The third thing you need to know is this:
The new guys and The Darkling steal the show?
Move over everybody else in the book, there are some new characters on the True Sea – meet Sturmhond and his crew because they are INCREDIBLE! Sturmhond is a crafty and smart privateer (not pirate!) that rescues Alina and Mal from the clutches of The Darkling – he tosses them aboard his boat and then takes them back to…Ravka? Yep. He has his reasons! Sturmhond is SO GOSH DARN likable, so very much so, that I wanted to reach thru the book, pull him out, and befriend him in my real life. The more I got to know him, the more I liked him. The more little secrets he revealed here and there, the better he made the story. Sturmhond is full of secrets, and they both enrich and complicate things. At one point, there was a big Sturmhond reveal and my mouth sort of dropped open. LOVE LOVE LOVE the details about this character and his crew, how Sturmhond fits into the story, and how he finishes the story. I am ridiculously eager to find out more about this guy because WOW he is such a great character.
Also stealing the show, we have The Darkling. Okay, so this guy is just WOW. He’s evil and dark, but he’s also smooth-talking and kinda sexy. There are times when I despise him and want to slap him, but there are times when I want to keep him in the scene a little longer because I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIM PLEASE. He is such an incredibly interesting villain to me – not only because he’s BAD – but because I constantly want to know more about him but the information is just out of my reach. I only know just enough to get me though the next part of the story, and that is how it has felt through both books in this series so far. I think this is kind of a brilliant way to write The Darkling’s character because it makes him feel mysterious in a truly mysterious way (not a broody contemporary YA male way). He’s The Darkling. THE DARKLING! – that name sounds creepy and mysterious just in and of itself, right? And his wily ways in this book are whacked out and crazy, a little creepy, and downright odd. I have no idea what is in his head and I can’t figure out his motivations. I can’t wait to find out WHAT IS HIS DEAL in the last book. I’ve been asking that question now for two books in this series, but I am not annoyed at all by his mystique. I’m actually quite fascinated by it.
I love Alina and Mal, I really do. They are fantastic and wonderful. But I also love Sturmhond and The Darkling. I’m a fan of the whole brilliant cast.
After falling head-over-heels in love with Shadow and Bone a few weeks ago, I am not surprised at all that I am head-over-heels in love with the second book in the series, Siege and Storm. It is a sound and solid follow-up effort, and it places Leigh Bardugo on my list of instant-read authors.
I still marvel at the world that Leigh Bardugo has created. Once again, I am completely thrust into the Russian culture, the world of the Grisha as well as the Russian royalty and commoners. The fact that I am able to visualize this book so easily is astounding to me since I have very little knowledge of this culture outside of this very series. I loved the vivid descriptions of the True Sea, the landscape, and the Little Palace most of all.
Bardugo’s characterization is equally as stellar. I love Alina and Mal, and how very real they feel to me. I love it when they are happy with one another and I love it when they have fights or disagreements with one another because these situations feel very real. I love it when they feel hope and when they feel despair, because they feel these things deeply and earnestly. I love when Alina and Mal have scenes together – they are one of my favorite duos in YA fantasy because of their long-term friendship that began in an orphanage and their ability to make it through the thicks and thins of life. I love that they stand by one another and have an affection that runs deep. They are really well written from a friendship-standpoint, and I love this about them as it seeps outward into their other relationships (professional, romantic, etc.) at various points in this series.
I love how Alina interacts with other people in the story as well. I love how she has embraced the role of Grisha. She understands what it means to be the Sun Summoner and while she doesn’t always want that responsibility, she tries to embrace it, even when it means delegating and enforcing. It is fun to be a reader and privy to the Alina that others see – the very public Alina – who is strong and a voice and symbol for the people, as well as the real, private Alina – the one that reveals herself to no one. This Alina is exhausted, weak, guilt-ridden, unsure of herself, and harbors a wide range of emotions that seem to change on a whim. There is also an interesting, almost-supernatural connection that Alina has to The Darkling, and it is creepy and sometimes heartbreaking to read, because I can see it freaking her out and tearing her down. But hooray for gumption, courage, and strength, as Alina has been known to dig deep and find just enough when it is needed…
I’ve already sung the praises of Sturmhond and The Darkling as wonderful characters, and I’ll just echo that here. Sturmhond took what is a great story and made it even better. I can’t imagine what he will be up to in the next part of the series but I am itching to find out. His addition was a treat for me. I still consider The Darkling to be the wild card of this series, as many of you probably do/will, and I’m sure he has a ton of tricks up his sleeve. He surprised me throughout this book just like he did in the first one. I expect no less from him in the final book. But I’m expecting big things from Alina, too, and Mal, and the rest of the characters. If this book is any indicator for this series, the final book will be the best of all.
In addition to world-building and characterization, I love the Russian lore that weaves in and out of the story. I love how the word “marry” gets thrown around by one or two of the characters. I love the idea that Alina can never fully realize her Grisha power if she continues to cling to Mal, who is merely a human – she is torn between these two worlds, and this adds to the emotional breakdown she feels throughout this book. I love that a large portion of this story takes place on the sea. I love that Alina gets confused time and again by recurrent ‘visions’ she is having, to the point that she literally cannot tell if they are real or not real. I love the sibling relationship between Prince Nikolai and Prince Visolay, and how it just does not work because Visolay is just an icky, icky guy. I love the secondary character David, the Grisha, because we see more of him in this book, and because I now understand him better and he is so, so great. I hope to see still more of him in the final book. I could list a bazillion things I love.
Once again, at the end of this Grisha book, after the craziness has gone down, I’m left with a feeling of contentment at the ending. I like that I will be able to catch my breath, along with the characters, before everything likely comes unglued and the end goes haywire in the final installment. I almost feel like I need this year in-between books to rest up for what is sure to be a true Leigh-Bardugo-twist-and-turn-fest. I honestly can’t wait. I’m already anticipating the final book in this trilogy, Ruin and Rising.
I recommend Siege and Storm for fans of YA fantasy with magic, adventure on the high sea, and mysterious dark characters. I recommend that you read Shadow and Bone if you haven’t and HURRY because you’re missing out!
Siege and Storm will appeal to fans of:
YA Fantasy with Magic
Romance: Questionable triangle, everyone has
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
will be available for purchase June 4, 2013.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. Thank you Henry Holt and Co./Macmillan!
Have you read SHADOW AND BONE yet?
Is SIEGE AND STORM on your wish-list?