Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt & Company
Book 1 in the Six of Crows duology
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—
and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
RATED: 14+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violence Young Adult Exciting
Six of Crows is the first book in the Six of Crows duology, and the fourth book in the Grishaverse series. It centers around six characters:
Kaz Brekker, the leader (in everything but name) of the Dregs, a gang in the Barrell, and mysterious. No one knows where he came from, or how he got to be the way he is. He is a convict, who has his sights set on the long game of revenge.
Inej Ghafa, known as the Wraith. Quiet and as invisible as a ghost, and efficient in her work as a spy, she is feared and envied in the Barrell, and one of Kaz's most trusted members of the Dreg. She wants more than anything to see her family again.
Jesper Fehey, sharpshooter, adrenaline junky, and has a problematic addiction to gambling. Is also a part of the Dregs.
Wylan Van Eck, a merchants son, who ran away from a privileged life.
Nina Zenik, a talented heartrender who works for the Dregs, and is desperate to right a wrong.
Matthias Helvar, a former druskelle (Grisha hunter), who is forced to participate with the lure of freedom.
When Kaz is presented with a job with a huge payment, he can't bring himself to say no, despite the odds of actually living through it. Knowing he needs certain skillsets on this mission, he hand selects five others to pull off one of the biggest, and impossible heists ever.
Okay, so reason number two I read the Shadow and Bone Trilogy was this. Six of Crows. I don't know how many times I have seen it recommended in book groups, and I knew I had to give it a chance. Let me make this clear to those of you who were underwhelmed by Shadow and Bone: Six of Crows is worth the hype. Does is have an Ocean's Eleven vibe to it? Kinda. Much darker though, and richer characters. Originality is not an issue with this book. The story is fast paced enough to keep me hooked, and the characters are well developed. They all have personal reasons for doing this, which I enjoyed. All flawed in their own ways, which makes them relatable and interesting. The chemistry between everyone is awesome, and the banter is wonderful. I can tell Leigh Bardugo's skills as a writer have grown, and I am glad I gave more of her books a chance.
It's hard to give my thoughts on specific characters without getting spoilery. I will say that I enjoyed every character in this book, for different reasons. I loved Kaz because his story is tragic, and he built himself up from nothing but determination. I loved Inej for her patience, and quiet calm. Her fierce struggle within herself, between the person she was, and the person she is now. I loved Jesper for his wildness, and sense of humor. I loved Nina for her wit and charm, and sense of worth. I loved Matthias for his ability to open up his mind to knowledge, and trust himself. I love Wylan for being an underdog, yet never giving up. The relationships between all these people are wonderfully written, sometimes intense and in your face, like between ----------> Nina and Matthias. Just do it already. <-----------, or quiet and burning, like ----------> Kaz and Inej. I have hopes Kaz can get over his aversion to touch. <------------, or subtle ... just hints that something could happen there ----------> like Jesper and Wylan <------------.
For a Young Adult book, it didn't feel like a young adult book. It kept this 33 year old entertained, and I can't wait to dive into the Crooked Kingdom.
Inej making Kaz say please
Kaz saving Inej's life
Matthias's and Nina's conversation on the ship, when Nina was watching over Inej
Inej telling Nina why she didn't have a Crow tattoo on her arm
Inej and Jesper's heart to heart while he was walking her around the deck of the ship
Matthias remembering the storm that truly brought Nina and him together
Matthias offering to help Nina bury the dead Grisha
Jesper flirting with Wylan and making him blush
Matthias saving Nina
Kaz looking at Inej and sure there was magic in the world
Kaz and Inej admitting their feelings, but knowing it isn't enough
Tricking Van Eck
Kaz: I'm a business man. No more, no less."
Inej: "You're a thief, Kaz."
Kaz: "Isn't that what I just said?"
Geels: "Always one step ahead, aren't you?"
Kaz: "Geels, when it comes to you, I'd just say I have a running start."
Geels: "You'll get what's coming to you some day, Brekker."
Kaz: "I will, if there's any justice in the world. And we all know how likely that is."
Inej: "Greed is your god, Kaz."
He almost laughed at that
Kaz: "No, Inej. Greed bows to me. It is my servant and my lever."
Van Eck: "You've seen what this drug can do. I assure you it is just the beginning. If jurda parem is unleashed on the world, war is inevitable. Our trade lines will be destroyed, and out markets will collapse. Kerch will not survive it. Our hopes rest with you, Mister Brekker. If you fail, all the world will suffer for it."
