Sampler Review: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo

That’s right, no starting quote. The one I wanted to use eventually seemed a bit spoilery to me as it reveals who the Six of Crows character is. This made me decide to cut this sampler review into two parts: My un-spoilery opinion and some spoilery.
The first thing in the spoiler part are what the POV’s are, as they are somewhat spoilery, especially as it reveals who the Six of Crows character is. After that I will shortly summarize what the first three chapters are about, including a touching quote from the third one and I end with some thoughts and speculations. Note that these aren’t spoiler-spoilers as I only discuss the first three chapters.

So, about the sampler. I won it in a giveaway (Shoutout to @Rachels_Reads on Twitter!) along with more samplers, a bunch of bookmarks and some pins from, if I remember correctly, YALC. The King of Scars sampler was with no doubt the highlight of the package. I have been really excited for this book ever since it was announced and, girl, am I now after reading this thick sampler. Most samplers I have read are either really thin, have small pages or have just one chapter, but this sampler had about 50 full-size pages.

The sampler contains three chapters in different POV’s, with the first being a totally new character which will probably not be a reoccuring character, just a means to start the story and to connect it to the second POV (but I may be awfully wrong). The second POV continues where the first one left off, and that is where it gets really interesting in my opinion. I am trying to be as vague as possible, but you encounter something that everyone that read the Grisha Trilogy will immediatly recognise and go think ”Oh, shit.” and opens the way for, what I think, will be a really interesting plot. The third one is the POV of the Six of Crows character who is somewhere else in the world and their story is at that moment not yet connected to one in the first two, but I have the feeling they will collide soon enough. It feels really good to immediatly recognise the unique personalities of the characters in just a few pages for each. This just predicts that it will be a book with amazing writing once again.

I don’t just like the story this far, I absolutely love it. It doesn’t feel like Leigh sucked a whole new plot, new enemy or problem completely out of her thumb just for the sake of a new book. It really feels like the aftermath of everything that happened in both The Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology and the story really continues where it left of on both fronts, but with the best of both series. You can also feel how Leigh’s writing is once more getting better, better at being mysterious

From what I have read, I will say that, in contrary to Six of Crows, this duology will absolutely not be something to read as a standalone series. Even though Six of Crows was in the same universe as The Grisha Trilogy and in the timeline shortly after it, you could read Six of Crows easily without reading the Grisha Trilogy, like I did. It is true that you miss some worldbuilding, won’t get some references or recognise a couple of names, but it is relatively minor and easy to read through. But King of Scars is totally different. Without having read The Grisha Trilogy the very first two chapters don’t make sense and neither does the third if you havent read the Six of Crows duology.

Will I buy King of Scars? Absolutely yes! I was already planning to buy it before I even read the Grisha Trilogy earlier this year if I have to be honest. I absolutely love the Grishaverse and Bardugo’s writing so how can I say no to that? 117 days to go until release..


Everything beneath this, can be seen as a spoiler, but is just about the first three chapters of King of Scars, so it is a really low level of spoilers.

The first POV is from a little boy called Dima. The second is Zoya and the third is Nina.

Dima is a little boy living with all his brothers and his parents. When he is taunted by his big brother for not closing the shed door, which he did, after they hear it clattering, he goes outside to close it again, only to meet a danger in the shed. It is Nikolai in his weird monster form. He is rescued by a Grisha, who turns out to be Zoya. She takes Nikolai with her to a coach and that is where the second POV starts.

Nikolai transforms back into himself in Zoya’s POV and they go back to some sort of diplomatic visit with some duke. It is explained that Nikolai is having nightly ‘episodes’ where the beast in him comes out and he goes flying and hunting at night, which is exactly what happened when he was found in the first chapter.

The next POV is Nina’s. She is undercover in Fjerda to help rescue Grisha who are stuck there after Fjerda doesn’t let people travel in and out of the country that easily and Grisha are still being hunted and killed by the drüskelle. I took  the quote  below from that POV. I wanted to start with this quote as I really love it, but I quickly realised it is somewhat spoilery for the people not wanting to know who the Six of Crows character is.

”She didn’t want to be the girl she’d been, the girl Matthias had loved. If Genya could make here someone new on the outside, maybe Nina’s heart would oblige and beat with a new rhythm, too. Of course, it hadn’t worked worked. The Fjerdans saw Mila Jandersdat, but she was still Nina Zenik, legendary Grisha en unrepentant killer. She was still the girl who craved Waffles and who cried herself to sleep at night when she reached for Matthias and found no one there.”

Seeing Zoya, Nikolai, Tamar and Genya in the story was absolutely no surprise, but as I said, Leigh hinted there would also be a character from the Six of Crows, but we had no idea who. I guessed Nina by the logic the book would be about the king of Ravka and the Second Army and Nina was both Ravkan and a Grisha. DAMN, was I happy to see I was right! I am especially looking forward to see Nina’s twisted Grisha power in action in King of Scars.

I read three (3!) chapters and there are already so many emotions and ways for the plot to go and I am so excited to read more of this. Now we have to

Reviews of other books by this author:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1)
Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy #2)
Ruin and Rising (The Grisha Trilogy #3)
The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha Trilogy #0.1)
The Tailor (The Grisha Trilogy #0.5)

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

View this book on Goodreads


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