The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Set in the world of the Grishaverse, this is a collection of fairytales from Ravka and beyond.

Fantasy, 275 pages, published in 2017

Set in the world of the Grishaverse, this is a collection of fairytales from Ravka and beyond.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This collection of short stories is one of the best things by Leigh Bardugo for me. I read it back in 2018 and ever since, I have been itching to reread it, so I finally did! Normally, I don’t love short stories, but I feel like these are separated enough from the books set in this world.

I think these stories are so atmospheric and powerful! They are all a little bit dark, both in themes and atmosphere, but they definitely feel like fairytales. I loved the mystical vibes from these stories. Women are at the focal point of most of these stories, and they are all strong in different ways. I feel like these stories made me feel more connected to the Grishaverse.

I think the writing is also great! There are so many sentences that just make me stop and think “wow”.

Of course, I can’t forget to mention the stunning artwork! I absolutely adore Sara Kipin‘s illustrations in this book. I had one of them set as my phone background for a very long time.

I definitely enjoyed some stories more than others, so here is my ranking:

  1. Little Knife (the artwork for this one was my background)
  2. Ayama and the Thorn Wood
  3. The Witch of Duva
  4. When Water Sang Fire
  5. The Too-Clever Fox
  6. The Soldier Prince

I also love that there are references to things from mainly the Shadow and Bone series. There is a location in Little Knife that comes up in Ruin and Rising and I believe Duva is mentioned at some point. There is at least one more reference, but I won’t say it because it verges on spoiler territory.

I definitely think that if you are a fan of the Grishaverse, you should read this book! It’s a really quick read as well.

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Review: King of Scars

Synopsis: Several years after the Ravka civil war, threats still plague the country. King Nikolai Lantsov must deal with the these external threats, as well as the darkness that remains inside him. Meanwhile in Fjerda, Nina Zenik discovers a nefarious plot while on an undercover mission.

Genre: Fantasy

Published: January 28th, 2019

Pages: 527

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Several years after the Ravka civil war, threats still plague the country. King Nikolai Lantsov must deal with the these external threats, as well as the darkness that remains inside him. Meanwhile in Fjerda, Nina Zenik discovers a nefarious plot while on an undercover mission.

Non-Spoiler Review:

**NOTE: While this section won’t have spoilers for King of Scars, it WILL contain spoilers for both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, since this book is a direct sequel to both of those.**

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I loved Nikolai in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and it was announced that Nina from the Six of Crows duology would also be a main character, so I really thought I would love it. However, I was overall disappointed.

The book has POV chapters from Nikolai, Nina, and Zoya, as well as a new character, Isaak. Nikolai and Zoya are working together closely, so their chapters are one storyline, while Nina’s chapters are a completely different storyline. I can’t say much about Isaak without spoilers. The two storylines had very little to do with each other, which gave the book a very slow start. Most books do start a little slow, since you have to get oriented in the world, get introduced to new characters, and figure out what the overall conflict is. With two storylines, that means that this slowness at the beginning of a book was doubled. It took until about halfway through the book for things to actually start happening, at which point, I didn’t really care anymore.

We get some good character background on Zoya and Nikolai, which was one of my favorite parts of the book. It really helps the reader understand the motivations and actions of these characters. Zoya was my favorite point of view to read from because who she really is and who she shows to the world are two different people.

Leigh had said that anyone could read this book, not just people who have read Shadow and Bone or Six of Crows, but it felt like this book was just riddled with references to those series. Also, I can’t remember if the magic system was described very well, so if I was new to Ravka and the Grishaverse, I think I would have been confused. The big event that happens to Nikolai has to do with magic and I was actually confused. I don’t know if I missed something (I read pretty fast so this is a common problem for me) or if it wasn’t explained well, but I did not understand how this event worked within the magic system at all.

There was no actual romance in this book, but there were beginnings to what could be two different romantic relationships. I thought both pairings were fairly predictable, but I enjoyed them. I think it will be interesting to see how they develop in the next book.

Overall, this book was just not great. I think Nina deserves her own book, rather than having it thrown in this one. I’m sure that the two storylines will merge in the next book, but it was not at all even hinted at how that will happen in this book. I do still that Leigh’s writing is really, really good and she will still be one of my favorite authors. If you have read and enjoyed her other books, especially these characters, give this book a shot! I’m not sure people new to the Grishaverse would enjoy this book.

Also, some other thoughts that I couldn’t fit in anywhere else in the review:

  • I thought it was funny that Nina would mention everyone else in the Six of Crows crew except for Wylan. I don’t know if that was intentional or not!
  • The cliffhanger! I won’t say what it is, but I don’t think I’m too happy about it. It definitely is interesting though.
  • This book without the dust jacket is GORGEOUS and I think that might add to why I am so disappointed.

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