Hey guys! Today I’m reviewing Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Just so you know this will have spoilers, so if you’re not ready to be spoiled by this book then I suggest you read it for yourselves first!!

The first thing I noticed when reading this book was that it is absolutely gorgeous!! The pages are black and the cover is so pretty. I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but well, come on. It’s just so beautiful I wanna cry when I look at it.

Now the very beginning of this book starts en media res (the middle) of a meeting between two different gangs that live in a part of the city of Ketterdam called The Barrel, or slums, in the land of Kerch. This beginning is extremely confusing. I’ve read books that started in the middle of the story before and absolutely loved them, but this…this was just weird. But don’t let that deter you from reading this book. It’s only 2 short chapters of confusion until you get into the main story and the lives of the characters. Leigh Bardugo writes her characters with so much backstory and has a lot of great plotlines that it is worth suffering slightly through the first two chapters to get to the awesomeness that is Six of Crows!

In the fake opening we meet the insignificant characters that never ever reappear….There is a boy named Joost who is a guard at Hoede’s house. He is in love with a girl named Anya, who is a Grisha. When he tries to visit her he finds out Hoede has taken her to the boathouse. Anya is in a room with a boy and another guard. The guard slices the boy’s arm open and Anya heals him. Then she is given an envelope and some powder to swallow. The powder is called jurda parem. A deviation from jurda, some type of 5 hour energy/tobacco powder. The parem part allows the Grisha to become super powerful. Anya now heals the boy without touching him, and forces all the guards to wait by intruding in their minds. They end up waiting there until they die, and Anya runs away only to drown in the ocean. What I don’t like is that Leigh Bardugo puts too much effort into the scenery of Hoede’s mansion, and the characters that appear in this first chapter. For people and places that never come back it’s pretty frustrating. I get attached to Anya only to learn that she drowns and isn’t anything except a plot device to show how jurda parem works. It’s pretty disappointing :/

In the real opening, two gangs (the Dregs and Black Tips) are meeting each other to discuss boundaries we are introduced to the characters: Inej, Kaz, and Jesper. Inej Ghafa is a Suli girl with deep bronze skin and dark hair. She grew up with parents who were acrobats that taught her the same skills they knew on walking tightropes, etc. The Suli seem to resemble gypsies, in that they travel in caravans and don’t have a place of residency. They are also somewhat religious. Inej was captured right before she turned 14 by a slaver ship, and brought to Ketterdam (the city of international trade). Once in the city a woman named Tante Heleen, owner of a pleasure house (prostitution), takes her in and forces her to sign a contract. Inej later meets Kaz Brekker, who frequented pleasure houses to find information on foreigners. She approached Kaz and offered to help him, but he walks away from her. The next day she is brought into Tante Heleen’s office and told she can become free of the contract if she agrees to join The Dregs. The leader of the gang is more a symbol and Kaz does the business end of everything. While Inej would have to pay back the contract fees to the leader, she would eventually get free, unlike her servitude to Heleen. She agrees to go, although is reluctant of committing crimes at first. Inej also has knives she keeps hidden on her body that she has named after saints, or in this world Sankts. Sankt Petyr is on her right hand, Sankta Alina a knife with bone handle, Sankta Marya and Anastasia on her thighs, Sankt Vladimir in one of her boots, and Sankta Lizabeta on her belt. When she is feeling anxious she counts the knives, and prays to each saint as she counts. She is now 16 at the start of this book.

The next character Kaz is the right hand man to the leader of the Dregs, Per Haskell. Kaz is described as having pale skin, dark hair trimmed on both sides, and eyes the color of black coffee. He is muscular and has a sharp jawline. He first arrived in Ketterdam at the age of nine with his older brother Jordie Rietveld. Jordie was conned out of his money by Pekka Rollins, who at the time went by the alias Jacob Hertzoon. He established a fake trading company and got Jordie to invest all of their money in the company, after all their money was gone they were left on the street to die. This is where they both caught the plague. Jordie died, but Kaz survived. Unfortunately he was too weak to tell the people who were throwing bodies onto barges to be set fire to later that he was, and ended up in a pile of plague ridden dead people. He was able to swim back to the city by using his brother’s body as a flotation device. Can I just say, ewww?!! Because of this traumatic experience he can’t touch other people anymore without any clothes on. This makes it difficult down the road when we find out he has a love interest!! Kaz then changes his last name to Brekker, joins the Dregs, and gets the gang to rise to the very top. He is seen as the true leader of the Dregs, although Per Haskell has all the money and is the number one man. Kaz is now 17 at the start of this book.

