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.
Hello all, and meet my ghost, who is currently writing this review.
First of all, I think there will be plenty of people who are not thrilled with the end, but I am LIVING for it (and I’ll list my reasons why once the book has been out for a while – I have maaany reasons why it’s a hella smart move). However – I did have some issues (like the pacing), and I’ll talk about them below, but overall, Queen Leigh is so freaking brilliant. I am in utter and complete shock. I had to reread the last chunk about 10 times before the ending sunk in. I screamed my throat raw, scared my cat, and practically passed out.
First of all, an absolute massive standing ovation to Lauren Fortgang, who narrated this book on audio and blessed me with her talent. I absolutely 10000% recommend the audio version – and this goes for the original trilogy too (which she also narrated). The audiobooks are outstanding. (Yes I am unhealthily obsessed and Lauren, if you read this, I am… sorry.)
That also leads me to my next point – you DEFINITELY need to read the original trilogy (Shadow and Bone) before reading this – which is legit one of my all time favorite series. I also recommend reading Six of Crows because a main character (and massive spoilers) are in this book for her. Basically, please read through all the Grishaverse books. You won’t regret it, and if you don’t, you will be spoiled for all of them.
Alright, back to this barely coherent review.
I love everything about my precious son Nikolai, and like always, he is absolute perfection. I’ve been BEGGING for this book for the longest time. But I definitely had some issueswith parts of the book – mostly about certain plot points that had me scratching my head a bit. Some parts were slow.Now that I’m finished, I think some of those bits are growing on me, but I gotta say (sadly) that I found myself a bit bored at times (more below). But listen. Leigh is my favorite author. I freaking adore everything she writes. Her worldbuilding is absolutely astounding, and her characters are just… I can’t. I love them. So that, paired with the ENDING THAT KILLED ME, is the reason I am rating this five stars. Queen Leigh deserves nothing less. I admire her endlessly. I think I’ll enjoy this even more the second time around, especially now that I know what she was building towards.
“One risks looking less like a monarch and more like a hostage.”
“You have emissaries to manage these matters of state,” Zoya had argued, “ambassadors, underlings.”
“The public may forget how handsome I am.”
Let’s break it down.
This is where I had a hard time. I love her, I REALLY do – so much. She’s hysterical and super relatable, not to mention, a great role model for girls. She’s the friend I wish I had growing up. But I found myself dozing off during her chapters. I’m not going to say much since we’re right at the release, but she’s away from Nikolai + co on some mission in Fjerda, and it seemed to drag and drag. I was so excited to see her interact with my crew (Genya, David, Zoya, etc) but alas, she’s occupied. Don’t get me wrong, she has some great moments – and some teary ones for sure, especially if you know the ending of Crooked Kingdom (she’s still dealing with this). But I just didn’t love her chapters. That being said, I’m 1000% stoked to see the moments I craved in the sequel.
My golden son. I said it above, but he’s perfection. He’s witty, clever, smart-mouthed in the best way, and all around charming as usual. Belt up those pants, friends, otherwise he’ll charm them right off. If you’ve followed his story, you know what happened to him in R&R, so obviously he’s dealing with that – as a major plot point of this book. (Queue Britt sobbing into her tea.) What made me the most sad, though, was for a book titled King of Scars, I feel like we didn’t get ENOUGH of him. He didn’t have that many POV chapters – and it felt like Zoya’s book tbh. But even still, he’s a freaking badass, and always manages to steal the show. The two-clever fox. I knew this, and he STILL shocked me out of my seat more than once.
And the end? *bites fist* *zips lips before I explode* Ahhhghghghgh. (more on this lower)
I like her, but I haven’t fallen in love with her. I will say this though – she grew on me a lot, and Leigh wrote her character arc beautifully. In fact, that’s the focus of her chapters – we find out so much more about her past and what really went on from her perspective during the Grisha Trilogy. All that, and she had some truly fantastic moments. I loved the banter between her and Nikolai. Now, I know some of you are wondering about the ships so I’m going to post my thoughts in the spoiler tag. (view spoiler)
Ahhhhhh so yes. I have so many mixed feelings! But again, I freaking love Leigh, and I’m not going to get overly critical here. But this kiiiinda felt like a prologue book. I mentioned I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nina’s chapters. I actually really enjoyed Zoya + Nik’s POVs – though at around half-way, things got real weird and I was suddenly questioning if I was reading the same book. Things change course super fast and the plot takes a nose-dive in another direction and I was like??? What is happening??? – I’ll add more once the book has been out for a while, but for now, I’ll just say this: Parts of it, I LOOOOVED, and other parts, I’m still totally confused and frazzled about.
Hot damn can Leigh write a killer ending – and oooooooooo boy did she go where I never thought she’d go. Let me tell you right now – we’re going to have SO many people that hate this. I’m calling it – people are going to complain, and I’m going to have to try hard not to roll my eyes – because I freaking LOOOOVED it (and not for reasons you might expect). If you think about it, which I have – a lot – it’s freaking brilliant. I’ll expand more once the book has been out for a while, but holy hell I am so here for this. The next book – oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.
That’s all for now because hi yes I am shaking all over again.
More soon, I promise.