Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy Series #2)

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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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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 ...

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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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An action-packed, heartbreaking ending will leave teens breathless for the final installment." — School Library Journal

"This action-packed, suspenseful grand tale of war, adventure and love, with a maritime setting, colorful battles, and female warriors, will appeal to a broad readership and is an enticing prelude to the anticipated Book 3." — VOYA

"Bardugo populates her fully realized world with appealing threedimensional characters and an involving plot that keeps a steady pace. . . The buzz will be big." — Booklist

"Bardugo builds on strengths she brought to the first volume, including a richly crafted fantasy world with its own twist on magic, a surfeit of handsome leading men, and plenty of teen-appropriate romantic angst." — The Horn Book

"Scheming and action carry readers at a breathless pace to an end that may surprise them and will definitely leave them panting for the series’ conclusion." — Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Shadow and Bone:

ABA New Voices Pick (1st half of the year)

Indie Next list

Amazon June Best of the Month list for Teens

Amazon June Best of the Month list for Adults

Apple Best of June promotion

LA Times summer reading list

PW Flying Start (7.9.12)

NYT Bestseller list

“Mesmerizing. . . . Bardugo’s set up is shiver-inducing, of the delicious variety. This is what fantasy is for.” —Laini Taylor in The New York Times Book Review

“This is one book series you want to get hooked on.” —

“Set in a fascinating, unique world rich with detail, Shadow and Bone was unlike anything I’ve ever read. Alina is a clever, sympathetic character I will gladly follow into the next installment—which can’t come soon enough!” —Veronica Roth, New York Times bestselling author of Divergent

“I loved it! This is just my kind of fantasy—rich, satisfying, and gorgeous, laced with heart-pounding action and pitch-perfect romance. The characters—protagonists and antagonists—are layered and complex. I’ll be thinking about it for a good long time.” —Cinda Williams Chima, bestselling author

* “Fast-paced and unpredictable, this debut novel will be a hit with readers who love dark fantasy. . . . Bardugo creates a unique world complete with monsters, magic, danger, romance, corruption, and extravagance.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Filled with lush descriptions, intriguing magic, and plenty of twists, this memorable adventure offers action and intrigue mixed with an undercurrent of romance and danger.” —Publishers Weekly

“Bardugo weaves a captivating spell with lushly descriptive writing, engaging characters, and an exotic, vivid world. Readers will wait impatiently for the next installment.” —Booklist

“Readers will be rooting for this lonely, tough heroine as she navigates perils physical, magical, and emotional.” —BCCB

“A rich fantasy landscape, an inspired magical structure, and a gratifying emotional hook keep the pages whirring.” —The Horn Book

Children's Literature - Lisette Baez
Darkness is not easy to escape, even as the “Sun Summoner.” Alina finds herself trapped in a web of forbidden magic as she tries to start a new life in unfamiliar territory. Even with Mal by her side, the tempestuous Darkling’s game is putting a wedge between them. Although she desperately wants to forget her past and keep running, Alina must return to her old life to fight the new powers that threaten the natural world. As the fight continues, Alina’s power grows as well, making it difficult not to slip into the Darkling’s grip. She will now have to choose between the country she abandoned, the new power she possesses, and her heart. Although she has felt her heart was the one thing that guided her, she cannot seem to trust anything as she did. If she does not make a choice, she may risk losing all she has as the upcoming storm awaits. Volume two of the “Grisha” trilogy. Reviewer: Lisette Baez; Ages 12 up.
VOYA - Christina Miller
War orphans, childhood friends, and now in love, Mal Oretsev and Alina Starkov were raised in worn-torn Ravka (a land evocative of Russia). They served in the military until Alina was revealed to be the Sun Summoner, a powerful Grisha (once schooled in the Small Science) able to summon light as a weapon and penetrate the Shadow Fold (the Unsea). This second installment of Leigh Bardugo's fantasy series, the Grisha Trilogy, takes off where Book 1, Shadow And Bone (Henry Holt/Macmillan, 2012/VOYA August 2012), left off: Mal and Alina escaped the King's palace and are fleeing another Grisha, the Darkling, who ultimately captures them after summoning his "shadow army" of deadly nichevo'ya. They escape to the palace, where Alina becomes the leader of the Grisha and commander of the Second Army. Book 2, however, does not end well for Alina and Mal. Can Mal help Alina acquire all three of Morozova's amplifiers to augment her power? Can she defeat the Darkling, and eradicate the Shadow Fold that isolates their Ravkan homeland? This action-packed, suspenseful grand tale of war, adventure and love, with a maritime setting, colorful battles, and female warriors, will appeal to a broad readership and is an enticing prelude to the anticipated Book 3. Reviewer: Christina Miller
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—After narrowly escaping the Darkling at the end of Shadow and Bone (Holt, 2012), Alina and Mal are still on the run. Though many believe her dead, Alina knows he will never stop hunting her, and she is right-it isn't long before the Darkling finds and recaptures both Alina and Mal. Forced onto a boat, the imprisoned couple has little choice but to do as he commands: track a second amplifier so that he can use Alina's twice-amplified powers against Ravka. With the help of a pirate with questionable motives, Alina and Mal escape and seek a third amplifier that Alina hopes will give her the strength to combat the Darkling's increasingly evil power and influence before his dark power becomes unstoppable. As with Shadow and Bone, this is a dark fantasy best for patient readers: Bardugo takes her time developing the plot and keeping readers guessing. World-building and character development are top-notch, and relationships and motives are complex; Alina hungers for more power just as much as the Darkling does. Those who haven't read the previous novel recently may want to brush up as there is little rehashing of its plot. An action-packed, heartbreaking ending will leave teens breathless for the final installment.—Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
The Grisha Trilogy turns from bildungsroman to political thriller in its second installment. Sun Summoner Alina and former Ravkan army tracker Mal, once her childhood friend and now her would-be love, are on the run. All they want is to put Ravka and the megalomaniacal Darkling far behind them. Alas, this is not to be. Captured by the Darkling and forced onto a ship captained by the notorious pirate Sturmhond, they find themselves in pursuit of the second of three magical amplifiers that will make Alina powerful beyond belief--and bind her ever-closer to the ancient, evil Darkling. Sturmhond has an unexpected agenda of his own, though, and turns on the Darkling. Darkling temporarily thwarted, Alina and Mal find themselves back in Ravka's capital as part of the ailing king's younger son's attempt to find his way to the throne. Bardugo's sophomore effort smooths out many of the rookie wrinkles that marred Shadow and Bone (2012); Alina's wry voice does not interfere with worldbuilding, instead keeping readers immersed in the plot. Characters are rich and complex, particularly the Peter the Great–like younger prince and Alina herself, beset by competing claims and desires. Is she Mal's lover? Prince Nikolai's pawn? Commander of the Grisha Second Army? Saint? Scheming and action carry readers at a breathless pace to an end that may surprise them and will definitely leave them panting for the series' conclusion. (Fantasy. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805094602
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Series: Grisha Trilogy Series , #2
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 29,720
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she hides out in Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist in Hollywood. She can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic. Her first novel, Shadow and Bone, was a New York Times bestseller.

