King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)
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.

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) Details

TitleKing of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 29th, 2019
PublisherImprint
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) Review

  • شيماء ✨
    January 1, 1970
    [softly, from under a pile of blankets] what the fuck was that ending?I finished this book and the moment dithered in timorous silence, searing and numb. It was as though the world was suspended for an intermission, waiting until the curtain is lifted and the next act can begin. Disbelief came first, then surprise. Then the full scope of the ending struck me with a pang of deep resentment, that this extraordinary, inexplicable thing should happen.Look, I just want it documented somewhere that th [softly, from under a pile of blankets] what the fuck was that ending?I finished this book and the moment dithered in timorous silence, searing and numb. It was as though the world was suspended for an intermission, waiting until the curtain is lifted and the next act can begin. Disbelief came first, then surprise. Then the full scope of the ending struck me with a pang of deep resentment, that this extraordinary, inexplicable thing should happen.Look, I just want it documented somewhere that the fact we're not conferred immediate access to the sequel upon finishing this book is borderline criminal. So, what’s this book about? The first book in Leigh Bardugo’s Nikolai Duology, King of Scars, picks up three years after the ending of Ruin and Rising, and catapults us into a world beginning to topple.The Ravkan Civil war is over and the Triumvirate have forestalled carnage, at least for a time. For, against all hope, Ravka is mostly intact, and still theirs. Nikolai Lantsov, king of Ravka, wants nothing but to let the past fade, to push past the ugliness of age-old hates and soul-warping fears and start a new era. Even thoughts of the Darkling and his terrible revenge became lost beneath the placing of one foot before the other.But with his people being stolen from within his very borders and devious forces conspiring against him, Nikolai is too weary for triumph, and aware at every moment how quickly it could all go wrong. Every day is a new struggle to manage the sulks of princes and the fine glass tempers of kings, to yoke adversaries to his purposes and keep them straight in their furrow.Soon, a grimmer reality gains its hold, at once yawning at Nikolai's feet: Nikolai hadn’t realized how deep the Darkling’s power had gone inside him, hadn’t realized that it was still inside him, coiled up, ready to lash out in violence and rage. No matter what they did, he and the Triumvirate couldn’t uproot the raw, wretched demon from his soul. Instead, they held it like a secret between them, and it burned like fire.Terrified by Ravka’s precariousness, its thready breath, the Triumvirate settle into the jarring certainty that if they'd hoped to save their country...they had to save their king first.Periodically, a threat is brewing inside of Fjerda and Nina Zenik, now a Ravkan soldier, is sent to investigate it. With home behind and an uncharted future looming out of the fog, too distant to see clearly, but coming closer all the same, Nina is taunted with phantoms of the beloved dead. But if she wanted to save her country, she must let the ache of grief and anger lay muted in the back of her mind. And even that proves to be easier said than done. “This country gets you in the end, brother. Don’t forget it.”“Not us,” he said. But Dominik was already gone. “I’ll do better,” Nikolai promised, just as he had so many years ago in Mitkin’s classroom. “I’ll find a way.” Personally, I thought King of Scars was absolutely superb.Five books set in the Grisha-verse, it’s impressive how Bardugo still manages to find new angles from which to scrutinize the workings of her magic. Her gifts of imagination are staggering, and while I was too accustomed to the Grisha world to be surprised by any of the trappings, I wasn’t too jaded to find them beautiful.Unlike the Six of Crows duology, King of Scars is a tale told on a much less heroic scale. The plot comes late, but it comes naturally and easily. I love how we gradually come to notice the strings Bardugo is pulling through the frame, and how that kept me completely riveted. Time skipped a beat. It skipped an unknown number of beats, as I drank everything in a daze.But even more than the developing mosaic of Bardugo’s world, the tensely escalating threat level and the craftily honed, quiet slicing of the understated prose, what really pushes King of Scars from very good to great are the deep undercurrents. It’s the attention and care that Bardugo pours into her characters, their failures, their successes, their actions in the face of repeated trauma and their responses to the heat and pressures, that truly pays off. It’s Bardugo’s greatest gift to let the reader breathe life into her characters, to create them from whatever bare-bone information they've been given. Her characters' minds lay open to you and there’s a sense that they'd been stripped down to their essence, revealed in all their unspeakable beauty and their unbearable fragility. And I absolutely loved it. In King of Scars, we meet new characters and old characters come into much sharper focus and step whole into the page. We even see old villains in new lights, our fascination with them takes on a sinister character and we wonder if we can ever really forgive them.King of Scars is mostly told from three different perspectives: Nikolai's, Zoya's and Nina's. So let's talk about them! Nikolai Lantsov Why did it matter to him what became of Ravka? Broken, needy, frustrating Ravka. The grand lady. The crying child. The drowning man who would drag you under rather than be saved. This country that took so much and gave nothing back. Maybe because he knew that he and his country were the same. Nikolai’s throne dwells within a lie; it is built on a foundation of quicksand. He is a bastard, but he wears his family name as a mantle of responsibility, not a cloak of entitlement. For so long, he’d hung onto that filament of purpose—serving his country—and that purpose had been like a rope thrown into a sea, saving him from drowning.But what happens in this version of the world in which he suddenly became hero and monster in one?Nikolai has a way of wearing everything on the inside, showing no hint of anything but exuberant charm and smiles. He wore many guises—“the obedient son, the feckless rogue, the able soldier, the confident politician” —and he himself would tell you to trust none of them. But those who mistake him for anything other than a weapon are fools of their own breed. With his truths and with his lies, Nikolai had turned one wheel against another against another and in due course, so many stubborn wills were harnessed again and again to his purpose. And it was interesting to note how Nikolai has never granted himself leniency on that account, or any other: he despises his endless ambition and his self-serving streak. He admits that it’s “the height of arrogance” that he’d imagine his rule over Ravka as a fist clenching a tangle of threads, and if he opened it, the threads would slip free.In so many ways, King of Scars is the story of Nikolai confronting the worst aspects of himself, in an unsettlingly literal sort of way. Used to his own unthinking endurance, Nikolai now has to contend with the weakness. We see past his blooming youth to all the messy details of life that he trailed behind him every day. We see the scarred king, tired beyond endurance, fighting against the windmills of adversity in a lonely battle. We see the man who might have filled the place at the center of himself with the answer to who he was since he’d become king, but who had lost so much more. We see a puppet with one string remaining, one hard kick and he could shrug off the earth’s bonds and reach the roof. Nikolai Lantsov has his own arsenal of horrors; the dark thing sheltered inside him was the least of it.There’s something so startlingly recognizable about Nikolai’s inner battles. I was still turning it over in my head when my best friend—with whom I buddy-read this book—called it “a lowkey metaphor for depression.” And it was exactly what was needed to shine a light on the jumble of thoughts whirring inside my mind and make it gleam. I, then, realized that the only difference is that Nikolai’s darkness took the shape of a demon. It coalesced, black of skin, fire-eyed and huge. And what teeth it had, what a howl. And, Nikolai, too, could only make war with it. War with the impossible. War with the monstrous thing seething within him. Nothing less than war. Every single day.Chapter 30, in particular, held my heart paralyzed within my chest. We read as Nikolai engages in a conversation with the demon that’s taken hold inside him, and there was this moment when he knew, with stark clarity, that the vicious words the monster hurled at him did not come from it but from his own innermost self, guilt-poisoned, anxiety-ridden, and fear-ravaged—the fear that had been with him ever since he had words to put around it: that he would never be enough, that the country he loved so dearly would never love him back, that he was nothing more than a leftover piece of something broken. It was so immensely arresting to read that chapter and witness as his thoughts curved and rose, gradually widening, until Nikolai is emboldened by the luculent realization that “ he would never, ever turn his back on a wounded man—even if that man was him .” That line struck a deep chord inside me and I had to stop and let it really sink in. I honestly think there’s nothing that could capture the essence of Nikolai’s character more accurately than that single truth, flayed and freely given. Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal. Zoya Nazyalensky Zoya’s character is so fascinating to me. She’s a goddess cinched to human shape and I am in awe of her.Bardugo doesn’t shy away from the more painful realities of those who have been hurt and abused by the Darkling. And Zoya is one of them. Zoya was a weapon in the Darkling’s grip, a tool of vengeance, and a sop to his pride. She, like many others, was as clay in his hands, and he’d poisoned her faculties for trust and love until they were so tangled with hate and guilt and shame that she hardly knew one from the other.Zoya survived her abuser, she's come so far only to behold the most wretched thing: the Darkling's followers, in their inexpiable ignorance--or perhaps worse, their cold indifference--have built a monument to his crimes, the crimes Zoya had suffered, and declared him a saintly soul. This isn’t a mere tragic backstory. Knock down the magical elements and there are real, important issues here, foremost among which is how we often reward violence with exultation instead of making sure the abusers' names remain forgotten. "Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not? Who will speak for me?" Zoya asks.It was also heartrending to see how Zoya begun to wield her cynicism and irony as shields to protect her softer feelings. The kinder said she was cruel. But others spoke of someone with only witchcraft in her veins and no warmth. The more you spend time inside her thoughts, you realize that the thing to which Zoya assigned the name of “rage”—and only rage—was not actually that. It was only the mask it wore, because fear was weakness, and Zoya had sworn to never again be weak.This clever, illuminating contrast between the girl we meet—and not entirely warm up to—in The Grisha Trilogy, and the woman Zoya has become in the wake of tragedy, is deeply arresting. “Zoya of the lost city. Zoya of the garden. Zoya bleeding in the snow. You are strong enough to survive the fall.” Zoya also offers a very interesting counterpart to Nikolai’s character. Both of them kept their minds captive at the surface, only very rarely allowing it to sink into the terrifying and unknowable deep. But even when their innermost thoughts stayed hidden from each other, they still noticed the weight of the secrets the other carried, even if they didn’t know the shape of the secret itself. I loved their dynamics so much. How they became inseparable, like the lines of a couplet that would lose their grip on their meaning out of context. I love how they had this unspoken agreement to not bullshit each other, to never back-pedal or soften or sugarcoat. I honestly ship them so much, and I can’t wait for them to realize that her suffering and Nikolai’s, tangled together, could actually, somehow, countervail each other. Nina Zenik There are some people you’re always going to be a little bit in love with. Your high school sweetheart, your college sweet heart, Nina Zenik, the first partner you live with. Just accept that it’s totally normal and go on with your life.First of all, Crooked Kingdom’s ending still brings the taste of tears, and King of Scars returned me to the sharp angles of that pain within the first few pages. I cried so much reading Nina’s chapters, utterly incapable of not feeling the tremors of the quaking grief within her.Nina Zenik is still the same Nina—and she isn’t. She is still the fiercely, defiantly alive Nina whose heart beat on the edge—the girl who blows up the door when she can’t find the key. But if you’d met Nina in Six of Crows, you’d notice how the sunnier parts of her were still lodged in the crease of her first heartbreak. I was struck by the idea that soft people can become dangerous when you destroy the things they hold dearest. Nina has been through so much, and from those leftover shreds of her, the little pile of tatters, poured forth an ocean’s worth of grief and sorrow and anger. And my heart hurt for her because everything she did in this book, she did through a haze of trauma.However, King of Scars doesn’t end on a grim and dreary note for Nina. I was left with a hopeful sensation in my heart, as a stirring of embers. And still as in love with Nina as I was when she was told it was unnatural for women to fight and replied, “it's not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.” Also, I’m definitely here for the momentous thing, slowly but surely, taking shape between her and a certain someone.Overall, I'm so glad Leigh Bardugo is aware of her own mortality and is churning out a new series every year. Like, yes queen!! make use of the book publishing industry available now to add to your legacy!!!!BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR
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  • Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
    January 1, 1970
    Updated with my opinions on the End! (Spoilers are hidden within a spoiler tag)Hello all, and meet my ghost, who is currently writing this review.First of all, I think there will be plenty of people who are not thrilled with the end, but I am LIVING for it (and I'll list my reasons at the bottom of this review under the spoiler tag). However - I did have some issues (like the pacing), and I'll talk about them below, but overall, Queen Leigh is so freaking brilliant. I am in utter and complete sh Updated with my opinions on the End! (Spoilers are hidden within a spoiler tag)Hello all, and meet my ghost, who is currently writing this review.First of all, I think there will be plenty of people who are not thrilled with the end, but I am LIVING for it (and I'll list my reasons at the bottom of this review under the spoiler tag). However - I did have some issues (like the pacing), and I'll talk about them below, but overall, Queen Leigh is so freaking brilliant. I am in utter and complete shock. I had to reread the last chunk about 10 times before the ending sunk in. I screamed my throat raw, scared my cat, and practically passed out.First of all, an absolute massive standing ovation to Lauren Fortgang, who narrated this book on audio and blessed me with her talent. I absolutely 10000% recommend the audio version – and this goes for the original trilogy too (which she also narrated). The audiobooks are outstanding. (Yes I am unhealthily obsessed and Lauren, if you read this, I am... sorry.)That also leads me to my next point – you DEFINITELY need to read the original trilogy (Shadow and Bone) before reading this – which is legit one of my all time favorite series. I also recommend reading Six of Crows because a main character (and massive spoilers) are in this book for her. Basically, please read through all the Grishaverse books. You won’t regret it, and if you don’t, you will be spoiled for all of them.Alright, back to this barely coherent review.I love everything about my precious son Nikolai, and like always, he is absolute perfection. I've been BEGGING for this book for the longest time. But I definitely had some issues with parts of the book – mostly about certain plot points that had me scratching my head a bit. Some parts were slow. Now that I’m finished, I think some of those bits are growing on me, but I gotta say (sadly) that I found myself a bit bored at times (more below). But listen. Leigh is my favorite author. I freaking adore everything she writes. Her worldbuilding is absolutely astounding, and her characters are just… I can’t. I love them. So that, paired with the ENDING THAT KILLED ME, is the reason I am rating this five stars. Queen Leigh deserves nothing less. I admire her endlessly. I think I'll enjoy this even more the second time around, especially now that I know what she was building towards. “One risks looking less like a monarch and more like a hostage.” “You have emissaries to manage these matters of state,” Zoya had argued, “ambassadors, underlings.” “The public may forget how handsome I am.” Let's break it down.Nina. This is where I had a hard time. I love her, I REALLY do – so much. She’s hysterical and super relatable, not to mention, a great role model for girls. She's the friend I wish I had growing up. But I found myself dozing off during her chapters. I’m not going to say much since we’re right at the release, but she’s away from Nikolai + co on some mission in Fjerda, and it seemed to drag and drag. I was so excited to see her interact with my crew (Genya, David, Zoya, etc) but alas, she’s occupied. Don’t get me wrong, she has some great moments – and some teary ones for sure, especially if you know the ending of Crooked Kingdom (she’s still dealing with this). But I just didn’t love her chapters. That being said, I’m 1000% stoked to see the moments I craved in the sequel.Nikolai.My golden son. I said it above, but he’s perfection. He’s witty, clever, smart-mouthed in the best way, and all around charming as usual. Belt up those pants, friends, otherwise he’ll charm them right off. If you’ve followed his story, you know what happened to him in R&R, so obviously he’s dealing with that – as a major plot point of this book. (Queue Britt sobbing into her tea.) What made me the most sad, though, was for a book titled King of Scars, I feel like we didn’t get ENOUGH of him. He didn’t have that many POV chapters - and it felt like Zoya's book tbh. But even still, he’s a freaking badass, and always manages to steal the show. The two-clever fox. I knew this, and he STILL shocked me out of my seat more than once. And the end? *bites fist* *zips lips before I explode* Ahhhghghghgh. (more on this lower)Zoya. I like her, but I haven’t fallen in love with her. I will say this though – she grew on me a lot, and Leigh wrote her character arc beautifully. In fact, that's the focus of her chapters - we find out so much more about her past and what really went on from her perspective during the Grisha Trilogy. All that, and she had some truly fantastic moments. I loved the banter between her and Nikolai. Now, I know some of you are wondering about the ships so I’m going to post my thoughts in the spoiler tag. (view spoiler)[ Alright, so yes, she and Niko are flirting a good chunk of the book. I knew this going in, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. It feels a TAD forced. But listen, Leigh has never disappointed me before (and this book certainly isn’t all about me, she can write what she wants) – so I’m trying to keep an open mind. Basically I just want our dearest King to be happy. He deserves it so much. (hide spoiler)]The plot.Ahhhhhh so yes. I have so many mixed feelings! But again, I freaking love Leigh, and I’m not going to get overly critical here. But this kiiiinda felt like a prologue book. I mentioned I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nina’s chapters. I actually really enjoyed Zoya + Nik’s POVs – though at around half-way, things got real weird and I was suddenly questioning if I was reading the same book. Things change course super fast and the plot takes a nose-dive in another direction and I was like??? What is happening??? - I’ll add more once the book has been out for a while, but for now, I’ll just say this: Parts of it, I LOOOOVED, and other parts, I’m still totally confused and frazzled about.But then.But then.But then.The ending.Hot damn can Leigh write a killer ending – and oooooooooo boy did she go where I never thought she’d go. Let me tell you right now – we’re going to have SO many people that hate this. I'm calling it - people are going to complain, and I'm going to have to try hard not to roll my eyes - because I freaking LOOOOVED it (and not for reasons you might expect). If you think about it, which I have - a lot - it's freaking brilliant. I’ll expand more once the book has been out for a while, but holy hell I am so here for this. The next book – oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.I am.Still screaming.My throat.Is raw.Alright, friends. Want to know my reasoning for loving the end? Here it is (warning - it's very long):(view spoiler)[So I feel like the Darkling is easily one of the best villains in YA literature - and most iconic - even if you don’t ship him with Alina or feel his pull. He’s well fleshed out and equally as terrifying – and not to mention, wildly popular. He's Leigh's best creation in the villain department - and I really doubt she’d top him, no matter what villain she came up with next. I think she realized this.The Darkling had so many unexplored facets to him. So instead of trying to outdo herself - when that was unlikely - she chose to capitalize on him by doing