Kaz: "Oh, it's worst than that, Van Eck. If I fail, I don't get paid."
Kaz: "I'll be back in a few hours. Move the DeKappel we lifted from Van Eck's house to the vault. I think it's rolled up under my bed. Oh, and put in an order for a new hat."
Kaz heaved a sigh as he braced himself for three painful flights of stairs. He looked over his shoulder
Kaz: "Please, my darling Inej, treasure of my heart, won't you do me the honor of acquiring me a new hat?"
Nina: "What do you want, Kaz?"
Kaz: "You have crumbs on your cleavage."
Nina: "Don't care. So hungry."
Nina: "Are you aware that I could waggle my fingers and make you wet your trousers?"
Kaz: "Easy, Heartrender. I like these trousers."
Matthias: "Anyone entering the embassy will have their papers checked and checked again. Fjerdans aren't fools."
Nina raised a brow
Nina: "Not all of them, at least."
Kaz: "Don't poke the bear, Nina. We need him friendly."
Father: Shall I tell you the secret of true love? A friend of mine liked to tell me that women love flowers. He had many flirtations, but he never found a wife. Do you know why? Because women may love flowers, but only one woman loves the scent of gardenias in late summer that remind her of her grandmother's porch. Only one woman loves apple blossoms in a blue cup. Only one woman loves wild geraniums.
Inej: That's Mama!
Father: Yes, Mama loves wild geraniums because no other flower has quite the same colour, and she claims that when she snaps the stem and puts a sprig behind her ear, the whole world smells like summer. Many boys will bring you flowers. But some day you'll meet aa boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won't matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.
Wylan: "Close your eyes!"
Jesper: "You can't kiss me from down there, Wylan."
Wylan: "Just do it!"
Inej: "Did we win?"
Kaz: "I'm here, aren't I?"
Inej: "I don't want to die."
Kaz: "I'll do my best to make other arrangements for you."
Matthias: "Did you think of me at all, Nina? Did I trouble your sleep?"
Nina: "A Corporalnik can sleep whenever she likes."
Though she couldn't control her dreams
Matthias: "Sleep is a luxury at Hellgate. It's a danger. But when I slept, I dreamed of you."
Her head snapped up.
Matthias: "That's right. Every time I closed my eyes."
Nina: "What happened in the dreams?"
Matthias: "Horrible things. The worst kinds of torture. You drowned me slowly. You burned my heart from my chest. You blinded me."
Nina: "I was a monster."
Matthias: "A monster, a maiden, a sylph of the ice. You kissed me, whispered stories in my ear. You sang to me and held me as I slept. Your laugh chased me into waking."
Nina: "You always hated my laugh."
Matthias: "I loved your laugh, Nina. And y our fierce warrior's heart. I might have loved you, too."
Nina: "And what did you do, Matthias? What did you do to me in your dreams?"
Matthias: "Everything. Everything."
Jesper: "Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I'm going to get Wylan's ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost."
Kaz: "I'll just hire Matthias' ghost to kick your ghost's ass."
Matthias: "My ghost won't associate with your ghost."
Inej: "Have they been like that the whole time?"
Jesper: "It's like watching two bobcats circle each other."
Inej made a little humming noise
Inej: "But what do they mean to do when they pounce?"
Jesper: "Claw each other's eyes out."
Inej rolled her eyes
Inej: "No wonder you do so badly at the tables."
Jesper: "I'd threaten to toss you into the drink, but Kaz is watching."
Jesper: "They're glad you're alive. I'm glad."
Inej: "I should hope so. I think I just never quite fit in with the Dregs."
Jesper: "Well, you don't."
Jesper: "We're a crew with limited interests, and you don't gamble, swear, or drink to excess. But here's the secret to popularity: risk death to save your compatriots from being blown to bits in an ambush. Great way to make friends."
Inej: "As long as I don't have to start going to parties."
Jesper: "Kaz is ... I don't know, he's like nobody else I've ever known. He surprises me."
Inej: "Yes. Like a hive of bees in your dresser drawer."
Jesper barked out a laugh.
Jesper: "Just like that."
Inej: "So what are we doing here?"
Jesper turned back to the sea, feeling his cheeks heat.
Jesper: "Hoping for honey, I guess. And praying not to get stung."
Inej bumped her shoulder against his
Inej: "Then at least we're both the same kind of stupid."
