Hunting water serpents and dodging a Shadow-wielding manic.
Genre: YA, Fantasy
No. of pages: 432
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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.
Another fantastic entry into the Grishaverse. I love the mythology and the magic system as Alina and Mal dodge The Darkling, the religious faction of the Sun Summoner and quest to find another amplifier.
The plot and writing style are astoundingly great, though the characterisation of Alina fell a bit flat for me in ‘Siege and Storm.’ It’s like she became single minded and stubborn and lost much of her complexity. It was harder to connect with her character, and I found myself getting a little bored of her at times. So too was Mal. Like he had been painted in the first novel as the forever and reliable best friend that Alina may or may not have romantic feelings for, it didn’t give Mal much room to shine as a complex character. I still loved their dynamic, and the story, but their characterisation left the tone of ‘Siege and Storm’ a little flat.
Leigh Bardugo raises the stakes with a more powerful and threatening antagonist with the Darkling, but then I felt like a lot of the politics with the royal family and all the posturing slowed the pace somewhat. There was less action in comparison to the debut, more in library research and angling for support with those in power. I’m not one that finds the politics all that fascinating and it always pulls me from the narrative feigning disinterest.
‘Siege and Storm’ ends in a cliff-hanger which has me very excited to pick up ‘Ruin and Rising.’ While a zoomed through the debut ‘Shadow and Bone,’ it was a little more difficult to get through this sequel, evidently suffering that famous middle-book syndrome (slump).
I’m interested to see the television series take on this novel in the second series of the Netfix production. It has become one of my favourite television adaptations of all time.
I can’t honestly sad this book is predictable in its details, but for the over-arching storyline of the trilogy it is fairly easy to guess the direction of the story; nonetheless I love Leigh Bardugo’s talent in crafting a plot, unexpected reveals, upping the ante, and throwing in a twist or two.
Still a strong recommendation from me, if a fantasy can have me this much engaged, it must be good.
Overall feeling: Happy travels!
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