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SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE SHADOW AND BONE TRILOGY + THE SIX OF CROWS DUOLOGY, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

“The Monster is me and I am the Monster”

King of Scars takes place after the Ravkan Civil War (aka the Shadow and Bone trilogy). The book follows Nikolai Lantsov as he navigates being the King of Ravka along with having a monster living inside of him. Let’s get into it ! 

The characters

When it comes to characterization, Bardugo is nothing short of a pro. I love how she writes characters and I already felt emotionally attached to these characters since we’ve known them for a while now. The Softness of her characters being balanced with their strength just makes my heart flutter. The thing I like the most is how these two components are mixed together to give me Soft to be Strong realness. 

☞ Nikolai, King of Ravka, Absolute Cinnamon Roll  : Nikolai such a lovable character and exactly (for better or worse) the type of characters I fall for (using sarcasm and jokes as a defense mechanism ? um. heck yes). I enjoyed his character progression but boy was it slow. Despite this, I can’t help but fall head over heels in love with him. Nikolai is being crushed by the weight of his responsibilities and his will to make right by Ravka and its citizens and at the end, I couldn’t help but feel for him. 

☞ I loved seeing Nina again especially because she has such a great potential and I definitely think this “potential” will be explored even more in the sequel. She’s an intriguing character, that balances between being very assertive and authentic with being witty and honest. I adore Nina because she makes me want to be unapologetically myself. In KoS, she deals with the aftermath of Matthias’ death and her grief made my heart ache. That being said, I liked how Bardugo emphasized on Nina being a soldier and it just reminded me of Her Strength and wow, I love her. Needless to say, Nina made my dead heart beat and I am grateful.  I also CANNOT wait to see where her relationship with Hanne goes (I loved their dynamic because I strongly believe that Nina needs to be challenged but that she also needs someone who’s gonna call her out and Hanne. might be that person ? fingers crossed

☞ Zoya Nazyalenski. I would let her straight-up PUNCH me in the face. That’s all. In all seriousness though, I love how Zoya’s arc is moving. Back in the Shadow and Bone trilogy, I didn’t feel any type of ways about her ? I was intrigued and  found her clever and cunning but lacking any sort of depth that could make me empathize with her as to why she was the way she was. But here, we actually get to see the face behind the mask, the feelings behind the very carefully curated version she puts out there. Zoya refuses to be vulnerable as she sees this as pure and utter weakness. Seeing her withdraw herself from situations where any type of emotional vulnerability was involved felt refreshing and a novelty because you get to see how Zoya thinks (also the fact that she had a POV was so COOL). 

Tamar and Tolya. i’d die for you BOTH. just letting u know. Isaak, my dude, they did u DIRTY and i’m sorry. 

The plot

My main problem with KoS is the pace. After reading both SoC and S&B, I understand that it’s part of Leigh’s writing style. The beginning felt very slow and I didn’t mind it until it felt like we weren’t getting an actual plot.  I understood the stakes but the story unfolded too slowly for me to be truly invested. 

I loved learning about the Saints and I love how Leigh Bardugo describes her world. It’s very atmospheric and it truly feels like you’re there. I was a bit confused by the Fold and everything happening there ? (alternate dimension?) 

Finally let’s talk about the ENDING. Oof. Okay, I had Thoughts™️ when I read the ending. It felt like a “Ah Shit, Here We Go Again” type of moment but one that I was truly SHOCKED with.  Bringing the Darkling back is a BOLD CHOICE. In the words of Kat @ PaperbackDreams “He’s already crusty and musty, and now that he’s been in the ground, he’s certainly dusty”.I’m excited to see what the sequel brings and where his character goes because although I disliked him I thought he was a super well-written villain and I do love to hate villains sooo. yeah. 

Those are my thoughts on King of Scars !
Have you read it ? What did you think ? I’d love to know !