the one thing no one would ever expect (and easily the riskiest thing she could have done) - which was to bring him back. This allows her to delve way deeper into him - but also show him in a completely new light: Fractured. Imprisoned.One reason he was such a loved villain was because however monstrous, his cause was genuine. He wanted to stop the persecution of his people (Grisha) - and he worked his entire life to do it. He never got to see them free, even after years of sacrifice (years that eventually turned him entirely cold and ruthless). As Alina discovered - there was a simple boy underneath the demon - one who wanted his people to be free, and one who didn’t want to be alone. Perhaps in this, he’ll at the very least see the rise of his people. But don’t get me wrong - this will come at a cost. I don’t think Leigh will redeem him - that was clear when Zoya and Genya came face to face with him. He isn’t getting a ‘get out of jail free’ card.I think the biggest complaint is that people feel like it voids out the original series ending. But I disagree. Alina stopped him from taking over her/her body as well as basically the entire world. She prevented him from becoming all powerful - and using her. Her arc was complete. The Shadow Fold and volcra are gone. Ravka is no longer split in half. Nikolai is King. The 3 amplifiers are gone - destroyed. The Darkling will never be what he once was - or what he hoped to become.And the thing is - he didn’t just come back. He isn’t his old powerful self anymore. This is perhaps the best and most significant part of his return. He came back under Nikolai’s watch. Nikolai is essentially wrangling the Darkling’s power (or the fraction he has left) to win a war - which is brilliant. We aren’t going to watch the Darkling try to take over the world again. This isn't The Grisha Trilogy reborn. Instead, we’re going to see Nikolai, the two-clever fox, control his ass. (Imagine the sass and banter that will ensue.) But don’t get me wrong. I fully expect to see some power struggles in the best possible way.Lastly, my theory is that by doing this, we’re going to get to see the full extent of merzost – which was an unfinished exploration from the original series. I bet we’ll even see Morozova himself. Grisha magic and merzost was what set her world apart - and she’s constantly tugged and pulled at her own theories (woven into the fabric of the world/light vs dark). Without the Darkling, without his lingering power, this diminishes. (hide spoiler)]My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
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  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    He straightened the lapels of his velvet coat and winked. “It’s not exciting if nothing can go wrong.” I feel really disappointed that King of Scars - one of my most anticipated books of 2019 - was only a 3-star read for me. I'm not sure if I'm being harsh or generous, honestly. It wasn't a bad book. Bardugo keeps growing as a writer and she especially shines with her dialogue. I liked the characters and relationship dynamics; I loved the funny, snarky conversations; I just felt like this book He straightened the lapels of his velvet coat and winked. “It’s not exciting if nothing can go wrong.” I feel really disappointed that King of Scars - one of my most anticipated books of 2019 - was only a 3-star read for me. I'm not sure if I'm being harsh or generous, honestly. It wasn't a bad book. Bardugo keeps growing as a writer and she especially shines with her dialogue. I liked the characters and relationship dynamics; I loved the funny, snarky conversations; I just felt like this book was so slow in parts. 500 pages is on the heftier side for a YA book, and I felt the drag of most of them.Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are great books, in my opinion. I love the heisting and shenanigans. I think they're really tightly-plotted and I can 100% understand what I'm reading for. Here, the plot meandered. Nikolai's efforts to rid himself of his monster seemed to get lost somewhere, and Nina's mission to find grisha felt open-ended and directionless (it reminded me of Mare's journey in Glass Sword, which I really disliked).There's a real lack of focus for a lot of this book. Romance is minimal, which is usually a good thing, but here it might have added a much-needed hook. I didn't feel like either Nikolai's or Nina's stories provided a significant conflict or mystery until the very end. I was also bored by Isaak's chapters.I started King of Scars on such a high, convinced I would love it. 100 pages in I made a note saying "not much has happened". 200 pages in I made another note saying "lots of Grishaverse recap and flashbacks; little plot progression". It's a very long time until the story really goes anywhere.This all sounds really negative, but it was saved somewhat by how much I enjoy this world and the characters. Zoya is especially interesting. Unlike some, I quite liked the ending, and I'm intrigued by the possible romantic directions the sequels could take. If only this book didn't feel like one very long prologue.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    tea got spilled facts got spokenwe're all shook now
  • Cait • A Page with a View
    January 1, 1970
    NIKOLAI LANTSOV IS GETTING HIS SERIES.Dreams do come true, kids.
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    “Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.” Oh friends, it has been a long while since I read the concluding events in Ruin and Rising! Honestly? I probably really would have benefited from doing a reread. Yet, I will be the first to admit that I was complete Darkling trash back in the day, and I have grown a lot as a person and realized that he is someone that shouldn’t be r “Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.” Oh friends, it has been a long while since I read the concluding events in Ruin and Rising! Honestly? I probably really would have benefited from doing a reread. Yet, I will be the first to admit that I was complete Darkling trash back in the day, and I have grown a lot as a person and realized that he is someone that shouldn’t be romanticized, but I was so damn hyped for this story and to see how the people of Ravka are doing after that final battle and living under a brand new king. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was truly let down. Also, I want to emphasize that a three star rating isn’t a bad rating! I still enjoyed this and I loved seeing some of the character that I love with my whole heart and soul, and also falling in love with a new character, too! But this was just so ungodly slow for the first half, which is something I’ve never felt while reading anything by Leigh before. I know that we had a lot of be caught up on, but I just couldn’t immerse myself into the world or story until after the halfway point. I really recommend that you don’t read King of Scars (or this review, honestly) if you have not read all the other books in the Grishaverse! But as a quick recap before I get into my thoughts and feelings: People are still fearful of Grisha and are capturing and killing them regularly. Grisha are also still becoming addicted to jurda parem, and many different variations of it, which enhances their powers but at a cost. “The books do not tell the whole story” And this story is told in many points of views, but there are pretty much only three locations that this story takes place, until they will (hopefully) all weave back together! Zoya and Nikolai are off with a new character trying to discover what lives inside Nikolai. Meanwhile, back at the palace, family friends are teaching a young boy how to impersonate Nikolai himself, so no one will know that he is away! And then we have Nina off on a completely new mission, where she finds out so much about herself and what is happening to Grishas in areas that are still living in fear of them.But this is a story about grief and loss and how living with those two things can impact your life beyond words. This is a story about being the person everyone wants you to be, while ultimately choosing the person you truly are. This is a story about feeling like your life is predicted for you, but realizing that you are capable of doing any and everything you want. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.” ➽ Zoya Nazyalensky - One of the strongest Grishas ever (Squaller, of the Etherealki Order) and is an incredible fighter and leader. She was also the Darkling’s favorite, but is now my favorite. ➽ Genya Safin - My second favorite character! Genya, as the Darkling's gift, used to be the servant to the Queen, and was treated so very terribly. She is much happier now, but still is living with the torture that the Darkling inflicted upon her. ➽ David Kostyk - A very skilled Fabrikator who helped make things to hold amplifiers. ➽ Tolya Yul-Bataar & Tamar Kir-Bataar - Twin Grishas who own my heart. ➽ Isaak - The common boy solider who is impersonating Nikolai while he is away! (I fell so in love with this new character so easily, truly!) ➽ Nina Zenik - Heartrender (of the Corporalki order) who used to be a part of the Dregs in Six of Crows! Now on a top secret mission, that is about to be jeopardized because of new information! Also, she is on a mission for herself to finally lay someone to rest at home. ➽ Hanne - Fjerdan who Nina meets and instantly feels connected with. Hanne is just trying to live in a world where every opportunity has been taken from her because she is a daughter and not a son. ➽ Leoni & Adrik - both are Grishas who are accompanying Nina on her new mission! ➽ Yuri - A monk who is with Nikolai and Zoya, who is also one of the leaders of Cult of the Starless, who worship the Darkling. ➽ Nikolai Lantsov - The current King of Ravka, who is expected to marry and produce an heir because so many foes are looking to overtake him. But he is dealing with the torture that the Darkling has left in his body. “A handsome monster husband who put a crown on her head? It’s a perfect fairy tale to sell to some starry-eyed girl. She can lock you in at night and kiss you sweetly in the morning, and Ravka will be secure.” Nikolai’s monster is something that no one really knows how to control, but he is constantly being drawn to The Shadow Fold, which was the breeding ground of unspeakable shadow horrors and where the Darkling harnessed so very much of his immense power. We are also introduced to three new characters that I’m not going to really talk about because of spoilers, but they were amazing. I loved learning more about amplifiers, since there are so few people who have had them in this world and seeing the power that they bring is pretty intense and such a cool development in this story. Again, without saying too much, I loved all the scenes involving The Fold. “We are all connected, King Nikolai. The Grisha, the Fold, the power inside you. The Fold is a wound that may never heal. But perhaps it was not meant to.” But chapter twenty-five is the best chapter in this entire book, and that’s because Zoya is the best character in this book. Like, I get that it is called King of Scars, but this book was