What Am I Reading This Week?
Six of Crows – Book One in the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
Holidays are the absolute perfect time to catch up on all the books you have neglected during the year, wouldn’t you agree?
This past week I was able to finish Six of Crows, the first of two books in the Six of Crows series, and I must say it was a splendid ending to my literary year! The series is based in the same universe as Ms. Bardugo’s The Grisha trilogy, which I admit I have not read (yet?), but I understand has been very well received by the YA Community.
The book centres on six main characters, based on the trade island of Kerch, where they eke out a living as thieves, spies and criminals to varying degrees. Kaz Brekker, known as ‘Dirtyhands’ around town, is the leader of the crew and the lieutenant of a well respected street gang known as the Dregs, who have their fingers in gambling and theft, chief among other criminal activities. He is known to be cunning and hardhearted; his reputation speaks volumes for one so young. He is invited by a local merchant to assemble a crew and pull off an impossible heist that involves sneaking into enemy territory and breaking into an impenetrable fortress known as the Ice Court. The prize for pulling it off would be several millions krugs (dollars) for each member of the team. Kaz puts forward the idea to five of his acquaintances. First there’s Inej, Kaz’s personal spy and collector of secrets nicknamed The Wraith. Then there’s Nina, a Grisha (which based on my interpretation is a form of specialized witch/wizard) Heartrender with the ability to manipulate the internal organs, she can render you breathless or absolutely calm with the simple twist of her hand. Next is Matthias, a former Drüskelle (a military trained Grisha hunter) with a strong sense of morality and a serious axe to grind against Nina. Fourth is Wylan, the sheltered new kid who specializes in demolitions with a surprising connection to the heist. Last but not least is Jesper, a sharpshooter with a weakness for the card tables and Kaz’s right hand man.
The crew set off towards the Ice Court located in Fjerda (Matthias’ home country) on a mission to free a scientist with the ability to produce a miracle drug able to enhance the abilities of the Grisha.
Along the way the crew encounters rival gangs, dire situations, memories and trauma from their past, as well as conflicting ideals about right and wrong, and just how far they are willing to for the payday of the their lives.
POV Chapters – I love when I am able to get inside the head of a character, and Leigh Bardugo delivered a perfect Christmas present of six! Being able to go through different elements of the journey, heist and aftermath with the characters while also delving into their past lives, what brought them to this point as well as their plans and hope for the future was lovely. The reading experience was enhanced by the uncertainty, never being quite sure whether the plan would come together, experiencing the many moving parts, and never getting bogged down in one scene for too long.
Heist – I love a good heist movie, but surprisingly I had never read a book based on one. This definitely opened my eyes to what I was missing out on. I can appreciate when a character keeps me guessing and is able to outsmart their peers; Kaz is one of the more cunning and morally ambiguous characters I have come across in fiction and I adore him for it. His ability to manipulate a situation to his own end left me surprised and excited time and time again. I can certainly see why he is considered one of the greats. I loved that the team members all had an invaluable skillset that they brought to the heist, and no one was there extraneously.
The ‘Grishaverse’ – Due to my unfamiliarity with the previous novels, which I assume had more exposition, it took a little while for me to get into the groove of the new terminology and languages. Once I did, it felt like a neat little secret and made it a more enjoyable read.
Romance – Though the majority of the book was focused on the heist and character exposition, I appreciated the bits of romance distributed throughout. There is heavy hinting at some, and there is one I hope I am right about (or maybe I’m reading too much into it?) that I suspect will unfold in the sequel.
An oversight, on the part of one of the crew members, that resulted in serious consequences. I expected better behaviour of them and was slightly disappointed by the story taking that turn.
Leigh Bardugo has found a fan in me; this story was well balanced and the slight cliffhanger ending left me excited for the followup but not utterly devastated by the fact that Book 2, Crooked Kingdom, won’t be out until well into the new year.
What have you been reading this week? Let us know in the comments below.