The Gathering Dark
June 7th 2012
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
The Gathering Dark was an interesting fantasy that I really enjoyed after pushing through the first hundred or so pages. Though there were some aspects that annoyed me a little bit, overall it was a pretty good book that I think is pretty accessible as a fantasy to both those that are big fans of the genre and those that don't really care much for it.
Alina was, for quite a bit of the book, one of the reasons that I found it fairly difficult to get into. I didn't dislike her, it's just that for a time she really didn't capture my attention as a heroine. It seemed that for a while, even though she has this awesome power and there's all these things happening, all she could really do was whine about it. She was snarky in places, and this was good in a way, but she was more bark than bite for a lot of it. She would complain about something and then do nothing to try and make life easier for herself, you know? But by the last 200 pages, say, I warmed up to her and she became more interesting and likeable. But I know that a lot of people liked her a lot, so this might just have been me. I did like her by the end, though!
I really liked Mal as a character and a love interest, and he was really lovely, but I think that the Darkling was way more complex and interesting as a character. I would really like to see more of his story from before the series, too, because he sounds like he has a really interesting past. I was definitely more fascinated by him that I was by Mal, even if he was a bit, like, crazy and stuff. I'm very interesting to see which way the series is going to go.
I think that one of the things that disappointed me most about this book is the integration of Tsarist Russian culture into it, because Ravka is meant to be based on Russia. I'll be honest, I didn't see a whole lot of that though the book, and in the next two books I'd really like to see more world development. The setting didn't feel like a character like it usually does in fantasy books, it didn't feel as important as it should, and the world building was kind of a let down for me. But I did really like the idea of the Shadow Fold and it's history and how it came about. Also, the Grisha were pretty cool and I enjoyed learning about them as a group of people and as a culture, though, again, I'd really like to see more about their history.
The plot was really good too, though I felt there were some parts where it dragged a little in the first 200 or so pages, but no where where it dragged so much I just couldn't be bothered. After about the 250 mark, though, the plot got really interesting and I struggled to put it down. The love triangle was really interesting in this, and I'm interested to see how the relationships play out over the rest of the series, and what will happen.
The Gathering Dark is a really good book that took me a little while to warm up to, but that isn't too heavy a fantasy for those that aren't huge fantasy fans to read. A really enjoyable book, but I really hope to see more world development and background in the series.