Book Review: Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
So here we are. I read the entire Grishaverse just so I could read Rule of Wolves. I was lucky enough to get absolutely no spoilers beforehand.
There were a lot of things that I didn't like about Rule of Wolves. There were also a lot of things that I loved.
This is the best book Leigh Bardugo has written strictly from a quality standpoint. As I've said before, I want to feel the character's heartbeat. I want to smell the scents around them. I want to want the things they want. Even if I didn't like certain plot points, I definitely experienced all of those things. You can absolutely see her growth as an author from Shadow & Bone to Rule of Wolves. This is such a rich world, and I love that she loves it as much as her fandom does.
Representation. Leigh is fantastic at it. With each book, she adds in more representation that is POC, LGBTQ+, I just love it. She added a trans character here, and she did it pretty flawlessly.
We got to see Nikolai at some of his most vulnerable. The question of his parentage became public. We actually met his father in this book and that was such a small moment, but it was brilliantly done.
Because of what happened to Matthias in Crooked Kingdom, I didn't trust Leigh to not kill main characters. There was a moment I was certain that Nikolai was going to die and it brought me to tears!
ZOYA'S development. Bardugo took a hated character from Shadow & Bone and made you feel for her. There was a moment when Zoya was talking about holding on to her trauma. That if she didn't have it, what would she have to protect herself? I related to it SO much. It was brilliant. I cried. Sigh. I loved Zoya by the end of this one.
THE CROWS! Nikolai and co. needed to lift some aluminum, so who do they call? Only the most brilliant mind in Ketterdam. YES PEOPLE, KAZ BREKKER makes an appearance. As do Jesper and Wylan. My little heart was so happy. I even spoiled that bit to a friend because I was so damn excited.
My biggest gripes are plot points she chose.
The Darkling plotline felt like there was no point. The character of the Darkling didn't feel like the one I loved in the original trilogy. Look, I get that he's not completely himself, but I didn't even feel a hint for this new version that I did for the original. King of Scars left off like he was going to be the big bad... He wasn't.
JUSTICE FOR MATTHIAS. I can't make it any more clear that I am a Nina Zenik/Matthias Helvar stan. With her leaving the door open for the Darkling to return, I had hopes that maybe there was a chance. That chance was completely erased. There was a time jump (oh and Nina buried his body in King of Scars but..semantics). Nina had completely immersed herself in the Fjerdan court with Hanne, the new character introduced in KoS. I knew during KoS that Nina would end up with Hanne, but I was in denial. I will say that Nina did fulfill her promise to Matthias that she wouldn't give up on his country in the end.
Zoya as queen. Don't get me wrong. I love a badass woman on the throne, but it didn't feel natural. It felt like an easy way to keep Nikolai in power. Meh. Idk. Wasn't my favorite.
Overall, I enjoyed getting more of my baby Nikolai. This wasn't my favorite, but it was definitely my favorite as far as the quality of Bardugo's writing. I can only hope my writing will get better with each project I put out. She also left it open at the end for another crows book, so watch out, baby, they're coming back one day!
Have you read King of Scars? What did you think?