I finally got round to reading the rest of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, only five years after reading the first book. There was plenty I had forgotten in the meantime, like the first book was called The Gathering Dark when I read it, not Shadow and Bone! Maybe that’s why I couldn’t find my review… Anyway, I wasn’t hugely enamoured with the whole thing back in 2012, but I want to read Six of Crows, and as people have told me that it has spoilers for Grisha, I felt I had better at least try and finish it rather than get annoyed about spoilers.
Thankfully Recaptains exist, and I jogged my memory from their fantastic recap. I pretty much remembered the Darkling, the Fold and the stag, but not much about Alina and Mal. I have my suspicions that I didn’t like their relationship that much (why didn’t I write this down?), because as I started reading Siege and Storm, I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them.
Beware, the rest of this post may contain spoilers for Shadow and Bone, so if you haven’t started the trilogy yet but want my opinion, it gets better after the first book. Also I didn’t read much fantasy set in a secondary world back when I started, so I may well have found it easier to get into if I had picked it up now. Or maybe not.
What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.
So onto Siege and Storm, which is much fresher in my mind. Alina and Mal are on the run having escaped the devastation wreaked by the Darkling, but the leader of the Grisha Army is never far behind. Alina now carriers the first of Morozova’s amplifiers round her neck, and the Darkling wants her power maximised by getting the other two. The search for these amplifiers, whilst trying to avoid the Darkling, is the main driver for the rest of the trilogy.
So back to the relationships. Honestly, could Mal stop moaning? The love of his live is trying to save the world and not become a slave to a power-hungry Grisha, but he’s always thinking about what he wants, how his life doesn’t fit with Alina’s path, how it’s not fair on him. Once Nikolai pops up, Mal also spends a portion of his time being jealous. Mal does redeem himself a bit in the third book but I just didn’t feel like there was much for Alina to lose in Siege and Storm if he were to flounce off.
I really liked Nikolai though, he’s humourous but also good without being too shiny perfect. He likes to think that he’s perfect though! For a land so plagued by tragedy, it is so hopeful in a story to have a potential leader who would be good. It also meant that the thing that happens to him in Ruin and Rising had my heart in my throat. He elicited the feelings that I felt I should have had for Mal.
Ruin and Rising finds Alina and her ragtag group prisoners of the Apparat and a bunch of religious fanatics who claim to serve her but seem to want to keep her to parade round as a saint. Everyone wants to use Alina. I liked the story arc, although I was a bit worried she was going to end up with everyone as enemies.
You know the problem with heroes and saints? They always end up dead.
Sometimes the bad guys in fantasy seem to have all the odds in their favour. If you’ve got monsters of darkness at your fingertips, it doesn’t seem like there is any chance for good to prevail. I suppose what gives Alina a chance is the fact that the Darkling wants her by his side, perhaps he really is lonely. A human weakness that makes the climax just a little bit easier to believe.
OK, I totally guessed about the third amplifier. The ending was all a bit too neatly tied up though, especially after a long run up and it was over very quickly. However I’m glad I went back and read these books. There are a lot of characters who have their own complexities, and sometimes I felt I wanted a bit more that wasn’t just about Alina.
I also picked up a companion story, The Witch of Duva. You can completely read this as a standalone, it doesn’t share any characters and you don’t need to know about Grisha. It has a Hansel and Gretel kind of vibe, but it turns out not to be what you expect. It was a bit darker in tone than the Grisha trilogy feels which makes me more interested in her forthcoming story collection.
Siege and Storm:
Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery
Book Source: Purchased
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