Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2)FeaturedHot
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
Just like with Shadow And Bone (which was my Favorite Read of 2012), I was once again completely engrossed in this fantastical world Leigh Bardugo has created! She weaves a spell-binding tale of adventure, mystery, romance and love with a cast of characters that are both fresh and familiar. Alina isn't the easiest character to love but you have to give her mad props for her courage, strength and willingness to give up what, or who she wants the most in order to save her country.
We're introduced to several new characters, one of which is the Privateer...I'm sorry, what was I saying? Oh, right, the green eyed swashbuckling, swoonilicious, pirate-sque guy who had me ready to set sail and exclaim, "Oh Captain, my Captain!" (In case you forgot, I tend to get distracted by shiny book boys.) The fact that I found myself torn between three intoxicating male characters really shouldn't surprise me, I mean, Leigh Bardugo DID manage to make me fall for the would-be-but-I'm-not-positive-for-sure bad guy, known as The Darkling so, yeah.
This is my new allegiance btw...
The Darkling + Mal + Privateer = Team The Malarklinghond
Mal gets plenty of page time and appears to be a permanent fixture at Alina's side but he faces some challenges himself. I am a Mal fan, however, he frustrated me quite a bit and I wanted to punch him. While I realize we don't know his full story, he still has some "manning up" to do because if you love someone, you love them summoner skills and all.
The Darkling, whom I lurved in Shadow and Bone begins to show his true color and regardless of the many choices he makes that I disagree with, I am still clutching onto the thinly veiled hope that he can be redeemed. *white knuckle clutches*
What left me wanting: Can I haz book three now, please? *bats eyes*
Final verdict: Epic sequel!
Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite reads of 2012, which means that I approached Siege and Storm with a combination of trepidation and flailing excitement. With time, I couldn't remember the specifics of what made Shadow and Bone such a good read for me, read nearly a year ago, during my trip to New York for BEA. Now I remember: Leigh Bardugo's writing is freaking outstanding in every respect.
Where Shadow and Bone followed much more typical fantasy plot lines, Leigh Bardugo really goes her own way in Siege and Storm. Generally, I have a fair sense for where a series is headed in the end, even if I don't know precisely the steps along the way. In Siege and Storm, I never knew where the characters would go next or where they would end up in the end, but whenever anything happened, I felt this rightness, and gaped slackjawed at the book, impressed yet again with Bardugo's ideas.
Siege and Storm picks up where Shadow and Bone left off, with Mal and Alina on the run, trying to escape Ravka and the reach of the Darkling. To the surprise of no one, they do not get very far away before the Darkling appears, much to the excitement of fangirls everywhere. The Darkling has a plan: to find another amplifier for Alina, since Morozova's amplifiers can be worn together. Thus, they set off on a ship captained by a dashing privateer (aka a classy pirate) to hunt an ice dragon. I expected this to be a huge portion of the plot, but it ends fairly quickly, which I was sad about for approximately half a page, but then even cooler things happened. But, to find out what, you're going to have to read the book for yourself.
Now, when I read Shadow and Bone, I proudly proclaimed myself a big fan of the Darkling, never having forgiven Mal for his early behavior and not finding his chemistry with Alina nearly as captivating. Well, I have changed my allegiance. My favorite guy is now Sturmhond. You may be thinking, Bardugo added ANOTHER love interest? So lame and unnecessary! I understand if you are, but stop thinking that right now. Sturmhond, the privateer, is one of my favorite literary characters, and totally knocked the Darkling from my affections in one fell swoop. He has the swagger and humor of Captain Jack Sparrow, combined with a sober, calculating intellect. Every single line of his is perfection, either hilarious, swoon-inducing, or cleverly changing the subject. My love for him knows no bounds.
Alina continues to be an intriguing main character, alternatingly weak and drunk on power. When she doesn't use her powers, she's weak, wan and insecure, living in Mal's shadow. Almost more than fighting the Darkling or political factions, Alina battles herself. The amplifier and the connection to the Darkling have changed her from the girl she used to be, putting her sanity and her relationship with Mal potentially in jeopardy. The more she comes into her power of light, the more the darkness within her stands out in sharp relief. The choices she has to make are tough ones, and she has no ideal options.
The Final Verdict:
Bardugo cements herself as a writing talent in Siege and Storm. Her plotting, writing and characters are all excellent, and the story moves along at a swift pace. Ruin and Rising, which is the perfect title for the third book by the way, is poised to be the strongest, most heartbreaking book in the trilogy, and I need it in my life as soon as possible. This series is a must for fantasy fans, ages young adult and up.
