Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

23437156Criminal 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 believe at this stage it is quite unnecessary for me to summarize what happens in the book. Everybody seems to have read Six of Crows and if you haven’t, the blurb is really all you need to know about the plot. Go into it with as little knowledge as possible because it will deliver. The book is marketed as Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven. I haven’t seen the Ocean’s movies so I wouldn’t know how accurate or fitting the parallel is. However, while the heist should be the most centrepoint of the story, you’ll get so much more… revenge, subtle relationship dynamics, cultures and classes clashing, gang wars- they’re all equally present in the book. And of course one could argue whether we’re dealing with a heist <SPOILER> or a rescue mission for which our characters are getting paid for.</SPOILER>

There is truly so much to grab a reader. It will not be a lighthearted, faeries and unicorns, pixies spurting magical sparkly dust kind of read. It will be about survival of the fittest in what is a dark existence for most of our characters. And money… Everything in this and any other possible world revolves around money!

The first half of the book was a bit of an uphill climb for me. I was finding myself content, very content, with the writing but it was the pace that threw me a bit. It was all systems go, stop, systems go, stop… Every paragraph gave me hope for the momentum to keep up the pace, only to wind down to some background story, a glimpse of the past… all very interesting, don’t get me wrong, but, in my eyes, not the perfect timing for things to take the Reader Adrenaline and flush it down the toilet with a mini info-dump. This is the god-honest truth (and coming from me, this sounds like blasphemy): when something exciting happened, I was hoping for it to keep up. It kind of didn’t. Minor grievance though because the build up was totally worth it in the end.

Characters: I have to admit, there is a certain fascination about the characters. They’re the extreme that I normally like, right? The anti-heroes, the broken and bruised, their souls like phoenixes rising from underneath their horrible experiences. The motivations for each character were valid, yet I couldn’t help thinking even if they didn’t have a motivation to take on the heist, they would have done it anyway. With or without broken hearts, broken souls and loyalty to Kaz, they would have done it anyway because- money!

The most intriguing dynamic I found in the book was in between Nina and Matthias. These two had some serious hatred-static in between them, it excited me to find out how those two were gonna pluck their chicken! Tons of pent up anger, betrayal and underlying temptation which also sets up some really good twists.

  • Kaz Brekker- the One that is the most powerful and has the most conflicting emotions within. With an air of mystery about him, I was looking forward to finding out his background and when I did- well… it just all made sense. The darkness made sense, the greed made sense, the gloves made sense. His ambitions made sense… and no matter how much Bardugo tried to show me how unafraid and forceful Brekker was, every leader has a weakness and I was looking forward to discovering it. Even though one could predict. Infinitely clever and always one step ahead, Kaz is a force to be reckoned with. He doesn’t pussyfoot, he doesn’t hesitate… <SPOILER>I found it a nice touch in the story to see his character realize that no matter how ahead of the game he is, he forgot about being blindsided by his very self. </SPOILER>
  • Inej- while I enjoyed her character (what she did, how she did it and who she was) she didn’t stand out to me that much. I probably took her ability to silently operate in the shadows quite literally- she stayed in the shadows.
  • Jesper- now that’s a guy! A character that portrays many a stereotype in real life. The gambler, the mouthy, the balls-to-the-wall lad who’s always up for a fight and a good time. He had depth to him but his issues overshadowed the depth and made him a flawed character, indeed. I did enjoy his playfulness and the few surprise elements. Because I have decided not to read CK at this time (more on it at the end of post) I think I will most miss the development around his character.
  • Nina the Grisha- I liked her role in the book. She had moments of lighthearted fun about her and when it came down to it she displayed selfless courage and continued to prove a certain someone that what they think about Grishas isn’t always a black&white situation.
  • Matthias- his character was interesting <SPOILER>and while it was your typical set up of ‘Hello, I’ve been brainwashed and wearing blinkers for most of my life’</SPOILER>, the development of Matthias was, for me, by far the most interesting to follow. Talk about stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

Writing: Sublime… This is the best way to describe the writing. Very strong, very steady and full, I mean full to the brim, of fantastic descriptions, details and facts. None of it felt lazy or rushed and anyone could admire the thought and work that has gone into writing SoC. But… there were times when I skipped over a paragraph or two (really, just 2 or 3, not more) when I just didn’t want nor need the fluff (that’s the pacing issue, yes?!). When the situation had my heart pumping with anticipation I did not care for the background details, not then. Not in that exact moment. The ending was somewhat predictable to me but knowing that Kaz has always thought of Plans A-Z, I was always expecting a redeeming twist.

The multiple POVs worked amazingly well… it added a layer of change and freshness and also the opportunity to find out more about each character.

Overall, I had a very vivid and colorful idea of what the characters looked like, what the places looked like.

