Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha, #2
Release Date: June 5th 2014
Alina thought she could run from her past and escape her destiny. She can’t.
Mal hoped he’d done enough to protect the girl he loved. He hadn’t.
The Darkling, more powerful than before, is hungry for revenge. He needs Alina.
Soon Alina must choose between her country, her power, and the man she loves—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
Alina and Mal have already faced so much but their journey is far from over. After escaping from the Darkling and leaving him to the mercy of the volcra in the Fold Alina and Mal are hiding in a small town beyond the True Sea trying to blend in by pretending to be normal humans. Alina is unable to use her powers for fear of the other Grisha tracking her down and she hides her amplifier under scarves to keep it from prying eyes, but she finds that starting anew isn’t easy while keeping her true identity a secret.
Without using her power Alina has become a weaker version of herself; thin, plain, and pale. She dreams of using her powers; despite living most of her life suppressing them she feels like she is missing a vital part of herself keeping her sun summoning ability buried deep down inside her.
However Mal and Alina are not safe for long before the Darkling tracks them down and captures them once more. With the help of the pirate captain Sturmhond, the Darkling takes Mal and Alina across the True Sea, coercing Mal into using his tracking skills to hunt another of Morozova’s mythical creatures, the Sea Whip. The Darkling hopes to use it to create a second amplifier to increase Alina’s powers even more, and once Mal has tracked the Sea Whip the Darkling plans to go after the Fire Bird.
Amidst the chaos of capturing the Sea Whip Sturmhond turns on the Darkling, helping Mal and Alina escape his clutches. However rather than fleeing again Mal and Alina return to the heart of Ravka, and Alina finds herself once more back where she started; attempting to navigate the politics of the Royal Court, running the Second Army, and hopelessly trying to prepare the Ravkan’s and Grisha for the Darkling’s next move.
Alina comes a full circle in this second book. When she first arrived at the Little Palace she was a scared girl, unsure of her powers and weak willed, but when she returns hoping to unite the Grisha under one banner to fight the Darkling she is confident and sure of herself. With two amplifiers she is a lot more powerful but it comes with its downsides and she becomes consumed with her need for the third amplifier, to complete the set.
Nikolai is unlike any of the other royals we have seen so far in that he seems to actually care for the people he will one day rule over. Nikolai is an incredibly crafty and cunning character, he is adapt at manipulating his father and older brother, countering their every move and putting them into a place where he wants them to be. He is very quick and witty, but despite his light and sarcastic humour he is a very secretive character and doesn’t fully open up to anyone.
The relationship between Mal and Alina hit some rocks in this book. Mal struggles to accept Alina’s Grisha abilities but in turn Alina can’t just ignore her sun summoning power and pretend to be human; and once she has two out of the three most powerful amplifiers there are she is desperate for the third. Their relationship is tested and the two of them seem to drift further and further apart. Mal is no longer a tracker and, having deserted the army to run away with Alina, he feels he cannot compete with the royals and the powerful Grisha Alina now belongs with.
When Nikolai proposes an alliance between himself and Alina Mal takes a step back, knowing that Nikolai can offer her so much more than Mal can to help her on her quest to stop the Darkling. They both clearly love one another but they each believe taking a step back from the other is for the best, despite how much it hurts them to do it. I really did not like Mal in this book, while I understand he felt lost and useless he acted petty and abandoned Alina when she needs him the most.
Ever since the Darkling put the first amplifier around Alina’s neck there has been a bond between the two of them, and it grows in this second book. Alina is wary of it, and of him, but there is still some part of her that is drawn to him despite everything he has done. The Darkling understands her and her powers in a way Mal and Nikolai never will but the two of them are too similar, both too powerful and Alina fears she will become like him if she stays with him.
Bardugo takes her inspiration from fairy tales and folklore but gives them a darker twist which fits in perfectly to the kingdom of Ravka. I love the world that has been created in the Grisha series. Bardugo takes her inspiration from Russia and its culture but the world created within the pages of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm has a lot of originality. Religion plays a larger part in this book, the myths surrounding Morozova, his sainthood and ancient creatures he found, play a larger part in this story as Alina slowly connects the dots to track down the Firebird.
This book is fantasy at its very best and I think I can say that I enjoyed Siege and Storm more than Shadow and Bone. It’s full of adventure; princes masquerading as pirates, mythical creatures to hunt down, and powerful magic around every corner which tempts and twists those who use it.
What did you think of Siege and Storm? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.