I always had a soft spot for fantasy works, and when I heard about the Grisha trilogy six months back, I had to get my hands on that. The trilogy didn’t impress me first initially. For two reasons if I have to be precise. First of all, I was going through the Grisha trilogy through ebooks and trust me when I say this, reading ebooks are nowhere as immersive as reading paperbacks or hardcovers. So I couldn’t get invested into that. And the second reason had to be the story I guess, the books were mediocre at their best (except the last book, Ruin and Rising, a lot had been going on that book from the start and that one was a good ride.) So my overall impression on the universe was truly mediocre in comparison to the speculative universes like The Song of Ice and Fire or Panem, the universe of Hunger Games.
So when I heard about a new standalone duology releasing by the same author taking place in the same universe, I wasn’t ‘that’ hyped about it, especially when her previous three books struck me as mediocre. Yet, I kept my eye on it and slowly, reviews started popping up saying how great the book was. I had my doubts, so without risking too much money, I ordered the paperback version of it instead of hardback. If I had known how great this book was, I would have ordered the entire duology hardcover version, because, the book Six of Crows, despite taking place in the Grisha universe, without doubt is a masterpiece that should not me missed!
Six of Crows is a tale of six individuals that are victims of their unfortunate past. It is a tale of how they come to team up with each other and pull up a heist, to kidnap a certain individual from the most secure prison of the Grisha universe.
The story of Six of Crows takes place where the conflict between true believers of solitude human race Fjerdans and mages capable of doing wide range of stuffs Grisha is in its peak. The two rivalries are searching for the best approach to annihilate the other race, searching for any advantage over each other. One of the neutral party leader Van Eck learns about this powerful drug “Jurda Parem” which are made especially for the Grisha to enhance their magical abilities and buff their powers. He plans of manufacturing the drug and make highest amount of profit in this conflicted tension filled era. But the problem that prevented him, was the original maker of Jurda Parem. The maker was one of the the most valuable prisoner in the most sophisticated prison in the world. Without him, Van’s campaign is meaningless. Van Eck needed to extract him, but he didn’t know how. Until he learns about Kaz Brekker, a ruthless, intelligent and cunning convict from the barrels who is notorious for all sorts of stuffs starting from thievery, blackmailing, and most of all pulling stuffs that are believed impossible. He convinces Kaz Brekkar and gives him the job of pulling a heist and extract the maker of Jurda Parem from the safest prison of the Grisha Universe in return of money.
Now Kaz Brekker must assemble a team, and pull out the heist of the history. A team of six individual, who are infamous for their specific works in their own preferred sectors. And thus, the premise of Six of Crows is set and the story sailed in full motion from that point.
Six dangerous outcasts, one impossible heist!
The story of Six of Crows is what makes this book so unique and marvelous. You know the goal, you know the endgame, the target the characters are trying to achieve. Yet, you have to cross your fingers, thinking, if they are going to pull this impossible task successfully or not. The tension of this book is there, you get to there very easily after first few chapters of introduction. The book as soon as it finishes introducing the characters, wastes no time to take you on the ride to an impossible heist.
The story is told from third person perspective but, it focuses heavily on a certain specific character with each chapters. The multiple viewpoints lets the readers know what the characters feel towards other. Not just that, when told from such unique perspectives, you get a good look on their thinking, the conflicts and inner struggles they are having, the memories and the history that led them to this quest. Leigh Bardugo focuses their struggles and goals with such charms that you get to feel the story; as if you were part of the crew.
The first 1/5th phase of the book focuses on the recruiting aspect, and the rest is just a heist full of tension. The book doesn’t even waste reader’s time on planning things, they plan their steps during their journey to the prison and it feels much more exciting this way. The journey was not just a simple one as the writer threw surprise conflicts one after another. The amount of seemingly impossible obstacles the crew had to tackle, almost dying at times, it’s just full pressure on the tension switch. The story has no fillers, no random conversations, no useless subplots, it’s just pressing forwards and facing conflicts one after another, and that was awesome. And the last 1/3rd of this book is the heist phase. With plans going wrong, with surprises waiting for them in every chapter, with unseen problems that they didn’t think of earlier, the heist had to be one of the most memorable heists I’ve ever experienced to date. The characters having to do quick thinking on the unfortunate events, makes it a unique and tension wrenching heist of all time.