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Read an Excerpt




TWO WEEKS WE’D been in Cofton, and I was still getting lost. The town lay inland, west of the Novyi Zem coast, miles from the harbor where we’d landed. Soon we would go farther, deep into the wilds of the Zemeni frontier. Maybe then we’d begin to feel safe.

I checked the little map I’d drawn for myself and retraced my steps. Mal and I met every day after work to walk back to the boardinghouse together, but today I’d gotten completely turned around when I’d detoured to buy our dinner. The calf and collard pies were stuffed into my satchel and giving off a very peculiar smell. The shopkeeper had claimed they were a Zemeni delicacy, but I had my doubts. It didn’t much matter. Everything tasted like ashes to me lately.

Mal and I had come to Cofton to find work that would finance our trip west. It was the center of the jurda trade, surrounded by fields of the little orange flowers that people chewed by the bushel. The stimulant was considered a luxury in Ravka, but some of the sailors aboard the Verrhader had used it to stay awake on long watches. Zemeni men liked to tuck the dried blooms between lip and gum, and even the women carried them in embroidered pouches that dangled from their wrists. Each store window I passed advertised different brands: Brightleaf, Shade, Dhoka, the Burly. I saw a beautifully dressed girl in petticoats lean over and spit a stream of rust-colored juice right into one of the brass spittoons that sat outside every shop door. I stifled a gag. That was one Zemeni custom I didn’t think I could get used to.

With a sigh of relief, I turned onto the city’s main thoroughfare. At least now I knew where I was. Cofton still didn’t feel quite real to me. There was something raw and unfinished about it. Most of the streets were unpaved, and I always felt like the flat-roofed buildings with their flimsy wooden walls might tip over at any minute. And yet they all had glass windows. The women dressed in velvet and lace. The shop displays overflowed with sweets and baubles and all manner of finery instead of rifles, knives, and tin cookpots. Here, even the beggars wore shoes. This was what a country looked like when it wasn’t under siege.

As I passed a gin shop, I caught a flash of crimson out of the corner of my eye. Corporalki. Instantly, I drew back, pressing myself into the shadowy space between two buildings, heart hammering, my hand already reaching for the pistol at my hip.

Dagger first, I reminded myself, sliding the blade from my sleeve. Try not to draw attention. Pistol if you must. Power as a last resort. Not for the first time, I missed the Fabrikator-made gloves that I’d had to leave behind in Ravka. They’d been lined with mirrors that gave me an easy way to blind opponents in a hand-to-hand fight—and a nice alternative to slicing someone in half with the Cut. But if I’d been spotted by a Corporalnik Heartrender, I might not have a choice in the matter. They were the Darkling’s favored soldiers and could stop my heart or crush my lungs without ever landing a blow.

I waited, my grip slippery on the dagger’s handle, then finally dared to peek around the wall. I saw a cart piled high with barrels. The driver had stopped to talk to a woman whose daughter danced impatiently beside her, fluttering and twirling in her dark red skirt.

Just a little girl. Not a Corporalnik in sight. I sank back against the building and took a deep breath, trying to calm down.

It won’t always be this way, I told myself. The longer you’re free, the easier it will get.

One day I would wake from a sleep free of nightmares, walk down a street unafraid. Until then, I kept my flimsy dagger close and wished for the sure heft of Grisha steel in my palm.

I pushed my way back into the bustling street and clutched at the scarf around my neck, drawing it tighter. It had become a nervous habit. Beneath it lay Morozova’s collar, the most powerful amplifier ever known, as well as the only way of identifying me. Without it, I was just another dirty, underfed Ravkan refugee.

I wasn’t sure what I would do when the weather turned. I couldn’t very well walk around in scarves and high-necked coats when summer came. But by then, hopefully, Mal and I would be far from crowded towns and unwanted questions. We’d be on our own for the first time since we’d fled Ravka. The thought sent a nervous flutter through me.

I crossed the street, dodging wagons and horses, still scanning the crowd, sure that at any moment I would see a troop of Grisha or oprichniki descending on me. Or maybe it would be Shu Han mercenaries, or Fjerdan assassins, or the soldiers of the Ravkan King, or even the Darkling himself. So many people might be hunting us. Hunting me, I amended. If it weren’t for me, Mal would still be a tracker in the First Army, not a deserter running for his life.

A memory rose unbidden in my mind: black hair, slate eyes, the Darkling’s face exultant in victory as he unleashed the power of the Fold. Before I’d snatched that victory away.

News was easy to come by in Novyi Zem, but none of it was good. Rumors had surfaced that the Darkling had somehow survived the battle on the Fold, that he had gone to ground to gather his forces before making another attempt on the Ravkan throne. I didn’t want to believe it was possible, but I knew better than to underestimate him. The other stories were just as disturbing: that the Fold had begun to overflow its shores, driving refugees east and west; that a cult had risen up around a Saint who could summon the sun. I didn’t want to think about it. Mal and I had a new life now. We’d left Ravka behind.

