Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)” as Want to Read:
King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

King of Scars

(King of Scars #1)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  62,181 ratings  ·  11,133 reviews
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-gr
Hardcover, 514 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Orion Children's Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about King of Scars, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
yue i love zoya, nikolai, and the idea of them together. even though she seems like the complete opposite of what nikolai “needs”, i think she’s a lot mor…morei love zoya, nikolai, and the idea of them together. even though she seems like the complete opposite of what nikolai “needs”, i think she’s a lot more suited to post-r&r nikolai than anyone else is, mostly because she knows what he’s been through and because she knows exactly who she is and what she wants. either way, we’ll be able to see a lot more of zoya’s qualities and motivations in this upcoming book (since it seems like she’ll be a pov character), outside of the descriptions of other characters who, inexplicably, have some sort of bias (alina & matthias, for example: the former resents zoya for most of the series for her looks, powers, and for seducing mal, while the latter still had internalized prejudice against most grisha).(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  62,181 ratings  ·  11,133 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)
chai ♡
[softly, from under a pile of blankets] what the hell was that ending?

I finished this book and the moment wavered in voluminous silence. And then, the whole world rushed in. Disbelief came first, then surprise. Then the full scope of the ending struck me with a pang of bewildered anger, that this unexpected and extraordinarily horrid thing should happen only for the story to just... stop.

So, as I said, what the hell.

The first book in Leigh Bardugo’s Nikolai Duology, King of Scars, picks up t
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
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 sh

“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 should
Emily May
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 boo
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
tea got spilled
facts got spoken
we're all shook now
Natalie Monroe
“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
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
Maybe a 4.5*? I need to think about it a bit more because wow that ending.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
“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 myster
✨    jamieson   ✨
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 ...more
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.
Elle (ellexamines)
“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: t
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
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 🖤🐶🐺🐾

Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
may ➹
oh truly pains me to say that this would have been undoubtedly 5 stars if I didn’t dislike that ending so much

(4.5 stars and I am BITTER)
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 sp
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 sep ...more
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
Now that “Rule of Wolves” will come out soon I decided to jump (or rather to continue on) the Nikolai Lantsov train. *lol*
I missed my boy so much and I’m so ready to read his POV! (I mean FINALLY!!!)

Also a little birdie told me that Nina is going to be a part of this book as well and I can’t wait to be reunited with my Waffle-Queen! <333
Kinda curious if I’ll like Zoya more in this. Haha!
Let’s find out! ;-)

Did any of you read “King of Scars” already and if “yes” did you enjoy it?

P.S: This is a d
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
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 :/
Charlotte May
"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
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 alread
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.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
krista ☽✧
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-reads
“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
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
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, fantasy
bitches who only read this for zoyalai>>>
Chelsea Humphrey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lucy Tonks
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Twitter ✔
[image error]

I'm not saying that I'll hate you forever if you spoil me, but I'll probably hate you forever if you spoil me.

Sorry I don't make the rules ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Mal, opening his vacant eyes : Isn't it awesome that -


*throws confetti*

Note : Kaz, Nina, Zoya & literally anyone else accepted (bonus points if you're (view spoiler)


destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
update april 30 2018

"Nikolai journeys to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives, in order to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him" - I already want to cry? 😭😭😭 RIP me, please make sure my headstone says "here lies Destiny, who always knew beautiful books would be the end of her"


I would just like to say that waiting for this series was far less painful before I continued the Grisha trilogy and met Nikolai 😭😭😭
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads, fantasy
Zoya Nazyalensky is my QUEEN.

(In fact she occupied the pedestral I once built for Nina. I couldn't tolerate King of Scars Nina. I hated King of Scars Nina.)

Nikolai Lantsov is my BAE.

Aaand... that's all there is to know.


So, it seems that Nikolai is getting his own series.

I'm not freaking out, you're freaking out

I'm totally freaking out
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)
  • How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)
  • The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)
  • The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)
  • Chain of Iron (The Last Hours, #2)
  • These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
  • The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)
  • A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash, #2)
  • Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)
  • Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)
  • From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash, #1)
  • House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
  • The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)
  • The Shadows Between Us
  • Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)
  • We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
See similar books…
Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse (coming soon to Netflix) which spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, The Language of Thorns, and King of Scars— with more to come. Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wo ...more

Other books in the series

King of Scars (2 books)
  • Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2)

Articles featuring this book

Spring is Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Oof–let’s try this again.” The last 12 months have been, well, challenging is the polite term....
252 likes · 74 comments
“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.” 394 likes
“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” 253 likes
More quotes…