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Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
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Book Discussions > Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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This is our discussion of the Contemporary fantasy novel....


Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Lisa Brick (lbrick363) | 29 comments I loved this book! I wasn't sure at first because it was a YA. I am always leery of YA because of all the angst. It generally bores me, but this book caught me at the first page. While there were some budding romances, it wasn't that cheesy young love. I kept forgetting that everyone was 16-17 years old. It just doesn't come off as YA. I am definitely going to read the second book. I have to know what happens to Inej. Unfortunately, everyone else wants to read the second one too so I'm on the library waiting list! I suppose I could buy it, but I made a promise to curb my book spending. Haha. :)


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments So I read this one today because I was traveling. I felt it had some issues, but I'll give it time for people to read it first.


Katy (kathy_h) I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


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I'm only 1/4 way into the book (what with baseball playoffs and football season, my reading time has really suffered.)

I probably would not have bought the book if I'd fully realized it was set in the same world as the author's previous trilogy. I think Bardugo has resumed her readers read the Grisha trilogy, and so skimped on exposition of her world. (I definitely do not want to go back and read a whole trilogy just to get up to speed on this universe.)

I still don't know what a Grisha is. (Nationality? It's not on the map. Maybe Racial group? Or just a synonym for magician? Or maybe a specific type of magician?)

And I still haven't pinned down the society/technological level. I keep combing for little clues. I was initially presuming sword and sorcery, then it became clear there were guns, so I bumped it up 18th century. Then someone mentioned a "pearl handled revolver", and I bumped it up to at least 19th century. No sign of any machinery (e.g. no sign of any steam engines or more advanced tech), no apparent electronics (alarm systems seem of the "tin can on a string" variety), so maybe early 19th century equivalent technology and governments/societal norms?

I find it annoying to read a story while having very little idea what kind of world surrounds the characters moving through it.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Certain events will make the technological level even more confusing later.


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Brendan wrote: "Certain events will make the technological level even more confusing later."

Oooh. Tell me they have flying cars? :)

Brendan, Out of curiosity, have you read the previous Grisha trilogy? Or are you like me, coming into this cold?


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Lisa wrote: "I kept forgetting that everyone was 16-17 years old...."

I perceive this as a flaw. There are a bunch of teens running around acting like adults (and in many cases quite old adults.) Kaz especially comes off like somebody in his 40's+. (Partly because of the cane, partly because of his claim to have informants of political and moral malfeasance placed in positions of authority. Where would a street punk collect such a network at a mere 17 years old?) Kaz reads more like the trope usually assigned to the elder maipulator in a story, e.g. the underdeveloped Per Haskell guy.

From the story, I keep picturing people in their 20's thru 40's.

Bardugo's premise seems to be these kids have all had hard lives that made them crusty and cynical and wise. I don't buy it. It feels like one of those odd skits they put on on late-night talk shows with kids performing as if they were adults.

Matthias claims to be the oldest at 18.
Waylan says he's 16 (looks 12, according to Matthias.)
Inej "almost 17".
Nina 16?


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Completely cold. I thought I had figured out what Grisha were but then it gets all thrown for a loop again.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments I agree, the stated ages of the characters were ludicrous. And kind of gross in Nina's case. (Sorry, I'm on my phone and can't figure out how to edit posts.)


Hillary Major | 436 comments I enjoyed reading the Grisha trilogy, which takes place almost entirely in pseudo-Russia. One of the things I liked was that it clearly drew from a post-medieval historical setting as source materials but didn't stick so close as to duplicate specific historical characters or historical events the way they happened. (I have seen comments that complain Bardugo got the Russian inspiration wrong, and I'd be curious to know what specific problems readers were having, since Bardugo seemed to deliberately alter things enough that "historical accuracy" probably wouldn't be much of an issue. Maybe the overall feel or the setting descriptions? Maybe the timeline/technology question?) I also enjoyed that there was a good amount of action and complications to keep things interesting but a decidedly non-grimdark overall mood (despite a fair amount of angst).

Grisha are basically magicians. (I think they're named after a St. Gregory who was a great magician? There was a St. Gregory in there somewhere.) There are 3 main types and subtypes (which are listed on a page in the front matter of my edition). IIRC, the Heartrenders do magic associated w/the human body, the Etherealki seem to deal mostly with wind and water, and the Corporalki deal with objects, whether natural or man-made. (I'm not sure what justifies the difference on a theoretical level, esp. b/t the Etherealki & the Corporalki -- what's the difference b/t manipulating water vs. gold? Maybe the Etherealki deal w/anything that's not a solid state?)

The Grisha series had a central character who seemed to be drawing on Rasputin's reputation, but even though there were firearms, it didn't really feel like an early 20th C level of technology for me. So far, I'm about 1/3 through Six of Crows and I'm not sure what century's tech/history I'd go to for the analogy. The description of the Exchange and the Komedie Brute suggest late 17th/early 18th while the rifles suggest 19th. I thought the reference to adding machines also suggested a later date (which led me to this wikipedia page which, while interesting, didn't do much to narrow the window: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adding_...).

