Siege and Storm was enjoyable, well written second book in The Shadow and Bone Trilogy with interesting flawed characters, amazing world and cat-and-mouse game with miscommunication trope. You would love to read this for Nikolai.
Siege and Storm (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date : June 17th 2017
Publisher : Square Fish
Genre : Fantasy / YA
Pages : 435
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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 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.
Previous book I read in Shadow and Bone Trilogy
Book 1 – Shadow and Bone
*** I own this book ***
Siege and Storm was enjoyable sequel to Shadow and Bone that revolved around Alina and Mal’s life on the run, their struggling relationship, Darkling on their tail, and Ravka’s situation making things complicated. The story was about politics, power, love, friendship, betrayal, accepting power and strength, and not let anyone change who you’re.
Writing was fabulous, vivid, engaging and fast paced. It was written in first person narrative from Alina’s POV. Author sure knew how to keep her reader engaging from the very first page. Plot was interesting and like most readers said it was like cat-and-mouse game with miscommunication or rather lack of proper communication trope.
Book started few months after the end of first book. Alina and Mal travelled the True Sea and were living in slum area of one of the cities of Novyi Zem but they were being hunted and circumstances brought Alina back to where everything started- once again prisoner of Darkling on famous pirate/Privateer’s ship, Darkling looking for a way to gain control over Alina’s power of sun summoner. However, just when Darkling was about to take control over Alina’s power, she and Mal escaped with help of Privateer.
Alina’s power was growing but it wasn’t enough against the horrifying change in Darkling and his forbidden magic. Alina’s only way to stop running for their life and take the responsibility of what happened on the Fold in previous book was to lead the Grisha army against Darkling and find a way to grow her power even more. But power and victory doesn’t come without sacrifice.
I was curious to read how Alina’s power would affect her and Mal’s relationship, what Darkling was planning, could Alina lead remaining Grisha army and would they follow her, who she could trust and who would betray her, and how arrival of second prince would change things in Ravka.
Characters were interesting, flawed, complex and no character was black and white. It was sad to see Darkling only in first and last few chapters. It was like he was in background in most of the book. I wanted to know more about his power and what forbidden magic he was using. I guess that will be revealed in next book. We see in this how far he could go and what horrible punishment he could inflict with his mysterious power. He was so evil but really interesting character.
Nikolai was my most favourite character in the book. I could see why he was everyone’s favourite. He made Alina and Mal’s exhausting relationship bearable, gave fresh breath this book needed. It was pretty easy to guess who he was, but the way it was revealed made me smile. He was charming, witty, clever, ambitious, brilliant leader, and a little like Darkling but with conscience. He knew difference between right and wrong and he had principles. I don’t get why Alina felt frustrated around him, she should think about Mal and herself.
Alina was okay. I liked how she was understanding her power and loved using it and it was great to see her changing a little in good way by learning from Nikolai and leading Grisha. I felt for her for what happened in Fold. I could understand her guilt and need to take responsibility, her feelings towards religious fanaticism and politics and feeling torn between her responsibilities, power and love of her life. I was glad at the end she could at least voice that she couldn’t part from her power, she would never let go of her Grisha gift but at the same time I was mad at her for feeling low or feeling guilty and taking blame over her head for increasing gap in her and Mal’s relationship.
Mal was my least favourite character. I was bracing for that. First half the book wasn’t bad, he went along with whatever happened but in second half, he was being total idiot and jerk. I haven’t seen any hero so insecure and jealous. He basically ignored Alina his whole life, went after other girls leaving her unnoticed. And now that Alina had men wooing her and people noticed her, he was feeling jealous! He knew power made her happy and healthy and yet he wished she never had those power and never used it! He claimed she was his nation and everything in the world, his love was eternal so how could he not accept her for what she was, along with her power, not respect her wish, not help her accomplishing in her mission!! And then blaming her for all his fault, childish sulk, not understanding his feeling and not keeping in mind his need and happiness! Argh, really! I was so ready to push him in Fold and urge and cheer Alina to go out with Nikolai.
World was best part of the book. I enjoyed reading more about world outside Ravka, more details on Ravka’s border, religion and belief, stories of saints, tales of Ravka, and other amplifiers. Royal politics was interesting. I still don’t understand what apparat wanted but I hope to have more clear idea on it in next book.
Apart from world, what I enjoyed most was banter between Nikolai, Alina and Mal, conversation between Alina and Nikolai, the way Alina made changes at Little Palace, and action scenes.
There wasn’t exactly much romance in the book. It was more about change in Mal and Alina’s relationship and how Alina’s power and responsibilities was affecting it.
Some twist and turns I could see coming but that climax surprised me. It was brilliantly written and I loved Nikalai’s dialogues in that moment. Everything from that moment was tense, action packed and adrenaline filled. I enjoyed reading what happened before end. End was so gloomy and made me more anxious. I’m itching to read next book.
Why 4 stars-
Do I have to write it? I would have easily given this book 5 stars if it wasn’t for Mal and Alina. I just wanted to bang their heads and put amplifier on them that could give them power of sense. As I said they made middle part of the book exhausting.
Overall, Siege and Storm was captivating, fast paced, and action packed Tsarpunk (I’m taking author’s word from Q&A) fantasy with fabulous writing, interesting characters and engrossing world.
If you enjoyed first book, are fan of author’s writing, interesting secondary characters and villain, and love Grisha world, I sure recommend this book (all I say just ignore Mal and you’ll enjoy this).
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