I hurried my steps, and soon I was in the square where Mal and I met every evening. I spotted him leaning against the lip of a fountain, talking with a Zemeni friend he’d met working at the warehouse. I couldn’t remember his name … Jep, maybe? Jef?

Fed by four huge spigots, the fountain was less decorative than useful, a large basin where girls and house servants came to wash clothes. None of the washerwomen were paying much attention to the laundry, though. They were all gawking at Mal. It was hard not to. His hair had grown out of its short military cut and was starting to curl at the nape of his neck. The spray from the fountain had left his shirt damp, and it clung to skin bronzed by long days at sea. He threw his head back, laughing at something his friend had said, seemingly oblivious to the sly smiles thrown his way.

He’s probably so used to it, he doesn’t even notice anymore, I thought irritably.

When he caught sight of me, his face broke into a grin and he waved. The washerwomen turned to look and then exchanged glances of disbelief. I knew what they saw: a scrawny girl with stringy, dull brown hair and sallow cheeks, fingers stained orange from packing jurda. I’d never been much to look at, and weeks of not using my power had taken their toll. I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, and the nightmares didn’t help. The women’s faces all said the same thing: What was a boy like Mal doing with a girl like me?

I straightened my spine and tried to ignore them as Mal threw his arm around me and drew me close. “Where were you?” he asked. “I was getting worried.”

“I was waylaid by a gang of angry bears,” I murmured into his shoulder.

“You got lost again?”

“I don’t know where you get these ideas.”

“You remember Jes, right?” he said, nodding to his friend.

“How do you go?” Jes asked in broken Ravkan, offering me his hand. His expression seemed unduly grave.

“Very well, thank you,” I replied in Zemeni. He didn’t return my smile, but gently patted my hand. Jes was definitely an odd one.

We chatted a short while longer, but I knew Mal could see I was getting anxious. I didn’t like to be out in the open for too long. We said our goodbyes, and before Jes left, he shot me another grim look and leaned in to whisper something to Mal.

“What did he say?” I asked as we watched him stroll away across the square.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing. Did you know you have pollen in your brows?” He reached out to gently brush it away.

“Maybe I wanted it there.”

“My mistake.”

As we pushed off from the fountain, one of the washerwomen leaned forward, practically spilling out of her dress.

“If you ever get tired of skin and bones,” she called to Mal, “I’ve got something to tempt you.”

I stiffened. Mal glanced over his shoulder. Slowly, he looked her up and down. “No,” he said flatly. “You don’t.”

The girl’s face flushed an ugly red as the others jeered and cackled, splashing her with water. I tried for a haughtily arched brow, but it was hard to restrain the goofy grin pulling at the corners of my mouth.

“Thanks,” I mumbled as we crossed the square, heading toward our boardinghouse.

“For what?”

I rolled my eyes. “For defending my honor, you dullard.”

He yanked me beneath a shadowed awning. I had a moment’s panic when I thought he’d spotted trouble, but then his arms were around me and his lips were pressed to mine.

When he finally drew back, my cheeks were warm and my legs had gone wobbly.

“Just to be clear,” he said, “I’m not really interested in defending your honor.”

“Understood,” I managed, hoping I didn’t sound too ridiculously breathless.

“Besides,” he said, “I need to steal every minute I can before we’re back at the Pit.”

The Pit was what Mal called our boardinghouse. It was crowded and filthy and afforded us no privacy at all, but it was cheap. He grinned, cocky as ever, and pulled me back into the flow of people on the street. Despite my exhaustion, my steps felt decidedly lighter. I still wasn’t used to the idea of us together. Another flutter passed through me. On the frontier there would be no curious boarders or unwanted interruptions. My pulse gave a little jump—whether from nerves or excitement, I wasn’t sure.

“So what did Jes say?” I asked again, when my brain felt a bit less scrambled.

“He said I should take good care of you.”

“That’s all?”

Mal cleared his throat. “And … he said he would pray to the God of Work to heal your affliction.”

“My what?”

“I may have told him that you have a goiter.”

I stumbled. “I beg your pardon?”

“Well, I had to explain why you were always clinging to that scarf.”

I dropped my hand. I’d been doing it again without even realizing.

“So you told him I had a goiter?” I whispered incredulously.

“I had to say something. And it makes you quite a tragic figure. Pretty girl, giant growth, you know.”

I punched him hard in the arm.

“Ow! Hey, in some countries, goiters are considered very fashionable.”

“Do they like eunuchs, too? Because I can arrange that.”

“So bloodthirsty!”

“My goiter makes me cranky.”

Mal laughed, but I noticed that he kept his hand on his pistol. The Pit was located in one of the less savory parts of Cofton, and we were carrying a lot of coin, the wages we’d saved for the start of our new life. Just a few more days, and we’d have enough to leave Cofton behind—the noise, the pollen-filled air, the constant fear. We’d be safe in a place where nobody cared what happened to Ravka, where Grisha were scarce and no one had ever heard of a Sun Summoner.

And no one has any use for one. The thought soured my mood, but it had come to me more and more lately. What was I good for in this strange country? Mal could hunt, track, handle a gun. The only thing I’d ever been good at was being a Grisha. I missed summoning light, and each day I didn’t use my power, I grew more weak and sickly. Just walking beside Mal left me winded, and I struggled beneath the weight of my satchel. I was so frail and clumsy that I’d barely managed to keep my job packing jurda at one of the fieldhouses. It brought in mere pennies, but I’d insisted on working, on trying to help. I felt like I had when we were kids: capable Mal and useless Alina.

I pushed the thought away. I might not be the Sun Summoner anymore, but I wasn’t that sad little girl either. I’d find a way to be useful.