way more about Zoya and her beautiful story and everything that she has overcome than Nikolai’s. Especially since this book also spends half of the time focusing on Nina and what she is up to on her mission, I just feel like this is not Nikolai's book; it was half Zoya’s and half Nina’s. Which is fine, I’m not saying I disliked that, I just feel like it was a weird flex because going in you expect it to be all things Nikolai and it really couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, it really doesn’t feel like his character progressed all that much either, where Zoya and Nina both had tremendously big events happen that will alter their future and the very future of Ravka. Okay, but now I’m going to say the thing that’s probably going to make you all dislike this review, but I don’t really ship Nikolai and Zoya together. Like, I think the story would have been way more powerful if they were just friends. But this weird romance is laced throughout the story, even though there is no confirmation or reward or actual romance, it just felt weird to read. Especially with that annoying ending. I don’t know, I just really don’t ship them together, yet, but I probably will eventually. And I totally would have shipped them if we would have gotten more of them actually starting a romance instead of us just being like, “okay, yeah, this is totally the direction that Leigh is leading us!” Plus, that ending? I really don't want another unnecessary love triangle. And I want this review to be spoiler free, so I’m not going to go into details, but you’re either going to love or hate the ending. And, friends, I for sure hated it. One of my favorite things in literature is when a spin-off series comes out, and the overarching threat is the ramifications of the what happened to that book’s conclusion and/or villain. Having a cult that views the Darkling as a saint and worships him? That was the setup of my dreams, friends. And the ending just felt like such a cop-out and made me so angry and it really left such a disappointing taste in my mouth. “All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes for another kind of flame.” Overall, I just didn’t love this the way that I truly anticipated that I would! Maybe I hyped it too much? Maybe I shouldn’t have reread The Wicked King right before starting this? Maybe I’m just being salty over the Darkling? I don’t know, friends, but this let me down. I am highly anticipating what will come with the next book, and I hope to have a much higher rating and happier review! Also, Ninth House is going to be everything and I still cannot wait for that 2019 release! Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch Content and trigger warnings for drug addiction, loss of a loved one, grief depiction, captivity, slavery, implied past sexual assault (numerous times & numerous characters), torture, bullying, fatphobic comments (always in a negative light), mention of past death of a baby, attempted pedophilia, suicide, and war themes. 1.) Shadow and Bone ★★★★★2.) Siege and Storm ★★★3.) Ruin and Rising ★★1.) Six of Crows ★★★★2.) Crooked Kingdom ★★★★★*.) The Language of Thorns ★★★★★
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  • ✨ jamieson ✨
    January 1, 1970
    “Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal. Maybe because he knew he and his country were the same” MY SPOILERY DISCUSSION WHICH TALKS ABOUT THIS BOOK MORE IN DEPTH CAN BE FOUND HERE “It was angry, hungry, full of broken animal longing. Though Nikolai might not like it, those things were all a part of hi “Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal. Maybe because he knew he and his country were the same” MY SPOILERY DISCUSSION WHICH TALKS ABOUT THIS BOOK MORE IN DEPTH CAN BE FOUND HERE “It was angry, hungry, full of broken animal longing. Though Nikolai might not like it, those things were all a part of him still. Like calls to like." Fair Warning this review is going to have a million quotes because this book was written SO BEAUTIFULLY and Leigh ... please lend me an OUNCE of your talent I think anyone who is in the YA book community knows just how big a deal this book getting announced was. Every single update on Goodreads was people adding or talking about it, twitter was going off and speculation and theory videos kept on popping up as more and more info got announced. I was 100% a part of this hype. Crooked Kingdom was one of the best books I ever read, and that entire duology owns my heart. I also actually really enjoyed The Grisha Trilogy, for its political intrigue, expansive world, and interesting character who still inspire debate in the community even now. Needless to say, I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book for quite some time. And it kind of failed to live up to my expectations? But it also way surpassed them in some regards?King of Scars splits perspective between three main characters – Zoya, Nina and Nikolai. (There is also other perspectives, but I cannot say much without spoiling). We follow each after the events of Crooked Kingdom. Nikolai and Zoya are trying to protect Ravka from threat from their bordering nations, and rally the Grisha to support their country. Nina is living in Fjerda, under the kings orders to find and protect Grisha, but also to fulfil her promise to Matthias to bury him back in his homeland.For me, the first part of King of Scars was much stronger than the second. The focus on politics in the first half was something I really enjoyed. It had the same feel as Grisha, but on a more international scale. I enjoyed that Bardugo kept up the intricacies of international politics established in Six of Crows, but brought back original trilogy influences, such as the power the church has within state affairs, and Nikolai’s precarious position as ruler due to his family lineage. The political games and Nikolai trying to control the trajectory of Ravka, when faced with great outside threat, was easily my favourite aspect of this book. If you enjoyed the original trilogy for its political intrigue I think you will definitely like this.Nina’s chapters in this were my favourites, which I am shocked is apparently an unpopular opinion. I don’t want to say too much because you can’t without getting into the spoilery realms, but her role and what she was up to, especially in the second half, WAS THE BEST. In Six of Crows, Nina talks a lot about being a soldier and a nationalist and her love for Ravka and I think we saw that here. I want even more in book 2. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.” Lets talk about characters! I actually really enjoyed all three perspectives here. Nina, as mentioned, was a joy, and while she wasn’t one of my favourite perspectives in Six of Crows, she really won me over in this.Nikolai and Zoya were both enjoyable too. I have seen criticism that this book didn’t have Nikolai in it that much and I don’t agree? I think he was in it quite a bit, although his perspectives were perhaps the weakest. Although he was fun to follow, and I love him so much, AND HE IS STYLISH AND FUNNY AS EVER, I also felt we learnt a lot about him. His character was definitely given a depth that wasn't there before, and I think his inner turmoil regarding Ravka, and how he came to identify with Ravka as a solider constntly at war, was a really interesting development for him. And definitely added a complexity to his character and his role as a king. But even though I did enjoy his arc overall, and I loved following him, but it didn’t hit as hard for me as Nina and Zoya’s perspective. I think Zoya especially just had such a strong voice in this, and it definitely seemed to overshadow Nikolai at times. Despite that, I'm not mad about it at all. I think Zoya has such a strong narrative in this book it doesn’t matter if Nikolai’s fell down a little. She was one of my favourite Grisha characters and I found her backstory really interesting. It was so nice to have her perspective on the Civil War and to see her relationship with Nikolai. Although I really like Nikolai, I was more interested in getting back in this world then seeing him particularly, so for me this book still worked though if you’re a die hard Nikolai fan, I can see why it might not as much.There was also some romance things going on which … I am going to talk about those more in my discussion. "Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not? Who will speak for me?" One final thing want to mention, that I LOVED, before we get into some issues was the theming and discussions around agency and what makes a villain. King of Scars looks a lot at the repercussions of war, and how The Darkling impacted each characters life. The focus on how the state and states at war treat women as expendable, and how each characters trauma is dismissed was something I really enjoyed. Zoya’s quest to reclaim and hold on to her agency, and Nina’s quest to give voice to victims was something I REALLY LOVED and haven’t seen many people talk about much! “Lay down the thorn, boy king. Haven’t you earned a bit of rest? Aren’t you tired?'He was. Saints, he was. He thought he had grown used to his scars, but he had never grasped how much of his will it would take to hide them. He had fought and sacrificed and bled. He had gone long days without rest and long nights without comfort. All for Ravka, all for an ideal he would never attain and a country that would never care.” Okay lets get into the issues – which for me was the plot pretty much the entire way through part two (excluding Nina’s chapters) I just .. didn’t like it. For me the plot became kind of too outlandish, and I felt the ending was definitely rushed. The careful set up, and the way Leigh Bardugo had seemed to plot things out with precision really fell apart for me. I found everything that happened with the world a bit too wacky. I also .. HATED .. the ending. I cannot say what happened without spoiling, but it is one of my most hated tropes ever and I am SICK of books doing it. So while I felt I should have been more excited for the sequel, now I’m kinda just worried. I also think the ending does such a disservice to some of her previous works. I am going to go much more into depth on this in my discussion, so stay tuned!Overall, King of Scars definitely delivered what I was looking for in the majority of the book. It was so nice to get back into the Grisha world and catch up with these characters who we haven’t really seen in a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed Nina’s plot, and the focus on dealing with the consequences of the civil war that destroyed Ravka. Leigh Bardugo is a really strong YA fantasy author, and I think I will always enjoy her works. However, part two did fall apart a bit for me, and the ending was .. something I hate. So that definitely detracted from the enjoyment for me. Overall, though, I found this extremely enjoyable, and had all the hallmarks of a Bardugo book I love: strong characters, great worldbuilding, excellent political intrigue and lush writing that sucks me right into the world. “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.” OH, AND ON THAT NOTE, EVERY SIX OF CROWS REFERENCE HAD MY HEART GROWING FIVE SIZES!!!
