Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows
Series: Six of Crows #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release date: September 29, 2015
Cliffhanger: Yes
Rating: 5 stars

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done - and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable - if they don't kill each other first.


Leigh Bardugo is a master storyteller. I'm sure this isn't news to many, but it was a fresh discovery for me. I couldn't get enough of this highly compelling story. I was up until 1:30 in the morning, bleary eyed and racing through the pages. This book, about a gang of hustlers and thieves who embark on their impossible quest, was easily one of the best I've read all year. With six main characters traipsing through an intricate world spanning the brothels, alleys, and dark corners of Ketterdam, to the Ice Court fortress, there was so much to learn and experience. This series follows the events that take place in the Grisha series, but you do not have to read those to learn your way around this one.

The Dregs are a top gang in Ketterdam led by the mysterious and cunning Kaz Brekker. Since working his way up as Per Haskell’s prized lieutenant, he's brought prosperity and respect. But most of all fear. You learn not to cross Kaz, because he'll always be ten steps ahead of you with a gun aimed in your direction. There is no job too dirty or dangerous for him as long as there is a profitable payout worth his time.

Kaz learned a tough lesson on the streets as a little boy: you're either the mark or the predator, and he's vowed to be a victim no more. His innocence was lost in the murky waters surrounding the slums of the Barrels, and now he lived for nothing more than the sweet taste of revenge. Revenge plots have always been a particular weakness of mine, so this was enough to make me rub my hands together in glee.

He’d heard there were sharks in these waters, but he knew they wouldn’t touch him. He was a monster now, too.

When Kaz is offered the chance at riches beyond his wildest imaginings, it didn't take him long to take on this seemingly suicidal operation. He's either the most gutsy criminal I've ever seen, or the most reckless. I can't decide which. He's tasked with infiltrating the most highly secured fortress known to man: the Fjerdian Ice Court. The creator of jurda parem, a dangerous drug that enhances the powers of the Grisha people's magic, is being held prisoner there. Without an interception, this powerful weapon could be used to decimate untold numbers of people in the wrong hands.

Quickly, he assembles his crew and begins plotting. He's a mastermind at schemes, and it will take every trick he knows to come through this impossible feat alive.

“For every trick you’ve seen, I know a thousand more. You think a year in Hellgate hardened you up? Taught you to fight? Hellgate would have been paradise to me as a child.

Through third person, multiple POVs, we are slowly introduced to his crew of outcasts.

Inej: Kaz's right hand and spy, silent and lethal with her knives.
Matthias: the former Fjerdan witchhunters and ex-Hellsgate prisoner.
Jesper: the Zemeni sharpshooter.
Nina: the Grisha Heartrender.
And Wylan: the demolition expert.

Each has their own fully fleshed out backstory, and three-dimensional subtleties and nuances that make them come to life in the most incredible way. You'll find yourself rooting for them despite their flaws and vices. Cheering over their victories, and feeling heartsick over the tragedies they've survived. I particularly loved Inej and Nina. They were equally strong and brilliant women who had a limitless amount of courage. There was some angst involved with the two of them and their love interests, but this was not on the forefront of the story. The story was impressively character driven, with a high level of action and suspense fueling the book. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end.

This fantasy book was on a level all its own. It was the perfect package for me and I can't wait to find the time to get to the conclusion in Crooked Kingdom.

I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.


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