Thursday, 4 July 2013

Siege and Storm By Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm
Series: Grisha #2
Release Date: 6th June 2013
Publisher: Indigo 
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Source: Received from Publisher.

Synopsis: Darkness never dies.

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.

Review: Last year when I read Shadow and Bone I was so eager and excited to see what would happen in the sequel. I requested a proof copy of Siege and Storm and received a special ARC that had one of my quotes in it. I read it straight away and it was just as amazing as the first. It was fast paced and introduced us to many new characters that would go on to play a big role in the novel, while also bringing back past characters and showing us how they have developed after the devastating events on the shadow fold. I loved the development of characters in this book and the change of the theme which just aided with the progress of the plot, and kept the novel as a whole, fast paced with the reader continuously engaged.

Siege and Storm begins with Alina and Mal sailing across the True Sea in an attempt to escape the Darkling. When they reach land they try and remain hidden while they earn some money to continue their journey. Alina is being hunted by the Darkling’s army and it isn’t long until trouble arises. With the help of captain Sturmhond, she sets sail again. But it isn’t long until the Darkling finds Alina and a reunion reveals some horrifying things. The Darkling has managed to create a new type of monster, one that only he can summon. With this new revelation, it really hits Alina that she is the only one who can stop him; after all she may have been the cause of this new power. 

One of my favourite things about this novel was Alina’s character growth and development. I don’t think I have ever felt closer to a character throughout the course of a novel as I did with this. From the first novel we knew that Alina was a very strong character and one who wasn’t afraid to break a few rules now and again, while she also had an intelligent mind and would use this wisely. In Siege and Storm Alina is still as realistic as ever but now she is put through some internal conflict. We see her struggle with the extent and weight of her power and the realisation that people now see her as a god. This puts a lot of pressure on her and strains many of her relationships with others. Alina is forced to change so quickly in a short amount of time. At the beginning of Shadow and Bone she was a map maker, now she is the Sun Summoner and people are following her as if she is a god and their only salvation. That has to be both physically and mentally draining and we see how Alina copes with it all in Siege and Storm. She begins to develop her power in the hope to save her people but this only adds fear to her mind, as she find this power addictive and she knows the line between the light and shadows is very thin and she could easily fall. Sometimes it seems the best option would be for her to fall across this line and let things finish easily, but she knows that this isn’t the right option and she will rise to conquer the darkling. She knows how the power has changed the darkling and therefore she is scared to use her power so much in fright that she may also fall from grace. Throughout the course of the novel we see her come to terms with how people are now following her and how with their help and uniting everyone there may be a chance to win. She still struggles with her power but we see her trying and adapting to using it in the right way. The development is amazing and so realistically done, Alina gets so confused with things that it becomes a strain she knows she must fight and conquer. 

Now onto Mal and the Darkling. Mal first then, well I have to be honest I was not a Mal fan girl in Shadow and Bone and after reading Siege and Storm my dislike for him has grown so much. I just don’t like the way he disrespects Alina all the damn time, and when she says no to him he goes and drowns himself in drink and fights. To me that does not show a strong man, instead it shows a pain in the ass who isn’t worth Alina’s time. Both of them have changed from when they were in the orphanage and I think it’s time that they both move on. There isn’t a place for Mal in Alina’s new life, he knows it and she knows it but they just haven’t acted upon it yet.

Now the Darkling, I love him and his darkly seductive ways. He is still power hungry but we see that the events on the Shadow fold have had an effect on him and also the rest of the Grisha. His hold on them has been slightly impacted. In Siege and Storm we see him more vulnerable, he is slightly weaker due to the events of the Shadow Fold but this has left him with a new power that is greater than what he had before and even more terrifying. The thing is this new power drains on him and is not to be used too often. But as the Darkling is addicted to power he does not see the extent of weakness that has begun to show due to overusing this new power. 

I’m just going to talk a little about Sturmhond but not too much as I want you all to discover him and his secrets yourselves when you read the novel. All I have to say is that he is a great addition to the cast of characters and one that will leave an impression on the reader. Let’s just say that an alliance with him would give Alina even more power. 

The main part of this book is of course about Alina coming to terms with her power while the threat of the Darkling looms closer but what I also loved was the sub plot of the amplifiers and how they tie in to Alina’s story. I honestly did not see this new connection and addition coming, I love the mystery and enchantment that comes with the tales of the amplifiers and I cannot wait to see what Bardugo does in the final book with them all. Also I loved the Ice Dragon, it’s a shame there wasn’t more focus and time spent on this but never mind I’m still a very happy reader and I am eager to see what happens next. 

And with the plot there comes the development of the themes throughout the trilogy. Many trilogies get caught up and jump from themes without a smooth passage between but in the Grisha series it has been done so perfectly, that I can’t help but admire the talent Leigh Bardugo has and how effectively she uses it. In Shadow and Bone we were introduced to the enchanting and epic world of the Grisha and some of its backstory. In Siege and Storm the main focus seems to be the growth of Alina's power and how it has had an effect on the whole of Ravka and its people. From the ending of Siege and Storm we can see that the theme will need to change again due to the final events of the novel. I have every faith that it will flow and work just as well as the previous two novels. 

Ooh and the ending of the novel made me literally full of emotions, my heart was pounding and I was so excited but also curious to see what the hell would happen! All I will say is Alina you go girl! And also to the Darkling, I will hug you and comfort you! I won’t say any more but the rest of the ending, oh my god, shows we still have a lot to come in Alina’s story and I am so eager and excited to read it. 

Well there you go, Leigh Bardugo, you sure know how to involve your readers and make them an emotional wreck. Siege and Storm is an enthralling sequel that seriously ups the game and expectations of the reader. It is written so beautifully that is flows flawlessly while keeping the magic alive in the readers mind. If you want to read a fantasy series that has a truly unique world then read this series. If you loved the first book then there is no doubt that Siege and Storm will reignite the magic that you found before while also leaving you crying out for the final instalment of the Grisha series. I loved everything about this novel, the strength of Alina and her development, the world building that is still superb, the progress and twists in the plot that will keep the reader enchanted and of course the Darkling who is still waiting for you. Don’t make him wait any longer.