I feel like no matter how hard I try, unless I’m two hours early, I will be hopelessly late. I’m constantly late to appointments, classes, work (I’m shamed, don’t shame me), and sometimes dates. Luckily my boyfriend is very understanding of my nature, and often compensates for my savant like ability to be late for everything.
The reason I bring up my tardiness my lovelies, is that I am late the party that is the Grishaverse. I’m late to the fact that Leigh Bardugo is a person!! And not a saint like deity??? Apparently I didn’t know of the cinnamon roll that is Inej Ghafa and the SINnamon roll that is Kaz Brekker????
If you can’t tell by the title and my sarcastic hysteria in the paragraph above, I’ve just finished Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Now my title may seem a little dramatic, but I want you to know that I haven’t used a willy nilly capslock squeal since middle school. I on capslock for things that have MONUMENTALLY changed not only my life but my whole state of being? Book that I read and I’m just transported to a world that is not only more amazing than my drab adult life but also an acceptable amount of dangerous*
Now I’ve come across Bardugo’s work on tumblr many a time, I’ve seen all the photosets and the edits and quotes. But I was never really in the Grishaverse fandom. The covers looked interesting or maybe a quote would really encapsulate the mood I was feeling that month or second, so I always reblogged. But nothing ever prompted me to actually look into the source and read the book.
I couldn’t tell you what compelled me to actually by the book. I think I recognized the book’s cover while window shopping on Amazon (as one often does), and I just put it in my Kindle Wish List. And now, since I’m working, whenever I have money left over after bills, I always buy the things I couldn’t buy when I’d first wanted them. I’m a really impulsive shopper so I’ll spend about $60 on Amazon and iTunes combined before remembering that I need to eat this month.
What then results is me having a lot of music I like but barely listen to** and books that I don’t have time to read. Then the guilt sets in and I’m reminded that I did set a reading goal for myself this year. There’s a whole guilt trip thing that happens and eventually it leads me to opening the first new book I see and reading at least a page. If a book can’t keep me interested past the first page, then I’m not interested in reading it. Six of Crows did that and more so fast I thought I’d gone back in time.
This book brought me back to when I was in middle school and I could spend hours just reading. When I could focus on something for more than ten minutes. By page 177 I was on tumblr looking for a fandom. I’ve been a nomad in fandom life for so long, by choice mostly, but by exhaustion most certainly. Six of Crows made me want to brave shipping wars and the ever-present fandom racism that crops up every now and then. What I found surprised me.
There’s a fandom around Six of Crows, but that’s because SoC is just a story within the preexisting world in The Grisha Trilogy. This is its own entity entirely. This encompasses all the stories within this universe, the Grishaverse. When I looked up these tags online I saw beautiful artwork of the characters I was beginning to love and characters I didn’t know about yet. The whole time I was reading I kept flipping between my phone and the book, immersing myself within the Grisha fandom while also trying to avoid spoilers that might alter my love of the story.
So it was kind of like taking a double edged sword, laying on top of it, and then allowing the blade to piece my heart***.
SoC is a heist story, set in a dystopian world that’s told from the perspectives of many different people. I was sceptical at first, it is set in it’s own universe and world, with it’s own distinct races, cultures, and languages. Normally I feel it’s very hard for authors to incorporate differences in culture and race within their “fantasy” and make believe stories in a coherent and enjoyable manner. My only example would have to be George R.R. Martin, Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling. I wanna personally add Leigh Bardugo on that list.
Bardugo was able to seamlessly create this whole world, and then expand upon that and create basically a whole new universe. It’s cultural note, each language, each setting and description of people really impresses upon the reader the kind of world their stepping into and the people they’re bound to meet. It never feels forced it never takes away from the actual narrative. In fact I feel like all the little extrabits of realism that Bardugo put into making these societies just added more and more to the actual story, the heist, itself.
Our main characters are Kaz Bekker, a leutinent in a gang called the Dregs, he’s known as a criminal prodigy, who sprung up out of nowhere and took Kerch, the capital of Ketterdam, by storm. We learn pretty quickly that he’s not a nice person, doesn’t have a semblance of nice in his body. But we’re drawn in by his intelligence and his ruthlessness, we’re drawn in by the obvious past he’s tried so hard to smother. Kaz is probably in my top three favorite characters.
The next protagonist we meet is Inej, a Suli girl who was kidnapped and sent to work in a brothel, and then rescued by Kaz to become his gatherer of secrets. She’s nicknamed the Wraith, for her awesome parkour skills and the fact that she’s able to move amazingly stealthy. Inej is technically owned by the gang leader, Pas Haskell (Kaz’s boss) but through the beginning of the novel you kind of realize that most of her motivation is centered around Kaz.
And I liked that. Bardugo seamless worked the Friends to Lovers in a way that felt natural. I was rooting for them to be together, while also knowing that these two people would be amazing as friends and amazing as something more. Whatever Bardugo sees fit to give me I’ll take.
There’s Nina and Matthias, a Grisha (magic user) and druskelle (soldier who hunts Grisha, think of the Gestapo) who are bound by the fact that the slaver ship Nina had been forced onto sank, and Nina saved Matthias’ life. They embark on a journey together to survive, but everything changes when Nina reports Matthias to the stadwatch and he gets sent to a pretty shitty prison.
There’s a lot of sexual tension between those two, and also a greater question surrounding genocide, oppression, witch hunts. I think this is a topic other author have handled quite sloppily****, but Bardugo does her model best to keep the narrative between Matthias and Nina from being a opressor apologist story or a story about non-realistic was to fight against oppression.
Then there’s Jesper, a Zemeni sharpshooter who’s pretty good at being the comic relief. Like Inej he works with/for Kaz and also like Inej he’s constantly seeking his approval. No seriously, every time we go to Jesper’s point of view there’s at least one line about him thinking Kaz doesn’t trust him as much as he trusts Inej and jealousy at how close Kaz and Inej are compared to Jesper and Kaz. I couldn’t tell if this was supposed to represent some unrequited love (Jesper is admittedly a fan of men) or that weird love/hate thing that crops up in friendships sometimes.
Last but not least there’s Wylan. He’s a merchant’s son who ran away from his home to live in the Barrel*****. Kaz has been sort of protecting him, partly because he’s grooming him to join the Dregs, partly because he knows he can be useful to him somehow. He’s a cinnamon roll with dynamite. And a sassy cutey who always says exactly what I’m thinking whenever Kaz and his schemes get too complicated.
The more and more I learn about this book and the universe the more I want to read the other books in the Grishaverse. Literally minutes after finishing SoC, I bought it’s sequel Crooked Kingdoms, and I’m practically vibrating in my seat I want to read it so bad. But I had to write this first because I knew if I read both of them back to back, I’d get things messed up and totally reveal the plot.
I’m the Queen of Spoilers, I try to spare you guys but some times I just want to reveal the entire plot and the little easter eggs and the things that stood out to me the most. I proudly give this book four stars!!! For being so excellent.
Seriously guys check out this series, you won’t regret it.