The Grishaverse will be coming to Netflix soon with Shadow and Bone, an original series!
Enter the Grishaverse with Book Two of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summonerhunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.
But as the truth of Alina's destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrificeand only she can face the oncoming storm.
A New York Times Bestseller
This title has Common Core connections.
Praise for the Grishaverse
“A master of fantasy.” The Huffington Post
“Utterly, extremely bewitching.” The Guardian
“The best magic universe since Harry Potter.” Bustle
“This is what fantasy is for.” The New York Times Book Review
“[A] world that feels real enough to have its own passport stamp.” NPR
“The darker it gets for the good guys, the better.” Entertainment Weekly
“Sultry, sweeping and picturesque. . . . Impossible to put down.” USA Today
“There’s a level of emotional and historical sophistication within Bardugo’s original epic fantasy that sets it apart.” Vanity Fair
“Unlike anything I’ve ever read.” Veronica Roth, bestselling author of Divergent
“Bardugo crafts a first-rate adventure, a poignant romance, and an intriguing mystery!” Rick Riordan, bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series
“This is a great choice for teenage fans of George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien.” RT Book Reviews
Read all the books in the Grishaverse!
The Shadow and Bone Trilogy
(previously published as The Grisha Trilogy)
Shadow and Bone
Siege and Storm
Ruin and Rising
The Six of Crows Duology
Six of Crows
King of Scars
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
About the Author
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.”
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.
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.”
Mal cleared his throat. “And … he said he would pray to the God of Work to heal your affliction.”
“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.”
“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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It had a great mix of love, adventure, humor, friendship, grief, and had many baffling realizations along the way.
Amazing!!! I am truely in love with this series. It's well written and deserves so much more than 5 stars!!!
Fantastic story!!! It's not often that a sequel is better than the first in a series, but this one was! This was definitely a page-turner, fast-paced with a lot of edge-of-your-seat action and adventure. Alina is such a little fireball, fighter of the dark and powerful forces, braver and stronger than she thinks she is. Mal, her best friend, the one who loves her, guards and protects her with all he can. And Nikolai, pirate or privateer .... I put it together before the story revealed his true identity, but he is quite the surprising twist of a character! Love him! This series was quite the surprise for me - well done Leigh Bardugo!! I. Am. A. Fan!!! 5*****
Could not put it down!
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.'"
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.
While I enjoyed Book #1 better than this one, this was still a great book. We got introduced to a new character, Sturmhond/Nikolai, whom I loved very much. Alina’s character got much more murky in this story. And Mal, unfortunately, was awful in this book. He's whiny, childish, insecure, and impulsive, and he gets worse with every page. This saddened and disappointed me because I really liked him in the first book. His character is partially responsible for me docking this book a star. The Darkling, is, as always, a terrific antagonist and I absolutely adored all of the scenes with him in it. His relationship/connection with Alina is amazing to read about, even while it makes my skin crawl. The author did a superb job with creating a fantastic villain. The pace of this book started off a bit slow for my liking, which is why I’m giving this four stars. The author kept changing directions and destinations every couple of pages, and I felt I was getting whiplash. I also didn’t feel like the plot was really moving forward in the middle chunk of the book. It really started to pick up in the last 100 pages or so, and when it did, I was hooked. The ending of this book left me breathless once more, just like Shadow and Bone did, and I am very eager to read the third and final book of this trilogy to see how this entire mess of a conflict gets resolved.
