Series Review: Grisha Verse

Come and sit down and talk to me about The Grishaverse. I read the entire trilogy in January and I kind of want to flail around in my own feelings a little bit.

If you've been here a while you may remember when I read Six of Crows and was dizzy with love for Kaz Brekker and magical heists. These books - Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising - were written before the Six of Crows duology and whilst the characters and stories are different, they're all set in the same universe.

A universe which I love.

The books need to be read in order, that's the first thing: none of them will work as a standalone, and trust me when I tell you that you'll want to read them altogether. You will not want a break between books.

Oh my goodness I liked them ever such a lot.

They're pretty on the outside - the covers on my editions are lush and they are also, and this is what counts really, stunning on the inside.

So it's marketed as being YA fantasy (I'm 35, what of it) and is set, primarily, in Ravka - which is modelled on Tsarist Russia. I liked that. Six of Crows was Ketterdam (which was basically Amsterdam and I loved that also). Some people born in this world are Grisha, which basically means they have a particular set of powers, Etherealki for example can create winds or tides or fires; Corporalki can change a persons appearance, can heal - or on the flip side, stop hearts.
In the first book, the Grisha are ruled over by The Darkling who is kind of the ruler of Ravka and also a deliciously badass villain with a gorgeous intricate backstory and I am always always going to be here for that - give me all the complicated villains all the time please. He's awful but he also broke my heart.

“The Darkling slumped back in his chair. “Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”

Juxtaposed against The Darkling's badassery we have Alina, and Mal, two orphans who grew up together. Turns out that unbeknownst to her, Alina is Grisha - she can summon light, making her the direct counterpart of The Darkling who (you got it) summons darkness.

Basically, the premise of the series is this: The Darkling believes that his powers coupled with Alina's can achieve great things (we're talking great ala Trump's make America great again here rather than, you know, actual great) but Alina's not so keen. And there's fighting. And a pirate prince. A pirate prince, guys. Sorry, privateer.

“Of course not," said Sturmhond. "Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea.” 

“The Darkling will hunt you for the rest of your days.""Then you and I will have something in common, won't we? Besides, I like to have powerful enemies. Makes me feel important."Mal crossed his arms and considered the privateer. "I can't decide if you're crazy or stupid.""I have so many good qualities," Sturmhond said. "It can be hard to choose.”  

It's so much more detailed than that, obviously. I mean, there's three books so a lot is going on here and it's so clever and so intricate.

Alina and The Darkling have this connection that means she can't not be drawn to him and she's so conflicted, there's a love...a love square, with Alina having this thing with The Darkling and also all these feelings for Mal and then this complicated relationship with Nikolai who just happens to be the Prince of Ravka, so there's that.

There's this gorgeous storyline wherein The Darkling (and then later Alina herself) use these amplifiers to harness her power and it's all so messy and complicated because doesn't power always blur the lines between right and wrong somewhat.

“He leaned against the window, and the gilded frame came into sharp focus. “Do you think it would be any different with your tracker beside you? With that Lantsov pup?”“Yes,” I said simply.“Because you would be the strong one?”“Because they’re better men than you.”“You might make me a better man.”“And you might make me a monster.” 

The world building is as divine as I knew it would be (although it was familiar to me already which probably helped) and every single character, even those in the background, is so fully fleshed out, so real, so important. This is such a character-driven series and Bardugo does a cracking job making sure every one of them gets right under your skin, even when I wanted to grab them and shake them and was thinking oh please not again (because I won't lie: at some point in the middle of book 2 things got a bit predictable and a bit samey. I just put the book down and waited for the feeling to pass).

The language is gorgeous, the dialogue everything I expected from reading Six of Crows - I mean for real, give me all the witty snarky Nikolai you can please.

“Watch yourself, Nikolai,” Mal said softly. “Princes bleed just like other men.”Nikolai plucked an invisible piece of dust from his sleeve. “Yes,” he said. “They just do it in better clothes.” 

It's not a perfect series, and some things - like Alina, actually, quite often - did bug me but for the most part this is a clever, fascinating, fast-paced and crazy twisty story. Bardugo can write, there is no denying it and I didn't hate the ending. Hating the ending is so often a thing for me when I get overly invested in a series. I didn't hate the ending.

It's not as good of Six of Crows I don't think - for me, at least, those books were on another plane, although I am totally ready to admit that might just be because there's a heist - but the books in this series, they're good. Really really good. I tore through them, there is so much that I loved versus not much at all that I didn't and really, I cannot wait to see what Bardugo does next. I could live in this universe forever. I'm so excited to read King of Scars which follows Nikolai (I HEART NIKOLAI) after this trilogy has finished and I really want to read the Six of Crows duology again. If there's one thing this world Leigh Bardugo has created is, it's addictive.

“I took a breath. “Your highness—”“Nikolai,” he corrected. “But I’ve also been known to answer to ‘sweetheart’ or ‘handsome.” 

Also it's coming to Netflix