A convict with a thirst for revenge,
a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager,
a runaway with a privileged past,
a spy known as the Wraith,
a heartrender who uses her magic, beauty and charms to survive the slums,
a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes;
are the main casts of Six of Crows. The characters are so unique with all their specialties and personalities, especially when it comes to facing each other. Initially, none of the characters could stand each other’s presence other than Kaz’s initial crew (Inej and Jesper.) They all had their conflicts with each other, especially the conflict between Nina and Matthias. They just couldn’t stand each other, specially when considering one was a Fjerdan from the hearts and another was Grisha and they hated each other’s race. Yet, the came to a convincing partnership that was surprisingly believable. To add cherry on top of cake, they had a soft spot for each other even though from the outside they showed none of that to each other. Leigh Bardugo literally had to set sail a ship consisting of two tsunderes. And that was just one of the conflicts. The first and major struggle the crew had to face was themselves, agreeing to their terms on participating the heist. And with talent, the writer nailed that aspect with perfection.
Almost all the characters got enough time to develop throughout the book. Each of the characters were so unique in their role and the stakes they were facing, had me hooked for hours. I couldn’t care less for any, the characters were like babies, you care for each and every one of the so much. When told from specific perspectives, you get to learn about their history, what led them here and what they are fighting for now, and that increases the immersion a lot.
The character interaction didn’t just stop with partnership on a heist. The book went above and beyond with its romantic aspect. With six unique characters out there, there was possibly 3 ships going on, but to me two of them felt genuinely legit. The first ship was between the leader Kaz Brekker and his firsthand Inej Ghafa. Even though Inej worked for Kaz for years, the romantic tension between them shined largely during this heist. Specially when Kaz came to realize what she actually means to him when she got mortally wounded during one of the surprise attacks. This ship wasn’t the best one, the second best imo, but it showed promises, I’m up for more of it from the writer.
The second ship, and the best ship of this book was between the heartrender Nina Zenik and Matthias Helver. As I said before, I never knew two tsundere’s could pull out such a romantic heart-stretching tension filled romance-hatred relationship, yet, they did, and they pulled that aspect perfectly. Whether it sails or not I’ll leave it for the readers to discover but this one was a unique one, one definitely crossing fingers worthy.
The third ship is a bit dull and I don’t know if it even is one, between Jesper and Wylan, but I would love to see these two together. But I wont be that disappointed if it doesn’t sail, I do need to explore more of the duology to explore that.
I can’t chose who was my most favorite cast from this book, as I liked all of them equally. But if I really had to choose one, that would be Inej. Inej was the prime example how strong the female casts can be. She is so strong with her willpower, specially in a scene when she had to climb a furnace as it was almost burning her alive (no spoilers, chill.) Holy shit, that scene had to be one of the most tension filled scene after Robert Langdon got buried alive in one of the tombs in Angels and Demons. Such acts of bravery easily made her one of the adored characters of this book. The second most favorite character of course had to be Kaz Brekker. Good lord, this seventeen year old vigilante is the mafia Holmes of this book. He was talented, he was fearless, he was the deus ex machina of this book, and a believable one at that. For a seventeen year old, I doubted some of his acts, but, I guess some are born this way, as a prodigy. Kaz Brekker was fantastic with his artistic dialogues and fearsome appearance, and I loved it.
Pros and Cons
The only conflict I have with this book is how it presented some of the past and histories of the characters. You see, I still believe in the aspect of “Show, don’t tell.” To me, a “Show” is something when the characters interact with each other through dialogues and we get to learn about their experience from their perspective. Yet, the writer chose to “Tell” the history of the characters from a third person perspective. It felt kind of out of place. And it made some chapters exceptionally big, bigger than they should have been. What she could’ve done, was, describe the past histories of the characters through their mouth. In this way, it would’ve been believable and thus it would have increased the immersion a lot. This decision of her not only made the midway of the book slightly boring, it increased the density of writing. There often pages out there, without even a single dialogue in it. Dialogues are important part of a novel, you just can’t ignore that. That was my only problem with this book and it almost prevented it from being a masterpiece.
The pros of this book had to be the entire book. Other than excessively narrative pasts, the entire book falls into the pros category and that is just it, I can’t praise it enough!
Despite the mentioned (flawed) aspects above, if you want a tension filled ride of pulling out one of the impossible heists of all time, and if you want to care about the heist and just that with well-designed casts that are facing their inner struggles alongside, this is the book for you. It’s an adventure-fantasy novel with signs of thriller in it, full of heart wrenching tension heating up till the end. Six of Crows is a great piece of work, one definitely worthy of being in your shelves.