King of Scars
By: Leigh Bardugo
King of Scars was in my top three most anticipated books of 2019 and it didn’t let me down! Though that ending…
Just a warning there are spoilers in here for the Shadow and Bone trilogy and for Six of Crows (especially in terms of fatalities in those books.) So if you were planning on reading them and don’t want to be spoiled don’t read this.
I also think you probably should read, at least the Shadow and Bone books, if you want to to get the full feeling of King of Scars.
So the book opens with Nikolai King now and doing a pretty good job when the monster returns, meaning the darkness the Darkling infected him with in the last books he still has and he’s turning monster again. His Grisha are doing their best to cover it up and help him find a cure but even Nikolai knows this isn’t going to last.
We get a Zoya POV!
I loved what we saw of her in the last books and I must say I love her here. She’s not an easy character but I think that’s a good thing. And as things play out I’m definitely a Nikolai Zoya shipper.
The third POV is Nina from the Six of Crows books and it’s so sad! First of all she’s still carting Matthias around. Like Nina, honey. You need to let it go. She’s gone to his country to bury him and to help Grisha escape from persecution when the voices of dead women and girls draw her to a small village where a weapons factory is hiding a big secret.
I will say her story feels completely separate for the book but by the end you can see where it’s going and how its going to tie together. Also someone shows up in Nina’s POV that just breaks my little heart and if anything happens to them I’m going to be done with the world.
All the characters are fantastically written. It’s where Bardugo excels really. Their inner thoughts, conversations, back and forth. Nikolai’s charm and hopefulness is still there though he’s definitely fraying under the pressure. Nina is still basically unstoppable in the face of injustice. She’s a powerhouse but it is called out that she’s also deeply reckless and maybe behaving more so because she feels she has nothing to lose.
I like to that all these people are basically suffering the effects of PTSD and grief, friends and lost loved ones from the last books are often mentioned. King of Scars is, for all of it’s witty lines, a fairly dark book.
There’s also a religious sect that’s growing in Ravka that worships the Darkling of course. It’s an interesting element that I don’t think we get often in YA- that after the war. Unbearable grief, trauma, anger and fear of continued loss remain in the people and the countries. I love that stuff it reminded me a bit of what Laini Taylor did with the after effects of long-term occupation in Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares.
If I’m nitpicking this book does feel like moving the pieces into place for book two and that reveal at the end… not sure how I feel about that one.
Except that I really, really want book two and all my Grisha darlings better be okay!
Recommend: Yes. But again I think you want to at least read the Shadow and Bone trilogy first. But also read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom cause they are awesome!