Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Release Date – June 4, 2013
Publisher Website - Henry Holt and Co/Raincoast Books Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 448 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**obtained for review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Darkness never dies.Siege and Storm blends fantasy elements with a young girl's struggle to accept herself, and find her place in a dangerous, and pressing world. With the lore of this novel being unwoven slowly, the second installment in this series was more rich in detail than the first.
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.
I have to admit that I started Siege and Storm with minor reservations. I liked Shadow and Bone well enough, but there were some issues that I personally had. However, Siege and Storm not only changed my mind, but this novel did something the last one didn't - make me care about Alina. It showed me a more vulnerable side to her icy character that lent warmer feelings towards her. Her struggle with her power, and how it is to be used.
Alina is constantly being pressured. Everyone wants her, and everyone wants to use her. Her power is tremendous. It is hers to yield and her strength may just be unparalleled. It's rather striking than that she may not be the one to decide how to use it. Manipulation, threats, coercion, and flattery are all used to sway Alina's loyalty. She's a prize that is being pulled on by many different players. The fact that Alina is the one holding the power is fantastic, however I found it frustrating that she's in essence the rope in a game of tug of war between a bunch of men.
Each of the men in her life want her to change, or be someone she's not. Mal wants her to return to being someone she can no longer be. The Darkling wants to corrupt her and mold her into something she can't live with being. Sturmhond's motivations are unknown at first, but suffice to say he has his own agenda. In none of these did I see Alina choosing for herself. I kept waiting for her to stand up and show them who was in control, as it should be her. She wields pretty intense power. I wanted for her to have faith in herself. While we see glimpses of her standing up for herself and what SHE believes in, I hope that the third book focuses on her making the choices that she wants, whatever they may be.
Sturmhond, the newest character in the series, is my new favourite. A cocky, self assured, yet very charming pirate with secrets of his own. He quickly stole my heart, and my allegiance in the quest for Alina's heart as well. Romance in this novel is raw and tainted. As a sun summoner, Alina has to deal with the fact that people want to use her. Her heart can lead her astray, and with that it makes falling in love dangerous.
Mal, of course, is swoon worthy as ever. His determination for Alina to live a quiet normal life with him is admirable, if somewhat foolish. Alina has power, and with it comes a certain responsibility. All Mal wants is for her to run from it and stay safe. It's another form of telling her what she wants, rather than listening to what she is saying.
My dislike of the Darking managed to grow in this novel. I am confident I will never fall under his dark and seductive spell. I think he's pretty unredeemable at this point. I just grew angrier with each new horrific thing that was revealed. His rules are hard, and he expects absolute obedience or his punishment is severe.
The fantasy aspect were quite well done in this installment. I loved the unraveling of the lore. The set up for the third book with the newest quest, and the potential of catastrophic consequences from completing it well executed. They say power corrupts, and we are seeing Alina faced with some pretty heavy temptation. It's this tease of the dark side of her character, and the knife's edge tension that make her fascinating. At her core she wants to do the right thing, but a taste of power is often never enough. I am curious to see how benevolent she would be if she ever ruled.
The ending, while a cliffhanger, impressed me more because I didn't think this novel would go in this particular direction. It's a different, and perhaps bold choice. It remains to be seen what exactly it means, and how it'll impact the rest of the series.
A novel where power can corrupt, a heart should be protected, and where ultimately the hardest choice may just be the right one. If you loved the first novel, I have no doubts you'll like this one even more. A fantasy novel that is rich with detail, and with characters that I am finally starting to warm up to.