Well, there are books and there are great books. This one certainly falls in the later category. You want to know why, let me tell you without weighing you down with too many details. So here’s a review of Leigh Bardago’s fantasy novel, King of Scars in short.
A self-obsessed but charming king who hides a demon inside, literally. A demon that he must purge or face the prospect of losing his kingdom and crown. And he can’t afford to do that. This has been his selfish dream carefully nurtured since childhood. Meet, Nikolai Lantsov — the handsome glib talker.
The second protagonist and my favourite character. Nikolai’s commander of forces. Strong, captivating with the acerbic tongue — the one who can control the wind. Zoya. Also a someone who must overcome the darkness of her past to become what she truly is. A powerful Greisha who can become. Anything.
Are we not all things?Leigh Bardago
And then, there is the competent but emotional spy who is fighting the death of her beloved, Matthias whose body she must bury and more importantly let him go. She has been speaking to him since his mysterious death. Nina has recently got over her addiction of parem, a magical drug. Not to forget, that she can hear voices of the dead. A complex but a highly likable character.
There are several other characters like the morose but good-hearted Adrik, Hanne — the Fjerdian Grisha in hiding who lights up Nina’s dark world and makes her smile again and Isaac, the palace guard who is transformed to play Nikolai’s doppelganger — a role he plays well until love creeps in.
Bardago takes these enigmatic, charismatic and complex individuals and throws them in grand and adverse situations to carve out a story that takes your breath away. We even get a Saint for a villain with a hive of bees as her aide.
Their stories race and interlace to create a magical, thrilling, awe-inducing saga which unfolds in Grishaverse, an imaginary but immensely credible and enticing world.
There are carve balls at every corner. Clever plot twists that you don’t see coming. A subtle and held-back romance between Zoya and Nikolai. Hair-raising adventure in every chapter and not a single dull moment where you feel like discarding the book and opting for Netflix instead — a rare achievement for a writer.
King of Scars is a rare concoction of awe-inspiring creativity, brilliant plot development and impeccable character arcs. Garnished with a lenient sprinkling of psychology, philosophy, Russian history and culture, mythology and more.
A masterclass for fantasy writers or writers of any genre.
The next book in the series is Rule of Wolves. It’s a duology and I am on it, already. Wait up for my review.
Do I recommend this book?
Do I even have to answer this?
What’s my rating on a scale of 1-5?