All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

on July 19, 2021

King Of Scars (King Of Scars #1)
Leigh Bardugo
2019, 511p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}: Face your demons…or feed them.

The people of Ravka don’t know What Nikolai Lantsov endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet each day a dark magic in him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he built.

Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary and she will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne.

Far north Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha destroyed. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face her past to have any hope of defeating the dangers that await her.

Ravka’s King. Ravka’s General. Ravka’s Spy. They will risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

So I had a big reading binge at the beginning of July when my kids were on school holidays and made it through pretty much all of my publisher review pile well before halfway through the month. So I thought I’d use the time remaining in July to read a few books that I had on my longer term TBR pile for months just like this one. So this book and its sequel, Rule Of Wolves were high on my priority list after I recently finished both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I wanted to tackle these while the Grisha universe was still pretty fresh in my mind.

Our three core characters are Nikolai, newly installed as King of Ravka, his general Zoya, who readers will remember well for her abrasive nature and also Nina, who after the Six of Crows duology, is still suffering from heartbreaking grief. She’s in Fjerda for several purposes, to both return someone she loves to their homeland and also as a spy. She helps smuggle Grisha out of the place that would murder them for their abilities.

But it’s Nikolai that seems to be experiencing the most amount of trouble. His country is in a precarious situation and to everyone’s surprise (and horror) what he suffered during the war hasn’t completely gone away simply because the reason for that suffering, is no longer around (or are they?). He finds himself having to be chained to his bed at night but the measures taken to keep the darkness that still lurks inside him contained, are having to be more and more powerful and Nikolai knows that long term, it’s not going to work. He needs answers and so he sets off on a pilgrimage to the place that was the Fold, hoping he can find the answer.

There’s no denying that this was a bit of a slow start. The book takes quite a bit to find its way and get going with the story and I found that in the first half, my attention wandered quite a bit and I found it hard to focus. However when I got into the second half of the story, I was more engrossed and felt like it had finally settled into a groove. So it probably took me longer to read this than I expected, given it took me so long to trek my way through the first 50% but I think the second half goes a long way to make up for that slow start and I was a fan of the ending (which I think will divide people into love it or hate it camps). I’m glad that I waited until I had Rule Of Wolves to read this (I actually purchased them together) because waiting after that cliffhanger ending would’ve been awful!

I think Zoya, who was actually a character I despised in previous books, goes a long way to carrying this story. She becomes more than just the “bitchy one” who seems mean for the sake of meanness and this book takes the time to flesh her out, giving her an actual character and a reason for why she can be the way she is and why she often treats people the way she does. There’s a lot of pain in her past and she has a huge amount of growth to go through in this story and her arc is probably the best one by far but I don’t know if I buy what’s going on with her and Nikolai (which is admittedly nothing so far, but there’s hints. Suggestions. Maybes).

Speaking of Nikolai, I read a few reviews that said he’s not the character they remember from Ruin & Rising and…well, obviously? What happened to him in that war has changed him and he’s still dealing with it. It hasn’t gone away, like they thought it would and now they have to undertake some pilgrimage, of sorts, to see if they can….eradicate it? Exorcize it? Any and all of the above I guess and Nikolai is a King now. The King of a troubled nation that is under a lot of pressure and there are….other circumstances that make his reign precarious as well. Of course he’s not the same person Alina met as Stormhund right now – I actually liked Nikolai more in this book than in previous books. I found him shallow and too interested in being amusing and clever and funny and in this book he felt more like he knew what and who he was and what and who he needed to be and what he needed to do. Also I really love Genya and David and they appear quite often in this and the amount of time David pauses in reading to query something (and once, to threaten someone, which made me laugh) is amazing. And for those of you have already read Rule Of Wolves, yes I know.

My least favourite portion of this (and it pains me to say it) was Nina’s. I was really keen to see where she was at after what happened in Crooked Kingdom but I just did not love her chapters. And the further into them I got, the less I enjoyed what I was reading. And when she meets Hanne and develops a friendship with her, of course her father turns out to be the person he is, and it just felt….I don’t know, contrived.

But actually, what did really work for me, was the ending, as I mentioned before. It made me really interested in what comes next and definitely elevated the story a little although I do understand a lot of others will not feel the same way. But I’m here for it! This is not my favourite Grishaverse book but it’s not my least favourite either.


Book #122 of 2021

2 responses to “Review: King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Great review. I’ve heard the same thing about Nikolai and Nina. I would understand Nikolai but eve if I haven’t read it yet, I’m already disappointed with Nina’s storyline.

    • Nina’s story was the greatest disappointment for me in this book. It started off okay but I just felt like the more I got into it, the more of a mess it became. I’m completely uninterested in even finding out what happens next for her in Rule of Wolves.

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