Review: King of Scars (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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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.

Before I begin, I have to say that this review is coming from the view of someone who has never read the Grisha trilogy, and has only read the Six of Crows duology. I really believe this has effected my thoughts on the book so just a warning! I also want to mention I read this book with my bookish bestie Courtney, and we had so much fun doing our first buddy-read together. 🙂 Reading is just a bit more special with someone to share it with!

I want to start with the start of the book – because this took me so long to get into. I think part of the reason was because I’ve been in the Shadowhunter world since early December, and it was just so strange to suddenly be thrown into a completely different world.

My second reason is definitely because I didn’t receive the world-building I needed from the Grisha trilogy. Although King of Scars is very descriptive, it took a lot of concentration for me to understand what was actually going on. So if you want to read Bardugo’s books, I’d honestly say please read her other books first (Grisha trilogy followed by Six of Crows). You need the world building and preparation – and lots of her previous books are spoiled in King of Scars!

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve.”

But despite this, I still really enjoyed King of Scars, especially after the first 250 pages. It took me about 4 days to read the first half, and only 2 to get through the second. Maybe the pacing is a little off because it definitely picks up, but I think this is also partly due to me finally clicking with the world (yes, it took that long).

I’ve always said this but I have to point it out again – Bardugo can write multiple POV books like no one else I have ever read. Six of Crows was from 6 different POV, but those books are among some of my favourites. And here we are again, with four POV, yet I loved them all in their own ways. There was such a balance here – each role was unique, and I wasn’t waiting or hoping to get back to a specific person.

“You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself.”

Overall, what a great book, and the second half really made it for me. The tense edge-of-your-seat plot and fighting scenes were immense, and made me fall in love with Bardugo’s work even more. I’ll definitely be re-reading Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars once I’ve tackled the Grisha trilogy!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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