Allgemein, K, K - O, Reviews

Review: King of Scars (Leigh Bardugo)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 
Book 22 of My Book List 2019
 

”I’d like nothing better than another opportunity to talk,” said Nikolai. “But I’m afraid I have more bad news.”
Genya slumped in her chair. “There’s more?”
“This is Ravka,” said Zoya. “There’s always more.”

I swear this quote is SUCH. A. MOOD!!! *lol* The entire book is nothing but bad news and well, yeah this is Ravka. There’s always more bad news to come. XD Leigh didn’t just nail it with those words; she also set the pace for this doulogy! To be honest I had no idea this was going to be a doulogy and after finishing “King of Scars” I have absolutely no clue how she wants to wrap this all up. There are so many things that need to be addressed and the mere idea of facing them all in the next book is already making me look like a copy of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”.  (Which is one of my favourite paintings btw ;-P)

Still, I trust Leigh and I know she’ll write a phenomenal sequel. She did with “Crooked Kingdom” and I have no doubt that she’ll do it with “Rule of Wolves” as well. This said, the pacing of this book was kind of surprising. I mean I certainly didn’t expect it to be so slow at the beginning. There was a lot of information we needed to get in order to understand the current situation of Ravka and to say it’s precarious wouldn’t even get close to the truth. I guess if you’d just say that they are screwed you’d strike home. *lol*

So yes, there’s a lot of build-up and all the new players are introduced and evenly spread on the chessboard. I think in a lot of ways this was a very serious book and even though Zoya’s and Nikolai’s banter was one of the highlights in “King of Scars” there were a lot of severe moments that ultimately forced our beloved characters to grow. Which is always a good thing in my book! You know I’m a sucker for character arcs and to see Nina, Zoya and Nikolai work things out was more than just amazing. Before I spoil anything I better just head over to my character section and write it all off my chest! 😉

2

Welcome to Ravka where bad news are the standard and scary winged creatures turn into kings during the day! *lol* The good news is: There’s a lot to talk about! The bad news is that you’ll be spoiled like crazy if you continue to read. So whatever you do, keep in mind that it was your own choice! 😉

Nikolai:

”I’ll find a way. All his life, Nikolai had believed that. His will had been enough to shape not only his fate but his own identity. He had chosen what he wanted people to see – the obedient son, the feckless rogue, the able soldier, the confident politician. The monster threatened all of that. And they were no closer to finding a way to drive the thing out than they had been six months ago. What was there to do but keep moving? Lesser animals whined and struggled when they’d been caught in a snare. The fox found a way out.”

I know a lot of people said that Nikolai isn’t the charming Nikolai from the Grisha trilogy anymore and that they didn’t like this. In my opinion this was only realistic though. I mean how is he supposed to be his charming and carefree self if there is a monster living inside of him? He’s trying to save Ravka from hostile countries, he’s dealing with a lot of problems in his own country and he’s working really hard on uniting his people. And all this even though he turns into a monster at night. I can’t even imagine how exhausted he truly is. Yet he still keeps up appearances and gives Ravka his all. I love that about Nikolai. He’s a man of his people, his country always comes first and he’d do everything to protect his land and the people within it. So yes, Nikolai might not be as easy-going as he used to be but he has thousands of reasons to be the way he is. My poor boy deserves a break and whenever I read about how much he loves Ravka and how tired he is my heart broke for him. T_T Can we get a happy Nikolai in the next book, please?! <333

”Nikolai looked again at the old map of Ravka – violent, hopeless, unappeasable in its constant need. Ravka was his first love, an infatuation that had begun in his lonely boyhood and that had only deepened with age. Whatever it demanded, he knew he would give. He’d been reckless with this country he claimed to love, and he could no longer let his fear dictate Ravka’s future.”

”That’s what the job requires, Zoya. Ruling is not just about military victories. It’s not even about setting fair laws and seeing them enforced. It’s about these moments, the men and women who choose to put their lives and livelihoods in our hands.”

