Release Date: January 29, 2019
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.
I am amazed at how Leigh Bardugo can write three series in the same world and have them all seem so unique. I was expecting King of Scars to have a different tone than Six of Crows, but it was also a lot different from the original Grisha trilogy. Personally, I enjoyed it more than the Grisha trilogy; I like Bardugo’s writing in third-person, and it focused on two of my favourite characters from the Grisha trilogy–Nikolai Lantsov and Zoya Nazyalensky–and one of my favourites from Six of Crows, Nina Zenik (though let’s face it, everyone is my favourite in Six of Crows). I had very high expectations for this book, I’ll be honest, and while they weren’t exactly met, I still loved every second of King of Scars.
I don’t think the multiple POVs were juggled quite as well as in Six of Crows — though in the whole scheme of books with multiple POVs, King of Scars was far better than most of them. I loved all the Zoya and Nina we got, but I do feel like we didn’t see quite as much Nikolai as we were promised. This is a Nikolai book, but in the second half, there was a lot less Nikolai than I was hoping for, with chapters going between Zoya, Nina, and our new character Isaak. It was great to see Nikolai and Zoya’s POVs and to finally be inside their heads, though. I really fell in love with Zoya during this book; I had liked her before, but after reading this book, I would let Zoya Nazyalensky whoosh me into a wall with her Squaller powers and thank her afterwards. I also really loved Nina’s POV; even though she didn’t quite feel like the Nina we saw in Six of Crows, I can chalk that up to grief, and she definitely becomes more lively and badass as the book goes on. It was nice to see so many of the characters from the Grisha trilogy come back: Tolya, Genya, Tamar (who’s married to Nadia!) and Adrik were some of my favourites.
The plot was a bit more predictable than I was expecting, especially after the twists and turns of Six of Crows. I felt like I could foresee the betrayals coming, easy; I didn’t trust Yuri, or Ehri, or Elizaveta, and was not surprised at all when they turned out to betray everyone. What I didn’t see coming was the big twist in the middle of the book, where Zoya and Nikolai meet the Saints. I think this was what gave King of Scars such a different tone; there are higher things in play, higher stakes, and that was something I enjoyed. There are also a lot of ties back to Six of Crows and several mentions of Kaz Brekker. The Kaz stan in me freaked out every time. And Leoni’s ties to Jesper’s mother had me screaming–I hope they do get to meet and get some closure. The whole plot was fairly slow for the first half, but I couldn’t tear myself apart from the book during the second half.
Also: that ending. The Darkling. He’s back, y’all (which I totally got spoiled for, to be fair). I’m not sure how I feel about the Darkling being back. It’s interesting to see the effect the Darkling has on all the characters who are pretty traumatized from the Ravkan Civil War and I want to protect all of them from him. I want Nikolai and Zoya to get together–they keep flirting, and I keep mentally screaming at them to stop being so dense. I’m also excited for more Nina in the next book! Nina is in a very precarious position, and she’s working with Hanne, whom I ship with Nina very much. Nina really has a thing for Fjerdans, huh?
But all in all I found King of Scars to be a really good sequel – more to the Grisha trilogy than Six of Crows, honestly, but I still enjoyed it all the same.
“Nikolai had been told that hope was dangerous, had been warned of it many times. But he’d never believed that. Hope was the wind that came from nowhere to fill your sails and carry you home.”