Hey, folks! It’s Andrea, coming back to you with a booktalk. As you probably figured out from yesterday’s post, I recently finished Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm. Grab your mugs and snacks- I have a lot of thoughts.
However, if you haven’t read the book yet, beware! Allow me to redirect you to a safer, spoiler-free place!
Okay, let’s start from the beginning: Sturmhond. Man, I loved that character. Together with Sarah J. Maas’ Rhysand, he’s my favorite character. The first notable interaction he had in the book was when he prevented Ivan from causing mayhem aboard his ship.
“I won’t forget this, Sturmhond,” Ivan spat. The captain rolled his eyes. “That’s the idea.”
My next bookmark refers to the sudden discovery of the second amplifier- the ice dragon, Rusalye. As soon as I saw this, I have to say it completely ruined the plot twist. I honestly thought it was a horrible development. Until. Until I found out about the third amplifier- then, somehow, everything turned believable. Still don’t know why, not really.
“Saints,” he breathed. “There’s a third.”
Advancing into the story, I stumbled across the phrase “Like calls to like.” in the context of Alina and the Darkling’s conversation regarding why the latter escaped the volcra unharmed.
The next thing I wanted to talk about is Alina’s character development. We see her impose herself more and actually admit to herself that she felt naked and incomplete without the third and (I hope) last amplifier. Alina from the first book would never have had the courage to admit that, even to herself.
Further bookmarks just revolve around me discovering Sturmhond’s complexity and falling more and more in love with the way he’s written- and, of course, the painfully obvious hints that Leigh Bardugo was dropping all over the place regarding his appearance.
Another point: can we talk about this phrase right here?
“I call her the Hummingbird […] though I’m thinking of renaming her the Firebird.”
Ah, I literally cannot get over his sass. Of course, very soon after this occurrence the grand reveal took place- Sturmhond was proven to be Nikolai Lantsov, the King’s youngest. I can honestly say I didn’t expect something of this magnitude, but it is all thanks to Leigh Bardugo’s writing. Hiding something in plain sight- quite remarkable.
The next bookmark relates to Nikolai’s plans to convince his brother, Vasily, to step aside and pass the throne to him. Yet again, this is another turning point where my awe for Nikolai only grew. He knows what he’s after and is both unafraid and unashamed to go for it. He’s aware of the situation Ravka is in and is the only one actually willing to get things done.
Furthermore, we have the discussion on the colors of Alina’s clothes- I was completely on Nikolai’s side on that one. Gold and black would have made a killer impression. Of course, Mal had to go and get triggered over a damn color (even though it was black, it’s still not okay) and proceed to stomp away like a baby. Hence, Alina winded up wearing blue and gold.
The next thing I noted is the extremely nice and refreshing perspective in the writing. In chapter ten, we find out that “every able body” has been recruited into the army- that includes women, guys. And it’s not a big fuss, there’s no huge revelation. It’s just a thing mentioned in passing, because for Ravka, that’s normal. Beautiful.
Next up, another bookmark occurred when Alina started to grow more into herself.
“You think the Darkling is powerful?” I asked, startled by the icy clarity of my voice. “You have no idea what he is capable of. Only I have seen what he can do. Only I have seen what he can do. Only I have faced him and lived to tell about it.”
I felt like around this time, she really understood what it took to be a leader. She really started to realized Nikolai could be trusted in what he was telling her. His advice was genuine. If not for anything else, her following his advice would have led to more people being on his side.
My next note is in regards of the moment Mal walked out on Alina- the moment I knew everything was going to go all sorts of wrong for them.
“Call to him, I thought desperately. Tell him something. Tell him everything.”
But, of course, she didn’t. And they grew apart. And then even further apart.
The next bookmark I have is made on another aspect regarding Alina growing into her full potential- her decision to change the way things worked at the Little Palace. I honestly couldn’t help but think Nikolai was lowkey manipulating her, but it’s also the path she should have taken from the start- I kinda have torn opinions on that side.
Ah, this next one. It’s the brilliant moment when Nikolai showed us yet another side of his wonderful complexity.
“If it got you closer to what you want, to the throne and your big chance to save Ravka, are you sure you wouldn’t walk me up the gallows steps yourself?” […] he looked like I’d punched him in the gut. He started to speak, stopped, then shook his head. “Saints,” he said, his tone somewhere between bewilderment and disgust. “I really don’t know.”
I don’t really know how I could put my feelings regarding this quote in words… He’s an extremely deep and intricately woven character- I can’t wait to find out exactly what’s on his mind.
Okay, this next part will be very eventful, since we’re nearing the end of the book. Firstly, let’s just take a moment’s break and analyze this thing right here:
A smile tugged at his lips. “I want to kiss you again.” he amended.
Now, I’ll have to say that even if I don’t agree with this ship, it’s the only romantic(ish?) encounter that got me excited. I definitely don’t want Alina to end up with Nikolai, but I don’t really want her with Mal either? And the Darkling’s kind of a no from the start with me- not because I don’t like the character, but because I feel like him and Alina just wouldn’t roll.
It’s time for another scene that made my heart fill with emotions!
“You know the problem with heroes and saints, Nikolai?” I asked as I closed the book’s cover and headed for the door. “They always end up dead.”
I honestly don’t even know what to make of this scene- it’s filled with so much sorrow, while also giving off the vibe of someone who is at peace with their fate. A complex scene for a complex book.
My next bookmark shows perfectly well why I completely despise Vasily. Trying to show he can be as competitive and willing as his brother (while, in reality, just throwing a tantrum), he stupidly and unknowingly brought the Darkling to the Little Palace and all but handed him the throne. If it weren’t for Nikolai and a handful of Grisha who escaped, both the royal family and Alina would have been dead. (Vasily still died, though. Can’t say I’ll miss him.)
Oh, and this next one. The moment when we found out Tolya and Tamar were leading the Soldat Sol– I couldn’t even? I was so upset I couldn’t see this plot twist coming but also so darn pleased with the turn things took! And, of course, I started loving Tolya and Tamar just that lil bit more.
For my final bookmark, I have the final page before the After section. (which, is you’ve read the review, you’ll know really threw me off). That final line? Damn.
“The light won’t come, Mal. My power is gone.”
An extremely powerful line concluding what was an altogether amazing ending- can we just take a moment to appreciate the progress Alina went through? I can’t decide if, at the very end, the Darkling let Alina think she was manipulating him for laughs or if he was actually fooled. And that battle! One of the most epic encounters of my reader life!
And here I’ll have to bring this already extremely long post to an end! I hope you enjoyed and, if you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for reading! Make sure to check out the spoiler-free book review, but, before you go, leave me your thoughts below! Do you have any ships in this book? Did you anticipate some plot twists I didn’t?
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By the way, this month I’ll be doing Andrea’s Bookish July where I publish a post every day in July (find out all about it here). If you’re interested, make sure to keep updated- I’m posting regularly on my socials, too- find them below.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you tomorrow!