The Girl in The Tower
by Katherine Arden
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Pub Date 25 Jan 2018 | Archive Date 16 Feb 2018
For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic...
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...
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Average rating from 174 members
Oh man, I haven't been this happy with a sequel in a WHILE. The Girl in The Tower is a very different book than The Bear and the Nightingale. The first book spends a lot of time building its atmosphere, characters, and the world they live in. Therefore, it's a story more on the slow side; which isn't a bad thing, mind you. In the sequel, however, we see a change of pace. Since the atmosphere, characters, and world are already all built up, this book can focus on expanding; expanding on the world, characters, plot, and the myths that were all introduced before. It's more fast paced, more action packed, and develops all the threads introduced in the first book. We get to see the consequences of what happened in the end of The Bear and the Nightingale; since we're already familiar with Vasya's village and magic from the first book, now we get to see Moscow and its politics; we also get a lot of development on Morozko and his relationship with Vasya (the high point of this book for me, I love them); and of course, more about Vasya's fight to be free. In fact, this book is pretty much all about Vasya's desire for freedom against her society's expections of gender (and religion).
Like I sad, it is quite different from the first book; but all the themes explored here fit in the story's overarching arc. It makes sense that we got here after the first book. So, even if different, The Girl in the Tower is just as delightful as its predecessor. And with improvements: I knocked a half star down from The Bear and The Nightingale because I thought the ending was a bit too rushed and convenient, a bit too neat. In here, Katherine Arden doesn't pull any punches: the ending is as painful as expected, and therefore way more realistic; I like messy endings.
The mythology remains just as enchanting, and even if the first book had more "magical" moments, I felt that the otherwordly was explored a little more in depth here; old questions were answered, and new ones created, leaving enough space for the sequel.
One thing that really caught my attention was the way the author handled Vasya's refusal to "accept a woman's fate". That was already a theme in the first book, but it got way more proeminent on this one, since now that she's in Moscow, there's way more expectations and pressure from "polite society" for her to settle down, and either marry or go to a convent. I think these "female protagonist ahead of her time" stories can a lot of the time fall down the "I'm not like other girls" problematic route, so I'm quite surprised by how Katherine Arden threaded very carefully on this point. I do wish Olga had a more proeminent role in this book, but at the same time it makes sense why she didn't. My hope for the next book, however, definitely is more proeminent female characters getting along with Vasya (and a happy ending for Morozko/Vasya, amen).
I love Katherine Arden. There, I’ve said it, I do. I love her, but more than that I love her books – and this book in particular. So be prepared for some full-on gush. I love the way she writes, I love what she writes about, I love her attention to detail, I love her characters, I love the way the books make me feel – oh my god, the feels – but most of all I love Vasya, the girl with fire in her eyes, who defies expectations and refuses to live in a cage. Poor well meaning, destructive, confusing, magical Vasya.
Everything that was set up so brilliantly in The Bear and the Nightingale has reached its culmination in The Girl in the Tower, which in every way builds and improves upon its predecessor.
The stakes are higher and so was my investment. I was so engrossed I almost missed my stop.
Highly recommended: a beautifully told story, woven with intricate care.
This is getting to be a truly awesome series. I just became totally immersed and lost into these books so very quickly. The Girl in the Tower is the second in the trilogy and I am already bursting wanting the third book. This story begins where the last one ended and I soon felt the cold of the long Russian winter wrap itself round me and I welcomed it.
Vasya was never going to fit what was expected of her, or should I say what could be done with her to make her conform with normality. Entering a convent or marrying would be like clipping the wings of a bird that should fly. The town blamed Vasya for the hard times they were suffering and now the protection of her father had also gone. Taking her beautiful magical horse she began her own quest with the reluctant blessing of Morozko, the frost demon that takes the souls of the dying.
Dressed as a boy, Vasya finds more freedom and now no longer a child she has greater understanding of the gifts she has. This story is much deeper and darker than the first, taking place in the villages plagued by ruthless bandits and Moscow and its politics. This is a story that tells of harsh times as death is accepted as much as life but even here there are some very touching moments and unseen forces to other people. It was literally like time had stopped with emotions raw, rules broken and deals made to make bargains against nature.
This is certainly a coming of age time for Vasya where she shows compassion, sacrifice and bravery in a very powerful story. There is something very magical about these Russian fairy tales wound in the words of Katherine Arden. The love and passion she has just bursts from these pages as you read. The research is very extensive with just a fraction of her knowledge continued after the story ends explaining the customs of the Russian people from the way names are given to the terms used. A stunning story.
