I’m so in love with this duology. It’s got everything I love- amazing, well developed, badass yet flawed characters and an INSANE amount of unforeseeable twists and plans in a good storyline. As a side note, my saying unforeseeable is a bigggg thing, because I pride myself ( kind of) on being able to predict plot twists in YA fiction. But really, there’s nothing I love more than being wrong or being caught off guard when it comes to books.
There was only one author I was in awe of for the sheer amount of elaborate, secret planning in her books–Sarah J Maas, especially in the Throne of Glass series–but now Leigh Bardugo reigns beside Sarah, the queens of You-think-you-see-it-but-you-DON’T-!
I highly highly highly recommend this book to anyone who loves magic and fantasy and characters with skills that make you jealous. KAZ! INEJ! I love them both, and I love the rest of the crew and I loved the ending of the series- it really was perfect, and I have only one complaint- why? why did you do this to my big blonde marshmallow?! ( If you’ve read the books, you know what I mean.)
I’ve had many people complain that the book lacks world-building, and they’re not wrong in the sense that Bardugo pays more attention to the actual plot and characters than to the setting, but I think the insight the readers get about the characters, the familiarity we gain with their fears and insecurities, their hopes and the people they are under all the pretense, is more essential to the storyline, and also makes the books more impactful and memorable. Sure I would have loved to see more of this world, but the bits of Fjerda and Ketterdam we saw were enough for me because I’d much rather know the characters. I feel like I know this crew as well as many of my other favourite characters, despite only having spent two books with them. This is something I really like about Bardugo’s writing.
Another aspect I liked was the way in which Bardugo wove the story such that there was not one main villain, but many seemingly ordinary, absolutely detestable characters like Jan van Eck, Pekka Rollins and Tantee Helene. It takes an altogether different kind of skill, to knit together an engaging plot without one main villain for the readers to hate. The life Bardugo wrote into Ketterdam was real, and that made the story that much more gripping.
So overall, I would rate this duology 4/5 stars.
I love your mind and your writing, Leigh Bardugo!