I also felt some skepticism with the ages (Kaz had a harbor dredged and built up the casino business in under 2 years?), but so far, I've just basically dismissed it as a YA/marketing things. Maybe it'll start to bother me more as the story unfolds. I'm not sold on the semi-POV changes at this point; the characters' voices and thinking really don't seem very distinct.


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Hillary wrote: (I have seen comments that complain Bardugo got the Russian inspiration wrong, and I'd be curious to know what specific problems readers were having..."

I'm not inclined to care about that. In a fantasy world the author has created, it really doesn't matter to me whether she has extracted inspiration that's strictly historically accurate. It's a fantasy world, not historical fiction. She can blend history, legend, misinformation & myth however she wants. All that's important (to me) is that the whole is interesting, self consistent, and hopefully explained by some form of exposition.

An approximate technological level, on the other hand, is a little harder to mix and match, because most technology implies supporting technology. For example, the pearl handled revolver Jesper carries implies a level of precision machining beyond what a common blacksmith is going to be able to provide.

Economically, we seem to have a strong bent towards merchant capitalism, presumably post-Renaissance-ish. Our view into society is limited since everybody I've met (in this book, so far) time is a gangster, so not a very wide sampling of occupations :)

It's not that I'm trying to write a treatise on the economics of Kerch. But I'm having trouble visualizing the characters' surroundings, what the rooms & furniture look like, what the buildings around them look like. (It's more difficult because I started, for some reason, with a feudal era assumption, and have been frantically recalibrating ever since.) It all feels very vague to me, generic rooms in generic buildings with generic furniture on generic streets... I'm not asking for Bardugo to go all Robert Jordan on us, I'm just groping for a sense of place.


Hillary wrote: " I thought the reference to adding machines also suggested a later date ..."

I haven't run into the adding machine reference (yet? or maybe I missed it), but an abacus is an adding machine so without more specifics... If it's a stored-program computer, I might have to recalibrate again. :)


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Hillary wrote: "I also felt some skepticism with the ages (Kaz had a harbor dredged and built up the casino business in under 2 years?), but so far, I've just basically dismissed..."

Because the stated ages seems at such dissonance to the characters themselves, it's generally easy for me, too, to just ignore the stated ages and to visualize them as older, until the author insists on poking us with their ages, such as when Matthias first meets with (most of the) gang and explicitly expresses the thought that he's the oldest and they are all really very young for what they're planning on doing. (Wow, that sentence rambled on forever!) (Whereas, as you say, dredging a harbor and creating a thriving casino and support business on shore would seem even more difficult for a 15-year-old. In fact, when explicitly stated that way, it sounds utterly ludicrous. Kaz was kind of young to be placed in charge of the Ketterdam Redevelopment Authority :)


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Hillary wrote: "Grisha are basically magicians. ... There are 3 main types and subtypes (which are listed on a page in the front matter of my edition)...."

You're right. On my ebook the Grisha categories (Corporalki, Etheralki, Materialki) & subcategories are listed in the front. It's present as a graphic image, like the maps, not text, so I seem to have skipped over it as frontispiece rather than reading material. Thanks for the pointer.


Helen Jones | 15 comments While I'm really enjoying the story, I would agree with a lot of you here that I don't buy the ages of the characters at all! They seem to have been made so young simply to fit the YA tag - their actions and the lives they've led simply don't match up.


Shaitarn | 123 comments I really enjoyed the book, although the image of the location changed several times in my head - the name Ketterdam made me think of Amsterdam, but the mention of the canal and the Komedie Brute made me think of Italy/Venice with a Scandinavian type country alongside. It's not important (there's no reason why a fantasy world should look like anywhere on earth after all) but it remained a bit of a blank in my mind.

I had the same problem as everyone else - the characters were all way too young! In my head they all looked like they were in their late 20s/early 30s. I can accept one child prodigy and I do understand living a hard life means you grow up quickly, but the fact they were all so young strained my disbelief to breaking point.

And the ending - did anyone else hate that ending?

Despite all that, though, I really enjoyed it!


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Amsterdam is full of canals and waterways. Nothing inconsistent there.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Also, there was no ending. This was part of my problem with the book.


Shaitarn | 123 comments Brendan wrote: "Amsterdam is full of canals and waterways. Nothing inconsistent there."

It was more the addition of the Komedie Brute and the masks that solidified the Venetian image in my head.


Helen Jones | 15 comments The more I read of this book, the more I'm being distracted by their ages, especially as I'm getting into more backstory with them. Nina and Matthias especially, as well as Kaz - I find it hard to believe any of them are under 25.


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Helen wrote: "The more I read of this book, the more I'm being distracted by their ages, especially as I'm getting into more backstory with them. Nina and Matthias especially, as well as Kaz - I find it hard to ..."

Obviously they've led rich, full lives. :)


Helen Jones | 15 comments G33z3r wrote: "Helen wrote: "The more I read of this book, the more I'm being distracted by their ages, especially as I'm getting into more backstory with them. Nina and Matthias especially, as well as Kaz - I fi..."

Haha, yes, obviously :)


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Brendan wrote: "Certain events will make the technological level even more confusing later."

Wow, yeah. It pretty much blew the consistency to pieces at the end. (view spoiler)


Irena | 4 comments I haven't read it, but I hear only positive reviews, and I just hope to get some free time to finally get to it :)


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