Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

King of Scars #1

King of Scars

Rate this book
Face your demons... or feed them.

The dashing young king, 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, Nikolai 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 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 wounds aren't meant to heal.

527 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 29, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Leigh Bardugo

76 books150k followers
Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ninth House and the creator of the Grishaverse (now a Netflix original series) which spans the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, the King of Scars duology—and much more. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She lives in Los Angeles and is an associate fellow of Pauli Murray College at Yale University. For information on new releases and appearances, sign up for her newsletter.

She would be delighted if you visited her at LeighBardugo.com and fairly giddy if you liked her selfies on Instagram.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
67,189 (38%)
4 stars
74,979 (43%)
3 stars
27,265 (15%)
2 stars
4,100 (2%)
1 star
815 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 23,315 reviews
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,901 followers
February 15, 2019
Updated with my opinions on the End! (Spoilers are hidden within a spoiler tag)

Hello all, and meet my ghost, who is currently writing this review.

First of all, I think there will be plenty of people who are not thrilled with the end, but I am LIVING for it (and I'll list my reasons at the bottom of this review under the spoiler tag). However - I did have some issues (like the pacing), and I'll talk about them below, but overall, Queen Leigh is so freaking brilliant. I am in utter and complete shock. I had to reread the last chunk about 10 times before the ending sunk in. I screamed my throat raw, scared my cat, and practically passed out.

First of all, an absolute massive standing ovation to Lauren Fortgang, who narrated this book on audio and blessed me with her talent. I absolutely 10000% recommend the audio version – and this goes for the original trilogy too (which she also narrated). The audiobooks are outstanding. (Yes I am unhealthily obsessed and Lauren, if you read this, I am... sorry.)

That also leads me to my next point – you DEFINITELY need to read the original trilogy (Shadow and Bone) before reading this – which is legit one of my all time favorite series. I also recommend reading Six of Crows because a main character (and massive spoilers) are in this book for her. Basically, please read through all the Grishaverse books. You won’t regret it, and if you don’t, you will be spoiled for all of them.

Alright, back to this barely coherent review.

I love everything about my precious son Nikolai, and like always, he is absolute perfection. I've been BEGGING for this book for the longest time. But I definitely had some issues with parts of the book – mostly about certain plot points that had me scratching my head a bit. Some parts were slow. Now that I’m finished, I think some of those bits are growing on me, but I gotta say (sadly) that I found myself a bit bored at times (more below). But listen. Leigh is my favorite author. I freaking adore everything she writes. Her worldbuilding is absolutely astounding, and her characters are just… I can’t. I love them. So that, paired with the ENDING THAT KILLED ME, is the reason I am rating this five stars. Queen Leigh deserves nothing less. I admire her endlessly. I think I'll enjoy this even more the second time around, especially now that I know what she was building towards.

“One risks looking less like a monarch and more like a hostage.”

“You have emissaries to manage these matters of state,” Zoya had argued, “ambassadors, underlings.”

“The public may forget how handsome I am.”

Let's break it down.


This is where I had a hard time. I love her, I REALLY do – so much. She’s hysterical and super relatable, not to mention, a great role model for girls. She's the friend I wish I had growing up. But I found myself dozing off during her chapters. I’m not going to say much since we’re right at the release, but she’s away from Nikolai + co on some mission in Fjerda, and it seemed to drag and drag. I was so excited to see her interact with my crew (Genya, David, Zoya, etc) but alas, she’s occupied. Don’t get me wrong, she has some great moments – and some teary ones for sure, especially if you know the ending of Crooked Kingdom (she’s still dealing with this). But I just didn’t love her chapters. That being said, I’m 1000% stoked to see the moments I craved in the sequel.


My golden son. I said it above, but he’s perfection. He’s witty, clever, smart-mouthed in the best way, and all around charming as usual. Belt up those pants, friends, otherwise he’ll charm them right off. If you’ve followed his story, you know what happened to him in R&R, so obviously he’s dealing with that – as a major plot point of this book. (Queue Britt sobbing into her tea.) What made me the most sad, though, was for a book titled King of Scars, I feel like we didn’t get ENOUGH of him. He didn’t have that many POV chapters - and it felt like Zoya's book tbh. But even still, he’s a freaking badass, and always manages to steal the show. The two-clever fox. I knew this, and he STILL shocked me out of my seat more than once.

And the end? *bites fist* *zips lips before I explode* Ahhhghghghgh. (more on this lower)


I like her, but I haven’t fallen in love with her. I will say this though – she grew on me a lot, and Leigh wrote her character arc beautifully. In fact, that's the focus of her chapters - we find out so much more about her past and what really went on from her perspective during the Grisha Trilogy. All that, and she had some truly fantastic moments. I loved the banter between her and Nikolai. Now, I know some of you are wondering about the ships so I’m going to post my thoughts in the spoiler tag.

The plot.

Ahhhhhh so yes. I have so many mixed feelings! But again, I freaking love Leigh, and I’m not going to get overly critical here. But this kiiiinda felt like a prologue book. I mentioned I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nina’s chapters. I actually really enjoyed Zoya + Nik’s POVs – though at around half-way, things got real weird and I was suddenly questioning if I was reading the same book. Things change course super fast and the plot takes a nose-dive in another direction and I was like??? What is happening??? - I’ll add more once the book has been out for a while, but for now, I’ll just say this: Parts of it, I LOOOOVED, and other parts, I’m still totally confused and frazzled about.

But then.

But then.

But then.

The ending.

Hot damn can Leigh write a killer ending – and oooooooooo boy did she go where I never thought she’d go. Let me tell you right now – we’re going to have SO many people that hate this. I'm calling it - people are going to complain, and I'm going to have to try hard not to roll my eyes - because I freaking LOOOOVED it (and not for reasons you might expect). If you think about it, which I have - a lot - it's freaking brilliant. I’ll expand more once the book has been out for a while, but holy hell I am so here for this. The next book – oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.

I am.

Still screaming.

My throat.

Is raw.

Alright, friends. Want to know my reasoning for loving the end? Here it is (warning - it's very long):

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.2k followers
February 25, 2019

“Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are made of scars instead of wounds.”

Oh friends, it has been a long while since I read the concluding events in Ruin and Rising! Honestly? I probably really would have benefited from doing a reread. Yet, I will be the first to admit that I was complete Darkling trash back in the day, and I have grown a lot as a person and realized that he is someone that shouldn’t be romanticized, but I was so damn hyped for this story and to see how the people of Ravka are doing after that final battle and living under a brand new king. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was truly let down.

Also, I want to emphasize that a three star rating isn’t a bad rating! I still enjoyed this and I loved seeing some of the character that I love with my whole heart and soul, and also falling in love with a new character, too! But this was just so ungodly slow for the first half, which is something I’ve never felt while reading anything by Leigh before. I know that we had a lot of be caught up on, but I just couldn’t immerse myself into the world or story until after the halfway point.

I really recommend that you don’t read King of Scars (or this review, honestly) if you have not read all the other books in the Grishaverse! But as a quick recap before I get into my thoughts and feelings: People are still fearful of Grisha and are capturing and killing them regularly. Grisha are also still becoming addicted to jurda parem, and many different variations of it, which enhances their powers but at a cost.

“The books do not tell the whole story”

And this story is told in many points of views, but there are pretty much only three locations that this story takes place, until they will (hopefully) all weave back together! Zoya and Nikolai are off with a new character trying to discover what lives inside Nikolai. Meanwhile, back at the palace, family friends are teaching a young boy how to impersonate Nikolai himself, so no one will know that he is away! And then we have Nina off on a completely new mission, where she finds out so much about herself and what is happening to Grishas in areas that are still living in fear of them.

But this is a story about grief and loss and how living with those two things can impact your life beyond words. This is a story about being the person everyone wants you to be, while ultimately choosing the person you truly are. This is a story about feeling like your life is predicted for you, but realizing that you are capable of doing any and everything you want.

“Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”

Zoya Nazyalensky - One of the strongest Grishas ever (Squaller, of the Etherealki Order) and is an incredible fighter and leader. She was also the Darkling’s favorite, but is now my favorite.

Genya Safin - My second favorite character! Genya, as the Darkling's gift, used to be the servant to the Queen, and was treated so very terribly. She is much happier now, but still is living with the torture that the Darkling inflicted upon her.

David Kostyk - A very skilled Fabrikator who helped make things to hold amplifiers.

Tolya Yul-Bataar & Tamar Kir-Bataar - Twin Grishas who own my heart.

Isaak - The common boy solider who is impersonating Nikolai while he is away! (I fell so in love with this new character so easily, truly!)

Nina Zenik - Heartrender (of the Corporalki order) who used to be a part of the Dregs in Six of Crows! Now on a top secret mission, that is about to be jeopardized because of new information! Also, she is on a mission for herself to finally lay someone to rest at home.

Hanne - Fjerdan who Nina meets and instantly feels connected with. Hanne is just trying to live in a world where every opportunity has been taken from her because she is a daughter and not a son.

Leoni & Adrik - both are Grishas who are accompanying Nina on her new mission!

Yuri - A monk who is with Nikolai and Zoya, who is also one of the leaders of Cult of the Starless, who worship the Darkling.

Nikolai Lantsov - The current King of Ravka, who is expected to marry and produce an heir because so many foes are looking to overtake him. But he is dealing with the torture that the Darkling has left in his body.

“A handsome monster husband who put a crown on her head? It’s a perfect fairy tale to sell to some starry-eyed girl. She can lock you in at night and kiss you sweetly in the morning, and Ravka will be secure.”

Nikolai’s monster is something that no one really knows how to control, but he is constantly being drawn to The Shadow Fold, which was the breeding ground of unspeakable shadow horrors and where the Darkling harnessed so very much of his immense power. We are also introduced to three new characters that I’m not going to really talk about because of spoilers, but they were amazing. I loved learning more about amplifiers, since there are so few people who have had them in this world and seeing the power that they bring is pretty intense and such a cool development in this story. Again, without saying too much, I loved all the scenes involving The Fold.

“We are all connected, King Nikolai. The Grisha, the Fold, the power inside you. The Fold is a wound that may never heal. But perhaps it was not meant to.”

But chapter twenty-five is the best chapter in this entire book, and that’s because Zoya is the best character in this book. Like, I get that it is called King of Scars, but this book was way more about Zoya and her beautiful story and everything that she has overcome than Nikolai’s. Especially since this book also spends half of the time focusing on Nina and what she is up to on her mission, I just feel like this is not Nikolai's book; it was half Zoya’s and half Nina’s. Which is fine, I’m not saying I disliked that, I just feel like it was a weird flex because going in you expect it to be all things Nikolai and it really couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, it really doesn’t feel like his character progressed all that much either, where Zoya and Nina both had tremendously big events happen that will alter their future and the very future of Ravka.

