Siege and Storm is the second book in The Grisha Trilogy and the follow-up to Bardugo’s very promising debut, Shadow and Bone. Rest assured there is no sophomore slump. The second act of a trilogy can be the high point (see: The Two Towers, The Empire Strikes Back) or, most commonly, can lull as the story segues from its opening to its climax. Siege and Storm is an example of the former. In fact, I commented in my review of Shadow and Bone that it was very much a traditional Campbell’s Hero Journey (albeit with a female protagonist), and Siege and Storm bears great resemblance to that most Campbellian of stories—The Empire Strikes Back of Star Wars.
Siege and Storm picks up where Shadow and Bone left off, with Alina and Mal on the run. The Darkling’s coup failed, but he comes back stronger than ever. A roguish privateer, Sturmhond, is introduced who threatens to steal the show. Bardugo continues to expand her world dramatically. Most pleasurable, she begins to explore the possibility of combining Grisha magic (the “small science”) and the 17th century level technology of her world. We return to the Fold (too briefly) and everything comes at a heavy price.
My quibbles are few. The conflict between Alina and Mal, which takes up a large chunk of the story, is not quite as effective as I would like. More questions are raised than answers given by a wide margin. But those are minor—Bardugo has a heck of a trilogy going.