Monday 26 December 2016
#CBR8 Book 122: "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo
Audio book length: 15hrs 25 mins
Rating: 4.5 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
Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first.
Kaz Brekker, teenage criminal mastermind, is offered an unbelievable sum of money to retrieve a scientist from the impenetrable and fiercely guarded Fjerdan Ice Court. The mission is pretty much an impossible task and almost certainly a suicide mission. He gathers a crew of other teenage outcasts, but just pulling the crew together and getting out of Ketterdam involves a prison break, multiple disguises, near-death experiences and explosions.
Even as though it got better with each book, I was not as impressed with Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy as some seem to have been. I never really invested all that much in the characters, the attempts at romance fell flat for me, but I did very much like the world building and magic systems established. In Six of Crows Bardugo takes everything that worked in her first trilogy and expands on it, showing us not only alternate fantasy versions of Russia, but of a sort of 19th Century Netherlands, as well as showing us the Fjerdans, who are pretty much really magic-hating Scandinavians. In addition to exciting new locations, she creates a thrilling and extremely intricate plot and populates it with an amazing cast of characters. This book has six protagonists, and five different main narrators (Kaz, Inej, Nina, Jesper and Matthias), plus some additional points of view in the prologue and epilogue. In the audio book, the narrators are all very distinct, which helps you follow the labyrinthine plot.
A good heist plot is a wonderful thing and this book has been compared with Oceans 11 by a lot of people. The first third of the book establishes the mission and has Kaz assembling his band of criminally minded misfits, then it moves at break-neck speed onto the heist itself, where the stakes are high, every member of the group has their own agenda and there are a number of rival factions who may beat them to their prize.
I got this audiobook last year, in a Daily Deal, but made myself wait to listen to it until after I'd finished the Grisha trilogy. There are minor references to Bardugo's first series, but nothing that is essential and all the Grisha magic is still nicely explained, so you can easily follow the story even if you haven't read the trilogy. Even if it's a long book, I got through it relatively quickly and listened to it every chance I got. I can highly recommend the audio and if you like good, action-packed, adventure fantasy, you should absolutely check this book out.
Judging a book by its cover: When I reviewed the final two books in the Grisha trilogy, I was very enthusiastic about the covers. I'm not sure exactly what sacrifices Ms. Bardugo has done to the gods of cover design, but they have heard her loud and clear. The beautiful silhouette of a city, while also showing a flying crow's wing and a sky full of stars, it's so beautiful and I want to own these books, not just as audio or in e-format, but in physical paper copies so I can admire the covers fully.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.