Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - second book of duology
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for KING OF SCARS*
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here. Find on Amazon UK, the Book Depository, and Bookshop.org UK (affiliate links.)
I had not particularly enjoyed KING OF SCARS on my first reading, so I was a little nervous picking it up again ahead of RULE OF WOLVES, and it made me even more nervous for RULE OF WOLVES. However, knowing what was coming (and that Nina wasn’t related to the main plot of KING OF SCARS) meant I actually had a lot of fun reading it, and so was enthusiastic going into this book.
The GrishaVerse is one of those rare series that sells so well (we shan’t go into the publisher politics and choices that have dictated that!) that the author can sell multiple spin-off series. It was fun seeing the connections to previous series, visiting old locations and having that history woven in.
However, the story is able to stand without the previous books (save for KING OF SCARS, but as that’s the first book in the duology, it’s a given). This is a story of war and bad odds. While there is still the power of the Grisha, the war was a lot more human, innovation pushing back and working in concert with magic. I love the themes of technological advancement fighting against magic and tradition at the heart of this series.
It’s clear that Leigh Bardugo is very familiar with her cast as they have lots of lovely moments of in-jokes or amusing dynamics that feels authentic. It’s the natural wellspring of people who have spent so much time together that they unconsciously alter their speech to a more relaxed rhythm.
The author DOES NOT pull any punches. In the moment, you hate that she’d dare do such things, but it’s so bold that you have to respect her for it. Plus it shows the real cost of war and lends a realism to the story that everyone happily surviving would not grant.
The ending is a fun teaser for the next series, whenever that may be…
Read my reviews of other books by Leigh Bardugo:
The GrishaVerse (this world):
- SHADOW AND BONE (Shadow and Bone #1, GrishaVerse #1)
- SIEGE AND STORM (Shadow and Bone #2, GrishaVerse #2)
- RUIN AND RISING (Shadow and Bone #3, GrishaVerse #3)
- SIX OF CROWS (Six of Crows #1, GrishaVerse #4)
- CROOKED KINGDOM (Six of Crows #2, GrishaVerse #5)
- KING OF SCARS (Nikolai Duology #1, GrishaVerse #6)
- NINTH HOUSE (#1)