When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing – Leigh Bardugo.
My friend has gone on and on about this book for a long while, and he let me borrow his beloved copy. Plus, everyone, in the world of book blogging, it seems had read it but me. Six of Crows is a Grisha novel, which I’m not even 100% sure what that means as I haven’t read any of Leigh Bardugo’s previous work.
It took me a little while to get into the book; I was very confused about what roles the characters were playing; also what was the point of Joost opening the book? Will we see more of him? Was he simply a pawn, making way for the grand entrance of King Kaz* and his crows? I guess his character did give a bit of background as to what Kaz and his cronies were up against throughout the novel.
After I met Kaz, I did start to flick through the pages quickly; I couldn’t get enough of this dreary city called Ketterdam which reminded me of cobbled cities from another time and place. It makes me think, is this meant to be dystopian? Or, have we been flung back into another century. I would say the latter – whore houses, gambling halls, even the boats at the harbour give a grim historic cloud across the entire atmosphere.
THE GRISHA WORLD
The world of Grishas, Fjerdans, and Kerch is a remarkable one. It is unlike any other fantasy world I have read about; Bardugo has created a place which has magic and mystery tinged with shadow and remorse. I imagine Ketterdam to be completely grey, like a Victorian London complete with dark alleys and grey smog leaking from every corner of the city. I imagine dark days with an immense lack of daylight hours; I imagine a hard place where it is easy to get caught up into debt and despair – a place where monsters are born and demons die, despite them looking as human as possible.
On the other hand, I imagine The Ice Court of Fjerda to be as magnificent and deadly as it is described. It is a beautiful, twisted thing to have a setting so glorious when it is purely made to keep other beings in captivity and tortured. I imagine literal ice even though it is never really commented on; only the Grishan-made glass that is impenetrable by nearly everything.
As for the lands that are only recalled in memory – Ravka and Novyi Zem – fields of wheat, green land, golden beaches and blue oceans where the lives led are simple ones but are of pure happiness: so different to the grey, dank world of Kerch and the icy prison of Fjerda.
It is utterly fantastic when an author creates a world that stretches the imagination, especially one that is filled with mystic and reality in such a way that you actually start to question whether these people could be real, and walk among those who are of the human variety: the line is but a slither of thread borderlining between fantasy and reality. Bardugo grabs your imagination with both hands and pulls you right in, believing the tiniest of worldly details.
CHARACTERS & CHAPTERS
I have never read a book with so many different point of views, and it was so easy to follow. Usually, I am quite slow-minded and have to remember which character is speaking with two or three point of views. Nevertheless, Bardugo’s characterisation is perfection, so much so that you know who is speaking, thinking, acting without having to look at the name at the beginning of the chapter. Each misfit’s voice is their own, from Kaz’s self-destructive, scheming nature, to Inej’s strength, to Nina’s flirts and kindness, to Matthias’s pride and failing hatred, and Jesper’s hilarity and positive attitude, even when they’re walking into certain death.
Every single character has their strengths and their weaknesses. However, they all live in a ruthless world where if their weaknesses were exposed, they would be dead. What is incredible yet cruel is that we are able to see inside each of their heads. Their fears scream out to us from the pages. Each character has demons which need addressing alongside the unrequited love aspect (that I adore #sexualtension throughout), which they are doing to themselves, especially Kaz as the outwardly strongest character of the lot. It completely builds the characters as loveable people with many intricate layers of personality revealing who they really are. They are not the kindest, most honest people in the world; in fact, they are a band of thieves, which makes them all the more captivating.
ACTION & ADVENTURE
The story of the Six of Crows is definitely one full of near-death experiences and thus every page is as thrilling as the one before it. Kaz is sent on a mission to get a prisoner out of The Ice Court, the highest security prison in the land. Everyone, including him, thinks that it is suicide, but that doesn’t stop him from getting his band of crows together for a possible jab at earning thirty million kruge. He hires each one, telling them that they will be risking their lives, and they all follow him onto a boat to set sail for enemy territory, but not without fighting off other gangs with guns and knives before they’ve even set sail.
Upon the heist, which only takes a very long forty-eight hours, the pace of the novel quickens, and your reading of it will quicken alongside with it. Inej must climb up a wall that blisters her fingers and her feet with heat; Nina must save a friend’s life with the little healing magic she has; Matthias has to betray his own people, against his will. Kaz must take gambles and hope for the best as all eyes are on him to get everyone out of there. Always.
With flashbacks to childhoods as well as first loves, Six of Crows is an epic fantasy that will quicken the pulse and break the bounds of the norms of family. When you get to the end, you’ll want the next book in your hands immediately as an imminent cliffhanger takes place, relishing in Kaz’s desire for the person he always turns to, and making him seek out an old enemy.
Have you read the Six of Crows? What were your favourite parts?
Love, Faye xo
* he’s not a proper king.