King of Scars was close to flawless!

*Spoilers for Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows– cos I just can’t talk about this without mentioning them- so if you haven’t read those why not?!*

king of scarsReturning to the Grishaverse after two successful series was always going to be no small feat- thankfully Bardugo delivers an intriguing instalment that definitely made me want to read on. With Bardugo’s trademark elegant writing style, the story opens on a dark night that sets the scene for much of what is to come. We are soon reintroduced to an eclectic cast who are bound to have us rooting for them.

The titular character Nikolai is, of course, marvellous- for much of the book, I found his story about overcoming the monster within him was the most compelling. I was admittedly only invested in Nina’s story while the book explored her grief for Matthias and my interest in her storyline waned as the book progressed. That said, Zoya was a true dark horse for me- I initially didn’t warm to her but by the end I *loved* her!!! She quickly turned from a former antagonist to one of the most compelling characters of the series. Her backstory was done remarkably well and her plotline gave her a lot of chances to truly shine.

When I was around Nikolai and Zoya, the book flew by. Journeying with them into the Fold, I enjoyed their exploration of folktales and the brilliant twist around the midpoint that arose from this. I particularly admired how this allowed for the development of Grisha powers in a cool way. Also, the explanation for “why Grisha” is finally given (which gave me the sense Bardugo was answering a very old question). I’d definitely say that every plot beat fell precisely as it should, like a set of staged dominoes after a really good flick, which does lead me onto some more spoilery stuff that you’ll have to highlight to see…

The big finale twist isn’t much of a twist. The return of the Darkling is foreshadowed so heavily that it felt inevitable. That said, I did actually like that Bardugo doesn’t just tease doing something cool, she does it (which is a shift from her earlier books). Plus, on the positive side, I liked the how of the Darkling being brought back and didn’t see the betrayal coming. Still, I’m not quite certain I think bringing back a villain who’s already been defeated was the right way to go- although I will wait to see how it plays out in the next book before making my mind up. And to be honest, I’m just glad the same thing Matthias didn’t also escape death- firstly because two in one book would’ve been a bit much and secondly because I’m not keen on being robbed of my endings (especially when that ending really landed for me).

Overall, while imperfect as the king, this did give us a glimpse of shadows and divinity peeking through. I’d say this isn’t as good as Six of Crows, but it’s better than Shadow and Bone. And now I want the next one!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So are you into the Grishaverse? Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

35 thoughts on “King of Scars was close to flawless!

  1. Agreed totally about the ending. Like I’m not quiet happy about it but it depends on where she goes with it whether it winds up working or not. Loved Zoya and Matthias wolf showing up was heartbreaking. I was scared for him the whole book!

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  2. OK, I’ll make an exception on this one. Usually I’m only reading the books you’re giving five stars, but I’m willing to try this series since they’re available on kindle unlimited and I won’t have to do the pilgrimage to the library.

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  3. I read shadow and bone a long time ago, and couldn’t get into the second book. This year I picked up king of scars – yes, before six of crows – and enjoyed it very much. I don’t like past villains resurrected, but since i didn’t finish the grisha, it was alright. I did pick six of crows after that, as well as crooked kingdom, and although I was aware of Mathias’s fate from King of scars, i hated that his death was for nothing. I believe that if an author should kill a darling, than at least the death should forward the plot in a way. There was nothing in Mathias’s death save the fact that someone had to die.

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  4. I agree, not as good as Crows, but definitely better than S&B. I also loved Nikolai & Zoya’s story a lot more than Nina’s. I do like Nina as a character, so I still read through her chapters fairly quickly, but I’m still not convinced on why she was given so much page time. I’m sure it’ll all start to tie together more neatly in the second book, but most of it fell pretty flat for me.

    That ending, though. I like what you’ve said, that actually doing the thing instead of just teasing it was neat, but man. Bringing back a villain that you’ve already killed really rubbed me the wrong way. It may because I am inconsolably in love with Alina’s character, and bringing back the Darkling feels like spitting in her face, which just makes me want to set fire to a lot of things, but it just feels all very “been there done that,” so why are we returning to a story we’ve already read?

    Who knows, maybe it’ll turn out differently. I’m going to wait for more to make up my mind, as well!

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    1. Glad you agree! And yeah I do like Nina’s character, so I enjoyed her chapters to an extent, even if I wasn’t taken with her story. I don’t really get how her story wove into the overall plot either- I assume it’ll make sense in the second book too, but I still could’ve done with less of her story in this one.

      I can totally understand that- I don’t normally like that and I wouldn’t say I’ve been won over… yet. I am willing to give Bardugo the benefit of the doubt and see if she can do something cool with it in the next book. But yeah, it does seem like ruining Alina’s story (I think the fact that I don’t have strong feelings for her meant that I didn’t mind it as much either). The other reason I’m giving this a pass in some ways is because I think she’s been doing something different, focusing more on mythology, so if she doesn’t make him just the big bad who must be defeated in a similar way to how he was killed last time, it *could* be interesting. But it could also fall flat on its face. Tbh I probably should’ve learnt from watching Game of thrones to not to be so optimistic about stories eventually going in the right direction- in some ways it’s probably better to be pessimistic and pleasantly surprised, than optimistic and disappointed 😉 But I did enjoy the book and definitely want to read the next one to see where it goes, so I’m going with cautiously optimistic 😉

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  5. After having read Six of Crows I haven’t read anything else by Leigh Bardugo but I have been meaning to try her trilogy out eventually. Still hesitant about completing the duology too hahah Great review though. Love the sound of this grishaverse and excited to see Six of Crows adapted as a Netflix series! 😀

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  6. I must admit, this book has flown off my radar over the past few months, but … it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I still haven’t picked it up yet! I don’t know how it’s evaded me for all these months, but I’ve resigned myself to reading it before the year is over. Lol. It’s so nice to hear that Bardugo answers the question about why there are Grisha. Lovely review! ❤

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    1. Hmm it does follow on from that, so if you don’t mind being spoiled, then it’s fine (but maybe read a synopsis for the original trilogy) Definitely recommend six of crows first- which is also spoiled in this book- but that was awesome anyway!

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  7. I was actually really disappointed with the Grisha trilogy since I had read the Six of Crows books first and was so incredibly enchanted by them. Her writing really improved, and Six of Crows was just so much more of a compelling story to me. I think the problem was that the Grisha books told a story that had been told before, if you know what I mean, while Six of Crows played off of multiple things that have been done before without falling too much into the pitfalls which make them feel cliched. Also the emotional stakes in the Grisha books didn’t feel as real to me and the characters weren’t as fully fleshed out as they were in the Six of Crows books. I did enjoy King of Scars though. What I really truly loved was the Language of Thorns, her fairy tale-esque book.
    Have you read Wonder Woman Warbringer by Bardugo? I want to know if it’s worth reading.

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    1. Oh I can completely understand that- I read them the other way round and wasn’t bowled over by shadow and bone, so it took me a while to read six of crows, which I *loved*. And yeah that’s very true. I completely agree with you. Glad you liked King of Scars! I loved lots of parts of language of thorns, though a couple of stories not as much.
      I have read that as well (I got pulled in by Bardugo’s name and also cos I like superhero stories) and I’m afraid that one didn’t work for me- there just wasn’t anything that stood out to me and it was pretty standard superhero fare. It also didn’t have the *wow* factor I normally associate with Bardugo’s writing.

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