Okay, but now I’m going to say the thing that’s probably going to make you all dislike this review, but I don’t really ship Nikolai and Zoya together. Like, I think the story would have been way more powerful if they were just friends. But this weird romance is laced throughout the story, even though there is no confirmation or reward or actual romance, it just felt weird to read. Especially with that annoying ending. I don’t know, I just really don’t ship them together, yet, but I probably will eventually. And I totally would have shipped them if we would have gotten more of them actually starting a romance instead of us just being like, “okay, yeah, this is totally the direction that Leigh is leading us!” Plus, that ending? I really don't want another unnecessary love triangle.

And I want this review to be spoiler free, so I’m not going to go into details, but you’re either going to love or hate the ending. And, friends, I for sure hated it. One of my favorite things in literature is when a spin-off series comes out, and the overarching threat is the ramifications of the what happened to that book’s conclusion and/or villain. Having a cult that views the Darkling as a saint and worships him? That was the setup of my dreams, friends. And the ending just felt like such a cop-out and made me so angry and it really left such a disappointing taste in my mouth.

“All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes for another kind of flame.”

Overall, I just didn’t love this the way that I truly anticipated that I would! Maybe I hyped it too much? Maybe I shouldn’t have reread The Wicked King right before starting this? Maybe I’m just being salty over the Darkling? I don’t know, friends, but this let me down. I am highly anticipating what will come with the next book, and I hope to have a much higher rating and happier review! Also, Ninth House is going to be everything and I still cannot wait for that 2019 release!

Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch

Content and trigger warnings for drug addiction, loss of a loved one, grief depiction, captivity, slavery, implied past sexual assault (numerous times & numerous characters), torture, bullying, fatphobic comments (always in a negative light), mention of past death of a baby, attempted pedophilia, suicide, and war themes.

1.) Shadow and Bone ★★★★★
2.) Siege and Storm ★★★
3.) Ruin and Rising ★★

1.) Six of Crows ★★★★
2.) Crooked Kingdom ★★★★★

*.) The Language of Thorns ★★★★★
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 11, 2022
Oh, this was superb.

King of Scars is definitely a different beast from the Six of Crows duology. It's told on a much less heroic scale, with the plot coming quite late as we gradually come to notice the various strings Bardugo is pulling through the frame. All the dispersed fragments slowly assembling into a whole picture.

This is not really a book of spills and thrills, but its biggest triumph lies in its deep undercurrents, in the attention and care that Bardugo pours into her characters—into their failures, their successes, their responses to trauma, threat, and uncertainty. Bardugo breathes vivid life into each one of her characters, and lays open their hearts to the reader. As a result, there's a devastating sense throughout that the characters are being stripped down to their essence, revealed in all their glassy fragility and heart-felt vulnerability.

King of Scars is mostly told from three different perspectives: Nikolai's, Zoya's and Nina's. And I want to talk about each one of them.

Why did it matter to him what became of Ravka? Broken, needy, frustrating Ravka. The grand lady. The crying child. The drowning man who would drag you under rather than be saved. This country that took so much and gave nothing back. Maybe because he knew that he and his country were the same.

Nikolai Lantsov definitely steals the show. He is an intensely fascinating character: a prince and a bastard who clawed his way into being king, knowing his throne would be built on a foundation of quicksand, and wanted so desperately to serve his country. And in this novel, Bardugo asks: what happens to such a man in this version of the world in which he suddenly becomes hero and monster in one?

Well, a lot of things. In many ways, King of Scars is the story of Nikolai confronting the worst aspects of himself, both figuratively and in an unsettlingly literal sort of way. Gone is the man we meet in the Grisha trilogy who wore everything on the inside and showed no hint of anything but exuberant charm on the outside. In this book, we see past the charming royal to the scarred king, exhausted beyond measure, fighting against the windmills of adversity in a battle he keeps insisting to fight alone. We see the man who might have filled the place at the center of himself with the answer to who he was since he’d become king, but who had lost everything else. We see Nikolai Lantsov—really see him—past his arsenal of horrors to the dark, terrible thing sheltered inside him.

There was something so startlingly recognizable about Nikolai’s inner battles that I was still turning over and over in my head when my best friend—with whom I read this book—called it “a lowkey metaphor for depression”, and a light bulb went up in my mind. I realized then that the only difference is that Nikolai’s darkness took the shape of a demon, flame-eyed and huge. A monster Nikolai do nothing but make war with—war with this inexplicable thing, war with this monstrosity seething within him. Nothing less but war. Every single day.

Chapter 30, in particular, made my heart ache. We read as Nikolai engages in a conversation with the demon that’s taken hold inside him and there was this moment when he knew, with sudden, stark clarity, that the vicious words the monster hurled at him did not come from it; they came from him, from Nikolai’s own innermost self, guilt-poisoned, anxiety-tortured, and fear-ravaged. The fear that had been with Nikolai ever since he had words to put around it: that he would never be enough, that he would fail, that the country he loved without respite would never love him back, that he was nothing more than a leftover piece of something broken. It was incredibly emotional to witness as Nikolai’s thoughts curved and rose, slowly widening, until Nikolai, emboldened by the simple realization that “ he would never, ever turn his back on a wounded man—even if that man was him ”, finds the strength to not dissolve into the terrible weight of the voice inside his head. That line still strikes such a deep chord inside me. That single truth, bruised and flayed and freely given, contains immeasurable solace, and is, I believe, at the core of Nikolai’s character.

Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal.

Bardugo also doesn’t shy away from the equally wounding realities of those who have been hurt and abused by the Darkling, and one of them is Zoya.

Zoya was a weapon in the Darkling’s grip, a tool of vengeance, and a sop to his pride. She, like many others, was as clay in his hands, to be shaped into the obedient form he desired. The Darkling, like all abusers, had particularly relished destroying all Zoya's faculties for trust and love until they were so tangled with shame and hatred and guilt that she hardly knew one from the other. But Zoya survived her abuser, and just when she thought she could finally begin the process of healing, a wretched reality comes at her: the Darkling's followers built a monument to his crimes—the crimes Zoya had been made to endure—and declared him a saintly, misunderstood soul. His violence was rewarded with exultation, with remembrance, while Zoya’s suffering was met with cold indifference. "Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not? Who will speak for me?" Zoya chillingly asks at one point.

In this novel, there's an ocean's distance between the girl we meet—and not entirely warm up to—in The Grisha Trilogy and the woman Zoya becomes in the wake of tragedy. It's hard not to feel devastated by the careful distances Zoya kept from herself and the rest of world; particularly from herself and Nikolai. I lived for those fragile moments between the two of them, full of the unspoken longings that bind people who were hurting in open sight of each other instead of with each other. I'm looking forward to more moment between them in the next book.

Finally, no review of this book will be completely without a mention of the queen of my heart: Nina Zenik. First of all, Crooked Kingdom’s ending broke me and King of Scars returned me to the sharp angles of that pain within the first few pages. Nina Zenik is still the same Nina—and she isn’t. She is still the fiercely alive Nina whose heart always beat on the edge, but it's quickly clear to the reader that the sunnier parts of her are still painfully lodged in the creases of her first heartbreak. Nina has been through so much, and everything she did in this book, she did through a haze of trauma. I genuinely had to take breaks from reading her chapters because the way Bardugo writes about the enormity of grief and how even softest-hearted people can become unrecognizable in the aftermath of loss is so devastating. I really hope we get to see Nina have some closure in future books.

In short, this was a really good read and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel!
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.5k followers
January 27, 2022
The more time that passes...the more I realize that I did not and do not care about this book.

I was excited for it, for no real reason. Not only did I not finish the Grisha trilogy, I DNFed the second book (one of maybe 7 times I have ever ever done that in my whole life). I actually could not even force myself through it.

I had a passing interest in Nikolai, but that’s mostly because everyone on the internet screams about him and there are VERY few things I love more than jumping on a bandwagon. I wanna be one of the cool kids, you guys!!! Let me sit at the popular table!! I can be into the same things you’re into!!!

Here’s the issue. The thing that makes Nikolai a good character in the Grisha trilogy is his sassy side-character energy. He doesn’t have to have a real Serious Character Development Arc, because he’s there to be fun and snarky and a royal roguish pirate. (What a combination. So good on paper.)

But then you give him a whole duology and we have to careee about his internal monologueeee. We have to want to know how he feels and why and what Tragic Thing In His Past That Is Always Dad-Related is making him act the way he is.

I don’t care about why sassy side characters are sassy. I just need the sass to propel me through a five hundred page high fantasy plotline I only sparingly care about.

That’s the issue with this whole book. It’s an elaborate plot that takes about 250 pages or so to find itself and figure out what the hell is going on, and then it gets weirder and more confusing but no more interesting or fast-paced. It’s like 500 pages of world building for a world we already know.

It is difficult to care about this. It is even more difficult when you do not care about a single one of the characters.

I have high standards for Leigh Bardugo characters. Maybe that isn’t fair. I definitely didn’t give two sh*ts about a single person in the whole Grisha-trilogy Grishaverse, and in fact craved a brutal death for each and every one of them so I could a) be rescued from the crushing monotony of their bratty thoughts and feelings and b) actually be interested due to there being a single action-packed or exciting moment.

But I DID love Six of Crows. Oh, god, did I love that gang. Well really I loved like three of them, which is approximately a 50% success rate, which is a failing grade. But for ME, that’s an A++++. Because never do I ever like three characters in one book.


I didn’t like any of them in this one, so.

There are like a million characters in this book who are given traits and characterization, by which I mean maybe 10 or 15, but they all still feel so boring. None of them are my cup of tea. If any of them fell off a cliff at any given point in this book or the next, my reaction would be “Okay. Fine.” Not even mild surprise. Just acceptance.

Because, to reiterate, I did not care about this book, I did not care about its plot, and I did not care about a single character.

And yes, I’ll read the next book.

Bottom line: I D O N ’ T C A R E.

But I’ll try to.


this book has left me a shell of the person i used to be.

review to come / 2.5 stars

currently-reading updates

yes i am reading this book and no i haven't read the grisha trilogy. it's called living on the edge you should try it sometime

tbr review

me: yeah nikolai is ok i guess but the grisha books are garbàge

leigh bardugo: *announces nikolai duology*

me instantly:
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,963 reviews294k followers
February 4, 2019
He straightened the lapels of his velvet coat and winked.
“It’s not exciting if nothing can go wrong.”

I feel really disappointed that King of Scars - one of my most anticipated books of 2019 - was only a 3-star read for me.

I'm not sure if I'm being harsh or generous, honestly. It wasn't a bad book. Bardugo keeps growing as a writer and she especially shines with her dialogue. I liked the characters and relationship dynamics; I loved the funny, snarky conversations; I just felt like this book was so slow in parts. 500 pages is on the heftier side for a YA book, and I felt the drag of most of them.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are great books, in my opinion. I love the heisting and shenanigans. I think they're really tightly-plotted and I can 100% understand what I'm reading for. Here, the plot meandered. Nikolai's efforts to rid himself of his monster seemed to get lost somewhere, and Nina's mission to find grisha felt open-ended and directionless (it reminded me of Mare's journey in Glass Sword, which I really disliked).

There's a real lack of focus for a lot of this book. Romance is minimal, which is usually a good thing, but here it might have added a much-needed hook. I didn't feel like either Nikolai's or Nina's stories provided a significant conflict or mystery until the very end. I was also bored by Isaak's chapters.

