A Recurring Plot but a Wonderful World
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 October 2017
Liegh Bardugo is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, based purely on her writing style. I'd never considered picking up any of her works until everyone I knew was raving about the Six of Crows duology, but I wanted to read this trilogy first. If you've read my previous review for Shadow and Bone, you might know that I was intrigued by the world, and in love with the writing, but didn't feel like there was any real substance to the book. Well this was very similar to me.
Set following the end of the the first book, Siege and Storm picks up almost directly after the end, following Alina and Mal as they try to escape from the Darkling and work to earn some money to fund their new life. Unfortunately most people know this isn't the case, and Alina ends up back at Os Alta and the Little Palace, this time regarded as a saint who perished at the hands of the Darkling and was resurrected.
At this point, I know I enjoy Leigh's writing and would love to continue reading the story just for that, but I'm starting to think I just don't like some of the characters. Alina is very difficult to read and her constant change in personality is very frustrating at times. At the start of the story, after being captured by the Darkling yet again, Alina kills another of Morozovas amplifiers and it was at this point I realised what the story was about.
We're following Alina as she tracks down each of Morozovas amplifiers and uses them to defeat the Darkling. Book one corresponds to the stag, book two corresponds to the sea serpent, and book three (and I'm just guessing here) corresponds to the fire bird. And suddenly the story makes sense.
Ultimately, this book got off to a good start. I loved Alina and Mal's relationship in the first book, and I really wanted it to grow throughout this book (needless to say I was disappointed, but what can ya do?). Despite getting captured by the Darkling once again, the introduction of some more primary characters (Hello Nikolai!) made up for this, and their escape was fast paced. The variety of characters and their various backgrounds made this a very enjoyable book, however there were certain things that reduced my rating. As previously mentioned, I really struggled to like Alina. During the first book I put this down to the fact she was thrust into a world she doesn't understand, and being heavily influenced by the villain of the story, but during this book, Alina was held accountable for her actions with no further influence.
It was very difficult to get past the constant concern she wasn't going to find the 3rd amplifier, and throughout the book this costs her her relationships with various characters. Mal is still one of my favourite characters, and his story with Alina was a very difficult one. He tries extremely hard to prove that he is not just some weak soldier only good at one thing, and despite his opinions, he tells Alina he will help her find the 3rd amplifier.
In addition to Mal, I also loved the addition of Nikolai. I'd heard so many people go on and on about the wonderful, sarcastic, humorous Nikolai Lantsov, and I was not disappointed. He was a very complex character, haunted by the rumours that surround him, and leading several double lives. Soldier, Captain/Privateer, Prince, son, friend, the list is virtually endless. The only negative I had was the way in which he was introduced, because I was not surprised in the slightest. I felt like Leigh was trying to mislead us a little to begin with, trying to find a way in which to uniquely introduce Nikolai as a character, but I wasn't shocked by it. In fact, I thought it was almost a cliche.
Because of my love for a couple of the main characters, I could have given this book 4.5/5 stars, but what let this book down for me was the mere similarity to the first book. The plot goes as follows; Girl gets caught, girl develops (more) power, girl escapes from bad guy, girl tries to rally support, girl gets caught again, girl escapes again. The near identical plot line meant that at no point was I really surprised. During the first book, rallying support was not exactly a major plot point, and for this book it definitely was, but there was nothing that really made me want to read on. By the end of the book, and Alina's second capture, I was almost 99% sure that she was going to escape again, and because of that, I felt like this book deserved a lower rating.
I can't wait to get on to the third and final book in this trilogy, but I am extremely hopeful that that book will differ in plot to the previous 2. Despite thinking the writing got slightly better in Siege and Storm compared to Shadow and Bone, the plots were just too alike, and I don't think that layout will work for the final book. But despite my reservations regarding the plot line, I am very excited to carry on reading even if it's just for the characters. This world is one you just lose yourself in, and Leigh has done a fantastic job to keep me reading so far.
I just can't wait to see how this story ends.