My expectations were so so for this, it’s a wonder I remembered how to breathe while I was reading.
When I finished reading Siege and Storm back in, um, like 2015 (I think!?), my first thought was: I wish Nikolai had his own series. And lo and behold, Bardugo wrote a book just for me. That is so kind. Much appreciate. And of course I loved this book! The whole Grishaverse has a very soft and stabby place in my heart (Six of Crows is my most favourite) and I even did an entire series reread before King of Scars! (Well, I’m technically still reading Crooked Kingdom but shh same thing.)
Do you need to read the previous Grisha books before King of Scars? I really think you do! I’ve heard some people say they love it without having read them though? So you do you. But be aware: reading King of Scars WILL spoil the Grisha trilogy + Six of Crows duology! And if you want the order…
And of course I’m so freaking excited it’s going to Netflix!!!!!!!
Thank you to Hachette AUS for the review-copy! King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo was out January 2019.
➸ It’s narrated by Nikolai, Nina, and Zoya!
Now I love them all so this was a pure delight. Nikolai and Zoya’s chapters follow the same storyline as they try to keep Ravka afloat when everything is folding (lol yes, still…this country is just having one long mental breakdown). Nina is off on an undercover mission in Fjerda to recuse Grishas.
✧ ZOYA: Honestly I’m in love with Zoya now officially so bye. She is so gorgeously violently cold and it’s just 😍 Zoya could stab us all and we would thank her. We also get to know her more than in the first Grisha trilogy…and she’s bitterly sharp, but also vulnerable. (Also her and Nikolai’s flirting is a thing of beauty. They have amazing chemistry + they’re totally in denial of their feelings. THey’re all “fake” cuddling and I’m just like “KISS YOU FOOLS.”)
✧ NIKOLAI: He’s always so soft and yet arrogant, so brilliant and inventive, yet also a total people pleaser. And he continues to have the best quips omg. Also his struggle with the deep darkness of the monster the Darkling left inside him was just vicious and addictive to read.
✧ NINA: while I love Nina to pieces (and omg we get to explore her new power!! CORPSE WITCH) I wasn’t that invested in her mission in Fjerda? She’s also still (literally) burying [name redacted from Crooked Kingdom] and therefore I couldn’t ship her with the new person really well? I thought there’d be more space for her to have grieved and be ready to heal? idk. But I loved Hanne and am so here for more f/f fantasy ships!!
This story is full of saints and monsters, miracles and cults worshipping darkness. It has boy kings who turn into monsters in their beds and it has frigid girls who hold back their own power. It is a collection of things that make my heart beat faster. Nikolai fighting with the remnants of his monster, of hiding it and trying not to feel despair as it gets stronger, was addictive to read. (I did expect it to be darker than it was though? But maybe I’m just still in Six of Crows mode lmao.) But ajfdsklad I loved everything about this combination.
➸ Did it live up to all my expectations?
I think when you’ve been craving a book for YEARS and it’s finally announced, the expectations can be so so high. So it WAS a brilliant book and I’m satisfied and here to flail! But I was also hoping for (1) faster pacing, (2) more action and humour, and less politics, and (3) it to set my heart pounding with high stakes like in Six of Crows. But the second half was so so freaking brilliant that I’m left very breathless.
“Zoya, say something spiteful.”
“Why?” she asked faintly.
“Because I’m fairly certain I’m hallucinating, and in my dreams you’re much nicer.”
“You’re an idiot, Nikolai.”
“Not your best work.”
➸ the ending is just stunning and ahhhhhh!!!
Thanks for hurling me facefirst off a CLIFFHANGER. I actually guessed 90% of the plot twist and this made me so deliciously gleeful. But it was so well set up?! The entire ending was clever and vicious and I am so so ready for the sequel!
I’m just notoriously pleased to be back in the Grishaverse! So many old favourite characters have returned and the plot is both heart-wrenching and heart-pounding. Plot twists and high stakes are here to remind us that no one we love is saaaaaafe. (Thanks for that.) This book is an excellent explosion of power and vulnerability, of what it truly is to be a monster or a saint.
Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
have you read any/all of the Grisha books? which is your favourite? do you get super excited for spin-off series? (and tell me all your king of scars opinions!)