Join Alina as she tries to defeat the Darkling and save Ravka in Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm. This is Bardugo’s second Grishaverse novel in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.
[ Warning: My review of Siege and Storm contains some spoilers to this book and its predecessor Shadow and Bone (read the review here)]
Following Shadow and Bone, Alina continues to be pursued
At the end of Shadow and Bone, Alina and Mal manage to escape from the Darkling. Leaving him to die in a volcra attack, they fled the Shadow Fold and Ravka, heading for a new life across the True Sea. But you can’t run away from your destiny and Alina is about to learn just that. Evil like the Darkling doesn’t die easily, now he’s back and once again trying to force Alina to help him conquer the world.
After their fight in the Shadow Fold with the Darkling, Alina and Mal escaped across the True Sea to a little town called Cofton. But they’re just stopping there long enough to earn the funds to disappear into the wild lands further west. Mal seems to quickly move on from the trauma they left behind but Alina carries the heavy guilt of everything she did, and didn’t do, in Ravka.
Even though Alina doesn’t see how the Darkling could have escaped from the volcra attack, she still expects to see him around every corner. Then one night, there he is! The Darkling and his followers are waiting for Alina and Mal in their rented room.
The Darkling has a new weapon, the nichevo’ya. They are horrible creatures made of shadow but with teeth that rend and tear. They attack Alina and Mal and the two are captured. The Darkling takes them to a boat headed back to Ravka, or so Alina assumes. After everything she and Mal went through, here they are, headed right back to where they started.
Unique tools for a unique Grisha in Siege and Storm
But then the ship doesn’t head for Ravka. Instead, they sail north, to the frozen northern seas. As they sail the Darkling explains his plan to Alina. The amplifier that he placed around her neck a few weeks ago is part of a set. There is a second creature, Rusalye the sea whip, a water dragon that lives in the far northern seas. If they can kill it and make a second amplifier from it then Alina will be even more powerful.
It may seem odd that the Darkling wants to give Alina more power when she has already shown that she is not an ally, but he still believes that she is the key to controlling the Shadow Fold. Plus, he is sure he can control her.
Alina is vehemently against the idea of making a second amplifier. She absolutely doesn’t want to help the Darkling in any way. And she is terrified of him making their connection stronger and using her power against her will again.
Not to mention, every book on Grisha theory that she has ever read is very clear: One Grisha, one amplifier. No more ever, Grisha’s power must be limited. She isn’t sure what will happen if she tries to use two amplifiers simultaneously, but she doesn’t want to find out either. At least not at first.
But as she thinks about it more, Alina begins to come around to the idea. She still doesn’t want the Darkling to have any part in the second amplifier, but she is interested in having it and becoming even more powerful. Her hope is that with enough power she’ll be able to defeat him. Mal worries that more power will hurt or change her, but Alina doesn’t listen to him.
Surprise double cross! Or not…they are pirates…
The boat the Darkling has commissioned belongs to the famous pirate (ahem! privateer!) Sturmhond. The Darkling believes he’s in charge but the captain makes it clear several times that this is his boat and he makes the rules. Never mind that it only “became” his boat when the Darkling asked him to find a whaler for the trip, it’s his now.
An uneasy peace between the Darkling’s followers and Sturmhond’s crew exists but the tension is running high. Then they find Rusalye! Some of Sturmhond’s crew piles into the small out boats to capture Rusalye while everyone else stays on the main ship.
Suddenly, the main ship is accosted by another ship flying Sturmhond’s flags. It’s a double cross! Sturmhond’s crew fights against the Darkling’s followers. Alina and Mal are spirited away to the second ship, and the crew members catching Rusalye lead the sea snake further from the battle. Sturmhond, Alina, Mal, and Sturmhond’s crew manage to get away from the first, badly damaged, ship and meet up with the boats that caught Rusalye.
Alina and Mal aren’t sure what just happened. They aren’t sure if they can trust Strumhond. But they don’t have much choice other than to follow him for now. The first truce Sturmhond offers is a knife to Alina, so she can slay Rusalye and claim his power for her own.
Alina is just as conflicted about killing the sea serpent as she was about killing the stag but she realizes she can’t give anyone else that power over her. So with Mal’s help, she ends the serpent’s life and collects some shining scales to craft a second amplifier. The rush of new power is incredible. But is it enough to defeat the Darkling and save Ravka? Alina may not find out until it’s too late.
Alina is a growing hero who still makes mistakes
In Shadow and Bone Alina is a scared little girl that is clearly out of her depth. In Siege and Storm, she begins to come into her own a little. She still feels out of place and lacks confidence, but she is learning. Alina actually does listen to those around her with more experience and tries to apply the lessons they have to teach, to varying degrees of success. She is getting a much better handle on her power. And her leadership ability is surprisingly strong.
Her biggest weakness, besides a lack of confidence, remains her tendency to hold everything in. Alina tries to lock all her worries, fears, and pain away deep inside her because she thinks that she has to do it all alone.
She’s terrified of trusting the wrong person after what happened with the Darkling. It’s understandable but if she would just open up to the one person who truly deserves her trust, Mal, it would save her so much heartache and grief. She thinks she’s protecting him but I think that she doesn’t give him the credit he deserves. Not only would her mental and emotional burden be lessened, but I think Mal could help her find the answers she needs. But she doesn’t lean on him as she should and things fall apart.
Leigh Bardugo creates an arc that promises an exciting conclusion
Alina doesn’t follow the straight and narrow path that many heroes follow. Without giving too much away, Alina is tempted to do things that aren’t strictly “hero” actions. And whether it’s her or the amplifiers, she certainly feels the pull to power and the darkness that can unleash.
She is the sun summoner, light is her natural element. But darkness is the flip side of light, two opposites that only really exist with the definition of the other. Alina tetters on the brink of two possible futures and it will be exhilarating to see which she ends up choosing. Bardugo certainly has me on the hook for the conclusion in Ruin and Rising.
My Rating: 9/10
Siege and Storm: A GrishaVerse Novel by Leigh Bardugo is available now! Have you read the novel? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of the first book in the GrishaVerse, Shadow and Bone!