“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo
4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
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 using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Wow, I am really surprised by how much I enjoyed “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo. I loved the “Heist Society” by Ally Carter, so I should have known that I would like this book because it’s a mix of a high fantasy world and an “Ocean’s Eleven” heist, but still I was caught off-guard by how much I liked it. “Six of Crows” was an amazingly well-written adventure, and I had loads of fun reading this book and getting to know the main characters in it.
There are five perspectives in this book, and although some authors often lose their readers because they are all over the board, I never felt that way with Leigh Bardugo’s book. “Six of Crows” had very distinct characters, but all of their perspectives meshed really well together and each of them added something to the plot, helping to move it along at a steady pace. Since there were quite a few perspectives, it took a little while for this book to get started, but I ended up really appreciating the time Leigh took to develop each character, so that when the plot got rolling and the adventure began, I felt connected and involved in the story.
One of the things that I really liked about “Six of Crows” was how Leigh Bardugo wrote and expanded her world in it, and how the environments of the different cultures/regions affected each of the characters in this story. All of the characters in this book had lived elsewhere before they had met, but they ended up getting chained to Ketterdam for various reasons and were all changed by the city’s dark, gritty underbelly. It was a merciless environment to be stranded in and it influenced a lot of their choices and actions initially, but I loved seeing the different characters grow and change as the book progressed, and how some of them chose to not let their circumstances control who they were or wanted to be. Or for at least some of them it went that way…
I was both intrigued and mildly disturbed by Leigh Bardugo’s character Kaz. He was one of those characters who was bad without being evil, and at the start of this book I didn’t know enough about him or his past to really understand why he was the way he was. Obviously he’d had a rough past to shape him into the man he was, but it was only vaguely alluded to until about three-quarters of the way through “Six of Crows.” Despite Kaz’s very dark gray actions, I found his ability to keep his team together to be quite fascinating, and his shrewd nature was exactly what was needed for the job that he took on in this book. I did find it interesting how Leigh Bardugo chose to develop certain characters personalities for her readers and have them grow as individuals over the course of the journey, whereas others remained fairly unchanged.
Kaz started out as a sharp and very hardened young man, and although he did a lot of very cool and clever things in this book, I don’t feel like he had as much personal growth as the other characters in “Six of Crows.” Kaz was a completely fleshed out and well-developed character, and he had a few opportunities to have some personal growth, but instead he chose to remain pretty unyielding in his view of the world. I guess there were a few moments where his shell cracked to reveal the possibility of him choosing hope and approaching life differently, but those moments were so brief that I still do not have a definitive answer as to whether he will destroy himself because of certain choices, or if he will learn to live his life. I think that the best character to compare Kaz to would be Loki in the “Marvel” movies, although I love Loki just a wee bit more. Kaz and Loki act really bad, but they are not all bad underneath it, and yet they choose in the end to go back to their old patterns that are causing their pain to continue. I am hoping to see Kaz have some personal growth in the second book, and I think there is a possibility of that thanks to Inej.
Inej was a very cool female character, and I really liked her development in this book. Clever and shrewd, Inej was definitely Kaz’s better half, and she had a good heart despite all of the terrible things that she had experienced in her short life. I felt that Kaz’s and Inej’s interactions made me understand and like both characters a bit more, and it was nice to see the slightly less hard side of Kaz while Inej was around. Kaz would never openly admit it, but he cared deeply for Inej, and she for him, and I loved how Leigh Bardugo’s wrote a few of Inej’s decisions as this book progressed concerning her and Kaz’s relationship. You’ll just have to see for yourself, but the choices Inej made for herself, not out of self-preservation or fear, made me respect her as a character even more. I really liked Inej as a character due to the hard decisions that she had to make and her quiet bravery in “Six of Crows,” and I that alongside her friendships with the other characters, especially Nina, made her an extremely likable female character.
Nina Zenik was, quite surprisingly, one of my favorite characters in “Six of Crows.” Nina is not the kind of female character I usually care for in a book, but I found her back story, which was vaguely hinted at in the beginning of this book, and the circumstances stranding her in Ketterdam to be quite compelling. Sometimes it annoys me when authors try to create mystery surrounding a character by leaving you uniformed and the character undeveloped because they are trying to create suspense. Usually all they end up doing, though, is making a me feel disconnected from the character and their story, and once that happens, I get tired or annoyed rather than curious because I know so little about the characters, and then the mystery ends up feeling lackluster and very un-mysterious. Leigh Bardugo, however, managed to give me as a reader very little to go off of concerning her characters while still developing them in such a way that I began to care for them despite the little I knew about their pasts. Just enough details were revealed to keep me from being frustrated while still remaining in the dark, and I really enjoyed the journey of discovering who Nina Zenik was and how she had come to be in Ketterdam.