The last character we are introduced to in the first scene is Jesper Fahey. He is of Zemeni nationality and has dark brown skin. Jesper is long and lean with grey eyes, because his father is from the Wandering Isles. He is very much in love with his guns. We know he is a farm boy sent to the city to go to university. He unfortunately has a love of gambling and the inability to win a hand of cards. Jesper loses his tuition money and ends up joining the Dregs to stave off the debt collectors. He is known for being an extremely good shot, but also tends to run his mouth. Out of the six characters this book focuses on him and Wylan Van Eck are the only two to not have flashbacks of their previous lives. Jesper is also hinted to be gay and in love with Wylan by the end of the story. I’m not sure if Wylan returns the favor, but there is a sequel so we will definitely know in that book (I’m hoping) whether or not he does! Jesper is 17 at the beginning of the book.

After the showdown where Kaz reveals he knew it was a trap to begin with and ends up getting one of the snipers to shoot the man who double crossed him in his own gang and threatens the other gang leader’s woman to be burned alive if he doesn’t tell his men he’s safe, he is captured by Jan Van Eck (wealthy merchant on the council). Van Eck sends a Grisha boy who is addicted to parem to get Kaz. He then offers Kaz the job of a lifetime. If he and a team can break Bo Yul-Bayur, creator of jurda parem, out of the Ice Court they will receive 20 million kruge. 20 million dollars!! I want in on that! The scientist was leaving Shu Han (what I assume is Asia) to go to Kerch when he was captured by the Fjerdans.

Side note: I’m fairly certain Fjerda is Germany based on how they are described as hating Grisha (people who are different from the average Joe because of their powers) so much that they are exterminating them in the Ice Court prisons, Ravka seems to be Russia maybe even the USSR since the people of Ravka conquer lands in an attempt to fight off the Fjerdans, and Kerch might be Australia since it mostly holds a giant prison, has merchants, and everyone else is a criminal or low class. I believe Novyi Zem might resemble Africa due to Jesper’s description. I’m not sure what the Wandering Isle (perhaps Ireland? England?) is as it was not discussed heavily in this book.

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So after Kaz witnesses the scary abilities that Grisha can have while on parem and learning he must rescue Yul-Bayur from the Ice Court he gets Van Eck to agree to 30 million kruge. Van Eck accepts, and Kaz goes on his way to assemble a team, but not before he steals the pin on Van Eck’s coat and threatens him some. Gotta love a bad guy J Kaz recruits for his team Nina, Jesper, Wylan, and Inej. The first person he tells of his plans is Nina.

Nina is a Grisha, to be more specific a heartrender Grisha (can slow hearts, ease breathing, or just outright kill someone by stopping their heart). Grisha are humans that have powers. To learn the backstory of Grisha it is probably best to read the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not an expert since I haven’t read the trilogy, but it seems that Grisha can come from any of the lands in this universe. There was a war between Ravka, Nina’s home country, and Fjerda. Fjerdans believe Grisha to be witches and capture them to put them on trial. After trial they are found guilty of being evil demons and sentenced to death. In the past Fjerdans have put Grisha to death by fire. They are characterized in this book as being super religious people who have sacred rituals…Hmm, guess we’ve got a religious war going on. The war between Ravka and Fjerda ended with Fjerda winning at the moment. Most of Ravka’s Grisha forces were captured and killed off. Also apparently people in other lands, while liking Grisha, they tend to capture them as slaves and use them as “indentured servants.” Yes, they get free eventually, but not before serving their purposes.Nina after coming to Ketterdam has stayed in the pleasure house, House of the White Rose, owned by the Dregs working on easing customers, making them feel happy overall. She doesn’t have to sleep with them like the rest of the girls. She has a gift for languages: Kerch, Kaelish, Fjerdan, and Ravkan, possibly more. Nina is forward and indulges in cakes, but always loyal. Nina is tall, curvy, has long wavy brown hair, and green eyes. Nina is 17 at the beginning of the book.

