duology review | king of scars – leigh bardugo

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I talked about King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. Nikolai’s the charming privateer we all know and love. Zoya’s a little prickly and I’m just extremely protective of Nina. Not going to lie, it was terrifying going into a duology after loving the Six of Crows duology and enjoying the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Nevertheless, Leigh Bardugo captured my heart through and through with this duology.

Navigate through this post with the titles below:
👑 King of Scars | 🐺 Rule of Wolves


King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Series: King of Scars #1
Published January 29th 2019 by Imprint
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance


Rating: 5 out of 5.


The dashing young king, 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, Nikolai 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 general, 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.


Leigh Bardugo never failed to impress me with her storytelling skills. Although Six of Crows might still be my favorite series in the Grishaverse, I don’t see why King of Scars isn’t a close contender. It was filled with adventure and mysteries and schemes and plots. Though The Darkling was defeated and the Fold was destroyed, unexplainable things were happening in Ravka. As enchanted as I was by the world-building, the gripping storyline of each individual character attracted my attention the most. Despite the devastation and horror brought upon Ravka by The Darkling, there were still people who worshipped him. Even after his death, The Darkling’s influence is vast. 

We finally get Nikolai as the main character. Ever since he was introduced in Siege and Storm, I was intrigued by his humor and privateer ways. He’s still extremely funny and serving sassy remarks. In King of Scars, we actually witnessed how he deals with people around him. He’s diplomatic with the politicians, relatable with his men, and affectionate with his chosen family. Years after the war, Nikolai is trying to save everyone around him. Now, he needs to save himself. 

korol rezni. king of scars.

While a majority of the characters in King of Scars are familiar, their appearance provided another experience for readers to know them in a more significant way. In this chosen family, they are fiercely protective and loyal to one another. 

Zoya is an interesting character to read about. I remember not having much fondness for her in Shadow and Bone but she definitely grew on me. As usual, she’s prickly on the outside but she isn’t bad at all. While she doesn’t show it much, Zoya has a warm and caring side. Zoya hides behind her tough exterior because she didn’t want to revisit her past again which was full of guilt, grief, and pain. 

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers. But we who would wield power adorn ourselves in flowers to hide the sting of our thorns.” 

For the most part, other than focusing on Nikolai’s issue, Nina was grieving and mourning the loss of Matthias. It was painful. My heart went out to her, especially when she had those one-sided conversations with Matthias in her mind. I admired Nina’s strength and courage to go through each day knowing that Matthias was gone. When she discovered the abhorrent conditions women were living in, Nina is determined to make a difference.

She didn’t want to be the girl she’d been, the girl Matthias had loved. If Genya could make her someone new on the outside, maybe Nina’s heart would oblige and beat with a new rhythm too.

Overall, I adored the antics the gang found themselves in. Every character has their own struggles to conquer and overcome. I’m both terrified and excited about what may come for these characters who I’ve mostly known since Shadow and Bone.

moments that made me absolutely want to cry featuring nina and matthias:
  • I failed you, Matthias. I wasn’t strong enough to save you.
    Little red bird, every day you choose the work of living. Every day you choose to go on. There is no failure here, Nina.

  • “I know you never cared for sweets.” Her voice wobbled as she let a handful of toffees fall from her hand. They made a hollow patter. “But this way I’m with you, and you can keep them for me when I see you next. I know you won’t eat them yourself.”

  • ↳ i thought i was done crying over matthias’s death but nina sending him off and tossing toffees into his grave for him so that he has a part of her with him all the time made me cry like a fucking baby. & her speech after adrik walked off made me bawl even more.

  • There was only dark water beneath, the terrible pain of knowing he was truly gone, the awful understanding that she would never hear his voice again.


🥺 genya & david:
  • “Let him go on,” said Genya. “David never gives me pretty compliments.”
    “Don’t I?” asked David. He patted his pocket absently. “I have the list of your good qualities you gave me somewhere.”
    “You see what I endure.”

  • “Yuri Vendenen, if you upset my wife again, I will kill you where you stand.”
    The monk swallowed. “Yes, moi soverenyi.”
    “Oh, David,” Genya said, taking his hand. “You’ve never threatened to murder anyone for me before.”
    “Haven’t I?” he murmured distractedly, placed a kiss on her knuckles, and continued reading.

the gang ❤️:
  • “It is only my loyalty to the king that keeps me from pulling the air from your chest and crushing your lungs like hollow gourds.”
    “I’ve seen her do it,” said Nikolai. “Makes a funny sound.”
    “Kind of a pop?” said Tamar.
    “Wetter,” Nikolai said. “More of a squelch.”

  • Slowly, Genya stood, and silence fell around her. “How old are you, Yuri?”
    “Eighteen, moi soverenyi.”
    “When i was a year older than you, the Darkling set his mosnters on me, creatures born of the power you venerate so much. They had a taste for human flesh. He had to force them to stop.”
    “Then he was not so cruel-“
    Genya held up a hand, and Nikolai was glad to see Yuri shut is mouth. “The Darkling didn’t want me to die. He wante me to live–like this.”
    “More fool of him,” said Nikolai quietly, “to let such soldier survive.” 

👑 zoya & nikolai:
  • “You’re late,” said Zoya.
    “I’m the king,” said Nikolai. “That means you’re early.” 