The World: I must admit, I enjoyed the place and character names- it felt like the cultures of our current world somehow influenced what Bardugo had created and it felt very global. The magical Grishas are definitely a wonderful creation (I haven’t read the Grisha series… yet), they sure add some new flavor into the world of fantasy and for a change I am glad there were no traditional necromancers, mages or elves. It was different and new. To me, anyway.

Complex enough to make a fantasy reader feel satisfied indeed, Ketterdam is one of those settings that draws you in, no matter how seedy and corrupt it is. It’s a city of endless possibilities if one has the resources and will to take what they want.

The Ice Court was just fabulous- there is something about cold, icy settings that calls to my heart; the Fjerdan culture and beliefs were something that added that extra layer of something different and set up the basis for more twists and suspenseful moments.

***

So, you can probably see, I enjoyed this book.. I enjoyed it for it’s intricate world and anti-hero-like characters. I love the corruption, the lies, the character flaws that blow the straight forward plot into a frenzy… and yet, after finishing Six of Crows, I went on information gathering mission… Will I, or won’t I, read Crooked Kingdom?! I read some reviews (good and bad) and I allowed myself those dreaded spoilers, as well. I’m glad I did… At the moment, while I am attached to a couple of the characters I do not want to go and feel the same frustration some of the other readers have had. This is my defense mechanism (I’m finally making good use of it, hey!)… <SPOILER/>when something is described as ‘pointless’ and ‘unworthy’, then I gladly leave CK be for now.. And I don’t think I’m just yet ready for twist I know I will hate</SPOILER>

Writing this review, I have realized I enjoyed SoC more than I thought I did. Surprises keep on coming, I seem to be using my brain as well for a change! I can’t say it was an experience on par with some of my most favorite reads, but I can tell you that I have a lot of respect for this book, for this world, for the solid writing. I realize now that down the road, when I feel like putting myself through the ringer, I will try CK. But not just now… not now when I feel like in my head a different version is playing out… and I am happy with that. There has been the biggest inner turmoil regarding the rating… I have to take into account everything, the whole reading journey and while my ever so kind self would love to slap 5 stars on the book for ideas and writing alone, I have to stay honest. I did have some issues while reading the book, to counter everything did come together nicely at the end and I can’t ignore the fact that by the end of SoC I was fully engaged. I’m in between 3 and 4 stars… but the half rating ain’t gonna help me when I have to submit it on Goodreads and Amazon… pffft… Did I like it or did I really like it? [insert long thinking pause] Nope… This remains a solid 3.5 rating. I can’t help it… I’m unwilling to budge on this decision… On Amazon this rating will convert to 4 stars (I liked it) and on Goodreads it will convert to 3 stars (I liked it). That’s as fair as I can get!

37 comments

  1. I have so much love for this review! First, I’m happy you liked it! I mean, we keep having the book recommended to everyone by everyone, it would have been a shame if you hadn’t enjoyed it. But finally, FINALLY, comes a reader not afraid to say that despite many sides being just great, there was at least one bothering thing. I feel so much better about this book now. I can read it without pressure, hahaha. It’s so difficult to pick a book deemed flawless by the entire world! Fantastic review, you made me want to read it very very soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you ever so much! 🙂
      Indeed… seeing all the hype and rave around the book made me question myself but sometimes you just can’t deny the moments of frustration with a book and while the last half of the book was engaging and could easily overshadow the struggles and thoughts of DNFing in the beginning, it was difficult to get my thoughts in order… was I reading it wrong? Was I too picky? Am I being too mean? End of the day- it was what it was and I hope you’ll enjoy the read, too.. without the pressure 🙂

      Like

  2. First up I love the review format here , fantastic!

    This book has been recommended to me way too many times , but the vast TBR shelf , reading schedules and the YA tag on the book kind of made me delay this book intentionally . Your review kind of makes me rethink that Delaying this book plan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you… I think it’s a very first for me to format the review into such chunks… 🙂 But I guess there was a lot to say so order was needed 🙂

      Yes… that YA tag… you know, it confuses the bejeebus out of me at times… while YA fiction is considered for readers 12 up… I don’t think I’d want a 12 year old reading this… just too dark in parts… as for the romance bit- it’s really, truly subtle in SoC… hmm.. it would be interesting to see what you thought of the book when you had time to read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Liz, really thorough. 🙂 There’s been so much hype about this book and everyone seems to praise it so much, faultless, etc but the Y-A tag puts me off, I’ve loads of books to read but is it worth a adult fantasy fans time to add it to the TBR list as I tend to stay well away from anything with Y-A in the title. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Drew 🙂
      You know… I think there are plenty of elements in the book that you would definitely enjoy. Hand on heart I think there is enough darkness with some gruesome actions that would make this book worth your while.
      It’s definitely not faultless… There are so many more things I could criticize but they’re so minor and I already have a title stuck to me.. ok, for example… there are scenes where people are ‘punished’ in the most cruel ways which would fit into your grim/dark reading preference. I think you’d enjoy Kaz actually… yeah…