When Kaz tells her they will be breaking into the Ice Court, she immediately declines his offer to join. He then gives her a much better incentive than money. Releasing Matthias from Hellgate prison, where he has been since Nina turned him in for being a slave trader, which was false testimony. It seems that they were lovers of some sort and it’s not clear why she said he was a slave trader until later, but damn if it isn’t a really good and sad explanation. She agrees and they go to the Crow Club to tell Inej and Jesper of their plan to break Matthias out of prison.

They all dress up for the day the prison has prisoners fight against dangerous animals for sport. Examples of animals that get spun on the wheel are wolves, snakes, lions, and elephants. If the prisoner wins then he gets a month of good food, private quarters, women from pleasure houses, etc. If he doesn’t, well he dies. Nina wonders if Matthias participates, and her suspicions are confirmed as she sees him enter the arena. He is pitted against 4 wolves, which is unfortunate, because in Fjerda wolves are sacred animals that fight alongside humans in battle. Specifically they fight with the Druskelle, which Matthias used to be a member of before he was imprisoned. The Druskelle are Grisha hunters and bring them to the Ice court to stand trial for their “crimes.” Sadly these young boys are brainwashed through hatred into thinking that Grisha are not human. They are demons, less than human, and deserve to be killed because they are too powerful and evil…Reminding anyone of the Nazis?

Jesper splits up from the group, while Inej, Nina, random Dregs member, and Kaz go to Matthias in the infirmary. When there Kaz tells Nina to heal Matthias’ wounds enough that he can walk, but not kill them, as he has had an extremely rough year in prison. She does so, and then replicates the injuries on the random Dregs member, adding to him a fake pox plague so that his face will not be recognizable. They wake up Matthias, he tries to kill Nina by strangling her, but Kaz intervenes. Then an alarm rings sounding that the animals have escaped. Kaz curses Jesper for being early. Inej counters with “Jesper is right on time”, Kaz then says “for Jesper that is early.” The humor in the book helps alleviate the tension J Especially the jokes about Jesper always being late/lazy.

They get Matthias on board by promising him a get out of jail free card through Nina recanting her testimony and serving 2 months in jail when they get back. Matthias is very murdery and asks Kaz if he can just kill Nina instead. Considering she’s a valuable member of the Dregs, Kaz politely declines Matthias’ counteroffer. They all start running towards the exit where they are met with a monitor lizard. Inej disposes of it quickly through some fast knife work and they collect Jesper on the way.

Matthias Helvar is from Fjerda. He’s a former Druskelle, so he knows the inner workings of the Ice Court. He is very muscular, tall, has blonde hair, and ice blue eyes. After living in Hellgate for the past year his hair has been cut short, he is covered in wounds and scars, and is pale. You’ll learn more as I discuss Nina and his backstory. Matthias is 18 at the beginning of the book.

Once back at the Crow Club they discuss the job that faces them: Breaking into the Ice Court. A newcomer to the group shows up, Wylan Van Eck, the son of the man who hired them for the job.

Wylan has ruddy gold curls and blue eyes. He looks younger than his age. While he’s a member of the Dregs he is innocent and considerate of others. He recently left his father’s home to live in the Barrel. Wylan is quite shy and hates violence. He is also curious and wonders how things work such as Jesper’s pistols and the Ice Court’s aqueduct system. He loves pulling things apart. Inej told Kaz that Wylan regularly receives letters from his father but never opens them. Inside reads: if you’re reading this, you know how much I love you. Wylan is the youngest of the group at 16 years old, possibly even 15.

