I’m going to have to be honest with everyone and say that while this the book that I had the highest expectations for this year, it didn’t really fall short but it didn’t blow them out of the water either. It was a so-so read, but because I love Nikolai with all my heart, I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5.
Warning: Spoilers for The Grisha Trilogy & Six of Crows duology below. Leigh mentioned that she tried to write King of Scars as if readers didn’t have to read the previous two, but in my opinion, you do. You don’t get into the mood and the eeriness of it all until you went through what the characters did.
After the events of Ruin & Rising, the Darkling is long-presumed dead. Nikolai is now the King of Ravka, and much to everyone’s relief (especially mine), he retains the same humor and cheekiness from the trilogy, despite what he’s experienced in the war. And after having been tortured by the Darkling, Nikolai knows that there’s something dark growing in his body. Every night, he shifts into a monster that wants to do nothing but kill, and he can’t do anything to stop it. He relies on Zoya Nazyalensky, his trusted squallor, closest ally, and all around badass, to prevent the creature from harming others, but he has limited time and he knows it.
Trouble arises when rumors of numerous miracles that may or might not signify the Darkling’s return rise. Cults that claim him as the Starless One start to cause a lot more inconvenience than they should, and Nikolai and Zoya seek to investigate the root of their claims— and possibly, hopefully, eliminate the darkness from his body. Meanwhile, in Fjerda, Nina Zenik is on a mission to provide refuge to the long-oppressed Grisha in the land. She teams up with Hanne, a fellow Heartrender, and works her way through each village, keeping her identity secret, and making sure her grief after the events of Crooked Kingdom is well-hidden.
I really do have mixed reactions about this book. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of it, but the top complaint I had was that Nina’s point of view felt kind of unnecessary. I genuinely adore her as a character, but since Zoya and Nikolai’s plot—the main plot—intertwine so much, it felt abrupt and her chapters were almost always a moment ruiner. There was a particular chapter of hers that I got emotional in, but other than that, I did think this book would’ve been better off as a dual POV one.
Moreover, despite Nikolai being my ultimate favorite (my Tumblr URL is literally sturmhond), Zoya stole the show. She’s always been one of the most interesting characters in the Grishaverse, and I felt so drawn to her story. She is just so effortlessly cool that it isn’t hard for anyone to fall in love with her. Though King of Scars is essentially supposed to be about Nikolai, the storyline felt like it was about Zoya, Nikolai, and Nina, in that order. I personally don’t mind it, but I think the marketing strategy of the team should’ve been a little more…specific to that part. Nonetheless, I loved reading from Nikolai’s POV since he’s always been my favorite character right next to Zoya…..and I hope they end up together!!!! I’m literally going crazy about the ending. There were so many questions left unanswered, and I really can’t wait to see how Leigh deals with them in the second book!
I also got to meet her in New York for her launch party, where I got to talk about Zoyalai, the Netflix adaptation, and how she felt after reading Queen of Nothing, but that’s a different story.
Title: King of Scars (King of Scars #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Hardcover, Ebook
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
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Have you finished King of Scars yet? What did you think? Leave your (spoiler-free) comments below, and we can talk about how Queen Bardugo has stomped all over our hearts again. If not, let me know what your favorite book of hers is!