This review is spoiler free.
“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself.”
Series: King of Scars
Published: 2019, by Imprint.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Magic, High Fantasy, Romance, LGBT, New Adult
Contains: Death, Violence, Strong Language, Torture, Blood/Gore, Imprisonment, Fire
‘King of Scars’ follows the dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, who has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s blood civil war – and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened boarders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, force new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, 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 wound aren’t meant to heal.
This book has been on my To Be Read list for the past few months, after reading Bardugo’s other series prior to this one. Needless to say, this definitely left a lingering affect on me.
Nikolai was one of my favourite characters from the Shadow and Bone trilogy, and I was a little disappointed with the ending of his story in the final book, so discovering there was a duology based on his version of events after the Shadow and Bone series, I was so excited to pick it up and discover what my favourite character was up to next. Nikolai is an incredibly strong protagonist, who always thinks ahead and composes the wildest schemes to resolve his problems. And they almost always work out the way he’d hoped, however, in this novel we learn more about the other sides to Nikolai, and that’s what I loved about this book. He’s a well-rounded character, with highs and lows and moves onto each problem with elegance.
Zoya was a character who surprised me, as I didn’t necessarily enjoy her when she was first introduced in the world of Ravka, however, in this novel she develops wonderfully, becoming the general she was meant to be and I loved that. She’s a deeply inspiring character, being incredibly strong – stronger than the King, and any other character in this universe – and keeps her head held high throughout. She’s sworn to protect the king and she stands by him from beginning to end.
Nina’s story, however, fell a little flat for me, not being as interesting as Zoya’s and Nikolai’s, or even Isaak’s point of view. That’s not to say I don’t love her character, she’s been my favourite since the Six of Crows duology, however, this time I was a little disappointed in her journey. I don’t feel as if she develops much, or if she does it’s not necessarily for the better.
Bardugo’s writing just keeps getting better and better, there being a solid beginning, middle and end which wraps up the first book beautifully reads for the next. The point of view jumping was just at the right places, making you want to continue forwards until you reach another storyline you’re excited about and made for a very enjoyable read.
Overall, I deeply enjoyed this book. Even though certain characters fell flat for me and I found myself taking longer to read this book than normal, I still found it a fun experience that I will return to again and again.