I have to admit. I’m biased.
I absolutely adored Leigh Bardugo’s previous duology, so when I got my hands on her new one this year, I couldn’t put it down.
Confession: While I love the characters, emotions, and twists, it’s her prose that captured me. It’s my ‘dream prose.’ The kind I want to someday perfect and write myself. Since my overall impression of these stories was so high, I know I am liable to overlook valid points that others critique in these stories.
King of Scars & Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
“It’s not exciting if nothing can go wrong.”
That quote basically sums up both books. One thing after another goes wrong, with just enough wriggle room to survive until the next chapter. Normally.
I loved Nikolai’s character so much. The irrepressible hope that somehow they’d make it through. The humor masking so much pain.
And Zoya. Especially in the second book, I connected so strongly to her struggles, her determination to be just fine on her own, and her deep longing for love that she refused to admit for so long.
Photo credit and thanks to emilyxestelle on Instagram!
Characters: This is such a huge category. 8/10 overall. I loved them all, especially the ones mentioned above. Not to mention we got brief glimpses of some Six of Crow characters, which was great fun.
While most characters were very well developed, there were a few I’d like to have seen more depth or change in. Especially the villain. But I’ll not spoil it.
Plot: Very character-driven, so sometimes it’s almost surprising that we’re at a battle already when a chapter ago we were engaged in political maneuvering. In general though, it was well done with a few decent twists. 8/10.
Themes: While the theme was the main point I complain about to my friends when it came to the previous series, in these books it was much stronger and more gripping. The power and pain of love, and what it’s worth despite the bitterness…there was less theme in the first book, but by the end of book two, I was grinning so hard as I read it. 8/10.
Prose: 100/100. Oh my word, it’s amazing. It’s clear and concise with just the right amount of unique comparisons. Not the mention the humor which infiltrates all the voices in some way or another. Yes, I love the prose here. And I’m sure it’s not going to be everyone’s favorite, but it is for me. While I gain character and plot inspiration while reading Sanderson, I gain prose inspiration while reading Leigh Bardugo.
Content: I’d give this series a PG-13 rating. While there’s darkness, it’s not quite as heavy as Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom. There is a smattering of minor swearing here and there, as well as some violence and a minor-ish subplot that develops romantic attraction between a same-sex couple.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
All in all, I really enjoyed this series and look forward to Bardugo’s next book.
Have you read King of Scars or Rule of Wolves yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!