When Jesper questions Wylan’s abilities at demolition, Kaz responds with they need him for leverage against his father. He also states that Wylan is a good artist, and has him render a map of the Ice Court with the help of Matthias’ memory, since the Druskelle are trained there.

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Kaz is wondering when to go to the Ice Court due to Matthias’ revelation about how strong the Ice Court is it seems to be more and more impossible to enter and get out. This is when Nina discloses that Hringkalla is happening shortly at the Ice Court, when foreign dignitaries, entertainment groups, and pleasure houses are coming through the gates. Matthias is upset at her for revealing a sacred ceremony, but she equates it to a party and their best chance of getting in. Kaz decides that they will try for Hringkalla, meaning they need to get over to Fjerda yesterday. He tells them that they will enter through the prison, from the prison get into the rest of the compound through the incinerator chimney that is not in use during the afternoons, and once they are inside the banquet hall they can easily leave, as no one checks the guests who are leaving.

Kaz books passage to Fjerda on the ship called the Ferolind. Everyone splits up to get supplies. Inej happens to pass by the Menagerie, where Heleen held her captive. Heleen attempts to take her prisoner again. She is able to slip away, but barely. She then runs off to the docks, knowing she is very late for the departure and Kaz will not be happy. When she reaches the docks she notices a member of the Dregs on the ground dead. She then moves cautiously as the rest of the team is ambushed after the Ferolind is seemingly blown up (Kaz used a decoy ship in case something like this happened). Inej is able to stop a good majority of the other gangs from reaching Kaz and the others, only to be stabbed in the torso by a member of the Black Tips. Jesper and Wylan make a stand by the Ferolind, with Jesper shooting off their enemy, and Wylan making an explosive device that will blind the enemy. Kaz shows up with Inej, who’s on the brink of death, and asks Nina to heal her. Nina is worried even if she does, Inej has lost too much blood to make it. Nina can’t change someone else’s blood to another person’s type, because she is not a Grisha healer and has very limited capabilities in that aspect. They set sail, hoping that Inej will wake after she is healed.

Kaz interrogates the man who stabbed Inej. He learns that Pekka Rollins (his arch nemesis) is behind the attack. No one else understands Kaz’s feud with Rollins as he never talks about his past, and so when he digs the eyeball out of the man’s head and throws him overboard everyone thinks he is just living up to this namesake: The Bastard of the Barrel/Dirtyhands.

Once they reach Fjerda the team begins a long journey against the cold, snowy lands to the Ice Court. Matthias decides that he will kill Yul-Bayur when he gets a chance, because he does not want the Grisha to have any more power than they already do. We learn in a flashback that he was taken in by Jarl Brum, a commander of the Druskelle, after Grisha from the Ravkan army killed his whole family. During their journey they come across three Grisha that some Fjerdan country people have burned at the stakes recently. One is still alive. Jesper shoots the Grisha to end his/her suffering. Nina is horrified and starts cursing the Fjerdans, saying this is how they treat her people. That they treat dogs better than Grisha, when they are only humans with advanced powers. Matthias tries to defend the Druskelle by saying they don’t burn people anymore, it’s just ignorant country folk who do. He goes on to say that Grisha get fair trials. Nina asks: if the trials are so fair, how come no one is ever found innocent? Matthias helps Nina bury the Grisha, even though it goes against his beliefs. In his beliefs Grisha aren’t allowed to return to the earth to give power to the next generation because they are evil demon spawn.

We get flashbacks of Nina over a year ago and how she trained at the Little Palace to become a Heartrender. She was a member of the Corporalki, Grisha who deal with the body. Nina joined the Second Army and worked with a mentor, Zoya Nazyalensky to track down Grisha and help them hide powers or join the cause. Unfortunately Nina was captured by Matthias in an encounter in the woods, and was put on a ship to Fjerda. She meets Jarl Brum for the first time, a man who has slaughtered many of the Grisha. The other Druskelle treat her and the Grisha like trash, but Matthias is kinder to her. The ship was broken to pieces as a horrible storm ensues. Nina rescues Matthias and they swim to shore. They become allies of sorts as they travel together and cuddle for warmth across Fjerda. There is a friendship and possible love interest that starts to bloom in each of them. As soon as they reached a town Nina turned in Matthias on charges of slavery to a Kerch ship. Then Nina leaves for Ketterdam to break out Matthias from Hellgate, and is contracted by Kaz to work at the House of the White Rose. The reason why Nina sold Matthias out on false charges will be revealed later as it is a really crazy plot point!!

