I loved The Gathering Dark (Shadow and Bone) last year and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Siege and Storm what feels like forever. I made a start on this book at the first possible moment that was available and I did not put it down for long when it had to leave my hands for things like sleeping and working, which really only got in my way of enjoying this book.
*please note this review may contain spoilers, read at your own risk*
Siege and Storm begins with Mal and Alina still hiding from the Darkling and his people who are looking for them. Eventually though, all good things must come to an end and their attempt at a somewhat normal life is cut short as Alina and Mal find themselves caught and trapped on a whaler with Darkling, who wants to use Alina to capture the sea whip to make a second amplifier. Soon enough this dynamic duo escape with a cunning privateer Sturmhond and his crew. During their escape they discover there may be a third amplifier.
Siege and Storm is full of mystery, secrets and deception, even Sturmhond himself is hiding his own secret and I was shocked to discover who he really was, and although he uses Alina for his own intentions I do like the tentative friendship they have formed. Two of Sturmhond's companions are Tamar and Tolya, twins who have Grisha powers but are Shu. These siblings certainly stood out among the characters, they may not be loud and overpowering, but they make an impression that does not leave you even after you have finished reading, and I would love to see more of them in the next book.
The relationship between Alina and Mal is just as shaky as it was in The Gathering Dark, their feelings for each other not really openly displayed, with periods of time and distance between them, both physically and emotionally. With Alina so focused on building an army to defend Ravka, attending meetings, and looking for the firebird, it takes an emotional speech from Mal for her to see some sense.
"No Alina. You came here for Ravka. For the firebird. To lead the Second Army." he tapped the sun over his heart. "I came here for you. You're my flag. You're my nation. But that doesn't seem to matter anymore."...
[Page 237 UK proof Mal to Alina]
The Darkling is another story, constantly on the edges of Alina's vision, hiding in the shadows and making it even harder for her to fix things and make things right. His power is beyond belief and I was constantly asking myself would Alina really be able to kill him, to end this all once and for all? Things aren't that easy for anyone, and with the arrival of a familiar face to throw a spanner in the works you knew instantly things would not go according to plan.
Siege and Storm focuses on Alina building an army to fight the Darkling. We get to see how the Grisha can work together, united under the banner of the Sun Summoner, Sankta Alina. How their powers combined can do so much more than they can individually, the mirrors being an excellent example. Not once did I even contemplate putting this book down I HAD to know what was happening and I HAD to know what would happen with Alina and Mal. This pair have not had an easy path in regards to their feelings towards each other, and like any other type of relationship there are bumps along the way, but with Mal's desire to be anywhere but in the Little Palace, and Alina wanting to find the firebird and gain more power, they could not be on more opposing paths. Seeing how Alina has changed from one book to another, her power has increased already from just one more amplifier, just thinking of how strong she can become with another is scary, and part of me does not want this to happen, to see the Alina we know and love become power hungry.
I have so much I want to tell you about Siege and Storm yet I want you to experience it first hand just like I did, a spoiler free read without never knowing what could happen when you turn the next page. How can you squeeze so much action and tension into the last few pages of a book and still have unanswered questions. I finished this book
I will leave you with this parting quote. Make of it what you want ;)
"I have loved you all my life Mal," I whispered through my tears. "There is no end to our story."
[Page 301 UK proof Alina to Mal]