”I think I can fix it,” he said at last. “I’ve always known Ravka is broken, and I’ve seen the way it breaks people in return. The wars never cease. The trouble never stops. But I can’t help believing that somehow, I’ll find a way to outsmart all of the kings who came before and set this country right.” He shook his head and laughed. “It is the height of arrogance.”

”Nikolai had always understood that he and Ravka were the same. He just hadn’t understood how: He was not the crying child or even the drowning man. He was the forever soldier, eternally at war, unable to ever lay down his arms and heal.

Zoya:

”She intended to find a way to protect Grisha throughout the world so no one would ever have to live in fear or hide their gifts again – a governing body with representatives from every nation to hold their countries accountable, a guarantee of rights and of punishment for anyone who tried to imprison or harm her kind.

I already said it in one of my updates and I’ll say it again: Zoya is like a good wine that gets better with time. She’s an acquired taste and I love her for it! *lol* I kinda lived and breathed for the little snippets we got about her life and her background story was truly heart-breaking. Liliyana sounded like such a great person and it’s so sad that she died when the Darkling expanded the Fold. Also I can’t believe her parents wanted to marry off Zoya at the tender age of 9!!! Like WTH is wrong with you people?! *GRRR* I’m really glad she managed to escape that marriage and became a Grisha instead. I never thought I’d grow so fond of her insulting tongue but haha she really grew on me in this one. Also OMG! Now that she has Juris’s power will she be able to turn into a dragon too?! Because damn it, I’d be so down for a Zoya dragon in the next book! XD That way she couldn’t just spit fire with her sharp tongue but actually well, you know, SPIT FIRE!!! *lol* I’m ready for it Leigh! Just bring it on! 😉

”Zoya did not desire, she was desired. And that was the way she liked it. It was galling to admit that she wasn’t at all sure she could make Nikolai want her, and more galling to think that a part of her longed to try, to know if he was as impervious to her beauty as he seemed, to know if someone like him, full of hope and light and optimistic endeavor, could love someone like her.”

”What will I do with this? Look at my old face?” said Liliyana. “Send it to your mother as a peace offering.”
“It’s a gift for you,” Zoya replied. “So you can look into it each morning and see the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.”

”But the Darkling saw me clearly even then. ‘Is that really what you wish to say?” he asked.”
Zoya pushed a dark strand of her hair behind her ear. “So I told him the truth. I put my chin up and said, ‘They can all hang. It was my blood in the snow.”

Nina:

”Saints, she missed him. The ache of his absence felt like a hook lodged inside her heart. The hurt was always there, but in moments like these, it was as if someone had seized hold of the line and pulled.”

Ahhhhh!!! Nina was so savage in this! And I kinda liked it? XD What’s wrong with me? *lol* On the one hand Nina’s POV repeatedly ripped out my heart because the way her thoughts revolved around Matthias was just painful but on the other hand to see how strong she became also made me kind of proud? I mean Nina was always a very strong-willed character and did things her own way, but the Nina of “King of Scars” was on an entirely new level! I mean WOAH! The way she dealt with the Wellmother and basically everyone else who got in her way. Boy, that girl means business! Yet she’s still compassionate, gentle and kind. I think her experiences just made her a little more… I dunno ruthless? She knows none of the Fjerdans would show her mercy so she pays them back in kind. I’m very curious how she’ll develop and which kind of person she’ll be at the end of this trilogy. No matter what happens I’ll always love my Waffle Queen and that will never change! ❤ (Also to everyone who watched “Shadow and Bone”: I loved Nina in there! I’m totally besotted with Netflix Nina. *lol*)

”I don’t like that word,” Nina said, advancing. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”
Birgir laughed. “Two guns are pointed at you. You think you can kill us both before one of us gets a shot off?”
“But you’re already dying, Captain,” she crooned gently.

”Of course,” she said. “Matthias, your country can kiss my fat Grisha ass.”

”Nina tucked two tiny quail eggs into her skirts in case Trassel had a taste for the finer things, and found herself wondering if they might finish with sugared almond cookies. One could plot violent espionage and still hope for dessert.”

