Thursday, August 15, 2013

(Review) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha, #2
Published: June 4, 2013 (Henry Holt and Co.)
Rating: Stay Up 'til 2 AM
Format: Hardcover, borrowed from the library
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. 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.
As you may have seen in our review yesterday, Racquel and I were both fans of Shadow and Bone. However, Siege and Storm is really where it's at for me! A large part of my love of Shadow and Bone was for the world and the characters it introduced. It was so intriguing and flat-out awesome! But now that I already knew the world, I wasn't sure what was in store.

I'll start out with a confession: I almost didn't read Siege and Storm. I renewed it until it hit the limit at the library, and I was a few days from having to return it. I think it was for a combination of reasons. A large part was that I simply wasn't sure I wanted to read it! Sure, I did, hypothetically. If I would've had it on hand when I read Shadow and Bone, I would have picked it up immediately! But I didn't. Over the course of a month, I lost a bit of interest. I got into a historical mood, then a contemporary YA mood. I just wasn't feeling the fantasy. I looked at it, even picked it up a couple times, but never opened it. As I didn't support either of the potential relationships, I didn't have that pulling me toward it. And while a compelling concept and world was enough to enjoy one book, I was unsure if it would hold as much appeal for the (rather large looking) entirety of Siege and Storm. Then I stumbled across The Catch Up Book Club at The Yasmine Public Library. A bunch of people were going to be reading Siege and Storm instead of Shadow and Bone for this session, so she invited me to join in.

So I decided I would give it a chance. I would read the first few pages, at least, and see if they caught my interest. I am SO GLAD I did this! I would have kicked myself for waiting so long if I could have somehow known about the awesomeness that hid behind the incredibly lovely and awesome cover.

Immediately, I was drawn into this world again! I don't know if it's the Russian inspiration, the unique Grisha magic, or just the fact that I adore high fantasy settings, but I just love the Grisha world. I can see and feel it perfectly in my head, and it's so interesting! I enjoyed being back there again.

Now, let's get to it: I'll admit it. There was one huge reason I enjoyed Siege and Storm more than Shadow and Bone, and his name was Sturmhond. Here's a note I wrote myself while reading: "I am more invested in Alina/Sturmhond after 3 pages than in Mal/Alina after entirety of Shadow and Bone." And my love only grew throughout the book, as secrets were revealed and plots began thickening. Seriously, though. I just loved him as a character. He was so brilliant and fun and fascinating! There was, without a doubt, more to his character than met the eye, and I'm crossing my fingers that we get to know more in the future. I never wanted scenes with him to end. And I thought he and Alina had potential to be a great couple. So, I am, without a doubt, finally declaring a team for the Grisha series!

Another thing about this book that I enjoyed was how character-driven it was. We got further inside Alina's head. It was interesting to see the Darkling, Mal, and Sturmhond and how she was being pulled in three separate directions at once, in different combinations of what she felt like what was supposed to do versus what she wanted to do. I also really liked Tolya and Tamar!

On a slightly random note, there was one thing that bothered me. I have no idea why anyone would choose to name their character Tamar, especially one who is really close to her brother. This just seems odd to me. But I guess it doesn't seem to bother anyone else, so it must just be me! And it is really only a small, nonsensical thing that I got past fairly quickly.

There's a lot I can't talk about, to avoid spoilers, because the story is complex and fantastic, and I don't want to give anything away that would steal a gasp-worthy moment (of which I had quite a few!). It was addicting and did not at all feel like a 430 page book! I positively flew through Siege and Storm! It was a fantastic blend of adventure, intrigue, and romance. I have high hopes for Ruin and Rising and am anxiously awaiting 2014 and what it brings for Alina and everyone in the world of the Grisha!
The ox feels the yoke, but does the bird feel the weight of its wings?

I like to have powerful enemies. Makes me feel important.

Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea.

I wanted to say something comforting, something reassuring. But there were so many mistakes in my own past that I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t ring false.

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