King of Scars

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Title: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Published January 29, 2019, by Imprint


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.

Source: Goodreads

"Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world. You are limiting yourself."

King of Scars happened after Ruin and Rising - the last book of Shadow and Bone Trilogy. So I would highly recommend you read the first 3 books for the ultimate pleasure of knowing all of the characters involved before and after the Shadow Fold. 

Nikolai Lantsov, the King of Ravka, is on the verge of developing several connections to further establish and maintain peace for Ravka. They have defeated The Darkling but the remnants of the war still lurk within each of them. There were a lot of political issues in this book and I loved how Nikolai and Zoya handle it. They both have their own ways to control people but they still sync to what they wanted to do which makes it really fun to read. 

“It's not exciting if nothing can go wrong.”
King of Scars highlights Nikolai's struggle to control the monster inside him. There are multiple POVs in the book. Reading Nikolai's POV, on the nights that he transforms into the monster he doesn't want to be is quite painful to see. The monster inside him truly knows what are his deepest thoughts. You will see a king who fights the thoughts in his head in order to save Ravka, the one that always needs to be saved, the one that always wants a sacrifice. But above all that, I am in awe of how Nikolai handles this kind of situation. It's hard to fully function when every night you unleash a monster and by day you are in front of Kings and Princesses. 

But aside from this, you will see Nina's journey after the events of Six of Crows. Well, we all know what happened to Matthias and up to this day, that one still freaking hurts!!! Nina is also on a battle with herself. She has to let go of Matthias which is the one thing she never imagined to happen. But it did and Nina has to confront all of these emotions bottled up inside of her. 

Another one here is Zoya, Nikolai's commander who was once a part of The Darkling's Second Army. Now, this is one of my favorites here. I was really surprised that I will adore this character.  In this book, I got to know more about her. Starting from the simple country girl to the Grisha who once adored and fight for The Darkling. I can see clearly how her character became stern and composed because of what happened throughout her life. The struggle to live, a chance to be accepted, and a fight to win and be recognized. I can see all of those things in Zoya and I was surprised with myself of how I loved it.
“Everyone mourns the first blossom.
Who will grieve the rest who fall?”
The King of Scars isn't just about battling the monsters inside, this time it's about playing God. It twists the odds to reclaim a battle that was once lost and the character's faith to the Saints to whom they should be praying for. This book also battles one's belief about the people they are obsessed with and the sacrifices that will be made to achieve it. The adventure, political issues, and even a Grisha's true powers, the King of Scars is truly a five-star book to me!