I started King of Scars on such a high, convinced I would love it. 100 pages in I made a note saying "not much has happened". 200 pages in I made another note saying "lots of Grishaverse recap and flashbacks; little plot progression". It's a very long time until the story really goes anywhere.

This all sounds really negative, but it was saved somewhat by how much I enjoy this world and the characters. Zoya is especially interesting. Unlike some, I quite liked the ending, and I'm intrigued by the possible romantic directions the sequels could take. If only this book didn't feel like one very long prologue.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
June 28, 2020
tea got spilled
facts got spoken
we're all shook now
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
662 reviews3,888 followers
March 30, 2021
reread 2021: the amount of lukewarm reviews on this book will never not shock me since I think it's Leigh Bardugo's strongest work thematically (or at least closely tied with Crooked Kingdom). Don't care what anyone says, it's good. I go more in-depth in my original review but this books depictions of grief and suffering are so powerful. the discussion about, women, violence, power and the cost of war are really well done. Nina, Nikolai and especially Zoya's character arcs are really well drawn out. The below quote re Zoya will never not make me sob, to be honest

Zoya of the lost city, Zoya of the garden, Zoya bleeding in the snow. You are strong enough to survive the fall

I just think this is a book with so many powerful scenes and that's enough for me even if it has some clunky moments and pacing issues at times

original review

“Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal. Maybe because he knew he and his country were the same”


“It was angry, hungry, full of broken animal longing. Though Nikolai might not like it, those things were all a part of him still. Like calls to like."

Fair Warning this review is going to have a million quotes because this book was written SO BEAUTIFULLY and Leigh ... please lend me an OUNCE of your talent

I think anyone who is in the YA book community knows just how big a deal this book getting announced was. Every single update on Goodreads was people adding or talking about it, twitter was going off and speculation and theory videos kept on popping up as more and more info got announced. I was 100% a part of this hype. Crooked Kingdom was one of the best books I ever read, and that entire duology owns my heart. I also actually really enjoyed The Grisha Trilogy, for its political intrigue, expansive world, and interesting character who still inspire debate in the community even now. Needless to say, I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book for quite some time. And it kind of failed to live up to my expectations? But it also way surpassed them in some regards?

King of Scars splits perspective between three main characters – Zoya, Nina and Nikolai. (There is also other perspectives, but I cannot say much without spoiling). We follow each after the events of Crooked Kingdom. Nikolai and Zoya are trying to protect Ravka from threat from their bordering nations, and rally the Grisha to support their country. Nina is living in Fjerda, under the kings orders to find and protect Grisha, but also to fulfil her promise to Matthias to bury him back in his homeland.

For me, the first part of King of Scars was much stronger than the second. The focus on politics in the first half was something I really enjoyed. It had the same feel as Grisha, but on a more international scale. I enjoyed that Bardugo kept up the intricacies of international politics established in Six of Crows, but brought back original trilogy influences, such as the power the church has within state affairs, and Nikolai’s precarious position as ruler due to his family lineage. The political games and Nikolai trying to control the trajectory of Ravka, when faced with great outside threat, was easily my favourite aspect of this book. If you enjoyed the original trilogy for its political intrigue I think you will definitely like this.

Nina’s chapters in this were my favourites, which I am shocked is apparently an unpopular opinion. I don’t want to say too much because you can’t without getting into the spoilery realms, but her role and what she was up to, especially in the second half, WAS THE BEST. In Six of Crows, Nina talks a lot about being a soldier and a nationalist and her love for Ravka and I think we saw that here. I want even more in book 2.

“Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”

Lets talk about characters! I actually really enjoyed all three perspectives here. Nina, as mentioned, was a joy, and while she wasn’t one of my favourite perspectives in Six of Crows, she really won me over in this.

Nikolai and Zoya were both enjoyable too. I have seen criticism that this book didn’t have Nikolai in it that much and I don’t agree? I think he was in it quite a bit, although his perspectives were perhaps the weakest. Although he was fun to follow, and I love him so much, AND HE IS STYLISH AND FUNNY AS EVER, I also felt we learnt a lot about him. His character was definitely given a depth that wasn't there before, and I think his inner turmoil regarding Ravka, and how he came to identify with Ravka as a solider constntly at war, was a really interesting development for him. And definitely added a complexity to his character and his role as a king. But even though I did enjoy his arc overall, and I loved following him, but it didn’t hit as hard for me as Nina and Zoya’s perspective. I think Zoya especially just had such a strong voice in this, and it definitely seemed to overshadow Nikolai at times.

Despite that, I'm not mad about it at all. I think Zoya has such a strong narrative in this book it doesn’t matter if Nikolai’s fell down a little. She was one of my favourite Grisha characters and I found her backstory really interesting. It was so nice to have her perspective on the Civil War and to see her relationship with Nikolai. Although I really like Nikolai, I was more interested in getting back in this world then seeing him particularly, so for me this book still worked though if you’re a die hard Nikolai fan, I can see why it might not as much.

There was also some romance things going on which … I am going to talk about those more in my discussion.

"Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not? Who will speak for me?"

One final thing want to mention, that I LOVED, before we get into some issues was the theming and discussions around agency and what makes a villain. King of Scars looks a lot at the repercussions of war, and how The Darkling impacted each characters life. The focus on how the state and states at war treat women as expendable, and how each characters trauma is dismissed was something I really enjoyed. Zoya’s quest to reclaim and hold on to her agency, and Nina’s quest to give voice to victims was something I REALLY LOVED and haven’t seen many people talk about much!

“Lay down the thorn, boy king. Haven’t you earned a bit of rest? Aren’t you tired?'

He was. Saints, he was. He thought he had grown used to his scars, but he had never grasped how much of his will it would take to hide them. He had fought and sacrificed and bled. He had gone long days without rest and long nights without comfort. All for Ravka, all for an ideal he would never attain and a country that would never care.”

Okay lets get into the issues – which for me was the plot pretty much the entire way through part two (excluding Nina’s chapters) I just .. didn’t like it. For me the plot became kind of too outlandish, and I felt the ending was definitely rushed. The careful set up, and the way Leigh Bardugo had seemed to plot things out with precision really fell apart for me. I found everything that happened with the world a bit too wacky. I also .. HATED .. the ending. I cannot say what happened without spoiling, but it is one of my most hated tropes ever and I am SICK of books doing it. So while I felt I should have been more excited for the sequel, now I’m kinda just worried. I also think the ending does such a disservice to some of her previous works. I am going to go much more into depth on this in my discussion, so stay tuned!

Overall, King of Scars definitely delivered what I was looking for in the majority of the book. It was so nice to get back into the Grisha world and catch up with these characters who we haven’t really seen in a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed Nina’s plot, and the focus on dealing with the consequences of the civil war that destroyed Ravka. Leigh Bardugo is a really strong YA fantasy author, and I think I will always enjoy her works. However, part two did fall apart a bit for me, and the ending was .. something I hate. So that definitely detracted from the enjoyment for me. Overall, though, I found this extremely enjoyable, and had all the hallmarks of a Bardugo book I love: strong characters, great worldbuilding, excellent political intrigue and lush writing that sucks me right into the world.

“She wished she had Inej’s gift for spywork or Kaz’s gift for scheming, but she only seemed to have Jesper’s gift for bad decisions.”

Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
593 reviews3,540 followers
June 22, 2021
“Lesser animals whined and struggled when they’d been caught in a snare. The fox found a way out.”

I clambered for this book. I read the preview chapters the instant they came out and raged when my Book Depository preorder didn't arrive on the release day. (Y U do this to me every time, BD? I thought we were tight.)

Just a note: this book is not very accessible to readers new to the Grishaverse. I guarantee you’ll be confused. Six of Crows was accessible because it featured a new location and entirely new characters. King of Scars has lots of references to previous series.

If I had to sum up King of Scars in a single-word, it would be meandering. Six of Crows is superb, suspenseful tight plotting. King of Scars feels underconceptualized, as if Bardugo simply wanted to write a book about Nikolai, but didn't have enough meat for a fully realized plot.

Nikolai's chapters were actually underwhelming. The humor I fell in love with back in the original trilogy didn't land nearly as well, and his character arc, though satisfying, seems typical and one-note. With that being said, I did enjoy learning more about his past. We see him grow from idolizing Vasily to realizing his brother is not the king Ravka needs. He befriends a common soldier on the front and that shapes him into the kind, witty privateer Alina meets.

It is Zoya who really steals the show. I maintain she was originally was meant to be a two-dimensional Mean Girl, but Bardugo does a fine job in adding depth to her character without making it appear forced. Her petty cruelty in Shadow & Bone is explained by her being young and arrogant and a desire to test her beauty on men. We all do stupid things when we're teenagers. Coming back to Zoya a few years later feels right, like rereading your old fanfiction bio (*shudders*) and comparing it to the person you are now. We also get a more concrete reason for why Zoya abandoned the Darkling to side with Alina back. Her character arc is beautiful and far more potent than Nikolai's imo.

Nina's a bit of an outlier here. She's deep undercover in Fjerda with Adrik and Leoni (the Grisha girl Jesper's mom saved). She's still grieving for Matthias and I admit I slightly teared up when Nina finally lays his body to rest. My main complaint is that her primary character development is letting Matthias go and we already knew that was going to happen at the end of Crooked Kingdom. Most of what happens during her chapters is simply a long extension of stuff that seems given with minimum surprises.

There's a fourth POV character called Isaak too. I won't say too much about his role in the book except I enjoyed his storyline the most next to Zoya’s.

The ending was infuriating. That's all I'll say.

I'll still read the sequel, of course, because it seems like all the pieces have finally moved into place by the end and we'll get finally get that sweet, sweet Six of Crows-esqe action. But Nikolai, my darling, you have let me down.

My review of Rule of Wolves
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews113k followers
April 8, 2019
I came into this with low expectations so I was pleasantly surprised that this book turned out to be a pretty solid spin-off. The central characters (Nikolai, Zoya, Nina) are much more compelling to read compared to how they were portrayed in the previous books - that includes Nina, whose story arc is much stronger. Bardugo continues her pattern of endearing characters and sharp dialogue. My main critique is that the book feels disconnected between Nikolai and Zoya VS Nina; it reads like two separate stories that are mashed together in one book, and therefore isn't as cohesive. I do think both stories are solid on their own though and assume that there will be more overlap in the next book. Not rating this 5 stars because it's not as addictive and charming as the Six of Crows duology and I don't find myself still thinking about it after I've finished, but I still enjoyed reading this.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
October 27, 2020
“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”

Do you remember holding this book in your hands for the first time, trying not to ruin the glossy golden cover with your unworthy, smudgy fingers while you're shaking from anticipation?

Well, I do. Which is why it surprised me that it took me a few chapters until I started enjoying myself. But when I did, it was a glorious experience. I was captivated by the political games, the intrigues, the miracles and mysteries of the Grishaverse. I enjoyed Zoya's and Nikolai's banter, but my favourite chapters were definitely Nina's. Her journey through the north and her mission to uncover the dark secrets of that little Fjerdan town kept me on my toes. It felt like one of those spy novels where the protagonist is left alone in a wintery and bitter cold alpine region, only to discover that some monstrous war machine is secretly being developed in a hollow mountain. I loved every second of it. It felt dangerous and exciting.

