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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-12 00:10
Great for the first half, slow last half, with the last 50 pages with explosive action
Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo

***Spoilers ahead, you have been warned***

 

You’d have to read Shadow and Bone to read and understand Siege and Storm. Otherwise you’d be pretty lost as events follow up right after the first book.

 

The first half of the book was at a great pace and filled with lots of action, bombs, explosions, fighting, magic, all sorts of goodness you would expect for the second book to follow up for an excellent start in the first. It slows down in the second half of the book where preparations for encountering The Darkling are made and you have this whole drama with Alina and Mal going on;

 

Okay I was wrong about The Darkling. I was torn apart when he ended up being jackalope of the year and I was holding a banner of love for Alina and Mal.

 

Then Nikolai steps in.

 

Handsome, charismatic, swashbuckling, people sway to his beat Nikolai. I loved reading about him whenever he came into the picture. It’s like when your school crush comes into the classroom and you realize you’re going to share a table with him. That kind of giddiness is what Nikolai brings to the book.

 

I saw the chemistry with Alina and Mal in the first one, and it just falls apart here in Siege and Storm - understandably so as the dynamics have changed a lot and Alina has climbed up in the ladder of importance and Mal has suddenly fallen off the grid and is just considered a lowly guard of Alina the Sun Summoner. Which is pretty good right? You’re near the person you love and care about, you’re standing guard and you’re close by.

 

No. Can’t be that easy right? First Nikolai steps into the picture and is suddenly looking like a much better prospect and the drama with Alina looking for the Firebird to amplify her powers even more - the point where she becomes obsessed with it changes her personality and makes her more darker, assertive, and she’s not the girl we all once knew in the first book. I really love this personality change in her. There’s a slight whiny voice to it but she really steps up and grows exponentially as a character.

 

So I can see the romance aspect of the book falling apart, but at the same time you ask yourself is it really necessary? I can see the attempt at a love triangle with Mal and Nikolai with Alina in the middle but from what I see, she gets along fine with both of them, but does she really need one or the other as a love interest? I don’t see the chemistry there with either of them.

 

Sure, Alina still cares a lot for Mal but everything’s changed and it just seems like she doesn’t need romance..not yet anyway. Instead, the attempt at the romance is seen as two whiny people who can’t get their own way and they take it out on each other by indulging themselves on the road to self destruction. Again, that’s a very human trait and good on portraying that. The whininess though, I could do without. It caused unnecessary drama in the book, and endless of pages in the second half where the plot doesn’t seem to be moving forward or anywhere. It feels like an unnecessary filler.

 

The last third of the novel though did pick up the pace (did not make up for the whiny drama though) and provided a lot of the explosions and action you had in the first half. Not really featuring a cliffhanger ending, but it’s making me look forward to what I have to see in the third and final book of this series.

 

PS: My heart bled for Genya.

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review 2017-08-29 12:30
Emotionalität über Konstruktion
Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

Ich bin vermutlich die letzte, die „Shadow and Bone“ von Leigh Bardugo liest. Der Trilogieauftakt erschien 2012 und löste einen verrückten Hype aus, dem ich mich nicht entziehen konnte. Ich kaufte das Buch 2014, lies es dann aber drei Jahre warten. Nicht, weil es mich nicht mehr interessierte, sondern weil ich die Vorfreude darauf voll auskosten wollte. Die Aussicht auf ein High Fantasy – Universum, das vom zaristischen Russland inspiriert wurde, war einfach zu delikat, um kopfüber in die Geschichte zu stürzen.