”I told you I would pray for you,” said Nina as she closed the door and issued her final command to her soldiers: Give her the mercy she deserves.
Nina turned her back on the Wellmother’s screams.”

The Saints, Yuri and The Darkling:

”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 mad of scars instead of wounds. The hive does not grant me the luxury of that lie. I cannot go on this way. None of us can.”

Okay, I admit it: I never saw that plot line coming! Not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that Leigh would introduce us to living saints and that we’d actually get to know some of them more closely. So that caught me totally off guard. I didn’t like Yuri right from the beginning because he was your typical religious fanatic and well as it turned out to have him around was a big mistake. I knew something was up with Elizaveta but I would have never expected her to go that far! Like OMG! Why??!! Juris’s and Zoya’s friendship was great and Grigori kind of grew on me too. It’s a shame both of them had to die because Elizaveta wanted to resurrect the Darkling and I can’t believe… I CAN’T BELIEVE she actually succeeded! I swear: The Darkling in Yuri’s body at the ending was… THE. DEATH. OF. ME!!! I can’t even!!! No, no I can’t! I mean I love the Darkling but OH GOSH!!! I think I might need a little time to digest this. *lol*

”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, just as you did with your training.”

”The Darkling could have killed either of them, but he had wanted to punish them instead. He might have been an ancient power, but he certainly had a petty streak.”

3

Zoya & Nikolai:

Zoya batted Nikolai’s quaking hands away from his buttons and took up the work herself. Through the thin cotton, she could feel the chill the night had left on his skin.
“What an excellent valet you make,” he murmured. But she knew he hated submitting to these small attentions, hated that he was weak enough to require them.

I SHIP IT! Badly! I never thought I’d say this but Zoya and Nikolai are made for each other. They both know how to deal with court problems, they are strong and independent and they obviously have a soft spot for each other! ❤ I loved the level of trust that is between them and they had so many little moments together. Their love is something that grows slowly like a delicate flower and I can’t wait for them to realize how much they mean to each other. Nikolai comparing her to a strong drink was everything! *lol* We all know Nikolai could handle her and I want them to kiss and confess their love for each other! Also their banter!!! It’s superior! I think Zoya might be exactly what Ravka needs and who knows, now that she’ll be some sort of saint people will probably accept her at his side? I really hope those two will have a HEA because they both deserve it! Nikolai needs a woman like Zoya and I’m convinced Zoya needs a man like Nikolai. So can they already kiss, please?! *lol*

”He’d come to recognize the bizarre phenomenon of Zoya’s beauty, the way men loved to create stories around it. They said she was cruel because she’d been harmed in the past. They claimed she was cold because she just hadn’t met the right fellow to warm her. Anything to soften her edges and sweeten her disposition – and what was the fun in that? Zoya’s company was like strong drink. Bracing – and best to abstain if you couldn’t handle the kick.”

”But when he thought of choosing a wife, the branches crowded in on him and he found himself glad to be left alone in the dark. Perhaps not alone, precisely. He very much enjoyed the quiet of this room, the warmth of the fire, and the steel-spined harpy seated across from him.”

”Zoya, say something spiteful.”
“Why?” she asked faintly.
“Because I’m fairly certain I’m hallucinating, and in my dreams you’re much nicer.”
“You’re an idiot, Nikolai.”
“Not your best work.”

”In that moment, he wished things might have been different. That he might not die tomorrow. That he could be led by his heart instead of duty.
Because Zoya was not kind and she was not easy.
But she was already a queen.”

”Of course I’ll come back,” he said. “I don’t trust anyone else to deliver my eulogy.”
A smile curled her lips. “You’ve written it already?”
“It’s very good. You’d be surprised how many synonyms there are for handsome.”
Zoya closed her eyes. She turned her face, letting her cheek rest against this palm. “Nikolai –“

Nina & Hanne:

”Nina studied her. There was something relentless in her features – the cheekbones sharp, the nose rigorously straight. Only the full thrust of her lips gave any hint of softness. It was a challenging face, stubborn in its lines. Beautiful.”

