Review: ‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo

Hey! I missed a week of blogging  because… well, lots of reasons – busy, happy reasons! But while I might not have been blogging I have been reading, so there should be a fair few reviews to come over the next while.

I picked up Six of Crows at the beginning of November, while in bed feeling ill. I made it a hundred or so pages in and then had to put it on hold while I continued with University reading, so I came back to it once I was officially ‘off’ both work and uni for Christmas.

six-of-crows

SoC picks up on the world which the Grisha trilogy introduced, and while that series would provide background to this one, it isn’t required reading. This is the first of a duology, and follows Kaz Brekker, seventeen year old criminal prodigy (aka Dirtyhands, aka the bastard of the Barrel), when he is offered a life-changing amount of money to pull of an impossible heist: freeing a hostage from the impenetrable Ice Court. He puts together a crew of six criminals, all with their own reasons to take the risk of going with him.

The real strengths of this book are similar to those of the previous trilogy. Bardugo creates a brilliant and convincing fictional geography, pinning down not only the landscapes and cityscapes but the ‘human geography’ of these places. What distinguishes class in the Kerch city of Ketterdam? What traits are particular to the Fjerdan druskelle? There are lots of little details which distinguish place very strongly. I also really loved getting a bit further into the world than Shadow and Bone etc had the chance to – seeing more of the other countries and peoples that Alina Starkov described.

The characters of this novel are also just as good as those from the trilogy – although my perception of them was already fairly formed before I opened the book at all, owing to the amount of love they get from tumblr book bloggers! A central group of six could be unwieldy to handle without any of them becoming ‘background’, and for a while I  did feel that Wylan was disappearing, but by the end of the book I really liked the balance between them.

There were a few things here I was disappointed by – in particular, the tendency for long diversions into characters’ pasts could have been cut shorter, for me. The atmosphere and character sketching a lot of this added was mostly done already for me, with the exception of Kaz, whose backstory does affect things more heavily, and is the most complicated. Personally, I felt that if the interjecting memories had all been his, this aspect would have felt more cohesive. Obviously all of the characters’ motives are important to their actions, but I just felt it could have been added in a briefer way, without diverting from the main arc so drastically. This is a much longer book than any of the trilogy were, but I’m not convinced it needed to be.

My other niggle was the way certain critical moments were glossed over in so little detail that occasionally I had to read a paragraph back to realise something important had happened. The attention that narrator gave to things seemed disproportionate to their relevance at times, which made my attention wander.

The way I read has shifted since I read the trilogy earlier this year, due to starting my Masters . As I mentioned in my review of Cove, I’m paying more attention at the moment, which I think affected how I read this book compared to the previous ones. Regardless of that, Six of Crows was really good fun, and I’m looking forward to reading Crooked Kingdom next year.

See my previous reviews of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha triology here and here.

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