Book Reviews: Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

{BOOK REVIEW}
Title: Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo @LBardugo
Reviewer: Grace
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 462 pages (book 1), 536 pages (book 2)
Rating: 4.5 Stars

BOOK ONE, SIX OF CROWS

Synopsis

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Grace Review

A next to impossible heist involving six misfits, set in a world where greed, special powers and a magical drug make the reward even less likely. This story is incredibly complex but laid out in a way to keep the reader mesmerized and entertained throughout.

I don’t read a lot of books in this fantasy genre, so I’ll admit that at first, I had a hard time following along. The author launches right into the story without much set up, so it would have been nice to have a character glossary to keep things straight. However, with time, I sorted things out and as the story took shape, I became hooked.

Told from the six POVs led by Kaz Brekker, the crew leader, we learn of the proposition made with Van Eck of the Merchant Council with a huge payday. From there, Kaz assembles his team.

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”

Inej – the spy, this woman has the unique ability to track others, providing information and protection to Kaz. While she is bound to him and loyal, ending that debt is a daily thought. What I interested me the most was that it appears Kaz has deeper feelings for her than he is willing to admit. And it nearly costs him.

Jesper – the sharpshooter/gambler. Of the whole team, I felt the least connection to this character. His story, unlike some of the others, doesn’t tie to anyone else. I didn’t see his motives for putting so much on the line.

Wylan – the runaway, son of Van Eck, looking to prove himself when his father gave up on him. While he initially comes off as the weakest link on the team, I felt he did a good job at proving himself at the most unlikely of times.

Nina Zenik – the Grisha, who possess special “witch” like powers. She is most at risk on this journey as the goal of the team is to capture Bo Yul Bayur who produces the drug, Jurda parem, which is nearly instantaneously addictive to her kind. She also has a history, not necessarily a good one, with fellow journeyman, Matthias.

Matthias Helvar – the convict looking for revenge. His connection to Nina made him a huge risk for the team, with the likelihood that he could kill her or double cross them, at any moment. And while the anger doesn’t die for some time, deep below the surface, you can see he actual cares for her.

Six people, but a thousand ways this insane plan could go wrong.

The journey to and at the Ice Court to capture Bo Yul Bayur is filled with non-stop action.
Competitors seeking the same reward
Unexpected route changes
Double crossing
Old enemies
Sacrifice
All play a role in weakening the team and damaging their chances at success.

This story is incredibly detailed and well written, drawing me into their world in Ketterdam. As any good heist story is laid, the unpredictable roadblocks at every turn, kept me glued to the story. While one part of the mission was successful, the sacrifices were high. Now it is up to the team to try and save one another. I know I’ll definitely be moving book two up my TBR list.

“Stay,” she panted. Tears leaked from her eyes. “Stay till the end.”
“And after,” he said. “And always.”

BOOK TWO, CROOKED KINGDOM

Synopsis

The hotly-anticipated sequel to the Carnegie Medal 2017 nominated SIX OF CROWS, this is GAME OF THRONES meets OCEAN’S ELEVEN in a fantasy epic from the number 1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn – and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

Grace Review

Complex and unexpected, the gang of misfits is back.  However, this time, it’s not a “treasure” they seek, but payback.  This conclusion to the duet has so many layers and so many twists to keep your mind in overdrive, while remaining just as mesmerizing as the first installment.

Some readers might not like the format of this duet, with six POVs, but I think it was the best way to understand each character.  Although the first book centered on the mission, and introducing each character, this book really explores each of them on a deeper level.  While I loved the elaborate plans towards revenge, I liked discovering more about the characters and their past, even more.

Kaz Brekker – the ring leader, is driven by the loss of his brother and out to prove his worth against a ruthless adversary that nearly destroyed him.  I liked the balance of his strengths and weaknesses.  Despite being partially crippled and having a touch sensitivity, he has a combination of skills and intelligence to go toe to toe with stronger opponents.  I also loved the building tension between him and Inej.

“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you.  And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and not matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together – knives drawn, pistols blazing.  Because that’s what we do.  We never stop fighting.”

And speaking of her . . .

Inej – this book picks up right after her capture and her attempts to escape Van Eck.  As one who has struggled with being free for a good part of her life, she shows her resiliency throughout this book under the most extreme circumstances.

He’ll never trade if you break me.

Nina Zenik – still suffering from the after effects of the parem drug, she has become one of the weaker members of the group.  But she finds new ways to contribute, some of which are a surprise to herself.

The most compelling part of her story is the bond she has formed with Matthias in her recovery.

Matthias Helvar – although he is likely the strongest member of the group, I felt like he played the smallest role in their plans.  That’s not to say he doesn’t help, I just didn’t feel he matched up to the others.  However, like I mentioned with Nina, I loved their building connection.  And that ending!  Gahhh!!

“You are a tidal wave.  You’re a stampede.  You are overwhelming.”

Wylan – the illiterate boy who was harshly forgotten by his evil father, he was one of my favorite parts of this story.  His father’s treatment is horrific, and I applauded his strength in standing up to him once and for all.

“You’re weak because you’re afraid of people seeing your weakness.  You’re letting shame decide who you are.”

Jesper – he was my other favorite character in this story, which is crazy because I connected with him the least in book one.  What made the difference in this installment was how we learn about the pain he has caused his father over the years, and we get to witness his growth in trying to make amends.  I was also pleasantly surprised by the romantic connection he makes in this book.

The plot of revenge is complicated and not without missteps, as there is not one villain but two, to overcome – Van Eck and Pekka Rollins.  Hated these two!!!  The plans are elaborate and unpredictable, I just loved how everything came together.

“This is a city I bled for.  And if Ketterdam has taught me anything, it’s that you can always bleed a little more.”

As I mentioned in my first review, this isn’t a genre I normally read.  However, I was easily sucked into this magical world and thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

– Grace

PURCHASE LINKS
Book 1, Six of Crows: Amazon US – Amazon UKiTunes
Book 2, Crooked Kingdom: Amazon US – Amazon UKiTunes
Hardcover Box Set: Amazon US – Amazon UK (seen below, highly recommend this one, a great collector’s item with the black and red pages)


GOODREADS
Book 1, Six of Crows
Book 2, Crooked Kingdom

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