It is exceedingly hard to speak to the brilliance that is this series. That is Leigh Bardugo and her magic-touched, clever mind. The Russian-inspired fantasy world that Bardugo has created is unlike anything that I have read before and I have so much appreciation for its uniqueness. You will truly never read anything like it in young adult literature. Bardugo's Grishaverse is set apart from other fantasy worlds with its magic system, structure, religious aspects, and detailed account of nations. It is a very rich world with endless possibility. The story is truly exceptional and without a doubt stands apart from other books in this genre with it's remarkable, original plot. If you are a reader of young adult fantasy, then you will be able to feel the otherness, the wonder, and the genuineness that this series is comprised of.And after you finish this series, you will not be able to think of young adult books in the same way. The plotting in this second book of the series is smart and altogether ingenious. The flow of events from the first book is flawlessly executed. There is a definite build up of the story as the book progresses. Bardugo is a master at writing plot points that are unexpected and unique. You will be surprised and you won't be able to stop reading until you know what is happening. The he exciting cast of characters at the helm of this story makes it a shining gem. The romance is another aspect that makes this series so entertaining. The romance is hard to describe if I'm to be honest. It is always like a love triangle, but it isn't really. Alina's heart has always belonged to Mal, and she even tells him so at the end of the book. That said, she can't deny her pull to the Darkling because they really are different from everyone else and like calls to like. The Darkling wants Alina since she is the only one that is like him in all of the world. His desire for her is almost creepy, but it works. Under the Darkling's scary, tough exterior it isn't hard to see that he is very alone and his feelings for Alina are genuine in a sense because he feels that she is the only one that could understand him. As misplaced as his feelings may be though since the Darkling craves power and Alina does not. Alina and Mal are drifting apart throughout this book because of all of the demands placed upon Alina as the new head of the Second Palace. Mal sticks out since he is neither a Grisha, soldier, nor is he a prince or any of the rich people that Alina deals with at the Grand Palace. Their distance creates a rift between them, but Alina wants to salvage it at all costs. Then there is Nikolai. He clearly respects Alina and he clearly has some feelings for her as well. Alina and Nikolai get along well and are becoming friends. He even confesses to her that he wants to kiss her, but tells her that he won't until she is thinking of him and not trying to forget Mal. It was a sad moment, but very true at the time. In conclusion, if you want to read a book with a fantasy world unlike any that you have ever encountered before then pick up this series. The vividly detailed world with original elements, characters that will get under your skin in all the best ways, and the compelling and original plot will blow you away! Not even kidding. Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for taking me into your brilliant mind and letting me build a little stone house there on the outskirts. I will forever cherish your stories.
The second book in this series was of course really good. Though it did felt like something was missing. Needed more Darkling. Probably the most interesting characters in the series thus far. I did like Nikolai though. The characters arc throughout this especially with Alina was good. Pacing was also good. Near the end it got intense though. Looking forward to the next one obviously.
Review: Siege and Storm, the second installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy, is a much darker book than its predecessor, Shadow and Bone, and I loved every page of it. The Darkling is back and he has a few new tricks up his sleeves with which to terrorize Alina and anyone else who resists him. He’s more determined than ever to bend Alina to his will. Speaking of Alina, she faces many challenges in this second book, the Darkling playing a starring role in many of them, and she faces each challenge head on, becoming ever more powerful along the away. I found Alina to be a much more appealing character in this second installment, not just because she rises to the occasion and becomes a total badass but also because her character develops a bit of a dark side along the way. She is really feeling the allure of her growing power, and the more she has, the more she wants. The plus side is that her power could possibly be strong enough to defeat the Darkling, in spite of his new tricks. The downside is that her hunger for power, as well as her growing obsession with defeating the Darkling, puts a tremendous strain on her relationship with childhood friend and potential love interest, Mal. Things get awkward, to say the least. The awkwardness between Alina and Mal was a bit of a drag, but thankfully the addition of a fabulous new character kept me from getting down too much. Sturmhond is a pirate and an inventor of sorts and he is just the most charming character ever! Imagine Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles in pirate form. He’s full of fun stories and witty banter, and just when you think you have him figured out, he springs an entirely new and unexpected identity on you. I thought the Darkling was my favorite character, but I have to rethink that now that Sturmhond is in the mix. Siege and Storm takes us from the lavish worldbuilding and the set up of Alina versus the Darkling straight into full-on adventure, dangerous mind games, and epic battle scenes, all of which culminate in a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. I’m so glad I already have a copy of the final book in the series because I need to know who comes out on top! 4 STARS
There was a lot of relationship drama in this book and I'm just not a fan of all the romance angst.But this book also brought the plot into another direction that I think I'm going to continue to enjoy in the third book! Lots of potential. I'm very excited by the idea of Alina having to struggle against being turned into a saint. However, I feel that some things weren't fleshed out quite as much as they could have been. Some scenes that should have had a high emotional impact didn't have enough weight. I did love how the characters from the first book come back in this one. I think this series is very good at drawing everything tightly together and making it very cohesive — it's not a series where characters from the beginning just drop off the face of the earth, and showing the development of background characters adds more depth to the book. I didn't love the new character Nikolai as much as I wanted to, but he is very funny and added a lot of tension to the book. Leigh Bardugo's writing also makes this book very easy to read! I flew right through this series. A few problematic aspects in this series that threw me off, like Alina and Mal dressing as Suli fortune tellers and mimicking their accents in what is acknowledged even in the book as a pretty offensive imitation. Unnecessary.
