Melanie's Reviews > King of Scars

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
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bookshelves: fantasy, read-in-2019, shifters, dragons, lgbtqiap

“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!

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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 ★★★★★
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Reading Progress

September 26, 2017 – Shelved
September 26, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
September 26, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
January 27, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
January 28, 2019 – Started Reading
January 28, 2019 –
page 1
0.19% "Alexa, play Waiting All Night by Rudimental!"
January 30, 2019 –
35.0% "Alright, I'm just going to say it: this book really isn't capturing me, or my attention, the way I thought it would and I'm sad. I really do have faith that it will pick up, but as of now this is so ungodly slow and honestly a bit boring.
"
January 31, 2019 –
90.0% "Mood for this entire book: Zoya Nazyalensky is the best character in literature and we don't deserve her. 💖

(Art by phantomrin!)"
January 31, 2019 – Shelved as: shifters
January 31, 2019 – Finished Reading
February 3, 2019 – Shelved as: dragons
February 3, 2019 – Shelved as: lgbtqiap

Comments Showing 1-50 of 95 (95 new)


Stacy I enjoyed seeing your star ratings (above) for the five books so far in the Grisha universe. I think Bardugo continues to improve her craft, so I can't wait to see what she does now that Nikolai gets to take center stage!!!


message 2: by Lacey (new) - added it

Lacey Yes yes yes yes!!!


Melanie Stacy wrote: "I enjoyed seeing your star ratings (above) for the five books so far in the Grisha universe. I think Bardugo continues to improve her craft, so I can't wait to see what she does now that Nikolai ge..."

I completely agree; she just keeps getting better and better! I am beyond words excited about this book! 💗xx


Melanie Lacey wrote: "Yes yes yes yes!!!"

My heart is so happpppy! 💗xx


message 5: by Angelica (new) - added it

Angelica I too am unsure about this cover. It’s too much. Too gold. But it’s Nikolai so I’m probably going to be preordering it!


Tamar I love it, it looks royalish


Lea (drumsofautumn) SAME. Like I love aesthetics for Nikolai but do I think it looks nice as cover.. would I pick it up if I knew nothing about it??? nope.


Isabelle (the Book Dutchesses) I didn't know a SoC character would get a PoV, I'm so EXCITED!! Can't wait for this book and I'm super excited to find out who will be in the book <3 I'm expecting it to be Nina but we'll see :)


Melanie Angelica wrote: "I too am unsure about this cover. It’s too much. Too gold. But it’s Nikolai so I’m probably going to be preordering it!"

Hehe, this is how I feel too, Angelica! I'm like... nothing could keep me from this, even if a garbage bag was on the cover! Hahaha! Happy reading, love! 💗xx


Melanie Tamar wrote: "I love it, it looks royalish"

Yay, Tamar! All my friends do too! 💗xx


Melanie Lea (drumsofautumn) wrote: "SAME. Like I love aesthetics for Nikolai but do I think it looks nice as cover.. would I pick it up if I knew nothing about it??? nope."

This is SO true! My friend is rereading CK right now and told me about this perfect passage that made me maybe appreciate it more! BUT I CAN'T WAIT FOR US TO READ THIS, LEA! Ahhhh! 💗xx


Melanie Isabelle (Belle's Book Adventures/the Book Dutchesses) wrote: "I didn't know a SoC character would get a PoV, I'm so EXCITED!! Can't wait for this book and I'm super excited to find out who will be in the book <3 I'm expecting it to be Nina but we'll see :)"

I agree, Isabelle! Ahhhhhh! I am such a fangirly mess today, I swear! But we need that confirmation, and I CANNOT wait! Happy reading, love! 💗xx


message 13: by Taylor (new) - added it

Taylor I have a feeling the pov from six of crows will be Nina (WHICH WOULD BE AMAZING), but if I could just get a glimpse of Kaz, I'd be the happiest person on the planet. I can't wait for this book!!


message 14: by Kaylin (new) - added it

Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen) I'm so convince that POV is going to be my girl Nina and I've never needed anything so badly


message 15: by J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J. Taylor if the cover wasnt entirely in gold it would be a nice cover but the one colour tone ruins it for me. hoping my countries version of the cover will be better.


Melanie Taylor wrote: "I have a feeling the pov from six of crows will be Nina (WHICH WOULD BE AMAZING), but if I could just get a glimpse of Kaz, I'd be the happiest person on the planet. I can't wait for this book!!"

I hope, pray, and wish it's Nina! Ahhhhhhh! And yeah, I'd commit a major felony to see how Kaz and a certain lady are doing! Hahah! Happy reading, Taylor love! 💗xx


Melanie Kaylin wrote: "I'm so convince that POV is going to be my girl Nina and I've never needed anything so badly"

Hehehe, the biggest mood, Kaylin! 💗xx


Melanie J. wrote: "if the cover wasnt entirely in gold it would be a nice cover but the one colour tone ruins it for me. hoping my countries version of the cover will be better."

I completely agree, J! And I have my fingers cross for the international editions for you, love! Happy reading! 💗xx


Raven_Blake (dreamy addictions) I really hope it's Nina! That sad scene at the end of Crooked Kingdom literally broke my heart.


Ivusha (Tenebien) I can't wait for Nikolai's book. :)


Melanie Raven_Blake (dreamy addictions) wrote: "I really hope it's Nina! That sad scene at the end of Crooked Kingdom literally broke my heart."

