Siege and Storm
The second book in the Grisha Triology will not disappoint fans of the first book, Shadow and Bone. We find Alina Starkov, Mal Oretsev, and The Darkling where they left off at the end of the first book, and the stakes for Ravka are even higher than before. Siege and Storm introduces readers to a few new, instantly enjoyable characters that are sure to become favorites in their own right.
Siege and Storm picks up shortly after the dramatic, cliffhanger ending from Shadow and Bone. Alina and Mal have fled Ravka by boat to escape The Darkling’s evil forces and are now hiding out in Novyi Zem, across the True Sea. Although Mal has adjusted to their new life, Alina is haunted by the memories of the chaos she left behind at The Fold and how many lives might have been lost. Alina is right to not let down her guard in the unfamiliar land because it doesn’t take long for the pair to be dragged back across the sea. The Darkling has no plans to let Alina get away and has serious plans for her powers as the Sun Summoner. Alina is in for a terrible surprise when they meet again; The Darkling survived The Fold and gained a new, truly terrifying power that even she can’t overcome.
Of course, The Darkling is never satisfied, no matter how much power he acquires. Capturing the antlers of Morozova’s stag was not enough to amplify Alina’s powers for his purposes. There are even more mysterious creatures to be hunted in this story and used for The Darkling’s devious plans. For Alina, more power may mean giving up more and more of herself. She is no longer sure if she will even recognize herself anymore when all is said and done.
Fans of Alina and Mal’s relationship should be prepared for some trepidation in this one. As Alina changes and comes more into her Grisha powers, Mal struggles to cope. He misses the plain girl he grew up with and does not know how to feel about what Alina is becoming. Personally, I grew frustrated with Mal over the course of this story. He is angry and threatened for the majority of the book. Frankly, I did not fall head-over-heels for him while reading Shadow and Bone, and my affection for his character didn’t grow in the second installment. In the first book, I felt he ignored Alina, then was gone for most of the book, and appeared at the end loving her simply because he was used to having her around. In Siege and Storm, he seems terribly insecure over Alina’s progression and any contact she has with other males. I had to laugh because I was just thinking how feeble their relationship seemed when another character pointed out how insecure the lovers are. Mal’s character only loses respect from the reader as the story goes on and he self-destructs. Fortunately, the book features a new male lead that outshines Mal page after page.
Siege and Storm features some exciting, high-seas adventure with our newest, swoon-worthy hero, Sturmhond. The mysterious privateer oozes charm and good humor, but may not be trustworthy. After all, a man whose allegiance is bought can always be swayed one way or another. We learn that Sturmhond is working for a secret source that could prove good or bad for the Sun Summoner. Sturmhond’s dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny at times and he proves to be an excellent element to lighten up the oftentimes-dour storylines between Mal and Alina. I found myself totally enamored by the sexy pirate and missed the character every time he was not on the page. It may have helped that I couldn’t help but picture him as Wesley from The Princess Bride in his Dread Pirate Roberts persona.
For those that were taken in by the swarthy, cool machinations of The Darkling in book one, the sequel may be somewhat disappointing. Everyone’s favorite anti-hero is absent, at least physically, for the majority of this story. I would have liked a few more scenes with him being his wicked self like we saw in Shadow and Bone. There’s just something about the forbidden attraction to the bad guy that makes him exciting to read about.
I found myself enjoying Siege and Storm even more than Shadow and Bone. Where the first book dragged a bit in the middle with the repetitive scenes of Alina studying at the Little Palace and her constant complaining about her powers, this sequel is heavier on action. Alina has much to do in learning to use her powers against the new threats from The Darkling, but she strengthens as a character. The whiny weakling from book one has been replaced by a powerful young woman coming into her own. Her interactions with Sturmhond, particularly his advice on leadership, are a joy to read.
There are a few other new characters in the second installment, like Tamar and Tolya, who are members of Sturmhond’s crew. I appreciate the brother and sister’s tough attitudes and how they were always kicking butt, however I admittedly had a hard time remembering which was the girl and which was the boy. We also get to visit with some of the Grisha from the first book and are updated on how things in Ravka have gone since the incident on The Fold. Over the time between books, the people’s joy over the Sun Summoner has grown into a cult of fervent believers. Alina must address her new role as a veritable saint to a country of desperate people.
Readers that fell in love with Shadow and Bone will be highly satisfied with the continuation of the story and the cliffhanger ending will have you hungry for book three, Ruin and Rising. Don’t attempt to read this book without having read book one in the trilogy, or you will be very lost. Fans of the Grisha Trilogy that need something else to read while waiting for the final installment should consider another strong fantasy series with a European feel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.