***Spoilers ahead, you have been warned*** You’d have to read Shadow and Bone to read and understand Siege and Storm. Otherwise you’d be pretty lost as events follow up right after the first book. The first half of the book was at a great pace and filled with lots of action, bombs, explosions, fighting, magic, all sorts of goodness you would expect for the second book to follow up for an excellent start in the first. It slows down in the second half of the book where preparations for encountering The Darkling are made and you have this whole drama with Alina and Mal going on; Okay I was wrong about The Darkling. I was torn apart when he ended up being jackalope of the year and I was holding a banner of love for Alina and Mal. Then Nikolai steps in. Handsome, charismatic, swashbuckling, people sway to his beat Nikolai. I loved reading about him whenever he came into the picture. It’s like when your school crush comes into the classroom and you realize you’re going to share a table with him. That kind of giddiness is what Nikolai brings to the book. I saw the chemistry with Alina and Mal in the first one, and it just falls apart here in Siege and Storm - understandably so as the dynamics have changed a lot and Alina has climbed up in the ladder of importance and Mal has suddenly fallen off the grid and is just considered a lowly guard of Alina the Sun Summoner. Which is pretty good right? You’re near the person you love and care about, you’re standing guard and you’re close by. No. Can’t be that easy right? First Nikolai steps into the picture and is suddenly looking like a much better prospect and the drama with Alina looking for the Firebird to amplify her powers even more - the point where she becomes obsessed with it changes her personality and makes her more darker, assertive, and she’s not the girl we all once knew in the first book. I really love this personality change in her. There’s a slight whiny voice to it but she really steps up and grows exponentially as a character. So I can see the romance aspect of the book falling apart, but at the same time you ask yourself is it really necessary? I can see the attempt at a love triangle with Mal and Nikolai with Alina in the middle but from what I see, she gets along fine with both of them, but does she really need one or the other as a love interest? I don’t see the chemistry there with either of them. Sure, Alina still cares a lot for Mal but everything’s changed and it just seems like she doesn’t need romance..not yet anyway. Instead, the attempt at the romance is seen as two whiny people who can’t get their own way and they take it out on each other by indulging themselves on the road to self destruction. Again, that’s a very human trait and good on portraying that. The whininess though, I could do without. It caused unnecessary drama in the book, and endless of pages in the second half where the plot doesn’t seem to be moving forward or anywhere. It feels like an unnecessary filler. The last third of the novel though did pick up the pace (did not make up for the whiny drama though) and provided a lot of the explosions and action you had in the first half. Not really featuring a cliffhanger ending, but it’s making me look forward to what I have to see in the third and final book of this series. PS: My heart bled for Genya.