Jesper: "I don't know what your excuse is, Wraith. I'm the one who can never walk away from a bad hand."
She looped her arm in his
Inej: "That makes you a rotten gambler, Jesper. But an excellent friend."
Jesper: "You're too good for him, you know."
Inej: "I know. So are you."
Matthias: "I've never heard you admit you're not good at something."
Nina: "Well, it happens so rarely."
It had started with a storm, and in a way, that storm had never ended. Nina had blown into his life with the wind and rain and set his world spinning. He'd been off balance ever since.
Nina: "Are all Fjerdans this prudish?"
Matthias: "Are all Grisha so immodest?"
Nina: "Boys and girls train side by side together in the First and Second Armies. There isn't a lot of room for maidenly blushing."
Matthias: "It's not natural for women to fight."
Nina: "It's not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand. Did you really swim all those miles just to die in this hut?"
Matthias: "I've never sent a Grisha to the pyre. Grisha are given a fair trial -"
She turned on him, goggles up, tears frozen on her cheeks.
Nina: "Then why has a Grisha never been found innocent at the end of your supposedly fair trials?"
Matthias: "I -"
Nina: "Because our crime is existing. Our crime is what we are."
Nina: "Jer molle pe oonet. Enel mord je nej afva trohem verretn." I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.
Matthias: "That's the druskelle oath to Fjerda. How do you know those words?"
Nina: "I tried to learn as much about Fjerda as I could."
Nina: "So I wouldn't fear you."
Nina: "Why don't Fjerdans let girls fight?"
Matthias: "They don't want to fight."
Nina: "How do you know? Have you ever asked one?"
Matthias: "Fjerdan women are to be venerated, protected."
Nina: "That's probably a wise policy."
He'd known her well enough by then to be surprised
Matthias: "It is?"
Nina: "Think how embarrassing it would be for you when you got trounced by a Fjerdan girl."
Nina: 'I'd love to see you get beaten by a girl."
Matthias: "Not in this lifetime."
Nina: "Well, I guess I won't get to see it. I'll just get to live the moment when I knock you on your ass."
This time he did laugh, a proper laugh that she could feel through her back.
Nina: "Saints, Fjerdan, I didn't know you could laugh. Careful now, take it slow."
Matthias: "I enjoy your arrogance, drusje."
Matthias: "Djel, I can't wait to have a bed to myself again."
Nina: "Right. I can feel just how much you hate sleeping next to me. I feel is every morning."
Matthias: "Why do you have to say things like that?"
Nina: "Because I like it when you turn red."
Nina: "You don't want to like a Grisha. You're scared that if you laugh at my jokes or answer my questions, you might start thinking I'm human. Would that be so terrible?"
Matthias: "I do like you."
Nina: "What was that?"
Matthias: "I do like you."
She'd beamed, feeling a well of pleasure erupt through her.
Nina: "Now, really, is that so bad?"
Matthias: "Because you're horrible. You're loud and lewd and ... treacherous. Brum warned us that Grisha could be charming."
Nina: " Oh, I see. I'm the wicked Grisha seductress. I have beguiled you with my Grisha wiles!"
She poked him in the chest.
Matthias: "Stop that."
Nina: "No. I'm beguiling you."
Matthias: "Quit it."
She danced around him in the snow, poking his chest, his stomach, his side.
Nina: "Goodness! You're very solid. This is strenuous work."
He started to laugh
Nina: "It's working! The beguiling has begun. The Fjerdan has fallen. You are powerless to resist me."
Nina: "How about I crack your skull open like a robin's egg?"
Kaz: "You don't want a look at what's inside my head, Nina dear."
Kaz: "I've broken into banks, warehouses, mansions, museums, vaults, a rare book library, and once the bedchamber or a visiting Kaelish diplomat whose wife had a passion for emeralds. But I've never had a cannon shot at me."
Jesper: "There's something to be said for novelty."
Inej: "She's very good at this, you know. She's a natural actress."
Matthias: "I'm aware. She can be anything to anyone."
Inej: "She's best when she's Nina."
Matthias: "And who is that?"
Inej: "I suspect you know better tha any of us."
He crossed his huge arms
Matthias: "She's brave."
Inej: "And funny."
Matthias: "Foolish. Every last thing needn't be a joke."
Inej: "So why do your eyes keep searching the crowd for her?"
Matthias: "They do not."
Kaz: "What were you expecting?"