I have my fingers crossed, Raven! 💕xx


Melanie Ivusha (Tenebien) wrote: "I can't wait for Nikolai's book. :)"

I can't either, Ivusha! And 2019 will be here before we know it! 💕xx


message 23: by Stella (new) - added it

Stella (Paper Wings) Aaaaaah I don't know how I can possibly wait any longer to read this!!! xD


Ivusha (Tenebien) Melanie wrote: "Ivusha (Tenebien) wrote: "I can't wait for Nikolai's book. :)"

I can't either, Ivusha! And 2019 will be here before we know it! 💕xx"


I wanted him to end up with Alina (screw Mal), but then again - he'd have never got his own book. :-)


Melanie Stella wrote: "Aaaaaah I don't know how I can possibly wait any longer to read this!!! xD"

Hehehe, I feel you, Stella! BUT January will honestly be here before we know it! In the meantime... happy reading, love! 💗xx


Melanie Ivusha (Tenebien) wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Ivusha (Tenebien) wrote: "I can't wait for Nikolai's book. :)"

I can't either, Ivusha! And 2019 will be here before we know it! 💕xx"

I wanted him to end up with,..."


Hahahaha! Yessssss, my love! The biggest mood! 💗xx


message 27: by Camila (new)

Camila I bet it's Nina! Can't wait to read this!!


Melanie Camila wrote: "I bet it's Nina! Can't wait to read this!!"

Oh my gosh... are we finding out... TOMORROW? Ahhhh! Now I'm even more excited! But I bet you're right, Camila! *fingers crossed* 💗xx


Tamar I hope it’s Kaz, they both have scares, wear gloves, both have twisted minds. I can imagine the banter between them. I’m willing to exchange romance for bromance!


Melanie Tamar wrote: "I hope it’s Kaz, they both have scares, wear gloves, both have twisted minds. I can imagine the banter between them. I’m willing to exchange romance for bromance!"

I would give ANYTHING for this! Oh my goshhhhhh! 💗xx


message 31: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie God! I'm so exited for this. Nikolai is not only my favorite character in the Grisha trilogy, he's one of my favorite characters in books in general and I was so damn happy when this was announced. I still have to read Crooked Kingdom but I'm going to dedicate December to it and I'm definitely reading King Of Scars when it comes out.


“Ahhhhhh” I wish I pre-ordered this when I ordered The Wicked King so shipping would be free, lol. But it also comes with a pin(!!) so its not my fault I have no self control when it comes to books.


message 33: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie Oh no!!


“Ahhhhhh” Oh no! Slightly nervous to start it now, my expectations are so high for this. Curious to see why you gave it a three stars!


Sol ~ TheBookishKing TRAG THIS SHIT


One-Edgy-Anti-Hero I agree with this rating so far where I am :/


Melanie Melanie wrote: "God! I'm so exited for this. Nikolai is not only my favorite character in the Grisha trilogy, he's one of my favorite characters in books in general and I was so damn happy when this was announced...."

I can't wait for you to read this one, loveeee! Happy reading! 💖xx


Melanie “Ahhhhhh” wrote: "I wish I pre-ordered this when I ordered The Wicked King so shipping would be free, lol. But it also comes with a pin(!!) so its not my fault I have no self control when it comes to books."

Hehehe! I love this comment! And i hope you love it, sweetheart! 💖xx


Melanie Melanie wrote: "Oh no!!"

I know! I wanted to love this one even more! 💖xx


Melanie “Ahhhhhh” wrote: "Oh no! Slightly nervous to start it now, my expectations are so high for this. Curious to see why you gave it a three stars!"

Heheh! don't be nervous! I hope you have the happiest of reading, love! 💖xx


Melanie Sol ~ TheBookishKing wrote: "TRAG THIS SHIT"

Why us? 💖xx


Melanie One-Edgy-Anti-Hero wrote: "I agree with this rating so far where I am :/"

It is you and me alone in the world, love! Hehehe! Happy reading with whatever you pick up next! 💖xx


Ren (A Bookish Balance) The ending irritated me too ☹️


message 44: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara aaah I feel you. I just finished this book and did not liked it the way I hoped I would (or the way everyone seemed to like it)


message 45: by Feyzan (new) - added it

Feyzan - The Raven Boy That made me sad :(


message 46: by Hanaa (new) - added it

Hanaa I am reading it right now and to my surprise I am not enjoying the Nina chapters as much as I though I would.
Also if the ship that I think Leigh Bardugo is hinting at happens... I WILL CRY!! IN SADNESS


Sarah ( A GIRL WHO LIVES IN BOOKS ) Hi Melanie !
I am recently your follower .
I love your recommends THANKS !
please recommend a horrer book.
I am a big horrer lover
bye !
SARAH( A GIRL WHO LIVES IN BOOKS )


message 48: by Krystina☕ (new) - added it

Krystina☕ @Melanie do you have to read the six of crows duology and the language of throns to understand and enjoy this book or can you just read the shadow and bone trilogy??


Melanie Ren (A Bookish Balance) wrote: "The ending irritated me too ☹️"

The biggest mood! 💖xx


Melanie Lara wrote: "aaah I feel you. I just finished this book and did not liked it the way I hoped I would (or the way everyone seemed to like it)"

Right? ahhh! Can't love them all completely, I suppose! But I have hopes for the next one! 💖xx


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