”Men who see too much have a way of losing their eyes.”
“And queens who trust too little have a way of losing their thrones.”
Don’t you love it when those bitter truths are thrown in your face? *lol* Queen Makhi and Yerwei were quite the duo and they continued to cause a lot of trouble in the second book. Despite that they weren’t an all too huge part of it though and I guess that was okay?! I have pretty mixed feelings about this series because on the one hand I absolutely adore Nikolai, Zoya and Nina, but on the other hand I always had the feeling that there could have been more?! It’s really hard to put this into words but I guess what it ultimately comes down to is that I didn’t enjoy the “King of Scars” duology as much as I thought I would.
I know I’m probably the only unpopular opinion here (at least when you look at all those raving 5 star reviews) but at the end of the day all I can do is to add my two cents and to hope that people will understand where I’m coming from. I mean 3,5 paws rounded up to 4 is still a great rating, because I DID enjoy the book, it just wasn’t what I expected? Hoped for? Wanted? XD Of course Leigh Bardugo can write her story the way she wants to, she’s the author after all, but I personally think there was a lot of potential that was lost somewhere along the way. No matter if it’s the storyline of the Starless Saint or how everything worked out with the Fjerdans in the end. There were so many possibilities how things could have developed and changed but most of them weren’t even used or used in a way I couldn’t get behind.
I know it’s always tough to write a good and well-rounded ending and I guess there were just too many things to handle after the final pages of the first book, but I still wish some of them would have been done differently. Anyway! My ship sailed, Leigh killed me once again and the conversations and easy banter were amazing and fun as always. So yeah, there were many things I enjoyed and that caused me to give this book four stars in the end. Before I go on and on I better just head to my spoilery characters section though and write all those mixed feelings down over there.
Ravka is probably not the best place to be on a vacation right now, but we still hope you’ll enjoy our hospitality. Discover our new inventions and don’t get too close to our spoiler machine. It’s not functional yet and might vomit spoilers all over you! But who knows? Maybe this is exactly your cup of tea? Wanna step a little bit closer?! ;-P
”How unfair. I have plenty of faith,” Nikolai objected.
Tolya raised a brow. “In what?”
“Good engineering and better whiskey.”
Me too, Nikolai, me too! *lol* I really love Nikolai Lantsov and he’s one of the most precious beans of the entire Grishaverse. (The only other bean at least as precious is Wylan. ;-P) Unfortunately my boy had a lot to deal with in this book and his character development definitely was more on the grim and serious side, which is understandable if you have to fight for everything your entire life. And boy did he fight! Nikolai gave everything for his country, his blood and sweat and tears, but in the end a small rumour was enough to kick him off his throne. I hated this so much because, yes his father was Opjer but his mother was still the queen of Ravka and he was more of a king than anyone else that claimed their right on the throne. It was unfair but I suppose that’s how people are. Just because he wasn’t the king’s son and had a demon within him they turned their backs on him and decided they wanted another leader. The injustice of it all… I’m still not over it and it makes me so angry!! T_T My precious Nikolai deserved better than this. After everything he did for his country… he deserved better than this… *sobs* I mean yes, he’s still somewhat the consort of the new queen but urgh he almost died for them, he bled for them and that’s how they thank him for it?! >_<
”War was like fire – sudden, hungry, and easiest to stop before it had taken hold. He would do all he could to contain this blaze. He feared for his country and for himself. He’d be a fool not to. But some part of him, maybe the privateer, maybe the demon, maybe the prince who had clawed his way to the throne, was itching for a fight.”
”Maybe the gift of being human is that we do not give up – even when all hope is lost.”
”He was meant to be the wise king, the good king, but right now, he didn’t know how to be wise or good, only angry, the wound inside him burning like the city below. The demon’s presence made it easier to bear.”
”All over Os Alta today, there are funerals. People are grieving. We are facing a new and terrible challenge, a different kind of enemy and a different kind of war, but just as we grieve together, we’ll face this new enemy together. We will fight just as we grieve, side by side.”
”He was happy to pick up a sword or a pen on Ravka’s behalf, to go without sleep or comfort in order to see a mission through. But kings didn’t take action – not the way that a privateer or even a general could. Being a king meant second-guessing every move, considering countless variables before making a decision, knowing that each choice might have consequences that others would pay for.”