Overall, the writing style, plot twist and world building are on such a high level that I couldn't not give 5 stars. But that doesn't mean that this book was flawless. There are a few things that bothered me and the first one is one of my most hated tropes - spoilers ahead:
1. Reviving the already defeated - and killed! - antagonist. I mean, how would you feel if Voldemort suddenly returned? Or how DID you feel when Harry's scar started itching again in Cursed Child? (Not that Cursed Child is anything but fanfiction. I refuse to see it as a sequel.)
It's a cheap trick. It's lazy. You couldn't create a better enemy so you just take the dead guy and give him a new wardrobe. Not with me. What makes it even cheaper is that it's the obvious and lazy thing to do. Honestly, I don't understand why you all swoon over the Darkling, and I'm sure you love that he's back, but Leigh, you can do better than that.
2. There is too much going on. Part II of the books was filled to the brink with magic and plot twist. And it was just a tiny bit too much for me to be entirely realistic. On the one hand, because of what I said in 1., on the other hand, because if there is so much that you cannot see coming, it loses its credibility. So when that female Saint whose name I already forgot turned out to be the big baddie I didn't buy it. And when Zoya and that other Saint whose name I also forgot "killed" each other to create a new amplifier, it seemed somewhat overdramatic.
3. Initially, I didn't even think of this criticism, but when a friend mentioned to me that he wonders why the book is called King of Scars when Zoya's and Nina's POV overshadow Nikolai's, I couldn't help but agree. Moreover, Nikolai's chapters seem somewhat...unneccesary compared to Zoya's. While Nina is somewhere in Fjerda, Nikolai and Zoya are almost always in the same place at the same time, basically telling the same story.

Now that I got that off my chest, let me just say that I am really looking forward to the sequel. I would love to find out more about the Shu and their kingdom. I also just want to see Jarl Brum destroyed once and for all. And I cannot wait for the title and cover reveal. I hope we get them soon.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
283 reviews506 followers
May 19, 2021
“What’s more romantic than goggles?”
"Constant anxiety does wonders for the complexion."

If I'm being honest with this review, I have to start by declaring that this is biased. I've come to love this world, and all characters in it, which makes it impossible to make an objective review anymore. How could one not be biased? You have some of the best characters from both S&B and SoC, and inherits Bardugo's beautiful writing style while maintaining connections to S&B and SoC.

“Speak, Nazyalensky. When you purse your lips like that, you look like you’ve made love to a lemon.”
"Do shut up, Your Highness.”

For the first time in Grishaverse, the story proceeds along two seemingly independent plot lines. On one hand, we have Nikolai and Zoya continuing along what I thought the King of Scars was all about, while Nina is moving along her her own journey with Adrik and Leoni. Both plot-lines are quite entertaining. Nina's part of the story shared some similarity to SoC - a lot of mystery and only a little magic, while Zoya and Nikolai's adventure is the complete opposite. Though Nikolai's part was certainly more eventful (not to mention having two POVs), I liked the Nina's one better, which was full of mystery. For the first half of the book they were equally matched, but what followed for Nikolai and Zoya afterwards wasn't something I was particularly fond of. It wasn't bad or boring or anything, but it did feel like a cartoon for a while. In the first part, Nina's character was full of sorrow, which was to be expected given how Crooked Kingdom ended. Though it was disheartening, it felt complete at last, being able to give a proper goodbye to Matthias. I would've preferred to see another POV from Nina's side as it felt a little unbalanced at times.

"Do that thing you do where you use too many words to say something simple and confuse the issue.”

If you're new to this universe, it's best not to start with KoS. But chances are, you've read at least one of S&B or SoC previously, which would also mean that majority of the readers are probably in love with the character already. And they only get better, and complicated here. Nikolai and Nina used to be my favorites, but Zoya kind of surpassed them both in KoS: If you didn't like her before, KoS is going to change that. We get to know what is behind that steel exterior, and even understand the reasons behind her actions in Ruin & Rising. If her character was lacking in any way by the end of S&B trilogy, Bardugo does more than enough here to make her one of the best characters in Grishaverse. I wondered - more than once - whether this story was more about Zoya, instead of Nikolai.

"if you loved a thing, the work was never done."

When compared to S&B, everything from writing to world building to character building had improved significantly. However, for me, Kerch with Kaz and the gang was still superior. But overall, this is a nicely balanced story with plenty of mystery, humor, suspense, politics, magic, and contains more than enough twists. May be there's not much romance, but I've got no complaints about that.

“It’s not exciting if nothing can go wrong.”

But the highlight of the book was stolen by that flabbergasting ending. Well, I did not see that one coming! It was like the author changed her mind during the last two pages, and decided to drop a nuclear bomb. I mean, come on... The unforgiving cliffhanger notwithstanding, it didn't make much sense. Had the ending been a little more satisfying, I would've rounded up what should've been a 4.5-stars to 5! But the good thing is, I already have The Rule of Wolves with me, and if history is any indication, Bardugo never fails to deliver the best ending possible in the last book of a series.

"Little red bird, let me go." - "Goodbye, Matthias."

Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
February 3, 2019
im sorry, the old nikolai cant come to the phone right now. why? oh, ‘cause hes dead.

I. AM. SHOOK. that glow up tho, amirite?!

nikolai lantsov. sturmhond. king of scars.
privateer and boy king.
remember who you are.
you are destined for greatness.
long live the one true king.

5 stars
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,468 reviews9,630 followers
April 8, 2021
Reread 2021

Okay, wait!!! That ending ..................................................................................

This book was so freaking awesome and some sad and a good bit of OMG! I do have the hardback but switched to the Audible I have as well and the narration was great!! I’m not going to go on and on as I don’t any more, I just want to say I loved it!

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
532 reviews34.5k followers
May 15, 2021
”I’d like nothing better than another opportunity to talk,” said Nikolai. “But I’m afraid I have more bad news.”
Genya slumped in her chair. “There’s more?”
“This is Ravka,” said Zoya. “There’s always more.”

I swear this quote is SUCH. A. MOOD!!! *lol* The entire book is nothing but bad news and well, yeah this is Ravka. There’s always more bad news to come. XD Leigh didn’t just nail it with those words; she also set the pace for this doulogy! To be honest I had no idea this was going to be a doulogy and after finishing “King of Scars” I have absolutely no clue how she wants to wrap this all up. There are so many things that need to be addressed and the mere idea of facing them all in the next book is already making me look like a copy of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. (Which is one of my favourite paintings btw ;-P)

Still, I trust Leigh and I know she’ll write a phenomenal sequel. She did with “Crooked Kingdom” and I have no doubt that she’ll do it with “Rule of Wolves” as well. This said, the pacing of this book was kind of surprising. I mean I certainly didn’t expect it to be so slow at the beginning. There was a lot of information we needed to get in order to understand the current situation of Ravka and to say it’s precarious wouldn’t even get close to the truth. I guess if you’d just say that they are screwed you’d strike home. *lol*

So yes, there’s a lot of build-up and all the new players are introduced and evenly spread on the chessboard. I think in a lot of ways this was a very serious book and even though Zoya’s and Nikolai’s banter was one of the highlights in “King of Scars” there were a lot of severe moments that ultimately forced our beloved characters to grow. Which is always a good thing in my book! You know I’m a sucker for character arcs and to see Nina, Zoya and Nikolai work things out was more than just amazing. Before I spoil anything I better just head over to my character section and write it all off my chest! ;-)

The characters:

Welcome to Ravka where bad news are the standard and scary winged creatures turn into kings during the day! *lol* The good news is: There’s a lot to talk about! The bad news is that you’ll be spoiled like crazy if you continue to read. So whatever you do, keep in mind that it was your own choice! ;-)


”I���ll find a way. All his life, Nikolai had believed that. His will had been enough to shape not only his fate but his own identity. He had chosen what he wanted people to see – the obedient son, the feckless rogue, the able soldier, the confident politician. The monster threatened all of that.”

I know a lot of people said that Nikolai isn’t the charming Nikolai from the Grisha trilogy anymore and that they didn’t like this. In my opinion this was only realistic though. I mean how is he supposed to be his charming and carefree self if there is a monster living inside of him? He’s trying to save Ravka from hostile countries, he’s dealing with a lot of problems in his own country and he’s working really hard on uniting his people. And all this even though he turns into a monster at night. I can’t even imagine how exhausted he truly is. Yet he still keeps up appearances and gives Ravka his all. I love that about Nikolai. He’s a man of his people, his country always comes first and he’d do everything to protect his land and the people within it. So yes, Nikolai might not be as easy-going as he used to be but he has thousands of reasons to be the way he is. My poor boy deserves a break and whenever I read about how much he loves Ravka and how tired he is my heart broke for him. T_T Can we get a happy Nikolai in the next book, please?! <333

”Nikolai looked again at the old map of Ravka – violent, hopeless, unappeasable in its constant need. Ravka was his first love, an infatuation that had begun in his lonely boyhood and that had only deepened with age. Whatever it demanded, he knew he would give. He’d been reckless with this country he claimed to love, and he could no longer let his fear dictate Ravka’s future.”

”I think I can fix it,” he said at last. “I’ve always known Ravka is broken, and I’ve seen the way it breaks people in return. The wars never cease. The trouble never stops. But I can’t help believing that somehow, I’ll find a way to outsmart all of the kings who came before and set this country right.” He shook his head and laughed. “It is the height of arrogance.”

”Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal.


”She intended to find a way to protect Grisha throughout the world so no one would ever have to live in fear or hide their gifts again – a governing body with representatives from every nation to hold their countries accountable, a guarantee of rights and of punishment for anyone who tried to imprison or harm her kind.

I already said it in one of my updates and I’ll say it again: Zoya is like a good wine that gets better with time. She’s an acquired taste and I love her for it! *lol* I kinda lived and breathed for the little snippets we got about her life and her background story was truly heart-breaking. Liliyana sounded like such a great person and it’s so sad that she died when the Darkling expanded the Fold. Also I can’t believe her parents wanted to marry off Zoya at the tender age of 9!!! Like WTH is wrong with you people?! *GRRR* I’m really glad she managed to escape that marriage and became a Grisha instead. I never thought I’d grow so fond of her insulting tongue but haha she really grew on me in this one. Also OMG! Now that she has Juris’s power will she be able to turn into a dragon too?! Because damn it, I’d be so down for a Zoya dragon in the next book! XD That way she couldn’t just spit fire with her sharp tongue but actually well, you know, SPIT FIRE!!! *lol* I’m ready for it Leigh! Just bring it on! ;-)

”What will I do with this? Look at my old face?” said Liliyana. “Send it to your mother as a peace offering.”
“It’s a gift for you,” Zoya replied. “So you can look into it each morning and see the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.”

