Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5 / 5 stars)
There’s one thing you should know: don’t cross Kaz Brekker.
After Van Eck fails to uphold his end of the bargain and steals the Wraith, Kaz is on a mission to seek revenge…and he’ll burn Ketterdam down in the process, if necessary. With his band of misfits ready to fight to the death, Kaz constructs a plan to bring Van Eck’s empire down…and hopefully make a quick profit in the process.
While it took me awhile to read Crooked Kingdom (only due to my own life and not the story itself), this story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. The market manipulation, the popping characters, and the scheming all come to a head right back in Ketterdam. Unlike Six of Crows, we already know Kaz and his crew, so it gives us a chance to really immerse ourselves in the story rather than be taken back in time throughout the heist.
Ultimately, the Six of Crows Duology is a character study though, and while the plot itself is relatively predictable as far as the ultimate outcome (and thanks to a few spoilers I saw online, unfortunately), it’s the characters and their development, and their actions, that make this story shine. There is no one quite like Kaz Brekker and his crew. Each character adds their own perspective to the plot, making Kaz’s plans all the more allusive, as they navigate Ketterdam in the dark.
What’s impressive overall is how each pair in the crew seems to foil each other, but in all the right ways. Jesper is impulsive and cocky, Wylan quiet and more calculating. Nina is a Grisha with a penchant for crude humor, while Matthias is a soldier raised to hate Grisha and keep things in line. Finally, you have Kaz and Inej, with Kaz as the “ruthless” leader of the Dregs, and Inej as his moral compass.
I would like to take a moment to talk about Inej. She is by far my favorite character – I love leading women who are both kind and tough in one foul swoop. She doesn’t kill without reason, and her end goal is hunt slavers and bring them to their knees. It’s noble, and not quite what you would expect for someone so close to Kaz Brekker. But, while Kaz is hailed as the “hero” of the story – the mastermind of the plot if you will – it is Inej’s story. The first time we meet the crows is through Inej’s perspective. We learn about how she is indebted to Kaz. The book ends on her freedom. While yes, the Six of Crows Duology is about all six of the characters, I really do think the story is about Inej (and Kaz, of course). But it’s subtle, not up front, and that’s what makes it brilliant.
One reason though that I really loved Crooked Kingdom is because of the way Kaz manipulates the markets in his illegal ways. The fact that the outcome of this is all due to market play is fascinating to me – especially since I work in the financial service industry. It’s rare to see something like that in a fantasy story. Instead, you often see thinks more like the Shadow & Bone Trilogy, with wild displays of magic and fighting.
Ultimately, Crooked Kingdom is a fantastic way to end the Six of Crows Duology. I have full intentions to pick up the King of Scars Duology soon…and hopefully I’ll see Kaz, Inej, and the rest of the Crows again in the near future.
And remember…if you can’t beat the odds…change the game.
What’s it about?
Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.
Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.
A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.