Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Not spoiler free!)

I recently read Six of Crows (the first book in this duology) and I absolutely loved it. You can check out my review for it here! After that I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next so I picked up the sequel Crooked Kingdom.

Plot:

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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.

 

  • Something I love about the plot and the characters is that none of them are morally good or bad. It’s not all black and white – there’s gray areas – and that is what makes these characters so relatable, believable and human. They have all done bad things in one way or another but all they want – at the end of the day – is take revenge for what they lost and live a happy life. But that doesn’t really work out that way, does it?
  • It moved along nicely leaving not leaving out important details of the characters. The way the story progrossed is great & we get to read more about what motivates them to go through with their plan on taking down Van Eck, especially after they have gone through so much trouble, risked their lifes more than once. Thinking about what Van Eck did to them I can sympathize with that.
  • The overall pace at the beginning of SOC was slow because of introducing everyone and everything so I understand. World building is a big part of books like these. In Crooked Kingdom, however, they picked up right where SOC left off, with Inej being taken by Van Eck. All of that took them time to plan how to get her back since Van Eck was having the Staadtwatch and the Merchant Council making sure they can’t get out of the city or move around in broad daylight without being seen, so, they had to sneak through the city to get things done.
  • I like it when a book keeps up a reasonable pace where you as a reader get to observe everything without being rushed into the next situation/problem.

 

Characters:

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He’s even more complex, ruthless, smart and reckless and a bit emotionally stunted than I thought at first. Don’t get me wrong he’s a great character and I love him. Ever since he lost his brother he had to fight to survive in the Barrel, try to make a name for himself and show people that he’s actually very smart and capable.

The other characters, especially Matthias (who calls him demjin) question his intentions a lot throughout this book seeing as he keeps certain parts of his plans secret so they can’t get compromised because one vulnerability could cause them to lose everything they have been working for. I like that about Kaz. He knows how those minds of these greedy Merchers work, he knows how to get what he wants.

But that’s kind of a superficial thing to assume about him that he’s not to be trusted or that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Given his background, his family history and how he’s lived ever since he lost Jordie. It’s always a matter of perspective in my eyes.

Whilst reading I felt like there’s a lot of guilt that he’s building up inside because of how he couldn’t help his brother, being helpless himself, without money, without a home for them, without any medicine to help with the fever.

It’s also important to mention that he’s a disabled character who kicks ass despite his physical disadvances. I think that it’s amazing to have characters like him in these stories and there should be more representation like that in literature nowadays.

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Inej had a very interesting journey in this one. It started off with her being taken captive by Jan Van Eck. Throughout those chapters I felt like she was feeling a lot of mixed emotions, thinking Kaz and the others would never come for her because she didn’t think it would be worth the risk. Or that they would come but too late. 

She grew way closer with Nina too. I love the friendship between those two so much! It was really inspiring and empowering to see two women support each other without judgement of what they’d done before they met, what kind of person they are. hence Inej being Suli and from the Menagerie and Nina a heartrender (Grisha). I’d have loved to see more of their friendship admidst everything that was going on but Leigh still did a great job writing their scenes.

Her relationship with Kaz is complicated but also so intricate and special because those two met long before they met the others (minus Jesper) so they knew each other the longest and Inej understands Kaz in ways no one else does. Same goes for him though. She always see’s the good in him and I love that about her. Based on the ending I’d like to think Inej and Kaz might have started dating at one point. (Could just be me, though.)

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Wylan… wow, he went through a lot with his father who resented him simply for not being the “right heir” that he’s always wanted, which played a lot into his insecurities and his inability to read. I think if his father supported him more he’d have learned to read quicker.

Getting to know more about his past and how he got to Ketterdam (which made me really sad because I can’t fathom what that would feel like) and what really happened to his Mother was great. A really nice element of the story. It added more depth to his character which I think was nessecary and it made me love him even more. Jesper supporting him throughout everything only manifested what they have even more.

