Spoiler-free review: should you read this? Yes! 4/5 stars.
The blurb: I won’t put the blurb here to avoid spoilers for the first half of the story, Six of Crows. However, if you’re interested, you can see the blurb for that book and my review here.
This will be a short and slightly stunted, odd review as I attempt to avoid any and all spoilers. So, the short version: this is very good and if you enjoy fantasy fiction and haven’t read Six of Crows yet, get that book and then move on to this one! 🙂
Bardugo improves on the Grisha trilogy with this fun fantasy romp. 4.5/5 stars.
The blurb: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
This is an excellent heist-style adventure. I knew we were off to a good start when I saw the story was told in third-person, multiple point-of-view, which is my preferred style of writing and reading. The author handles the switching POV brilliantly to keep the reader in the dark and hold back secrets and surprises.
I wasn’t truly gripped until about page 200. However, that’s not surprising given the amount of set up required, particularly using 5 different character viewpoints, and once this is done the book becomes a real page-tuner. The interweaving stories build an impressively complex plot and the Ocean’s 11 comparisons are justified. In the acknowledgements, Bardugo mentions having to use a whiteboard when writing – I can just imagine the huge diagrams that were necessary to keep all the threads of the story straight.
All the characters are well-rounded and leap off the page. And I would like to give a special mention to Kaz. I find I have a soft spot for characters who have apparently become hardened to the point of becoming inhuman but then start to thaw and reveal their soft spots. Ah, Kaz 🙂
Six of Crows is set in the world of the Grisha. Do you need to read the Grisha trilogy or any of the Grisha books first? I don’t think so. However, having read them did mean I wasn’t confused by any of the terminology surrounding the Grisha which does form an important part of the plot. This left me free to concentrate on remembering all the new stuff, including who’s who in a large cast.
So why have I deprived it of half a star? Mostly because I felt it was overlong, particularly for a first installment in a series. Also because it was just missing something I can’t put my finger on and I’m incredibly picky about what I give 5 stars.
Overall: a fun, gripping story conveyed in Bardugo’s wonderfully clear and unobtrusive prose. I look forward immensely to the continued adventures of Kaz and his crew.