 

Manchmal ändert ein einziger Moment alles. Seit Alina Starkov, Waise und mittelmäßige Kartografin beim Militär von Ravka, ihrem besten Freund Malyen und ihrem Trupp im Schatten-Spalt das Leben rettete, erkennt sie sich selbst kaum wieder. Als sie in der schwärenden Wunde tiefster Dunkelheit angegriffen wurden, brach etwas aus ihr hervor: eine Macht, von der sie nicht wusste, dass sie sie besitzt. Verwirrt und desorientiert wurde sie dem Dunklen vorgeführt, dem Anführer der Grischa, der magischen Elite des Landes. Er sandte sie in die Hauptstadt Os Alta und riss sie brutal aus ihrer Existenz. Nun wird Alina als Grischa ausgebildet, weit entfernt von Mal und allem, was ihr vertraut ist. Ihre Fähigkeiten sind selbst für eine Magierin einzigartig. Große Hoffnungen lasten auf ihren Schultern. Sie könnte Ravkas Kriege beenden. Sie könnte den Hunger in ihrem Land bekämpfen. Gemeinsam mit dem Dunklen könnte sie sogar den Spalt schließen. Aber kann sie dem Dunklen und ihren neuen Kräften überhaupt vertrauen, ohne Mal an ihrer Seite, der sie daran erinnert, wer sie ist?

 

Ich möchte nicht schon wieder die alte Leier spielen. Also werde ich nicht schreiben, dass „Shadow and Bone“ dem Hype nicht gerecht wird. Stattdessen schreibe ich: der Hype um „Shadow and Bone“ ist übertrieben. Leigh Bardugo ist gewiss auf einem guten Weg und der Auftakt der „Grisha“-Trilogie hat mich gut unterhalten, doch angesichts all der Aufregung hatte ich definitiv mehr Feuerwerk erwartet. Mir reichen die unausgegorenen positiven Ansätze nicht aus, um mich in Begeisterungsstürme verfallen zu lassen. Ich erkenne die vielversprechenden Aspekte, über die andere Leser_innen schwärmen, aber meiner Meinung nach sind diese nicht in aller Konsequenz ausgearbeitet. Betrachten wir zum Beispiel das Worldbuilding. Die zaristisch-russischen Einflüsse sind prägnant, was mir wirklich gut gefiel, weil es eine erfrischende Abwechslung zu den zahllosen mittelalterlichen High Fantasy – Welten darstellt. Ich habe in einem Interview mit Leigh Bardugo gelesen, dass bestimmte Merkmale des Landes Ravka für sie von Beginn an feststanden – die extreme Diskrepanz zwischen Arm und Reich, die Unfähigkeit zur Industrialisierung, die truppenstarke, zwangsverpflichtete Armee – sie jedoch nach einer kulturellen Inspirationsquelle suchte, die diesem skizzenhaften Konzept Leben einhauchen würde. Das imperialistische Russland bot sich nahezu zwingend an und ich finde, sie transportiert die damit einhergehende Atmosphäre hervorragend. Meiner Vorstellung nach könnte Ravka tatsächlich ein Landstrich im Russland zur Zarenzeit sein. Leider hilft mir dieses stabile Bild allerdings nicht, die Situation in Ravka zu verstehen. Das Land führt seit Generationen Krieg gegen seine Nachbarnationen. Wieso? Worum geht es? Rohstoffe? Territorium? Ich weiß es nicht und ich bin bedauerlicherweise nicht überzeugt, dass Leigh Bardugo es weiß. Ich habe den Eindruck, dass sie Ravka kaum besser kennt als ich, weil sie – dem strengen Korsett der YA folgend – die Ausschlachtung der Liebesgeschichte der detaillierten Ausarbeitung ihres Universums vorzog. Emotionalität über Konstruktion. Natürlich gibt es ein Liebesdreieck. Die Protagonistin Alina ist hin- und hergerissen zwischen ihrem reizenden besten Freund Mal und dem nebulösen Oberhaupt der Grischa, dem Dunklen. Ich mochte Alina anfangs sehr gern. Ich fand sie rotzig, schlagfertig und frech, voller spitzer, scharfer Ecken und Kanten, ohne verletzend zu sein. Das Mädchen hatte Persönlichkeit. Dann offenbart sich ihr magisches Talent und sie wird für ihre Ausbildung in den Kleinen Palast geschickt, wo sie sich in eine langweilige, schale, stereotype Version ihrer selbst verwandelt, in eine weitere, austauschbare YA-Heldin, die nichts hinterfragt. Ich war unglaublich enttäuscht. Im letzten Drittel von „Shadow and Bone“ erhält sie zwar etwas von ihrem Biss zurück, wird aber nie wieder die Alina, die mich zu Beginn beeindruckte. Das einzige, das mir während ihrer Ausbildungszeit gefiel, war die minutiöse Beschreibung des Erlebens ihrer Kräfte. Hier war Leigh Bardugo sehr explizit, was vermutlich daran liegt, dass ihr überraschend wissenschaftlich angehauchtes Magiesystem im Gegensatz zu ihrem Worldbuilding vollständig ist.