I started the year finding one of my favourite books in The Bear and the Nightingale, the first in Katherine Arden’s wonderful trilogy. With The Girl in the Tower I’ve ended the year in a similar way. Katherine Arden has gone beyond all expectations again and completely blown me away in her world of magic and adventure.
In this second book in the trilogy, the little girl Vasya was has grown into a strong, young woman, and is still the most wonderful, brave, stubborn heroine. She refuses to accept any of the paths laid out for her and decides to create her own and become a traveller and see the world. Watching her growth from book one until the end of book two was a delight, and she’s one of my favourite protagonists by quite some distance.
I liked getting a glimpse under the veil at Morozko too, the man beneath the myth and his battles with himself. This book seemed to set him up for a bigger role in the next, so I’m looking forward to seeing what part he plays in the final book. Of course there were new characters introduced as well, in particular the charming and mysterious Kasyan who has some ‘hidden depths’. His character threw many curve-balls at me.
As well as their individual growth, there was of course the growth of the relationship between Vasya and Morozko, as well as Vasya’s relationship with her horse, Solovey. I love a great animal companion in a book, and Solovey ticked all the right boxes for me. I would normally have a huge smile on my face when I was reading the interactions between Vasya and Solovey.
The world building was once again fantastic, leaving me feeling like I was there, following in Vasya’s footsteps, watching her story unfold. Beyond that there was of course how this book managed to encompass religion, history, folklore, politics, and fairy tales in a well-defined, structured, and enthralling way.
I am so impossibly excited for the third installment. I’m slightly conflicted, as I’m desperate to read book three, but don’t want Vasya’s story to end. That being said, I have complete faith in Katherine Arden’s ability to end this trilogy perfectly, and with the way this book ended I’m pretty impatient to see how it will all wrap up!
5 stars - absolutely stunning.
After so enjoying The Bear and the Nightingale, I wondered how Arden could possibly do justice to a sequel. I needn’t have worried - The Girl in the Tower is even more rich and delectable.
This time the story is not just Vasya’s, our heroine from TBATN, but her brother Sasha’s and her sister Olga’s. There is more magic, more legend, more prophecy. More action, more of Vasya’s reckless bravery, more excitement. It is an absolutely stunning piece of writing, where the pace only slows to enhance an uncertain and suspenseful atmosphere.
It is difficult to describe the novel without giving too much away, but perhaps one of my favourite themes was acceptance of difference (Vasya’s difference, specifically). It didn’t always come easily, but the protection and love of Vasya’s family is written beautifully.
I cannot wait for the next instalment. I am sure it will be incredible.
*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
I am a HUGE fan of this author. Her first book, The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favourite books of all time. This follow up book is just as engrossing and enchanting as the first one. I was hooked from the very first page and loved following Vasya's adventures. As the book progressed, I found myself increasingly anxious about what would happen to Vasya- it was real 'edge of the seat' stuff! I can't wait for the print edition to come out so that I can buy a copy to have pride of place on my bookshelf.
The Bear and the Nightingale was my favourite book of the year. I had been anticipating this one for months and thanks to netgalley and the publisher I got to read it early.
Words cannot describe how much I adored this book, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is rich in Russian folklore, has a strong female character that is trying to break free from what is expected of females at the time, a beautiful magic horse and lots of action.
The writing itself flows easily, the author does an amazing job of making you feel the atmosphere without being too descriptive.
I loved the main character Vasya, in order to escape from the fate of Women (convent or marriage), she decides to explore Russia and disguises herself as a boy. The book explores so many themes such as family, freedom, friendship, religion.....yet with a dash of magic.
Do yourself a favour and read this if you want a feel good story.
It's so rare that you find a sequel that is as good as the first book in the series - but this is even better than the Bear and the Nightingale. Absolutely fantastic, I loved every minute of reading this. Vasya is my hero!
It isn’t often that this happens to me, but I think I loved this book a smidge more than I liked the first one.
When I read The Bear And The Nightingale earlier this year, I was sure it was going to be one of my favorite reads of 2017. And y’know what? It’s December now, and it turns out my prediction was accurate. I’ve read the book twice.
The Bear and The Nightingale has everything I love in my fantasy novels. A spirited, strong willed heroine, a grumpy love interest, an animal sidekick, magic, folklore, a dash of romance, and a touch of darkness. The Girl in The Tower, I’m happy to report, is exactly the same way.
The sequel picks up immediately where the first book left off, with Vasya branded a witch and fleeing her village with Solovey, intent on being free – on seeing the world, even if it means disguising herself as a boy to do it.
