Ever since I read the Grisha trilogy back in 2016 I have been dying for a Nikolai book and when this book was announced all my fangirl dreams were answered!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish 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.
I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this book. I had some issues with it and was a little disappointed. Yet there are things that I absolutely adored about it!
Firstly I do have to say that although I dove into this book thinking it will be Nikolai’s story, it did feel more like Zoya’s. There was a lot to do with how the Grisha magic system worked and how Zoya could become more powerful than she is now. I do have to say though her point of view was some of my absolute favourites! She is a badass, sassy, doesn’t take any crap from anyone, kind of person. I did like her character in the Grisha trilogy but by the end of this book, I was completely in love with Zoya. I need to see more of her, especially after everything that happened in this book.
Nikolai was as sassy and sarcastic as ever and I adored him. Though I do wish I got to see more of him, more outside the politics. I would have loved to see him more with Genya and the others. He does suffer a lot in this book yet somehow it feels a little out of character for him. How he went along with plans made by people he couldn’t possibly trust, with no scheme or back up plan. You know, how he would have in the trilogy. I am however extremely excited to see what will happen after the events of this book, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions.
Nina had her own point of view in this book too and I have to say that as much as I adored her in Six of Crows I didn’t as much in this book. I felt her grief over certain events in Crooked Kingdom was done really well and although it was heart breaking it was so good to see that. Yet the rest of her story felt unnecessary, I guess. I didn’t really see how her story fit in with the overall arc. But I did love seeing Adrick and a new character, Leoni. They were with Nina on a mission in Fjerda and I just love them. I hope we get to see more of them in the next book.
*mild spoiler about a relationship ahead*
One of the things I loved seeing was Nikolai and Zoya’s relationship develop. Leigh really killed me with that slow burn romance, just like in Six of Crows with Kaz and Inej. By the end of the book I was literally screaming, just admit it already! I love them two together and I am so happy to see my ship become a reality! Zoya would be an amazing Queen of Ravka and I need to see that happen, okay?!
Another thing I loved was the references to the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. From mentioning characters names to talking about a skill they learned from a character in those books and it reignited my love for these characters. I am still holding out hope that we see some of them in the next book.
I wish we had got to spend more time with Genya and David and the others. Though what we did see of them I loved. I really loved seeing Genya’s and David’s relationship and how much they have developed in the few years since we last saw them. They were so damn adorable! I want more in the next book please!
I think my main issue with the book is the pacing, I felt the beginning was really great and I was really enjoying it then it dragged a lot in the second half and then the ending felt a little rushed. I wish we had gotten more time and more details about how everything turns out at the end of the book. And there was a lot of politics in this book, which is understandable, considering the state of Ravka, but I did feel it slowed down the plot. Hopefully now that the backstory details have been given the next book will be a lot more fast paced.
Then we get to the ending and I just…died. That ending left me in shock with my jaw hanging on the floor. I know some people may not be a fan of the ending but I was literally screeching! After that ending I just need to know what will happen next because that last line…I have no idea how I am going to wait a whole year for the next book.
I felt a little underwhelmed with the book overall but the things I loved, like Zoya and Nikolai and that mind blowing ending made up for a lot of it. And although, it may not have lived up to the exceedingly high expectations built from years of adoring the Six of Crows duology it was still a good book and I am really looking forward to seeing where we will go next.