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  • Natalie Monroe
    January 1, 1970
    “Lesser animals whined and struggled when they’d been caught in a snare. The fox found a way out.” I clambered for this book. I read the preview chapters the instant they came out and raged when my Book Depository preorder didn't arrive on the release day. (Y U do this to me every time, BD? I thought we were tight.)Just a note: this book is not very accessible to readers new to the Grishaverse. I guarantee you’ll be confused. Six of Crows was accessible because it featured a new location and en “Lesser animals whined and struggled when they’d been caught in a snare. The fox found a way out.” I clambered for this book. I read the preview chapters the instant they came out and raged when my Book Depository preorder didn't arrive on the release day. (Y U do this to me every time, BD? I thought we were tight.)Just a note: this book is not very accessible to readers new to the Grishaverse. I guarantee you’ll be confused. Six of Crows was accessible because it featured a new location and entirely new characters. King of Scars has lots of references to previous series.If I had to sum up King of Scars in a single-word, it would be meandering. Six of Crows is superb, suspenseful tight plotting. King of Scars feels underconceptualized, as if Bardugo simply wanted to write a book about Nikolai, but didn't have enough meat for a fully realized plot. Nikolai's chapters were actually underwhelming. The humor I fell in love with back in the original trilogy didn't land nearly as well, and his character arc, though satisfying, seems typical and one-note. With that being said, I did enjoy learning more about his past. We see him grow from idolizing Vasily to realizing his brother is not the king Ravka needs. He befriends a common soldier on the front and that shapes him into the kind, witty privateer Alina meets. It is Zoya who really steals the show. I maintain she was originally was meant to be a two-dimensional Mean Girl, but Bardugo does a fine job in adding depth to her character without making it appear forced. Her petty cruelty in Shadow & Bone is explained by her being young and arrogant and a desire to test her beauty on men. We all do stupid things when we're teenagers. Coming back to Zoya a few years later feels right, like rereading your old fanfiction bio (*shudders*) and comparing it to the person you are now. We also get a more concrete reason for why Zoya abandoned the Darkling to side with Alina back. Her character arc is beautiful and far more potent than Nikolai's imo.Nina's a bit of an outlier here. She's deep undercover in Fjerda with Adrik and Leoni (the Grisha girl Jesper's mom saved). She's still grieving for Matthias and I admit I slightly teared up when Nina finally lays his body to rest. My main complaint is that her primary character development is letting Matthias go and we already knew that was going to happen at the end of Crooked Kingdom. Most of what happens during her chapters is simply a long extension of stuff that seems given with minimum surprises. There's a fourth POV character called Isaak too. I won't say too much about his role in the book except I enjoyed his storyline the most next to Zoya’s. (view spoiler)[I’m a sucker for court politics. (hide spoiler)]The ending was infuriating. That's all I'll say.I'll still read the sequel, of course, because it seems like all the pieces have finally moved into place by the end and we'll get finally get that sweet, sweet Six of Crows-esqe action. But Nikolai, my darling, you have let me down.
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  • Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
    January 1, 1970
    Maybe a 4.5*? I need to think about it a bit more because wow that ending.
  • Kai
    January 1, 1970
    “Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”Do you remember holding this book in your hands for the first time, trying not to ruin the glossy golden cover with your unworthy, smudgy fingers while you're shaking from anticipation?Well, I do. Which is why it surprised me that it took me a few chapters until I started enjoying myself. But when I did, it was a glorious experience. I was captivated by the political games, the intrigues, the miracles and myster “Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”Do you remember holding this book in your hands for the first time, trying not to ruin the glossy golden cover with your unworthy, smudgy fingers while you're shaking from anticipation?Well, I do. Which is why it surprised me that it took me a few chapters until I started enjoying myself. But when I did, it was a glorious experience. I was captivated by the political games, the intrigues, the miracles and mysteries of the Grishaverse. I enjoyed Zoya's and Nikolai's banter, but my favourite chapters were definitely Nina's. Her journey through the north and her mission to uncover the dark secrets of that little Fjerdan town kept me on my toes. It felt like one of those spy novels where the protagonist is left alone in a wintery and bitter cold alpine region, only to discover that some monstrous war machine is secretly being developed in a hollow mountain. I loved every second of it. It felt dangerous and exciting.Overall, the writing style, plot twist and world building are on such a high level that I couldn't not give 5 stars. But that doesn't mean that this book was flawless. There are a few things that bothered me and the first one is one of my most hated tropes - spoilers ahead:1. Reviving the already defeated - and killed! - antagonist. I mean, how would you feel if Voldemort suddenly returned? Or how DID you feel when Harry's scar started itching again in Cursed Child? (Not that Cursed Child is anything but fanfiction. I refuse to see it as a sequel.)It's a cheap trick. It's lazy. You couldn't create a better enemy so you just take the dead guy and give him a new wardrobe. Not with me. What makes it even cheaper is that it's the obvious and lazy thing to do. Honestly, I don't understand why you all swoon over the Darkling, and I'm sure you love that he's back, but Leigh, you can do better than that.2. There is too much going on. Part II of the books was filled to the brink with magic and plot twist. And it was just a tiny bit too much for me to be entirely realistic. On the one hand, because of what I said in 1., on the other hand, because if there is so much that you cannot see coming, it loses its credibility. So when that female Saint whose name I already forgot turned out to be the big baddie I didn't buy it. And when Zoya and that other Saint whose name I also forgot "killed" each other to create a new amplifier, it seemed somewhat overdramatic.3. Initially, I didn't even think of this criticism, but when a friend mentioned to me that he wonders why the book is called King of Scars when Zoya's and Nina's POV overshadow Nikolai's, I couldn't help but agree. Moreover, Nikolai's chapters seem somewhat...unneccesary compared to Zoya's. While Nina is somewhere in Fjerda, Nikolai and Zoya are almost always in the same place at the same time, basically telling the same story.Now that I got that off my chest, let me just say that I am really looking forward to the sequel. I would love to find out more about the Shu and their kingdom. I also just want to see Jarl Brum destroyed once and for all. And I cannot wait for the title and cover reveal. I hope we get them soon.Find more of my books on Instagram
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    “If men were ashamed when they should be, they'd have no time for anything else.” You guys all know that I am a total fan of this universe, but I'll be honest: I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I really didn't love Shadow and Bone - actually, I kind of hated it - and subsequent books only disappointed me more. It was only my love for Six of Crows that kept me a fan of this world. But guys, this is a leaps-and-bounds improvement on the Grisha in terms of everything: the sheer “If men were ashamed when they should be, they'd have no time for anything else.” You guys all know that I am a total fan of this universe, but I'll be honest: I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I really didn't love Shadow and Bone - actually, I kind of hated it - and subsequent books only disappointed me more. It was only my love for Six of Crows that kept me a fan of this world. But guys, this is a leaps-and-bounds improvement on the Grisha in terms of everything: the sheer writing quality, the thought put into the plot, the character development. All in all, while this wasn't perfect, it was a worthy and entertaining entry into this world. “All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes for another kind of flame.” I have always been a total sucker for post-war storylines - the post-chaos world of Six of Crows was always incredibly compelling to me, and this was possibly even better. Nikolai and Zoya are attempting to pick the pieces of their country up, hanging on by a delicate thread, as meanwhile, Nina attempts to save as many Grisha as possible. It's a situation in which there is no grand rebellion to have, no grand war - only a slow attempt at progress towards a better future. And it is fascinatingAnd I absolutely loved how this book handled generational trauma. The people of Ravka have only ever had kings and dictators and each leader has been worse than the last. And it is the Grisha who have suffered most, in the second army, under the Darkling, in each moment. It is utterly horrifying to realize the truth of how much this has affected every one of these people. I think King of Scars does an excellent job discussing agency, and the way everyone is victimized when war and oppression ravage a country. It's interesting - though the second half of this book is undoubtedly the faster one, I enjoyed my journey through the first half far more. The second half let me down, as we'll address later, but guys, the character development here is just so amazing. Notably, Leigh Bardugo has clearly hit her stride in third person pov - her ability to quickly craft interesting, developed, compelling leads cannot be overemphasized. King of Scars was, admittedly, pretty slow, but I had absolutely no trouble getting engaged, and it is all because of her character work. Here, we're following four leads:→ Zoya, a Grisha general close to the king and attempting to work through her trauma. → Nikolai, the struggling but charismatic king of Ravka, who happens to be hiding a demon inside him. → Nina, a Grisha spy going home to bury her love in Fjerda, and maybe get in deeper along the way. → Isaak, the only "new" character, a soldier plucked from obscurity to impersonate the king.