 

Die Vorliebe der Young Adult – Literatur für Trilogien ist Fluch und Segen zugleich. Einerseits erhalten Autor_innen mehr Raum, um Handlung, Charaktere und Setting überzeugend zu entwickeln, andererseits wird diese Möglichkeit leider viel zu selten genutzt. Ich habe das Gefühl, Universen werden nicht mehr vorbereitet, geplant und konstruiert, sondern impulsiv beim Schreiben zusammengeschustert. Nicht so wild, bleiben viele Fragen im ersten Band ungeklärt, es kommen ja noch zwei Folgebände. Nun, für mich ist das wild. Für mich ist das ein Makel, den ich nur schwer verzeihen kann, weil ich finde, dass zwar nicht alle Fragen im ersten Band einer Trilogie geklärt werden müssen, Autor_innen jedoch zumindest die Antworten kennen sollten. Dessen bin ich mir bei Leigh Bardugo nicht sicher. Deshalb kann ich „Shadow and Bone“ nicht höher als mit drei Sternen bewerten. Obwohl ich Spaß daran hatte, fühlte sich die Lektüre fragmentarisch an. Die „Grisha“-Trilogie erhält von mir noch eine Chance, doch sollte der zweite Band „Siege and Storm“ die Lücken nicht plausibel schließen, könnte ein Abschied ins Haus stehen.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/leigh-bardugo-shadow-and-bone
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review 2016-11-13 00:06
#CBR8 Book 114: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo

Spoiler warning! This is the third book in the Grisha trilogy and therefore NOT the place to start reading. This review will contain at least some minor spoilers for the previous books in the series, and who starts a trilogy with the third book anyway? Go read from the beginning, starting with Shadow and Bone. This review will be here when you're caught up. 

 

Alina is shadow of her former self, trapped in tunnels underground, "protected" by the zealous Apparat (former high priest of Ravka) and his devoted followers, who worship her as a living saint. She is unable to summon her powers, but has to put on a show for the crowds (aided by illusion and trickery) to placate the high priest. She drained herself completely in her last confrontation with the Darkling, intending to kill them both. Now what remains of Ravka's royal family may be dead, the Second Army is in tatters, and Alina and her tiny band of loyal friends have to figure out a way to get above ground and away from the religious fanatics. 

 

Having confronted the Darkling twice, without having been able to best him, Alina is convinced that what will make the difference is a third amplifier, making her the most powerful Grisha since the legendary Morozova. They need to track down the elusive firebird of myth, and from poring over Morozova's old journals, they suspect they know where to begin looking. Alina also wants to ascertain whether Prince Nikolai and his parents survived after the Darkling's attack on the palace. Having been beaten twice, just makes Alina more determined that the next time they meet, she will defeat the Darkling once and for all. Little does she know that getting the third amplifier could end up costing her more dearly than she could ever have imagined. 

 

As in a lot of trilogies, the first book introduces us to the characters and the world, the second brings our protagonists further into the story, but also brings them oh so low, so that they have to overcome all odds and make it to the end triumphantly. Alina is broken in body and spirit, having nearly drained herself trying to stop the Darkling at the end of the second book. She would have died if Mal hadn't insisted on carrying her away, aided by a handful of loyal Grisha, while Prince Nikolai did his best to rescue his parents and escape, so he could return and fight again at a later date. Hidden in an intricate network of caves far away from the Darkling's reach, Alina can't access her powers at all while she's so far underground. The Apparat would prefer a dead martyr to a living girl, and closely guards his precious figurehead, trying to make it impossible for her and her little band of followers to plot and scheme. Nonetheless, they manage to orchestrate an escape and having had time to heal during her stay underground, Alina is relieved to discover that her powers aren't actually lost.

