The GrishaVerse has cast a spell over me once more. I finished Leigh Bardugo’s second book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy this morning and I can’t wait to share my thoughts!
Alina and Mal have escaped the Darkling once and are on the run, but who is to determine the length of their freedom? The Darkling is fierce to reclaim his long awaited Sun Summoner and so in order to save her country and everyone she loves, Alina must align with Sturmhond, an infamous privateer and a long lost prince, who offers her to lead the Grisha Army in order to fight against the Darkling. But in a game of power, who is to reveal their real goals? Can Alina trust the privateer, and above all else, can she trust her sanity and her power or will she be enlaced with the Darkling’s power forever?
PS: Can we all please agree that this trilogy has been gifted with the most precious covers???
I fell in love with Leigh Bardugo’s first book of this series, but who could have thought I would embrace the characters more fiercely the second time around? This story has really grown on me and despite some people disliking this story because of the awesomeness and perfection Six of Crows offered us, I must say that I truly love this story.
The first third of the book was filled with a lot of new information that would later dominate the book’s outcome and the new additions really took the book to another level of complexity. There were a lot of twists that I wouldn’t have predicted and one especially that I was very thrilled about, but more on that later with the characters!
The second half of the book wasn’t action-filled, but I didn’t mind. Leigh Bardugo dove more deeply into the intrigues and problems of politics and wrote about Alina’s struggle of leading the Grisha Army. Sometimes I was wondering when another action-packed scene would come, but then the diplomatic, political and conflicted side of the book was so fulfilling in its own way that I didn’t miss fights, wars or outright battles.
The last third of the book was then the long awaited battle that was very predictable because at some point, everyone was waiting for the Darkling’s response to the new situation. But even though it was very predictable, the sudden start was unexpected and its turnout was magnificent.
Alina really made her way into my heart because she isn’t the simple protagonist who was given the power and the glory of being the chosen one. She struggles with being the invisible orphan girl who was quite happy to simply be with her friend Mal to being the leader of the Grisha Army and the reason of hope for her citizens. She tries to please everyone, her country, Nikolai and Mal, but pleasing three sides is much tougher that she would have thought and so during the book, she has to chose between the person she loves and the survival of her country.
Mal was for some reason very annoying for me as the book took its course. He doesn’t have the will to save Rafka, and while it’s sweet that he only cares for Alina, he is also kind of oblivious to the peoples’ suffrage. And while Alina does make mistakes, he is always mad at her even though she tries to make the best out of everything and only wants the best for him. I loved him at the start, started hating him towards the middle, but gladly started to like him again towards the very ending of the book. I am just curious how he develops during the next and final book of the trilogy.
I was smiling like a dumb naive little girl when it turned out that Nikolai Lantslov was playing a role all along. I only knew him from Six of Crows and now with King of Scars on its way, I thought that was the only reason people knew him, but how dumb I was!!! He is incredibly funny and even though he is a great actor and can slip into every role should it be the handsome prince, the diplomatic politician or the comradely soldier and pirate, he still truly cares for Alina. His presence made the book a very pleasant read because he caused for so many smiles and laughters and incredibly spontaneous and funny scenes!
I was also really positively overwhelmed by the many side characters whom I knew from the first book but which I didn’t think would play a big role anymore!
Whoever has read my review on Shadow and Bone knows, that I thought Leigh Bardugo’s writing to be a little simple compared to her thrilling writing style she proved in Six of Crows. But I have changed my mind. She wrote some hell of sentences throughout the book that gave the book power and the strength it needed to land on my Favorites shelf.
Another great aspect was that she made some scenes the contrary of action-packed very interesting and also kept me hooked throughout the middle of the book where not much happened.
So, all in all, this book was a rather slow book, but surprisingly I didn’t mind. I loved the character development and the new arrivals such as Nikolai who will forever be the highlight of this book! I can’t wait to read the trilogy’s finale Ruin and Rising to see what happens to Ravka, Alina, Mal, the Darkling and Nikolai!
I can definitely recommend the book to every fantasy lover with a dedication of strong female protagonists and a tendency toward dark fantasy.
I hope you enjoyed my review and have a great day!