Book Review: King of Scars

Title: King of Scars

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: Nikolai Duology #1

Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

My rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads synopsis:

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.


Heart-racing, astounding, beautifully-written. King of Scars took my breath away. This book is one of my most anticipated reads this 2019 and it certainly delivered! My queen Leigh Bardugo certainly knows how to give her readers quite a ride!

The writing

Ah, yes. Leigh Bardugo’s writing. It never fails to amaze me! Her writing still weaves that same alluring story, but this time it made me anxious. It made me anxious because I really did not know what to expect, and because the pace at the first part was a tad slow. Despite that, I found myself absorbing the details of every scene.

The author also managed to make her characters standout. She told their stories in a way that will really get the readers invested. As I read on, I couldn’t help but sympathize with Nina, feel for Nikolai, and understand Zoya. Leigh’s writing style will always be my favorite thing.

The characters

The characters were simply amazing, well-written, and at the end you will certainly be attached to them.

I loved Nikolai in The Grisha Trilogy. He was charming, funny, intelligent, and very passionate in helping Ravka, in rebuilding Ravka. Now though, he is plagued by what happened at the war. We see his struggle, his demon, his determination, his doubts, his fears, his wants, his sadness once he realized that he cannot really get what he wants, his strength, and his sacrifices.

Zoya, oh my goodness. In the Grisha Trilogy, I thought about how there was more to her, and that there was more to her story. I just wasn’t convinced enough when she said she was turning her back on The Darkling because she had an aunt on Novokribirsk. I told myself that her aunt must have been truly, truly important to her. And I was right! Here, we really get to know Zoya and her backstory. We get to know her fears, her beliefs, her anger. I loved getting to know her. And if I had shed a tear or a hundred reading about her, well, no one needs to know.

Nina, oh my darling Nina. It was heartbreaking reading her first few chapters. We see how she is coping with everything that went down in Crooked Kingdom. We see how she is doing with a new mission, a new purpose. Although I loved seeing this new journey of hers, I was bothered. It was good yes, but I was looking for that connection between her perspective and the perspectives of Nikolai and Zoya. Something that would really bind their stories together. I’m crossing my fingers that we get that in the second book.

Of course, the minor characters were good as well! It was great getting to know the new characters. And it was also great seeing the old characters from the Grisha trilogy and seeing how they all are now.

The world-building

Just when I thought the world-building of the Grishaverse cannot get any better, it does. This is what I’ve been waiting for ever since Shadow and Bone! I have craved for that certain world-building that will really catch not only the reader’s attention, but their whole consciousness. And this is what happened to me in this book. I was really deep in the world-building—the places, the people and their thinking, the magic, the politics, the legends and myths. Everything! I originally thought the world-building in this book would be average (as I already know it quite well), but boy was I wrong.

The plot

The plot. WOW. WOW. WOW. I do admit, the first few parts of the book were slow. The kind of slow that makes you wonder when is it going to pick up, and when is the plot going to make sense. But I swear, once you get past that, you are in for the ride of your life! So many twists and and turns! The author pulls you in and you just never expect what will happen next.

I was at the edge of my seat holding my breath, shaking (I’m not even kidding, I was literally shaking), my heart racing, as I turn the page and read. The plot was just so unpredictable and so immersive, and at the end, I was gasping for more.

Quotes from the book

“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.”

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns.”

“Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”

“You are strong enough to survive the fall.”

“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 made of scars instead of wounds.”


Can I give this book a million exploding stars? Because that is what I felt like when I finished reading this book. Truly amazing! Thank you queen Leigh for another great book. I can’t wait for the next one!

How about you guys? Have you read this yet?! What were your thoughts? Comment down below!

3 thoughts on “Book Review: King of Scars

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