I finished this book not an hour ago and I’m probably still in shock. This is my first Leigh Bardugo book and I have already requested Smoke And Bone (The first book in the Grisha trilogy) as her writing and character and world building is wonderful! When it comes to fantasy the most important thing for me is having characters that you can easily connect with that lead you, and then connect you, with the specific world and Bardugo couldn’t have done that better, the characters were engaging, charismatic (or not as the case may be, I’m looking at you Matthias) and most importantly, all so different and unique. The book centres around a team of 6 young people that all come from completely different backgrounds, privileged, orphaned, sold into slavery, kidnapped from an army, a traitor of their country or a country kid turned thief, and these all have different approaches to the situations the plot puts them in, giving you an all encompassing view of the situation – much like the characters would have, all being thieves! I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in fantasy, mystery, YA or adult, thieves, spies, questions that make you question your values or books about heists because this book will sweep you off your feet and steal your jewellery while you’re on the floor!
Synopsis: 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.
So as I said I haven’t read anything in the Grisha Verse before so I am speaking from not reading the first trilogy but what I can say is that the depth and control over the world that Bardugo has is incredible! Every country had a distinct culture and societal structure that was so specific that you can tell the author clearly knows every detail about the religion, rituals, history, language and dialects, even fashion of every place which completely brings the world alive. Even more so because you meet characters from every nation and of the 6 main characters only a Shu is missing so the world building is intense and beautiful without ever feeling like an overload of information which some books do struggle with. The other thing to mention when talking about world building is the beautiful maps at the front of the book, first of the world itself and then of the Ice Court, the fortress that the crew have to breach. It is so incredibly detailed and just beautiful in itself, I have a strange fascination with maps anyway so maps of fictional worlds are going to be amazing but these ones are specifically beautiful and add another dimension to being so immersed in the novel especially as you do feel so connected to the crew that at times you feel as if you’re right there with them so knowing what they were talking about when they were saying how they move from the prison sector roof to the embassy roof and being able to see it on the map makes the whole reading experience even better.
Keep reading below!
I’ve already talked a little about the characters and just how special the connection between them and the reader was, but I’d like to mention their relationships with each other. So while keeping spoilers to a limit, I do have to say that the single, only thing, that annoyed me the tiniest bit was the fact that despite each having obstacles they needed to overcome and deal with in their relationships, romantically they paired up so equally and perfectly it was very frustrating! I know that being fantasy it is not supposed to be realistic, but 6 people pairing off into exact pairs is so incredibly unlikely. Being a single 16 year old I know that I will always be the person in a group of friends that doesn’t pair up and especially in a situation where lives are at risk it is not going to be an instance where you are so in love and such soulmates that you still fall in love despite the obvious issues of imminent, potentially fatal, danger. However to balance this the diversity among them was wonderful, there were people of every ethnicity in the Grisha world represented as well as men and women and two bisexual characters that was very much appreciated, I’ve read two books that had diverse main characters and I’m so pleased that this need for diversity and equal representation is spreading through YA books as it is so important. This amount of diversity was not just used as a way of appeasing an audience either, there was genuine discrimination and surprisingly even genocide in Six of Crows which was such a hard hitting subject that I was really impressed with the way it was dealt with, Grisha are treated atrociously and I felt such strong fear, disgust, horror and pain from their treatment that I appreciated the way it wasn’t sugar-coated considering the age of the readership can make some authors hide from big serious topics like that whereas Bardugo wasn’t afraid to expose it in its horribleness and use it to make the world more realistic in the ways the cultures functioned. The way the backstories were interwoven into the narrative was also amazing, the piece of backstory was always relevant to the current situation the character was in and not knowing everything straight away was important as it kept mystery among the crew, they don’t know everything about each other and neither do you, once again building the suspense and intrigue within the characters and yourself. And as much as I said it annoyed me that they all paired up I must admit the couples were so perfect together and each relationship was different with different qualities and issues that didn’t make the romantic obstacles tedious and make a reader want to get back to the heist, the balance was perfect!
But speaking of plot an incredible thing about this story is that I could almost never tell what was happening next, Bardugo cleverly uses the different points of view to tell you enough about the plan to know a little or be able to guess but then always manages to surprise you which is a fantastic quality in a book like this! This mystery quality really added to the complexity and magical realism of the book as well as creating just another direction that you can approach the book from. My only advice would be if you’re starting the book – keep going! The first opening chapter is quite boring and very, very confusing, especially if you haven’t read another Grisha novel and have no idea what Fabrikators or Corporalniks are! But keep going and the scene with the gang confrontation will entice you, the drama doesn’t pick up until a couple of chapters after that but after getting a few hundred pages into the book you’ll understand why it was all necessary! Another note is that the heist doesn’t happen until almost exactly halfway through the book and this wasn’t a problem because character building and character arcs are more important than action to me but oh my god the last 200 pages are the most intense, edge-of-your-seat reading I think I’ve ever experienced and I made lots of loud noises going between anguish and cheering from my room while I was getting through those last pages!!
Overall Six of Crows was an incredible read that creates strong emotional feelings and reactions as you go on this journey with a truly wonderful, eclectic cast of characters that will leave you hungering after the sequel that, unfortunately, you will have to wait until September 2016 for – however, it is a duology, or duet as Bardugo calls it, so it’s a very pleasing length and if you’re reading it after September you’ll understand when I say you will NEED to order or buy the second one now so you can keep on reading, the cliff hanger tore me in two! So here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book!
- “No Mourners, No Funerals”
- “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.”
- “The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.”
- “The water hears and understands. The ice does not forgive.”
- “We are all someone’s monster.”
- “Scheming face,” Inej murmured.
Jesper nodded. “Definitely.”
- “Facts are for the unimaginative.”
- “A good magician wasn’t much different from a proper thief.”
- “I trade in information, Geels, the things men do when they think no one is looking. Shame holds more value than coin ever can.”
- “The heat of the incinerator wrapped around Inej like a living thing, a desert dragon in his den, hiding from the ice, waiting for her. She knew her body’s limits, and she knew she had no more to give. She’d made a bad wager. It was as simple as that. The autumn leaf might cling to its branch, but it was already dead. The only question was when it would fall.”
- “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 host won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”
Hope you enjoyed this review, if you have any book recommendations please leave them in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!