2019 releases · fantasy · YA

A King, His General, and His Monster: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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It’s no secret that I loved and adored the Six of Crows duology. It’s also no secret that I really did not like the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Like, at all (as a matter of fact, here are my reviews for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm just so you can see). Which is why when the King of Scars hype started I wasn’t really into it. But. You can always trust in a good cover. I became really excited about this book when everyone started getting obsessed and when I saw that cover, I knew I was jumping on that hype train. So was it good? Let’s chat because I have a lot of thoughts.

King of Scars is set after both the events of the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. This follows Nikolai, Zoya and Nina, as they try to keep Ravka together, while also battling their own demons and monsters. This will be a spoiler-free review of King of Scars, but it might have spoilers for the previous books.

writingThis is way more Grisha trilogy in feel, but it’s also way more Six of Crows in terms of writing, and thank god for that. I really enjoyed Bardugo’s writing in this novel and after reading the Grisha trilogy recently, I loved seeing how much she has grown as a writer and how well this story was written. I think she handles both plot and characters superiorly to the Grisha trilogy and I was so glad that was the case. When people started talking about this book and saying it was more Grisha than SoC, I was scared. But it turns out I needn’t be because this was as well written as I’d come to expect from Six of Crows.

greatcharactersThe biggest driving force of this novel and my interest for it are definitely the characters. I loved all of them so much. I liked Nikolai in the Grisha trilogy, but I LOVED him in this one. We got to know him so much better and we finally saw what was behind his whole act, which was such a rewarding experience. The way he speaks about Ravka is one of my favorite things in this novel. I love that people see him as flippant, but he is such a good leader and he fights relentlessly for his country and I just loved him a lot.

Zoya was also a wonderful surprise. I did not have any sort of feelings attached to her from the Grisha trilogy, but I really enjoyed her character too. She is so confident and strong and like Nikolai, she has this whole act that she constantly puts on and I really loved how she handled herself. Plus, she is just an overall badass.

I did like Zoya and Nikolai’s relationship a lot, but I never really got romantic vibes from it. I don’t find it believable at all and I think they would work a lot better as friends and advisors. I just don’t think that enough time was spent in their heads while they were thinking about each other and so I felt like their romance was sort of forced and not really believable for me.

And I missed Nina so much and I loved reading from her PoV again. She is one of my all time favorite characters and reading from her PoV felt so comforting and familiar. It broke my heart reading about her struggle to get over Matthias’ death and to get back to herself after everything that happened in Six of Crows. I think Leigh Bardugo handled her character so well and I was just so happy to be with Nina again.

And I really enjoyed almost all the side characters, which was great and I am so glad I did. I especially loved Isaak and he is such a precious and wonderful character and was a fantastic addition to the story.

storylinesHowever, as much as I loved Nina’s PoV and as much as I love her as a character, I don’t think her storyline tied well into the rest of the book. They might come together better in the next one, but I still feel like her whole storyline was unnecessary to the main plot. While there were efforts to tie them together, I don’t think it was handled that well. And on top of that, I got to say, I wasn’t really into that whole subplot. And I feel like it’s because it was so separate from the other two PoVs which were happening together. So while I trust Bardugo to rectify this in the next installment, I wish she’d done it in this one.

And I have got to say this – I did not particularly care for Hanne. I don’t think her character was as well developed as I would like and the glimpses we saw of her were in my opinion quite generic. But I am so excited about Nina getting a girlfriend that I don’t really care all that much. Hopefully, I will get more attached to her in the next book.

introspectiveAnd that leads me to another issue I had with this – I don’t think this book is introspective enough. What I mean by this is that I don’t feel like we get enough of the characters’ thoughts and feelings explored on the page. Which is why I am not sure how much people would like these characters if they started with this book. I feel like a lot of the love I have for the characters was previously established, so the little we get in this novel was enough for me, but not necessarily enough to say that the characters are wonderfully done in this one.

pacingI also had some issues with pacing. I think this started out slow and we got a lot of focus on politics and I really loved that. But then it became a lot of the same thing and started dragging and being sort of boring.  And like I said, I don’t think that Nina’s storyline tied well into Nikolai and Zoya’s, so that led to poor pacing in my opinion. I also think this could have been a 100 pages shorter without the story suffering at all, which is never good.

Moreover, I just don’t think that this plot was really well thought out. In my opinion, this at times felt like recycling some old storylines and plot devices from the Grisha trilogy. I would have preferred this to be just loosely connected to the previous books and to stand on its own, plot-wise, without having to rely so much on the threats and devices of previous novels, which leads me to the ending. I think the ending was such a cop-out. And while I think it can be handled well, I just think we could have done without it and the book would have been a lot more exciting for me.

verdictOverall, this was enjoyable. I wasn’t head over heels for it, but I do love the characters and I had a fun time reading this. I am excited to see how the story wraps up in the next book, and I would definitely recommend this if you were a fan of the Grisha trilogy.

3.5

addI would love to hear from you! Were you previously a fan of the Grisha trilogy? Did you read this one? How did you feel about it? Let me know in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “A King, His General, and His Monster: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I remember you being pretty excited to read this. It’s a shame about the few mishaps. I really want more Nina — so I’m probably going to pick this book up. I’ve read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Do I need to read the Grisha trilogy before I read this?

    Liked by 1 person

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