This book had me in an emotional mess. Part of me still yearns for the Darkling to be saved, even after everything horrible he does
Siege and Storm picks up a small a few months after where Shadow and Bone left off. As I've come to expect from Leigh Bardugo, the world building in Siege and Storm is brilliant. This book expands upon the existing world building from the previous novel to deepen the immersive nature of the series. The characters that carried over from Shadow and Bone also continued to grow and develop throughout this book and it was great seeing how the different situations and decisions affected them. The characters that were added to the story gave everything in the novel another layer as they developed with the storyline. I had a lot of trouble putting this book down, which lead to not getting to sleep until around 3am. This is especially important because it means this book did not fall into the common "second book" dullness we often see in a series. The sarcastic and dark humor used through most of the story is the perfect contrast to the horrible things that happen. I love how at the end, while there's a small sense of closure, it's obvious the story will continue. I can not wait to read the final book in this beautiful and exciting trilogy. For this review and more, please visit my blog at vicariousbookworm.wordpress.com
I think Bardugo does a great job upping the stakes in book 2. I especially loved seeing Alina's internal monologues questioning her use of her own power and the darker turns it sometimes took.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the second book in the Grisha Trilogy. Mal and Alina escape from the Darkling and are trying to earn enough money to travel to a place where no one has heard of the Grisha. Before they can move on, the Darkling finds them again. The White Stag captured in the first book was only the first of the amplifiers the Darkling wants. He is now after the Sea Whip. The crew is overthrown by a privateer who rescues Mal and Alina from the Darkling, just as the Sea Whip is captured and killed. Alina now has a second amplifier and reads a story about a third one, the Firebird. The privateer, Sturmhond, has many tricks and secrets up his sleeve. While Alina is put in charge of the Second Army with Mal as the Captain of the Guard, the kingdom is searching for the Darkling and preparing for war. Alina learns that the amplifiers were not discovered, but created, which makes their safety more questionable and makes them even more of a mystery. Lives are lost and some are forever changed in the battle with the Darkling. Once again, Leigh Bardugo has entered the Grisha's world with magnificent writing and dynamic characters- 5 stars!
pooled ink Reviews: Honestly it was a relatively quick read when I wasn’t busy and I’d say the best part of this book was the beginning with Sturmhond (this guy is great and the beginning doesn’t hesitate to pick up where it left off in book 1). But then everything else was…I’m not sure, it was far from empty filler but it wasn’t as spiced and flavorful as the first book either. Anyhoo, SIEGE AND STORM was entertaining and flew me along to the end where I admit I’m anxiously waiting to read the (hopefully) epic and non-ridiculous trilogy conclusion. Stay tuned… Read my FULL review here: https://pooledink.com/2015/07/24/siege-and-storm/
Golden Sunbursts My favorite part of this one is the character of Sturmhond. He is a privateer that comes out of nowhere and it's hard to see where he stands. He's mischievous, full of swagger, and surrounded by powerfully loyal friends. I loved his entry into the story and all the twists and turns that he brought with him. I loved his personality and his quick wit. I also appreciated the two characters of Tolya and Tamar that worked alongside Sturmhond. They are twins, incredibly loyal, and a pair that you definitely want on your side. Alina and Mal in the beginning of Siege and Storm are on the run. It's actually quite entertaining to see them on the run though you'd expect that to be the boring part. I liked their characters a lot better in the beginning. I continue to appreciate all the side characters and how every single character in the series has both good and bad in them. This makes them far more realistic and also harder to tell who deserves to be rooted for. Martyrdom This book suffered from 2nd book syndrome in my opinion though I'm sure others will disagree with me. It became all angsty instead of revving up the action. As far as I'm concerned the beginning was good and the ending was good (though it's a cliff hanger), the rest was quite tame and boring. Our heroine who has so much incredible power barely even uses it, instead gets captured time and again. She also embraces her own death at one point which incredibly infuriated me. I fail to see how her death would've helped at all. The romance was horribly disappointing. Proposals Everywhere The romance in this one is terrible. Just figure out what you want! I don't even give a crap who it is with, just that all this angst and wanting with no resolution finally go somewhere. Into the Unsea The side characters are fantastic. The world building and powers included are quite fascinating. However, the action lowered and parts of this read were just lackluster. The angst was on high and everything else was on low. I will read the next book as I'm quite enthralled by the characters and have to know now how all this ends, but this one was not as good as the first.
Amazing! She is the queen!
This continuation of the story started in Shadow and Bone has Alina running from the Darkling, the Apparat, and at times even trying to run from her own power and the person she is becoming. I thought the author did a good job keeping the dynamics between the characters from getting stale while still keeping them believable. Whenever there is a romance (especially, it seems, in YA), there has to be some type of conflict to keep it interesting if it is going to span a series. Here there is conflict both within Alina’s inner circle and from without, which keeps it interesting and keeps the story flying along at a fast pace. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series!