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Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy, #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Publication date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Category: Young Adult - Fantasy
Summary: 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. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny a the Sun Summoner 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…The good: Siege and Storm was one of my most anticipated books of this year and as I read, I was reminded why with each passing page. It's the writing, the characters, the intricate heart-pounding plot. The whole book feels like a painting come to life through Leigh Bardugo's beautiful and unbelievably descriptive writing.
The world of Ravka is as dark and desolate as ever but Mal and Alina are free. As free as they can be living in a small town far from the Darkling's sights and hiding who they really are - a tracker who's deserted his men and the Sun Summoner, one of the most powerful Grisha. But they can only stay hidden for so long until the Darkling finds them and he isn't the same person Alina remembers. The Darkling is scarred from their last battle but has somehow managed to tap into a darker and more powerful magic since then. It's one that defies the laws of the natural world but it seems to come at a price. Between the Darkling's growing forces and the help of a privateer named Nikolai Sturmond, Alina decides to take matters into her own hands and finally uses her powers to try and save Ravka - no matter what the cost.
I love Alina and Mal - if I had to list my top ten favorite characters in a fantasy series, they would be on the list. And because I care so much for their characters, I could feel their frustrations as if it were my own. I felt like in Shadow & Bone, these two were discovering who they were but in Seige & Storm, it was more about deciding who they were going to be. Alina is struggling under the pressure of everyone who wants her to use her powers to save Ravka. It seems like almost every person in her life has a hidden agenda or use for her. Except for Mal, who is struggling with something else entirely. He's feeling inadequate next to all these Grisha and their gifts, stifled by the court and unsure if Alina wants to be with him. In this book, we get a deeper glimpse not only into their feelings for each other but for themselves. Alina is ready to accept her destiny and do something with her abilities, whereas Mal is a tracker at heart but at the same time, his heart belongs to Alina. Their relationship and just the individuals themselves are, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the series for me.
But Siege and Storm truly pushes this series forward. We learn more about the mythology of the Grisha and the power struggle between those who want to rule. We also get a brand new (and lovable!) character in the form of Nikolai Sturmond. He (along with Alina's random outbursts) provided some much-needed lighter moments to the tone of the book and I'm pretty sure everyone will love him. (Although Mal still has my heart!)
(Potential) reservations: It took me a little bit to remember all the details about Ravka and the Grisha since it's been well over a year since I read Shadow & Bone. If you have time, I would suggest skimming the first book or at least refreshing your memory. But otherwise, it's amazing!
Do I recommend?: This is one of my favorite fantasy series and one I will always recommend to everyone.