”She could never be sure if it was her own voice or Juris’ that spoke in her head. She only knew that his presence within her was real. No figment of her imagination could be so irritating.”
Ahh Zoya! My queen had a really nice character arc and I’m very thankful for that. I loved to see how she forged her own path and figured out how to resolve her issues. I think the most important thing for her was to accept herself and to learn how to love herself, because if you don’t do that you’re not open to let other people into your heart. The only person that stood in her way was Zoya herself and I’m glad she finally opened up to others and allowed herself to be human. It didn’t only make her stronger but also a better person. Or dragon?! I cannot not talk about her turning into a fierce dragon because OMG!!! That scene was totally amazing! Ravka’s new queen is quite literally a fire breathing dragon saint! *lol* Also I have no idea why their people accept a dragon on the throne but not the kind of monster Nikolai has become, because erm yeah… both not exactly human, but okay?!
Sweet words and grand declarations were for other people, other lives. She brushed the hair back from his face, placed a kiss on his forehead. “I would stay forever if I could,” she whispered. He wouldn’t remember anyway.
”Did she want to forget? What a gift that would be. To never feel as humans did, to never grieve again. Then it wouldn’t be so hard to leave this room. To shut the door on what might have been. To say goodbye.”
”And if something happened to him on that battlefield? She’d been too afraid to say yes to him, to show him the truth of her longing, to admit that from the first time she’d seen him, she’d know he was the hero of all her aunt’s stories, the boy with the golden spirit full of light and hope. All Saints, Zoya wanted to be near that light, she wanted to feel the warmth of it for as long as she could.”
”She would forever be a bloodthirsty, furious girl, but she might allow herself to be something else too. If she had helped to earn peace for Ravka, then maybe she could grant her own heart a bit of peace as well.”
”This is what love does. In the stories, love healed your wounds, fixed what was broken, allowed you to go on. But love wasn’t a spell, some kind of benediction to be whispered, a balm or a cure-all. It was a single, fragile thread, which grew stronger through connection, through shared hardship and honored trust.”
”Her friendship with Hanne had helped to heal that wound. This mission, this purpose had helped, but the pain was still there and she suspected it always would be. His life had been stolen from him, and Matthias had never had the chance to find his own purpose. I served it, my love. I protected you. To the very end.”
So while Zoya and Nikolai fought for Ravka, Nina continued to be the spy in their enemies’ home. Which was a necessary role but still didn’t satisfy me? I mean I get why Nina remained in her role as a spy but I really wish her character’s story would have gone in a different direction. Especially at the ending. I mean she lost so much and all this just because of Brum and the Fjerdan’s old beliefs that Grisha are witches, yet she still stays in Fjerda to change the country for the better and this even as Mila and not as herself. *sighs deeply* I don’t know why Nina and Hanne being doomed to be in someone else’s skin for the rest of their lives is getting to me so much… but I think it has to do with me feeling good in my own skin? I remember being upset about Wylan posing as Kuwei and how much I hoped for him to be tailored back into his old self. It’s just… it doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s because I’m gender fluid and it took me so long to understand myself and to be able to express my male and female side. The fact that you’d be stuck in a body that isn’t yours and this for the rest of your life? It’s just… argh! *shudders* I don’t like this idea. At all.
”You are the lowest form of man. Without honor, without integrity. Djel djeren je töp.” Djel turns his back on you.
“Mila!” Ylva gasped.
Brum’s lips flattened. “You are no longer welcome in our home.”
Nina laughed. “I don’t keep company with vermin. My place is with the wolves.”
”Human life is worth preserving. But human lives? They come and go like so much chaff, never tipping the scales.”
And here is another plot line that could have been so good but ended up being a wasted opportunity. I mean what exactly was the point in bringing the Darkling back into the game? Aside of the nice talk he had with Alina and Mal he didn’t really add anything important to the story. His followers were in no position to give him the power he craved for and his fruitless journey to sainthood was pretty disappointing, dull and unnecessary. The only thing his character was good for in the end was to stop the plague from spreading. And he did it willingly… I mean the most egoistic and notoriously pitiless character ever just allowed them to spike him on a huge thorn in order to stop the blight?! Suffering for eternity and going through immeasurable and excruciating pain. Did I miss a memo?! Apparently he only came back to fulfil that purpose but it was a story line I just couldn’t wrap my head around, especially because his sudden willingness to sacrifice himself for others was so out of character. >_< Why Leigh?!