Mhmm… To be frank I don’t know how I feel about this new ship. I mean we all know I love a good f/f rep in my books and Nina deserves someone who will lover her the way she is. I’m just not sure that person is Hanne. I wasn’t convinced by their chemistry and it came out of nowhere. Like suddenly there is Hanne and Nina thinks she’s beautiful but she’s still grieving for Matthias so idk. *shrugs* And then she’s Jarl Brum’s child?! I mean I’m currently very fond of K-Dramas but Nina having a relationship with Brum’s child? I’ve a tough time imagining it. Guess only time will tell if I’ll be persuaded by this ship or not.

”If I had just been a boy. If I had been the son my father wanted …”
Nina gripped Hanne’s shouders. “You are perfect, Hanne. That your father can’t value your strength speaks only to his weakness.“

Ehri & Isaak:

”A reasonable gambit, but not one I was prepared to make.”
He studied her. “Not when you could simply wait for a pensive king to amble by and find you looking like a painting in green silk with flower in your hair?” Her golden eyes shifted away guiltily. “How long were you waiting, hoping I might stroll by?”
She bit her lip. “Two hours and twelve minutes. Give or take.”
He was both annoyed and pleased that she’d actually been frank.”

This was straight out of a Greek tragedy and I was really shook by this turn of events! Isaak grew on me and I really liked that boy and then BAM! Leigh killed him through Princess Ehri who wasn’t even Princess Ehri to begin with. They were both posing as someone they were not and actually fell in love. This love story was nothing but tragic and I’m still sad about it. They both deserved better and at another place and at another time they might have even been able to become lovers. T_T It’s so heart-breaking. It’s on the same level as Romeo and Juliet and ahhh my heart is still bleeding for those two. RIP Isaak! You did well, you were a great king and you could have been so much more! <333

”The things I imagine, the things I would hope for are not the musings of a queen.”
“A princess, then.”
Ehri smiled. “More like an artless girl. And end to war. A chance for the common people to choose their own futures. A world in which families aren’t torn apart by hardship … or duty. I must sound very foolish to you.”
“Not at all,” said Isaak. “If we don’t dream, who will?”

She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “My only comfort is that you never could have been mine. But know that I would have gladly been yours.”
“Ehri,” he moaned as the world began to go dark.
“Not Ehri.”

”I’m not the king of Ravka, just a lowly grunt trying not to perspire in his fancy clothes. No, that was definitely not the right reply. Isaak supposed he should say something flirtatious, but he wasn’t sure which secrets belonged to him and which belonged to the king.”

4

“King of Scars” started out way more slowly than I thought it would, but the last couple of chapters totally made up for the slow beginning! My mind is still reeling from all those revelations and it might take a couple of days until I digested this ending. All told, I enjoyed this immensely and I can’t wait to dive into the next book. Now that the stage is set I expect an epic finale in “Rule of Wolves” and tell you what? I’m ready! 😉

6 Gedanken zu „Review: King of Scars (Leigh Bardugo)“

  1. Great review!! Some of the twists were so shocking, I’m still not over the ending 😂 And omg I ship Nikolai and Zoya so much too, and the Isaak/Ehri plotline broke my heart as well. I agree I’m not that sold on Nina/Hanne, in theory it’s nice but they don’t have that much chemistry especially if you compare it to the Helnik dynamic. It also felt a bit soon after Matthias. Though perhaps Rule of Wolves will change my mind…

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    1. Thank you! =) Yes, this book was so slow at the beginning and then BAM! Lots of twists and shocking moments. *lol* Nikolai and Zoya are definitely my OTP in this series. XD Mhmm maybe I’ll like the Nina/Hanne ship more in the next book but so far I’m not sold either. The Helnik dynamic was just too good. ❤ I recently bought "Rule of Wolves" and want to read it in July. If you're up and free for a buddy read that would be fun! *lol* But no pressure! 😉

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