For me how Wylan ended this story really satisfied me. He started to learn to read, play the flute for his Mother, see Jesper whenever, keep in contact with everyone. Wylan also got the house of his father to himself (and Van Eck’s wife but..) along with the money that his father took from him.

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Jesper and his father Colm reconciling was really great and benefited them both. They obviously missed each other a lot. At the end of the day Colm would do anything for Jesper and that much was obvious.

I think Jesper grew a lot as a person which I really loved to read about. Jesper is a complex individual who likes to take risks and have fun (with his rifles). He definitely grew on me even more in this book.

Wylan and Jesper have a great relationship together. I just wished there’d be more development of it but like I said the ending satisfied me enough. Knowing they’re both alive and that they got what they wanted from Van Eck was more than enough for me + Colm surviving the whole thing, haha!

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Nina is such a strong, charming and funny character. She made me laugh so many times with her witty comments. As a Grisha, who are very likely to get addicted to parem, she survived the withdrawl and it made her powers change which made her even stronger.

Her friendship with Inej was my favorite thing. Those two will always be friends, no matter what, I think.

Matthias really was a huge support for her throughout trying not to take more parem, how he’d never left her side, never gave her more parem. ‘Cause I feel like if it were different characters he might have given her more but it shows of great character and respect for her that he didn’t.

If you read this book you’ll know the ending for her was pretty devastating. I kinda had a feeling one of them would die but I had hope he’d come back.

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Being called and named a traitor really took a toll on him, even though he’s betrayed his fellow drüskelle brothers, he’s also learned a lot about friendhips, relationships and trust. It was mentioned a lot that he still had these thoughts of thinking that Nina’s powers are unnatural and bad & that it was hard to just get rid of them in one snap of his fingers. It took time and effort on this end but that’s what I liked because it shows that he was willing to change his views of the world in order to become a better more understanding person in general.

How he continued to call Kaz demjin made me laugh everytime. That was a funny element Leigh put in there for him as a characteristic.

Obviously his relationship with Nina was a huge part of this book. They grew a lot closer this time around and it was great to see. I loved them together and I’m sad it’s all over.

What I think should have been included:

  • more Kaz/Inej development
  • I’d have loved a chapter of Van Eck’s POV at the end. It would have been great to see what goes on in his head knowing he lost.
  • Closure on what happened to Kuwei. Did he end up in Ravka? Did he manage to find and create an antidote for parem?
  • What happened to Rollins after everything? Did he end up re-buidling his empire or did what Kaz did to him, destroy all his hope for regaining control?
  • A scene where Kaz and Jesper have a conversation about everything that happened (without screaming at each other or throwing punches). I’d have loved an honest and sincere conclusion and apology.
  • What happened to the king of Ravka? And the Grisha refugees?

How I feel about the ending:

Quite satisfied. The only thing I didn’t like was that Matthias didn’t survive.

Conclusion:

This duology is a story about 6 characters that are far from perfect but throughout pulling off these crazy things they grow closer and learn a lot about friendship, trust and love, who have been wronged so many times in their lifes for different reasons. They’ve all had a rather troubled and difficult past but with each other they found a sense of family. I think that’s what makes these characters so great!

Let me know your thoughts down below and how you felt about the ending! Did it satisfy you? Was there something else you’d hoped for?

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3 thoughts on “Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Not spoiler free!)

  1. thatssojacob says:

    Hey there Svetlana and Sandra! I found your blog today, and I’m nominating you for That’s So Jacob’s March Blog Madness! It’s simple: find five interesting blogs today, copy and paste this comment to theirs, and give them a follow! Have a great day and if you’re so inclined, kindly come visit me over at http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com. Have fun spreading the blog love this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindseyhabets says:

    Ah I love Crooked Kingdom and this is one great review! I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything, especially on the characters. These are really some of the 6 best written characters and I love them individually, but especially together 🙂 Now I kind of want to re-read Crooked Kingdom immediately 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra says:

      Wow, thank you! I’m glad you like my review. I started writing it immediately after I read the book and it all just poured out of me. These characters are so awesome and although I’m already reading another book I miss them. ;D

      Liked by 1 person

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