Fans of Amy Tintera’s Ruined series will get the satisfying conclusion they’re hoping for in Allied.

The Ruined series has been quite a ride up until this point. I mean, the characters have all gone through a lot: stolen identities, assassination plots, battles, the trials and tribulations of love… The first two books covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time — actually, just a few short months to be exact.

Now it’s up to Allied to bring all of the tensions and dangers to a head, in addition to tying up loose ends. This novel finds our heroes, both main and supporting, scattered throughout the kingdom. Iria is dragged back to Olso, awaiting trial for betraying her fellow warriors. Cas, Galo, and Mateo are in Lera, trying to establish a new status quo and figuring out their places within it. And Em and Aren? They’re sticking with Olivia to try to take the edge off of her attacks and cruelty while also trying to figure out a way to stop her and end the tyranny.

Related: Avenged book review: All thriller, no filler

However, though they may be scattered far and wide, their goal is the same: Stop those who threaten the lives of their people and peace in their kingdoms. In the end, that’s what draws them together.

And, may I say, it’s the drawing together of the characters that really makes this book enjoyable. Sometimes the best pairings come from characters who have rarely interacted in the past. Or, well, who rarely got an opportunity to do so. Allied‘s main strength is bringing together characters that we haven’t seen together previously and exploring their relationship (or previous lack thereof).

One of the best pairings is Galo and Aren. Both right hand men and both formidable opponents, these two had never really interacted previously. They had their opinions of each other and played huge parts on their separate sides, but their paths never really crossed. I won’t give anything away, but scenes with Aren and Galo are some of the most interesting and rich in character. And not just because this whole book is about bringing different peoples together and proving that they can live side by side in harmony. In essence, Aren and Galo are an effective proof of concept.

While Ruined and Avenged are very much centered around revenge, plotting, and war, Avenged takes a more diplomatic approach to things — which is interesting given that this is the final book in this exciting series. Sure, there are battles and scenes of violence in Allied, but this installment is much more politically-focused. Our favorite characters are much more concerned about diplomatic strategy and even public perception than they ever were before. Yes, Olivia and other outside forces are still a threat, but Em and Cas are more preoccupied with bettering the lives of their people and figuring out how to move forward.

At first, I was slightly disappointed with this change of pace. I wanted action! Stolen kisses! High stakes! But what I didn’t get at first (and understand now) is that the fates of the Ruined and the Lerans make the stakes as high as can be. There is no winning a war if you don’t have people to fight or people to enjoy the spoils afterwards. Unlike other similar YA books, this one hammers home just how important it is to think through actions and what it really looks like to put your people first.

But honestly, the best thing to come out of the more political and diplomatic focus is the emphasis on this series’ secondary/supporting characters. Though Em and Cas led the charge for the first two novels in the series, it’s these supporting heroes that are charged with the follow-through and bringing it all home. They can’t make the big war-related decisions (because that’s Em and Cas’s job), but they can make small decisions to help improve the lives of their people. And that’s what they do.

Background Ruined play essential roles in turning the tides in the conflict between Em and Olivia. Galo and Mateo step up as pivotal peacemakers and strategists. Aren takes the fates of numerous people on his back and is the true MVP of this book. All of the characters that we’ve met in the previous novels but haven’t really gotten to know take center stage in Allied and really make all the difference. They get a surprising amount of character development as well as really great interpersonal relationship developments.

That being said, my one quibble about this final book is that, in my opinion, we don’t get nearly enough time with the two characters who set this whole series in motion: Em and Cas. In giving the other characters more weight, this novel sacrifices any further development with its two main characters. Yes, both Ruined and Avenged brought both characters to where they needed to be physically and emotionally, but I really missed all of the quiet, introspective moments with the couple. They’re rightfully preoccupied with the well-being of their peoples, but that focus comes at the cost of fewer scenes between the two of them.

The dynamics in this story, both interpersonal and between the different cultures, are so fascinating that I’m really sad the series is over. The fact that we won’t get to see these characters and their people in times of peace is really disappointing, but only because Amy Tintera did a really great job in making me invest so wholeheartedly in them. I’d love to see how the power balances shake out at the end and how individual characters navigate their new world. Oh well. There’s always headcanon.

Allied is a fitting ending for such a well-written series. It gives all characters, main and otherwise, an important role in determining the fate of the new world they’re trying to create and does a great job of tying up all of the loose ends. If you’re a fan of Amy Tintera’s series up to this point, you’re going to be satisfied with this ending.

'Allied' (Ruined #3) by Amy Tintera

Allied by Amy Tintera is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” list!

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