(I also appreciated cameos by characters like Genya, David, Tamar, and Tolya; these four were some of my favorite characters in the original Grisha series, and I loved seeing them get involved.) You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself. Three of these four lead characters are written exceptionally well, but Zoya's character arc is just incredible. Zoya started off as a bit of a mean girl character in the Grisha trilogy - a bit part, albeit an interesting one. Yet here, she shows her badass side and her more vulnerable one. He thought he had grown used to his scars, but he had never grasped how much of his will it would take to hide them. Nikolai's fate in the Grisha is definitely left a bit open for more development, and trust me, despite not being the star, he gets some great progression. In the Grisha, Nikolai is left as a part-monster, something he and Zoya desperately wish to solve. And in many ways, he is an actual King of Scars: his emotional scars, and his physical ones. Seeing him work through these was one the best parts of the book. There's a detail involving a childhood friend of his that I thought was just so sad, and beautifully written, that I cried. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.'” Nina in this book does not have a huge arc - actually, I felt her plot was more of a setup for her role in book two. But I still really loved my time reading her chapters. Her arc surrounding mourning, and surrounding revenge, is exceptionally well-written, and her plotline is tense, with high stakes and several new side characters. I was not expecting to be obsessed with the fate of Fjerda in a post-parem world, but I really liked what was done here: the idea of Nina staying a soldier, a girl who has changed the fate of history remaining unknown, is so interesting. There’s a bit where Nina encounters a girl addicted to parem, and the raw echoing of her soul at that moment is just… so difficult and so well written. And I loved her two side characters, including Adric and Leoni (who was? saved? by Jesper’s mom?) There's also a line where she fondly talks of “that little bastard Kaz” and I laughed so hard I cried.Isaak is the only character here who's new to the book, and I felt that though his storyline was incredibly interesting, Bardugo didn't do as great a job with giving us a reason to care about him. In sharp contrast with the other three, I felt more invested in his plot than in his character development. I also, in a move surprising to both me and everyone else, really liked the romance. Nikolai and Zoya were an unexpected pairing, and yet... I love them? Their dynamic is so funny, most of the time, and then there are these little tender moments between the two that I absolutely love. Zoya is a character who does not trust in love, and seeing her consider letting someone back in was heartwrenching. (view spoiler)[The moment where Nikolai turns into a monster instinctually to save Zoya was just... incredible. One of the best scenes of the book. (hide spoiler)]And I'm also shocked and disappointed to not have heard more about Nina and her very-slow-burning enemies-to-lovers dynamic with Hanne, a Fjerdan Grisha girl. Hanne is a super well-written character and I really liked getting to know her; I think this couple will get more development in book two, but even what they have here is amazing. “We are all connected, King Nikolai. The Grisha, the Fold, the power inside you. The Fold is a wound that may never heal. But perhaps it was not meant to.” Unfortunately, I found the second half of this book... disappointing. From around 60% on, I struggled to suspend my disbelief on Zoya and Nikolai's plotline; it felt like a very odd, reaching extension of the general Grisha magic system. Bardugo also utilizes in a couple of plot reveals about two hours before the end, involving characters Secretly Being Shady, that I thought were so incredibly obvious they were barely plot twists. (view spoiler)[The saint? Yuri? The princess? The fact that I wasn't surprised by a single one of the three says something. (hide spoiler)]Nina's plotline, thankfully, was the best of the back half of the book. In contrast to my earlier comments, the plot reveals here were excellent, with well-done slow buildup; there are two specifically, one at the very end of the book, that I absolutely adored. I think Nina is going down a really dark path and I'm excited to see what happens next.There is one ending reveal here that I think people are going to be very torn on, as it removes a very large repercussion of the Grisha trilogy. (view spoiler)[I have never been a fan of bringing back defeated villains. (hide spoiler)] I, personally, can't decide how I felt about it. Possibly, this is because I was spoiled about this particular reveal and was expecting it to go down very differently; thus, I was pleasantly surprised by the actual manner of this twist. (view spoiler)[There's an interesting setup here - the Darkling is here, but under control. It could be a trainwreck. Possibly. Or it could be FASCINATING. (hide spoiler)] I just hope Leigh Bardugo knows what she's doing. “A handsome monster husband who put a crown on her head? It’s a perfect fairy tale to sell to some starry-eyed girl. She can lock you in at night and kiss you sweetly in the morning, and Ravka will be secure.” Anyway, I genuinely enjoyed this book. It was certainly slower, but there were some excellent elements here, especially in terms of character development. And though the ending was a little disappointing, I think it sets up an excellent sequel. I can't wait to see what happens next.Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    oh god.......it truly pains me to say that this would have been undoubtedly 5 stars if I didn’t dislike that ending so much(4.5 stars and I am BITTER)
  • emma
    January 1, 1970
    this book has left me a shell of the person i used to be.review to come----------------yes i am reading this book and no i haven't read the grisha trilogy. it's called living on the edge you should try it sometime----------------me: yeah nikolai is ok i guess but the grisha books are garbàgeleigh bardugo: *announces nikolai duology*me instantly:
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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, wait!!! That ending ..................................................................................This book was so freaking awesome and some sad and a good bit of OMG! I do have the hardback but switched to the Audible I have as well and the narration was great!! I’m not going to go on and on as I don’t any more, I just want to say I loved it. But now I have to go back and finish the first trilogy and reread Six of Crows and this one again! I do hope you guys enjoy this one 😊 Oh, I did Okay, wait!!! That ending ..................................................................................This book was so freaking awesome and some sad and a good bit of OMG! I do have the hardback but switched to the Audible I have as well and the narration was great!! I’m not going to go on and on as I don’t any more, I just want to say I loved it. But now I have to go back and finish the first trilogy and reread Six of Crows and this one again! I do hope you guys enjoy this one 😊 Oh, I did get a cute little pin through the mail from preordering. I will show it later because I’m lazy right now!! I’m already ready for the next book...... maybe!......I’m so excited!Happy Reading! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾MY BLOG
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  • jessica
    January 1, 1970
    im sorry, the old nikolai cant come to the phone right now. why? oh, ‘cause hes dead.I. AM. SHOOK. that glow up tho, amirite?! nikolai lantsov. sturmhond. king of scars. privateer and boy king. remember who you are.you are destined for greatness. long live the one true king.↠ 5 stars
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  • Hamad
    January 1, 1970
    By this point I am pretty sure Leigh is a Heartrender, because the pain I am feeling can not be caused by humans!
