One of the good thing about e-books is you can sometimes by the series for the price of a single paperback. And as I am incredibly tight on shelf-space, that is a distinct advantage to the Kindle. I bought a paperwhite to celebrate my first month of working full-time and the successful completion of my masters degree, so I can now read in bed at night easier which is a distinct downside.
Siege and Storm is the sequel to Shadow and Bone, and continues the story of Alina the orphan turned powerful Grisha (kind of superhumans with specific powers), her excellent tracker boyfriend Mal, and her nemesis, the most powerful Grisha in history known as The Darkling (he likes black, and shadows). Alina and Mal are back on the run, having crossed the True Sea to another land, seeing anonymity and refuge from Ravka. Alina is struggling with accepting what she did in the Shadow Fold (Oops, Spoliers!) and with not using her powers. When the Darkling and his Grisha catch up, Alina finds out that the Darkling had far more planned for her than a necklace of bone.
In my opinion, the second book is better than the first. By the end of the first book, you know Alina is mildly annoying and incredibly self-focussed. You know Mal is the angry jealous sort. You know the Darkling is a master manipulator and you know that you are really going to miss Geyna. In the second book, lots of new characters are introduced and they actually work. You have Sturmhond, the “privateer” who sails for his pockets and his crew (and more masks and secrets than a masquerade). The mercenary Shu twins who make fighting into an artform in more ways than one. Zoya stops being someone for Alina to envy from afar and also stops being quite the spoilt brat. I’m just going to reiterate that I missed Geyna a lot, she had a way of telling Alina to cut the crap and there were many time Alina needed such advice. Nikolai, despite lying and joking and being ever so cavalier, is actually the most trustworthy person in the book. At least you know Nikolai has something up his sleeve and his offhand innuendos are commonplace and liven up the “woe-is-me” of Alina as the narrator. The Darkling is physically present for about a third of the book, then he is just the omnipresent Big Bad and not a great one at that.
Plot wise, these books still don’t hold a candle to the Crows duology, but things didn’t feel as rushed as in the first book, and it’s a lot funnier (thank you Nikolai) and with Alina having returned to Ravka she can seriously use a bit of humour. Also, kinda annoying everyone wants her. She has marriage proposals from all sides, and she and Mal are just annoying but not in a “we are so cute and in love” way which is a little sickening but at least bearable. That being said, book two was a lot of build up, a lot of waiting and preparing for the axe to fall. The ending, as a result, was incredibly rushed, whizzing through to conclusion. I think it was supposed to suggest unpreparedness or, I don’t know, surprise (?) but as I’m not writing a critical literature essay on the meaning of a rushed ending, I’ll just say it was rushed and move on.
Let me just say this though. This book has flying boats, and dragons, and cult worshipers and … all this happened in the first quarter of the book. There was a great hulking mess of pages between that and the end where Alina is just being a moody anti-hero. I’m giving frightfully mixed opinions here aren’t I? Sorry. Lets summarise it as – I enjoyed the book, it was a really easy read and it was better than the first, but it was slow in places and rushed in others. I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series to see how it ends, and then I may re-read Six of Crows and be reminded of how mind-bogglingly awesome that book is.
Also, this is the book that hit my goodreads target of 40 books this year! Whoo!
(Featured Image from goodreads)