I liked the plot, the action and the addition of Sturmhond, Tamar and Tolya made things more interesting. I also liked Nikolai and his humor and I'm looking forward to reading more about him.
A fascinating read! Can't wait for the next one.
Highly recommended epic fantasy read. Or, as Leigh Bardugo calls it: Tsarpunk.
Ok. Time to go crush over book three, Ruin and Rising.
She's fighting hard but her power is calling her, she wants more, but she's also nervous. Wanting more power is what pushing the Darkling. She is also craving the Darkling but at the same time wants to stop him. It's a hard spot to be in. I don't envy her at all.
I felt this was stronger than the Shadow and Bone. More character development, more pain, and more at stake. I can see how much power means to Alina, even though she is scared of what the power could do to her. It's starting to consume her.
I wonder about the Darkling even more. What's his true plan? Is he really as black and white as he seems? Or is there something more to him?
I hope Mal mans up and starts to actually help Alina instead of making her feel worse about herself. I don't get why she even likes Mal. He's so annoying to me. If she gets with him...
The ending was so easy to see coming but I still loved it! The Darkling has the kingdom, the prince is gone which is sad. I like him a lot. He's pretty freaking awesome! I wouldn't even mind if Alina ended up with him!
2) Wonderful Characters
Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling, hiding out in a foreign country and trying to make a life for themselves. When the Darkling finds Alina, he drags her aboard the famous Sea Captain Sturmhond’s ship to bring her back to Ravka and force her to help him in his quest for ultimate power. But Sturmhond has other plans …
This was a wonderful sequel. When the second book in a series comes out, I am often worried that it won’t live up to the first book or the expectations that naturally comes with sequels (though that’s nothing compared to what I’ve come to fear from the last book in a series).
Like Shadow and Bone, the book picks up very quickly and continues this rapid pace through the entirety of the novel, which I enjoyed. So often fantasy novels lag during the filler scenes where the action of the main plot is set aside for a moment. This certainly doesn’t happen here. With Sturmhond’s help, Alina escapes from the Darkling and they continue to pursue the sea whip, the second of Morozova’s amplifiers which Alina must kill in order to enhance her own abilities. Meanwhile, in Ravka, the unnerving Apparat has boasted of Alina’s sun powers and turned her into a living saint. When she returns to Os Alta, Alina is appointed leader of the Second Army and she must contend with the difficulties of leadership and preparing for when the Darkling decides to come after her once more.
I really enjoyed the plot of Siege and Storm, much more than the first book. Alina really comes into her own here and goes through what I think is the best character development I have read in a long while. She has the option of becoming Queen, a figure-head pushed into the background while others do the work for her. She rejects that choice and instead forces her way into a positon of power and commands an army. She becomes a really complex character: she is forced to face new challenges that affect her deeply; she begins having visions of the Darkling, and starts questions who she is and her purpose in the battle to come and the future. She is slowly being seduced to the “dark side,” with the Darkling constantly attempting to prove to her that they belong together, which I can’t help but agree with.
The Darkling is just as sensuous, sinful and sexy as he was in the first novel. Is it bad that I want him and Alina to get married, take over the world and rule together as king and queen? His yearning for Alina is equal parts exciting and terrifying, which is essentially the Darkling in a nutshell.
My new favourite character is the gallant privateer Sturmhond who has a dangerous secret and is a master at witty banter. He’s a great inclusion in the story, and provided much needed comic relief. Alina and Sturmhond have a flirtatious relationship that I would like to see develop into something more, but that would result in Alina and Mal breaking up.
Speaking of Mal … I have seen a lot of reviews lambasting Mal. I think around 90% of the fandom dislike him after reading Siege and Storm. But I didn’t feel that way. I felt sorry for Mal – it is difficult being the ‘normal’ one in a group of heroes, especially a group who have special abilities and incredible powers. It is only natural that he feels left out and as though Alina is falling away from him. They continue to drift apart which promptly breaks my heart. I really hope they find a way to patch things up and get back together.
Bardugo has a great skill in compelling world-building; she kept me on the edge of my seat, especially for the last few chapters. Her writing has improved and the book was paced perfectly and smoothly. There was still plenty of tension and drama, but it is subtle and not as obvious; that is, until, it is happening and you find that you can no longer breathe from the strain it’s putting on your heart.
Siege and Storm was a wonderful sequel to an already amazing book. If this book is any indication of Bardugo’s skill as a writer and storyteller, she has an extensive career ahead of her, starting with Ruin and Rising.
