Siege and Storm

SERIES REVIEW: Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

As I said in a recent TBR post, though I read and enjoyed Six of Crows years ago I never finished that duology and I’d never read the original trilogy that started this Grisha’verse. Thanks to the trailer for the Shadow and Bone Netflix show, it got me reinterested in this series and now I’ve read the trilogy for the first time – and plan to reread Six of Crows and then read Crooked Kingdom for the first time. And then at some point I’ll probably also read the other duology in this world that has my new favourite character in it.

Set in a fantasy world inspired by Imperial Russia, Shadow and Bone sees Alina Starkov, a mapmaker in the army, suddenly learn she has a dormant but extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. She’s whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling, and soon she learns nothing is what it seems as she may be in more danger than she realised.

Shadow and Bone is my least favourite in the trilogy. I think it’s partly because it’d been a while since I’ve read fantasy, and while it’s still a genre I like, just getting in that YA fantasy mindset took some time. Also because of general internet osmosis, I knew going into it who was the big villain so I was kind of just waiting for that to be revealed too.

That being said, I think it did a great job of introducing the really interesting magic system. I liked the fact that while the Grisha are powerful, they have their limitations. They aren’t all powerful in all types of magic, there’s three different types of magic and they each have the skills for one type. How the magic and the history of this warring country is woven into the story is done well as there never seems a moment where you’re just listening to a history lesson. A lot of the time, you’re learning about things the same time as Alina is. This continues throughout the next two books and it makes the story all the richer for it.

The dynamic between Alina and the Darkling gets more interesting in each book but its here that all that important foundation is set. Their relationship verges on creepy a lot of times in the book before characters intentions are clear, and it gives their interactions an unsettling edge. Their powers compliment one another so they often appear to have the whole two sides of the same coin deal going on.

I gave Shadow and Bone 3/5.

Siege and Storm is my favourite in the trilogy. It feels like almost non-stop action and even when it’s not there’s more political intrigue as Alina learns to navigate the court and starts to become a leader which is just as gripping.

I thought the pacing in Siege and Storm was excellent and how it introduced new characters and new aspects of this world was nicely done. Here you see more of the technology of this country, not only are there pirate ships but also these aircraft which are unlike anything we’ve seen in these books before. The mixture of technology and science/magic in this world is really interesting.

Also, Siege and Storm introduces one of my favourite characters I’ve read in a long, long time – Sturmhond. He is clever and charming but also ambitious and ruthless, and I pretty much loved everything he said. As you learn more about him you see how he’s a man of many faces. He’s almost a chameleon as he can fit in in any social or political situation and often can get people to agree with him. I just loved him a lot.

I gave Siege and Storm 5/5.

Ruin and Rising is a near perfect end to this trilogy. Like Siege and Storm, I read it in two sittings because I was instantly pulled into the story because of the characters and the cliffhangers at the end of each book. While Alina has formed various bonds over the course of the previous two books, in this one there’s almost a family of choice trope happening as Alina and her small band of survivors fight to stick together and to do the right thing. The final act almost seemed to feel rushed. Throughout the book Alina had been working towards one goal but then that changed suddenly and, while there were possible hints in the previous book her original goal had still been an overarching theme, it made the final showdown seem more of a Plan B and it didn’t quite have the same effect.

I gave Ruin and Rising 4/5.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy. Alina is a great and believable heroine. She acts to things how you’d think any sane person would react, she’s constantly learning from her mistakes and evolving into a powerful leader as she accepts and relishes in her newfound power. The rest of the characters are great too. As I’ve said, Sturmhond is my favourite but how some of the secondary or minor characters are allowed to develop is really cool as you see sides to them you wouldn’t have expected to begin with. While Alina’s closest relationship is with her best friend Mal, there’s a lot of good dynamics and friendships between female characters in these books which I always appreciate.

The Grisha trilogy is, on the whole, fast-paced, action-packed, and has compelling characters and a vivid world. I can see why these books have become so well loved and I’m definitely looking forward to the Netflix show.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Spring 2021 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a TBR of the books you’d like to read in the next few months. These are my favourite kind of Top Ten Tuesday posts as I like to go back and see how often the same books appear on my TBRs and if/when I actually read these books. If you’ve been to my blog before you might recognise some of these books because I’m pretty sure they have been on TBRs before. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump these past few months, but I hope to get out of it and reading more soon.

Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
I read Six of Crows years ago and with all the buzz of the Netflix show coming next month it made me want to finish that duology and give the original trilogy a go. I finished Shadow and Bone at the weekend and I’m kinda cheating with this TBR as I’m now over a third way through Siege and Storm so I think I’m going to finish the series soon.

A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska
Tome Topple, a readathon focussing on books 500 pages or more, started yesterday and my copy of A Spare Life is 490 so that’s close enough! Once I’ve finished the Grisha trilogy I hope Tome Topple will give me the motivation to read A Spare Life.

Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems, 1979-2004 by Amjad Nasser
While I’m still not a huge lover of poetry, I do like how quick poetry collections are to get through so they can be a good way to kickstart my reading when I’m in a reading slump.

The Cost of Sugar by Cynthia McLeod
I think it’s taken me a while to get to this as it’s an ebook and I go through phases of reading books on my kindle, and it’s been a while since I’ve actually picked up and charged my kindle.

An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie
This book has been on various TBR’s a few times now and I do still really want to read it! Like a lot of non-fiction, I think I get a bit intimidated by the idea of it but I know once I start reading it I’ll be really into it.

Angel Mage by Garth Nix
Angel Mage is another chunky book I hope Tome Topple will give me the motivation to read.

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
This is the first novel from Madagascar to ever be translated into English and it’s set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter. Think this is another one I haven’t picked up even when I intended to because it’s an ebook and haven’t been in an ebook kinda mood for a while.

Hawkeye: Freefall by Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt
I love Hawkeye and this is the most recent bindup of a Hawkeye story and I cant wait to read it.

Palestine +100: Stories from a century after the Nakba by Basma Ghalayini
Like with poetry, I think short story collections are good way to help me out of a reading slump and a way to read something, even if it’s just one short story, each day.

What books are you hoping to pick up soon?