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

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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 and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

This was actually my second time reading this book, but the first time I read it I hadn’t read the Grisha trilogy. Let me tell you now, I would definitely recommend reading the Grishaverse books in order of release, and that is what I’ve been doing this time around and it is so much better! I really enjoyed the story of this one the first time around, even though it spoiled the ending of the Grisha trilogy for me. However, I loved reading it so much more this time because I had these characters fresh in my mind and their backstories.

Nikolai is my favourite character from the Grisha trilogy so I really enjoyed reading about his storyline continuing in King of Scars! He is such a witty and sarcastic character who I adore and his one-liners always make me laugh/smile. I also love the story of Nina which continues in King of Scars, and I find her storyline my favourite of all of them. Her story also really makes me emotional, especially at the start of this book!

Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. 

I actually found this a little harder to get into than I expected considering I’ve been reading the Grisha books back to back. I did find the first time it took me around 250 pages to get in to, and this time it was more like 100 pages. However, once I got into this story I just adored it. It also took me a while to adjust to all of the points of view, especially considering we have a new character and a new point of view from someone else in the Grisha trilogy.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book, especially Isaak, Zoya and Nina’s points of view. Sadly, and surprisingly to me, I felt a little disconnected from Nikolai’s character and story in this one. I think this may be due to what is actually happening to him throughout this book, as it felt kind of natural to be a little disconnected from him because of the events.

We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.

I must say I really enjoyed this one but it didn’t quite have the same emotional impact or connection for me as the Six of Crows series does. I loved the plot, the characters and it kept me on the edge of my seat, but just didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me! I can’t wait to finally be able to read Rule of Wolves and see what I think.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Six of Crows (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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.

I read this book for the first time back in 2016, and I honestly wasn’t planning on re-reading it soon, even though it’s been in the back of my mind for a while. But then the Shadow and Bone Netflix show began, and all I wanted was to be in this world again. Back when I read this book, it was actually the first Leigh Bardugo book I’d ever read. I actually don’t think I was even aware of Shadow and Bone existing. Because of that, I read the Grisha books in the complete wrong order (Six of Crows duology > King of Scars > Grisha trilogy). The actual order is the Grisha trilogy > Six of Crows duology > King of Scars duology, if you’re wondering! I’ve been wanting to reread all of the Grisha books for a while, so thank you to the Shadow and Bone show for making me finally do it.

Having gone straight from the Grisha trilogy to this, I enjoyed it so much more. However, I still felt more like I’d been thrown into the deep end than I expected to. I think this is because this book does begin straight in the action, and because of that it still took me 100ish pages to get into it properly. I felt the same the first time I read this book, but back then I had no knowledge of the Grisha world or powers. With the knowledge I have now, this was just so much more enjoyable.

I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker.

The characters are what melt my heart in this book. I just love them all so much and thinking of them makes me so emotional. The characters in these books are probably my favourite group of friends in any book, ever. I just adore the found family trope and Leigh writes it like no other. This book flicks between six points of view, and although I find this confusing normally, it really works in Six of Crows. I think this is helped along by the third person narrative, and made me feel really connected to all of the characters.

The writing is also absolutely beautiful and some of the quotes from this book and Crooked Kingdom make me so emotional. I started crying at the Shadow and Bone Netflix show at many random places, and one of those was when the line ‘no mourners, no funerals’ was used. I was just waiting for that moment, as those four words hold so much weight for the characters and in turn, for me as a reader.

The plot of this book is just amazing and I love the adventure in it. It’s so fast paced and especially after the first 100 pages or so, super addictive. I didn’t want to put it down, even though I had an awareness of the plot points from reading it the first time. I also adore the world so much, and I can’t wait to see more of it in Crooked Kingdom.

Or I will not have you at all.

Overall, I can’t not rate this book 5 stars. I’ve been conflicted about rating it 4.5 or 5 stars, but I just adore this book and these characters and they mean so much to me. This is definitely a personal rating (objectively, I would say 4.5 and leave that half star for Crooked Kingdom), but I just have such an emotional response to this book that it has become an absolute favourite over the years.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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

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Goodreads | Amazon

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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