The sight of our boardinghouse didn’t exactly lift my spirits. It was two stories high and in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. The sign in the window advertised hot baths and tick-free beds in five different languages. Having sampled the bathtub and the bed, I knew the sign lied no matter how you translated it. Still, with Mal beside me, it didn’t seem so bad.

We climbed the steps of the sagging porch and entered the tavern that took up most of the lower floor of the house. It was cool and quiet after the dusty clamor of the street. At this hour, there were usually a few workers at the pockmarked tables drinking off their day’s wages, but today it was empty save for the surly-looking landlord standing behind the bar.

He was a Kerch immigrant, and I’d gotten the distinct feeling he didn’t like Ravkans. Or maybe he just thought we were thieves. We’d shown up two weeks ago, ragged and grubby, with no baggage and no way to pay for lodging except a single golden hairpin that he probably thought we’d stolen. But that hadn’t stopped him from snapping it up in exchange for a narrow bed in a room that we shared with six other boarders.

As we approached the bar, he slapped the room key on the counter and shoved it across to us without being asked. It was tied to a carved piece of chicken bone. Another charming touch.

In the stilted Kerch he’d picked up aboard the Verrhader, Mal requested a pitcher of hot water for washing.

“Extra,” the landlord grunted. He was a heavyset man with thinning hair and the orange-stained teeth that came from chewing jurda. He was sweating, I noticed. Though the day wasn’t particularly warm, beads of perspiration had broken out over his upper lip.

I glanced back at him as we headed for the staircase on the other side of the deserted tavern. He was still watching us, his arms crossed over his chest, his beady eyes narrowed. There was something about his expression that set my nerves jangling.

I hesitated at the base of the steps. “That guy really doesn’t like us,” I said.

Mal was already headed up the stairs. “No, but he likes our money just fine. And we’ll be out of here in a few days.”

I shook off my nervousness. I’d been jumpy all afternoon.

“Fine,” I grumbled as I followed after Mal. “But just so I’m prepared, how do you say ‘you’re an ass’ in Kerch?”

Jer ven azel.


Mal laughed. “The first thing sailors teach you is how to swear.”

The second story of the boardinghouse was in considerably worse shape than the public rooms below. The carpet was faded and threadbare, and the dim hallway stank of cabbage and tobacco. The doors to the private rooms were all closed, and not a sound came from behind them as we passed. The quiet was eerie. Maybe everyone was out for the day.

The only light came from a single grimy window at the end of the hall. As Mal fumbled with the key, I looked down through the smudged glass to the carts and carriages rumbling by below. Across the street, a man stood beneath a balcony, peering up at the boardinghouse. He pulled at his collar and his sleeves, as if his clothes were new and didn’t quite fit right. His eyes met mine through the window, then darted quickly away.

I felt a sudden pang of fear.

“Mal,” I whispered, reaching out to him.

But it was too late. The door flew open.

“No!” I shouted. I threw up my hands and light burst through the hallway in a blinding cascade. Then rough hands seized me, yanking my arms behind my back. I was dragged inside the room, kicking and thrashing.

“Easy now,” said a cool voice from somewhere in the corner. “I’d hate to have to gut your friend so soon.”

Time seemed to slow. I saw the shabby, low-ceilinged room, the cracked washbasin sitting on the battered table, dust motes swirling in a slender beam of sunlight, the bright edge of the blade pressed to Mal’s throat. The man holding him wore a familiar sneer. Ivan. There were others, men and women. All wore the fitted coats and breeches of Zemeni merchants and laborers, but I recognized some of their faces from my time with the Second Army. They were Grisha.

Behind them, shrouded in shadow, lounging in a rickety chair as if it were a throne, was the Darkling.

For a moment, everything in the room was silent and still. I could hear Mal’s breathing, the shuffle of feet. I heard a man calling a hello down on the street. I couldn’t seem to stop staring at the Darkling’s hands—his long white fingers resting casually on the arms of the chair. I had the foolish thought that I’d never seen him in ordinary clothes.

Then reality crashed in on me. This was how it ended? Without a fight? Without so much as a shot fired or a voice raised? A sob of pure rage and frustration tore free from my chest.

“Take her pistol, and search her for other weapons,” the Darkling said softly. I felt the comforting weight of my firearm lifted from my hip, the dagger pulled from its sheath at my wrist. “I’m going to tell them to let you go,” he said when they were done, “with the knowledge that if you so much as raise your hands, Ivan will end the tracker. Show me that you understand.”

I gave a single stiff nod.

He raised a finger, and the men holding me let go. I stumbled forward and then stood frozen in the center of the room, my hands balled into fists.

I could cut the Darkling in two with my power. I could crack this whole saintsforsaken building right down the middle. But not before Ivan opened Mal’s throat.

“How did you find us?” I rasped.

“You leave a very expensive trail,” he said, and lazily tossed something onto the table. It landed with a plink beside the washbasin. I recognized one of the golden pins Genya had woven into my hair so many weeks ago. We’d used them to pay for passage across the True Sea, the wagon to Cofton, our miserable, not-quite-tick-free bed.

The Darkling rose, and a strange trepidation crackled through the room. It was as if every Grisha had taken a breath and was holding it, waiting. I could feel the fear coming off them, and that sent a spike of alarm through me. The Darkling’s underlings had always treated him with awe and respect, but this was something new. Even Ivan looked a little ill.

The Darkling stepped into the light, and I saw a faint tracery of scars over his face. They’d been healed by a Corporalnik, but they were still visible. So the volcra had left their mark. Good, I thought with petty satisfaction. It was small comfort, but at least he wasn’t quite as perfect as he had been.

He paused, studying me. “How are you finding life in hiding, Alina? You don’t look well.”

“Neither do you,” I said. It wasn’t just the scars. He wore his weariness like an elegant cloak, but it was still there. Faint smudges showed beneath his eyes, and the hollows of his sharp cheekbones cut a little deeper.

“A small price to pay,” he said, his lips quirking in a half smile.

A chill snaked up my spine. For what?

