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King of Scars

Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Series: The Nikolai Lantsov Duology, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Young Adults, Ages 11-13
4.5 out of 5 stars (136 ratings)

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Summary

Face your demons...or feed them. 

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, the young king 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 Squaller, 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. 

Enter the Grishaverse with this new novel from number-one New York Times best-selling author Leigh Bardugo. 

"Deadly clever political intrigue, heart-stopping adventure, memorable characters, and several understated, hinted-at romances (how will we wait?!) come together in one glorious, Slavic-folklore infused package. Bardugo's star continues to rise." (Booklist, starred review)

©2019 Leigh Bardugo (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Whether listeners are coming to this universe of demons and saints for the first time or the sixth, [narraotr Lauren] Fortgang is the perfect guide through a fictional countryside full of hard-to-pronounce places in the snowy north of some alternate version of Eastern Europe. The accents range from Russian to Czech to American. Fortgang's linguistic gifts trick listeners into thinking this book has multiple narrators. As the characters unearth their inner darkness and inner light, Fortgang's narration drips with both sorrow and love. The breathtaking ending begs those who are new to the universe to start at the beginning and those who have returned to start again." (AudioFile Magazine)

What members say

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love the Grishaverse!

I couldn't really imagine how this story world would move forward, but I am so glad it did!

I really liked the way this story was written, and the fact it touched so briefly on characters from other books, it was like meeting old friends.

I cannot wait for the next book to find out how it all sorts out!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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THAT ENDING

I only read the Grishaverse books last year but I quickly became obsessed with this series and I was stoked when I heard that Nikolai was getting his own duology. I mean what more could a girl ask for!

I listened to the audible version which is amazing! I love Lauren Fortgang's voice she does such a good job with the narration. I also have the Illumicrate special edition hardback copy which is beyond beautiful. I held it and wanted to weep when it arrived. The map and the chapter headings are literally a work of art.

The story is set around a year after Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom so about 3 years after Ruin and Rising. Now Leigh says you can read this as a stand alone and I am sure she is right but personally I would recommend reading the Shadow and Bone series followed by the Six of Crows duology for the full experience. If you haven't read them you will get a lot of spoilers for those two series.

My initial thoughts when I finished this book was WTF just happened. I honestly feel like I need to go back and read it all again. So much happened and well that ending made me what to curl up and hibernate until the next book is released.

I loved the multiple POVs and I have tried to pick a favourite but I really cannot. Zoya was a badass general who I really fell for. Nina was as strong and courageous as she was in SOC despite what she is dealing with. Isaak was easy to fall in love with, he was brave and did not hesitate to step up for his country when needed. And Nikolai was, of course, his witty, charming self.

The story is full of twists and turns and as it jumps from POV to POV sometimes we are jumping t different locations with different action and each time we changed I wanted to go back. I longed to know what was going to happen next for that part of the story.

I loved seeing some familiar faces from the Shadow and Bone series and to see how they have grown since we last saw them. I also really enjoyed meeting the new characters too. Leoni was a favourite of mine especially when I worked out who she was! Hanne was also quite an interesting character. I look forward to hopefully seeing more of her in book 2.

This may be a Nikolai duology but we also delve deeper into some other characters. Zoya's story was an intriguing and beautiful one. She has been through so much more than we knew and hearing her story really changes your opinion of her character.

And now on to my Nikolai, the too clever fox, the boy king. Oh how I love you. My only gripe is that I wanted more. More Nikolai. TBH I think if the whole book had been from Nikolai's POV I would still say I needed more, a girl always needs more Nikolai! He was, however, everything I wanted and more.

'The monster is me and I am the monster.'

And now we return to the ending. Oh, that ending! It was all kinds of exciting and terrifying! I guess I will go hibernate with my headphones and listen all over again!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great!

This was a great story! Much better than the Grisha trilogy! Zoya and Nikolai we're great characters to read about. Lauren Fortgang did an amazing job once again!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Soso

This just did not grip me. Great story line. Great performance just nothing new for me to sink my teeth into.

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Back to the Grishaverse in all its glory!

I loved every minute of the story and the performance. It was hard to turn the book off when I needed to. It is every bit as good -if not better- than the other Grishaverse books and on a par with my favourites - the Six of Crows Trilogy.

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Excellent

Brilliant story, I loved the Grisha books and this is just as excellent. I loved being back in that world with characters I knew and loved. The narration that is often as important as the story with audio books was first class

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  • Alyson
  • 10-02-19

She did it again!

Another great book! You MUST read both of her other series before this. You really need the back story to know who these people are and whats going on. Don't think that is super clear since its listed as a new series.
Loved this book, love everything she writes!! Alot of back story to help fill the holes, and understand characters better. Great plot, seemed a bit slow at times but worth the wait.
Goes through the different characters dealing with their own issues and really leaves you hanging in the end. Going to be really hard to wait for the next book!!
Great narrator as always!!

56 of 59 people found this review helpful

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  • Booniecat
  • 08-05-19

A great continuation of the Greisha-verse

A worthy continuation of the story of the Greisha, this time focusing on several of our favorite characters from the original Shadow & Bone series as well as the Six of Crows duo. You should definitely read these 5 before jumping in here (spoilers for several main characters dates and losses). you should also check out the short story collections as well to gain more insight on some references to universe lore, specifically the forest, thornwood and too-clever fox (as a bonus, these short story collections are amazing on their own!) There are several POVs in this book, and two (and a half) main story lines that will hopefully come together in the next book. Overall, wonderful performance by the narrator bringing life not just to characters but the books universe as well. as much as I enjoyed the story, there were parts that dragged a bit in the middle, and the twist at the end leaves me wondering how things will play out, and if I even liked it. I dont recommend this if you havent read at least the Shadow and Bone trilogy, it is not a "drop in" novel for the series. But, for those who are at least passing familiar, well worth the credit!

