Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered a chance at the most dangerous heist yet that can make him richer than rich. But he cannot do it alone. He and his crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first, that is.
One of the best books I’ve read this month. So glad I picked up this little beaut. I do believe I have been caught under Bardugo’s spell. I’m completely enraptured. My life was consumed for five solid days reading this book. With no wifi and a need to lock myself away from the world for a bit, I devoured this in five separate sittings with sides of coffee and emotional breakdown sessions in between, inflicted by the very book itself. Consider me a part of the Grishaverse fandom and one of Leigh’s recently recruited fans!
Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.
Bardugo has created a masterpiece of a world. And not your typical high fantasy recreation, either. No, it is much more than that. The Grishaverse is a treasure among the reigning worlds of fantasy authors, on par with the likes of Westeros and Middle Earth. It incorporates everything world building desires – the engagement of languages and cultures with its own politics (Fjerdan, Kerch, the Grisha, so many), a flawed but lovable cast of characters (namely Kaz, the Wraith, Nina, god I love them all), a twisty and evolving plot, pinches of humour and romance coupled with the epic and emotional, memorable quotes, and a revolving perspective that shows steady character development yet somehow keeps the reader on board without the confusion so often found in changing POV narrative. And so much more. You will find yourself growing attached to Kaz before you realize it. You feel pangs for the bad guy who was once a good guy. One moment you are reading about a fragmented soul damaged by his younger years, the next you are behind the cruel Dirtyhands and understanding his controversial actions, hoping for him and his motley crew to survive the intricacies of the Ice Court and outdo the competition to a point where it rules your everyday life – in the shower, washing the dishes, walking to the bus stop; all the time, your thoughts go back to Kaz and his crew, until its all you can think of and you need to know – just know for your own well-being- that they pull off the impossible heist, and just like that the book draws you back in. Always the Grishaverse has its hooks in you.
As I’ve stated before, one of the most important aspects of a book is its characters, and this story delivers. I even managed to feel for Wylan, actually, who could be described as somewhat of a lesser character. Wylan serves as a useful Grishaverse guide, walking us through the world as a simple merchling, occasionally giving us chapters seen from the newbie perspective. Ideal, I think, for those new to the Grishaverse. But a character I liked more so was the Wraith, or more arguably the idea – an assassin-like spy surrounded by a built legend but equally just as human, her ‘Saints’ an intriguing aspect of Suli culture, to say the least. When I read a book I like to feel invested in character interactions and relationships, too, and not necessarily the romantic kind. I loved the trust between Kaz and Inej, and enjoyed their exchanges, my fangirl heart skipping a beat when [spoiler] Brekker rescued his Wraith last minute at the Ketterdam dockside [spoiler]. Small things like that make characters much more precious to me. Lord knows I’m officially a Kazej shipper of some sort now. (‘Kazej’, that a thing?)
“I’m a business man,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”
Nor does Six of Crows ring with quite the same vibe as Leigh’s Grisha trilogy, either. I can see now why everyone hops aboard the hype train for its sequel Crooked Kingdom. This is a darker approach than Shadow and Bones, exploring a different place, a different assortment of cultures, a different arrangement of characters – Six of Crows is full of greys, ignoring the black and white and creeping into the Grishaverse’s deeper, darker crevices, presenting to us an insight into previously uncharted areas outside Ravka. I prefer this series to be honest. Would recommend!
Off topic, but completely relevant (or so I tell myself)
I would also like to show you a certain picture, taken from this post I discovered on Leigh Bardugo’s own tumblr blog. Ahem. Yes, spit at tumblr all you want, but you know it’s where all the authors are at. Tumblr has evolved beyond hipsters these days.
Just take a moment to visualize it. Kaz Brekker in the image of Luke Evans. Yes, I said it. Luke Evans. As our antihero Kaz Brekker. Go on. The brooding stare and well-fitted suit, that chiseled face and devilish flair. You know you can see it. Look at him all smart and fabulous. A real treasure. All Luke needs is those mysterious gloves and a murdery glint in the eye. Or do you already see it?
If you haven’t read Six of Crows, go on and digest it and then come back to ogle at this here beauty. And on a further side note, you’d be surprised how big a fandom this book has. (And how big a fan it now has).