Alina - Comes more into her power as the Sun Summoner, but she's still conflicted about how much power is too much. She takes on an amazing leadership role, albeit slightly unwillingly.
Mal - Stop. Whining.
The Darkling - One of the yummiest villains out there. Didn't see too much of him in Siege and Storm, but he's definitely going to be around more in Ruin and Rising after this ending.
Sturmhond - He's mine and you can't have him. I really enjoyed this character - like probably one of my favorite in the series. He's clever, snarky, and a major game changer.
Toyla and Tamar - Best sidekicks ever.
Romance - Is there such a thing as a love quadrangle? Is it weird that it Leigh makes it work so flawlessly and without out the annoyance that occasionally accompanies love triangles?
Plot - Flawless. Leigh really knows how to suck readers in and turn them upside. While there are slower parts of the book, the plot doesn't necessarily drag. Even the littlest things seems to have an effect on the greater aspects of the plot. Even if you're like me, not a huge fan of high fantasy, you'll definitely enjoy Leigh's Grisha series. It doesn't feel like a high fantasy novel nor does it read like one. These books are just enjoyable, engaging, and all around entertaining.
Was Siege and Storm a bad read? Saints no.
I just didn't enjoy it as much as Shadow and Bone.
Being the middle book in the series can be difficult. You're no longer introducing the world with wonderful descriptions, or surprising the reader with new characters (as much), and you're not being wow'ed with the big ending. This book DOES NOT suffer the "middle book syndrome," it just leaves something lacking. The plot wasn't lacking, there were just spaces in Siege and Storm where you wondered why we were so concerned with some petty party when there was supposed to be a war soon.
One day our beloved characters will figure their lives out.
Until then, why don't I hate the darkling? And who is this knew Sturmhond guy, because I think I might have a wee crush on him?
MAJOR SELLING POINTS:
If you're reading all my reviews, firstly, wow you have some dedication, I thank you. Secondly, you have probably noticed that I love my YA fantasy. Like I said in my SHADOW AND BONE review, Bardugo has created a fantasy world better than most. Ravka is rich in culture and the world building continues to be as good in SIEGE AND STORM, where we get to see a little more of the world outside of Ravka. The dynamics between various groups in the world and the conflict that arises because of the differences and perceptions are great to read about. Plus, the Grisha have awesome powers which we get to see used in new ways in SIEGE AND STORM.
If you haven't heard about the greatness that is Sturmhond by now you must be living under a rock. I was reading reviews and everyone seemed to be raving about this guy. And you know what? Sturmhond is actually better than they describe, such an intriguing character! I'll go into it a little more in his character section below, but trust me. You will love him. And he's a pirate privateer, so he gets extra points from us buccaneers.
SIEGE AND STORM was hard to read. Because I didn't want to stop and had three exams to study for. I really didn't want to put the books down. I had to hide it away. As a result I read it slower than I wanted and I think I passed the exams...
SIEGE AND STORM definitely managed to avoid the dreaded Second Book Syndrome. I found it much more enjoyable than SHADOW AND BONE with its faster plot and numerous action scenes. The plot started racing so much sooner than I expected. You get to the end of the first or second chapter and shit starts going down, and it doesn't stop for a while. The middle was a little slow, and some plot points are a tad predictable, but then the ending. The Ending. OH. MY. GOD. The ending is hands down my favourite part of the book. There's so many twists, and a cliffhanger, and just action and awesome and dire situations and it's just glorious. I'm still reeling from the ending and I think I finished SIEGE AND STORM two or three days ago (before I wrote this)... It feels longer though because I just want the next book. *cries*
This is always the hardest part for me to write because half the time I'm so caught up in the book I don't even remember to pay attention to the way it's written. The only time it stands out if it is exceptionally slow or bad or just so fantastic I envy it. Bardugo's writing falls in between good and fantastic on my scale. I liked the writing in SIEGE AND STORM more than in SHADOW AND BONE. There were a couple of times I wanted to stick a sticky note in the page where there was just a beautiful quote. Sturmhond's words of wisdom were hilarious, and the descriptions had their moments. I'm going to have to reread the finished version and mark the pages in that.
Alina surprised me so much in this book, mainly at the end I must admit, but still. She struggled with so many things in this. Along with relationships, power, leadership, she was shouldering the hopes, dreams, and expectations of a large group of people. I don't think I'd cope with that kind of pressure. But Alina does, and she does it well. It changes her into someone I think I might admire more. We also have that final act/twist at the end. I was not expecting that! I never knew she'd have the strength or determination to even make a decision like that knowing the outcome! It will be interesting to see how Alina develops further in the final book.
