Alina and Mal have fled the Darkling, but he finds them within a couple of pages because they’re not very good at hiding. He takes them on Sturmhond’s ship to find the sea whip and give Alina another amplifier. But Sturmhond is epic and saves them from the Darkling and catches the sea whip at the same time. Flawless prince. Then they go through the Shadow Fold because he wants to, but whatever, I’ll forgive him. Also, it turns out he really IS a flawless prince, because he’s Nikolai Lantsov, second son of the king of Ravka. He wants Alina to come back to the Little Palace with him, and she does, and takes over the Second Army (of Grisha) while she’s at it, because she’s a BAMF.
Mal is being a prat and Alina is being a badass and Nikolai is being flawless. But then Nikolai’s brother is stupid and makes sure the Darkling is able to get to them and gets everyone killed. In an epic final battle, Alina takes a lot of the Darkling’s power and maybe loses her own. They are taken by the Apparat to hide somewhere underground. Crazy ending.
What went down
- Alina and Mal travel across the sea to escape the Darkling, but I guess they’re not very good at hiding, because it takes him only 16 pages to find them. He uses some creepy shadowy figures to attack her, and them captures them both.
- When Alina wakes up, they’re on a ship sailing back to Ravka. Genya is there, taking care of Alina, and the Darkling, because he is obviously in love with her. Turns out they’re on one of STURMHOND’s ships, who is the captain and already makes his presence being his sarcastic, awesome self.
- Alina learns that they are on their way to find the second of Morozova’s amplifiers (remember the stag?), the sea whip, by using Mal to track it. Also, STURMHOND keeps the Darkling from torturing Alina, because he says she’s his prisoner, but he’s obviously attracted to her. (Who said anything about recaps having to be objective?)
- Mal eventually finds the sea whip, because he’s the most gifted tracker ever apparently. When the Darkling is busy trying to capture the sea whip, another ship appears out of nowhere, and Alina and Mal flee together with STURMHOND and his crew, among which Tolya and Tamar, two badass Grisha Heartrenders we love.
- It turns out STURMHOND has all kinds of Grisha working for him, because everybody loves him, and they all escape the Darkling. Oh, and they also got the sea whip. The Darkling tries to use his creepy shadowy figures again, but soon enough, they are out of range and escaping.
- Mal and Alina kill the sea whip to use some of its scales for a new amplifier, and STURMHOND tells them he is taking her to West Ravka to his client, who paid him to get her. He may not be very trustworthy, but he’s darn awesome anyway.
- From a picture in a book, Alina learns that there are not two but three amplifiers – the stag, the sea whip and a firebird, because she needs all the power she can get to defeat the Darkling. A Fabrikator turns the scales into a fetter around her wrist. From all the sunlight she draws after that, we can assume it works. Mal doesn’t understand or accept her power though.
- When they are about to go ashore in West Ravka, STURMHOND’s ship casually flies into the air, because why not. But actually, they end up going to the Shadow Fold. They’re having a massacre to kill some Volcra’s, for funsies, but things go wrong (aka Alina sees the Darkling in the Fold and things get ugly) and they crash.
- Oh, fun fact: STURMHOND’s face changes and he gets actually handsome. Also, he turns out to be Nikolai Lantsov, the second prince of Ravka. When he tells some soldiers he brought the Sun Summoner home, Alina punches him and it is epic.
- Nikolai/STURMHOND explains that he is helping his country and he asks her to come back to Os Alta with him, because she is Ravka’s only hope. He wants Alina to unite the First and Second Armies and become his Queen. Alina agrees to come with him, but not to marry him. She wants to lead the Second Army.
- Alina also learns that the entire country of Ravka is calling her a Saint – no pressure, or anything. When they are traveling to Os Alta, Nikolai kisses Alina to please the crowd. And because he secretly loves her.
- When they get back to Os Alta, the King and Queen are very happy to see their son, obviously, and though he is hesitant, the King appoints Alina leader of the Second Army. The Grisha aren’t really happy to listen to her, but who cares, Alina turns into a badass and MAKES them listen.