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Cassy
  • 10-05-19

better than S&B, not quite Six of Crows

Performance, as usual with Lauren Fortgang, was excellent.

The story... it dragged. There's two completely different plots going on in this book, and while both of them were compelling, they were very long winded and took way too long to get going. The only reason I finished this book was because I love the characters and I love Grishaverse. This was really not a strong addition to the universe.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Shilo
  • 03-02-19

like black velvet and dark chocolate

Listening to Lauren Fortgang read Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse is like wrapping yourself in black velvet and eating dark chocolate on a bleak winter day. It's dark and luscious and bleak and magical, and requires one to take occasional breaks to shake off a bit of the darkness.

This latest installment makes Zoya a more sympathetic character (though not *too* sympathetic), gives insight into King Nikolai, and further explores Nina's life post-Matthias. There are lots of new friends and foes and some old ones too. It draws from both the original trilogy and the Six of Crows duology and ties them more solidly together. It's dark and terrible but has moments of joy. Highly recommend (but read the previous books first or you'll miss a lot of the backstory and implications of many of the reveals, as they're not spelled out again but merely alluded to.)

This novel wraps things up nicely, while still giving the impression that things are only beginning. I can't wait for more.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-02-19

Expected more from the story.

The story was dragging at the beginning and, maybe, during the middle parts too.
But, lo and behold, that ending was redeeming.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-03-19

its just ok

I've read everything in the Grishaverse including the novellas. This is probably the weakest story.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Nikita
  • 19-02-19

Great Addition to the Grisha Universe

King of Scars is exciting, amazing and scary. It's filled with suspense, adventure, emotion, danger, ancient magic, discoveries, secrets and shock. I loved seeing everyone again. I will admit that I wanted to read this because I like the universe but mostly because I love Nikolai. But also because this universe is great and I want to know what has happened to the characters and events from both Grisha and Six of Crows series. This book is amazing and I loved it. I love Lauren, she's a great narrator.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Tory P Estle
  • 01-02-19

Amazing addition to this literary universe

I am actually upset that I started listening to this the day it was released, because the wait until the next book will be excruciating. Amazing narrator, well-crafted story, and enough exposition for someone who read all of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but skipped the Six of Crows dualogy.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • K. M.
  • 17-03-19

Disappointed

Good performance! But that was the only good thing about this. It would have been better to skip this book.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Danielle
  • 07-03-19

So Bummed. Don't read if you love the GV

I am going to try and not be a huge troll right now, because I imagine, if I were the reader of this, I would be reading these comments and I just don't want to be overly offensive, but if I were the author, I would appreciate critical reviews. This book is over-read. There are inflections when the text does not indicate an inflection, there have been at least 2 mispronounced words (I can't remember them at the moment, but if I do I'll go back and edit this) and the accents are cringey. I have had to switch to just reading it several times, which, long story short, has made it nearly impossible to finish the book. The goal of a reader is to be invisible to the story and let the words of the author tell themselves. This reader did not get that memo. It sounds like she's auditioning for Broadway. Which is fine! Just, not in my earbuds. I don't want any acting of the book, just reading it. Maybe I'm alone on that one, but this is very obviously just my opinion so I'm giving it. I don't know how to explain it better than that, but a great example is listening to any of the Winter Night trilogy. The reader totally fades away and it's just words. So nice. Another example of some really bad reading is most of the Fever series.

That said, maybe I just had my expectations too high about the book. But I really, really loved everything else coming out of the Grishaverse. I mean, LOVED. 6 of crows was my literary soul mate. This one I have been dragging myself through. It's not nearly as clever, to the point of being clumsy in many interactions. There are a couple of new characters who are so laughably one dimensional, I have just been expecting them to be fodder for some fight that happens later. That is the only excuse for the level of over-obvious dialogue. How many times/ different ways can you say someone is an optimist? Or that another one is dour? We get it. At one point she literally says "But I'm not dead!" while smiling. Come on, man.

And even the descriptions, I'm just- okay, here is an example, that doesn't give anything away:
"...and, as a rule, if one had the opportunity to visit a pleasure palace, one should. Especially if said pleasure palace served as cover for a secret laboratory.". That is literally how the 'secret lab' is introduced. Now imagine listening to that with someone reading as if the notes for how it should be read say "Read Nikolai as though he is a Debonair Game Show Host". I honestly have become so obsessed with how disappointing this book is that I've decided to do a deep dive analysis into what has changed. Is it the editor? Beta readers? The thing with sequels or spin offs is that if they are not strong enough to stand alone, you risk tarnishing the whole series. It's a very risky undertaking. This book felt like "the fandom is so strong, they'll love anything we throw out there" which is an egregious abuse of pen power and straight up sullied the whole Grishaverse.

I'm sorry. I'm hurt and bummed out.
Sincerely
Dannivdunn@gmail.com
(because I don't believe in anonymous comments)

7 of 10 people found this review helpful