I’m honestly too close to all of them. I think Ruin and Rising is the best written of the three and the most structurally sound, but each book means something different to me. Shadow and Bone was the first. Siege and Storm was challenge and surprise. Ruin and Rising was the opportunity to see a story through to its end.
DreamWorks bought the movie rights to Shadow and Bone. How involved, if at all, are you with the movie process?
At this stage, I’m really just trying to stay out of the way. Publishing and film are such different worlds for writers. From my perspective (and it’s definitely an outsider’s perspective), it seems like a screenwriter creates a blueprint from which the director builds, while a novelist says, “Here’s the house.” Adaptation lies somewhere in between, and if I’m all over the plans trying to move the rooms around, things are going to get messy.
Who would be in your dream cast?
I know the readers have some very strong opinions, but I always end up having to Google the names they throw out, because I’m so out of the loop when it comes to young actors. I tend to say unhelpful things like “How about a young Gary Oldman?” I do hope that whomever they choose to play Alina won’t be too glamorous. She doesn’t start out as a classic beauty and she isn’t meant to become one either.
What other projects are you working on next?
I just turned in the first draft of The Dregs, a new fantasy novel set in the same world as the Grisha Trilogy. It takes place not long after the events of Ruin and Rising, but in a different country and with a new cast of characters. I describe it as my “Oceans 11, Inglourious Basterds, Dirty Dozen, ragtag band of misfits attempting impossible heist” story.