The dashing young king, 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, Nikolai 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 general, 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.
King of Scars is a fantastic addition to the Grishaverse. It feels a lot more connected to the events in Shadow and Bone than Six of Crows was. One of the main reasons for this is that the narrators of this book are Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina. Nikolai and Zoya are battling to keep Ravka afloat after the events in Ruin and Rising. Even though time has passed the wounds in the lands are still present and King Nikolai is still fighting the beast inside of him that threatens to engulf his mind each night. These characters are still struggling with the trauma that the Darkling's reign left behind.
Nikolai and Zoya venture to find answers about how to rid Nikolai of the monster inhabiting him. While Nina is on a mission in Fjerda to find Grisha and bring them to Ravka. I really enjoyed that Nina was in Fjerda on her mission, especially as she works through the grief of losing Matthias. She was one of my favourites to read about as I was so invested in her goal to help those suffering. We also learn more about her altered Heartrender powers as a result of the jurda parem in Crooked Kingdom. There are little mentions of the crows in Nina'a chapters as she recounts her time with them, sadly however they don't ever appear. I hope they make an appearance in Rule of Wolves (KOS #2) that would be AMAZING. Oh how I miss all of them.
What let this book down was how it underutilised Nikolai's chapters. I felt that a heavier emphasis was put on Zoya and exploring her story, whereas I really thought Nikolai would take the center stage a bit more. I do really enjoy Zoya's character and her development in this book was great to read about. I just wanted a bit more Nikolai. I feel like he was there but we didn't get enough of him! I hope that this is something that changes in the next installment.
One aspect of this book that I love is how it develops on the background of Grisha magic. There is a pivotal character in this who blows everything we know about Grisha out the window and allows us to think of them in a completely different way. It was only touched on, but I suspect this will play an even larger role in the sequel which is very exciting.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has read and loved the Grishaverse books in the past and want to expand on this world with new stories. Ideally, it would be good to have read Shadow and Bone as well as Six of Crows before reading this book as this book follows chronologically and the main characters are also from those two separate series. However, if you are like me and haven't read the Shadow and Bone series since it came out (many years ago) and you read Six of Crows recently, you should be okay without a re-read. There were times when I was a bit lost when they mentioned previous events in S&B that I could not for the life of me remember, but I could still engage with this story. Perhaps if you have time re-read Shadow and Bone beforehand just so your mind is fresh with all those details.
I am very excited for Rule of Wolves. I am hoping that Bardugo was holding back with us in King of Scars to give us an explosive sequel. From the ending of this book, I think this next installment will be one crazy ride and I cannot wait to see what happens.
4 Falling Books