Six of Crows was one of those books that I picked up because of Booktube, and then read continuously, bought the second book on amazon and read the second it dropped through my front door the next day. It was a whirlwind romance. I loved every second of that series. AND THEN I FOUND OUT THERE WAS MORE! It was amazing. So when I found out Leigh Bardugo was continuing the series, I was thrilled. Somehow, despite being thrilled, it has taken me absolutely ages to get hold of a copy through the library – but here we are, back in the Grishaverse for King of Scars!
Nikolai, prince and privateer extraordinaire, has a bit of a problem with his new rule. After a bitter-till-the-end civil war to free Ravka from the Darlking’s grip, Nikolai and head of the Grisha army/suffering Nikolai-sitter/unlikely best friend Zoya have to battle the growing darkness inside Nikolai, as well as the gathering armies at both borders. Political alliances need to be made, but in the meantime, Nikolai and Zoya (a super badass grisha who can control storms) have to travel across Ravka to the very place Grisha magic was supposed to have been born to fix some other, more hungry, issues. Meanwhile, Nina, recently returned from her heist-adventures in Ketterdam with a host of new mutated power, is causing somewhat ordered chaos in Fjierda.
Having read the Six of Crows duology before the Shadow and Bone trilogy (S&B is actually the first books in the ongoing Grishaverse, then SoC) I had a very warped timeline in my head. Because Inej has a knife called Sankt Alina, I has assumed that all the saintly sun summoning stuff had happened decades or more before, so I had some vauge timeline in my head where Alina defeats the Darkling, and then like twenty years later Nina rocks up in Ketterdam and Kaz Brekker announces they’re going on a heist. In actual fact, there is only three years between the defeat of the Darlking at the end of the SoB series, and start of King of Scars. Nina was apparently one of the kids Zoya tried to protect in the civil war. Once I had straightened the timeline out in my head (it took a good third of the book – whoops) everything made a lot more sense. When I first started reading I was exceedingly confused as to why Nina was existing in the same timeline as Nikolai, and I confess I had forgotten about Zoya entirely. I think (once the second in the Nikolai duology is out at any rate) I should re-read the series in order and remind myself what happens and when!
Nikolai is a vey laid back prat-facing person who is actually just kinda scared of messing everything up – he’s the fake it till you make it kind. Zoya is extremely angry at the world, and everyone is scared and in love with her in equal measure (she’s my favourite, up there with Nina). Nina is not the cheerful, waffle-loving girl of the SoC duology, she is harder, more raw, and more likely to disobey direct orders (ta muchly Kaz Brekker). The characters are sassy messes and I am here for it. Oh! And gay marriage is a thing in Ravka! There’s a side lesbian couple and no-one bats an eyelid, and Nina is canonically bisexual.
This is very much a book that you would only read if you love and have read all the books in the Grishaverse – it’s a continuation of a much longer story, and there are call backs the whole way through to different events but from different perspectives – Like Zoya’s perspective of the Fold collapsing rather than Alina’s point of view. Nina constantly refers back to her time with the Dregs and on the heist, and there is a whole side story about her relationship with Mattais. As an ongoing reader, those call backs were reminders of the story and how the characters have changed since the beginning of the saga. My favourite Nina callback to the Six duology is:
“She wished she had Inej’s gift for spywork or Kaz’s gift for scheming, but she only seemed to have Jesper’s gift for bad decisions.”Nina – King of Scars
For a world that has a whole section of society able to control aspects of the world, there was a section towards the second half where even I was just a bit like – hmmm, ok stretching a bit here, but Nikolai has a demonic parasite so,,, suspending disbelief. I can see how that section was important to the progression of the narrative, but I feel very much like Zoya going ?!?! while Nikolai just kinda rolls with it. This did knock it down to a four rather than a five star on goodreads, but despite a good section of “Where are you going with this” the end means that I went “oh! I get it now” rather than continued bemusement.
“Hand me that brandy,” said Zoya. “I can’t tolerate this degree of stupidity on a clear head.”Nikolai – King of Scars
The Grishaverse is awesome. Magic, rebellion, banter and eh, I guess romance should be on this list as well. I love the Grishaverse, and as an addition this book is awesome. I would not recommend reading it without having read all the other five books beforehand!
“If men were ashamed when they should be, they’d have no time for anything else.”King of Scars
Grishaverse (in order!): Shadow and Bone, Storm and Siege, Ruin and Rising (Grisha trilogy); Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows duology); The Language of Thorns (Grisha fairytales – not actually necessary to understand King of Scars but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless)