Siege and Storm simply didn't live up to my expectations. The storyline's progress was fine at first and then it became slower than death. To my personal opinion, this book was worth reading just for the last 25% of it. I was reading a few pages per day, trying to finish it. The only reason for me not to quit was because I am curious to see how the trilogy ends, and it would be impossible if I skipped the second book.
The story unravels first in Fjerda, a neighboring country to Ravka, then on a ship somewhere in an icy sea and finally (and for the rest of what felt like an eternity) in the Little Palace. Undeniably in these books I like the world - Ravka is consisted by a variety of landscapes. So, with such a nice countryside at hand, why do we have to stick into that stupid Little Palace?
And here we come the most frustrating part of all: the character development. If you have read the first book, you probably agree with me that the most dominant character is the Darkling. How nice from the writer's part to whisk him away for the 70% of the book! And then we have Alina, who is plain as a stick, with no exceptional traits of character, who has almost created a love square between a prince, the Darkling, Mal and herself. No, none of them wants her just for her power - they all want her for who she is. I can't swallow that, I am sorry. I just think that the characters are undeveloped, and the relationships between them are even more so.
Focusing on the royal figures... When you have a country, and a palace, and a King dying, and two heirs to the throne, and a powerful woman, and an even more powerful enemy, you have the foundations to create very intriguing situations. On the contrary, the royal courtyard couldn't be more dull and childish. At first, prince Nikolai gave me a start, and I was prepared for all that awesome George Martin stuff - an assassinated king, some kind of a white marriage, even an uprising. Instead: Highschool drama again, a suddenly and stupidly arrogant Alina, and the referring prince stirring her skirts and requesting her attention like a puppy would do. Another thought that keeps bugging me, is that the writer seems skilled in the third person narrative, as you may have noticed from the prologues and epilogues, and it might be better if the whole trilogy wasn't in first person, at all. My general message to Leigh Bardugo is: If you are incapable to do it, avoid doing it.
I am certainly going to read Ruin and Rising, hoping that Siege and Storm was just a weak stepping stone and things will get better.
I am linking my SAS review down below, because in my Blogspot page I have thoroughly reviewed the characters too. Click on the image to be redirected.