He reached out, and it took everything in me not to flinch backward. But all he did was take hold of one end of my scarf. He tugged gently, and the rough wool slipped free, gliding over my neck and fluttering to the ground.

“Back to pretending to be less than you are, I see. The sham doesn’t suit you.”

A twinge of unease passed through me. Hadn’t I had a similar thought just minutes ago? “Thanks for your concern,” I muttered.

He let his fingers trail over the collar. “It’s mine as much as yours, Alina.”

I batted his hand away, and an anxious rustle rose from the Grisha. “Then you shouldn’t have put it around my neck,” I snapped. “What do you want?”

Of course, I already knew. He wanted everything—Ravka, the world, the power of the Fold. His answer didn’t matter. I just needed to keep him talking. I’d known this moment might come, and I’d prepared for it. I wasn’t going to let him take me again. I glanced at Mal, hoping he understood what I intended.

“I want to thank you,” the Darkling said.

Now, that I hadn’t expected. “Thank me?”

“For the gift you gave me.”

My eyes flicked to the scars on his pale cheek.

“No,” he said with a small smile, “not these. But they do make a good reminder.”

“Of what?” I asked, curious despite myself.

His gaze was gray flint. “That all men can be made fools. No, Alina, the gift you’ve given me is so much greater.”

He turned away. I darted another glance at Mal.

“Unlike you,” the Darkling said, “I understand gratitude, and I wish to express it.”

He raised his hands. Darkness tumbled through the room.

“Now!” I shouted.

Mal drove his elbow into Ivan’s side. At the same moment, I threw up my hands and light blazed out, blinding the men around us. I focused my power, honing it to a scythe of pure light. I had only one goal. I wasn’t going to leave the Darkling standing. I peered into the seething blackness, trying to find my target. But something was wrong.

I’d seen the Darkling use his power countless times before. This was different. The shadows whirled and skittered around the circle of my light, spinning faster, a writhing cloud that clicked and whirred like a fog of hungry insects. I pushed against them with my power, but they twisted and wriggled, drawing ever nearer.

Mal was beside me. Somehow he’d gotten hold of Ivan’s knife.

“Stay close,” I said. Better to take my chances and open a hole in the floor than to just stand there doing nothing. I concentrated and felt the power of the Cut vibrate through me. I raised my arm … and something stepped out of the darkness.

It’s a trick, I thought as the thing came toward us. It has to be some kind of illusion.

It was a creature wrought from shadow, its face blank and devoid of features. Its body seemed to tremble and blur, then form again: arms, legs, long hands ending in the dim suggestion of claws, a broad back crested by wings that roiled and shifted as they unfurled like a black stain. It was almost like a volcra, but its shape was more human. And it did not fear the light. It did not fear me.

It’s a trick, my panicked mind insisted. It isn’t possible. It was a violation of everything I knew about Grisha power. We couldn’t make matter. We couldn’t create life. But the creature was coming toward us, and the Darkling’s Grisha were cringing up against the walls in very real terror. This was what had so frightened them.

I pushed down my horror and refocused my power. I swung my arm, bringing it down in a shining, unforgiving arc. The light sliced through the creature. For a moment, I thought it might just keep coming. Then it wavered, glowing like a cloud lit by lightning, and blew apart into nothing. I had time for the barest surge of relief before the Darkling lifted his hand and another monster took its place, followed by another, and another.

“This is the gift you gave me,” said the Darkling. “The gift I earned on the Fold.” His face was alive with power and a kind of terrible joy. But I could see strain there, too. Whatever he was doing, it was costing him.

Mal and I backed toward the door as the creatures stalked closer. Suddenly, one of them shot forward with astonishing speed. Mal slashed out with his knife. The thing paused, wavered slightly, then grabbed hold of him and tossed him aside like a child’s doll. This was no illusion.

“Mal!” I cried.

I lashed out with the Cut and the creature burned away to nothing, but the next monster was on me in seconds. It seized me, and revulsion shuddered through my body. Its grip was like a thousand crawling insects swarming over my arms.

It lifted me off my feet, and I saw how very wrong I’d been. It did have a mouth, a yawning, twisting hole that spread open to reveal row upon row of teeth. I felt them all as the thing bit deeply into my shoulder.

The pain was like nothing I’d ever known. It echoed inside me, multiplying on itself, cracking me open and scraping at the bone. From a distance, I heard Mal call my name. I heard myself scream.

The creature released me. I dropped to the floor in a limp heap. I was on my back, the pain still reverberating through me in endless waves. I could see the water-stained ceiling, the shadow creature looming high above, Mal’s pale face as he knelt beside me. I saw his lips form the shape of my name, but I couldn’t hear him. I was already slipping away.

The last thing I heard was the Darkling’s voice—so clear, like he was lying right next to me, his lips pressed against my ear, whispering so that only I could hear: Thank you.


Copyright © 2013 by Leigh Bardugo

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 63 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 63 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013


    I truly love this series. I read it 3 times already. More action, more drama, more Alina and Mal. Huge fan of them two. At the end of it all he has risk his life for her time and time again. Loves her truly. The Darkling and Nickolai/Sturmhound to me love what Alina can do for them, whether its power or status. Its not genuine. Mal will always love Alina- quote
    You are my flag, you are my nation.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    Amazing series. Perfectly crafted, authentic characters. A villa

    Amazing series. Perfectly crafted, authentic characters. A villain who is both morally gray and completely compelling- you'll find yourself wondering who's side your on. The plot and the world Bardugo created are original and intriguing. READ THIS if you want to get swept away in a fantastical world full of rich and endearing characters. 
    "The Darkling slumped back in his chair. 'Fine,' he said with a weary shrug. 'Make me your villain.'"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Leigh Bardugo has a knack for making my own writing feel like ru

    Leigh Bardugo has a knack for making my own writing feel like rubbish - and I have to say no other author can do that. Sure, some authors write incredible novels, they inspire me. None of them make me feel this way.

