King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars (King of Scars Duology, #1) (Grishaverse, #6)

by Leigh Bardugo

The perfect gift for Leigh Bardugo fans, with a beautiful foiled cover. The much-anticipated first book in a brand-new duology by New York Times bestselling author, Leigh Bardugo.

Face your demons . . . or feed them.

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.

Reviewed by Quirky Cat on

5 of 5 stars


King of Scars is the first in a series of the same name, but it is also part of Leigh Bardugo's larger world, the Grishaverse. That makes it the sixth novel in that series, and I sincerely recommend that all potential fans read them in that order (it'll make more sense this way, and increase your overall appreciation – I promise!).

Nikolai Lantsov is the new king of Ravka. He's the king they deserve, even if not everyone can actually agree on that count. However, in order to continue protecting Ravka, he needs money, and he needs allies. And fast. A challenge made a bit more difficult by the dark curse coursing through his veins. He'll go to the end of the earth to find a cure, as would any of those loyal to him.

Meanwhile, many other Grisha are still active in their own wars. Nina has taken a job as an undercover agent, doing everything she can to save Grisha in neighboring (and less accepting) countries. She's not the only one doing her part.

“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.”

King of Scars was a seriously amazing read, one that sucked me in right from the start. Then again, since this is the sixth book in the world/series, it's pretty safe to say that I'm already very strongly invested in what is going to happen.

That being said, it's been a long time coming, getting to see a plot from Nikolai's perspective. He was one of my favorites in the original trilogy, and my heart soared to learn of his stories continuation here. Even if that meant he was going to go through some pretty horrible things in the process.

“The monster is me and I am the monster.”

Also, can I just take a minute to gush about how pretty King of Scars is? The dust jacket, the cover, and even the chapter headers are all absolutely stunning. They show a serious level of attention to detail, and it gives off such an elegant appearance.

Anyway, moving on. The main perspectives in this novel (Nikolai, Nina, Zoya, and a couple other surprises along the way) are pure perfection, as always. Nina's was a familiar voice, while it was fascinating to finally see how Nikolai and Zoya thought and felt. It was, simply put, illuminating.

For me, one of the many highlights had to be the world, as always, and the politics it brought with it. Nikolai is not in an easy situation, and Leigh Bardugo did a delightful job of laying out all of the complications for him, as well as for all of the others.

“It's not exciting if nothing can go wrong.”

I did it! I finally caught up in the Grishaverse novels! I almost feel like I don't know what to do with myself. I still have months to go before the Netflix series releases, and yet I want more of this world. At least I still have some of the short stories to enjoy.

Also! We're only a couple of months away from Rule of Wolves. Who else is counting down the days at this point? It's going to be another breathtaking read, I'm certain of it.

Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 18 January, 2021: Finished reading
  • 18 January, 2021: Reviewed
  • Started reading
  • Finished reading
  • 18 January, 2021: Reviewed