The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

Leigh Bardugo’s “King of Scars” bewitchingly allures fans of the Grishaverse

Addie Hill
In the wake of the fifth anniversary of the “King of Scars” book, Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse has taken pop culture by storm. This spin-off duology of Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone” series continues the events of Ravka’s throne. The captivating storyline, beloved characters and thrilling twists continue to charm fans of the original trilogy while simultaneously adding a unique storyline to the world of the Grisha.

Since its 2013 release, Leigh Bardugo’sShadow and Bone” trilogy has risen to prominence. The series follows the magical world of the Grisha. Organized into three distinct orders, each type of Grisha possesses the innate ability to manipulate a natural process of Earth. Corporalki, the first section of the Grisha order, can manipulate the human body. Encompassing the Heartrenders, Healers and Tailors, these humans can change the heart rate, blood flow and physical features of their targets. The second order, Etherealki, can control the three elements of nature: wind, fire and water. The subsection of this order includes, respectively, the Squallers, Inferni and Tidemakers. Lastly, Materialki—the Durasts and Alkemi—can maneuver material elements such as glass or metals. The original three books pursue Alina Starkov: a teenage orphan who discovers that her Grisha powers differ from the rest. 

Although “Shadow and Bone” trails Alina’s Grisha journey, the spin-off duology “King of Scars” tails her friend and confidant, Nikolai Lantsov. As the new king on Ravka’s throne, Nikolai endures the task of protecting his country from war and preventing the uprising of a cult revolt. Throughout these events, Nikolai simultaneously attempts to find a cure for his demonic alter-ego. Bardugo divides the book initially into three viewpoints: Nikolai’s perspective, the point of view of Squaller Zoya Nazyalensky—the king’s right-hand woman and military commander—and the perspective of Nina Zenik, Nikolai’s friend and soldier.

“‘King of Scars’ quickly became one of my favorite books by Leigh Bardugo, as I think it beautifully merges the Grishaverse narratives and introduces a captivating blend of characters and storylines. ‘King of Scars’ is a masterful continuation of where we left off in the Shadow and Bone trilogy,” magnet junior Jordyn Walker said.

Though two out of the three points of view detail Nikolai’s inner war, the multiple perspectives contribute to the book’s depth and add to the already thrilling plotline. Bardugo fabulously transitions between the diverse storylines of each character. From Nikolai’s battle with his shadow monster to Zoya’s confrontation of her past to Nina’s grief-inducing mission in the northern lands of Fjerda, “King of Scars” keeps readers in anticipation of what will happen next with every chapter.

Alongside the exhilarating points of view, the book also dives into genuine friendship and budding romance. Though Zoya’s feisty character and deep-rooted insecurity isolate her from any truly romantic relationship, her comradery with Nikolai begins to change as they navigate royal politics and merzost—the power of creation. Although Zoya remains desperate to find a queen for Nikolai and help secure an heir to Ravka’s throne, the novel brilliantly demonstrates her seemingly indiscernible feelings for the king throughout the slow-burn side plot. Nikolai, on the other hand, begins to clearly recognize his admiration for Zoya toward the end of the book, which no doubt excites the audience. 

I admit, at first I was heavily against Nikolai and Zoya’s romance plot—I liked Nikolai too much, and Zoya too little—but I ended up warming up to the idea of those two becoming a couple. I feel like the romance revealed new dimensions and vulnerabilities that weren’t explored in the ‘Shadow and Bone’ trilogy,” Walker said.

Bardugo possesses an evident talent for formulating copious plotlines that leave her audience in awe. While Nikolai and Zoya secretly pine for one another, they also face a looming threat: the potential return of the Darkling. As the dubious villain of the original trilogy, Bardugo captivatingly re-introduces the former Shadow Summoner and the loom of his power over the rest of the characters in Nikolai and Zoya’s side of the story. This threat produces an abundance of fear in its wake as Nikolai and his trusted advisors search for the Darkling’s location as a potential cure for the king’s condition.

Nina, however, faces her own issues in the Scandinavian-inspired mountains of Fjerda. Alongside her two friends, Adrik Zhabin and Leoni Hilli, Nina camps out in the snowy terrain to free the Grisha-in-hiding from Fjerda’s oppressive government and to bury the body of her deceased sweetheart, Matthias Helvar. Throughout Nina’s story, Bardugo perfectly encapsulates Nina’s journey of grief and heartbreak while still remaining loyal to her mission. While this point of view did not occupy a majority of the story, the unpredictable storyline and plot twists enabled Nina’s story to shine.

The return of beloved characters seamlessly connects “King of Scars” with the initial “Shadow and Bone” series. Aside from Nikolai, Zoya and Nina, a plethora of characters reappeared such as Tolya Yul-Bataar, Tamar Kir-Bataar, Genya Safin and David Kostyk. Witnessing the adored Grisha with new storylines attracted fans of the series and allowed them to continue diving into the cherished fictional world. Additionally, the introduction of new characters such as Yuri Vedenen, the cult’s leader, and all-powerful saintsElisaveta, Juris and Grigori—drew curious fans in. The old and new characters alike contribute electrifying aspects to the story as they either aid the king or cause unique problems.

Another interesting facet of the novel entails Bardugo’s addition of a fresh point of view halfway through the story: Isaak Andreyev. In novels that feature multiple perspectives, authors typically continue the same viewpoints throughout the entire book; Bardugo, however, contributes Isaak’s outlook to the story when he faces the task of impersonating the king for politics’s sake. 

The novel ends with a twisting cliffhanger that Bardugo resolves in the “Rule of Wolves” sequel, only adding to the book’s suspenseful success. Drawing readers to buy the second book of the duology, “King of Scars” compels audiences to continue the series and immerse themselves in Bardugo’s superb writing.

As she captivated audiences with the “Shadow and Bone” series, Bardugo did not fall behind with her release of “King of Scars.” The exciting plot, beloved characters and added depth of the new storyline only continue Bardugo’s reputation as a talented writer.

The Chant’s rating: A


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About the Contributor
Addie Hill
Addie Hill, Reporter
Since she was young, Addie Hill has always loved to write. From stories to poems to journaling, she’s always found a way to get her thoughts onto paper. Present-day Hill, a magnet junior, has joined The Chant to expand her writing abilities and shift her focus from fiction to journalistic pieces. When she’s not writing or interviewing, you can find Hill dancing, listening to music, crocheting a new project, reading a good book or hanging out at Church—one of her passions other than writing. She is a co-leader of NC’s Collective Hope Bible study club and an attendee of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Alongside these clubs, she is also a Beta Club officer and aspiring dance teacher.  Hill is super excited to pursue her first year at The Chant and can’t wait to get to reporting!

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