    If you're worried about second-book syndromes and faltering sequels, you're looking at THE book to squash your doubts. SIEGE AND STORM suffers nothing, despite the characters suffering from a life of despair and hopelessness. 
    The story picks up right where Leigh Bardugo's shelf-shattering debut, SHADOW AND BONE, left off. Suffice it to say, the second installment in the Grisha trilogy starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. 

    I'm not going to give anything away, but most of the time, I wished Mal wasn't there. I'm all for the Darkling, despite his obvious darkness, and I'm a huge fan of the Storm Hound who graces the pages with wit and charm. So yes, Mal is... well, Mal. 
    What makes the world of the Grisha so astounding, so incredible, so incomparable isn't its plot, its characters, or its world-building. No, it's the powerful execution of all three. The fleshed out characters, from the protagonists to the minor people who only last a chapter. The world-building - with vivid displays of science, flying contraptions, a darkness indescribable, and meals to drool for. The plot, that when combined with the former two results in a novel to invest hours in without regret. 

    In short, if you haven't read SHADOW AND BONE and if you have doubts for SIEGE AND STORM, I assure you, the world of the Grisha will leave you pleased. No, you will be beyond pleased, you'll be in jaw-dropping awe. Because that is the power of Bardugo's writing. 

    All I could think, after flipping the last page was: damn. Also, poor, poor Genya.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

    Twists don't stop

    This is a great book for the middle of the trilogy. Many new characters are introduced with twists and secrets lying inside of them. I hated putting this book down whenever I had to. New powers are shown by the Darkling and Alina. This is NOT a book that you should pass over. A great fantasy book that involves adventure, romance, and action. GREAT READ

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    As the second book in a trilogy, I was worried - would it be as

    As the second book in a trilogy, I was worried - would it be as good as the first? But after reading it, I can say that it truly is.  It has great characters, both flawed and believable but also heroic.  The world building is superb.  Really enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2014

    This was awesome

    This book was awesome

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Read me im a good review!

    This was a good wait it was great!!! This book is fantabulous if u like adventure, romance, mystery or even action! (Or all of the above) the characters have depth and the main character has grown on me and she will for u too. I like most of the character (except for mal he gets on my nerves and makes me mad in this book) and as new characters are intoduced u realize how much u like the combination of personalitys! You'll love this book and i higlhly recommend it totslly worth the money! (And for those who read this book i totally hope Alina ends up with Nikalas and NOT Mal. Whos with me?) I wish u happy readings and by th way this book is pretty long so you totally dont have to be worried about it being to short!

    Ps: how many times did i say totally? Send me your answer in the reviews to come!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014


    Really good

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Siege and St

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

    Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
    Book Two of the Grisha trilogy
    Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
    Publication Date: June 4, 2013
    Rating: 4 stars
    Source: ARC won from a giveaway

    Summary (from Goodreads):

    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.

    What I Liked:

    What. A. Sequel. Wow. It took me long enough to read this one, right? I needed a little push, but I read it and I'm reviewing it, so that's what counts, right? But seriously, I have the worst fear of sequels - especially when the first book was SUPERB. I always think that the sequels are going to be painful (and possibly horrible) - and granted, sometimes, it happens! But the last bunch of sequels that I've read haven't been bad at all! And not too many cliffhangers, which is great.

    THIS sequel is pretty amazing. I read Shadow and Bone about or over a year ago, so I'll be honest: I didn't remember too many specific things about the book. I remembered some names and roles and a few major events, but not much. I barely even remembered the climax of the book. HOWEVER, Bardugo does a fabulous job of getting readers back into the story. She actually didn't do too much of reminding readers what happened - she sort of jumped right into this book. It's definitely necessary to read book one, but if you were like me, and couldn't remember basically anything from book one, don't worry! You'll have no problems getting back into the story.

    I actually think the summary is kind of vague and doesn't encompass the book very well, but I understand why - it would spoil A LOT if the summary included more general events of the book. Basically, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling. But then he finds them somehow. Alina and Mal must work with a certain privateer and others in order to gather forces and fight the Darkling. But Alina must also gather power for herself, which is dangerous, as it makes her more and more like the Darkling. The stag's horns were just the beginning.

    The book is long, but the plot is very active and engaging. Alina and Mal and the story don't just stay in one place. At first, they were in a town far away from the Darkling. Then they were on a ship at sea. Then they were running again from the Darkling - and they were taken to a place where they could get sufficient (hopefully sufficient) help against the Darkling. Vague, yes, but it's on purpose.

    I love what Bardugo is doing with Alina. Alina is slowly becoming power-hungry, more and more like the Darkling. I feel like with fantasy novels in YA, in which the protagonist is extremely powerful, don't show this very well. Power brings about selfishness, a sense of entitlement, a sense of dictatorship. Bardugo is doing a very good job of showing this progressive change in Alina. Alina is NOT evil, and yet, as she tries to gain more power to fight the Darkling, she is becoming a little greedy with power. This makes her more like him than she realizes - until she DOES realize it.

    This affects everything, including her disposition. She is sometimes cruel, and at times, enjoys the emotional pain of people that she does not particularly like. While I don't like this in Alina, I LOVE that Bardugo makes this an issue in this series. I love the Bardugo is willing to go there, to mess with her protagonist THAT MUCH.

    Alina's change in conjunction to her increasing power also affects her relationship with Mal. Ah, yes, I have reached the romance. Alina and Mal are a couple, but as Alina grows stronger as a Sun Summoner, the pair seems to grow apart. Mal doesn't belong in Alina's world, but he belongs with Alina. Conundrum, no? But Alina's power, her role, her alliance with Sturmhond, it takes a toll on Mal. Their relationship is highly tested in this book, and I can't wait to see how Bardugo concludes the romance in this series.

    In Shadow and Bone, one of the things I hated was that there was potential for a love triangle between Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. I didn't really see the Darkling as a love interest in book one, nor do I see him as one in this book. Now, there is another male in THIS book that could be a part of the love triangle, but I doubt it. We'll see.

