Book Review | King of Scars Duology

Posted August 10, 2023 by TheNonbinaryLibrarian in book reviews / 0 Comments

King of Scars and Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Published by Imprint on January 29, 2019; March 30, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This will not be spoiler free, so read at your risk!

Okay, I thought I loved the Six of Crows duology, which I do, but this one!! Ugh, this one just gave me life.

The Plot:

Just as the Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom leave the reader wondering what’s happening most of the time, so does King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. It was interesting and fascinating to see how Nikolai and Co. handle all of the different battles they have to fight, as well how they handle the after affects of the previous Grisha verse novels. All the characters are dealing not only with how to rebuild after a civil war, but also having to come to grips with their past traumas from their childhoods and even teen years. One thing I loved about Shadow and Bone was the world-building. Six of Crows shows how well she can write captivating characters and in King of Scars she writes trauma so well that it completely breaks you.

Nina’s Storyline:

First off, Nina’s chapters ripped me apart. I have a lot of conflicting feelings about her chapters as well. I loved that she did go and bury Mathias in his homeland, fulfilling her last promise to him. I also love that we get to see Adrik and meet, Leoni, who was saved by Jesper’s mother. When that was revealed, I was really hoping her and Jesper would be able to meet but alas, we were denied that. Bardugo wrote trauma and grief so well in both these books, not just for Nina but for Nikolai and Zoya as well. Nina’s grief for Mathias almost killed me as I was reading the book. But I do like Hanne, and Nina definitely has a type. But anyways, while I love Hanne and love the fact that he’s transgender. However, I’m really saddened by how Mathias’s story went in Crooked Kingdom. I was happy to see the boy who killed him in this duology and to see how much he’s changed to not fully buy into the Druskelle propaganda. But Mathias death still was pointless and dumb. The series could’ve still work with Nina and Mathias going on the mission to free Grisha in Fjerda. Nina and Mathias could’ve been friends with Hanne, and at the end of the series, they could be ambassadors between Fjerda and Ravka. I’m esepcially annoyed that in the end, Nina’s whole identity is erased and she stays as Mila Janderstat. I get it was her choice but I feel like it would’ve been better keeping Mathias alive.

Zoya and Nikolai’s Storylines:

It’s difficult to talk about their two storylines separately since so much of it depends on the other, so I’m combining them. Zoya and Nikolai! Zoya and Nikolai are probably my favorite couple. Their friendship and back-and-forth was wonderful. They have so much trust built between them that the relationship was so beautiful to watch and grow. Although I did want to beat their heads together, at times, but they figured it out in the end. The part that will continually get to me is after the Darkling escaped Zoya and she believes that Nikolai’s pissed at her for failing because he won’t look at her. But in his chapter, he won’t look at her “because I am greedy for the sight of her.” Nikolai wants to look at Zoya so much, cares and loves her so much, that if he looks at her, he wouldn’t be able to stop looking. Zoya is the sun to Nikolai, and she’s in pain because he won’t look at her. He can’t tell her any of this though, so he responds with “I am looking at you now.” You cannot convince me that this is not a great love story!

“Zoya of the Lost City. Zoya of the Garden. Zoya bleeding in the snow. You are strong enough to survive the fall.”

Zoya wasn’t someone that I gave much thought to, but this series completely changed my opinion. She is THE Dragon Queen of Ravka (and my heart). She’s prickly and harsh and a “steel-spined harpy,” which I love because we’re not given enough harsh female characters, but none of this changes when her and Nikolai (finally) get together. Like we still get these kind of exchanges between the two.

“Kiss me, Zoya,” he said.


“I need reassurance that you are real and that we survived.”

Zoya went up on her toes and pressed her warm mouth to his. “I’m right here and I’m freezing, so move before I toss you into a gully.”

He sighed happily. There she was. Bitter and bracing as strong drink. She was real, and at least for now, she was his.

Rule of Wolves

Mental Illness Representation:

The major thing besides having to fight wars on all sides was Nikolai fighting the demon that inside him thanks to the Darkling. It was such a great representation of facing our fears and our demons and finding that fighting with them may be better than fighting against them. Getting rid of our demons may not happen but we can learn to live with what happens and move forward. With Zoya, the opposite stands is true. She’s walled herself off so well, becomes the thorns that protects flowers because showing love or any type of weakness is too dangerous. She protects her heart thinking it’ll keep herself safe, but as Juris says, “Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself.” So much great mental health representation in these two books!!

One Last Note:

GENYA SAFIN DESERVES BETTER! I’ve only read the first Shadow and Bone book, so I don’t know what happens with Genya and David, except for what’s present in these books and what happens in the show. Of course, the show differs here with how David’s death happens. I wish he wasn’t killed but is death was way more meaningful in the show then in the book. The man just had his wedding, went down to his lab to tinker, and was killed by a bomb. Why?? In the show, we at least have the fact that he sacrificed himself for Genya. Also, finding out that David has a journal he keeps on him for ways to compliment his wife and “correct” responses to certain reactions because he knows it makes his wife happy and he wants Genya to be happy. After everything happens, Genya deserves happiness in the world.


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