”But the Darkling saw me clearly even then. ‘Is that really what you wish to say?” he asked.”
Zoya pushed a dark strand of her hair behind her ear. “So I told him the truth. I put my chin up and said, ‘They can all hang. It was my blood in the snow.”


”Saints, she missed him. The ache of his absence felt like a hook lodged inside her heart. The hurt was always there, but in moments like these, it was as if someone had seized hold of the line and pulled.”

Ahhhhh!!! Nina was so savage in this! And I kinda liked it? XD What’s wrong with me? *lol* On the one hand Nina’s POV repeatedly ripped out my heart because the way her thoughts revolved around Matthias was just painful but on the other hand to see how strong she became also made me kind of proud? I mean Nina was always a very strong-willed character and did things her own way, but the Nina of “King of Scars” was on an entirely new level! I mean WOAH! The way she dealt with the Wellmother and basically everyone else who got in her way. Boy, that girl means business! Yet she’s still compassionate, gentle and kind. I think her experiences just made her a little more... I dunno ruthless? She knows none of the Fjerdans would show her mercy so she pays them back in kind. I’m very curious how she’ll develop and which kind of person she’ll be at the end of this duology. No matter what happens I’ll always love my Waffle Queen and that will never change! <3 (Also to everyone who watched “Shadow and Bone”: I loved Nina in there! I’m totally besotted with Netflix Nina. *lol*)

”Nina tucked two tiny quail eggs into her skirts in case Trassel had a taste for the finer things, and found herself wondering if they might finish with sugared almond cookies. One could plot violent espionage and still hope for dessert.”

”I told you I would pray for you,” said Nina as she closed the door and issued her final command to her soldiers: Give her the mercy she deserves.
Nina turned her back on the Wellmother’s screams.”

The Saints, Yuri and The Darkling:

”Most of us can hide our greatest hurts and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the pain isn’t there, that we are mad of scars instead of wounds. The hive does not grant me the luxury of that lie. I cannot go on this way. None of us can.”

Okay, I admit it: I never saw that plot line coming! Not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that Leigh would introduce us to living saints and that we’d actually get to know some of them more closely. So that caught me totally off guard. I didn’t like Yuri right from the beginning because he was your typical religious fanatic and well as it turned out to have him around was a big mistake. I knew something was up with Elizaveta but I would have never expected her to go that far! Like OMG! Why??!! Juris’s and Zoya’s friendship was great and Grigori kind of grew on me too. It’s a shame both of them had to die because Elizaveta wanted to resurrect the Darkling and I can’t believe... I CAN’T BELIEVE she actually succeeded! I swear: The Darkling in Yuri’s body at the ending was... THE. DEATH. OF. ME!!! I can’t even!!! No, no I can’t! I mean I love the Darkling but OH GOSH!!! I think I might need a little time to digest this. *lol*

”Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve.”

The relationships & ships:

Zoya & Nikolai:

Zoya batted Nikolai’s quaking hands away from his buttons and took up the work herself. Through the thin cotton, she could feel the chill the night had left on his skin.
“What an excellent valet you make,” he murmured. But she knew he hated submitting to these small attentions, hated that he was weak enough to require them.

I SHIP IT! Badly! I never thought I’d say this but Zoya and Nikolai are made for each other. They both know how to deal with court problems, they are strong and independent and they obviously have a soft spot for each other! <3 I loved the level of trust that is between them and they had so many little moments together. Their love is something that grows slowly like a delicate flower and I can’t wait for them to realize how much they mean to each other. Nikolai comparing her to a strong drink was everything! *lol* We all know Nikolai could handle her and I want them to kiss and confess their love for each other! Also their banter!!! It’s superior! I think Zoya might be exactly what Ravka needs and who knows, now that she’ll be some sort of saint people will probably accept her at his side? I really hope those two will have a HEA because they both deserve it! Nikolai needs a woman like Zoya and I’m convinced Zoya needs a man like Nikolai. So can they already kiss, please?! *lol*

”Zoya, say something spiteful.”
“Why?” she asked faintly.
“Because I’m fairly certain I’m hallucinating, and in my dreams you’re much nicer.”
“You’re an idiot, Nikolai.”
“Not your best work.”

”In that moment, he wished things might have been different. That he might not die tomorrow. That he could be led by his heart instead of duty.
Because Zoya was not kind and she was not easy.
But she was already a queen.”

”Of course I’ll come back,” he said. “I don’t trust anyone else to deliver my eulogy.”
A smile curled her lips. “You’ve written it already?”
“It’s very good. You’d be surprised how many synonyms there are for handsome.”
Zoya closed her eyes. She turned her face, letting her cheek rest against this palm. “Nikolai –“

Nina & Hanne:

”Nina studied her. There was something relentless in her features – the cheekbones sharp, the nose rigorously straight. Only the full thrust of her lips gave any hint of softness. It was a challenging face, stubborn in its lines. Beautiful.”

Mhmm... To be frank I don’t know how I feel about this new ship. I mean we all know I love a good f/f rep in my books and Nina deserves someone who will lover her the way she is. I’m just not sure that person is Hanne. I wasn’t convinced by their chemistry and it came out of nowhere. Like suddenly there is Hanne and Nina thinks she’s beautiful but she’s still grieving for Matthias so idk. *shrugs* And then she’s Jarl Brum’s child?! I mean I’m currently very fond of K-Dramas but Nina having a relationship with Brum’s child? I’ve a tough time imagining it. Guess only time will tell if I’ll be persuaded by this ship or not.

”If I had just been a boy. If I had been the son my father wanted ...”
Nina gripped Hanne’s shouders. “You are perfect, Hanne. That your father can’t value your strength speaks only to his weakness.”

Ehri & Isaak:

”A reasonable gambit, but not one I was prepared to make.”
He studied her. “Not when you could simply wait for a pensive king to amble by and find you looking like a painting in green silk with flower in your hair?” Her golden eyes shifted away guiltily. “How long were you waiting, hoping I might stroll by?”
She bit her lip. “Two hours and twelve minutes. Give or take.”

This was straight out of a Greek tragedy and I was really shook by this turn of events! Isaak grew on me and I really liked that boy and then BAM! Leigh killed him through Princess Ehri who wasn’t even Princess Ehri to begin with. They were both posing as someone they were not and actually fell in love. This love story was nothing but tragic and I’m still sad about it. They both deserved better and at another place and at another time they might have even been able to become lovers. T_T It’s so heart-breaking. It’s on the same level as Romeo and Juliet and ahhh my heart is still bleeding for those two. RIP Isaak! You did well, you were a great king and you could have been so much more! <333

She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “My only comfort is that you never could have been mine. But know that I would have gladly been yours.”
“Ehri,” he moaned as the world began to go dark.
“Not Ehri.”


“King of Scars” started out way more slowly than I thought it would, but the last couple of chapters totally made up for the slow beginning! My mind is still reeling from all those revelations and it might take a couple of days until I digested this ending. All told, I enjoyed this immensely and I can’t wait to dive into the next book. Now that the stage is set I expect an epic finale in “Rule of Wolves” and tell you what? I’m ready! ;-)
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
June 16, 2019
“If men were ashamed when they should be, they'd have no time for anything else.”

You guys all know that I am a total fan of this universe, but I'll be honest: I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I really didn't love Shadow and Bone - actually, I kind of hated it - and subsequent books only disappointed me more. It was only my love for Six of Crows that kept me a fan of this world. But guys, this is a leaps-and-bounds improvement on the Grisha in terms of everything: the sheer writing quality, the thought put into the plot, the character development. All in all, while this wasn't perfect, it was a worthy and entertaining entry into this world.
“All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes for another kind of flame.”

I have always been a total sucker for post-war storylines - the post-chaos world of Six of Crows was always incredibly compelling to me, and this was possibly even better. Nikolai and Zoya are attempting to pick the pieces of their country up, hanging on by a delicate thread, as meanwhile, Nina attempts to save as many Grisha as possible. It's a situation in which there is no grand rebellion to have, no grand war - only a slow attempt at progress towards a better future. And it is fascinating

And I absolutely loved how this book handled generational trauma. The people of Ravka have only ever had kings and dictators and each leader has been worse than the last. And it is the Grisha who have suffered most, in the second army, under the Darkling, in each moment. It is utterly horrifying to realize the truth of how much this has affected every one of these people. I think King of Scars does an excellent job discussing agency, and the way everyone is victimized when war and oppression ravage a country.

It's interesting - though the second half of this book is undoubtedly the faster one, I enjoyed my journey through the first half far more. The second half let me down, as we'll address later, but guys, the character development here is just so amazing. Notably, Leigh Bardugo has clearly hit her stride in third person pov - her ability to quickly craft interesting, developed, compelling leads cannot be overemphasized. King of Scars was, admittedly, pretty slow, but I had absolutely no trouble getting engaged, and it is all because of her character work. Here, we're following four leads:

Zoya, a Grisha general close to the king and attempting to work through her trauma.
Nikolai, the struggling but charismatic king of Ravka, who happens to be hiding a demon inside him.
Nina, a Grisha spy going home to bury her love in Fjerda, and maybe get in deeper along the way.
Isaak, the only "new" character, a soldier plucked from obscurity to impersonate the king.

(I also appreciated cameos by characters like Genya, David, Tamar, and Tolya; these four were some of my favorite characters in the original Grisha series, and I loved seeing them get involved.)
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.

Three of these four lead characters are written exceptionally well, but Zoya's character arc is just incredible. Zoya started off as a bit of a mean girl character in the Grisha trilogy - a bit part, albeit an interesting one. Yet here, she shows her badass side and her more vulnerable one.
He thought he had grown used to his scars, but he had never grasped how much of his will it would take to hide them.

Nikolai's fate in the Grisha is definitely left a bit open for more development, and trust me, despite not being the star, he gets some great progression. In the Grisha, Nikolai is left as a part-monster, something he and Zoya desperately wish to solve. And in many ways, he is an actual King of Scars: his emotional scars, and his physical ones. Seeing him work through these was one the best parts of the book. There's a detail involving a childhood friend of his that I thought was just so sad, and beautifully written, that I cried.
“Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.'”

Nina in this book does not have a huge arc - actually, I felt her plot was more of a setup for her role in book two. But I still really loved my time reading her chapters. Her arc surrounding mourning, and surrounding revenge, is exceptionally well-written, and her plotline is tense, with high stakes and several new side characters. I was not expecting to be obsessed with the fate of Fjerda in a post-parem world, but I really liked what was done here: the idea of Nina staying a soldier, a girl who has changed the fate of history remaining unknown, is so interesting. There’s a bit where Nina encounters a girl addicted to parem, and the raw echoing of her soul at that moment is just… so difficult and so well written. And I loved her two side characters, including Adric and Leoni (who was? saved? by Jesper’s mom?) There's also a line where she fondly talks of “that little bastard Kaz” and I laughed so hard I cried.

Isaak is the only character here who's new to the book, and I felt that though his storyline was incredibly interesting, Bardugo didn't do as great a job with giving us a reason to care about him. In sharp contrast with the other three, I felt more invested in his plot than in his character development.

