King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

  • This post has SPOILERS.

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.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

More than a year after it came out, I finally read King of Scars. I’m a huge fan of The Shadow and Bone trilogy, but Six of Crows was just okay, so I skipped Crooked Kingdom. This means that I missed important parts of Nina’s story and she’s one the POV characters in KOS. If I had read Crooked Kingdom, maybe I would have enjoyed Nina’s chapters more, but this way I was much more interested in everyone else.

Nikolai is still fighting the monster that The Darkling turned him into, but more and more, the monster seems to be gaining the upper hand. At the same time, he has to rule the country and pick his future queen (weird, considering that Zoya is right there), but things are even more complicated because there are miracles happening all over Ravka, there are people worshiping The Darkling and one of the new characters, a monk called Yuri, wants The Darkling to be officially recognized as a saint. Oh, and all the Saints are real.

I didn’t expect The Darkling to play such a big part in the plot, but I guess he has influenced too many lives to be quickly forgotten. So many things happen as a result of other characters belief in him and his power. Which brings me to the biggest surprise in the book: The Darkling is back. Not in his own body, but whatever, I’ll always imagine him as Ben Barnes anyways. Maybe I should have predicted his return, but I didn’t think Bardugo was going to go there. I’m really glad he’s back because he’s one of my favorite villains but bringing characters back after their story has already (seemingly) finished can be a really easy way of ruining a character.

I wish Isaak got more time and more development. An ordinary soldier has to pretend to be the king – this could have been so useful for Nikolai and so fun to read about. I think his death was unnecessary, but as with Darkling’s return, I guess that the writer has her reasons. Also, now that The Darkling is back, maybe Alina will make an appearance in the next book?

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