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The second book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy starts by Alina and Mal being captured by the Darkling. He forces them to track down the Sea Whip, the magical creature required for the next amplifier. Just as all seems lost, the pair are rescued by a charming – and possibly mad – pirate, Captain Sturmhond. He has been tasked with bringing the Sun Summoner to his mysterious employer. And to their horror, and admittedly slight delight, Mal and Alina are brought back to Ravka and all its dangers.
Though Alina longs to be with Mal, just the two of them, but she can’t abandon her people. Now determined to stand against the Darkling, who has developed a dangerous new power, Alina must learn the extent of her own power if she hopes to stop him.
The characters were entertaining, and I was intrigued to see what happened to Genya and David. We were treated to two new, brilliant characters; Tolya and Tamar. The brother and sister quickly became two of my favourites and were real badasses, easily worth a dozen men in battle. Sturmhond was incredibly entertaining, I loved his snarky comments and quips and his blasé attitude, he’s the kind of man who would see a fatal gunshot as merely an annoyance.
Now the most powerful Grisha in the Second Army, Alina becomes the commander. It was good to see her in a real leadership role, and she flourishes with the responsibility. I enjoyed seeing her amongst the characters from the first book, my favourite being David. Not only does she now command the Second Army, but Alina must deal with the increasing Saint Alina/ Sun Cult following.
But with the new responsibilities, Alina draws away from Mal, which was so sad to see. They are so obviously destined to be together, despite all the complications. Even without him there, the Darkling lingers in Alina’s thoughts. She may hate him and the terrible things he does, but she is still drawn to him, he is the only person in the entire world who can understand her and the weight of her powers. This was one love triangle I actually enjoyed since there were actual reasons for her to be drawn to the bad boy (since they are the only two of their kind in the world) even though she loves someone else. Still, I longed for Alina and Mal to overcome it all and be together.
A third party appears, and it was intriguing to see whether they’d be an aid or a hindrance to Alina and her friends.
I loved this book and its magic system. It had some brilliant twists and turns and a great cliff hanger. I give it 5/5 and am dying to find out what happens in the final instalment of Shadow and Bone trilogy.