  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
    January 1, 1970
    This just came out today!!I can't wait to find out what happens to my favorite character... but apparently I have to be a reasonable adult and finish Crooked Kingdom first :/
  • Charlotte May
    January 1, 1970
    "I always figured I'd die young...why not do it shoving my foot up that murderer's ass." That ending?!???!!! 😱😱😱Actual rating 3.75 starsI, as so many other goodreaders, was BEYOND excited when I heard this book was coming out, I ordered it from the library as soon as I could, and my hopes were sky high.There are 4 POVs, so I'll review based on each character.Isaak: I can't reveal too much of Isaak's POV because spoilers. But he is a guard in Nikolai's palace, and when his chance comes to serve "I always figured I'd die young...why not do it shoving my foot up that murderer's ass." That ending?!???!!! 😱😱😱Actual rating 3.75 starsI, as so many other goodreaders, was BEYOND excited when I heard this book was coming out, I ordered it from the library as soon as I could, and my hopes were sky high.There are 4 POVs, so I'll review based on each character.Isaak: I can't reveal too much of Isaak's POV because spoilers. But he is a guard in Nikolai's palace, and when his chance comes to serve Ravka, and to serve his King, he doesn't hesitate.Nina: This was the POV I was most excited for. I ADORED Nina in SOC and CK. But for some reason, I found it really hard to connect to her in King of Scars. She is on a mission, with Leoni and Adrik in Fjerda to help Grisha prisoners and provide more soldiers to Ravka's cause. I guess it felt like her chapters were like a side adventure to the main plot going on, and I wasn't a fan of (view spoiler)[ the romance between her and Hanne. (hide spoiler)] For me it felt waaaaay too soon, and it just felt like it was thrown in for the sake of it, not necessary at all to her story.Zoya: Now I'll admit, I really didn't like Zoya in The Grisha Trilogy. She was mean, unnecessarily so imo, and therefore really hard to warm up to. But giving her a POV in this book really changed my view! We get to learn about her childhood and background, and also the way The Darkling completely screwed her over. So I ended up thinking that the front she puts on actually makes a lot of sense, and she became so much more understandable and relatable. Also at times just plain hilarious!Nikolai: Last but ABSOLUTELY not least. I loved Nikolai's character in the Grisha Trilogy, maybe not as much as some of the superfans, but definitely a decent amount. The plot surrounding him was very interesting (view spoiler)[ he has a dark monster inside him, left behind from when he was attacked by The Darkling. When they visit the fold to see if anything can be done to remove it they are kidnapped by the "saints" who say that if they complete this ritual he can be rid of the darkness and they can be freed from the eternity they are currently stuck in within the fold. (hide spoiler)]I didn't love the ending. I will admit I was shocked by it, so that is something. But I guess I can admit I didn't entirely understand how it all worked. (view spoiler)[ Nikolai is tricked by Saint Elizabeta, who was actually trying to resurrect The Darkling and rule with him. But as the darkness starts to leave Nikolai she funnels it into The Darkling's body (which she conveniently tells us that she stole before the others burned it in Ruin and Rising.) But Zoya stops her (with Saint Juris as an amplifier) so Nikolai doesn't die, but the Darkling's power flees its body as it is destroyed and runs to the nearest vessel (the body of Yuri the Darkling obssessed monk.) (hide spoiler)]The whole ending just came out of nowhere and bashed me in the face, I was a bit like, wait...what?Overall entertaining and I loved being reunited with some of the characters, just a few minor gripes. **************************************“Your library copy is ready for pick up"Me - *runs to the library as fast as my little legs will carry me*
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    Oh. My. GOD. I am also oddly conflicted in a way I never thought I’d be about this book. My star rating may change over the next few days. Right now, my heart wants to give it 4 but my brain says 3.5. So 3.75?! I have such doubts. Review and discussion to come on my channel... obviously.
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  • Cesar
    January 1, 1970
    2 stars.If you've been following me for a while, you would know I was excited to read King of Scars. I'll be honest, the Grishaverse has been sort of mixed for me. I liked Shadow and Bone, hated Seige and Storm, and really enjoyed Ruin and Rising (though not how it ended if you know what I'm talking about). Then I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and I loved them. In my opinion, Leigh's Six of Crows series is the best one out of all of them.So, when she announced King of Scars, I was alread 2 stars.If you've been following me for a while, you would know I was excited to read King of Scars. I'll be honest, the Grishaverse has been sort of mixed for me. I liked Shadow and Bone, hated Seige and Storm, and really enjoyed Ruin and Rising (though not how it ended if you know what I'm talking about). Then I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and I loved them. In my opinion, Leigh's Six of Crows series is the best one out of all of them.So, when she announced King of Scars, I was already sold on it. When Nikolai was introduced in Seige and Storm, I didn't really pay much attention to him but I remember liking him a lot in Ruin and Rising. When it was announced he was getting his own story, I wanted to read it so bad. Not to mention King of Scars would also have Zoya and Nina as main characters too. Everything leading up to the release sounded so good.Then... I read the book.Listen, I really, really, really, REALLY, wanted to enjoy it. I had high hopes for it only to be left disappointed. By the time I reached 100-pages, I knew I wouldn't enjoy it. But I kept telling myself that it may get better. That's how it is for most books; slow beginning but great middle and end. Except, I was still bored by the time I got to the middle and end.King of Scars, in my own opinion, is Leigh's weakest book so far. I know that's a bold opinion, but that's how I feel. Which is really disappointing considering how I was so looking forward to reading King of Scars.I also think that naming this the Nikolai duology is kind of misleading. As mentioned, this story does have the POV of Zoya and Nina so this isn't a Nikolai focused series. Which doesn't help because I was not a fan of Nikolai. More on that to come. Not everything was negative though. The only thing that prevented me from giving this story a 1-star rating is Zoya. Zoya saved this book from being terrible. She is the diamond in the rough among all the coal. She is a strong character both in the physically (or magically) and internally. Though this is Nikolai's book, I feel that this was also Zoya's book as well. We get to know more about her and why she's the way she is. Though some of her chapters did drag on, I still think she's the best character out of everyone else.Now, strap in folks, 'cause we're about to go into the negatives.The pacing of the story was unbearably slow. There's such a thing as slow pacing and unnecessarily slow pacing. Slow pacing, while it can be a bit boring, adds in some stuff about the world and the people. It's slow, yes, but it gives the reader all the information they needed. Then there's unnecessarily slow where the pacing is slow for no reason other than to add in some useless information and sentences. I kid you not when I say a good hundred pages could've been left out.And because of the slow pacing, it makes the political aspect of the story all the duller. Since Nikolai is the king of Ravka, he has a lot of things to do especially with two other countries who aren't friendly to Ravka. I do like when politics are in books so long as it's engaging and helps move the plot forward. But it wasn't the same in King of Scars. The characters, other than Zoya, were watered down characters of what they were in the previous books. Specifically, Nikolai and Nina. They were lifeless and devoid of any warmth or development throughout the book. Nikolai was not the same Nikolai he was in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I thought I was reading a completely different character at times. He did not feel like Nikolai. Everything about him from the previous books was nowhere to be found and he was just dull and lacked the personality that made him who he is.Then there's Nina. I'm just gonna say it since I'm being brutally honest with my review: Nina and her chapters were completely redundant. Again, another bold opinion. But I'm not holding back. Her character and chapters were nothing but disappointments. I get why she's in the story, especially after reading the Six of Crows series, but I was bored of not only her but her story as well. She wasn't the same Nina as she was before. I do understand why she's here, but I just didn't care for her. And her chapters were unnecessarily long.Speaking of unnecessary and redundant, there's a character introduced in the second half of the story, Isaak and... who are you and why should I care about you? The second I saw the chapter with his name on it, I was kind of irritated. I had to go through over two hundred pages of slow pacing along with Nina's long chapters, and now we are introduced to another character. I did not care for Isaak. I skimmed most of his chapters because they were boring.My final issue would be the transitions between different plotlines. There are three in total. Nikolai and Zoya dealing with strange things happening in Ravka. Nina doing undercover work in Fjerda. And Isaak doing something I can't explain without spoiling it. And they did not transition well with each other. Nina's could qualify as its own book/novella. I just didn't see the point in adding Nina's story along with Isaak. Yes, their placement in the story made sense. But the transitions weren't done right. Instead, we got a mishmash of plotlines. Verdict I really am disappointed to give this a 2-star rating. There was so much to like about this book. But all I got were watered down characters, very slow pacing, bad transitions between stories, and some redundancy.Will I read the sequel? Yes, but my expectations are going to be VERY low. I've learned my lesson. The Grishaverse is an interesting universe. Is it perfect? No, but it does have its shining moments, especially in the Six of Crows series. It's just a shame King of Scars didn't live up to the hype.Thanks for reading my review!-Cesar
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  • Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
    January 1, 1970
    Update: What. A. Beautiful. Cover!!! I love it! <333 And I soo need this book in my shelf! XDI just saw the trailer to this book and I want to read it NOW!!!!! Pleaseeeee!!!! Gimme, gimme, gimme!!!! *dies*http://ew.com/books/2017/09/26/leigh-...