      The feely parts aren’t that many and overpowering to make you cringe… plus, I think you’d enjoy the writing and details of the world and action as well… yeah… I’m really pushing this on you here, aren’t I? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • True, you are pushing it, well selling it to me, I do like decent characterisation and world building. Your review sold the book anyway as you actually say it’s not without it’s faults which is a nice change as so many people have praised it as being the best book ever so it was nice to see a review that highlighted things, even minor that were wrong. 🙂

        I shall add it to the TBR list and hope Amazon have it on offer at £0.99p on the Kindle at some point as i have so many other books to read. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have so much love for this book. As much as I wouldn’t like to meet Dirty Hands, I love reading about him. And Jesper just oozes cool. Had the same thoughts about Inej that you did.

    I listened to this on audio book and loved it. Didn’t find a problem with the pacing too much, but that might be because the narration was pretty good. Currently listening to Crooked Kingdom 🙂

    Great review! Nice to see other people diving into the world of Ketterdam.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this series and these characters, but I agree there are definite pacing issues. The second book dragged a lot for me in the beginning – but I still loved it. I understand your reasons for not wanting to pursue it right now, though, since you know what happens. I think it’s definitely worth the read, though, someday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that the series is seriously good 🙂
      As for the CK spoiler that out me off of reading it for now.. I’m glad I came across it. I’d be smashing things apart if I went into it and discovered the ‘big thing’… 😀 I normally don’t mind when authors go the other way with their characters/scenes than I expect, but this is the first time ever I feel this strongly about a character/characters that I know I couldn’t deal with it! haha.. I agree though.. I will read CK… just sometime in the future 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that you read this book, because I am one of those people obsessed with this duology!! I think CK was way better than SOC, however that is just my opinion. My love for Jesper by the end of CK was beyond many other characters I have other read. There is also more action in CK…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice!! you point out some interesting thing, I actually like Jesper quite a lot… makes me more comfortable picking up the book in the future… I have to admit, I am afraid a bit because for some people CK hardly delivered but it’s nice to get a vote of confidence from you! 😀 I just gotta try it 😊

      Like

  7. I love your approach to this. You break it down so well. I am very excited about the characters who seem to offer some real potential. I also love that the world build and writing do not seem to disappoint, but I have to admit that it is refreshing to see a less than perfect rating. I want to see opposing takes like this when it comes to hyped books. Still not sure with the reviews of the sequel though bawhaha ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review!!! This is the most thorough one I’ve seen!! (I’m one of the tiny minority that hasn’t had the chance to read this yet) Thanks so much for the heads up about the info dumping- but I’m glad to know the pacing picks up in the second half!

    Like

  9. Great review! I haven’t read Six of Crows yet because I am waiting for the hype to die down. It’ll probably happen late this year, early next. But it sounds like everything seems to be an emotional roller coaster when it comes to Bardugo’s writing!
    As you know, I love reading reviews which challenge everyone’s love of a hyped book. Good job sticking to your opinions, even if you struggled to identify what they were. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you… again 🙂
      Indeed… the book was, is, good, but it could have been so much better.. then again, it’s just my opinion and sometimes it’s hard to figure out where I’m truly being critical for the objective reasons and where I am being critical for my personal emotional reasons…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent and nuanced review! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was really amazed that it was able to fit into the YA universe. The characters, the writing and the plot were pretty amazing too. I too don’t want to jump into CK just yet. I’ve heard about some thing that happen in there that simply won’t make me too happy, so leaving SoC as a standalone seems to be my best course of action. Until I find a very cheap/free copy of CK and I feel like completing the duology for the sake of completing it! 😀

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am so weird, even though I know I don’t have to read Ruin and Rising before reading this book my reading OCD prevents me from doing it. Ha ha. I am sorry you didn’t love it more. I hope it doesn’t flop for me because I have high expectations based on the other Grisha books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mm… I’ve seen various feedback on the Grisha series… I do’t think I’ll be reading it though… oh, who knows? Maybe in the future but not in the near future… I hope you enjoy Ruin and Rising! 🙂 Look forward to your thoughts on it… who knows you may just change my mind on reading the Grisha books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I loved the first two Grisha books and everyone seems to have like loved R&R, too. The only reason I haven’t read it yet is because I was spoiled for the big plot twist the day after it published, and it took away all of the excitement I had for reading it at that time. I am feeling better about it now, so I should be reading it soon. 🙂

        Like

Have your say!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s