Siege and Storm (The Grisha Book 2) (Amazon Link)
Author : Leigh Bardugo
Series : Grisha Trilogy
Volume : 2 of 3
Published By : Henry Holt and Company
Year Published : 2014
Genre / Tags : YA, Fantasy, Light Romance
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 358 pages (Hardcover)
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner―hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.
But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice―and only she can face the oncoming storm.
When I finished Shadow and Bone, I immediately started the sequel. I was in the zone and ready to just glom this whole series.
The beginning and ending are fantastically entertaining but many parts in the middle didn’t appeal. That wondrous feeling I felt from the first book ground to a halt before long, taken down by needless monotony that I can’t even capably describe because it felt like nothing happened for hundreds of pages. Bardugo’s writing feels different, somehow more serious and intent on description. So, unpopular opinion, I like YA fantasy as it is and often times the criticisms I see of the genre seem geared toward wanting a book to be more ‘adult’ and the attempts at making it so can result in an extra 100-200 pages of dense description.
There are minute details of Alina’s new life as a leader who is simultaneously guarded by everyone but in charge of decision-making and internal politics. Even Alina’s earlier time on the boat seemed to drag on too much, overly concerned with small details. The writing is competent but low on excitement. I definitely felt like this installment was slow until the ending where the pace surged forward dramatically.
Character development for side characters is mystifying in its lack of substance, minus Nikolai. Nikolai is a welcome addition and worthy of his own series. I hadn’t known at the time that he was getting one, and King Of Scars is high on my TBR.
I find the Darkling to be the most interesting character even though his presence has lessened. He brings about massive destruction, but the series is more vibrant and frenetic with him in the foreground rather than the background. His abilities and how they intersect with Alina’s inspired me to ponder a lot of crazy possibilities and theories that are probably not canon, but cemented how interested I was in the overall story where he is concerned.
I really liked Mal in the first book but his faults are more prominent here. There is this scene where the characters have accomplished something grand and Alina has every reason to celebrate and finds him, but he’s sulking and this causes her to sulk and now everyone is sulking and I’m groaning. In short, Mal is kind of a problem. A shame since I was totally on board with him in the first book. He’s supposed to be the mere mortal type who keeps Alina grounded but I feel that in many ways he holds her back.
As for romance, I felt it was more of a thing in the first book and tuned down a lot in this volume. I thought there would be a messy love triangle between the Darkling, Alina, and Mal but I don’t think that’s the author’s intention at all, there’s just enough questionable interactions for fandom to run wild with “what if” scenarios.
My feelings about Alina are all over the place. She can be annoyingly incompetent and glum, but she tends to work well under pressure and can make an incredible decision at a key moment. I like the empathy she shows toward people impacted by the darkling’s actions, but I think this should have been conveyed via smaller sub-plots of substance to really develop those people and better illustrate Alina’s growth and understanding of her responsibilities.
This volume attempts to push her forward in life but her ascension from an insecure peasant teen to a gifted leader making strategic decisions- it all seemed not as well balanced or convincing as it could be. The descriptions of her day-to-day actions were beyond tedious. Sadder still, as the world here has such potential.
All in all, I felt like this book was quite a step back in many unfortunate ways but the ending was riveting and I was still hooked in enough to tackle the last book (Ruin and Rising) and later on, the best of Bardugo’s books I’ve read, Six of Crows.
Overall Rating – 5/10
Why You Should Try It – If you read Shadow and Bone and found it childish, Siege and Storm may be considered an improvement for its more serious tone. There are some great moments, both at the beginning and end. Nikolai is a fantastic side character.
Why You Might Not Like It – I found this book slow, plodding, and accomplishing little for the extra 100+ pages it has on Shadow and Bone. That phrase middle book syndrome/second book syndrome well applies.
Siege and Storm (The Grisha Book 2) (Amazon Link)
I had such glowing praise for Shadow and Bone so was surprised to find how that enthusiasm did not carry over into this sequel. Conversely, if you didn’t like Shadow and Bone perhaps you’ll like this sequel? It’s funny how opinions work lol. But do let me know your thoughts on Siege and Storm if you’ve read it, or if you want to read it. Thanks as always for your comments and likes, they are always appreciated.