- Alina goes to visit Baghra, the Darkling’s mother, and finds out that he BLINDED her. Not cool. Alina is researching Morozova, because she needs to learn more about his amplifiers. Also, darkness is growing in her.
- When Alina, Mal, Tolya and Tamar go to a party outside the palace, things get messy and they have to flee. When they’re outside, however, they run into the Apparat – the dude that’s been spreading rumors about Alina being a Saint. He asks her to come with him to get stronger, but obviously she refuses, although he claims to have information on Morozova.
- Mal turns even more whiney. When he kisses Alina, she sees the Darkling again and Mal gets annoyed. Oh well.
- Nikolai continues to be fabulous and I want to insert all his quotes here but you will just have to reread the book for those. But seriously. They’re the best. But he does tell Alina he wants to kiss her again and yes please. But he doesn’t. Boo.
- Mal is still an asshole, and he goes to fight Grisha. When Alina goes to see him fight, she catches him kisses Zoya and apparently, enjoying it. Mal and Alina fight, because Mal complains about being commong and wanting the normal Alina back, but Alina can’t. UGH MAL JUST SHUT UP OKAY. Then she has a vision of kissing Mal but actually kisses the Darkling. Poor girl.
- Because Alina is slowly losing her shit, she decides to go out the city gates, where she nearly gets attacked by all the people throwing themselves at her, because they because she’s a Saint. Luckily Tolya and Tamar come to save her. Tolya is freaking pissed at Mal for not being there and nearly chokes him. I love Tolya.
- They think there might be clues about the firebird near Alina’s home, and Mal will go track. Nobody cares, really. Well, Alina does a little.
- Nikolai’s birthday happens, and we learn how incredibly stupid his brother is, because he made a deal with the Fjerdans in the North and opened the roads, which means the Darkling could be on his way. And he actually is. And Nikolai’s brother gets attacked by the nichevo’ya and dies.
- The Darkling and his Grisha and his nichevo’ya (shadow creepers) attack the palace, and Nikolai flees to his flying ship with his parents and important people and disappears. WE DON’T KNOW IF HE IS ALIVE BUT HE HAS TO BE OKAY LEIGH BARDUGO THANKS.
- Alina’s Grisha fight an epic battle, but so many young people die and it’s terrible. They run to a chapel, where the Darkling eventually finds them.
How did it end?
They are trapped in the chapel and Alina tries to negotiate with the Darkling to get her friends to go free if she goes with him because that’s what they always do, dammit Alina, don’t you read books? The Darkling tells her he actually was there all those times she saw him, which is kind of messed up but okay. The Darkling shows her he captured Genya and the nichevo’ya attacked her and she has scars everywhere. To save her friends, Alina goes to the Darkling and gives her power to him.
But then the Darkling’s and Alina’s powers mix or something equally confusing and Alina takes a bit of his power, trying to kill them both. But Mal gets in the way and takes her away when they are both very weak, and Alina tells the nichevo’ya to take him down. Then they escape.
When Alina wakes up, they are in some underground tunnels, taken to the Apparat by the pilgrims, who worship her. But Alina’s power is gone. She can’t summon the sun.
Grisha: People with special powers.
First Army: The “regular” army.
Second Army: The army consisting of Grisha.
Opricknik: The Darkling’s guard.
Corporalki: The heighest of the Grisha. Heartrenders and Healers.
Etherealki: Grisha who can move certain things. Squallers, Inferni and Tidemakers.
Materialki: Grisha with material powers. Alkemi and Durasts.
Shadow Fold/Unsea: A “sea” created by the Black Heretic, inhabited by Volcra (monsters who were once human).
Keramzin: The orphanage Alina and Mal grew up.
Ravka: The country they all live in.
Os Alta: Capital of Ravka
Kribirsk: A city next to the Shadow Fold.
Nichevo’ya: creepy shadow soldiers the Darkling uses.