|Title:||Siege and Storm|
|Publisher:||Hodder and Stoughton|
~ Please read my review of Shadow and Bone first as this is a sequel ~
This is the second book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, and I was pleasantly surprised with its ability to surpass the first book. I read Shadow and Bone in April this year and I fell in love with Bardugo’s Grishaverse and the characters of Alina and Mal, the orphans who found themselves involved in a war upon the kingdom of Ravka. In the first book Alina has discovered her abilities as a Sun Summoner and has been recruited into the prestigious Grisha army. Under the leadership of the Grisha leader known as The Darkling, Alina was taught to fight and was shown how to hone her skills as the most powerful Grisha. Soon it was revealed that the Darkling had other plans, and they were not necessarily noble nor were they for the good of the people of Ravka. Despite Alina’s unnerving attraction to the Darkling she escapes with Mal whom she has loved since childhood and their days at the orphanage.
Now Mal and Alina find themselves on board a pirate ship captained by the mysterious Sturmhond, a young man whom, though a serious enigma, seems trustworthy and whose alliance with members of the Grisha that did not choose to follow the Darkling, makes him their only chance at survival, and one of the few people they can trust. His charm and wit is only equaled in intrigue by the introduction of twin Grishas, Tolya and Tamar, a brother and sister who promise to protect and serve Alina in whatever way they can.
In Shadow and Bone Alina was given a children’s book that told the story of Morozova’s mystical amplifiers that were meant to enhance her powers as a Grisha. With the possession of a powerful stag’s antlers fashioned into a collar, there are still two known amplifiers out there and Alina becomes obsessed with finding them, even though she knows how dangerous their combined power may prove to be.
After a successful trip aboard Sturmhond’s ship, the ‘privateer’ as he refers to himself as, reveals his true identity to Alina and Mal as Prince Nikolai Lantsov of Ravka whose brother Vasily and his father the king will be only too happy to see him disappear and not take over the throne. For years Nikolai avoided the palace and his family, and is considered to be a bit of a pariah among the royals and those wishing to control Ravka.
They return to the royal palace only to find that their roles have all changed: Alina takes up residence in the Darkling’s old quarters and starts to feel increasingly closer to him than is deemed normal; Mal is no longer a tracker and needs to learn to be content as Head Guard of the Sun Summoner and Nikolai struggles to find a place among the very people he wishes to save.
As the constant threat of the Darkling’s presence increases the Grishas that were left behind must begin to form alliances, and help aide in the fight against the looming dark forces. Throw in a little love triangle with Mal and Nikolai and Alina and there’s enough tension to almost outweigh the fear of Ravka being torn apart.
This book was perfect in all the ways that either make or break a sequel. Alina and Mal are not simple characters and they are still growing up and learning to love, and learning the values of courage and loyalty and it is these developments that bring depth to the series. With the introduction of the Grisha twins and Nikolai, the orphans are no longer alone and most importantly they now have allies in the impending war. Set amidst the backdrop of a Russia-inspired landscape, Leigh Bardugo’s character descriptions, world-building and witty dialogue are every bit as phenomenal as that which made the first book so great. Bring on Ruin and Rising (2014)!