”He would go to the Fold. He would find those who followed the Starless Saint.
He would teach the world awe.”
”It’s hard to believe in a god that would deny me breath.”
The Prince of Fjerda and his servant Joran. Pff… another storyline I have to pick a bone with. I really liked the idea of the prince of Fjerda having a good heart and understanding the needs of his people because his health has been bad ever since he was born. He could have had such a unique outlook on things and strengthened by Hanne’s powers he could have changed Fjerda for the better. But nope, that’s not the story we got. Rasmus turned out to be an even worse tyrant than his father and Brum and in the end he died because Hanne was forced to kill him. I dunno about you but for me this was like a slap in the face. XD Not happy about Hanne and Nina posing as the prince and Mila for the rest of their lives. I mean Hanne might be okay in his body (she could have tailored herself male though and she could have still been herself) but Nina in Mila’s body and this until she dies… Okay I won’t say more.
”I know the way people talk about me. I know they wish I hadn’t been born at all and that my little brother could be the one to inherit.”
Hanne’s face was fierce. “Well then, you must stay alive to spite them.”
Zoya & Nikolai:
”What they had endured on the Fold had connected them in some way, and he knew he would see Zoya when he turned – yet the sight of her struck like a sudden change in the weather. A drop in temperature, the crackle of electricity in the air, the feeling of a storm coming on.”
Zoyalai!!! My ship finally sailed and gosh was I happy about it! Those two were killing me with their tender moments, soft touches and easy banter. <333 Whenever they were in a scene together you could basically feel their chemistry crackling on the pages. I’m kinda sad we didn’t get even more of their moments because they were all so special and sweet, but I guess it’s better this way, because otherwise this would have turned into a lovey dovey romance and we all know Zoya isn’t exactly the romantic kinda girl. XD We’ll leave that to Nikolai because I’m sure he’ll spoil her senseless. *lol* Still, it took so long for Zoya to admit her feelings for him and I was so angry at her after the talk they had on the ship. I mean it almost took Nikolai dying for her to realize that she could have lost him forever. Then again this was totally in character for her so I can’t be mad at her. XD Also ADKFASLDFJSALKDF why is Nikolai so soft!!?? I can’t with him. I want a Nikolai Lantsov in my life! <333
Zoya sat down beside Nikolai on the bed, trying not to jostle him.
“You must be still,” she murmured.
He shut his eyes and gripped her hand in his. Zoya knew the Healer had noticed it, knew he would probably gossip about it later. But she could weather the gossip.
”All Saints, are you saying I haven’t seen you at your worst?”
Zoya tossed her hair. “If you had, you’d be under the covers, gibbering prayers.”
“A unique way of getting me into bed, but who am I to question your methods?”
”Don’t pretend to shrug this off. You’ve barely looked at me since I returned.
Because I am greedy for the sight of you. Because the prospect of facing this war, this loss, without you fills me with fear. Because I find I don’t want to fight for a future if I can’t find a way to make a future with you.
”I would give you a crown if I could,” he said. “I would show you the world from the prow of a ship. I would choose you, Zoya. As my general, as my friend, as my bride. I would give you a sapphire the size of an acorn.” He reached into his pocket. “And all I would ask in return is that you wear this damnable ribbon in your hair on our wedding day.”
She raised her hand and let her fingertips trace the line of his beautiful jaw. He closed his eyes. “We would go on, you and I. If I couldn’t be queen, you would find a way to win this battle and save this country. You would make a sheltering place for my people. You would march and bleed and crack terrible jokes until you had done all you said you would do. I suppose that’s why I love you.”
His eyes flew open and his face lit in an extraordinary grin. “All Saints, say it again.”
She didn’t want to ask. Her pride forbade it. But her damn pride had cost her enough. She looked away. “And if … if I wished for more?” She felt his fingers on her chin, turning her head. There was an unwanted ache in her throat. Zoya forced herself to meet his gaze. In this light, his hazel eyes looked almost golden.
“Then I would gladly be your prince, your consort, your demon fool.”
Nina & Hanne:
”This stinks of the Hringsa. If there are Grisha in my streets, in my capital, I will find out.”
There are Grisha in your house, Nina thought gleefully.
