Review | King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo

One of my most anticipated reads for 2019 was King of Scars. Last week I shared my unboxing of the Illumicrate special edition box for this beautiful book and today it’s time for my review! I couldn’t wait until I had the physical copy in my hands so I started with the ebook on release day. Candyce and I did a reread of the original Grisha trilogy and posted our reviews of the first three books in the week of the release(1,2,&3), so I was fully prepared for this ride. Let’s see what I thought about the opener of the ‘Nikolai duology’.

Since this duology follows the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology there will be spoilers for both those series. If you haven’t read all the books up to King of Scars you will be spoiled if you continue reading. Keep that in mind!

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


When I first saw this cover I wasn’t immediately sold. There is A LOT of gold haha. But I do love the details and the longer I look at the cover the more I love it. And obviously the naked hardback I got in my Illumicrate is the most beautiful ever!

“So you know the best way to find Grisha who don’t want to be found? Look for miracles and listen to bedtime stories.”


We follow Nikolai as the new king a couple of years after the civil war in Ravka. Zoya is one of his most trusted generals and there are quite some other characters we know from the original trilogy. At the same time we follow Nina and a couple of other Grisha, both old and new characters, as she deals with the consequences of the end of Crooked Kingdom and her assignment for Ravka.

“You’re late,” said Zoya. “I’m the king,” said Nikolai. “That means you’re early.”

This book can definitely be seen as a slow paced one. I personally don’t mind that at all, and for example love Three Dark Crowns. But I’ve seen a lot of people complain about the ‘boring’ first half of this book. I absolutely loved reading about these characters and this world and could’ve kept going for ever like that. The second part of the book was more action packed.

I adored every single storyline in King of Scars. Between Zoya and Nikolai battling ‘the monster’, Nina on a quest, and Isaak in the Grand Palace I couldn’t choose a favorite. I know this is all VERY simplified but I don’t want to spoil anything haha. Especially the Isaak part since that doesn’t start until the second part. The first part of the book definitely set up the story and got me personally even more invested in these characters.

“Everyone mourns the first blossom.
Who will grieve the rest who fall?”

Of course I also have to talk about the ending! There were quite some twists and I did not see most of them coming. I did guess one twists from some other reviews and I’m still not completely sure how I feel about haha. Up until the last two pages I was a 100% loving the ending but that last twist was so so for me, I think haha. I do think that it did set up for a glorious sequel though! This opening book to the Nikolai duology promises a wonderful conclusion that will probably be the action packed book people were waiting for. I can’t wait to read more about these characters and these storylines.


This is the ‘Nikolai duology’ and while Nikolai is one of the main characters, this book definitely isn’t all about him. I’ve seen other reviewers refer to this one as Zoya and Nina’s book and I couldn’t agree more. This story wouldn’t be anything without those fierce ladies and I loved reading about them.

We first met Zoya in Shadow and Bone and I personally really hated her guts. But throughout the original Grisha trilogy she started to grow on me. By the end of Ruin and Rising I quite liked her and really enjoyed reading more about her. But I wasn’t expecting to love her this much, this quickly into the story. Being in Zoya’s head gives so much insight to her character and you can’t help but love her. She is such a strong character and I adored her development.

“Zoya of the lost city. Zoya of the garden. Zoya bleeding in the snow. You are strong enough to survive the fall.”

We know Nina from Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and my heart is still breaking for her. I love her so much and the ending of Crooked Kingdom was not something she deserved. Every time she talked about Matthias I had tears in my eyes. Slowly Nina finds purpose in this world again and I really like where her story is going. She mentions the other SoC characters a couple of times and those moments made my heart burst from all the feels.

And then there’s Nikolai. I adore him so so much but he didn’t really feel like the main character to me at all. His story is so interesting and I really liked reading about it but I also loved reading about it trough Zoya’s eyes. Nikolai is still as witty as always but the war definitely changed him. I really liked his growth in the last couple of chapters of the book and I can’t wait to read the sequel. It was also great to learn more of his backstory and get to know him even better.

“Progress is a river. It cannot be called back once it leaps its banks.”

There’s a ton of characters we already knew from (mostly) the Grisha trilogy and I was so happy I reread those books. I loved reading what became of them and seeing them pretty happy. We also got some new characters; Leoni, Hanne and Isaak are the most important ones. I especially loved Hanne and Isaak, they were two completely different characters but both won me over in an instant. Leoni was interesting as well, and I hope to learn more about her in the sequel.

Be prepared for a slower paced book when going into this one and focus on the truly wonderful characters. I highly recommend this book and think that going in with the right expectations will increase your enjoyment of this read! Have you read any book in the Grisha verse? Did you read King of Scars yet? Let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Review | King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo

  1. I absolutely loved this book!! I can’t wait for the next one and since this book my crush on Nikolai got even bigger. I just love him haha.

    1. So happy you loved it! Nikolai is definitely one of my favorite book boyfriends ever <3

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