I also, in a move surprising to both me and everyone else, really liked the romance. Nikolai and Zoya were an unexpected pairing, and yet... I love them? Their dynamic is so funny, most of the time, and then there are these little tender moments between the two that I absolutely love. Zoya is a character who does not trust in love, and seeing her consider letting someone back in was heartwrenching.

And I'm also shocked and disappointed to not have heard more about Nina and her very-slow-burning enemies-to-lovers dynamic with Hanne, a Fjerdan Grisha girl. Hanne is a super well-written character and I really liked getting to know her; I think this couple will get more development in book two, but even what they have here is amazing.

“We are all connected, King Nikolai. The Grisha, the Fold, the power inside you. The Fold is a wound that may never heal. But perhaps it was not meant to.”

Unfortunately, I found the second half of this book... disappointing. From around 60% on, I struggled to suspend my disbelief on Zoya and Nikolai's plotline; it felt like a very odd, reaching extension of the general Grisha magic system. Bardugo also utilizes in a couple of plot reveals about two hours before the end, involving characters Secretly Being Shady, that I thought were so incredibly obvious they were barely plot twists.

Nina's plotline, thankfully, was the best of the back half of the book. In contrast to my earlier comments, the plot reveals here were excellent, with well-done slow buildup; there are two specifically, one at the very end of the book, that I absolutely adored. I think Nina is going down a really dark path and I'm excited to see what happens next.

There is one ending reveal here that I think people are going to be very torn on, as it removes a very large repercussion of the Grisha trilogy. I, personally, can't decide how I felt about it. Possibly, this is because I was spoiled about this particular reveal and was expecting it to go down very differently; thus, I was pleasantly surprised by the actual manner of this twist. I just hope Leigh Bardugo knows what she's doing.

“A handsome monster husband who put a crown on her head? It’s a perfect fairy tale to sell to some starry-eyed girl. She can lock you in at night and kiss you sweetly in the morning, and Ravka will be secure.”

Anyway, I genuinely enjoyed this book. It was certainly slower, but there were some excellent elements here, especially in terms of character development. And though the ending was a little disappointing, I think it sets up an excellent sequel. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,011 reviews1,329 followers
May 9, 2019
By this point I am pretty sure Leigh is a Heartrender, because the pain I am feeling can not be caused by humans!

This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“The monster is me and I am the monster.”

🌟 Oh boy, it has been 3 months since I finished this and then went into a hiatus and here I am trying to remember how people actually write reviews. This may contain spoilers for the other books but I kept it spoiler free for the book itself

🌟 Leigh Bardugo is like a superstar in the writing world, she’s an auto-buy author for me and no introductions are needed when we are talking about her.
The writing was great as usual (Not as good as Six of Crows but I didn’t expect it to be anyway). I think Bardugo knows how to hit the right balance when writing, her books have the right amount of comedy, fights, drama and seriousness!

🌟 Let’s jump to the characters as I consider this mostly a character driven book. We have our golden boy Nikolai aka King of Scars. He was one of my favorite characters in the original trilogy and he retained what makes him…him!

“You’re late,” said Zoya. “I’m the king,” said Nikolai. “That means you’re early.”

🌟 Then we have Zoya who I also like, she’s the strong female protagonist that many people like in a story. She may actually be the main character in this story, I read this 3 months so my memory is a little bit rusty but I believe that she had more pages than the other character. I read a review mentioning her romance with Nikolai and I just was like: Really, was I supposed to ship them together? I felt that the chemistry between them is a little bit off.
Zoya grows a lot on this book and although some people wanted more Nikolai and less Zoya, I wasn’t bothered by this as I love both.

🌟 There is also Nina’s POV and depending on how long you have been following me you would know how much I love Nina. She’s still the same sassy powerful grisha she was. I also did not like the romance she was getting into. I mean, after what happened in CK, I think she needs more time to move on.

🌟 What about the plot?
The first half was slow and kind of hard to get into which may not be for all readers. The second part Bardugo snapped and I was having like double the entertainment I had in part 1.
Funny thing is that I expected the major twist (which I was not happy with) and did not expect a smaller twist that was good! After reading summaries of the original trilogy, I just knew where this was going.
I mean the good part of the plot is how realistic the story is if the Grishaverse was true but the bad part was how it affects major parts of the original trilogy just to satisfy fans which is a major pet peeve for me. I can see people separated into pleased or angry groups!

🌟Summary and Prescription: I enjoyed KoS as it had great writing and characters. I was not happy with the romance and ending. This is kind of hard to judge unless you give the book a chance so if you are a fan of Bardugo’s other books, you need to read this!
Profile Image for Cesar.
355 reviews235 followers
October 6, 2019
2 stars.

If you've been following me for a while, you would know I was excited to read King of Scars. I'll be honest, the Grishaverse has been sort of mixed for me. I liked Shadow and Bone, hated Seige and Storm, and really enjoyed Ruin and Rising (though not how it ended if you know what I'm talking about). Then I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and I loved them. In my opinion, Leigh's Six of Crows series is the best one out of all of them.

So, when she announced King of Scars, I was already sold on it. When Nikolai was introduced in Seige and Storm, I didn't really pay much attention to him but I remember liking him a lot in Ruin and Rising. When it was announced he was getting his own story, I wanted to read it so bad. Not to mention King of Scars would also have Zoya and Nina as main characters too. Everything leading up to the release sounded so good.

Then... I read the book.

Listen, I really, really, really, REALLY, wanted to enjoy it. I had high hopes for it only to be left disappointed. By the time I reached 100-pages, I knew I wouldn't enjoy it. But I kept telling myself that it may get better. That's how it is for most books; slow beginning but great middle and end. Except, I was still bored by the time I got to the middle and end.

King of Scars, in my own opinion, is Leigh's weakest book so far. I know that's a bold opinion, but that's how I feel. Which is really disappointing considering how I was so looking forward to reading King of Scars.

I also think that naming this the Nikolai duology is kind of misleading. As mentioned, this story does have the POV of Zoya and Nina so this isn't a Nikolai focused series. Which doesn't help because I was not a fan of Nikolai. More on that to come.

Not everything was negative though. The only thing that prevented me from giving this story a 1-star rating is Zoya. Zoya saved this book from being terrible. She is the diamond in the rough among all the coal. She is a strong character both in the physically (or magically) and internally. Though this is Nikolai's book, I feel that this was also Zoya's book as well. We get to know more about her and why she's the way she is. Though some of her chapters did drag on, I still think she's the best character out of everyone else.

Now, strap in folks, 'cause we're about to go into the negatives.

The pacing of the story was unbearably slow. There's such a thing as slow pacing and unnecessarily slow pacing. Slow pacing, while it can be a bit boring, adds in some stuff about the world and the people. It's slow, yes, but it gives the reader all the information they needed. Then there's unnecessarily slow where the pacing is slow for no reason other than to add in some useless information and sentences. I kid you not when I say a good hundred pages could've been left out.

And because of the slow pacing, it makes the political aspect of the story all the duller. Since Nikolai is the king of Ravka, he has a lot of things to do especially with two other countries who aren't friendly to Ravka. I do like when politics are in books so long as it's engaging and helps move the plot forward. But it wasn't the same in King of Scars.

The characters, other than Zoya, were watered down characters of what they were in the previous books. Specifically, Nikolai and Nina. They were lifeless and devoid of any warmth or development throughout the book. Nikolai was not the same Nikolai he was in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I thought I was reading a completely different character at times. He did not feel like Nikolai. Everything about him from the previous books was nowhere to be found and he was just dull and lacked the personality that made him who he is.

Then there's Nina. I'm just gonna say it since I'm being brutally honest with my review: Nina and her chapters were completely redundant. Again, another bold opinion. But I'm not holding back. Her character and chapters were nothing but disappointments. I get why she's in the story, especially after reading the Six of Crows series, but I was bored of not only her but her story as well. She wasn't the same Nina as she was before. I do understand why she's here, but I just didn't care for her. And her chapters were unnecessarily long.

Speaking of unnecessary and redundant, there's a character introduced in the second half of the story, Isaak and... who are you and why should I care about you? The second I saw the chapter with his name on it, I was kind of irritated. I had to go through over two hundred pages of slow pacing along with Nina's long chapters, and now we are introduced to another character. I did not care for Isaak. I skimmed most of his chapters because they were boring.

My final issue would be the transitions between different plotlines. There are three in total. Nikolai and Zoya dealing with strange things happening in Ravka. Nina doing undercover work in Fjerda. And Isaak doing something I can't explain without spoiling it. And they did not transition well with each other. Nina's could qualify as its own book/novella. I just didn't see the point in adding Nina's story along with Isaak. Yes, their placement in the story made sense. But the transitions weren't done right. Instead, we got a mishmash of plotlines.


I really am disappointed to give this a 2-star rating. There was so much to like about this book. But all I got were watered down characters, very slow pacing, bad transitions between stories, and some redundancy.

Will I read the sequel? Yes, but my expectations are going to be VERY low. I've learned my lesson.

The Grishaverse is an interesting universe. Is it perfect? No, but it does have its shining moments, especially in the Six of Crows series. It's just a shame King of Scars didn't live up to the hype.

Thanks for reading my review!

Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,074 followers
March 6, 2019
"I always figured I'd die young...why not do it shoving my foot up that murderer's ass."

That ending?!???!!! 😱😱😱

Actual rating 3.75 stars

I, as so many other goodreaders, was BEYOND excited when I heard this book was coming out, I ordered it from the library as soon as I could, and my hopes were sky high.

There are 4 POVs, so I'll review based on each character.

Isaak: I can't reveal too much of Isaak's POV because spoilers. But he is a guard in Nikolai's palace, and when his chance comes to serve Ravka, and to serve his King, he doesn't hesitate.

Nina: This was the POV I was most excited for. I ADORED Nina in SOC and CK. But for some reason, I found it really hard to connect to her in King of Scars. She is on a mission, with Leoni and Adrik in Fjerda to help Grisha prisoners and provide more soldiers to Ravka's cause. I guess it felt like her chapters were like a side adventure to the main plot going on, and I wasn't a fan of For me it felt waaaaay too soon, and it just felt like it was thrown in for the sake of it, not necessary at all to her story.

Zoya: Now I'll admit, I really didn't like Zoya in The Grisha Trilogy. She was mean, unnecessarily so imo, and therefore really hard to warm up to. But giving her a POV in this book really changed my view! We get to learn about her childhood and background, and also the way The Darkling completely screwed her over. So I ended up thinking that the front she puts on actually makes a lot of sense, and she became so much more understandable and relatable. Also at times just plain hilarious!

Nikolai: Last but ABSOLUTELY not least. I loved Nikolai's character in the Grisha Trilogy, maybe not as much as some of the superfans, but definitely a decent amount. The plot surrounding him was very interesting

I didn't love the ending. I will admit I was shocked by it, so that is something. But I guess I can admit I didn't entirely understand how it all worked.

The whole ending just came out of nowhere and bashed me in the face, I was a bit like, wait...what?

Overall entertaining and I loved being reunited with some of the characters, just a few minor gripes.


