Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 29th 2015
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.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
What a ride. This book bought me a lot of joy. Character driven stories like this are just… everything.
Six of Crows is the first book in a duology set in the same Grishaverse as the Shadow and Bone trilogy. It focuses on new locations and completely new characters which is great because it means you can read Six of Crows and it’s sequel, Crooked Kingdom, independently of Bardugo’s previously published Shadow and Bone trilogy. However there are still titbits in here that established Bardugo fans will appreciate. Keen readers of the Shadow and Bone books may remember that the daring Prince Nikolai was meant to be attending university in Ketterdam at one point (think 17th century Amsterdam with more fantastical elements). This is the city that becomes the centrepiece of Six of Crows.
I loved getting to know Ketterdam through the eyes of its darkest sons and daughters. In Ketterdam money and power is key. There are the merchs who rule the world of trade and politics but there are also the street gangs who are the dark counterpart of the merchs. The gangs run gambling dens, antagonise each other over territory, fleece tourists and pull big scores by tricking the rich.
It is the Dregs we become embedded with in this narrative. In particular a subset of Dregs loyal to Kaz Brekker. Kaz is a young man with a truly violent and ruthless reputation and he does plenty of things in the book to prove that there is substance to the stories people tell about him. Kaz’s story, split between the present and the past, is intoxicatingly interesting. I couldn’t get enough of his complexities.
But this book isn’t just about Kaz or the city of Ketterdam. It’s about a truly brilliant ensemble cast of drop outs, runaways, convicts, thieves and worse, taking on an impossible heist.
Kaz Brekker is challenged to the heist of a lifetime and he knows exactly who he needs on his crew. The relationships between the crew and the way they work together is written brilliantly and their ability to weave a plan and then rework it drastically in seconds whenever a corner starts unravelling is immense.
Bardugo always keeps the reader on their toes by flicking between different character perspectives. This narrative choice helped make the plot more suspenseful and engaging. Sometimes we follow a character completely in the know about the plan and other times we follow a character who is purposefully in the dark about what’s around the corner which builds into great payoffs when we see things unfold. I also found it very interesting to think about a particular point of view that was omitted and how that played into the endgame.
This is one the best uses of multiple narrators I’ve read so far. Usually there’s at least one narrative that I can’t mesh with at all and tend to want to skip over their sections but in Six of Crows I was engrossed reading every chapter.
I loved the cleverness of the plot. The constant twists and turns means there is never a dull moment.
If you’re looking for a truly exciting read that will have you rooting for a group of the most charming misfits you could ever dream of then then look no further than Six of Crows.
Believe me yours truly,