i love leigh bardugo’s works, if you haven’t noticed already. the grishaverse especially — i feel so connected with the characters and the worldbuilding and the fandom… but i’ve been putting off reading king of scars for way too long. after a year of putting it off, i finally finished the book! and it was quite enjoyable, to say the least.
Title: King of Scars
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: ★★★★• (4.5/5)
Synopsis: Face your demons… or feed them.
The boy king. The war hero. The prince with a demon curled inside his heart. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. The people of Ravka don’t know what he endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet with each day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built.
Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honing her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary—and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come.
Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha wiped from the earth forever. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face the pain of her past if she has any hope of defeating the dangers that await her on the ice.
Ravka’s king. Ravka’s general. Ravka’s spy. They will journey past the boundaries of science and superstition, of magic and faith, and risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried, and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
i cannot fault this book for anything other than its pacing. the characters were lively and deep, their development detailed, and the humour was on point. but the slow pacing, the monologues, and the excessive descriptions in the first half made me want to fall asleep.
the main issue of pacing comes in the first half, where we are reintroduced to nikolai, zoya and nina after the two years (or few months, for nina) since their last book. there was a lot of page-long narration monologues that were more show and less tell, but leigh’s writing style is truly beautiful and quotable. for nina, there was just so much grief and melancholy, it hurt to read her chapters. and to be honest, her chapters were quite dull until they met hannes. the second half of the book got straight to the point, and was much more action-packed. things just kept happening, and it was a welcomed shock to my system.
as i said before, pacing was the only critiquable part of the book. the plot was wonderful and mostly interwoven (nina has a whole other plot, but it made sense for her character arc), and the characters fell into place nicely. i loved the introduction of new characters, and isaak’s point of view. yuri was a breath of fresh air that definitely called me out for being a darkling stan once upon a time. was he a good person? not in the least, and there is really no way to argue around his actions and inactions. but as a villain, he had so much motive for destruction that it made him the most interesting character. my point still stands: if leigh gave him a pov in shadow and bone, i am absolutely certain that he would have more supporters, and there would be a irl cult of the starless saint. (kind of concerning, not gonna lie).
next up is rule of wolves. the foreseeable end of the grishaverse. i can’t do this. somehow i didn’t cry at all in king of scars, but i just sat there with a shocked pikachu face while reading the whole second part. will i cry in rule of wolves? most definitely. in the tv show? MOST DEFINITELY.
ONE WEEK UNTIL S&B DROPS ON NETFLIX!!!