For my first book review of the year 2017, I’m going to talk about Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It is the first volume of a duology.
Six of Crows tells the story of 6 outcast members of a gang gone off to fulfil an impossible mission. They are all somewhat misfits of Ketterdam, capital city of Kerch, principal island for trade in the complex world created by Bardugo.
The story roughly kicks off when Kaz Brekker, a 17-year-old leftenant of the Crows gang and mastermind criminal, is captured by a merchant who wishes him to retrieve a scientist in the most impenetrable fortress of their world. The scientist has developed a drug capable of intensifying a Grisha’s powers to the extreme. Grisha is the term used to designated the people gifted with magical powers. Their powers are mostly devided into three categories: the CORPORALKI (healers), the ETHEREALKI (summoners) and the MATERIALKI (fabrikators). Although schools and universities exist in Kerch and elsewhere to train the Grisha, other populations do not see them with a kind eye; especially the Ferdjans who are some sort of holy order bent on tracking and killing Grisha. I’m sure the comparison with Puritans and the witches of Salem has easily come to your mind.
So Kaz, Inej (aka the Wraith), Jesper, Wylan, Nina and Matthias go to the Fjerdan’s capital. Their plan is completely insane and is made of impossible heists and tricks. Against all odds, they will try to succeed in their mission which appears doomed from the start.
Although the beginning of the novel was a bit unappealing to me, I quickly took to the characters once the story delves into their personal situations. There is excellent character development and it shows how friendship and loyalty can overcome many hurdles. What is rare, and therefore why this novel must be treasured, is the slow burning romances. Some characters are attracted to one another but they barely account for what’s driving the story forwards. The romances are of course welcome and you root for the characters and their happiness but the most important features in this novel are cleverness and friendship.
Granted, I took my time to read this one; but as soon as I finished it, I’ve jumped right in the second one which promises to be as excellent a read as the first.
Ultimately, I rated this novel, without surprise, 5*/5.