Warning! There will be spoilers!
The recent attack on St. Vladimir’s Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose’s neck, a mark that says she’s killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters … Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life’s vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?
Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir’s and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?”
This entire book is just so emotional and tear-jerky, especially when you see Dimitri’s family for the first time. For Rose, it’s one thing hearing about them from Dimitri and it’s another actually standing in their living room, seeing them all interact and live together. She then has to deliver the horrifying news of his ‘death’ and realizes that it’s something that is just as hard to do than to actually look for Dimitri himself.
Once she actually sees Dimitri though, the entire book takes a completely different turn.
“You forget my first lesson: Don’t hesitate.”
It’s so heartbreaking to see such a former lively, warm and compassionate Dimitri turn into something that is so cruel, cold and to see how he speaks so lightly about killing innocent people. As a reader, it’s also especially hard to see Rose slowly turning into a blood whore for him, whilst completely losing her senses, considering becoming a Strigoi. It’s extremely conflicting for her, and for us while we read it as well. On the one hand, you have the soulless creature he has turned in to, but then on the other hand there are things that he says to Rose that almost makes sense and you at some parts you almost want her to give into it. (Damn you, Richelle Mead).
However, you can see that although Dimitri treats her well and always tells her that he’ll be there for her, love is never involved. The capability for love is something that he has now lost, and that’s essentially what spurs Rose to action and gets her to a point where she finds it within herself to stake him.
“I’m not doing this to awaken you, Roza. A bit like this won’t turn you. This…well this is just for fun…”
“I’d said it before and meant it: Alive or undead, the love of my life was a badass.”
“With a speed he wasn’t ready for, I struck out and plunged the stake through his chest. My strength was there – sliding the stake past the ribs and straight into his heart. And as I did it, it was like piercing my own heart at the same time.”
“I looked him in the eye. “I will always love you.”
Then I plunged the stake into his chest. It wasn’t as precise a blow as I would have liked, not with the skilled way he was dodging. I struggled to get the stake in deep enough to his heart, unsure if I could do it fro this angle. Then, his struggles stopped. His eyes stared at me, stunned, and his lips parted, almost into a smile, albeit a grisly and pained one.
“That’s what I was supposed to say…” he gasped out.”
The entire showdown at the bridge is probably the most heartbreaking scene of all six books, it makes me cry each time I read it. But I also think that this is the one moment where Rose truly comes to terms with what she has to do for Dimitri. While I no doubt think that before she was set on killing him, I don’t think she fully comprehended the full weight of what that really meant and how it would kill her along with it. It is one of the moments where she is being completely selfless, thinking only of Dimitri’s wellbeing.
This makes the fact that Rose gets that letter from Dimitri at the end that much harder for her to bear. However, you can also see the resolve in her as she processes what she has learned about being able to restore a Strigoi to their original form. This small spark of hope is something that keeps her going, and also keeps the readers going. What makes it even harder is knowing that she’s going to have to stay at the Academy for a couple more months before being able to delve into this crazy mission.
“You forgot another lesson: Never turn your back until you know your enemyis dead. Looks like we’ll have to go over the lesson again the next time I see you—which will be soon.
I also really like how we have the parallel plot going on with Lissa. It’s nice how Rose’s bond with her allows the reader to also get the full scope of what’s going on in the Academy. It also shows that no matter how far apart Rose and Lissa are, they are still linked, and Rose will always lay down her life for her.
I just absolutely hate Avery, especially what she did to Lissa and Christian as a couple. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching to see my absolute favorite couple of all time break up, even though it wasn’t Lissa’s fault at all.
However, although Avery did manage to do a lot of damage to Lissa, I think this time alone from both Rose and Christian sparks a strength within Lissa that we hadn’t seen before, which will only continue to grow.
And then there’s Sydney. Ah, innocent, completely manipulated Sydney, who you can already see taking the first few steps to becoming more trusting of the Moroi and dhampirs. It’s funny to see the two girls interact with each other, considering how polar opposites they are.
What I also found extremely amusing were the conversations between Rose and Abe. Reading the book with the prior knowledge that he is her father is truly something, since you can see so much of him in her. The stubbornness, his zeal for doing what he thinks is best and the way he is extremely forthcoming.
Rose’s discovery of him being her father is also extremely hilarious, but you can definitely see that their relationship has only just begun and that there’s still lots to come.
“Dream, eh? That” the Moroi said, with a very slightest hint of a smile, “is not something I hear very often. Well, no.” He reconsidered. “I do occasionally show up in people’s nightmares.”
“Oh God,” I said. “I’m Zmey’s daughter. Zmey Junior. Zmeyette, even.”
Nevertheless, despite the hard topics in this book, it’s nice to see that Richelle still includes the usual snarkiness from Rose, between Adrian, Sydney and Dimitri as well.
“I ignore authority all the time. It’s not hard once you get used to it.”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Rose. Don’t want you to take me for granted.”
“We’re in no danger of that; don’t worry.”
“Why did you come here?” he asked at last.
“Because you hit me on the head and dragged me here.”
“Score one for me. I’d momentarily baffled an undead creature of the night. Sydney would be proud.”
“You know,” mused Adrian, “I kind of liked the idea of us going on the road together.”
“Whatever,” I shot back. “You probably wouldn’t let me drive.”
“Seriously? That’s like homework. There’s a reason I’m not in college.”
I snapped my fingers. “Get to it, Ivashkov. I want to see you put in a good day’s work.”
“No one had ever called me unnatural before, except for the time I put ketchup on my taco. But seriously, we’d been out of salsa, so what else was I supposed to do?”
“I’m like a fine wine. I get better with age. The best is yet to come.”
“I know how devastated you must be to miss me,” his cheery voice said, “I’ll try to ease your agony as soon as possible.”