King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
**This post was edited in May 2021 to reflect my updated opinion. I don't normally do this but I found myself needing to go back and adjust this review after rereading this book.
Finishing King of Scars was such an emotional experience and I’m already ready to read it all again! We had the chance to go back and see characters that we knew in the original trilogy and duology, except they're on new adventures, they’re older, and they're dealing with very different problems. There are so many different facets of this book that I honestly had to take a day away from it before I could figure out my thoughts to better understand what I loved so much about the story.
Perfect POV Choices
From the spoilers, we knew that Nikolai and Nina would both have POV’s. I was equally excited when I found out that Zoya also had one, because she’s a character that I loved from the Shadow and Bone trilogy and I never felt we really understood her. In King of Scars we get the chance to really see these characters again, two of whom finally have the chance to play dominant roles. It was really emotional being with Nina again now that Matthis is gone; seeing her struggle to say goodbye to him while also trying to keep her promise to help Fjerda was hard. I found Nina's storyline largely the most dragged out part of this book and often found myself struggling not to skip ahead. Her feelings towards Hanne feel incredibly rushed and Nina simply doesn't seem like the same character we met in SoC.
I loved that Nikolai and Zoya were on a separate mission for part of the story; we really got the chance to see them as individual characters while also better understanding their relationship as King and Commander. We introduced to a new character, Isaak, who is such a sweetheart and I loved reading his perspective. He gives a more innocent view of the Grishaverse, especially since we have jumped ahead (I’m guessing about a year or so since Six of Crows) and it’s important that we have some fresh eyes to help us understand what Ravka looks like now.
So Many Storylines
While there are many good storylines in this book, I was the most interested in reading the interactions between Nikolai and Zoya and better understanding their characters. I have found both of them incredibly appealing in their previous appearances so this was a wonderful reading experience. Nina’s mission in Fjerda only interesting that that we get to see how she has developed much more control of her new abilities. That said, it’s was Nikolai and Zoya that I kept wanting to spend time with, largely because I’m really hoping that we get more of a romantic relationship between them. Them as a couple is not necessarily what Ravka needs for a king and queen, but it’s what my heart wants and I really hope we get to see them together because that would be amazing!
Leigh Bardugo excels in giving us really wonderful cliffhangers at the end of her stories and this book is no exception! I wasn’t overly surprised by some of the things that happened in this story (plans are disrupted, chaos ensues, etc) but it was clear that she was going to bring in something to completely throw everyone off balance. But wow, that last page and a half of the book was so insane that I could feel my eyes widen as I was reading. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but this is definitely one of the biggest surprises she’s given to us and I am incredibly excited to find out where the stories going to go next.
Overall, I love that we are seeing some of these characters again and some for the very first time, and I cannot wait to see where the story brings us next. I did find that pieces of this book really dragged on - Nina's story in general fell very flat for me - and I would suggest that people read the Shadow and Bone series and the Six of Crows duology before reading this book. Doing so will give you the foundation to understand why Nikolai is fighting so many battles, why are certain people on certain sides, etc. That said, I would recommend this book to absolutely everybody because it’s clear to me it’s the beginning of an amazing journey!
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5
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Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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2020 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 20 books toward her goal of 85 books.
2019 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 5 books toward her goal of 90 books.
2018 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has completed her goal of reading 80 books in 2018!
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