Book Review

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

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: January 29th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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. 

THIS. WAS. AMAZING.

Note: While there won’t be any spoilers from KoS, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE READING if you haven’t read Bardguo’s other Grisha novels (Shadow and Bone / Six of Crows). There will be spoilers to those stories.

I was all for this book from seriously chapter two. I could not put it down. What was even greater was that this book isn’t high action. Yes, there is quite a bit of action, but the story itself keeps you so involved there is hardly a moment of pause. Plenty of literal jaw-dropping moments that will leave you gasping. It’s biggest draw is that we get to see the characters from Shadow and Bone AND Six of Crows mix. This is the real winning moment.

“The monster is me and I am the monster.”

The whole theme of the novel is over-coming your demons. Each of our main POVs (Nikolai, Nina & Zoya) are all battling something; both physically and mentally. I loved how each story was approached and how they all differed in the handling of the situation. These characters arcs are going to be utterly devastating.

Okay, first of all. I AM ALL OVER NIKOLAI AND ZOYA. I didn’t love Zoya the first time I met her (Sh&Bone), but KoS allowed a look at her background. She slowly grew on me, with all of her sass, and the fact she owns her beauty. I love her all the more for her stubborn protective streaks and her fiery nature. And the things she gained along this journey? Queen of the storms indeed.

My dear, sweet, fox, Nikolai. Oh how I love you. Y’all. This has got to be one of my top characters of all time. He is so clever and charming. I want to be in his presence always. Bardugo’s ability to write the best conversation scenes leave me giggling and in awe every time. All I want is his happiness and for him to have Ravka in some semblance of peace. Apparently, this is a lot to ask for currently.

“One could plot espionage and still hope for dessert.”

Now, Nina. Her story was the only one that fell a little flat for me. Her grief over Matthias though? That made me want to sob. Those emotions were raw and broke me. The rest of her story was good, yes, but I think will be better in the second book. I hope that all of these characters come back together! I was really hooked on Matthias and since I clearly haven’t gotten over that I’m still warming up to Nina’s supposed love interest: Hanne. I like her, and I think as her character opens up I will love her. They need more time for me to really see their relationship. Hanne’s character is strong and passionate, so I can definitely get behind that.

This is getting a little long-winded. Whoops. Can you see how much I loved this book? I’ll close up soon because we have to discuss the ending…

…But we can’t, because I would spoil it for you. For real, I went into full panic mode at the end. So many gut-punching twists. I am stunned and questioning everything I know at this point. BOOK TWO COMES OUT WHEN?

“Anything worth doing always starts with a bad idea.”

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy: Need to have read previous Grishaverse novels to really understand whole scope of story
  • Very little language
  • Violence: physical, poison, gun, knives, magic, etc.
  • Romance: so much romantic tension, AHH
  • Trigger warnings: mistreatment of pregnant women, mentions of miscarriage, drug addiction, murder