In anticipation of the Netflix show, Thea is re-immersing in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and re-reading the Shadow and Bone and the Six Crows books! Today she is tackling the second full-length novel in the original trilogy: Siege and storm.
title: Siege and storm
author: Lei Bardugo
genre: Fantasy, young people
Publisher: Square fish
Date published: June 4, 2013
paperback: 435 pages
The darkness never dies.
Alina is hunted across the real sea, haunted by the life she has taken in the fold, Alina must try to create life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while maintaining her identity as the summoning of the sun in secret. But she cannot get around her past or her fate over time.
The Darkling emerged from Shadow Fold with a new and frightening power and a dangerous plan that would test the limits of the natural world. With the help of the infamous Private, Alina returns to an abandoned country, determined to fight the forces gathering against Rebecca. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the forbidden magic game of Darkness, and farther away than El. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power and the love she always thought would guide her – or risk losing everything because of the impending storm.
Standalone or series: Book 2 in the Shadow and Bone trilogy, and some of the overall Grishabers
How I got this book: acquired
Warning: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for Shadow and bone. If you have not yet read the first book in the trilogy and you want to stay pampered, look aside!
Alina Starkov – a humble orphan map maker she used to be – turned out to be an expulsion with a rare and terrible power. Alina has the amazing ability to read sunlight in the same way that other debris can move water or air, and through training she has learned to hone and hone her abilities to deadly accuracy. With the help of the reindeer bone amplifier, which was now placed around her neck as a collar, Alina’s powers were further strengthened – perhaps even strong enough to challenge Huffling himself, even though he intended the collar to control Alina and her powers.
Some call it the time of the sun; Others think of her as a holy and blessed saint, sent to rescue Rebecca from the kayak and the monsters inside.
really? Alina does not feel particularly holy. Following her dramatic escape from the little palace and the use of Cut to poke Huffling and his followers in the fold, Alina and Mel find themselves on the real sea, without much friends or supplies. Soon, Huffling finds them. Again, he forces cooperation from Alina by threatening violence against Mal – and again, they are looking for a mythological animal whose body can be used as an amplifier for power.
Luckily for Alina and Mal, there are more players in the power game with Rebecca’s future interests. An unreasonable ally is revealed in the character of Prince Nicholas – the youngest royal son, a bastard by rumors and the appropriate magic who always knows the right thing to say to any audience. Alina agrees to help Nikolai for Rebecca, takes over the Second Army, and yes, even agrees to adopt her “saint” if it means stopping the darkness once and for all.
Of course, things are never that simple and this time, Huffling learned some new tricks. Instead of just calling it darkness, he seems to be able to create monsters from the fold and control them, as Alina learns in a panic. With the future of her friends, her country, perhaps even the world on the line, Alina is determined to embrace her power – even if it means sacrificing her humanity.
Oh, Siege and storm. I have a confession: when I first tried to read this book, I wrote it down. I had a hard time getting back to Grishaverse when Alina and Mel play the same game – the weak and humble Alina hides and is confused, Mal the insolence befriends and satisfies – and the emergence of a potential potential love affair with Alina (i.e. Prince Nicholas). But, I went back to the book and finally managed to dispel some of these trope-laden fears and enjoy the quick lewdness, high stakes and bad, good world builder, Ley Bardugo runs just like a cut.
The second time, I found myself more forgiving towards Alina (which, by the way, I think is the key to the whole series). Once I was able to overcome the fact, since, this is another Chosen One plot with a character with almost unprecedented power, I felt much more sympathy for our Sun Sunmoner. I appreciated the dangerous consequences and zealotry of her becoming a saint and the power struggles of the large and small palace she had to navigate. Furthermore, I appreciate how much Alina looks unprepared for the role, and how she enlists Although Mal is basically the WORST (sorry, Mal fans) and comes to her abilities as a negotiator and … well, general. I have a deep respect for Alina’s arc in this second (and third) book, as she also struggles with her desire for more power, her attraction to the Darkling and her tangled loyalty and feelings.
Beyond Alina’s journey, there are a few other notable characters in this second book, such as:
Genia. One of my favorite characters in the entire series, I respect Genia’s choices especially In this book.
Zoya. Another beloved character, who has layers and depths that Alina doubts in her behavior, rightly so!
Tamar and Tulia – the brothers Moshe Han who also eventually become part of Alina’s entourage, but of murky loyalty in this particular novel.
There are also many other members in Grisha, like Sergei Vandia and Edrich and David, who will become important and crucial players in the next war.
And of course, there’s Nikolai – the charming and skilled bastard prince with a plan, who’s much more than he looks.
Beyond the characters, I love the vision of Os Alta as a slowly dying city, more preoccupied with splendor and outward appearance than with the lives of its inhabitants. The addition of Crown Prince Vasily to Nicholas was also a welcome addition of nuances to the series – the political traps of the king and his first army in the face of tension with Grisha and the Second Army were particularly developed this time.
Of course, I can not write a review of this second novel without acknowledging the attraction between Alina and the Dark, right? There’s a visiting atmosphere of Kylo Ren x Rey (and yes, I know this series precedes The last Jedi and The rise of Skywalker But you know exactly what I mean, right?) It’s definitely sexy and works because of Alina’s isolation and hunger for power – in the end, this common and destructive relationship is irresistible. The relationship between Alina and Mal is less likable, but it’s mostly a personal bias – I really have a hard time loving Mal mainly because of his bad friend’s, controlling, crappy flags.
There are hints as to what might have caused the fold in the first place and the mythology behind the sources of darkness that appear in this book. There are also political tricks and power games that will shape and change everything, I loved them all very much in this rereading.
In the end? Siege and storm Satisfactory and significantly better than the first book.
Next, al Destruction and resurrection.
Rating: 7 – Very good
The re-reading continues later with Destruction and resurrection (Book 3 in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy)…