Mal is the main source of my emotions and heart break in SIEGE AND STORM. My reread of SHADOW AND BONE convinced me to love him. He's so sweet and dedicated. In SIEGE AND STORM he continues to be like that... Mostly. He does start to struggle with a lot of things, as to be expected, and what he says and does because of those things breaks my heart. I think I almost cried once because of Mal (and Alina).
In SHADOW AND BONE I loved the Darkling. Loved him. Now? The dude is creepy. Really, really, really creepy. The Fold changed him. He's dark, and power hungry, and probably crazy, and creepy. Why is he creepy? Because of his god forsaken new power. Admittedly it's kind of cool. Not really though because things like that should never exist. Ever.
We actually get to see quite a lot of the Darkling in SIEGE AND Storm, more than I was expecting. The way he... shows up in scenes adds to his already high creepy levels. I hated these scenes. I hated them so much cause they *shudder*. Yet somehow I still loved them and still love him. The Darkling is a good villain. I just don't like how he makes me see things in the shadows.
From the first scene Sturmhond appeared he became one of my favourite characters in the series, and managed to progressed to Favourite status by the end of the novel. He's hilarious! Almost every scene he had I was laughing at some point. He's also a fantastic leader, inventor, and just an all round great person. Sturmhond earned my respect and adoration with every decision and statement he made. I really just want to gush about him.
Another thing: there is a little twist about his identity that I managed to predict, but only because I reread SHADOW AND BONE before starting SIEGE AND STORM. The foreshadowing about him is literally one sentence, and if I hadn't picked up on the tiny tidbit, it would have been a big shock for me, as it's probably going to be for a lot of people. Anyway, I can't wait to see what happens to him in the third book, to watch the type of man he becomes.
The romance in this book is painful. So very, very painful. And yet there were so many moments that were also incredibly sweet that make my shipper heart very pleased. But like I said, it's mostly painful. Mal and Alina start of good, but then they have their issues. Mal does and says things that make Alina sad and sort of made me want to grab him by the throat and throttle some sense into him. And there's still romance between the Darkling and Alina. A little bit anyway. Just like almost everything else involving the Darkling in SIEGE AND STORM, it's creepy. Yet I still ship it. And a billion other couples.
-Alina x Mal
-The Darkling x Alina
-David x Genya
-The Darkling's new power x NOPE
-The Darkling heart (does he even have one?) x Sharp Instruments
-Sturmhond x Alina (very briefly. Not a major ship)
-Sturmhond x Hilarity and Awesomeness
-Ravka x Peace and Light
-Me x The next book
Siege and Storm picks up almost immediately where Shadow and Bone left off, providing the reader with immediate action and many unexpected plot twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The inclusion of original fairy tales and mythology, coupled with exquisite food dishes, beautiful clothing, and vivid settings add even greater depth to the imaginative world of Ravka.
Alina is no longer the weak, naive girl that we saw in Shadow and Bone; she’s truly coming into her own, though the journey is decidedly bittersweet. Alina begins to hone her strength and assert herself in anticipation of a fight with the Darkling, though she struggles against the desire to attain even more power – and the repercussions that it could have for herself, her relationships, and Ravka.
Though I know that I shouldn’t care for him, the Darkling still holds the honour of being my favourite character in this series. He’s quite an intriguing and complex character: he’s power-hungry, manipulative, and could even be described as evil, though he also has touches of humanity that are difficult to ignore. To my dismay, his presence in this book is minimal, although he captured my full attention whenever he appeared in a scene – especially when showing off his dark new skills.
A new character is introduced in Siege and Storm, and he managed to win me over with ease. Sturmhond is witty and charming, bringing much-needed touches of humour to story. He’s also incredibly well composed, calculating, and adaptive, which are necessary qualities given his agenda.
And then there’s Mal. He started to grow on me towards the end of Shadow and Bone but, sadly, I didn’t like him in this book. He spends too much time feeling insecure in his relationship with Alina. I understand his reasoning – after all, she is the most powerful Grisha and he is a tracker who deserted the army – but after a while, I got tired of reading about it. Hopefully he’ll be more like his end-of-book-one-self in the sequel, since that guy was pretty adorable.
If I haven’t made it clear already, I absolutely loved Siege and Storm. It’s unputdownable and the perfect example of how to write a proper middle installment. I can’t wait to see what happens in Ruin and Rising – until then, I’ll be traipsing about in my very own kefta and trying to befriend guys that look like the Darkling.