I have to admit I am a sucker for epic fantasy, especially anything that involves assassins, thieves and characters dark enough to perforate my soul. And here I am, writing this review while holding my mauled heart and saying, “God damn, that was brilliant.”
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a quite simply a heist story. Six young criminals are hired to break into the world’s most secure prison and extract a prisoner for a larger than large sum of money. It’s dark, dangerous and filled with plots and schemes that might go wrong. It’s a well written steampunk fantasy heist tale and I don’t know what took me so long to read it.
So here are six things about Six of Crows – spoiler free!
The world itself is incredible.
Set in the same universe as the Grisha trilogy (you don’t have to read that series in order to read this one as they are totally separate), the novel explores the gritty Barrel and the lavish Ice Court, slowly forming Ketterdam as we dive into the various cultures Bardugo has created from the Shu to the Suli. It’s not lacklustre by any means; there’s knives, guns, magic, technology mashed together into something that is so attractive. It’s rich with culture and has an grimy vibe as we travel with this crew of misfits.
The characters are extraordinary and dimensional af.
“No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.”
The 400 page novel balances six characters, all with their own backstories and reasons for being a part of the heist. These characters, the Dregs, have left a hole in my heart because of just how incredible they are. They’re diverse, broken and mismatched and I love the balance they created with each other.
- Kaz: The ringleader of the Dregs, a cold and calculating mastermind who is so tragically lovable. He’s covers his bets, is mysterious to even his own crew and is capable of incapacitating a person with a cane. Because you know, he has a limp and doesn’t let anyone take advance of him.
- Inej: She’s the spider, the Wraith, a deadly acrobat who knows everything. She’s fierce in a quiet kind of way and ambitious.
I also ship her really really hard with Kaz because yolo.
- Nina: Oh my lord, this woman is my spirit animal. She’s a Grisha, loves food and is sassy af. She’s loyal to a fault, doesn’t like to be in debt to anyone and capable of making men drop to their knees (and not just because of her good looks).
I would alternatively be shipping Inej with Nina because their relationship is so damn cute.
- Matthias: He’s kind of like a brick wall with feelings. He’s basically helping these crows break into a place that is sacred to his culture and he’s not liking it. He’s extremely stubborn and doesn’t like to show said feelings. It’s hilarious.
- Jesper: The comic relief, the dork who loves guns and has a slight gambling addiction.
- Wylan: This precious baby is adorable as he tries to prove himself to the Dregs. He’s defiant, clever and sometimes forgotten because he hasn’t quite conformed to the crooked personas of his fellow crew members.
“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”
The use of multiple perspectives allowed for a deeper and more mysterious plot.
Because we’re seeing things from six POVs, not everything will be interpreted the same. Different scenes had one or two characters telling the part and it was brilliant to see how the Big Job has unfolded for the six of them. It also allowed for their backstories to ease into the plot without much introduction; and while it was sometimes too much information at once, I loved that we got to see what made these characters so hard and despicable. While I would have liked more of Kaz’s perspective, but the novel had to balance them all and it worked well.
“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.”
The heist itself is incredible and humourous.
I haven’t read a good heist book in a long time, especially one that involved magic. I liked living vicariously through these characters who could pull off such incredible feats and still hold a conversation while sassing each other. The plans and schemes formulated in order to succeed had my eyes glued to the page. I wanted to know everything. How can someone (Kaz, my child) be so clever to come up with such a complex plan and improvise when things go wrong? Ugh, I loved the manipulation, the cons, the gradual world-building as we follow the crew through the Ice Court. It’s a damn thrill.
“I’m a business man,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”
Bardugo’s writing is just so good, I could eat it.
It’s no lie – I enjoyed this series so much more than the Grisha trilogy. There is a depth to her writing that lacked in the her previous work. She’s clever with her words, quick with descriptions that paint a lasting image and has penned some impressive feats by these characters. There’s a richness to her words that I found exciting. The dialogue is also A+.
The book itself is the definition of epic fantasy.
I mean, it’s a heist book set in a Russian-inspired fantasy universe where a crew of thieves and assassins who are all sassy af are about to pull off their biggest stunt for a large enough sum to risk their lives. Why haven’t you read this already?
Have you read Six of Crows? Do you like heist books? Who was your favourite character? Leave me a comment down below and we can discuss!