King of Scars
by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Imprint
Book 1 in the King of Scars duology
Set in the Grishaverse
Face your demons... or feed them.
The dashing young king, 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, Nikolai 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 general, 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
RATED: 14+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violence Young Adult Intriguing
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in her King of Scars duology, and while centered on King Nikolai Lantsov, is written from multiple POV's. Other than our favorite charming and witty young king Nikolai, whom many have fallen in love with in Shadow & Bone, we have: Zoya Nazyalensky, Nikolai's General, and one of the leaders of the second army (and yes, just as prickly as before), Nina Zenik, from the Six of Crows duology, and back in her role as a Ravkan soldier, and Isaak, a royal guard.
So I have mixed feelings about the Grishaverse. If you have read my thoughts on the Shadow & Bone trilogy, you know I was not a fan (and from what I gather, is the least liked books in the Grishaverse series.) I only read them because Netflix's adaption trailers look good, and I always want to read a book before seeing it on screen. Six of Crows was enjoyable, and I did like them, but wished the characters were a bit older. So I was hoping that King of Scars would lean more towards adult readers. The characters are all in their twenties, after all. But this is still just as much as a YA book as the previous books. It was enjoyable though. The Grishaverse universe is still very unique and fresh in the genre. Leigh Bardugo does still tend to spend too much time on things that really don't need a whole lots of attention, and not enough time developing others. Example -----------> Zoya ends up having a wonderful bond with Juros (sp?), but we barely get to see them interact. We just jump from their first training session, to Nikolai's session, to the conclusion. I would have wanted to see that relationship build. <----------.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. Leigh Bardugo has really upped her game on character development after Shadow and Bone. She found a formula with her Six of Crows duology, having mixed POV's and diverse, complicated, and unique characters, and it's working for her. Everyone who loves these books, loves Nikolai, and I enjoyed being in his mind. In the past books, it's obvious he is creative, and intelligent - and of course insanely charming and funny. But we get a closer look at his character - and how the trauma from what happened in Shadow & Bone changed him. With Zoya, it's so funny, because in Shadow & Bone I hated her, but now that she is older, and we get to learn WHY she is the way she is - I'm kinda in love with her. Yeah, she is still a huge bitch, but most of the time, it's justified. A General doing her duty. A friend who shows her love in sarcasim and honestly. A woman with her own trauma. She was truly a fascinating read, and unlike past characters *cough* Alina and Mal *cough* I felt the chemistry between Zoya and Nikolai. And we can't forget about Nina. We catch up with her a couple of months after the events of Crooked Kingdom, where she is is Fjerda, undercover to save hidden Grisha and help them escape to Ravka. She also is there to bury Matthias (I'm still upset that Leigh killed him off), who has been kept "fresh" for lack of better words by other Grisha. Nina, struggling with her grief was hard, especially when she was having conversations with him in her head. When she finally is able to fulfill his wishes, and say goodbye, I bawled. One of the things I appreciated was Leigh continuing Nina's story, her exploration with her new power, while not forgetting about the past. I loved when Nina used skills she learned from her time with the dregs, and especially Kaz. I loved with she used Matthias's memory to control her rash choices, and think before she acted. I loved that instead of picking the easy road, she chose to honor what Matthias and her were going to do together - which was try to enlighten Fjerdans. As for Isaak, I won't say much. His part was small in the story, and incredibly heartbreaking. Leigh Bardugo, why did you have to do that?!?!
Also ... spoiler ----------------> UM, THE DARKLING IS BACK? WHHHHHAAAAATTTTTTT?!?!?!? <-----------