Privateers and Politics: My Siege and Storm Review

Look, I know I'm behind the curve on the Grishaverse books. But I'm slowly catching up, and I was excited to read Siege and Storm to meet fan favorite character Nikolai. Plus, the content of this book is probably going to make up most of the plot for season two of the Netflix show, so I was also looking forward to getting some insight for where the show might be going.

My take on this book is ... a little bit spicy. Read on to find out why!

Book Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher/Year: Henry Holt, 2013
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 435
My Rating: 3 out of 5

Book description (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, 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.

Politics and Not Much Else

I find that the Shadow and Bone trilogy can be a bit underwhelming to a modern-day YA reader, given that it’s a typical YA fantasy from 2012, and Siege and Storm is no exception. Bardugo’s writing has improved immensely since she wrote these books. But I went in with low expectations, and ended up being able to enjoy the story pretty well.

The bulk of the book involved a lot of politics and strategy, and while getting to know the world a bit better was interesting, I found it repetitive after a while. I find that the writing in this trilogy is pretty smooth, though, so at least it's not a horrible slog through the slow bits.

The Characters That Carry This Book ... and the One That Doesn't

For me, Nikolai basically carried the plot of Siege and Storm. I really enjoyed his character — we always love an insufferable flirt, but I also liked how he’s complex, morally gray, and kind of an asshole 😂 Tolya and Tamar were also a delight.

But Alina is a passive protagonist, which kind of annoyed me. I could forgive some passivity in the first Shadow and Bone book, but in Siege and Storm it became abundantly clear that stuff was happening TO her rather than her driving the plot. In a second installment, I expected more from her character.

Trigger and Content Warnings for Siege and Storm

This book may not be for you if you're sensitive to graphic animal death, non-consensual kissing, psychological manipulation/torture, hostage situation, kidnapping, violence (knife and gun), death/murder, blood/gore, alcohol, air vehicle crash, war themes.

Another note: I can’t comment on how good the POC rep is overall, but there’s a pretty iffy scene where the main characters mock Suli culture, so be aware of that (aspects of the Suli and their culture are at various points coded as Romani, Jewish, and South Asian).

Final Thoughts

Overall, this book made me excited for the next season of the Shadow and Bone show, but largely because I’m interested to see how they improve the source material rather than wanting to see a story I love come to life. Cause honestly, this one was just meh.

Siege and Storm is of course available everywhere, so check out the links below if you want to snag your own copy:

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