Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

So, for the last few months I have been setting friends up to read Shadow and Bone, which I really liked, but mostly because I wanted them to read Siege and Storm. The wait is over in a few hours, and I have many friends who are happily reading the 5 preview chapters while waiting for their pre-orders to be fulfilled tomorrow and then, we all begin the wait together for the next book.

The second book in a trilogy is the one that I dread. They are difficult to get right. I have many thoughts (and several mental drafts of a blog post) on how the industry, author and, even the reader, contribute to the mysterious syndrome of the lackluster 2nd book. A new book is expected in much less time than the first, the writer introduces filler characters and detours that either aren’t very interesting or don’t support the main story. The reader is reluctant to embrace new characters (guilty!). I could go on, but Bardugo successfully navigates all the pitfalls.

Alina starts to come into her own power in this book, and Bardugo allows her to explore that in a way that is natural, fraught with conflicting emotions, and as gradual and accommodating as dire circumstances will allow. Neither character nor author shy away from what it means to be powerful when you haven’t been before, to lead though hindered by uncertainty and lack of experience, and to have to renegotiate the terms of important relationships in service of a greater cause. All of this is accomplished in tandem with the gradual introduction of new and intriguing characters and story lines, and follow up with familiar faces. Bold, dark and filled with heart, Siege and Storm sets the bar high for any book that follows and continues the ascension of the orphaned Alina into her role as one of the most powerful sorcerers in her war-torn land. Replete with epic battles, mysticism, and folk tales plus rich world building and memorable characters, Bardugo’s latest novel masterfully surpasses its worthy predecessor.

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