Release date: 29 September 2015
Rating: ★★★★★★★ – 7/10
Goodreads link

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) blurb:

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.

I feel the need to preface this review by saying that the book I read prior to this was A Court of Wings and Ruin, and the book hangover I experienced was so severe that it took me a week to just get through 100 pages of this.  In fact, I nearly gave up on this series just because I wasn’t sure that I could ever read anything again (although, that was probably a bit too severe a call).

This story is the first of a duology (I believe), and tells the story of six … comrades completing a mission.  They are led by the infamous Kaz Brekker – the boy raised from the bowels of the gang-land known as the Barrel.  None of the others are from this land, all brought to it by smugglers, family or chance, and all clinging together to see out the end of the crazy scheme that will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.  In terms of a plot, it’s absurdly simply – yet wildly unique at the same time.  Bardugo has done well with the small twists and turns along the story – turning every seemingly twist of fate into something more sinister and ruthless, and deliberate.

I found the characters immensely interesting.  I know that everyone loves Kaz – Mr Dirtyhands himself – and his growing character has its appeal, but he just didn’t do it for me – I think Inej deserves more.  I liked all six of the main characters though – Kaz and Inej, Jesper and Wylan, but Nina and Matthias most of all.  Their past was the most intriguing to me, but that betrayal at the Treasury – whoa!  That broke my heart!  The characters were moderately well written – it was hard to get to know any of them really well as the story jumped around a lot.  You saw some backstory – motivations really – on all of them, but there wasn’t enough time to really get to know any of them in lots of depth.

Part of this was possibly due to the way that story was told – always in the third person, but from a different point of view (POV) each chapter.  The POV switched between Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias and Jesper – everyone but Wylan – and then two side characters for the first and last chapter of the book.  The writing itself was smooth, transitioning between the characters well, but it made it harder to really get into.  The language was unnecessarily difficult in some parts as well – I understand that Bardugo wanted to set the scene with differing countries and that some of the places were based on dutch-type languages, but (as this was my first Bardugo novel) I had to keep flipping to the definitions in the front for a little while until I could remember which Grisha was which.  The land map (not the Ice Court one) seemed almost unnecessary as well, as the only time it really became useful was when the characters were reminiscing about their past lives.

Overall I enjoyed the book, although it seemed unnecessarily violent in some parts (however, based on conversations around the Barrel and the gang wars maybe it was necessary).  It will be interesting to see where Crooked Kingdom continues.

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