There’s almost no words (almost). This book was fan-freaking-tastic. Big edgy vibes hit us right from the start, and the characters were SO compelling. The story is set in such a gripping world… this is my first dip into Leigh Bardugo’s writing and I was very impressed. Though I have heard talk of her other work not being as delightful as this duology…? Hmmmmm. If you have other experience with Leigh’s books, let me know in the comments. Either way, I’ll look into it and let y’all know my thoughts… I’m sure I’ll have a lot. Because who would I be without my literary opinions.
Now, where were we… damn were these characters extremely well-written. What I loved the most was watching each of their unique backgrounds unfold as the novel went on. Each character was deep and complex, which really makes for a great story. Every member of the Six had certain dark struggles to their past that they held within them, and that really made them who they were in the present.
Kaz. Not only did I get extreme Thomas Shelby (from Peaky Blinders) vibes, but he was very clever and kept me on my toes. Of course I loved every single member of the Six just as much, but Kaz was just so dark, moody, and intelligent, which can be a deadly combination for a character. He knew the part he had to play to become feared and successful in The Barrel, and he played it well. His deep down affection for Inej was very interesting, though at times I wish he would show it more for her sake… though I get it, to show affection for her would be to expose a weakness and he’s smarter than that. I think Inej deserved more than Kaz could give her. She probably had the best moral compass out of the Six, but she wasn’t my favorite. I’d put Wylan in the same boat as well… essential to the story, but both of them were not what kept my interest in the book. Nina, Matthias, and Jesper were probably my absolute favorite characters… the enemies to lovers link between Matthias and Nina captured my attention from the start (duh). Nina knew she made mistakes in the past but she owned up to them and never used them as excuses. Matthias had to face the realization that he was mislead into thinking the Grisha were awful creatures, and it was wrong of the druskelle to hunt them down to kill them. When he confronts Jarl Brum towards the end after he locked Nina in the chamber, I freaked out. I don’t think I took a single breath until he finally let Nina out. It was at that moment when we realized his intentions and his realization that there was more to life than hating Grisha. And Jesper… I just enjoyed his personality and dark humor. He definitely was running and hiding from the fact that he gambled away all of his tuition money (and racked up more debt in the process), but he was entertaining to say the least. I think I can relate to the “running away from my problems” part of his character… learning to face your own problems can be very difficult, so I feel his pain.
I think I liked the plot of this book more than I liked the characters themselves… which definitely says something. The whole book was centered upon the big heist of Bo Yul-Bayar, and I like how the story progressed from setting the stage by introducing our Six, to actually breaking into the Ice Court. The plot started off slow, with essential details, and then the speed definitely picked up when as the story when on. There was so much planning done that I felt we as readers were a part of, yet each chapter brought a new surprise. This kept me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath as they stumbled their way through this dangerous mission. And it left us on such a cliff hanger! With Inej taken away, Wylan stuck as Kuwei, and Nina coming off the high from the jurda parem… I’m glad I bought this book as a set with Crooked Kingdom, because I am READY for the second book. I like how there wasn’t a central villain to the story either; rather, it seemed like it was such a grey world and no one really stood out as a “good” character… this wasn’t a fairy tale world where good things naturally happen to our main characters. I think that each of the Six have realized this the hard way, and their struggles with this corrupt world ultimately band them together (along with the obvious mission of course). I enjoyed reading the last chapter from Pekka Rollins’ point of view, too. I find it so ironic to see how insignificant he found Kaz and the gang to be. Making Pekka suffer is Kaz’s prime motivation for every single thing he has done… Pekka definitely doesn’t know what is coming to him and I’m curious to see how Kaz settles the score in the second book.
I read that this book will be made into a Netflix show and I can definitely see that. Did you guys get this vibe as well? Not only is the narrative perfect for a TV show, but I felt that the story lines progressed as a TV show would as well (p.s. I think if people want to make screen adaptations of books, they should just go for TV shows instead of movies period… there’s so much more room for details that way). I just remember reading it, thinking “wow this would make for a great show to watch”, and then I looked it up and sure enough, we’ll be getting one hopefully in late 2020. Though, I’ve read that it will be combined 50/50 with the Shadow and Bone trilogy… so I better get caught up with that series before the show hits Netflix.