Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2; Grisha Verse #2
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: June 4th 2013 by Henry Holt and Company
Rating: 3/5 stars ★★★
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”
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. 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.
3 of 5 stars to Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm was a lot slower in pace compared to Shadow and Bone, the chapters not as exciting. The writing also didn’t improve (it’s still the same contemporary sounding words and dialogues) and there was just too much dilly-dallying on the characters’ actions.
However, the most disappointing about it was the romance, and how the story spent too much time dawdling at it when it didn’t seem that important. I also didn’t like how Alina acted as a lover to Mal (though to be fair, Mal’s hurt ego was a definite eye-roller too) and as leader of the Grishas. She was weak on both accounts and that just made her irritating. I hated how she kept secrets from Mal, how she continuously underestimated him; I hated how she didn’t make an effort to reach out to the other Grishas, kept herself isolated, and then complain of loneliness. Her misery was all her doing and it was hard to sympathize with her then.
Having said that, I shall cut her some slack because all this is new to her and I can only imagine how great the pressure is for her, what with all of Ravka clamoring for her attention–the Darkling, the prince, the pilgrims, the grishas, and of course, Mal.
It’s one saving grace is this: there were some thought-provoking bits towards the end; some scenes hinting that Mal is so much more than he seems, and I have a lot of theories about it. The first one being, Mal is a Grisha as well. Proof: he touched Alina’s fetter twice and felt a jolt both times. I think it happened because on a technical standpoint, both of them killed the ruselya (Alina was hesitant to drive the knife on the creature so Mal held her hand and helped her with the task) so Mal has claim over its power too and we all know amplifiers only work on Grishas so it can only mean Mal is indeed one too.
Another point that proves the Grisha theory: the story always started and ended with “the boy and the girl” so even though it may not seem like it, Mal’s character is just as important as Alina. If he was only to be a love interest, he wouldn’t have to come from the same hometown as hers. There is obviously more to him than simply another orphan boy who happens to come from the same town as Alina. Their connection extends way past the orphanage, they probably just didn’t remember it.
In addition, Mal is also an excellent tracker. There always seems to be a hint that his skills are actually a gift, and having come from the same settlement as Alina, it’s not far-fetched that they are both Grisha.
Now let’s move on to a different theory: Mal is Alina’s “attenuator,” some other kind of magical being, maybe another rare breed of Grisha. What is an “attenuator?” An attenuator is an electronic device that reduces the power of a signal without appreciably distorting its waveform, (thanks Wikipedia!)so basically, the opposite of an amplifier. It means that Mal is the only one who could keep Alina in check. Her hunger for power has been escalating at an alarming rate and it has affected her relationships with so many people (and for the readers I assume. I, for one, hated how power hungry/obsessed she has become). Acquiring the Firebird would consume her completely just like the Black Heretic but with Mal around to keep her feet on the ground, maybe she won’t spiral into darkness. Besides the ‘jolt’ Mal feels when he touches the fetter, he is also the only one who could stop Alina from using her powers. Proofs: first, when they just killed the ruselya and Alina tried summoning light immediately after. By this time, she already has two amplifiers and she didn’t anticipate it’s magnitude, she couldn’t stop herself, but she was enjoying it. She could’ve seriously harmed everyone and herself but thankfully, Mal was there to call her back on Earth. Second instance happened during the ending. Alina was dead set on killing the Darkling even if it means killing herself too but Mal stopped her just in time. Notice how Mal doesn’t get hurt even if he’s putting himself within the sphere of Alina’s power.
There have been other instances hinting at Mal’s influence to Alina’s power since book one. For one, he was the reason she hid it in the first place and he was also the reason she called back to it again. Whatever the truth is, I can confidently say that Mal has always been the key to her powers.
Anyway, book two may not have been a stellar experience but it was still good and I’m still eager to read the finale.
**disclaimer: photos used in the moodboard not mine