Title: Siege and Storm
Series: Grisha Trilogy
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: June 4th, 2013 (Henry Holt and Co)
Synopsis: 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.
“You know the problem with heroes and saints, Nikolai?”
I asked as I closed the book’s cover and headed for the door.
“They always end up dead.”
Following the battle on the Fold, Alina and Mal have escaped and made it across the True Sea to Novyi Zem where they are now living in disguise. Not for long though, as the Darkling has survived, with a terrifying new power to boot, and soon tracks them down, with the aim of not only taking Alina back to Ravka, but also finding a second amplifier – Rusalye, the sea whip, a mythical water snake. The captain of the ship, who turns out to be Sturmhond, the notorious Ravkan privateer, has other plans however, and after a mid-sea mutiny, Alina is headed back to Ravka with a second amplifier – something unheard of for a Grisha – and in the company of none other than Ravka’s second prince, Nikolai Lantsov. The country is gearing up for war, and the people, already uneasy in the company of Grisha, are now outright hostile towards the Second Army – or what remains of it after many deserted it for the Darkling’s side.
Well, Siege and Storm definitely does not suffer from middle book syndrome. If anything, this was an even wilder ride than book one. As always, this review is spoiler free, and as unbiased due to events in following books as I could make it. Alina is fast turning into a very intriguing character. No longer the doe eyed girl, she’s gained quite a bit of confidence, oddly enough, probably a mixture of both the Darkling’s and Nikolai’s influences, and has learned to take the reins and use her influence to do what needs to be done – gather the remnants of the Second Army and defend Ravka. Not an easy task though, as all Grisha are being viewed with suspicion following the Darkling’s actions.
On one hand, the throne is watching her very closely for any signs of disloyalty, and on the other, the Ravkan people are hearkening to her as Sankta Alina, come to deliver them from the evil of the Fold due to the Apparat’s encouragement and the formation of the cult of the Sun Saint. More interesting however, is the effect gaining a second amplifier has on her, making her almost obsessed with finding a third one that might be out there. I’m going to abstain from commenting on Mal in this book, because that would set me off on a completely different rant about how selfish and insecure he was being throughout – not that Alina was entirely blameless for it either.
“We are alike,” he said, “as no one else is, as no one else will ever be.”
The truth of it rang through me. Like calls to like.
The Darkling has done quite the 180 in this one, and is pretty much full on…well, dark. What happened on the Fold hasn’t left him entirely unaffected and his new power comes with a hefty cost. But what this book did most in terms of the Darkling was make me curious about his past, especially those conversations with Alina that made it clear he is somewhat lonely, and believes that Alina is the only one who can understand his powers. He isn’t my favourite character any longer, but there were times when I almost felt bad for him and I really appreciate a complex villain. Redemption arc?
And Nikolai – hands down my favourite character from any of Leigh Bardugo’s books, one of the reasons I decided to do a full reread of the series this year was because I realized we aren’t getting the sequel to King of Scars in the spring or summer (possibly not even in the fall, considering a release date has yet to be announced 😭) and I simply could not wait for that long to read more about Nikolai. Once you get past his many facades – and oh, how entertaining they are – he is just someone who loves his country and his people, and is willing to do whatever needs to be done to save it – and I have to say, I’m kind of impressed that Alina wasn’t swooning over him, even if we did have to put up with some infuriatingly angsty scenes while she mooned over Mal’s attitude instead. It was so evil to just leave his fate hanging at the end of the book like that, Alina’s shocking reveal apart. Nikolai is a truly a jewel of a character that made up for literally any complaints I had about Siege and Storm.
Overall, a lot happened in this book, even if it did have it’s slow moments, they were well spent, introducing some very interesting new characters and setting the stage for a shocking ending and a really tense book three. Another fantastic book and I’m off to continue my series reread now!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: