I kept seeing Six of Crows on booktube, and then I was recommended it over tumblr and I have been desperate to read it since I bought it about two weeks ago. Yesterday I finished it. And if you haven’t already read it, I’d say you should probably add to your TBR, it’s awesome.
A book which starts with a map is my kind of book. A book that starts with TWO maps is definitely going to spark my interest! This is the latter, two awesome maps!
Kaz Brekker is a criminal prodigy in the Barrel of Kersh. He is a feared second-in-command of a gang, operating gambling halls and trading in secrets. He and his faithful shadow, Inej, the Wraith, operate in the shadows, stealing secrets and applying leverage. After a bust up with another gang over Barrel territory, Kaz gets offered the deal of a lifetime. Thirty Thousand to attempt the impossible: to break into the impenetrable Ice Court and steal something from inside. To achieve the impossible, Kaz recruits five other criminals necessary to get the job done: Inej is an acrobat, she can defy gravity and move silently; Jesper, gambling-addict, debt-ridden sharpshooter with a wicked sense of humour; Heartrender Grisha (can manipulate other peoples blood) Nina who has been trying to release fjerdian witchhunter Matthias from the Kersh prison for years now; Matthias is permanently angry especially with Nina. The final in their party is green demolitions expert Wylan, still new to a life of crime and death and not altogether happy with a knife even if he can blow anything up.
“A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.”
Their task is to break into the Ice Court of Matthias’s homeland, a notorious military stronghold designed to withstand armies. Should they succeed, they could release magical havoc on the world, but if they succeed, they will have wealth beyond their wildest dreams. There is a change they will all kill each other on the way there though. Tempers are high and trigger fingers happy, but if they work together, they’d be unstoppable.
The book is split into different characters perspectives, which allows us to see each characters motivations for taking the job, how they contribute to the story, and how they feel about other characters (best PoV is Kaz or Inej because no-one else can tell what they’re thinking). Because the characters get separated frequently as the plans change and are re-made, the sound of the bells provide a chronology for narratives to be slotted in, adding different perspectives as the plan takes shape and goes wrong and tempers fray ect.
“Jesper knocking his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”
Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”
“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”
Five stars for world-building alone! It’s dark, its gritty, its the criminal underbelly and the main characters are murderers, thieves, con-men, soldiers. The magic system is fascinating with how it interacts with international politics. The characters are diverse and at least three are unashamedly LGBTQ. The romance aspect is all anger and pain and didn’t annoy me like other romances in fantasy novels have been known to. No, I fully support the romances in this series and am anxiously waiting for Crooked Kingdom, the second book in the duology, to arrive.
The characters were well-developed, and diverse and I love all six of them and how they interact. Kaz keeps things from everyone and then shrugs off their anger when they find out; man has some impressive trust issues and also PTSD. Inej understands Kaz better than anyone and even she gets annoyed with being kept in the dark. Nina and Matthais come as a package deal from the start, even though they are sworn enemies and I love the banter (cough: flirting) between Wylan and Jesper. Just, they’re a bunch of teenagers, but they’re all survivors, all street-rats (well, Wylan is new but still).
I had barely put this book down before I acknowledged that I would be happily joining the Six of Crows bandwagon. The Crows Duology is set as part of the Grishaverse Leigh Bardugo established in the Shadow and Bone series so I am now curious about that even if my little heist gang won’t be in it. I broke my own book ban to have Crooked Kingdom within my reach by the end of today and I will be forgoing Wonder Woman to find out WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE CLIFFHANGER.