Jesper: "Claws at least. Possibly a spiny thumb."
Wylan: "My father used to take me everywhere with him."
Wylan: "Until what?"
Jesper: "Until. My father took me everywhere until I contracted terrible seasickness, until I vomited at a royal wedding, until I tried to hump the ambassador's leg."
Wylan: "The leg was asking for it."
Jesper: "Stop being dense. You're cuter when you're smart."
Jesper: "I like walking the streets free. I like not worrying about being snatched up by a slaver or put to death by some skiv like our friend Helvar here. Besides, I have other skills that bring me more pleasure and profit than this. Lots of other skills."
Jesper: "Sure, I'm skinny, but I stay drier in the rain."
Jesper: "Less falls on me."
Inej: "Scheming face."
Jesper: "If any of you survive, make sure I have an open casket. The world deserves a few more moments with this face."
Nina: "I need you to move."
Nina: "Because I need a clear line of sight, and right now all I can see if your ass."
Nina: "What the hell is this supposed to be?"
Inej: "Maybe a mermaid? Or a wave?"
Nina: "I thought I was a horse."
Inej: "Well they weren't going to put you in a dress of hooves."
Nina smoothed her hands over the ridiculous costume.
Nina: "I'm about to be very popular."
Inej: "I wonder what Matthias would have to say about that outfit."
Nina: "He wouldn't approve."
Inej: "He doesn't approve of anything about you. But when you laugh, he perks up like a tulip in fresh water."
Nina: "Matthias the tulip."
Inej: "The big, brooding, yellow, tulip."
Matthias: "How did you know I wouldn't shoot?"
Kaz: "Because, Matthias, you stink of decency."
jesper: "Don't start doing that."
Jesper: "Agreeing with me. Sure path to destruction."
Jesper: "Prepared to hear the sound of certain doom?"
Wylan: "You're never heard my father mad."
Jesper: "That sense of humor is getting more Barrel-appropriate. If we survive, I'll teach you to swear."
Matthias: "I never want to see you like this again."
Nina: "Do you mean the dress or the cell?"
A laugh shook him
Matthias: "Definitely the cell."
Then he cupped her face in his hands.
Matthias: "Jer molle pe oonet. Enel mord je nej afva trohem erretn."
Nina swallowed hard. She remembered those words and what they truly meant. I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.
Kaz remembered her perched on the sill of his attic window, sometimes during that first year after he'd brought her into the Dregs. She'd been feeding the crows that congregated on the roof.
Kaz: "You shouldn't make friends with crows."
Inej: "Why not?"
He'd looked up from his desk to answer, but whatever he'd been about to say had vanished on his tongue.
The sun was out for once, and Inej had turned her face to it. Her eyes were shut, her oil-black lashes fanned over her cheeks. The harbour wind had lifted her dark hair, and for a moment Kaz was a boy again, sure that there was magic in this world.
Inej: "Why not?"
she'd repeated, eyes still closed.
He said the first thing that popped into his head.
Kaz: "They don't have any manners."
Inej: "Neither do you, Kaz."
She'd laughed, and if he could have bottled the sound and got drunk on it every night, he would have. It terrified him.
Inej: "I've had my fill of captivity. They won't take me alive."
Wylan: "Me neither."
Jesper snorted from inside the tank.
Jesper: "We really need to get him more suitable friends."
Kez: "I want you to stay. I want you to ... I want you."
Inej: "You want me."
She turned the words over. Gently, she squeezed his hand.
Inej: "And how will you have me, Kaz?"
He looked at her then, eyes fierce, mouth set. It was the face he wore when he was fighting.
Inej: "How will you have me? Fully clothes, gloves on, your head turned away so our lips can never touch?"
He released her hand, his shoulders bunching, his gaze angry and ashamed as he turned his face to the sea.
Maybe it was because his back was to her that she could finally speak the words.
Inej: "I will have you without armour, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all."
Nina: "Stay. Stay till the end."
Matthias: "And after. And always."
Van Eck: "A sorry bluff at best."
Kez: "I'm not big on bluffing, am I, Inej?"
Inej: "Not as a rule."
Van Eck: "And why is that?"
Wylan: "Because he'd rather cheat."
Jesper: "Nina might not be able to put you back, you know. Not without another dose of parem. You could be stuck like this."
Wylan: "Why does it matter?"
Jesper: "I don't know! Maybe I liked your stupid face."
Check out the other book in the Six of Crows duology