No wait, 4*
This is such a hard book to rate!!
I loved it… but I was also disappointed by it
Let me explain.
When we were told we were going to get a Nikolai book I figured this was going to be a Nikolai book which centered on him battling with the demon inside and trying to rule his kingdom, with his sass, wit, and genuine charm coming to the fore. It ended up being a Zoya, Nik, Isaak, Saints, Nina, Fjerda, Leoni, Hanne book with everything and its children happening and veeeeery little Nikolai.
The standout star here was Zoya. Let’s be real. I didn’t like her in the Grisha trilogy, as I suppose we weren’t meant to, not until the last book because of her tryst with Mal (remember him?). But in this duology I have a feeling she’s going to shine.
I love Zoya and Nikolai as separate characters and as their friendship. But it feels like there’s no natural sexual chemistry between them, I didn’t get any “zing!” vibes from them at all. So when it was thrown in that they started feeling flashes of *something* about each other, it felt just like that – flashes of it thrown in, for a romance subplot that we don’t need.
Having two strong characters in their own, both of the opposite sex, doesn’t mean they HAVE to get together. I adore them both as friends cause we hardly ever see a leading man and a leading woman as just great friends in fiction. And yeah, to be honest, I can see Zoya’s jealousy of Nikolai’s impending marriage being rooted in the friendship changing. Not in the “but I want you instead!” jealousy.
Zoya was definitely the stronger character and while I understood why Isaak’s chapters were there I just… didn’t care. We didn’t have enough time to see this impending war intrigue because we switched to a scene in Fjerda then we were in the Saints place, then we were over here, and then Nina was being flirty, and then we went back to Zoya…. It never felt like we had time enough to sit down, settled in, and absorb the feel of the place.
Nina… the thing with Nina’s chapters are like they belong in a different book. I don’t see any correlation between her and the story which centers on Nikolai. Also – CHEATED. I wanted good, honest to god interactions between by girl Nina and my boy Nik. Nikolina? Ninolai? Whatever, I wanted to see them hopelessly flirt with each other.
I will read the second book – of COURSE I will, the Darkling has literally returned for some reason – but while there was a lot to love (Zoya! Nikolai’s lines! Tolya and Tamar! Ravka!…. omg that’s it!) I was deflated.
What are your thoughts?! Have you read it?!