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Monday, August 16, 2021

Book Review: King of Scars (King of Scars, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK review
Started on: 17 July 2021
Finished on: 5 August 2021
Title: King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 514 pages / 527  pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2019
Price: Rp 189,000 (

Rating: 4.5/5
"The king's reputation could withstand a bit of scandal; it would not survive the truth."
Nikolai Lantsov, the young king of Ravka, has always had a gift for the impossible. Not a lot of people know what he endured during Ravka's civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gathered at his weakened border, Nikolai must quickly find a way to forge new alliances and stop a rising threat to the Grisha army. However, a dark magic within him grows stronger every day, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a Grisha general, Nikolai dared to go through a perilous journey to vanquish the darkness inside of him. He is more than willing to risk everything for the sake of saving his country—and hopefully save himself as well.
"We are always drawn to the lure of power, no matter the cost."

Before I begin my review on this book, I'd like to note that the King of Scars duology is a spinoff of the Grisha/Shadow and Bone trilogy. This book focuses on the story of Nikolai Lantsov, who played quite a significant role in assisting the main characters of the Grisha trilogy. In a way, King of Scars is some sort of continuation of the Grisha trilogy but with a completely different storyline. So if you're planning to read this book, I would suggest you to read the Grisha trilogy first (and maybe even Six of Crows duology as well) because only then you will have a grasp of the story's setting and circumstances that they're in. I'm glad I decided to follow the suggestions on the internet to read all the books in the Grishaverse in its' chronological order.

I have to admit, I had a pretty high expectation going into this book because Nikolai is my favorite character from the Grisha trilogy. Since I wasn't really fond of the main characters in that series, Nikolai's presence was like a breath of fresh air to me. And so I was very eager to pick this book up right after I finished reading Crooked Kingdom. However, I have to say that I'm a little bit disappointed by how it turned out—not because it's bad, but it's just not what I expected it to be. This book is written in a similar format as its' predecessor, which is through third-person POV from multiple perspectives of the characters: Nikolai, Zoya, Nina, and Isaak. In this book, the author weaves a few narratives—each one focusing on different set of characters, that will influence one another in the end. The first one is Nikolai and Zoya with their journey to the Fold, then Nina who became a spy in the enemy's territory, and Isaak who stayed in Ravka. At first, I thought the concept of parallel plot would work well, but somehow the transition between different chapters felt a bit choppy—especially Nina's side of the story. It seems like Nina is doing her own thing which has no correlation whatsoever with what's happening in Ravka. There's finally some sort of connection towards the end, but I still feel like Nina's chapters are more of a fan service for those who loves her character and gave a decent closure regarding her relationship with Matthias.
"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 overarching plot of this book is mostly about war and politics. Nikolai had to find a way to get rid of the monster inside of him to avoid being dethroned by his enemies, while Nina is away to gather intel on what the enemy's next move is going to be. Another interesting part in this book is where Isaak—a member of the royal guard, is tailored to impersonate Nikolai while the king is away. I find Isaak very sweet and adorable, especially when he encountered Princess Ehri. Not going to spoil the rest of the story in this review, but I unexpectedly really enjoyed that part even though it's bittersweet. Despite having some disappointments about this book, I still thoroughly enjoyed the overall plot and was entertained by the twists and turns of the story that I didn't see coming. Another thing that I didn't expect was the return of old enemies from Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology in this book.

As I've said earlier, Nikolai Lantsov is one of my favorite characters in the Grishaverse; but somehow I feel like his character didn't shine as much in this book. He's still his charming and brilliant self, but somehow in this book (where he's supposed to be the main character), Nikolai isn't as captivating for me personally. Nina Zenik is also my favorite character from Six of Crows; but I almost feel like she's (kind of) stealing the spotlight from Nikolai because her chapters are so much more thrilling and intense. Her newfound ability in controlling the dead is very menacing and I love it! As for Zoya Nazyalensky, she's a very strong and dependable character who's very suitable as Nikolai's commander. Even though we've met her character in the Grisha trilogy, this time we get to dive deeper into her past and what made her seem distant and cold towards other people. I don't particularly love Zoya's character in the previous series, so I guess that's why I'm not really rooting Zoya and Nikolai to be together 🤔. We still have one book left to read though, maybe I will change my mind by then.
"Fear is a phoenix. Words Liliyana had spoken to her years ago and that Zoya had repeated to others many times. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return."
"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."
I hope I'm not rambling too much in this review but I do have quite a lot to say because of my mixed feelings about this book. Although some aspects of the story didn't exactly meet my initial expectation, I still find myself enjoying it from start to finish. Some parts felt a bit slow-paced but there are also parts that are thrilling and got me excited. I'm looking forward to see how the rest of the story is going to unfold in the sequel because I honestly have no idea where the story is heading next. I can't elaborate further because I don't want to spoil the shocking reveal that came as a huge surprise to me. Maybe I'll talk more about that in my review for the second book. I just hope Nikolai's story will have the satisfying end that he deserves. *fingers crossed*
"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."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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