Image and synopsis from Amazon:
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, 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.
*This review will contain spoilers from Shadow and Bone*
Siege and Storm picks up right where Shadow and Bone left off, with Alina and Mal on the run from the Darkling. I read Shadow and Bone a few weeks ago, but had no problem starting the second book and the events of the previous story quickly came back to me. I am pleased to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The events moved along rather quickly and there was a lot of buildup for the final book. The aspects of the story that bothered me in Shadow and Bone, such as world-building and Alina’s character, were mostly resolved in Siege and Storm. In my opinion, this book is much better than the first and Bardugo has set the stage for an exciting finale.
The world-building is so much better in this book! The story starts right off with an encounter with the Darkling, attacks from volcra and shadow soldiers and a ship ride with a privateer in search of the mythical dragon, Rusalye. While the first installment focuses heavily on Grisha politics, Siege and Storm offers us insight into the court of the King of Ravka and the relationship between the Grisha and non-Grisha. Alina becomes more involved in Ravkan politics as she is no longer allied with the Darkling but will obviously have an important role to play as the only Sun Summoner.
Alina is a much improved character from the first book. She’s overall less whiny and less concerned with her appearance. While she is unsure of the role she wants to play in the upcoming war, Alina displays a strength I did not see in the previous book. I was pleasantly surprised when she told Sturmhond (I will talk about him a bit later ) that she wanted the second army. I cheered for Alina as she learned to become a leader among the Grisha. She also has some darker moments throughout the story as she realizes her power from the stag amplifier. While does increase her power, it also creates a connection with the Darkling. It is still unclear what this connection means, but Alina does feel the lure of the power. As Alina seeks to gain more power, her relationship with Mal also becomes strained. Alina descends to a dark place in this book and I loved it. I honestly don’t know what will happen to Alina, but I do know she will have to make some difficult decisions in the future. Kudos to Bardugo for some excellent character development with Alina!
This book also introduces a fantastic new character- Sturmhond. What a wonderfully sarcastic, funny and swoon-worthy character! We first meet him upon his ship when Alina and Mal are searching for the dragon, but he becomes an integral part of the story as we learn more about his identity. I am looking forward to see his story progress.
A large part of this book is dedicated to the strained relationship between Alina and Mal. I’ve always thought Mal was an intriguing character and I feel like there is more to learn about his seemingly perfect ability to track. Towards the end of Shadow and Bone, Alina and Mal admit they have feelings for each other and they begin a romantic relationship. While there is some romance in the story, this is not the primary focus. Instead, we see Alina and Mal grow further and further apart as Alina assumes her Grisha identity and Mal is, in a sense, left behind. His scenes with Alina are heartbreaking, but Mal never really fit with Alina and being around the Grisha was slowly suffocating him. Their relationship is complicated and I honestly don’t see a happy ending for them, but I am eager to see where it leads.
Finally, that ending was so explosive and heart-wrenching and I am eager to start reading the third book. I absolutely recommend continuing on with the series. I hope the third book is also as satisfying!