    I mentioned Sturmhond once? He's the privateer, and he is EASILY my favorite character of this book, and of the series. There are other fabulous characters introduced in this book, such as Toyla and Tamar, but STURMHOND. He is fabulous! He is so much more than a greedy privateer, as we find out in this book (not telling!). I really he gets what he wants, and that things work out for him. Hugs for you, Sturmhond!

    Overall, I must say that this book is stunning. I could kick myself for waiting so long to read it, but at the same time, it means that I have to wait less to read Ruin and Rising! I cannot wait to see it all ends.

    What I Did Not Like:

    There wasn't much that I didn't like about this book. As usual, I must say that no book is perfect. HOWEVER, I honestly cannot think of anything in particular that I did not enjoy. It's quite long, and I admit, I did skim a few times, but not often enough that it was annoying, or that I didn't understand something.

    This one is getting four stars, not five stars, because this isn't a favorite book of mine, and it didn't blow me away. Granted, favorite books aren't the only books that get five stars from me. Books that are incredible amazing and totally worth the buy get five stars. I really enjoyed this one, but I'm not overcome with emotion or anything. I don't think I'm a hardcore fan like some bloggers/readers, but I am totally invested enough to read the next book.

    Would I Recommend It:

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who read the first book. I was blown away by the first book, and I was nothing short of impressed with this book. I would also recommend this series in general. The debut was amazing, the sequel was astonishingly awesome, and I'm quite sure the conclusion to this trilogy will not disappoint!


    4 stars. I can't believe I waited this long to read this book! But you all know my fear of sequels. As I continue to learn, some sequels just aren't that scary! 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2014

    A sequel is always tricky, especially when it follows after a bo

    A sequel is always tricky, especially when it follows after a book you loved. As excited as I was for Siege & Storm, I was a bit anxious as well, after how much I loved Shadow & Bone I wasn't sure how this sequel would compare.

    And I think the simplest way to explain my feelings about Siege & Storm was that I couldn't love it as much as Shadow & Bone. I think it's the kind of book I would have loved so much more on its own, had there not been this incredible first book setting the stage. While Siege & Storm is a good book with some great additions to The Grisha trilogy, you can tell that this is the "growing pains" book where the characters have to adjust to a situation none expected nor wanted.

    Reasons to Read:

    1. Fantastic new character additions:

    This was the absolute best part of Siege & Storm for me: I know, I know. Everyone and their mother loves Sturmhond. But it's for good reason! Leigh's writing gives him a voice that stands out so much from other characters, with his clever comebacks and dry wit. He definitely helps balance out some of the more depressing issues at hand in the story, because when things get REALLY bad? Sometimes you just need to laugh. Or, if you're Stumhond, smirk.

    2. Emphasis on Alina's internal struggle:

    For a book that has had so much attention on developing the setting and world of the story, I'm amazed by how much detail is given to Alina's internal struggle as she tries to adapt to her new powers and position. It seems to me that this is truly the most important conflict in the book - moreso than anything with any other character, even the Darkling. Alina's battle isn't with some external force, it's with herself. It's such an introspective story, one where it is truly a privilege to be so in tune with Alina's thoughts and feelings because she doesn't share them with anyone else.

    3. An expanded setting:

    When Siege & Storm starts off, we have Alina and Mal on the run in an entirely different country. They end up meeting a number of other characters from other places as well, and we finally get a bit more of a glimpse at the rest of the world. To me, this is what makes a setting believable and come to life - hints that the world is still turning outside of the main characters' location. I really like that, and I think it helps build the plot and help the reader understand exactly what is at stake here.

    The biggest problem for me? So very little happens, and what does happen occurs very quickly. The action feels rushed, and the waiting seems to go on forever. It's a slow book, and I mentioned how introspective and sensitive to Alina's conflict with herself the book is. While that is a good thing, it also means other parts of the story suffer as a result of so much time and focus spent on Alina. Much of the time is spent waiting for something to happen, and I understand that part of this is simply because Alina (and company) are acting defensively. After Shadow & Bone featured SO MUCH (so much action, so much romance, so much creepiness) I was hoping for more, and I think my expectations are mostly to blame here.

    But we still have an excellent book here. Leigh Bardugo's writing is as exceptional as ever, and I think really showcases her knack for juggling a multitude of character voices and emotions. She is truly a master at tugging at her readers' heartstrings, and never leaves us with predictable characters or story lines. Although the romance is left on the back burner for most of this book, the tension is incredible and I appreciate that it didn't overshadow the rest of the story.

    ARC received from Raincoast Books for review; no other compensation was received. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014


    Mal is such a big JERK!!!!!!!! I hope Alina ends up with the prince. Sorry Mal and Darkling fans.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    Loved this book

    Couldnt put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2013

    Fantastic fantasy

    This is the second book in a wonderful series. It was very well written, and is a fantasy read for today's reader. The exciting mix of action, adventure, and romance creates a wonderful modern-day fantasy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2013


    This book was so so great. My adjectives fall short. If you enjoy adventurous books this is a must. Personally I found myself loving books including Divergent and Bone Season, this one is definitely a new favorite. I am looking forward to the next book, and my patience is being tested. ;)

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    If you are going to read any fantasy series, this should be

    If you are going to read any fantasy series, this should be it. I loved this book just as much as the first. I can't wait for the third book in the series!

    The Darkling is back and more powerful than ever. Alina makes new friends and new enemies. She gains some new power herself and grows into herself a little more. She also loses herself a bit. She changes. I didn't like Mal at all in this book. I wanted to smack him upside the head. However, their rocky relationship made sense and added depth to the story.

    I cannot get enough of this series. I might be obsessed, but it is too soon after reading the final page to tell. All I know is that book #3 can't get here soon enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Nikoli rocks

    Everyone wants more darkling bit tell me you did nt immeadiatly love sturmhond you did you should definately red this book if you eead the first one

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  • Posted September 17, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    4.5 Stars Series: The Grisha #2 Genre: YA Fantasy Publisher:

    4.5 Stars

    Series: The Grisha #2

    Genre: YA Fantasy

    Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

    Pages: 435

    Target Audience: 14 and Up

    Check it out: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Good Reads

    Good Reads Summary:

    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.


