Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege And Storm Leigh Bardugo The Grisha
Siege and Storm Leigh Bardugo cover The Grisha

Title: Siege And Storm 
Author: Leigh Bardugo 
Series: The Grisha #2 
Genre: Fantasy, YA 
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Rating: ★★★★ 

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.

Weakness is a guise. 
Wear it when they need to know you're human, but never when you feel it.

I think I liked this book better than the first one. The story goes deeper, it’s more complex and we get to meet a couple of really great new characters. I also thought the plot was stronger. I had the impression there was more substance to create background and the development felt more natural. 

In this second book, Alina and Mal are captured by the Darkling to star in yet another one of his evil plans. Luckily they manage to escape before he can truly hurt them. And thus they find themselves, once more, on the run. They are aided by the notorious pirate (likes to call himself privateer) Sturmhond and his crew in their war against the Darkling and his Grisha army. But soon it becomes clear that there is more to the cocky, charming captain than meets the eye. As Alina grows tired of running and seeks to take up a more prominent position in the on-going war, she is forced to seriously step up her game and bid the invisible peasant girl farewell. 

When people say impossible, they usually mean improbable.

The amount of action in this book is about the same as in Shadow and Bone, but I felt like it served the plot better this time around. It also felt more creative. Probably because there were more subplots and better developed side characters had their own important parts to play. The writing was, as expected, completely on-point. I love the manner in which Leigh Bardugo gives life to her stories and the way she shapes her sentences. It’s something I can only aim for. 

And - big improvement - I liked Alina a lot more. When she’s forced to really become the Sun-Summoner she changes a great deal. She became someone. While I felt she was really plain in the first book, I could follow her emotional arc better and therefore got a lot more invested in her character. She was braver and more sure of herself. She’s still not the heroine that’s going to change your view on literature, but at least this time I cared. Which still can’t be said for Mal. I’m just not feeling him. If you’d make a check list of all the qualities a swoon-worthy guy should have there are probably a lot of boxes to be crossed when it comes to Mal, but he honestly annoyed me a lot of the time. He was whiny and he needed to get himself together. It’s not like I didn’t understand him, but I found it completely unfair that he blamed Alina for things he was guilty of himself. I hope Alina will see clear at some point.

I am now also convinced (although grudgingly) that the Darkling is not a good guy in disguise. Sob. No, seriously. I should have figured that out in the previous book but I was in my own blinded state of denial. Anyway, doesn’t mean I love him any less. He’s intriguing and he is powerful. If he can not be the redeemed bad guy - than he is now officially the perfect villain. That I love. Because somehow that’s who I am.

Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea.

But the surprise of the book (and let’s be honest, probably the most important reason for this book being better) was without a doubt Sturmhond/Nikolai. I adored the guy. He was charming, possessed a disarming amount of wit with a lovely dip of cockiness, he was handsome, intelligent and sharp… and I melted in his presence. He made me smile and grin like a fool. He is now easily my favorite character in the series. No competition. 

Sturmhond had a way of talking that made me want to shoot someone. Preferably him.

But - here’s the thing. Despite this being a really good book with a strong plot and well-developed characters, I am still a bit disappointed. Somehow I keep expecting this series to blow my mind. And for some reason it doesn’t and that bothers me. Everything is here, but I miss the ‘OMG, THIS IS WICKED’ feeling. One more shot, though. Ruin and Rising, here I come!

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