The sequel to Shadow and Bone was just as good, if not better, than it’s predecessor. Again, with such a beautiful cover the writing can only be wonderful too. Although we weren’t left on a cliffhanger per say, in Shadow and Bone, and you could probably read the first book in the series and be done with it, I would not recommend a hasty finish. I hypothesized that Siege and Storm would be a ‘getting there’ book. By this I mean that it’s mostly travel, and there isn’t a lot going on. As with a few ‘middle’ books they just seem to serve the purpose of turning a duology into a trilogy. I have to say that I thought this was going to be the case up until half way through. There is pain. There is deception. There is heartache. There is some happiness, but not much so it makes for an intense read to say the least.
The way the story is told sucks the reader in completely. For a fantasy novel, I thought it would be quiet dense, but the first person narrative from our teenage protagonist still somehow manages to make murder and power plays upbeat. Who knew, right? Once again Alina proves to be strong and confident. She’s developed from the first book, but perhaps not in the way I wanted her to. But she can still work out what is right and what is wrong. She’s still got her moral compass in tact and she’s making decisions that benefit more than just her. For a girl who’s had greatness thrust upon her she’s working up to the image of Sankta Alina in an incredibly mature way. However, she is still a teenager and there is still room for improvement and lesson learning, which I can only hope accumulates in the final installment.
Siege and Storm starts on a boat. Sailors. Privateers. Perfect. We’re introduced to a new character ‘Sturmhond.’ I’ll admit that I kept tripping over the pronunciation when reading, but it wasn’t as bad as when I tried to sound out the Russian. I think the only word I mastered effectively was ‘sobaka.’ Sturmhond is something else entirely and one of my favourite characters. He’s exactly what the – rather depressing at that point, if I’m honest – plot line needed. He also acts as another tier to out love triangle. Seriously? Three guys in love with her at once? Apparently so.
I’ve already expressed my profound love for Mal, and was overjoyed to know that my prophecies for his future have not come true, at least for this book anyway. There’s still a chance that he’ll die in Ruin and Rising, and with the amount of death threats and how many times he’s been used as a pawn so far in this series, I would not be surprised. The relationship between Alina and Mal developed rapidly. It evolved. Alina is changing due to her increased power and I’m worried for her. I’m worried for what’s going to happen in the final chapter of her journey. Will she get the firebird? There is pictorial evidence on the front cover on Ruin and Rising to suggest that she does, but can she really handle it?
For a main character the Darkling was remarkably…not present, or at least not us much as previously. But as much as I feel it would be a betrayal to Mal, I think that Alina and the Darkling’s relationship is the one that I am interested in most, because the dynamic is just so different to anything I’ve read before. The powers pollute their relationship and I’m never entirely sure whether they’re using each other or if they genuinely like each other. As I’ve said, there is quite a lot of death and some of it is rather unsettling, but the betrayal of Genya was what had me cringing away from the story.
Overall, I’m looking forward to the progression of this series, because other than some character deaths I have no idea what is going to happen. I hope that Alina can somehow keep it together, and I hope that the new characters continue to surprise and liven up the story.