    Feels hit you from all sides. I love love LOVE this series. I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to it!

    Alina is growing up. Or, more aptly, she’s growing dark. I CANNOT wait to see where she ends up in the third. Her character development was excellent. I felt her struggle and how it affected everyone around her, especially those closest to her. Having this acute knowledge of how Alina works makes these books that much more enjoyable. Watching her grow in her power was exciting and terrifying, and I really am very excited to see what happens next.

    I believe I stated somewhere in my first review that I was rooting for the Darkling? I rescind that statement. I’m all about team Nikolai now.

    The whole book I wanted to LOVE Mal. He was pretty sweet and took care of Alina, and I’m sure they’re the endgame, whatever. But I found myself thinking, if I’m being truly honest with myself, I kind of love Nikolai. He’s clever, handsome, vulnerable around Alina, noble, intelligent…the list goes on. Pretty much all Mal has going for him is they’ve been together forever and he’s an abnormally amazing tracker. I mean, I liked Mal in the second book more than I liked him in the first book. But when Nikolai first showed up, I found myself inordinately drawn to him.

    Oh yeah, this book has a love square. Just FYI.

    Bet you didn’t even know that was possible.

    But you know what? It didn’t bother me. Because the characters are so different, and Alina’s reactions to all three are so different, it actually kind of made sense. And all that tension was very interesting to read; it was interesting to see how the three relationships shaped Alina’s thought process and her choices. Because they affected her in three completely different ways.

    The Darkling is terrifying and I love that Bardugo has dropped the pretense that he’s wonderful. I still think there’s going to be some romance there, but I don’t think it will ever be how it was in Shadow and Bone. He has crossed into maniacal and evil, and while his relationship with Alina is seductive and on some level makes sense, he is still evil. He is still the antagonist.

    In the end, he’s bad for her. For everyone. Unless there's some OTHER deep dark secret we still don't know.

    I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that the conflict in Siege and Storm is extremely engaging. Bardugo gives the reader enough information to be very interested in what may or may not happen next without giving things away. The pacing is excellent; I never found myself bored or wondering when something would happen. I know some people complained that this book suffered from the “second-in-a-series” malady, but I would disagree. I thought it gave enough new information to be completely engaging and create even more interest for the third.

    In Siege and Storm, Bardugo gave us a clearer picture of the world she created. She gave us a brilliantly written love square (I almost can’t believe I said that). She gave us a heroine that is worth reading and loving. I hope she gives us a satisfying conclusion.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Just amazing! This second book in the Grisha trilogy picks up

    Just amazing!
    This second book in the Grisha trilogy picks up about where Shadow and Bone left off. Whew this book is quite the ride! Sooo much happens and not nearly enough of it good. It just pulled at my heart and held my attention like few books do. I really didn't want to put it down! After that ending (oh my god) the wait to Ruin and Rising is going to be WAY too long. The book was just absolutely amazing and there was just the right amount of angst (too much makes me feel like I'm drowning in it but in this book it was well placed and well deserved) as well as adventure, danger, the romance and the sudden turn of events towards the end of the book both almost killed me. So long story short, here you have another person anxiously waiting for 2014 and the release of Ruin and Rising. I really would recommend this Grisha trilogy to everyone, it's shaping up to be one of my favorite series/trilogies. But maybe wait til all 3 books are out so there's minimal suffering from waiting to get your hands on the next book. The suffering from the content of the book will definitely be enough. Oh my babies! I look forward to seeing you again in Ruin and Rising! Off to read the novellas to hopefully tide me over a little til it's release :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Wonderful book!

    I love this series and cannot wait for the last book!

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  • Posted August 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This sequel does not suck! In fact, it's better than the first!

    The reason I really enjoy this series is because, like in any good fantasy novel, there's that wonderful balance of plot-driven adventure and super engaging people. The main focus is on Alina's journey but then the story's jam packed with a series of epic mini-quests, as well. It's one seriously crazy ride! I'm never quite sure where Bardugo is going to take it and I love the unpredictability of it all. The only slight thing that threw me about Siege and Storm was the pacing. The action stalls towards the middle but Bardugo more than makes up for it with that high impact finale. By the end, Ravka is on the verge of an all-out war and the tone is desolate. We've lost some key characters and the fates of many others are left unknown. Talk about wanting, no, needing to know more! The other thing I love about this series is that the characters have so much dimension and, well, character! The Darkling is dark as ever, Mal has grown distant and resentful and Alina struggles with her new-found powers. I'm really interested to see how far down the rabbit-hole she goes. I want her to overcome that darkly powerful pull, but at the same time, some sick part of me really enjoys seeing her struggle. She's a bit of a downer in this book but it's understandable given her situation. As the characters progress along their individual journeys, circumstances change as do the relationships between them. I'm not going to lie, it can get really frustrating at times, especially if you're rooting for one coupledom over another. But, then again, I think that says something for the strength of Bardugo's writing --- it makes you feel something. It's that whole love/hate thing we have with really well-written characters. We must accept the change because we're invested in them. And for those of you who are Darkling fans, you're in for a real treat with Siege and Storm because Bardugo one ups herself with the addition of a new fan favourite. Meet Sturmhond. I didn't think it was possible for me to love anyone as much as I loved The Darkling but, yet again, she proved me wrong. Sturmhond is the colourful, charismatic, witty privateer who has quickly become my favourite character in the entire series. To say he's a multifaceted character is an understatement and I'm really excited to see where she goes with his story. Overall, Siege and Storm blew me away and was more than a worthy follow-up to a very strong debut. Siege and Storm is one of those rare follow-up books that supersedes even the first. Chalk full of intense action, magical adventures and engaging characters, you'll never want to put it down. This is one of those unpredictable fantasy series that keeps on getting better with time.

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