Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo – Review (minor spoilers)
The Six of Crows duology is another series I decided to give a try because of the number of great reviews I kept seeing. I heard that it was about a group of antiheroes/misfits and that intrigued me. I am glad that I gave it a read because this will definitely be going on my list of favorite books of the year.
The Six of Crows duology follows a group of “misfits,” who are given an impossible heist job. They are thieves and crooks and they are seen as the best and the only ones who can accomplish the mission. They are all people who have gotten the short end of the stick in life. They take the job hoping to get a huge payoff that they can use to change their lives. Of course, things don’t go as planned and they end up fighting for their lives, and futures.
I adored this series because of the characters. Every single character was dynamic and driven. We got POV chapters from every character and I loved that. I loved getting to know everyone. In the second book I would have to say that the plot got a bit twisted and hard to follow at times. They had a tendency to come up with new plans really quickly and I got a bit lost but it was the characters that kept me reading.
I have stated in past posts that one of my favorite character types is the antihero. I love a character with a dark past, who has made their mistakes but in the end has a heart of gold and wants to fix their lives. I loved the hard exterior, soft interior type; such as Darryl from The Walking Dead, Seichan from Sigma Force Series, and Hook from Once Upon a Time. These are people we aren’t usually supposed to root for but I like being given a reason to be on their side.
Kaz is the leader of the group. At first he is someone who seems to only care about himself. He is someone who everyone says won’t do anything unless there is a benefit for him. His life is about taking down the man who hurt him and his brother and nothing will get in the way of that. He appears to be a bit ruthless and uncaring.
We learn quickly though that that is all a mask he wears. Kaz has been through a lot in his life and it has given him a very rough exterior. In order to survive he had to close himself off from everyone. He knew that caring would only get him hurt. He had to make himself distrust everyone around him. His life became focused on his revenge and his revenge only.
But Kaz has a heart, a very big heart. He is terrified to let anyone close to that heart. He has been hurt badly before and he tries to close himself off but he can’t do it completely. I loved watching him slowly evolve. I liked it because it was more about him pulling out what was already apart of him. He had to get reacquainted with the softer side of himself. He had hidden it away for so long that it appeared he forgot about love and caring about people. I liked watching him find that side of himself again and begin to accept it. It was a slow burn and it was still in progress at the end but it was realistic and interesting to watch take place.
Inej became tough because she had no other choice. She is more mentally strong than anything else. She was sold as a slave to a pleasure house and if she did not find a way to keep herself separate from her surroundings she would have broken. At first she seems to live doing what she has to, to make it to the next day. It appears that she has a one-track mind, something she learned because she had to.
Inej never let go of the aspects of herself that made her unique. She held onto her religion, she prays frequently to her saints and lives by proverbs she learned from her people. I liked that after everything she had been through Inej still clung strongly to who she was. She could take care of herself but she wasn’t closed off to the world like Kaz.
Unlike Kaz, Inej was someone who people could rely on. She made friends and helped when she could. She quickly became the heart of the group. She was the one they would do anything to protect and help. Everyone cared about her in some manner and relied on her when they needed to. I loved her friendship with Nina. It was nice to see her have someone to rely on and to talk to. She needed that shoulder and Nina needed one as well. They became a support system for each other outside of the group and that was a nice aspect to have.
Jesper was the comic relief of the group. He had some of the best lines throughout the series. I loved his snarky comebacks and sarcasm. His character is the type that I love to read and write.
Though he had a humorous exterior he also had his share of issues. He was a gambling addict. He escaped into the games whenever life got too hard for him. He used gambling as a crutch to lean on when he thought too hard about his failures. He didn’t want anyone to see how scared of his past and his past choices he was. He tried to keep everyone at arms-length with his humor and nonchalant attitude.
In Six of Crows we don’t get much from Jesper development wise. We learn about his gambling problem and we see his relationship with Wylan starting but not much else. It is really Crooked Kingdom where we learn about who Jesper is, his past and what kind of life he left behind. I loved that we got more about him. I like that he is trying to run from his past choices and that the group is done letting him do that. I think he was one of the characters the group supported the most. He needed them on his side and that allowed him to begin to change.
Wylan was an interesting character. I wasn’t sure what to make of him in the first book. He is the only member of the group we didn’t get a POV chapter from in the first book. He started as the outcast of the group. He was there more as leverage than anything else. I wondered if he was going to become more developed throughout the story and thankfully he did.
In Crooked Kingdom we did get Wylan’s POV. He is not the privileged child that we are led to believe at first. He is someone who was groomed to be one way but in the end could not be that person. He was not the son his father wanted or needed.
I liked watching Wylan find out who he was throughout the story. He had to find his own voice. He spent so much of his life trying to define himself by his father and his way of thinking that he never got to think for himself. It was nice to see him shed those outer layers and find the one that fit him best. He came into himself and found the person he was always meant to be.
Nina was a tough woman who took no crap from anyone, especially Kaz. She was another one who was kidnapped and was supposed to a prisoner. She is trying to make up for her past mistakes and for the first book that is what drives her. She knows she messed up and she will do anyitng to fix it.
I particularly liked the way she did not let Kaz push her around. She had her own thoughts and agenda and Kaz wasn’t going to change that. She made her voice her and she did what she thought was best for the group. She wasn’t afraid to defy Kaz and go against him when necessary.
She was very devoted to her people, the Grisha. I liked that she kept that in the front of her mind throughout the story. She was able to find a cause outside of herself. Nina was tough and did not let anyone push her around but she cared deeply about her people and where she came from. I liked that extra drive from her.
Matthias got most of his story told in Six of Crows. He was someone who raised to think one way and one way only. He was given a way to see The Grisha and until he met Nina and worked with the group he didn’t realize how wrong his thinking was. I liked that changing his thought process wasn’t abrupt and sudden. He didn’t go from fearing and hating them to loving and trusting them right away. It was very realistic to watch him change his way of thinking. I liked that he came to care about and like the group even though he despised them at first.
Each of these characters had a transformation that started in this series. Their transformations did not end at the end of the series. They are all at the start of becoming new people and beginning new lives. I liked that there is room left for each of them to get another story or appear in another book. I liked the open-ended aspect of their stories.
I loved this series. It was fast paced and action packed. While the plot in the second novel did get a bit hard to follow, at times I wasn’t sure where it was going; the characters made me want to keep reading. I loved every one of them and would love to read more about them in further books.