Title: King of Scars
Series Title: King of Scars Duology #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Genre / Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
“The monster is me and I am the monster.”
REACTION AFTER READING THE BOOK
Nikolai is my bae. He is my book husband. I love him so much!
Alina is such an idiot for not choosing Nikolai.
Anyways, after the original Grisha series ended, I prayed to the Grisha Saints to coax Leigh Bardugo into make a series with Nikolai as the protagonist. Lo and behold, she announced she was and I was over the moon excited! Long story short, king of scars was an anticipated release.
However, I hate to say this, but I found King of Scars a little bit underwhelming.
I didn’t get the things that I was expecting to get. I rated this book three stars which is not a bad rating. This book was good, it just didn’t end up as a favorite like I was expecting it to.
WHAT WERE THE THINGS THAT WORKED FOR ME
• COMING BACK TO THE GRISHAVERSE, FELT LIKE COMING BACK HOME
The Grishaverse is one of my favorite book world. Leigh Bardugo did an outstanding job creating this universe as well as developing her own magic system. I am obsessed with the world, the mythology, and the setting. I was invested in all things Grisha. When I started reading King of Scars, I felt completely at home. The world, the characters, the writing, everything that I loved from the original series was present.
• WE GOT TO KNOW THE TOUGH AND THE FEARLESS ZOYA
Zoya was a character from the original series who I didn’t really care for back then. She was beautiful, strong, powerful, yet she had a heart of a stone. From what I remember, we never really knew why back then – King of Scars resolved that problem. We got Zoya’s backstory and how she came to be a Grisha. We were shown why she turned out the way she did, some of what happened in her past was not a pleasant read.
Out of all the characters in this story, Zoya’s arc was the most compelling.
• AN UNPREDICTABLE PLOT TWIST
I love my books to have good and unpredictable plot twists. This one definitely had one. It took its time though. Majority of the book bored me, especially Nina’s POVs which I will discuss later. However, the patience paid off when the double cross happened. I loved it. To make matters even more complicated, someone came back – oh boy the next book will be so much more interesting.
This man deserved his own bullet point. I believe Isaak was a new character. I don’t remember him being mentioned on the original series (correct me if I’m wrong though) but he made an impact to me, nonetheless. I feel for this character. He was such a pure soul I wanted to shower him with all the nicest things in the world. I wouldn’t say anything more about him because I don’t want to spoil his role in the story. But I loved him.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
• THIS BOOK SHOULD HAVE JUST BEEN CALLED “THE STORMWITCH”
Look, I’m not complaining that we got more of Zoya. I appreciate that found out more about Zoya’s backstory but… it was disappointing because I wanted more Nikolai. The damn book was titled King of Scars yet the side characters got more ARC than he did. Even Nina had an ARC. Nikolai’s was the least riveting of all. Sadly. This is why I was so disappointed.
I didn’t like that the focus of this book was veered away from Nikolai. There were too many characters that were on focus that the only character that should have mattered ended up not mattering at all.
• IT WAS UNBELIEVABLY SLOW
This book’s pace was slow. Too slow. I find slow-paced books less appealing. I am impatient person and always like it when things are happening. This problem is a direct effect of what I was complaining about on the first bullet, there were too many characters that were focused on. We had to wait for one chapter “each” from other characters before we could get to Nikolai’s. It was frustrating because like I said, I was excited for this book because of Nikolai.
• TOO MANY PLOTLINES I DIDN’T CARE ABOUT
I was expecting the book to focus on how Nikolai ruled his kingdom while, at the same time, fighting off his inner demons wink wink. But it took a while to get there.
There were too many other plotlines to follow.
In the beginning, there was only two which I could deal with but then, eventually, it branched out to three. We were following three different storylines and it was cutting the time we had to develop Nikolai more as a character. The story ended with Zoya and Nina having a more compelling character arc than Nikolai. Even Issak had a better arc.
• NINA DIDN’T NEED TO BE HERE
Look, I love Nina. Don’t get me wrong. She is one of my favorite characters in this series, next to Inej. I think she’s an amazing character. She is strong, feisty, and she is just full of awesomeness. However, I feel like her entire plotline didn’t need to exist in this story. She already had the perfect ending in Crooked Kingdom. Her character had her arc, I didn’t see the purpose of creating another arc for her. Her plotline took away the time that could have been used to develop Nikolai as a character. All the things she did in Fjerda, didn’t really connect with the events in the Capital. If we removed all the Nina chapters, I feel like this story would be just fine.
• NIKOLAI, THE KING WHO WAS ROBBED OF HIS SPOTLIGHT
That title is sham. I mentioned it earlier, the title of this book should have been “The Stormwitch” since the person who had the most compelling arc in this book was Zoya.
Nikolai should have been the focus of his book. His arc should have been the priority. Sadly, that wasn’t the case here. Too many elements were at play which caused the loss of focus on Nikolai’s development. I feel like he was completely underdeveloped in comparison to Zoya, or even Nina.
• UGGGH. I CAN’T SHIP THEM
In paper, Nikolai and Zoya are a matchmade in heaven. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they had no chemistry. On Nikolai’s POV, there were moments he was inkling to say he wanted her, but I never really felt that he expressed it in a way that Zoya would feel that he liked her. He would joke about it, then nothing. I couldn’t feel the chemistry and that makes me so sad. I liked Zoya and Nikolai. I think they both have distinct personalities that would make them perfect for each other – one was a more outgoing on while the other a bit more reserved. It balances them out. Also, they both deserved happiness after everything that has happened to them from previous books. I just wish we gotten to develop their relationship more.
I was really disappointed with this. I expected more Nikolai, I got something else. Getting Zoya’s backstory isn’t terrible, it was okay, but you know, I was expecting more Nikolai which I didn’t get. I like I was lied to. I feel like I’m just going to be repeating the same thing over and over again because my main source of dissatisfaction was that. It all stemmed from the fact that there wasn’t enough Nikolai to keep me satisfied.
Will I be reading the next book? Definitely. After that shocker of an ending, I need to read the next one.