 

In a series that has already explored some pretty dark themes, this book was the darkest of all. Alina is obsessed with finding the source of the third amplifier, even after discovering what the search did to Morozova all those years ago. The idea of all that power is incredibly alluring to her, even though she knows that it could make her tip over the edge into madness and corruption, turning her just as monstrous as the the Darkling. Having seen her willing to kill herself to stop the Darkling, Mal is no longer trying to keep his distance from her, instead doing his best to help and protect her. For a lot of the book, they are aided only by a ragtag group of Grisha, and the odds of their succeeding in a third confrontation with the centuries old sorcerer are so slim. 

 

I was really impressed with the final quarter of this book, and where Bardugo took the story. I'm not sure she needed to go to the lengths she did to establish that yes, the Darkling is totes evil, so evil, you guys. The choices facing Alina and Mal towards the end are not easy ones, and the sacrifices required to ensure victory are staggering. Some might say that the very end is a bit of a cop-out (and all those people pissed off that Alina didn't end up with the Darkling should have their heads examined), but I felt that due to what came before, it was earned, and the epilogue was bitter-sweet. 

 

While I'm totally on board with Alina as a heroine in this one and didn't actually feel Mal was a total waste of space in this one (he still ranks behind pretty much any of the others in the supporting cast), I am still baffled by much romantic attention she keeps attracting throughout the series. Made no sense to me, and I didn't think she had chemistry with either of them. As a character in her own right, she goes through a hell of a lot of challenges over the course of the trilogy and her personality develops a lot.

 

Based on this book, I would feel comfortable recommending the trilogy to others. I found the first book a bit hard to get into (and Alina alternately boring and unbearable), the second book was a lot more entertaining, while this was a thrilling conclusion, which did not go in the direction I was expecting. Having heard great things about Bardugo's new series, I now no longer feel I would be cheating in some way when I start it. It just seems right to read things in the correct order.

 

Judging a book by its cover: It seems fitting that the third and darkest book in the trilogy has a colour scheme evoking blood, fire and ashes. The firebird that Alina is searching throughout crowns the top of the book, while a dark city appears to be burning in the central image. I mentioned in my review of the previous book how much I love these covers. That bears repeating. They are very striking and I love how each of the books' titles give the reader a glimpse of what to expect.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/11/cbr8-book-114-ruin-and-rising-by-leigh.html
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review 2016-11-08 00:10
#CBR8 Book 113: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo

Spoiler warning! This is the second book in a trilogy. I will be unable to review the book without possibly giving away spoilers for the first book in the series, Shadow and Bone. Which is obviously the one you should start with if you're interested in this series.

 

After the rather dramatic show-down with the Darkling at the end of the last book, Alina and Mal are on the run, trying to get as far away from Ravka as possible. Having to hide her Grisha powers and suppressing her abilities is making Alina frail and she feels constantly jealous of the attention Mal is getting from the women in the villages where they're hiding. Unfortunately, the Darkling escaped their last show-down relatively unhurt, and when he catches up to them, he reveals that he has new and even more terrifying powers. He uses Alina and Mal's affection towards one another to control both, threatening to hurt Alina if Mal doesn't find the legendary sea serpent legends say is required for a second amplifier for Alina, while he promises to kill Mal instantly unless Alina agrees to cooperate with him.

 

Lucky for the continued welfare of both of them, Mal manages to track the sea serpent in the allotted week, and as Alina is both elated at the thought of how her powers will be further strengthened with a new amplifier and terrified at what the Darkling might make her do, she and Mal are rescued by unexpected and unlikely new allies, who want to take them back to Ravka. Now that they are aware of what new and horrible things the Darkling is able to unleash in his quest for world domination, their privateer saviour hopes to persuade Alina to take control of the what remains of the Second Army and the Grisha still loyal to the Crown. With her two amplifiers, she's more powerful than ever, but she's also not sure she's up for the task she's facing. She doubts her sanity, as the Darkling appears to her, though no one else appears to see him. She needs to prove her strength to the remaining Grisha, nobles and the royal family. Most of the populace revere her as a living saint and believe she can save them from anything. All the while, she seems to be losing Mal, just when she needs him the most. 

