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King of Scars

Review

King of Scars

Three years after fighting in the war to save his country from the grips of the Darkling, Nikolai has grown from the boy king to a capable young ruler. Yet his experience with the Darkling still haunts him, with the demon he put inside Nikolai fighting to come out. To stop from being completely taken over by the demon that threatens to consume him, Nikolai will do anything to be free. Unfortunately, he also has an entire country to rule.

Zoya Nazyalensky survived the rule of the Darkling and has grown to be the general of the Second Army, the Grisha force of Ravka. Zoya will do anything to help Ravka continue to recover from the civil war it suffered through, and the one way she knows will help is by having a strong king. Together, she and Nikolai will search far and wide for some way to save their country, as well as his soul.

"KING OF SCARS is impossible to put down. Not only is each character unbelievably compelling, but Bardugo also weaves a whole new story that kept me turning the pages at lightning speed."

At the same time, Nina Zenik is forced to face her grief in the frigid north of Fjerda as she goes undercover to help free Grisha from the prejudice and cruelty of the Ice Court. Burdened by loss and a drastic new power, Nina will try to save other Grisha from the startling dangers that her enemy has in store.

In her gripping new addition to the Grishaverse, Leigh Bardugo answers fans’ prayers for more Nikolai with KING OF SCARS. Following Ravka after the brutal civil war fought by Alina Starkov while including characters from the beloved Six of Crows duology, KING OF SCARS is impossible to put down. Not only is each character unbelievably compelling, but Bardugo also weaves a whole new story that kept me turning the pages at lightning speed. While it seems each young adult fantasy novel is about some broken young royal, KING OF SCARS builds upon books of history to create a world so intricate, that the history of it seems almost as clear as our own.

Every book that Bardugo writes always contains such detailed and honest characters, and KING OF SCARS was no different. Most of the main cast were various characters that we had met in past books, but getting to delve into their personalities and backgrounds was an exciting journey that I loved taking. Nikolai is the perfect king --- never too tired to speak with anyone, cares about his people, charming, a war hero, a scientist --- what more could the people ask for? But reading about him struggling with his own past and the demon inside him helps remind the readers that even the seemingly perfect people have a deeper darkness inside. The banter between Nikolai and Zoya (or Nikolai and basically any other character) was one of my favorite parts of the book. Their conversations, even amidst what is supposed to be a serious situation, never failed to make me laugh, sometimes just because of the sheer surprise and wit.

I also love how Zoya and Nina are written in the story. Zoya is a cold, beautiful general. With too many books, when a cold character like her is delved into, there is always some big heart of love and kindness. And while Zoya is by no means cruel, she was not soft like too many readers expect of female characters. She is willing to do anything for her country, and uses her beauty as a tool. Nina is a kick butt girl with extreme power --- but she also has a soft spot for waffles and sweets. She, too, is willing to cross many lines to get what she wants, and her unwavering confidence is truly an inspiring read. Both characters are honest and real, and inspire the reader to be themselves, no matter who that person is.

As tensions between countries rise, Nikolai and Zoya learn more and more about the secret depths of the beginning of their country as they know it. Saving him from the demon that controls him may be the only hope to save Ravka, but either way one thing is for sure --- no one is safe.

Reviewed by Caitlyn K., Teen Board Member on February 13, 2019

King of Scars
by Leigh Bardugo