If you have not read Shadow and Bone or Siege and Storm, be aware: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Last month a couple of friends had a brilliant idea: start a group read-along of the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. If you are part of the bookstagram community, you may be familiar with Amanda (@allthistimealways) and MC (@bookslovetea) – two of my favorite Canadians. If not, I forgive you, but you really should stop by and say hi!
Unfortunately I was unable to participate in last month’s discussion of the first novel Shadow and Bone because I had read the book prior to the conception of the read-along. I suppose I could have joined in, but I am becoming notorious for unintentionally dropping spoilers so I thought it better to keep a tight lip.
Knowing in my heart of hearts they would continue with book two, I clung to my willpower and waited for the time to come. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long and the first discussion is upon us! These are the questions posed to us for chapters 1-12.
If you have read the book, I’d love to know your opinions. Share them in the comments!
How much do you love Sturmhond!?
The sass is strong with this one! I appreciate how he never takes things too seriously, but is still commanding. Basically he’s the perfect man – a smart, funny, sarcastic, happy-go-lucky, badass with a heart.
Did Sturmhond’s identity shock you?
I want to say no, but I’d be lying. I probably gasped out loud.
After the reveal, so much more made sense – his absence from court, double-crossing the Darkling, the fact he had Grisha amongst his crew.
Did you expect any of the many double crosses and surprises?
I was surprised at how fast the Darkling found Alina and Mal. I thought we’d have a little more time with just the two of them before things got blown to shit. Fucking hairpins, man. Alina should have known better … or MAL for that matter. He’s a tracker after all. Of all people he’d be the one to know NOT to leave a trail to follow.
I knew Sturmhond was not just who he pretended to be. When Alina described him, I knew a Tailor had been involved. However, I was shocked to find out he was the bastard prince. I’ll be honest – I completely forgot about him. In Shadow and Bone his character is more of an afterthought, which I suppose was Bardugo’s goal in the first place – always leaving us guessing.
In the first book I didn’t expect Genya’s betrayal, so I was even more surprised when she did it again – this time to the Darkling. Apparently something in her and Alina’s friendship was real or she wouldn’t have let them go. How someone can so easily switch sides is a mystery to me, though in this instance it worked out favorably.
What do you think of Mal’s choices and attitude?
He’s acting like the jealous boyfriend, which I guess he is … kind of? While I don’t necessarily fault him for his feelings, he’s being a prat and needs to get his shit together. If he keeps up the possessive, snarky attitude, he’s going to lose Alina sooner rather than later. I can already see a rift forming between them.
Someone brought up a good point in the discussion on Instagram: he feels ordinary, something he probably hasn’t felt before. While everyone around him changes, he’s still the same Mal. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing because I like him, but if he continues to throw tantrums because Alina’s getting all the attention, I’m going to punch him in the face … figuratively.
Tell the truth: did you manage to actually stop reading at the end of 12?
Actually, yes. But that fact is mainly due to an early morning I was anticipating. Work is really digging into my reading time! I went to bed shortly after finishing chapter 12 – it was past my bedtime.
What are your predictions for the second half?
I think the rift between Alina and Mal is going to grow. She may even end up with Nikolai (which would be awesome!) or maybe no one at all. She has quite the reputation to live up to and … well, I kind of have a general idea how the story ends in book three, so I won’t say more.
Speaking of reputations, I think we’ll be seeing the Apparat very soon. I don’t know what his deal is, but they talk of him often so he’s bound to make an appearance. And I am a bit concerned though. With all the double-identity, two-faced nonsense that has become a theme for the book, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Apparat turned out to be someone or something unexpected and I’m not sure I can take it!
And I am calling it now, whether it happens in this book or the next, we will be headed to that no-name village where Alina was born. I think the arch from Morozova’s picture is there, which is why it seems familiar.
That’s it for the first twelve chapters. Stay tuned for the conclusion later this month!