Where the first book was a lot more… folktale-y, The Girl In The Tower reads distinctly more adventure-fantasy. Vasya’s decision to become a traveler leads her to reunite with her sister Olga and her brother Sasha, where she eventually gets mixed up in a world of politics, scandal, and old-world misogyny. As you do.
The book progressed pretty much the same way as its predecessor. Slow, and easy. If there’s one thing I love about Arden’s writing (and there are many things to love) it’s how she’s not afraid to take her time. She paces her books so carefully, it’s incredible. She sets up slowly, and lets the story unfold at its natural pace and then quickens during the conclusion, until you’re left stunned and desperately wanting more.
It’s so good.
The world building in this series is fantastic. Even with Vasya moving out of her little village, Arden manages to build upon the foundations she’d already laid with the first book – expanding the Winternight world until it feel so real. Her ability to seamlessly weave folkore, fantasy and history together give this world a realness that I really haven’t seen before. If you told me that Vasya was real and really went through the things she went through, I’d be compelled to believe you.
I’m going to stop talking now. I could go on forever, but I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book for you guys. What I will tell you that The Girl In The Tower was a fantastic sequel to The Bear and The Nightingale. It took the foundations Arden laid with the first book and built them to a whole new level. It was atmospheric, emotional, and epic in every way possible. I am blown away and desperate for the next book.
This dark, haunting and beautifully-written fairy tale novel had me reading at every spare moment. I cannot remember the last time I became so thoroughly immersed in a story and fell so deeply in love with the characters. I found it extremely powerful and moving and I cannot wait for the last book in the trilogy! Katherine Arden sure knows how to combine history with folktale elements.
In this book, we are not just following Vasya. We get a glimpse of her sister's married life, secluded in a tower with other women, waiting for news and for new children's arrival. Her brother Sasha, whom we met at the beginning of the first book, The bear and the nightingale now has a warrior's reputation and is living and fighting alongside Grand prince of Rus. Vasya comes to Moscow and after many adventures of her own, creates tumultuous time for her siblings. She also challenges women's place in the society, making her brother and her sister to choose sides while trying to protect both her and the values they keep.
And again, I was just completely taken with Vasya. She is not merely a heroine, she makes mistakes, sometimes horrendous ones that will challenge everyone's love for her, but I found it easy to forgive her. Many fairy tales feature characters completing impossible tasks to win love or acceptance and I am used to their success in the end, but this is exactly the reason why I loved this book so much - nothing comes easy and everything comes with a price.
The bear and the nightingale was one of my favourite books of last year. This, the second in the trilogy, doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. It expands upon the story of the ever-resourceful Vasya and her trusty steed Solovey as they continue their journey towards Moscow. Wonderfully written with further references to Russian history and folklore. A brilliant and highly recommended series. It’s a real dilemma - I can’t wait for the conclusion, but I don’t want it to end. Five stars!
As a lover of Russian Folklore The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favourite reads of 2017 so I was thrilled to receive the sequel and eager to rejoin Vasya and her family for the consequences of the first story. And there are consequences after the final confrontation with the Bear and Vasya's visit to the Winter King.
The world focus shifts slightly as Vasya's territory widens, while the first book occurred almost entirely within the confines of the forest we now see more of Morozko's world and more of Muscovy. Once again Arden's world-building is marvellous as she recreates the sights and sounds of medieval Moscow with the same detail as the wild forest. From the Grand Prince's palace to the women's Terem she creates such a textured setting full of history and dirt and life and magic that every page is a joy to read.
We also learn more of characters we glimpsed or lost contact with in the first book, Dmitrii who is now Grand Prince of Muscovy and Vasya's older brother Sasha, now a monk and warrior of some renown and a key adviser to his cousin, and Olga now a Princess in her own right. In Moscow there is a threat of war as the power of the Khan's wavers but Sasha worries about the banditry that has laid several villages to waste. Meanwhile Vasya leaves Morozko, desperate to see the world and escape the choice between marriage and the convent. With her horse Solovey she battles the dangers of the Russian winter, the threat of strangers and the realisation that she is vulnerable in the wide world where her determination to be free and independent lays her open to suspicion and persecution. As a hero she is perfect, strong but flawed and while it would be easy to characterise her as a "modern" woman Arden skillfully weaves her into the reality of the medieval world using the rich seam of Russian folklore so that she never seems out-of-place. And always there is the Winter King and the Chyert, the spirits of an older, mythic' Rus, fading in the sounds of cathedral bells and Christianity.
There is so much to love in this book. Each character has depth and voice that makes them irresistible, the plot is clever and thrilling, the writing superb and the foundation of that wonderful, rich world makes it difficult to let go. It's fortunate for us all that there is another book to come. I can't wait.
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