After they bury the Grisha and return to their friends, a Grisha on jurda parem attacks them. Nina recognizes the boy as a friend she trained with. He is almost soulless because of the addiction. They barely escape dying, and Nina decides then and there that she doesn’t want parem to become widespread. Nina and Matthias form a truce to kill Yul-Bayur when they get into the Ice Court so that parem can never be used again. Then the team arrives in the city of Djerholm. They watch over the gates to the castle from the patio of a tavern. Once they figure out how prisoners are processed at the gates they go off to join a prison wagon. The team has a tree block the path, so the guards will be focused on removing it while they break into the back of the wagon. They remove the prisoners and Nina puts them to sleep. The team then takes their place by putting on shackles and hoods. Once inside the team sees that Pekka Rollins team has failed, as the bodies of the Black Tips are skewered above them to further put doubt into their mind of whether they can make it out alive. They are then split between male and female prisoners. Their plan is to time their movements with the Elderclock, some sort of grandfather clock that rings throughout the whole Ice Court.

Focusing on the boys for a bit, guards search Kaz and they find two lock picks on him. Wylan is worried that they won’t be able to get out of their cell now that the lock picks are gone. It is then revealed that Jesper is a Grisha, a fabrikator. He forms two picks from the iron of the prison bars and they are able to escape. Only Kaz knew of Jesper’s status as a Grisha, because Jesper never wanted to be locked away or sought after to join an army. They make sure their fellow prisoners don’t escape with them by putting tablets in the pee bucket that makes a sort of sleeping gas. Jesper and Matthias go in search of rope for Inej, because she is the only one who can climb up the incinerator without help from a rope. Kaz and Wylan go to the girls’ cell to break them out. Kaz and Nina go in search of Yul-Bayur in this part of the prison in case he is not kept in a more secure location. Nina can’t find Kaz after awhile and begins to freak out. She gets even more upset when she finds a torture room for Grisha. She runs haphazardly through the hallway and meets with two guards. She strangles them, but one gets a shot off before she is able to fully subdue him.

Kaz becomes very selfish here. He doesn’t actually think Yul-Bayur is in this part of the prison, but tells Nina this so that he can go off and search for Pekka Rollins. He assumes that Rollins was a part of the team when they failed, and since his body was not skewered at the front entrance, he believes Rollins is somewhere in the cells. Kaz finally finds him and believes this is the time to exact his revenge.

Meanwhile in the incinerator room we find out that it has been used this afternoon, and it is way too hot. Inej is worried she won’t be able to climb it until they find her fabrikator shoes and Kaz’s gloves. She sets off on the impossible climb up, where she almost dies from the heat but in the end gets to the top and sends down rope for her friends. Nina comes crashing in just as bells start to go off since the guards now know that prisoners have escaped due to the gunshot and unconscious guards she left in the stairs. Everyone climbs up except Jesper, who is waiting for Kaz. Kaz eventually joins them just as they are running out of time, and Jesper and Kaz quickly scramble up the rope.

Now that their plan is ruined Kaz comes up with a different one. Nina and Inej will disguise themselves as girls from the Menagerie and enter the palace. Jesper and Wylan will go break the front gate and set off code black. Kaz and Matthias will enter the center of the Ice Court by way of the secret bridge that only the Druskelle know about. Kaz assumed there would have to be two ways in/out of the inner island, otherwise it would be stupidly designed. Luckily Matthias is becoming attached to the team and starts to actively contribute to the plan.

Inej and Nina jump down into the room the Menagerie girls go to be searched and reposition their clothes. Nina puts the girls to sleep and they take the clothes and masks of two of them. Nina gives herself red hair to look similar to the Kerch girl by bleeding the color out of the girl’s hair, and Inej takes the Suli girl’s spot. Unfortunately Inej’s shoes don’t fit exactly right and she looks funny when walking. The guards detain her for another search and Nina is left on her own.