  • Cindy Pham
    January 1, 1970
    I came into this with low expectations so I was pleasantly surprised that this book turned out to be a pretty solid spin-off. The central characters (Nikolai, Zoya, Nina) are much more compelling to read compared to how they were portrayed in the previous books - that includes Nina, whose story arc is much stronger. Bardugo continues her pattern of endearing characters and sharp dialogue. My main critique is that the book feels disconnected between Nikolai and Zoya VS Nina; it reads like two sep I came into this with low expectations so I was pleasantly surprised that this book turned out to be a pretty solid spin-off. The central characters (Nikolai, Zoya, Nina) are much more compelling to read compared to how they were portrayed in the previous books - that includes Nina, whose story arc is much stronger. Bardugo continues her pattern of endearing characters and sharp dialogue. My main critique is that the book feels disconnected between Nikolai and Zoya VS Nina; it reads like two separate stories that are mashed together in one book, and therefore isn't as cohesive. I do think both stories are solid on their own though and assume that there will be more overlap in the next book. Not rating this 5 stars because it's not as addictive and charming as the Six of Crows duology and I don't find myself still thinking about it after I've finished, but I still enjoyed reading this.
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  • Hiba
    January 1, 1970
    It's in my hands finally and I'm dying.
  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    update april 30 2018I'M SORRY BUT DO YOU GUYS SEE THIS FUCKING COVER?!"Nikolai journeys to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives, in order to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him" - I already want to cry? 😭😭😭 RIP me, please make sure my headstone says "here lies Destiny, who always knew beautiful books would be the end of her"---I would just like to say that waiting for this series was far less painful before I continued the Grisha trilogy and met Nikolai 😭😭😭
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  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
    January 1, 1970
    Twitter ✔[image error]I'm not saying that I'll hate you forever if you spoil me, but I'll probably hate you forever if you spoil me. Sorry I don't make the rules \_(ツ)_/-------------------------Mal, opening his vacant eyes : Isn't it awesome that - OH, SHUT UP, FINALLY THAT'S NOT ABOUT YOUUUUUUUUUU*throws confetti*Note : Kaz, Nina, Zoya & literally anyone else accepted (bonus points if you're (view spoiler)[supposed to be dead, NO I'LL NEVER GIVE UP OKAY (hide spoiler)]ALINA : I - NOT YOU EI Twitter ✔[image error]I'm not saying that I'll hate you forever if you spoil me, but I'll probably hate you forever if you spoil me. Sorry I don't make the rules ¯\_(ツ)_/¯-------------------------Mal, opening his vacant eyes : Isn't it awesome that - OH, SHUT UP, FINALLY THAT'S NOT ABOUT YOUUUUUUUUUU*throws confetti*Note : Kaz, Nina, Zoya & literally anyone else accepted (bonus points if you're (view spoiler)[supposed to be dead, NO I'LL NEVER GIVE UP OKAY (hide spoiler)]ALINA : I - NOT YOU EITHER
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  • Warda
    January 1, 1970
    Well, all hail Nina! 😍-------------------------------------NIKOLAI GETTIN THE ROYALTY TREATMENT WITH THIS COVER OH ME GOODNESS! 😍😍Also:“All of those magical touches may not mean much to readers now, but they will when we travel back to Ravka with Nikolai — and some other familiar faces from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. I’m not saying who just yet, but I hope readers are as excited as I am to take the journey.”I just peed a little.---------------------------------------THIS IS HAPPENING OH M Well, all hail Nina! 😍-------------------------------------NIKOLAI GETTIN THE ROYALTY TREATMENT WITH THIS COVER OH ME GOODNESS! 😍😍Also:“All of those magical touches may not mean much to readers now, but they will when we travel back to Ravka with Nikolai — and some other familiar faces from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. I’m not saying who just yet, but I hope readers are as excited as I am to take the journey.”I just peed a little.---------------------------------------THIS IS HAPPENING OH MY GOODNESS!!
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  • Grace (BURTSBOOKS)
    January 1, 1970
    In typical grishaverse fashion this book had about 87 million issues. Seriously nothing in this book sent me back to the shadow and bone days like those good old mixed feelings. I love Nikolai, Zoya and Nina dearly so it hurts to complain but this book was nothing more than an introduction, which is kind of ridiculous when you think about the fact that there's already 5 books setting up this world and these characters. Even if this book was a mess and not even close to as good as I was expecting In typical grishaverse fashion this book had about 87 million issues. Seriously nothing in this book sent me back to the shadow and bone days like those good old mixed feelings. I love Nikolai, Zoya and Nina dearly so it hurts to complain but this book was nothing more than an introduction, which is kind of ridiculous when you think about the fact that there's already 5 books setting up this world and these characters. Even if this book was a mess and not even close to as good as I was expecting, I did have fun and inconsistent quality aside, Leigh Bardugo can always be trusted for some fun.I filmed a whole book review on YouTube for this, so if you wanna know more of my thoughts watch that ------>https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=y...
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  • brain cell
    January 1, 1970
    emotional stability: gonedepression: chronictears: outsince i'm incapable of writing a thorough review i'll just compile all the memes i've made in the past week (spoiler warning tho)me every time that darkling bitch was mentionedme meeting isaak for the first timeme after what happens to him in the endnina: zoya nazyalensky's two moods:me @ every nina chapter:also not to be dramatic but every hanne and nina scene, especially all the parts where nina waxed lyrical about hanne's lips and hair, wa emotional stability: gonedepression: chronictears: outsince i'm incapable of writing a thorough review i'll just compile all the memes i've made in the past week (spoiler warning tho)me every time that darkling bitch was mentionedme meeting isaak for the first timeme after what happens to him in the endnina: zoya nazyalensky's two moods:me @ every nina chapter:also not to be dramatic but every hanne and nina scene, especially all the parts where nina waxed lyrical about hanne's lips and hair, was gay as shit. they're so soft i can't wait till they become endgame in the next book.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 I truly cannot get enough of these characters. I went in to King of Scars thinking that Nikolai would continue to be my favourite character but boy oh boy did Zoya sweep me off my feet. Zoya is one of those incredibly well written, strong female characters that you cant help but respect and admire. Zoya and Nikolai have excellent chemistry and even better banter.This is definitely more of a slow burn plot but i really appreciated that and enjoyed the deeper exploration of the magic system. 4.5 I truly cannot get enough of these characters. I went in to King of Scars thinking that Nikolai would continue to be my favourite character but boy oh boy did Zoya sweep me off my feet. Zoya is one of those incredibly well written, strong female characters that you cant help but respect and admire. Zoya and Nikolai have excellent chemistry and even better banter.This is definitely more of a slow burn plot but i really appreciated that and enjoyed the deeper exploration of the magic system. I also really enjoyed that this story spanned more than one country, Fjerda is super interesting and whilst much of Nina's story is quite clearly a set up for what i imagine will be a much bigger plot point in the next story it was still a really good read.The ending was at both shocking and frustrating. I'll have to see in the next book whether or not it was worth it but at present i much prefer the closure Ruin and Rising gave us, hence the slightly less than perfect rating.
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  • ALet
    January 1, 1970
    ★★★ /5It was fun and entertaining read. It wasn‘t the best book I ever read, but the world and characters brought up that wonderful feeling of excitement and general interest. I wasn‘t really interested in all story lines, but it didn't bother me, so it was easy to read. Before reading this book I had a few theories what this book will be about, but I still tried to be open minded and just enjoy time with characters I truly like. That Ending definitely was the best part for me and now I can‘t wa ★★★ /5It was fun and entertaining read. It wasn‘t the best book I ever read, but the world and characters brought up that wonderful feeling of excitement and general interest. I wasn‘t really interested in all story lines, but it didn't bother me, so it was easy to read. Before reading this book I had a few theories what this book will be about, but I still tried to be open minded and just enjoy time with characters I truly like. That Ending definitely was the best part for me and now I can‘t wait for the second book.
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