King of Scars is the start of the Nikolai Duology which is part of the wider Grishaverse. If you have not read the Shadow and Bone series and the Six of Crows duology be careful as I may spoil some parts in this review as they are all heavily linked together.
Title: King of Scars
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Audience: Young Adult
Face your demons… or feed them.
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.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from King of Scars because of the mix of characters from both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows, and after reading it, I not sure that I see the point of including them all in the same book.
When it comes to the characters in King of Scars, I already knew and loved them, so it didn’t take long for me to get used to their POVs and get engrossed in what they were doing. The only problem that I had was it felt as if there uneven balance in the development of the characters. I feel that Zoya went through a significant amount of development in King of Scars, and it was done great. However, for Nina, it felt as if she achieved the main purpose pretty early on and then had to come up with another thing to do to fill the space.
I also just wanted to mention the romances/possible romances in King of Scars as I am here for them. I hope that we get to see more of the developing dynamic between Nina and Hanne in the sequel, as I am interested in how their relationship is going to differ from the relationship that Nina had with Matthius. I think that Zoya and Nikolai are perfectly suited to each other, so I am curious as to how that is going to develop, especially after the ending.
When it comes to the plot of King of Scars, I not sure of the purpose of having both storylines playing simultaneously as they felt very disjointed from each other. I think I would have preferred to have had two separate books that had the respective parts but saw them through to the end. I think this is especially true for the sections that cover Nina as much like her character; the story didn’t feel well developed. It also didn’t help that she was the only POV on her side of the plot compared to both Zoya and Nikolai telling their section.
Overall, I enjoyed my time reading King of Scars and am intrigued as to where the sequel is going and how it is all going to pull together. It also provides some nice closure after the events of Crooked Kingdom, which I appreciated. I think it is a nice tie in to the world, and if you liked both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows, you will probably like King of Scars.