BOOK REVIEW: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh BardugoKing of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1)
by Leigh Bardugo
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


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.

“Drüsje,” Birgir hissed. Witch. 
“I don’t like that word,” Nina said, advancing. “Call me Grisha. Call me zowa. Call me death, if you like.”

I literally have no idea how I’m going to review this. There I said it. This book was in my top five for new releases that I was DYING to get my hands on. I actually finished last night and honestly I’m a little torn on what to think. If I’m being completely honest, I’d say that I am even a tad ..disappointed(?) and that this book isn’t exactly what I thought it would be.

War hadn’t done it. Captivity. Torture. But loss was something different, because she saw no end to it, only the far horizon, stretching on and on.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing though! No, not at all. The main reason this is different than expected is because instead of this book being entirely about Nikolai, we have a whole side plot featuring Nina on a mission in Fjerda. I actually really enjoyed those chapters for the first half of the book…maybe even a little more than Nikolai’s which seems like a sin which I type it lol. I love Nina so much and I sobbed during *that* particular scene. View Spoiler ». I am very sure that her journey and mission will end up tying into Nikolai’s in the next book in a very big way, but overall for this one I was left confused as to why she had such a big and separate part when the book is literally called King of Scars. Again, I did enjoy her chapters and OBVIOUSLY her in general, just a little confused.

Because Zoya was not kind and she was not easy. But she was already a queen.

Side note before I continue on: I really think you need to read/ re-read all of her previous books before getting into this one. I haven’t read the Grisha series in a LONG time and there were a few things and characters that I had questions about because it had been so long. Like Zoya….all I really had remembered about her was that she and Alina didn’t get along at first and that she was very intense and could be harsh with her words. I actually really loved her arc in this book. Seriously. We got to learn a LOT more about her like her past, why she is the way that she is and it did not disappoint in any way. Also…thoughts on her with Nikolai? By the end I think I want them together…maybe???? Yes.

On the other hand with Nikolai…..who I felt like we didn’t get nearly enough of *sobs*. We did get his usual loveable/ dramatic/ dashing/ quippy self but..just not enough. I loved the scene at the end View Spoiler ».

Finally, speaking of that ending twist/reveal………………… I did not see that coming. VERY interested to see how that all plays out and I bet there are either going to be some very happy or very unhappy people after reading it. WE SHALL SEE. Overall, this was a good start to the series, but not a great one. I’m expecting great things for book two and I’m sure Bardugo will deliver.

Each spine had been an open doorway whispering, Come in, come in. Here is a land you’ve never seen before. Here is a place to hide when you’re frightened, to play when you’re bored, to rest when the world seems unkind.

Stay up to date on our latest book posts

They contain Reviews, Recommendations, Upcoming Releases & Giveaways! We don't want you to miss anything, so signup below!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


  1. Lindsi

    I keep hearing about this author and her books, but haven’t read any! I know, I know — what’s wrong with me? I’m sorry this one was a tad disappointing. It’s always a bummer when books don’t live up to our expectations. Yay for unexpected endings! Was it just surprising, or was there an obvious cliffhanger?

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    • Lindsi

      I always forget to let Comment Luv

      • Lindsi

        Okay, clearly I cannot function today, so I’m going to stop trying — haha! In my defense, a kid hid the enter key before I was finished with this one, so I retyped what I’d meant to say and then this was to explain the insanity. 😉

    • Arielle

      Lolllll too funny. Yes my darling child is only 10 months but she’s already constantly trying to snatch my phone or bang away at keys if I have the laptop in front of me. You should definitely try her stuff out when you get a chance. The Six of Crows duology is my favorite of what she’s written. And it was both surprising to me and also definitely a cliffhanger because of that surprise!!!

  2. Lindsi

    I always forget to let commentluv load before I hit submit!
    Lindsi recently posted…Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine, Masha D’yans (Illustrator)My Profile

  3. Raven

    I haven’t read this book yet but I’ve heard it’s a continuation of Grisha Verse! I loved Grisha Trilogy but I’ve read it a long time ago and only remember the main parts of the story. I’m sorry it didn’t completely meet your expectations. I’ll try to lower my expectations when I finally get around to it.
    Great review! 🙂
    Raven recently posted…Echo North By Joanna Ruth Meyer [Review]My Profile

    • Arielle

      I bet you’ll really enjoy this one too, then! I think the biggest part of “let down” for me was that I went into it expecting just Nikolai. Like I said, I loved Nina’s and Zoya’s parts too, I just wanted so much more of the dashing King! haha 🙂

  4. Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)

    I finally got around to reading Shadow and Bone, and of course loved it. So now I feel like I can go on and read all the rest of those, as well as the new series like this one. Good to see that I should go ahead and read through the before I start this. And I love that there is a twist at the end, I love that! Great review!
    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted…Blog Tour Review with Giveaway: Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerryMy Profile

    • Arielle

      Thanks, Lisa! I hope you end up enjoying all of the rest of them!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

© 2024

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