“Your library copy is ready for pick up"

Me - *runs to the library as fast as my little legs will carry me*
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.6k followers
Want to read
January 29, 2019
This just came out today!!

I can't wait to find out what happens to my favorite character... but apparently I have to be a reasonable adult and finish Crooked Kingdom first :/
Profile Image for ale ‧ ₊˚୨୧ ₊˚.
398 reviews1,827 followers
March 18, 2022
“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns”

My review might has some spoilers, watch out!

Read my long review here

This will be a review of me drooling over Nikolai fucking Lantsov and Zoya my queen Nazyalensky.

First of all, say that this book took me a while isn't enough. I first started King of Scars on March 31st, 2021. A whole fucking year. I put it on hold because I just couldn't move on from page 212. I was stucked there.

I love Nina, I swear I do. She's one of my favorite characters, but... What the fuck was this? Don't get me wrong, I was excited to see her grief process and everything and I cried so so so fucking much when she let go Matthias (my second fave boy ever after Nikolai) because it hurt me so bad in Crooked Kingdom. Leigh, I will never forgive you for this. But the moment Hanne stepped in, everything went to trash. I like Hanne, but since the first moment I knew who she was and who're gonna be endgame.

It pissed me off because I felt that Nina's grief was gone in 0.1 seconds. Idk if she stills thinking and grieving Matthias, I skipped her chapters and I'm not ashamed of it. If it hadn't been for that, I would have put this book again in my "on hold" shelf or dnf'd.

Once again, I love Nina, but her chapters were unbearable to me. :(

Zoya's development was great. She's been my favorite character for a while and knowing her background and story in a new level of depth was everything to me. Her friendship with Juris was really nice (tho a little bit short and rushed) and how they bonded. Zoya is a fucking badass, and, as Nikolai said, a queen.

Nikolai is the king of my heart (iykyk) and my everything. He's the main reason why I stopped liking the same dark haired and badboy dudes. I mean, they're okay, but a blond king, a charming and funny boy who's arrogant but sweet and romantic and a fucking gentleman who fight with his own demons? That's hot af and what drew me to him.

I was really really really in love with the Darkling when I first read Shadow and Bone (and Ben Barnes feeded my obsession, lol) and then I ended up ditching him when I met the handsome Nikolai Lantsov. Holy fuck, I fell for Nikolai really hard and at this day, my standards are really high just because of him.

Anyways, I'm rating this book 4 stars for the end of the book.

Overall, I feel like this book was like a big "what the fuck?" for me. What was that thing of bring back the Saints, Leigh? Juris and Grigori were okay, but Elizaveta? I should have known that the Darkling is still popular even after his death... My bad.

The fact that I didn't care much for the other characters says a lot of me. I love Genya, David, Tolya and Tamar, but they were just... there. I hope I'll get to see them more in RoW.

Unfortunately, I won't pick up Rule of Wolves anytime soon because I have tons of books that I'm currently reading haha, but I definitely will in a future.

previous review:
okay, i'm rating it 4 stars because of that ending.

holy fuck, i remember that i was really in love with that bastard, but nikolai is better anyways.

Profile Image for Samantha.
417 reviews16.7k followers
February 6, 2019
Oh. My. GOD.

I am also oddly conflicted in a way I never thought I’d be about this book. My star rating may change over the next few days. Right now, my heart wants to give it 4 but my brain says 3.5. So 3.75?! I have such doubts.

Review and discussion to come on my channel... obviously.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
840 reviews3,770 followers
May 12, 2021

Note : This review will contain spoilers for Ruin & Rising and Crooked Kingdom.

People might not believe me, but I love nothing more than being proved wrong, and today's revelation is: King of Scars is actually a solid YA novel whose exploration of grief, power and suffering pulled me in and I was wrong not to give it a chance sooner. 

Driven by a nostalgic streak awoken by watching the TV show, I started this novel with more spoilers than expectations - my only desire was to meet Nina, Zoya and Nikolai again. And during the first half, that's what I got. Plain and simple. Reading about the characters dear to my heart live their lives. Note that I'm not complaining : I know many readers grumbled about pacing issues and I definitely see where they're coming from. In the end however, I genuinely do not care if a fantasy novel isn't fast paced as long as I'm not bored, and I was too invested in Leigh Bardugo's gift at storytelling (and ZOYA) to be.

Some books are only the sum of their twists, and I think it's a gage of its quality that King of Scars is not. Even though I've known the ending since its release, it had no impact on my enjoyment.

Indeed my attention was captured almost instantly, even though I'll admit that the first half contains more planning than action. Yet there's something to be said about quiet fantasy novels that manage to worm their way into our heart by making us care deeply about their characters, and it was my experience with King of Scars : I loved getting glimpses of Zoya's childhood especially, and her friendship with Nikolai gave me life. So many scenes affected me, too : from Nina's grief to her fight for giving a voice to silenced women ; from Nikolai's easy banter to his inner doubts ; every one of these characters struggle with guilt, whether they have a reason to or not.

Above all, they evolve throughout the story, and I'm grateful for it because it would have been so easy for Leigh Bardugo to rest on her laurels. In my opinion she doesn't. She takes the risk to surprise - and annoy - her readers at times, and I respect that. The distance between adding layers to characters and making them act out of character is thin sometimes, but I believe that she navigated those dangerous waters with skill. It certainly drove home the message that war and loss change us in ways that we don't expect, and as I don't care for pro-war rhetoric, I was very on-board with that.

The second half proved excellent, and the way the threads were developed and weaved together made for a compelling - and so emotional at times - tale. I really don't care for that ending, but I knew it was coming, so. *shrugs* I've made peace with it.

I have a question, though : are the Darkling fanatics a metaphor for readers who can't accept that it's okay to stan a villain (I certainly did) without him being a love interest (ew, seriously, ew)? Probably not, but it amused me to believe that they were. That scene when Zoya remembers everything he did and is like, the fuck you stan him? was *chef's kiss*. I've seen reviews complaining that it was too much and disrespectful (????) to Darkling fans and honestly, it just makes me laugh. I've never hidden that he was my favorite character from the first trilogy, but what I'm not about to do is romanticize his behavior when he's been written as a villain so clearly from the very beginning. I understand feeling let down by Ruin & Rising ending - I certainly was, but I'm eager to reread it now that my feminism evolved and that I realized that it's fucked-up to resent women's choices, even if it doesn't align with what we perceive as powerful - but that doesn't excuse some of the appalling behavior I've seen all over goodreads and twitter. I mean, you do you. Just don't expect people to endorse you.

Bottom Line : Nina, Zoya and Nikolai's endings made me excited about reading Rule of Wolves, and I'm definitely going to do just that sometime in the next weeks.

CW :

For more of my reviews, please visit :
Profile Image for Sara.
369 reviews322 followers
September 27, 2020
I truly cannot get enough of these characters. I went in to King of Scars thinking that Nikolai would continue to be my favourite character but boy oh boy did Zoya sweep me off my feet. Zoya is one of those incredibly well written, strong female characters that you cant help but respect and admire. Zoya and Nikolai have excellent chemistry and even better banter.

This is definitely more of a slow burn plot but i really appreciated that and enjoyed the deeper exploration of the magic system. I also really enjoyed that this story spanned more than one country, Fjerda is super interesting and whilst much of Nina's story is quite clearly a set up for what i imagine will be a much bigger plot point in the next story, it was still a really good read.

The ending was at both shocking and frustrating. I'll have to see in the next book whether or not it was worth it but at present i much prefer the closure Ruin and Rising gave us, hence the slightly less than perfect rating.
Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
488 reviews718 followers
August 8, 2021
“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.”

The ending for this book is just as scream worthy as I remembered. I really liked this book the first time that I read it, but it didn't reach the love level for me. Now it did, oh my god, it actually did. Why do I love this book so much? Why? Why am I so attached to these ​characters? *screams*

The King. The General. The Spy. Nikolai Lantsov has endure a lot - more than his people could know and he would like it for it to stay that way - so he could have peace in his country, but there's still a log road ahead for the peace that Ravka needs. Each day a dark magic grows more and more, threatening everything. Zoya Nazyalensky is now the general of the Grisha army. She does every in her power to rebuilt and help Nikolai secure his throne. Nina Zenik is dealing with her grief and her new power while on a mission in Fjerda. They will stop at nothing to help their broken country.

“You are strong enough to survive the fall”

The characters in this book are just everything. I love them with my whole heart and I will love them no matter what. Nikolai and Zoya have both been two of my favourite characters in the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but now having them as main charcters, my love for them has just amplified so much more. There's so much that we don't know about them in the original trilogy, because obviously we don't follow them as main characters, and I was just so intrigued now with seeing their stories from their POV, seeing everything Alina has missed or just didn't know about either of them, especially Zoya. There are just so many things we don't know about her and here we basically learn how she came to be the Zoya that we know. We see them dealing with everything they've witness during the war, three years later. The war has affected them both in such different ways and even those years weren't enough to dull the pain they've felt.

Nina, on the other hand, is dealing with the grief after everything that has happened at the end of Crooked Kingdom and everyday she is learning how she can control or use her power more effectively. You can see through out the story how this grief has changed her. We know Nina because of her character in the Six of Crows duology, but here we see her very much changed. We see her dealing with everything while she is also trying to save Grishas and give them a chance at living.

In this book we are also introduced to new character, Hanne which i absolutely loved. The interctions between her and Nina were everything and she has so much potential for the next book and the development she could have. I cannout wait too see wht Laigh has in store for her charcter.

"Hopeless. Hungry. Desperation makes people do ugly things, and it is always the girls who suffer first."

The first half of the book can be a bit slow and boring, but once I got to part two the action has started. I just couldn't really put the book down after that point, I just needed to know what will happen next (even on my re-read, there was so many things I just forgot and there were times when I was truly shocked about how the turn of events), I needed answers. I originally rated this book 4 stars because of that slow beginning, but I've realised now that I just loved this so much that I cannot rated it anything lower than five stars. It's truly one of my favourite Leigh Bardugo books, mostly because of the cast of characters. As much as I loved Six of Crows and that cast of characters, no character, no one, can take Nikolai's place as my favourite character. Not even Inej or Wylan, so you can bet your butt I love this book because of him.

The writing style, as always, is magnificant. Leigh Bardugo has one of the best writing styles ever. There are few authors whose works I've read and that can actually compete with her. I don't even know what's so special about her writing, but something obviously is if I'm loving it so much. I will always pick one of her works just because of this, of her writing style and as there's no book by her where I didn't fell in love with the writing.

This story will forever have a special place in my heart. I just love this charcters, their interations, the plot, everything! Leigh Bardugo has become a master at creating stories and charcters and I juat want to applaud her for that! It's just amazing how this woman can craft a story.

"There had been a time when words had been the only place he could find solace. No book has ever lost with him or told him to sit still.

First read: 4 stars
Second read: 5 stars


i finished my re-read haha. now i can read rule of wolves 😈


why did i write so many one word reviews in the past?!
proper review coming after i finish my re-read


[26 April 2020]

Profile Image for krista ☽✧.
172 reviews525 followers
April 4, 2021
“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.”

