Book review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Kindle Edition, 527 pages


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, the young king 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 Squaller, 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.

My rating: ⭐⭐


That was utterly disappointing.


King of Scars was one of the most anticipated books for me. Nikolai’s and Nina’s stories deserved closure. But not the fanfiction Bardugo turned this book into. I am shook and I am disappointed.

500+ pages were too much for this book. It was slow; nothing really was happening. Half the book was a clear recap of Grisha books and a desperate attempt to copy the style of Six of Crows, which didn’t work here if you ask me. And honestly, the whole story felt like a fanfiction, aimed to soothe the fans’ anger at some stuff that happened in both Grisha and Six of Crows series.

I am once again facing the butchering of my native language. I accept no more excuses like: Bardugo simplified the language to adapt it for English speaking readers and so on. NO. It is simply a lazy job. Some things need only be googled. One minute and you get it right. I will only mention here: Korol Rezni from Russian means King of Massacre, not King of Scars. So Bardugo didn’t even get the essential thing right.


➽ Nina, who I loved so much in Six of Crows, got her POV here as well. At first, her heartfelt journey to acceptance and redemption made me love her more; the scene where she was burying Matthias was simply beautiful and so much needed closure for all of us. But ten minutes later Bardugo introduces us to Nina’s new love interest: Hanne! I am sorry Bardugo, but I haven’t shed so many tears and suffered so much to see you pairing Nina with some girl I care nothing about. It didn’t feel right to do that so soon after Matthias died. Just no!

➽ Nikolai and Co. did feel like Kaz and Co. Do you remember funny Nikolai from Grisha? I don’t. Because here he was overshadowed by the carboard version of Nikolai. Zoya, on the other hand, was fury and power, but I didn’t really care about the ‘girl saves the day’ concept nor was I eager for the growing chemistry between Nikolai and Zoya.

➽ Now, I don’t know how to call the direction the plot took rather than delusional? Why on earth would Bardugo resurrect the Darkling?! Ah, of course, I’ve totally forgotten it’s a fanfiction, and for the sake of fans we get the Dark Prince rising *turns on the zombie music* No. I was a fan of the Darkling. I didn’t like that Bardugo killed him off in Grisha. But I accepted it and went on with my life. But, no, it was not enough to burn him once, you had to do it twice and then he still came back in a body of a different character. Terminator has nothing on the Darkling-zombie. I am sorry but I can’t and won’t accept that twist.

Overall, I guess my romance with Grishaverse ends here. I have no regrets nor do I have a desire to keep up the charade of pretending I am still interested in these books. The misspelling of King of Scars into King of Massacre (Korol Rezni) turned out to be prophetic: Bardugo butchered this series for me once and for all.

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