Monday, August 12, 2013

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
Wow! What a sequel. Seriously, this was a remarkably captivating book 2. And I was a little hesitant going into it. For starters, I remember originally thinking this story could have been one book (granted, there aren’t a lot of YA fantasy stand-alones any more), and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like where Bardugo would inevitably have to continue the plot. Also, Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite books of 2012, and I doubted anything could really live up to such an amazing start.
And for the first time in a long time, I was blown away by a sequel! Yes, the plot went the way I had a feeling it might. But, there were so many wonderful things that also actually did have me guessing –it literally kept me on my toes suspense-wise. I knew Alina and Mal would not be on their own for long. Besides the Darkling, the Grisha, the King, and the Alina-worshipping cult all out to get her, there’s also the key identifier about Alina that makes for a very poor disguise: her magical stag amplifer.
There’s wasn’t as much world building or magic in this one as their was in the previous book. But there were a lot of new characters and plenty of character development for Mal and Alina. I think I actually kind of liked Mal better in book 1 when he was the ladies man. It was kind of painful to watch him in this book. Everything he does is for Alina (who may or may not deserve such devotion), and while I’m no advocate for boys sleeping around all over the place, Mal did seem more realistic in the first book. In this one he was almost too devoted, too love-sick to seem quite so believable to me. Also, he was so doubtful and selfconscious. As if other boys (there are more than one -2 others kind of actually propose!) could ever compete with him. I missed his confidence! I missed his charm.
Alina had a lot going on mentally. She’s battling her love for Mal, her devotion to saving her country, her guilt for what happened at the end of book 1, her continuous rivalry with the Darkling, and her sort of mental collapse. The book begins with her going after another amplifier! And ever since she does this, she can’t stop seeing the Darkling where no one else does. She doesn’t want anyone to think she is crazy, but deep down she thinks she’s loosing it. However, instead of coming off as whiny, Alina actually comes off stronger with this slight mental blip. She takes charge of an army, works on conquering her Darkling fears, and goes after yet another amplifier that could make her even more powerful. She’s a bit power hungry, and I liked this side of her.
There’s also a new wonderful character: a pirate prince, who I’m kind of in love with. He reminded me a lot of George from Tamora Pierce’s books combined with Jace from Cassandra Clare’s books. And seriously, what an amazing combo! He brings all the wit and charm to a story that could otherwise easily become really depressing. This book is loaded with more death, destruction, and darkness.
I loved that the story didn’t stray too long from the Darkling. I also loved that Alina couldn’t ever really escape court life. Watching her interactions with the prince were amazing! All the characters in this book, whether poor, rich, magical, or non-magical were all so wonderfully intelligent and it was so nice to have a whole book comprised with smart main characters and side characters.
I guessed a few of the major twists. Bardugo left a lot of clues in the beginning about certain characters. And even though I read the first book over a year ago (months before it was actually released), I didn’t have much trouble remembering the amazing characters, story, or suspense. All in all, this book has it all: fabulous characters, lots of darkness, an epic war to end all wars, magic, romance, explosions, monsters, cults, saints, and mystery. Besides a slight disappointment in Mal, I can’t say one negative thing. This so gets a 10/10 from me.

1 comment:

  1. Ummm, yes, a sequel was necessary. Leigh Bardugo is a badass, and I bet the third book is going to be the best!

    You cannot have Sturmhond. He is mine. You can have Jace. *barfs*

    Mal's the worst.