Deception within deception within deception. So much mind fvck happening and emotions and…. It was just brilliant! That’s how cruel Leigh Bardugo is with the finale to the Six of Crows Duology.
Title: Crooked Kingdom (Six Of Crows #2) Author: Leigh Bardugo Publisher: Orion Children's Books Publish Date: Sept 27, 2016 Goodreads: 4.7/5 Barnes and Noble: 5.0/5
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.
Generally, we get more of our crooked six from the Six of Crows book. In the previous book, we left off with the team all torn down and tired from their heist from the Ice Court and Van Eck crossed them and took Inej hostage in exchange for Kuwei and the knowledge of jurda parem.
In this book we see more character development especially for Wylan, Jesper, Kaz and Inej. We see less of Nina and Matthias who were already well-rounded individuals from the first book which highlighted much of their relationship as it was also necessary and timely for their journey to Fjerda.
A duology is simply not enough! I need more from these six crazy criminals. However, Leigh Bardugo was able to close-off each of the character’s storyline in a very fluid manner without making the book seem rushed.
As promoted by Leigh Bardugo, you don’t need to read the Grisha Trilogy to understand Six Of Crows. However, there are a couple of guest characters (especially in the second book) that are from the Grisha books, which will have more impact if you had read them first. I personally have only read until Siege and Storm and I think it’s enough for others as well. But I will be reading Ruin and Rising soon! Swear!
It’s quite difficult to write a spoiler-free review about this book. But if you want an in-depth book analysis, you can read my review of Six Of Crows: *insert link*
There’s so much I want to talk about this book! Every chapter is like a goldmine of clues, plot twists and fight scenes. So I’ll be listing down the top 10 things that got me so crazy after reading the book.
- The Kherguuhd
In the first book, Bardugo showed the effects of parem with Grisha. From simple healing and tailoring, Corporalniks were now able to control people’s thoughts. Squallers were able to fly, Tidemakers turned their bodies to mist and Fabrikators could turn lead to gold. In Crooked Kingdom, we see what the Shu had been experimenting on with the Fabrikators that turned into the Kherguuhd, special guards who had metal beneath their skin and able to materialize wings that helped them fly. They were used as hunters by the Shu to gather more Grisha for experiments.
- Jesper kissing Wylan…. sort of
So this scene was completely romanticized, which was what I was waiting for since the first book. We found Jesper giving in to his feelings and kissing Wylan. After the kiss, he saw Wylan who still looked like Kuwei and realized he had just kissed the real Kuwei. Oddly, Kuwei kissed Jesper back, at that point I thought it would be a love triangle but I’m glad it didn’t! Jesper got mad at Kuwei and in the end Jesper totally rejected Kuwei and decided to stay with Wylan in the Van Eck mansion.
- The Van Ecks
I love Jan Van Eck as an antagonist. He had humiliated and almost successfully killed Wylan for the shame of his inability to read. As a merch, reading was a necessity as you went through lots of documents especially for his numerous businesses. We also discovered that Wylan’s mother was actually alive and Jan Van Eck had her locked up at a mental institution. Alys was adorable. Despite being completely clueless of the whole thing, she brought out a lot of funny moments even until the end when she decided to learn more about music than help Jan Van Eck bail prison.
- Kaz vs. Pekka Rollins
As Pekka Rollins tried to stop whatever Kaz had planned during the Auction, Kaz faced him and forced Pekka to remember Jordie, Kaz’s older brother. This scene was just incredibly tense as Kaz threatened Pekka, saying that he had buried Pekka’s son alive in the outskirts of Ketterdam. At that moment, you could feel Inej’s pity for Pekka Rollins despite the trouble he had caused them. Turns out, it was all a bluff and Kaz didn’t do anything to Pekka’s son.
- Jesper’s father. #FatherGoals
I loooove Jesper’s father! Even though he and Jesper didn’t have a good relationship during his childhood, you could feel that both loved each other and only wanted what was best for them. You could feel Jesper’s guilt in bringing his father into his mess, as well as his father’s shame for stopping Jesper from exploring his Grisha abilities. There is that moment, that Colm Fayhey, Jesper’s father, told Wylan than he thinks they were good together and that Wylan brought out the best in Jesper. That was….uuuuurgh! Feeeeeeels! That was not just a father’s acceptance of his son being gay, but an acceptance of everything that Jesper was, a risk-taker, a thrill-seeker and a Grisha.
- The “Queen of Mourning”
At the end of the second book, Nina disappears into the shadow because she was still having withdrawals from the parem she had taken. Gradually, Nina felt her powers weaken, even the smallest tailoring had her suffer and crave parem. As a Heartrender, she was able to manipulate the living, now she could only control the dead.
- Grisha Trilogy guest cast!
I was literally fanboying throughout the second half of the book when Genya, Zoya and Sturmhond appeared. Genya and Sturmhond were my favorite characters in the Grisha trilogy and to see them 2 years later was just amazing! They had gained the titles as the legendary Grishas of Ravka and have come into terms with everything that happened during the Ravkan Civil War. More surprisingly, Kaz knew that Sturmhond was King Nikolai! I was just speechless there.
- The Auction
This scene was pretty much the summary of the world-building that Leigh Bardugo had done for the Grishaverse. We find the Ravkans, the Shu, the Fjerdans, the Zemenis and the Kaelish all in one room, trying to get a hand of Kuwei and the secret to parem. Fenominal. That’s it. How unbelievable Leigh Bardugo was able to set up such a diverse world with multiple countries with varying cultures. How even more amazing was her ability to come up with a scene wherein all of these countries converge with their own personal agendas intact.
- KaNej. Or InAz. LOL.
I didn’t really ship them in the first book but damn! They are such a good pair in Crooked Kingdom, especially that Kaz finally gave in a little to his feelings for Inej. He even kissed her while he helped her with the bandages after saving her from Van Eck. I just love the ending! When Kaz gave Inej a ship, that was very symbolic, that even if he did love her, he won’t hold her back on her dreams. Inej also knew that she could not ask Kaz to leave with her. But despite their separation, I just could not stop crying when Inej saw her parents arrive in Ketterdam thanks to Kaz’s efforts and his deal with Sturmhond.
- Mourners and Funerals
So this is the biggest reason why I cried all over my book. Damn you Leigh Bardugo! Thank you for killing our big blonde druskelle. *cries* His death was not heroic at all. He was shot by a young druskelle that followed him from the auction. As Leigh had said in an interview, that was Matthias dying as he saw his old self in front of him. It was just heartbreaking. I could not stop crying for the last 2 days every time I remembered his scene with Nina. You could feel Nina’s grief, her regret for taking parem because she couldn’t heal him, her regret that she could not take one at the moment to possibly save him in exchange of her life. As the queen of the dead, she mildly controlled Matthias minutes after his death, but then she realized that was not how Matthias would have wanted her to live. The others were also stricken at Matthias’ death, thinking that after all they have gone through, they half expected all of them could have gone through it again all safe.
There are no words to describe it other than: AWESOME! Grab a copy ASAP! You will not be disappointed. Not even a bit.
“Have any of you wondered what I did with all the cash Pekka Rollins gave us?”
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.”
“Don’t worry, Da. People point guns at each other all the time in Ketterdam. It’s basically a handshake.”
“Everything is a negotiation with you, Brekker. You probably bartered your way out of the womb.”
“You can only sharpen a blade so far”, Kaz said as he joined them at the front of the church. “In the end, it comes down to the quality of the metal.”
“Sometimes, the only way to get justice is to take it for yourself.”
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CHEERS TO HAPPY READING!