 

My biggest complaint about Shadow and Bone was that I really didn't like Alina very much. I frankly didn't connect much with any of the three most central characters. I found the supposed love triangle between Alina, the Darkling and Mal completely preposterous, mainly because I couldn't see what was possibly worth loving in Alina, Mal was an oblivious dude-bro who barely gave Alina the time of day, and then there's basically the nefarious villain, who really does not have many redeeming features. As far as I can tell, he's just a scheming megalomaniac, no hidden pain in his back story to make him even vaguely sympathetic.

 

In this book, Alina gets a lot more likable. Mal is still mostly a broody, self-involved, douchy waste of space. He appoints himself the captain of Alina's guard, and then passive-aggressively avoids her and makes her feel guilty because she's trying her best at near insurmountable odds to counter the Darkling's schemes to take over the kingdom. Because he's being such an erratic d*ck, Alina doesn't really feel she can tell him that the Darkling keeps showing up to torment her when she's alone. Another suitor for Alina's hand enters the field (because this non-descript little waif is clearly irresistible to all men, not just because she's extra specially magical, with unique and impressive powers) and I must admit, I found Nikolai charming, fun and clearly much too good for Alina.  

 

The younger of the two princes of Ravka wants Alina to lead what is left of the Second Army, taking control of the magically gifted Grisha who are left (many died or defected to the Darkling's side). He also hopes to persuade his older brother to renounce his claim to the throne, and offers to make Alina his queen. The powerful Sun Summoner, the country's best hope against the ravages of the Darkling and the beloved and charming younger prince would make a formidable ruling couple. Alina, of course, hates the burdens of power thrust upon her and mainly just wants to hide away somewhere with Mal. Then there's the added complication of the Apparat (the King's former head priest) having declared Alina a living saint. So many people literally worship her and think she can do anything and Alina is painfully aware that she is likely to let them all down once the Darkling musters his forces and attacks again.

 

The world building and magic system are fascinating and all the things I liked about the first book are just expanded upon here. Since I now actually liked the protagonist a lot more, plus this book had some pretty exciting action set pieces, the second book in the trilogy was a marked improvement. I remain entirely unconvinced by any of the attempted romances that Bardugo suggests, with what is now a love quadrangle just presenting three differently bad options for Alina. The Darkling - ancient sociopathic madman, intent on ruling the world at terrible cost. Nikolai - a prince and possibly future king, charming and adventurous, but also very calculated, but far too grand for little ol' Alina. Mal - sullen, brooding, jealous and uncommunicative. He's deeply protective of Alina in the beginning, but then gets aloof and behaves erratically for most of the book. I see zero chemistry between them and am still baffled as to why the author is trying so hard to make Alina irresistible.

 

It may have taken me the best end of two years between reading the first and the second book, but I'm properly invested in the story now, and want to see how Alina is going to solve the pickle she lands herself in at the end of this book.

 

Judging a book by its cover: A lot of YA fiction has less than great cover art. Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, on the other hand, have absolutely amazing covers. You can so clearly see the Russian influences in the story from the onion-domed towers in red, with the ominous nuances of grey showing the tensions in the story. The sea serpent that plays such an important part in the first part of the book is cleverly intertwined with the intricate font that makes up the title of the book (as the stag horns of the mythical being in the first book were central in the design of that cover). I absolutely love this design.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/11/cbr8-book-113-siege-and-storm-by-leigh.html
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text 2016-10-24 04:53
Good read for October
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

I fell in love with all the characters~ Especially Inej and Kaz!! They were meant for each other! And I swear Wylan and Jesper has this thing. If they don't have a thing in the next book, imma be upset. Still though, it was so much fun reading the thrilling adventure about six criminal, and it was soooo unique compared to the other teenage novels. Can't wait to read the second book!!

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