Monday, July 08, 2013

What We're Reading: Fantasy sequel

Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo, continues the story of Alina Starkov, a former orphan and cartographer who was catapulted to the highest courts of the kingdom of Ravka as its Sun Summoner with the discovery of her Grisha power. The events chronicled in Shadow and Bone have taken their toll on Alina. While she is no longer the mousy, unremarkable girl who saved her best friend from the volcra with a reflexive use of her natural gifts, her new confidence and notoriety have come at a price. Alina feels responsible for the lives taken by the Darkling, who either directly or indirectly used her powers, and she is determined not to repeat the mistakes and missteps that caused these deaths. She is also tempted by some of the Darkling’s plans, and by the power that could be hers. But those temptations seem to lead down a very dark road and away from Mal. As the story progresses, and Alina develops as a character, the stakes and consequences of her decisions grow

When we last saw Alina and Mal at the end of Shadow and Bone, they had survived an encounter with the Darkling within The Fold, leaving him stranded within its boundaries, and were on a ship sailing across the True Sea to a new life far away from the kingdom of Ravka, the Grisha, and the trials and treacheries of living at the little palace. As book two begins, it is not a surprise that the Darkling survived being abandoned in The Fold; the surprise is the new and deadly power he has acquired. And his plans for Alina (and Ravka) will destroy her world and everyone for whom she cares. Alina and Mal are on the run again, forced to rely on a privateer they may or may not be able to trust. This time, however, they are planning to fight the Darkling--and if they have time to make preparations, they might even win....

Bardugo builds upon the world of an alternate Russia, with the politics becoming more layered and more problematic, and the intricacies of faith more complex. Siege and Storm is a compelling and enjoyable fantasy adventure that is in some ways superior to the first book. If you read and enjoyed Shadow and Bone, reading Siege and Storm is a must!

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