All good things must end, it seems. We had our fun with Kaz and crew in Six of Crows. And now we shift focus once again, back to Ravka.
In some ways, it’s a continuation of the storyline of Shadow and Bone, following the new King Nikolai as he deals with securing his throne in a nation deeply in debt with enemies on all sides. Plus, we get a lot more Zoya (who I did not expect to like as much as I did) and at least some more of Genya and David (I do love their relationship).
Another fascinating aspect of that storyline is that we get to dig much more into the mystical/religious underpinnings of the world. Six of Crows never really went there, but it’s definitely something that came up in Shadow and Bone. It’s fascinating to feel like you know how magic works in the world–and then realizing that you know nothing after all… (both as a reader and as the characters).
I will warn though: this part got weird. All sorts of new and interesting (or I suppose old and interesting) metaphysics and magic we hadn’t really dug into before. A bit jarring–both for the reader and for the characters involved…
In a completely different direction, we also have a main storyline with Nina from Six of Crows (of all the characters, hers isn’t the first story I would have chosen to continue, but it is interesting). She’s still messed up / something new and now she’s off to Fjerda to continue to try to save the world. Newcomer Hanna is a lot of fun.
Overall, it’s a solid book. It’s weird how disjoint the two storylines are–they don’t really interact at all, although I see how they’ll likely come together in [[todo:Rule of Wolves]]. I kept finding myself annoyed when we switch from one to another.
And now, all the reasons I love the characters in this book (warning: minor spoilers):
Genya set her pen aside and seized his hands. “I promise to let you hide in your workshop. Just give me five events and one banquet.”
“Three events and one banquet.”
“You’re a dreadful negotiator,” said Nikolai. “She would have settled for two.”
David frowned. “Is that true?”
“Absolutely not,” said Genya. “And do shut up, Your Highness.”
David is my favorite.
“Oh, David,” Genya said, taking his hand. “You’ve never threatened to murder anyone for me before.”
“Haven’t I?” he murmured distractedly, placed a kiss on her knuckles, and continued reading.
And Nikolai is just as fun as he’s always been:
Nikolai poured himself a drink before turning over the bottle, but he knew mocking Yuri would do no good. Wasn’t speaking the truth supposed to be freeing? Some kind of tonic for the soul? In Nikolai’s experience, honesty was much like herbal tea—something well-meaning people recommended when they were out of better options.
Especially his growing relationship with Zoya.
“I’m fairly sure you’re trying to frighten me,” said Nikolai, reaching out a finger to touch the tip of the thorn. “I’m not sure why, but may I suggest a spider wearing a suit?” “Why a suit?” asked Zoya, frowning. “Why not just a spider?” “Where did he get the suit? How did he fasten the buttons? Why does he feel the need to dress for the occasion?”
I do hope that ends up well for them! (And then I remember I said that for Nina and Mathias…)
Idly, Zoya touched her finger to the ball of a mace on the wall. Juris must have had the weapons with him when they were trapped on the Fold. “I always thought the dragon was a metaphor.”
Juris looked almost affronted. “For what?”
“Heathen religion, foreign invaders, the perils of the modern world.”
“Sometimes a dragon is just a dragon, Zoya Nazyalensky, and I can assure you no metaphor has ever murdered so many.”
Together, they endured several courses and many jellies, celebrated the solid and highly recognizable venison steak, and agreed that whatever the gray stuff was, it was delicious.
Be our guest!