5 of 5 stars to ‘Siege and Storm’ by Leigh Bardugo

siege-and-storm

Magical and religious society

Alina may have escaped the Darkling, for now, but she’ll never outrun the memories of that night on the Shadowfold. Riddled with guilt, she tries to make a new life with Mal across the true sea. But the Darkling is never far behind, and his powers have grown to terrifying new depths. Can Alina keep ahead of him, can she protect the man she loves, and can she really turn her back on her country and the people who, even now, look to her to save Ravka?

Bardugo extends her fantasy world even further in this second installment of the Grisha series. Once again, her descriptions of the environment and the complicated workings of an integrated magical and normal society are fascinating, detailed and riddled with uncomfortable situations. I loved the underlying political games and the religious aspects because they are so radical and unlike anything in our own society. It’s easy to get immersed and lost in this wonderful world of mythology and magic.

Alina’s character evolves throughout the storyline and Mal’s own transformation makes for some interesting inter and intra personal conflicts, which contributes a much larger portion of the storyline than in the first installment. There’s a whole lot of adventure and some intriguing twists in this installment. I’m still hooked on this series!

5 of 5 stars to ‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and bone

Finest fantasy

Alina Starkov has never stood out. She’s always been pale, quiet Alina, struggling to make friends in the orphanage of the Duke and trailing along at the back of the regiment while her best friend Mal basks in the limelight.

When Mal and Alina’s regiment reaches the Shadow Fold, she is terrified. They must cross the dark, dead landscape, filled with horrific creatures waiting to devour their flesh, with only the magical Grisha as protection. As their ship makes it’s way across the sands, her worst nightmare is realized. The ship is attacked and her best friend Mal is injured and nearly killed by the evil creatures of the Fold. In a moment of panic, Alina reacts and unleashes a power inside she didn’t know was there, driving back the evil creatures and rescuing the ship’s passengers from certain death.

Alina’s actions draw the attention of the Grisha elite, and ultimately, the mysterious Darkling, who is right hand to the King himself. Alina is whisked away to the palace for training. Thrust from poverty into luxury, and hailed as the savior of Ravka, Alina must adjust to her change in status and learn to control the power she has been suppressing her entire life. But her heart still yearns for the friend she left behind and the Darkling is not who he appears to be…

This one’s been on my to read list for a while, but I’ve put it off because the blurb and the cover didn’t really hook me. After reading it, however, I wish I’d opened it much sooner! This is fantasy at it’s finest. Bardugo has created a fantastical world of hierarchical society, dark power and magic that is impossible not to be pulled into. Her descriptions of the Grisha world are done in such a masterful way, with just the right amount of description to get the reader’s imagination going, while still assuming a flattering level of intelligence and understanding on the reader’s part. As a reader, you feel as if you’ve lived in Ravka your entire life.

Alina’s character is complex, easy to love and believable. Her character development is clear and gripping to follow. Mal, and the Darkling are more mysterious characters, but equally intriguing. I loved this novel and can’t wait to find out what happens next!