• Well Red


Title: King of Scars

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Originally published: 2019

Publisher: Orion

Rating: ***.5

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: Ravka and Fjerda

Difficulty: Mild Pages: 511

Series: Yes. This is the first book in the King of Scars series. Also, it forms part of the wider Grishaverse universe.

Always spoiler free – HOWEVER, as this is the sixth book in a wider universe, there may be unavoidable spoilers for the other books.

I treated myself to this book right before Christmas. I was in the bookstore looking for another book for my stepmother and I thought eff it and treated myself to two books instead of buying her one (I know, lovely). It looked so shiny…it was calling me. I got it about a day before London went into tier 4 and shops closed again, so yay me.

Nikolai is finally King of Ravka, and he’s rebuilding the country with Zoya at his side as general of the Grisha army. Nina is in Fjerda, back to spying and helping Grisha, while hoping to lay her ghosts to rest.

So, the book started off well. I enjoyed being back in Ravka with the ever-enticing Nikolai, and Nina speaking to Matthias as she tries to help save Grisha escaping Fjerda.

Yeah, and then it went downhill.

The book is boring. The storylines are incredibly sloooooow. This is sort of an odd statement as there are like three main plot lines to this book. There should be too much plot, instead of slowness.

I actually don’t understand what why the plot follows three different characters (essentially two plot lines, until one splits into a third plot line) in this book. THE TWO MAIN PLOT LINES DON’T MATCH UP AT ANY POINT. Things in books have to…match up. Connect. Why did Bardugo choose to focus on Nina at the same time as Nikolai and the Triumvirate (WHICH MEANS THREE, YET THERE ARE LIKE SIX PEOPLE IN IT NOW)? Nina wasn’t really a favourite character from Six of Crows either, so I wasn’t terribly invested in her storyline. Actually, I didn’t really like her storyline at all. The best bit of her plotline was probably the end.

To add to all of the above annoyance, I didn’t really get that spark of interest or excitement from the book at all. I wasn’t worried if anyone lived or died. I basically forced myself to finish the book.

Here’s what I enjoyed…the beginning. Sparks of funny moments between the characters. The fleshing out of Zoya as a character (who I actually can’t really remember from the Grishaverse, and I readyall the books last year), plus more background to Nikolai and I enjoyed a book which included his point of view. I like him as a character! I also liked Nina’s conversations with Matthias (best bit about the character).

Another thing – I know this is a YA novel, but the age of the characters is completely baffling. I can just about get on board with Nikolai being early twenties, but the younger characters…urgh. I know you can argue that they’ve had horrible experiences, forced to grow up quickly, but still. It just doesn’t compute. In the whole span of the books there are only two characters who I can think of that act anywhere related to their age: Alina and Wylan.

Possibly the only reason I rated this book so high (I know, controversial!) is because I really like the Six of Crows and have a passable liking to the Grishaverse (the first one at least). I really wanted to like this book. There was potential here, but I don’t feel like it paid off. It feels like there might be more exciting plotlines in the next one, so hopefully I will enjoy that one more!

So, in grand summary; Meh.

Well Red Reviews

Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you read and liked the other stories in the Grishaverse.

Favourite quote(s):

‘Just a moment,’ David said, planting a finger on the page to mark his place in his book. ‘What was your name?’ ‘Yuri Vedenen, moi soverenyi,’

‘Yuri Vedenen, if you upset my wife again, I will kill you where you stand.’

The monk swallowed. ‘Yes, moi soverenyi.’

‘Oh, David,’ Genya said, taking his hand. ‘You've never threatened to murder anyone for me before.’

‘Haven't I?’ He murmured distractedly, placed a kiss on her knuckles, and continued reading.”

“There had been a time when words had been the only place he could find solace. No book ever lost patience with him or told him to sit still. When his tutors had thrown up their hands in frustration, it was the library that had taught Nikolai military history, strategy, chemistry, astronomy. Each spine had been an open door away whispering, come in, come in. Here is the land you’ve never seen before. Here is a place to hide when you’re frightened, to play when you’re bored, to rest when the world seems unkind.”

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