Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Alexis: Read 3/24/19

I loved the first half of this book. I loved Nikolai’s internal (and sometimes external) battle within himself. I enjoyed learning more about Zoya: her past, her innermost feelings, her motivations. And at first, I rejoiced in Nina’s chapters, especially after her ending in Crooked Kingdom.

King of Scars is told in third person from various perspectives, including Nikolai, Zoya, Nina, and a man named Isaak. I’m glad Bardugo decided on third person, as I think it worked perfectly for the world in Six of Crows, and ultimately served a better purpose than the first person of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.

I enjoyed the masterful worldbuilding and name dropping of characters from previous books. Bardugo has really cemented the Grishaverse. And I really enjoyed how the plot was building. However, the second half started to meander. Zoya ended up being the primary character, rather than Nikolai himself. The book’s title is literally Nikolai’s nickname, and yet he sometimes gets lost in the sea of other characters.

I honestly wanted to skip over Isaak’s chapters; I felt like his information could have been revealed later and it would have served the book better, even if the the reader wouldn’t get to know him as a character. But I really just didn’t care about him.

Nina’s chapters began to feel drawn out. As much as I enjoy her as a character, I found myself wanting to stay with Zoya and Nikolai’s storylines. I almost wanted Nina’s chapters to be separated from the rest of the story, maybe as its own short book.

My primary concern, besides Nikolai not being as center stage as I wanted him to be, was where the plot ended up. It was building up to such a great place, but then the ending ruined it for me. I’ll avoid spoilers here and go more into that below.

This book definitely felt like a follow-up to the Shadow of Bone trilogy, which I didn’t like nearly as much as the Six of Crows duology. I was hoping for more of a Six of Crows feel, with the masterfully crafted plot and characters. I just wish the book had only switched in POV from Nikolai to Zoya and that the plot was…different. Even with my mixed feelings, I still love the characters and Bardugo’s world, and I flew through this book.

The first half of the book: 5 stars. Second half: 3 stars

VERDICT: 4 stars


I felt like most of the plot reveals in the second half of the book were a little too coincidental. Hanne just happens to be the daughter of Brum? The Saints just happen to be alive with the answers to a greater power for Zoya? And the biggest of all: the Darkling’s comeback. It felt like a cop-out to me. I wanted something as equally as dark to be the main antagonist, but I wanted something different. The Darkling’s story was supposed to be over. With all the tumultuous politics going on, I just felt like the ending could’ve gone in a different and better direction.



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