“Don’t get cocky,” murmured Hanne.
Their ship was okay in here but I’m still not convinced by it, which is such a shame because I’m usually the first one to support an f/f ship. For some reason this one just didn’t do it for me though?! I had the same problem with Mia and Ash when I read “The Nevernight Chronicles” and I can’t exactly put my finger on it but their relationship just didn’t work for me. It was too sudden, too convenient; there wasn’t enough chemistry between the two. It all just felt very… flat and not passionate enough?! I dunno. Considering they were hiding their love in front of their enemy’s eyes, there should have been a firework of emotions and all-consuming passion but there just wasn’t?! I dunno. Still feeling pretty meh about that ship. >_<
”I know all the things that aren’t good for me. And I want them just the same.”
Nina’s throat was dry. “Do you?” she asked quietly. “Want them?”
Hanne’s copper eyes glowed like topaz. Slowly she nodded. “Since the moment we met. Since you charged into that clearing like a girl I had dreamed into being.”
”Can you love a murderer?
“I might ask the same.”
Hanne hesitated. “And can you love me in this body?”
“It is your heart I love. You know that, don’t you?”
Genya & David:
”You will sit yourself down and let me make sure you don’t have a concussion. Then you will have a cup of tea. And then, if I’m feeling generous, you can talk to David about things that explode.”
“You do realize I’m the king?”
Nikolai looked to David for help, but David just shrugged. “I don’t argue with my wife when she’s right.”
All I can say to that is: LEIGH WHY????!!!!! WHY???!!! WHY??!! I don’t get it! Why did David of all people have to die?! Genya suffered so much already and now you take the love of her life?! David’s death was at least as needless as Matthias’s death and I don’t know why Leigh insists on killing off sweet and gentle characters!! I will never be okay with that… Never!!! T_T *cries an ocean full of tears* Genya and David would have deserved to be happy. T_T I can’t say more than that….
”The things the Darkling asked me to do … I did them mindlessly, thoughtlessly. I helped put the collar around Alina’s neck. I created the lumiya that allowed him to enter the Fold without her power. Without my help, he never could have … I won’t be responsible for this too.”
Nikolai & The Crows:
”He’d have sussed out Vadik Demidov’s origins, raided the Fjerdan treasury, and placed himself on the throne in the time it took Nina to braid her hair. On second thought, probably best Kaz wasn’t here.”
Don’t you love it how everyone is against Kaz’s plan but once he says it’s for Inej they are all in?! Ahh the Crows will forever be my favourite gang. <333 I loved Nikolai’s and Zoya’s interactions with them and I would have been happy to read even more. XD To see them in another book of the Grishaverse always gives me life. Also I gotta say it: I want more scenes with Kaz and Nikolai because those two could be such a great duo!! Just imagine them going on a heist together. The legendary Kaz Brekker and the infamous Sturmhond together on one team?! Ohh what trouble they would cause! *lol* I’d be totally down for a book full of short stories of them teaming up together or even an entire trilogy just letting them do their thing. XD Can we have that, Leigh?! Please?! =))
”Better to get fat on information that starve on good manners.”
”One question,” said Wylan. “What are you going to use the titanium for?”
“Why does it matter?” asked Nikolai.
“Because unlike Kaz, I have a conscience.”
“I have a conscience,” said Kaz. “It just knows when to keep its mouth shut.”
Jesper snorted. “If you have a conscience, it’s gagged and tied to a chair somewhere.”
”I have a gift for order and a taste for chaos.”
Kaz raised a brow. “The man with the monster inside.”
“I see the wheels turning in your head, Mister Brekker, wondering what you might do with this information. I would ask, one liar to another, that you keep it to yourself.”
“I find secrets are the most reliable stocks. The longer they’re kept, the more their value rises.”
Despite being in one hell of a reading slump when I started to read “Rule of Wolves” I really enjoyed the book once I got out of my slump and actually picked it up. The characters are all close to my heart and I adore them so much. Still, there was a lot of lost potential and I just couldn’t overlook it. I mean yes, when it comes down to it, the book was still amazing and enjoyable to read, I just would have wished for a little bit more when it came to certain characters and their development/character arc. All told, this was still a fun ride and if you loved the Grisha trilogy and “Six of Crows” you’ll definitely like this one as well.