The Grishaverse

Given that I’ve only gotten back into reading this year, I’ve had quite a long list of series that I wanted to discover, and knowing the Netflix adaptation of this one was happening first, I thought I’d start with it. I was six out of seven books through when the show was released, so I’d say I was reasonably prepared for it and had no spoilers.

You can read these series in any order you choose, but I would recommend to read it in the correct order — it is not going to impact your understanding of what is happening as each series takes place after the previous one, mainly including new characters, and occasionally referencing previously introduced ones. I’ve read the books in the correct order of release, starting with Shadow and Bone, then Six of Crows, and later added the King of Scars duology. Originally, I was going to only read the first two series and leave the last one to get through next year, however, as the third series is based off a character that had instantly caught my attention, I just couldn’t hold on for next year to read his story.

Shadow And Bone Trilogy

The nation, Ravka, has been split in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, and inhabited by monsters who feast on human flesh known as the Volcra, and is at constant risk of war with its borders surrounded by its enemies. Ravka’s army is formed of two groups: the first army, which is the military regiment led by the crown, and the second army, which is the magical military elite called Grisha led by the mysterious Darkling. The Shadow Fold has cut this country from its ports and harbour. So, in order to trade with the outside world and reach the coast, they have to send people across it.

Alina Starkov, a mapmaker in the first army, is an orphan who has basically spent her life being unwanted and unnoticed until the day her regimen enters the Shadow Fold and they’re attacked by a swarm of these monsters, and Alina reveals a power that has been thought to be a myth. The power that could be the key to destroying the Fold and setting her country free. That puts her on a collision course with the most powerful people in the kingdom, including the kingdom’s magical elite and their leader the Darkling.

Being detached from her normal life, will she be capable of trusting these strangers? Will she triumph in fulfilling her destiny and saving Ravka?

Shadow And Bone

What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.

Shadow And Bone, Leigh Bardugo

If I read this series when I was a teen, I would’ve considered it a wonderful read; However, reading this as an adult, I had a tough time connecting with Alina’s character.

Alina is constantly comparing herself to other people and assessing them by their looks — if they were regarded as beautiful, then they bore a good life! As teens, we’ve all had insecurities. Although now, as a grownup, I fail to relate to any of that, which made me conceive her character as annoying.

I am hands down a Darkling fan! Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book, but I would not recommend it to anyone my age. If you were as curious as I was, then you should give it a go regardless.

Ending my review with this statement: I really don’t like Mal, a horribly built character.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Siege And Storm

Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea.

Siege And Storm, Leigh Bardugo

If a certain character was not introduced, I would have been bored 80% throughout the book. It felt very much slow-paced with lots of back and forth, which led nowhere. The last few chapters were what kept me going.

I would like to apologise for the Darkling as after reading this one he stepped down to being my second favourite character instead of the leading one 😛 Nikolai’s character was introduced, a very sarcastic, arrogant, glamorous, sneaky, overall very interesting character. He was the reason I didn’t DNF this book genuinely. Alina’s character got a tad less annoying as she started to act up and realise that she indeed has the ability to make a change.

I still don’t like Mal, however, even though there’s plenty of characters that you grow to hate in this series, you get to hate someone even more than Mal. Shocking, I know! But you’ll recognise who I’m talking about specifically when you get there.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Ruin And Rising

We all die. Not everyone dies for a reason.

Ruin And Rising, Leigh Bardugo

The beginning was a bit dull, as if nothing was happening. Not certain if I became biased, though, as soon as Nikolai’s character resurfaced, the story became more fun.

I enjoyed seeing more of the Darkling too, more plot progression than the previous books. My feelings towards Alina are still the same! But I cannot say that there was no character development for her.

I was personally not happy with the ending, but I can understand why the author ended it the way it did. The best out of the 3 books for sure.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Six of Crows Duology

This duology occurs two years after the end of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, however, it takes place in a new country called Ketterdam, the centre for international trade where anything can be acquired for the right price and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker, also known as dirty hands. Kaz is offered a chance at a dangerous heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. However, he cannot pull this off on his own.

The book follows six individual characters, led by Kaz, a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes, Jesper, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, Wylan, a runaway with a privileged past, Inej, a spy known as the Wraith, Nina, a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums, and lastly Matthias, a convict driven by a real thirst of revenge.

They have to break into a fortress that has never been breached before and break out a scientist who holds a secret that could unleash magical havoc onto the world. Some of them have worked together before, some of them have not, but none of them trust each other. However, they’re still going to have to rely on each other if they wish to get through this alive.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction — if they don’t kill each other first.

Six of Crows

The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.

Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

The pacing is good. I’m not giving this book a five stars, for I’m not a huge fan of the writing style, yet the transition from one POV to the other is fascinating, gripped me with anticipation across the story.

The relationship between the characters is the main focus — found family trope, but you also have the heist and adventure element. The chemistry amongst the characters is incredible.

It was overall really entertaining. I was disappointed by the fact that there was no Wylan POV 😢

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Crooked Kingdom

Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.

Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo

The pacing started a bit slow in the first half of the book, but it picked up after that. Still not a fan of the writing style, however, the plot was beautiful. I loved it!

Although some scenes have left a mark on me, I still think the first book was a tad better. This one finally has a Wylan POV, his story was amazing.

Get ready to experience so many emotions in this book. From joy, to sadness, to anger, to hope, to fear, to surprise…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

King of Scars Duology

I will keep this summary very short, for it might be considered a spoiler, as it continues from the former series and takes place a year after the Six of Crows duology. It follows our rather dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, who’s doing his utmost to keep what he endured during his country’s civil war hidden.

With Ravka’s enemies gathering and weakening its borders, Nikolai must find a way to top-up its treasury, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet a dark magic within him grows stronger every day, threatening to destroy all he has accomplished. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the profoundest magic survives to defeat 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. You either face your demons, or feed them.

King of Scars

You’ve spent your life only choosing the paths at which you knew you could excel. It’s made you lazy.

King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo

I went in thinking it was Nikolai’s story and was surprised to find that it was also Nina’s and Zoya’s, too. I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the book, but was it as good as I was hoping for? The answer is no.

Nina’s story and Nikolai’s were both good, however they’re very disconnected. The pacing was slow. I loved the ending, though.

There are moments in this book that you can see a different side of Nikolai, which I really admired, and later cheer him on when he’s back in his element. I was curious to know what happened next.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rule of Wolves

But think how brightly you might have burned if you hadn’t always walked in shadow.

Rule of Wolves, Leigh Bardugo

I had to DNF halfway through, after a two-month period of debating whether I try to get through this book or not. The plot progression was really slow, it felt even more disconnected than the previous one.

I thought that this book might do better with the way the last book ended. Let’s say that, thankfully, I still love Nikolai, even when I couldn’t finish the book.

I might try giving it another go in the future, but for now I have to put it back on mu shelves.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I think Leigh Bardugo was testing out different ways of delivering a plot in the Shadow and Bone series, it is all written from Alina’s POV, which has received a lot of negative feedback from the readers, me included. I couldn’t connect with the main characters nor the side characters, as we only had Alina’s outlook of them — there was no character development for them at all. The only exception in that instance would be the Darkling and Nikolai.

Then, the author tested with multiple perspectives in Six of Crows, and that has worked tremendously well, because it built up on the plot and anticipation, I felt more connected to the characters while being presented with what they are facing at the moment and having a look into their past experiences, their view of the other characters.

The same concept was applied to King of Scars, however there were two different plots that could’ve been their own books. I can see what the connection between both plots is, however, it’s not that strong of a connection for both stories to be combined into one. Furthermore, having the switch from one plot to the other and having to wait a few chapters to get back to the first one was very challenging for me to encourage myself up to move forward. Also, there have been quite a few random side characters POVs that I felt were very unnecessary, and they were long chapters, too.

I imagine most people would disagree with me on this, but I am not a fan of Zoya. The way I was introduced to the character in Shadow and Bone was poorly made and I had zero feelings towards her. Despite that, we get to know a bit more about her past in the last duology, I still don’t feel that connected to her.

It’s been overall a miss for me with Leigh Bardugo’s writing, so I’m not sure I will be checking any of her other works for a while now. The positive output from this experience is that I did like the world, the magic system was interesting, I adored some of the characters, just not the writing style nor the delivery of the plot. It’s sad how a lot of the characters were weakly presented, and the main villain had a lot of potential, which is what kept me going truly, and I’m very glad that the adaptation had worked on that aspect (Big surprise: I like Mal now 😛).

Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to carry on watching the adaptation. I made everyone I know watch it and I quite liked it, and am hoping that once the trilogy is through that they’d move into adapting the actual Six of Crows story. I can’t wait for the reveal of who they cast for Nikolai and Wylan! Which actors do you think can pull off these two lovely characters? If you have read the Grishaverse series, which one was your favourite, and which character grew to be your favourite? Let me know in the comments.