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.
Having not read any of Leigh Bardugo’s preceding Grisha trilogy, I thought it would be very difficult to get into this novel, based in the same world, a few years after the events of the trilogy. Despite the expansive geography, a myriad of languages, several viewpoints, and a huge cast of characters, Six of Crows just works. Having (presumably) already built a world more than competently with the Grisha trilogy, Leigh Bardugo manages to write a standalone that holds up really well.
The main strength of the narrative here is the characters and those multiple viewpoints. Early on, as the team assembles and makes its moves towards their destination (physically), we get some of the backstory of each of those characters. It’s a masterclass in character profiling, with all of the show, don’t tell, that you’d expect from someone taking on the daunting multiple perspectives. Each backstory gives rich detail of the six main characters and how they got to where they are during the novel, and yet there is much to learn about each of them, surprises popping up everywhere.
Inevitably, the reader will find themselves drawn to one or two of the characters, and as the stakes grow ever higher, you really start to root for your favourites. Everyone has at least one scene of mortal peril, meaning no-one is guaranteed safety throughout.
Narratively, the plot has one major event it careers towards throughout, the comparisons to an Ocean’s Eleven type scenario are spot-on, but The Ice Court itself is as far from a swish casino as you could imagine. Even with maps to help you picture the geography of this world and of The Ice Court, Leigh Bardugo does a great job of describing the fortress from all angles. It becomes a character in itself as the protagonists go up against it in the latter half of the novel.
Six of Crows is a really engaging book, particularly in the latter half, and added to the detail given in the first half or so, it makes for a rich world in which to dwell for the hours the reader spends there. I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel, Crooked Kingdom.