Title: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
My rating: ★★★★
Synopsis via Goodreads:
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.
First and foremost, I DEFINITELY think you need to read the previous Grishaverse books before jumping into this one. There are massive spoilers for the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows. You will be pretty lost if you don’t already know about certain storylines & characters.
It’s not a secret that Leigh Bardugo is my absolute fave. She’s a total queen. I have fallen head over heels in love with her writing. I will literally read anything she releases. King of Scars was one of my most anticipated books of 2019, and y’all…it did not disappoint!
This is where I really start to ramble, so brace yourself.
A Grisha Heartrender. We originally meet her in Six of Crows. She is in Fjerda for two reasons. One, she is on a secret mission to help other Grisha. Two, to fulfill a promise she made to Matthias.
I know a lot of people are saying her chapters were boring but I completely disagree! They were my favorite part of this book. They made me happy, sad and super angry. They also had a Six of Crows vibe to them, so I was really into that.
Things got pretty intense for Nina. She’s still grieving, her mission takes an unexpected turn and her past comes rushing back. It’s so much, but I absolutely love the direction her story is going. Nina has plans and I can’t wait to see how they unfold!
I am a little bummed that she is away from Nikolai & crew though. I was looking forward to those interactions. I’m hoping in book two the storylines find their way to one another.
A Grisha squalller. She was a minor character in the Grisha Trilogy. She is always by the king’s side…watching out for him and making sure the country is running smoothly.
I’m so happy we got to learn more about Zoya. I mean, going into this book we really didn’t know much about her at all. We got her backstory, which was unbelievably sad. We found out why she was faithful to the Darklimg, and then why she turned against him.
She kicked some major ass in this book, especially towards the end. Like she saved the day multiple times. Zoya is fierce and a new favorite of mine.
He is the king of Ravka. Back in Ruin & Rising, Nikolai was infected by a demon monster thing. Years later he is still dealing with this. The monster is now becoming more powerful. Him & Zoya are on a mission to figure out what exactly it is and how to get rid of it.
I love Nikolai so much! He is clever, funny and oh so charming. While I loved his chapters with my entire heart, I do feel like there wasn’t enough of them. For a book titled King of Scars, I was craving more Nikolai. This may just be a me thing though?
Things got real weird in the middle of the book, but I really liked it. Leigh took it to a place that I didn’t even think was possible. Characters were introduced, tea was spilled, it was really cool.
I also loved the Isaak storyline. We didn’t get a lot from his perspective, but it was fun to see him act like Nikolai.
So there were two, both of which are in the very early stages. There’s one that I ship real hard. Like, yes please! The other one I’m not sure about yet. I’m still sad & just not ready to let the past go. I’ll get there eventually though.
I feel like everyone is freaking out over it. Honestly, I didn’t love it…I didn’t hate it. I am intrigued by it. I’m very interested to see how some characters deal with it. I mean, it could get real ugly.
Overall, I loved this book! I think Leigh Bardugo is going to pull a Six of Crows situation. Where the first book is great, but the second book is going to blow you away. King of Scars felt like it was setting up for an explosive sequel…and I am ready for it!