Kaz and Matthias take a different route to reach the island. Because druskelle are initiated by crossing secretly to the island Matthias is able to show Kaz a glass bridge that is just slightly hidden beneath the water. They run into guards, who they disable and take their clothing.

Then Jesper and Wylan descend from the roof to the main gate. Wylan distracts a group of guards by drunkenly singing the Fjerdan national anthem, which he learned from tutors. They are able to attack the guards, but when they see the gate it is being held in place by a metal chain and not a rope. Jesper gets to work on weakening it by drawing out the metal. They hope they won’t be late.

Back to Nina at the party! She’s searching for someone who might know where Yul-Bayur is being kept and is also tipsy from the party. She meets a general, but unfortunately is interrupted by Jarl Brum. The man who supposedly died on the shipwreck a year before! Nina is worried he might notice her, but consoles herself that she is wearing different clothes and has different colored hair so he won’t notice.

Jesper is finally close to weakening the chains enough when the Elderclock strikes again. He knows he’s late but it finally drops. Then Black Protocol sounds and they must hurry away!

Inej is trying her best to rid herself of the guards when Heleen spots her and identifies her as a member of the Dregs, saying that they must be careful because Kaz is here to steal from Fjerda. Just as Heleen says this to the guards Black Protocol bells boom and they haul Inej away to the prison.

Nina flirts with Brum and pretends she wants to see a Grisha in person. He takes her to the treasury, which confuses her until they go inside. The former vault is now used as a laboratory. There are cells with windows in each door. Each holds a young Grisha that has been drugged by jurda parem. Brum says he will use them as weapons of the future. When Nina mentions wanting to go somewhere private, insinuating that they’ll have fun sexy time, Brum leads her to a dark room that turns out to be another cell. He locks her inside and calls her Nina. Brum reveals that he knew because Matthias told him. Matthias saw Brum and knew he couldn’t betray his people. He’s excited to dose Nina with the parem and make her a slave. Oh no!!! Why???? I thought you were in love? #heartbroken

Matthias asks Brum about the scientist who makes parem. He seems troubled by the Grisha being held there against their will. Brum says that the convicted do die, but how long before that happens is up to him. He implies that Grisha have been experimented on for a long time. Brum goes on to say that he’s going to get Matthias reinstated as a Druskelle, even with the charges of slaver. He says he’ll show Yul-Bayur to him as soon as he makes sure the Black Protocol was properly activated and his men have caught the rest of the team. Matthias hugs his old mentor, only to put him in a sleeper chokehold!! Yes!! Double agent Matthias knew that Brum would recognize Nina, so when Kaz and him were in the ballroom he told Kaz he would have to tell Brum about the plan to lure him into a false sense of security.

Matthias rescues Nina and they go to the vault only to find a very young Yul-Bayur. Nina is able to piece together that he is the son Kuwei. His father died on the ship when they were attacked. They decide not to kill the little boy as they ask him to destroy the lab and because he can’t fully complete the process his father was a master at. Kuwei is apparently a fire controlling Grisha. He sets fire to everything and they run away. He tells the others that his father meant parem to be something to help him control his powers and hide from Fjerdans, not for it to control the Grisha. Nina then reveals that the reason she made false accusations against Matthias was because she had been spotted by Grisha spies. They wanted to bring him to Ravka to torture him, but she cared for him too much. She also couldn’t let her people get captured by Druskelle, so she was taking him to Kerch when the spies followed her. She thought quickly and called him a slaver to keep the spies away. Nina thought she could retract her statement, but no one would let her. #damn

