Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Page Count: 448
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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.
“I’ve seen what you truly are, and I’ve never turned away. I never will. Can he say the same?”
Because of the fallout from the explosive ending of Leigh’s debut novel, Siege and Storm walks on the borderline of the second book syndrome. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the sequel. But I’m rather surprised I do.
Leigh improves on her weaknesses in Shadow and Bone. And while some nuisances weren’t necessary, I feel it gives you a better understanding of this vast universe Leigh has created. The political backdrop refuses to remain hidden and rears its disturbing head. And she explores the intricate bond Alina and the Darkling share, which is as tantalizing as I imagined it.
I thoroughly loved how Leigh will throw the spotlight on the injustice of her world. You witness it in her writing in the SOC series, but even with the political class, Grishas will always be seen as second-class citizens, even if they’re superior. Even though I somewhat struggle with Leigh’s first series, several characters—particularly, the Darkling, Sturmhond, Tolya, and Tamar— along with the well-developed world building are what kept me pushing through the issues I have with the storytelling.
Alina, the Sun Summoner, knows she must uncover more amplifiers, which increases a Grisha’s power, so the Darkling doesn’t take hold of her completely. But that choice comes with consequences Alina may not fully understand. I love how she uses her snark as a shield. But she is a complicated character to read. Some part of me sympathized with her though.
The convoluted relationship she has with both Mal and Darkling simply confuses the storyline even further. You see the pull she has with the Darkling, but she can’t move past the feelings she has for Mal. But her first love doesn’t make the situation any less difficult. This theatrical event drags everything else down.
But one character, in particular, a certain pirate, has commandeered my heart. Sturmhond is tasked by the Darkling to help Mal find the next amplifier. But we all know pirates don’t follow rules. So he and Alina forge a new alliance that will either save or condemn Ravka. I. Love. Him. Take my heart, privateer. It is yours. And his refreshing crew just makes up for some of the disappointment of everything else.
After reading Siege and Storm, I first thought it was my favourite out of the series. But I’m still debating that view. I wanted more Darkling and less love story. However, I feel the storytelling overall is strong. Some elements need improving. But the world building, secondary characters, and the political landscape enhance this sequel. But one fact I know for sure is that I can’t get enough of Ravka, its lush magic system, and compelling characters.