  • “That squash is as wide as I am tall,” Nikolai said beneath his breath as he smiled and waved.  “And twice as handsome.”
    “Half as handsome,” he protested. 
    “Ah, ” said Zoya, “but the squash doesn’t talk.” 

  • “Why do you never kiss me sweetly in the morning, Zoya?”
    “I do nothing sweetly, Your Highness.” 

  • In that moment, he wished things might have been different. That he might not die tomorrow. That he could be led by his heart instead of duty. Because Zoya was not kind and she was not easy. But she was already a queen. 
rants and thoughts:
  • oh my god, zoya’s mother was willing to let 9 year-old zoya be a bride to a 63 year-old pedophile. disgusting. i always love a good backstory about a complex character and that’s what i got with zoya. knowing her past now made me empathise her a lot more, and admire her courage and bravery more than ever. from having a loveless childhood to learning that her aunt, who she cherished the most in the world, died must’ve broken her and harden her against anyone. although she’s stricter and more stoic than the others, she isn’t just an emotionless block of wood.

  • nina found out about the girls who were drugged at the factory. the scene when the dead girls spoke through nina was chilling. those girls deserve justice and the “wellmother” needs her comeuppance for killing so many people. NINA CAN CONTROL THE DEAD!! HOW POWERFUL!! a little morbid to fashion a tree out of dead human bones but i wouldn’t expect anything less of nina’s new powers.

  • isaak was an impeccable stand-in for nikolai. even though he wasn’t born and raised to be royalty, he really got into character pretty quickly. when “not ehri” plunged that knife into him and then her own heart, i was sad. HE DOESNT DESERVE TO DIE!

  • oh saints, the darkling’s back in grishaverse. alive and well in yuri’s body. i can’t believe he’s back. zoya, genya and the rest have to go through with the pain of seeing him alive once again. the torture and emotional hardship must be suffocating and unbearable. all of them sacrificed so much for his defeat yet he’s standing in front of them once again. shit.

  • nikolai marrying ehri? hell no, no way. he belongs with zoya and i’ll die on that hill. all these time, she had been forcing him to consider marrying and worrying about succession if anything were to happen to nikolai and now she’s feeling dejected about it? FINALLY, she’s feeling something. these two needs to talk.


Don’t proceed with the post unless you’ve read King of Scars!

Navigate through this post with the titles below:
👑 King of Scars | 🐺 Rule of Wolves


Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Series: King of Scars #2
Published March 30th 2021 by Orion Children’s Books
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance


Rating: 4 out of 5.


The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible. 

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.


I was so engrossed in Rule of Wolves that I only realized I didn’t take any notes until now–as I tried to write a review. Picking up from King of Scars, things aren’t going great for our favorite characters. Although there were multiple perspectives, a lot was focused on Zoya. I was never bored throughout the book. Something is always brewing in the background and happening in the present. 

While struggling with the darkness within, Nikolai’s legitimacy as king is being questioned. Vadik Demidov claims to be the true king, but Nikolai, a fraud. Preparing for an invasion, Nikolai uses his wits, ingenuity, and charm to win over allies and plan for the future. Meanwhile, Zoya has to embrace her new powers to turn the tide for her country. Even if it meant being consumed by the power. Nikolai and Zoya’s feelings for each other started to get harder to ignore. Everyone recognized Nikolai’s attention and love for Zoya. However, Leigh Bardugo decided to drag it on so that we suffer.

“I would you choose you.” The words were out before he thought better of them, and then there was no way to pull them back.
“As your general?” Her voice careful.
Instead he said, “As my queen.”

At Fjerda, Nina is spying on Hanne’s family, who are close to Vadik Demidov, for Nikolai. The situation is dangerous, but Nina did a fantastic job of covering her tracks. Inevitably, things went awry and my heart dropped with every potential downfall. Slowly, Nina and Hanne were falling in love with one another. It’s bittersweet to see Nina moving forward in life without Matthias. I just want the very best for her. Leigh Bardugo balanced Matthias’s passing and Nina’s grief well after she returned him back to his homeland.

Is it illegal?”
“Highly,” said Kaz.
“But the pay is excellent,” offered Nikolai.
“We don’t need money,” said Wylan.
“Isn’t it glorious?” Jesper sighed happily.
Kai smoothed a gloved hand over his lapel, looking at no one. “It’s for Inej.”
Wylan set down the dirty glasses. “Why didn’t you say so? What do you need?”

Overall, it was a satisfying duology. Nikolai’s charming, Zoya’s the ice queen, and Nina’s the one I want to comfort the most. I have no idea what is in the works for the Grishaverse but the ending of Rule of Wolveshinted at Six of Crows #3!

spoiler thoughts
  • wtf, why does david have to die on the day of their wedding? now genya has this one day when it’s fucking horrifyingly bad. he’s always been the quiet one at the back but you can see his devotion to genya, the effort that he puts in to make sure that she knows he loves her.

  • honestly, didn’t thought much of the darkling. not too sure how i feel about him actually. does he need to be back? maybe, i guess with how things went, they needed someone to do that in the end. and it thought that the difference between the monk and the darkling was quite interesting to read but that’s about it.


3 thoughts on “duology review | king of scars – leigh bardugo”

  1. I won’t lie, I didn’t think about reading these two books, but these reviews really make me want to pick them up, especially since I loved the Six of Crows duology so much. I love Leigh’s writing and world-building!

    Liked by 1 person

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