They meet up with Kaz, and an explosion from the lab knocks everyone to the ground. Kaz is confused as to why they have rescued a boy, and hope that they didn’t leave Yul-Bayur behind for a Grisha boy. Kaz points towards the big sacred tree in the middle of the moat and everyone runs there. Guards and Brum then surround them, because he had been released from the cell Matthias and Nina locked him in. Just as all hope is lost the sacred tree falls over with the same root-rotting potion they used earlier to get into the prison caravan. Matthias is upset that Kaz has just killed the sacred tree that has been around for hundred of years. I’m kind of on board with that one. While not into the Fjerdans religion, trees that have been around for hundreds of years definitely don’t deserve to have their roots rotted and left to die L Kaz jumps into the hole where the tree stood and pushes an abaleen pellet into Kuwei’s mouth (this gives them 10 minutes of air give or take). Nina and Matthias hop in after him, and meet the icy cold water that had given the sacred tree a great life. Kaz hopes he has calculated correctly that this spring will lead to a larger body of water outside of the Ice Court.

Now I know you might be thinking, but what about Inej? No one knows she is being imprisoned once more!! Rest assured the Bastard of the Barrel has everything covered. As Inej is being put back in the prison she decides she’s going to attack the two guards handling her. As she does so two more guards approach, she feels like she’ll never make it out, when it is revealed the other guards are Jesper and Wylan. They then start drilling into an armory with a diamond that Inej had swiped from Heleen’s neck back at the banquet. Inej getting caught and sent back to the prison was the plan from the get go. After they make their way through the glass they get into a tank. The tank is then driven through the wall of the Ice Court and down the road.

Nina and Matthias emerge from the water just fine, but Kaz is unconscious. They do a little CPR on him and then he’s fine. As the tank comes by they hop inside only to notice many more tanks are pursuing them. Jesper shoots the bridge out so the other tanks can’t follow and we feel as if we have won!! Nina even is dancing half inside half outside the tank for victory. This victory is short lived. By the harbor is row after row of Fjerdan troops, and with them a Heartrender who is on jurda parem. The soldiers say they will attack everyone if they don’t release Kuwei back into their custody. Everyone looks to Kaz for what to do. He is stumped, and all feels lost, until Nina asks Kuwei for his bag of parem. She swallows it much to the protests of her group members, because one dose could get her hooked for life. Sounds very much like heroin, especially considering the bodies of those hooked on parem wither away with each dose…

Nina kills the Heartrender, and takes control of the Fjerdan soldiers. Druskelle show up wearing clothing that protects them from Grisha magic. Brum shoots Matthias in the chest after calling him a traitor and we think he dies, but Nina is able to immediately heal him. They shoot her too, but she can instantly heal now. She uses the soldiers under her control to take off the Druskelle’s clothing so she can now get in their mind. Matthias asks that she doesn’t hurt them, remembering that they were all boys at some point who had received the same brainwashing he had. Nina doesn’t and just leaves them standing until they exit the harbor.

Nina and Matthias go below the ship because withdrawals are setting in. They hope she can make it out without becoming dependent on the parem. Jesper feels guilty for not offering to take it and wonders why he hasn’t seen Wylan in awhile. He thinks a lot about Wylan, hinting that he is in love with him. Inej and Kaz talk. She tells him she aspires to learn how to sail and get her own crew. Kaz asks her to stay, she says only if he will take off the gloves. Hinting that she wants to touch him, but also needs his mental barriers to go down as well. Kaz just stares out at the ocean in silence. #Heartbreak.

Kaz, Jesper, Inej, Matthias, and Kuwei take a longboat to an island to meet Van Eck. Van Eck gives them the money, and then tells them no one will leave the island alive. A tidemaker Grisha appears. Van Eck says he will destroy the Ferolind as well. Kaz then blurts out that Wylan is still on the ship with Nina, hoping that Van Eck won’t harm his own son. It’s revealed that he doesn’t care at all for his own son, because he can’t read or write. The irony of the letters that were sent to Wylan that he could never read hits the group hard. The Grisha destroys the ship, and Jesper starts yelling at Van Eck saying that it didn’t matter that Wylan couldn’t read, that he had great skills at figuring out how things worked and was a kind soul. But rest assured, Kaz has a trick up his sleeve! Kuwei is actually Wylan! Nina tailored Wylan to look like Kuwei, because he had gone to Kaz earlier on their return home to tell him his father wouldn’t care if he died. Kaz didn’t believe him, but thought the trick would be fun to see if Van Eck truly didn’t love his son. Now that he’s angry he commands the Grisha to kill everyone but Kaz. In a moment of weakness Kaz looks briefly at Inej, enough time for Van Eck to realize that she is his weakness. They grab her and the money, and fly away. Van Eck shouts that they have one week to bring him the real Kuwei or Inej will be killed and tortured.