Hope was the wind that came from nowhere to fill your sails and carry you home...

4.5 starsssssss✨✨✨✨✨✨

first read - June 2019
Second read - March 2021

Okay sooo , First before we get to the actual revieuw this fucking ending like WHAT. on my first read i was dumb and didnt see it coming at all and screamed for an hour intoo the void , the second thought i knew what was coming so you would expect me too not be shocked right? wrong i still screamed intoo the void as it hit me all over again yes indeed. so yes now that this screaming intoo the void session is out of my system lets get intoo the revieuw shall we : )

this revieuw is for the first part spoiler free but NOT spoiler free from the grisha triology and six of a crows duology also note ; YOU MUST read these two series before this one otherwise you are lost as this follows charracters from both these books and the events after. The spoiler section of this book is at the bottom of my revieuw and marked as spoilers

King of Scars is the first book in the King of scars duology by Leigh Bardugo. This duology is a spinoff series from both the grisha triology and the six of a crows duology. It follows some of the side charracters that appeared in the shadow and bone triology with Nikolai aka my precious sarcastic bby who also has a broken side too his sunshine personality because of his inner demon and Zoya who we know as the mean girl with some growth in the grisha triology that we get too know much better in this book. as main charracters with their own povs. And it also follows one of the main charracters from six of a crows ; Waffle queen Nina Zenik. The events that play itself in this book are all happening AFTER both of these other series so its a must that before you read this one you readed the shadow and bone triology and the six of a crows duology. Otherwise you are just lost , you just have too. It takes place right after both the other books. Nina is in Fjerda with Matthias body too put his body too rest and yes this made me freaking sad. She is with Aldrik and Leonie also two grisha , aldrik who we already know ofcourse. They are on a mission too collect Grishas in fjerda for the second army on behave of our Nikolai. Once there things happen tho and they discover some serious secrets regarding the grisha in the country. Meanwhile Nikolai is batteling the demon that is still inside hi, , a piece of the darkling his power while he tries too restore Ravka as king allong side with Zoya who is now his general. But magical events appear troughout Ravka that are very weird and they go look what they are allong with Yuri who believs the darkling is a saint , yep a saint you heard that correctly ehmmm who they can or cant trust.

Overall i loved this book somuch. It has the great grisha worldbuilding that i have always loved in leigh her other books in this universe while it also explores new elements in the world regarding the powers that you just have too see for yourself which i personally loved. It has 3 amazing main charracters who are all true warriors but not perfect , all 3 of them struggle with their current inner demons and their struggles in life while trying too save Ravka and Grisha , it has a hint at romance which is very slowburn which i freaking loved and its full of great banter between all the charracters we follow. The plot is quite fast and intresting and a great ballance between politics and fantasy and charracter driven parts. I did was a little bored with one of the three povs sometimes thats why this isnt a 5 star. [ which was Nina her pov , still love this waflle queen to death tho dont worry ] Overall it was just great ! i really reccomend it if you want more nikolai , its also definitly way more mature then the grisha triology. more like six of a crows level.

The plot , the World The book is divided intoo two parts. Part one is definitly more a set up for part two and very politic focused and i loved it , their was lots of banter which made you continue and continue too read
just look at all this banter i live for this ;
'' I like too keep you on your toes Nazyalensky. Constant anxiety does wonders for the complexion. '' i will send you a thank-you card '' make sure of it. You are positively glowing.

I also love that we get too know the charracters much better while it also stays plot focused , a great ballance. The second part is where thing go down very down like wtf. it has somany twistst that i loveeeed. It also has another layer too the grisha world and the magic which i have seen mixed opinion on but i personally loved it. More about that in detail in my spoiler section for those of you who are intrested in more thoughts on that from me. Zoya and Nikolai their povs where antertaining the whole book. We also follow Nina and i love this girl and i did like the plot but it did feel like a total different book sometimes which made the switch a little meh sometimes and then her plot felt a bit boring compared too the other plot but it wasnt terrible at all ! just a little more boring.

Nikolai - i love this guy somuch. Favorite male charracter of all time forever. We know him as the sarcastic sunshine charracter but in this book Leigh really shows us another part of him and shows us that being charming can sometimes be a bit of a mask too hide the inner demon and your mental struggles as it also does with Nikolai after all he has been trough in the war. But the way this guy stays positive no matter what and keeps fighting for himself , his country and his friends is just amazing. I have somuch respect for him and i love him too death. Thankyou somuch Leigh for adding this depht too his charracter and showing the struggle behind the charm < 3 that is so important.

Zoya Zoya is a charracter that i hated in the first two books of the grisha triology because the girl on girl hate she did and i have not forgiven her , in the third book she changes and we see in this book why she did. We get too know her a lot more in this book and a lot more about the past. She is like Nikolai a charracter that doesnt seem affraid and is quite mean and can be a bitch but inside she is afraid and afraid of caring because of her past. this isnt an excuse for behaviour but it does explain it and makes her morally grey. She is a warrior and i came too like her a lot in this book and respect her , so thanks Leigh for writing this backstory and again showing people arent what they seem too be and what they show other people too be.

Nina Zenik My waffle queen. She is so fucking strong. i loved her somuch in six of crows and still love her. In this book she deals with grieve because of Matthias his death. This hurt me somuch my bbys. and its so important that her grieve wasnt just gone in one second , Leigh really made her grieve which is important , its life. I also love how fierce Nina is and how brave she is for the things she believes in. what . a . strong . female . we stan ! + she loves waffles. Nina is me. me = Nina. i relate too her.
'' It could become quite the rage. Toffee baths and waffle scrubs. ''

The side charracters where also all great. We have Genya who i love and David and the two of them together are so funny and cute. We have the twins ofcourse , Nadia and we have Aldrik. We also have a new side charracter Isaak which i wont tell more about as its spoilerish. who was nice. They all have a personality and arent flat or not worked out which i love. And we have Hanne a fjerdan girl that meets up with nina her pov who i liked ! what a feminist brave warrior soul.

Romance , dynamics we have a dynamic going on between Zoya and Nikolai which i live for. They fit so well and the slow burn aaah. The banter ? sign me up. i need them too be together in rule of wolves. Nina also has a potentioal new love intrest maybe? and i feel okay with that. Leigh is just great at slowburn and banter between love intrestst.

Overall i love this book a lot and i am so freaking excited for rule of wolves plz illumicrate edition arrive soon !!

- about the second part of the plot in spoilers i actually love the saints storyline. I also noticed this ; the three saints all resemblance our main charracters. Juris showed Zoya who she could be if she accepts her past and herself with it , Elizaveta shows the upcoming betrayel of Yuri , the bear x human ; Grigori and his uncontroled form changing showed nikolai and the monster. i just loved this and the twistst where awesomeee. fucking darkling you bastard grrr.

- Nikolai accepting his inner demon instead of it being just fixed is cheff kiss and so important. sometimes you cant go back too the person you where before traumatic events happen and nikolai realizes that and accepts that and accepts that he is different now and struggles.
Profile Image for Layla.
333 reviews369 followers
May 21, 2022
"Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers. But we who would weild power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns."

The Grishaverse is to me what the Shadowhunter Chronicles is to others. By that I mean I can and will read 20 books in this world following the same characters and obvious fan services, will never get bored, and will absolutely rave about them and make it my only personality trait.

So naturally, I loved this book and I refuse to be critical of it despite the things that warrant critism.

King of Scars is set post-Civil War Ravka where Nikolai is King, but struggling to keep his country together. Zoya is his general, and along with Genya, David, Tolya, and Tamar, they must help Nikolai with this, and additionally keeping the monster that lives within him a secret. Nina on the other hand is in Fjerda with Adrik and Leoni on a mission to rescue Grisha and help them get to Ravka. We get Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina's point of views, as well as Isaak, a character that has more significance in the second half of the book.

Unlike with Six of Crows, in order to understand the events of this story you must read Shadow and Bone.

*** spoilers will be hidden, and they will not only consist of spoilers for this book, but also S&B and SoC ***

~ Nikolai ~

There had been a time when words had been the only place he could find solace.

Listen, I want to say that I am Nikolai's #1 fan, but I think they title belongs to everyone that has "(nikolai's version)" in their profile name. It's unhinged behavior and I love it.

Nikolai is just as hilarious and lovable as in the original trilogy. Usually characters that shine as side characters don't do as well as main characters, but this was not a problem I saw in this book. I liked hearing his perspectives and inner thoughts.

~ Zoya ~

"All those lives lost, all we've worked for, and these fools are so ready to rewrite history."

It's not "my ruthless Zoya", it's OUR ruthless Zoya. There are few things I love more than the morally grey ruthless female character archetype in books. I wasn't the biggest fan of Zoya in S&B, but I absolutely adored her in this duology. Hearing her backstory and seeing all the layers to her has boosted her to my top 5 all time favorite Grishaverse characters along with Nikolai, Inej, Kaz, and Jesper. I honestly think I enjoyed her pov the most.

~ Nina ~

She wished she had Inej's gift for spywork or Kaz's gift for scheming, but she only seemed to have Jesper's gift for bad decisions.

Nina Zenik hate will not be tolerated by me. She's such a relatable and lovable character. She's confident, but also has struggles. I really felt disconnected from her pov at first because I didn't understand its relevance, especially since I went into this book thinking this was Nikolai's book, but as the book went, it got much better.

~ Isaak ~

"Everyone mourns the first blossom. Who will grieve the rest that fall?"

I have no real opinions on him or his pov. He was a sweetheart, but also incredibly naive. I thought his plotline was interesting, but not interesting enough.

Other opinions I have~

• "My ruthless Zoya, I'll load the gun myself" and "Yuri Vedenen, if you upset my wife again, I will kill you where you stand" is peak romance.

• We got background information about why it's called the Grishaverse when Grisha translates to Greg. I'm not sure if Bardugo made that explanation after seeing the Gregverse jokes and critism, or it was purposeful and planned from the beginning.

• Yuri is so annoying. When Zoya said, "We should send him to Ketterdam to preach to Kaz Brekker and the rest of those reprobates"...yeah. I want to see that.

• I liked seeing characters like Genya, David, Tolya, and Tamar again. I love them all.

• I'm really disappointed that there wasn't more Adrik and Leoni content. They are the grumpy x sunshine trope personified, and I just wanted more of them. I feel robbed.

• I don't have much opinions on Hanne. I'm pretty indifferent, but I think the fact that they are

Overall, I had a good time revisiting Ravka. I obviously loved this book, and you can tell that by the amount of times I have used the word "love" in this review. Despite being a reader, my vocabulary seems to be limited.
155 reviews260 followers
September 10, 2019
Oh wow.

Before this book was released, I used to mark my calendar everyday for this book, but then this book came out and with it, all the 3 or 2 stars disappointing reviews, and my excitement dwindled. So I wasn't expecting to like it much, but I'm so surprised. I actually liked everything about this book, even the ending so many people were mad about. I read it during end-of-summer slump, so I did find some parts boring, hence the 4 stars. But overall this book was surprisingly good. I'm sure that upon reread, it will be 5 star, hopefully.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 23,315 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.