Nina was a very interesting character who had a surprising amount of depth despite her outward show of being vapid. She was a smart, well-trained Grisha soldier, and she sacrificed a lot for the safety of her country, which created another interesting aspect to “Six of Crows” because of how it linked this book with Leigh’s other Grisha series. I haven’t finished the “The Grisha” trilogy yet, so there were a few times when I was like “Wait, what did I miss in the third book?,” but there weren’t any huge things that I felt I needed to know before going into “Six of Crows.” I really respected Nina in this book because of her dedication to her people, and I liked seeing her struggle to balance what was best for Ravka while still doing what was right. The way Nina and Matthias formed their tenuous truce to stop what could harm both of their countries was one of the most compelling aspects of “Six of Crows.” Besides the amazing Fjerdan himself, of course.
Matthias was, well, the best stinking character in this book. I was a little on the fence as to whether I might keep “Six of Crows,” because I was enjoying it, but I was not quite in love with it. Once Matthias entered around page 80, though, I was completely sold. Yeah, I am, in love in with this character.
People may disagree with me, but I thought that Matthias was the most compelling character in this book, and he was the one who ended up showing the most growth by the end of it. Matthias was changed and hardened from the things that he had experienced in life, but he also had depth of character and a good heart that he eventually learned not to hide and guard out of bitterness. I feel like Kaz and Matthias were super similar in the fact that they had both experienced many horrors as young men, they were both strong individuals, and they were able to gain the respect and trust of those around them as leaders, Kaz with his rebel crew and Matthias with his fellow drüskell. But beyond those three similarities, Kaz and Matthias were polar opposites. The growth and the hope that I had wanted for Kaz when this book first started was instead found by Matthias, and I was so okay with that! I think one of the characteristics that made Matthias stick out so much compared to the other people in this book was his sense of honor, and that it was what drove him forward as a person. Matthias’s sense of right and wrong helped become a compass for the rest of the group, and I just loved seeing how his conscience, his heart, and the perspective he gained from being around Nina helped him to grow into an even better person. There was a scene about three-quarters of the way through “Six of Crows” that perfectly showed the evolution of Matthias as a character, and I loved what he said in it.
“The life you live, the hate you feel–it’s poison. I can drink it no longer.”
I felt so drawn towards and connected to Matthias as a character, and I also loved how Leigh Bardugo wrote his and Nina’s relationship.
I loved Nina and Matthias together so much. I adored the small glimpses of memories and moments in time that Leigh showed me over the course of “Six of Crows,” and the story they told when everything came into focus made me love Matthias and Nina together even more! There was so much tension between the two of them because of who they were and their backgrounds, and I loved watching them evolve and reach a point where finally realized that maybe the grudge they held against each other wasn’t really justifiable, that both sides had wronged each other at one time or another, and now it was a matter of making things right rather than choosing to take revenge.
“Nina, you taught me to be something better. They could be taught, too.”
There were a couple of really beautiful moments that made me really happy to read because of the character growth they showed in both characters, and I can’t help but love Nina and Matthias as individuals and a couple.
“Nina,” he whispered, “little red bird. Don’t go.”
As good as “Six of Crows” was, I probably would not have decided keep it on my shelf if Matthias and Nina weren’t in it. This book was really well-written, I just feel like Nina and Mathias gave it the heart it needed, and just the other characters would not have been enough for me to love “Six of Crows.” But since Nina and Matthias were in it, well…
Okay, so the last person with a point of view in this book was Jesper, the sharpshooter of the group. I’m going to be honest, Jesper was pretty cool, but I did not care for his perspective. I didn’t feel any sort of connection to him like I did with Matthias and Nina, and I also wasn’t fascinated by him like I was with Kaz. Jesper was okay, but was the kind of character whose perspective I just wanted to get through in order to reach one of the characters that I did like. Jesper wasn’t a bad character, I just did not connect to him, nor was I that curious about his past.
Overall, I really liked “Six of Crows.” Leigh Bardugo had a very addictive writing style, and its story of a dangerous heist paired with an unpredictable cast of characters made for a fast and extremely enjoyable read. I liked “Six of Crows” a lot more than “Shadow and Bone” because of its unique cast of characters and was told from multiple perspectives; the shifting point of views gave me some time to get away from one individual’s broody mind and spurred me on to find my favorite characters’ perspectives. One of the other things that I loved about “Six of Crows” was that, although there was a dash of romance in it, coupling off did not take center stage. This was a story about a dangerous heist and there was no time for romance, and I liked that I was shown development in the relationships of certain characters, but the story and plot weren’t overwhelmed by it. There were just enough flashbacks and moments between Inej and Kaz and Nina and Matthias to make my heart hurt in the best possible way, and I really do appreciate how much Leigh Bardugo developed her characters while giving me little bits and pieces of their pasts. “Six of Crows” was a great story, an amazing adventure, and it had a fantastic cast of characters! I cannot wait to see what Leigh has in store for her readers in the next book!