Jesper turns on Kaz and demands to know why he wasn’t let in on Wylan being tailored. Kaz reveals the reason Pekka Rollins knew their crew was heading to Fjerda was because Jesper accidentally told people that he was about to come into good money to pay off his debts. While innocent, it was stupid and made Kaz decide he couldn’t trust him with details in case he did the same thing in the future. Kaz then tells everyone he’s going to teach Van Eck he can’t rip off Dirtyhands and that he’ll need just the right crew to do it. Jesper, Wylan, and Matthias all agree to help.

The story cuts to the crew including Nina and Kuwei paying a visit to Pekka Rollins a visit at his Emerald Palace Casino. He owes Kaz a favor for releasing him from prison at the Ice Court. Kaz gives a summary of their situation and asks for two things: a message to the Ravkan capital immediately and 200,000 kruges to fund their heist. Kaz pledges his shares in the Crow Club and Fifth Harbor in return for these items. Pekka gladly accepts. Everyone exits besides Kaz. He says he doesn’t think Rollins remembers him. Rollins agrees and asks if he should. Kaz replies with hatred in his eyes, not yet. Rollins watches them all leave the casino, then realizes he’s missing everything valuable that was on his person: pocket watch, wallet, tie pin, coin pendant, and even the gold buckles on his shoes. Pekka Rollins vows to kill Kaz if Van Eck doesn’t do it. The End!

So wow!! I think this book has lived up to the hype that surrounds it. First off the cover/pages deserves a 10/10. I don’t know how it can be any more beautiful. It just can’t! Onto the story I think overall it deserves a 9.5/10. It would have received a perfect score, except for the slight tragedy that was the false beginning. It was confusing, and I’m not sure it added much to the overall story. I mean we don’t need a scene of a Grisha using the parem to explain why Kaz and crew need to go rescue Yul-Bayur, because Van Eck shows off the dangers with the boy that captured Kaz to give him the mission. The fact that we also never see those characters again, even though we become attached to them, is just unfortunate.

But the rest of the book? Pretty much flawless. I say pretty much, because of course there are flaws. We don’t really get why Matthias is all loving/hating of Nina until the middle end. I want to know earlier. It’s confusing to the reader for him to smell her hair and think of kissing her, and in the next sentence want to strangle her….It makes me think he’s crazy. Which he could very well be since he was locked in Hellgate for a year and participated in the Hellshow. There’s also Kaz and how he tends to fumble/make up plans on the spot. We’re led to believe that he is this amazing second in command who thinks three steps ahead of his opponents. Most of the heist seems to really be made up on the spot. I’m a fan of heists. I love the show Leverage. Nate Ford doesn’t make up plans on the spot, except in extremely hard scenarios where his plans A-Z fall apart. Kaz should have back up plans. He knows his team, well except for Wylan and Matthias. But he can extrapolate what they would do in certain situations and should in some sort of sense have planned ahead. I do love that his lack of planning does keep the team and reader on edge. I am stunned at the end of the book by what happens. I truly believed Kaz had killed Pekka Rollins haha. Although obviously it was better that he hadn’t considering how the ending of this novel went.

As with any books that are of a significant length there are going to be things that annoy readers for me those were Kaz not being as clever as I thought, Matthias and his bipolar love/hate for Nina, and Wylan and Jesper having little backstory. While these are my complaints they don’t take away anything from the book. Sometimes the reader doesn’t have to know all the answers. There’s also a sequel, so I’m hoping to learn much more there. Also #Mina, #Inaz, and #Jeslan need to happen or I’m gonna die. Not actually ❤

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