Rule of Wolves
by Leigh Bardugo
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.
Check out my review of King of Scars!
Oof. Where do you even start when it comes to writing a review for a novel that’s the seventh in a series? Plot-wise there’s nothing I can say about Rule of Wolves without ruining so much of what happened not only in the previous book, but in the previous series set in this world, too. I did have a good time with this novel, though. However, there’s no denying that it has its faults.
I think this particular series should have been a trilogy. I love duologies, for me trilogies often suffer from second book syndrome where nothing really happens for the entirety of the middle book, but so much happened in this 600 page novel that this story needed to be longer. We span four countries and five narrators, and while I did enjoy the various storylines that weaved in and out of each other and what ultimately happened to the characters, for the most part, this entire story felt rather rushed.
Six of Crows is one of my all-time favourite novels and, in it, Leigh Bardugo takes her time. She lets readers fall in love with all six of her protagonists and makes every word count. In this novel, on the other hand, I didn’t always feel the impact of what should have been quite emotionally taxing scenes, especially when Ravka is in the middle of a war. This book is simply too full. There are so many plot points that could have been stretched out over an extra book and so many characters made cameo appearances that it was hard not to feel like Leigh Bardugo was providing some kind of fan service by including them. Considering how King of Scars ended, I was very surprised by how absent a certain couple of characters were for the majority of the story. Neither of them are characters I have a lot of love for, though, so that didn’t bother me as much as I imagine it will bother other readers.
Again, I think too much happened in this one book for everything the characters go through to feel completely earned. In fact I imagine a lot of readers who love Nikolai will probably be rather disappointed that what was originally promoted as the Nikolai duology is ultimately much more of an ensemble Grishaverse duology.
I did still like this book, though. I love the way Bardugo writes her characters; the banter between Nikolai and Zoya was perfect for me, and I really enjoyed Nina’s storyline in this book, too. The way Nina’s story, in particular, wrapped up I’m still not sure about, it also felt a little too rushed for me and there was a certain character who deserved a harsher punishment than the one they received, but I’m not angry about it. There’s no denying that this book made me gasp more than once and that I had to race through its 600 pages as soon as possible because the fates of some of my favourite characters had me on edge.
Will I ever re-read this duology? Well, never say never, but it’s safe to say that Six of Crows remains my favourite and is the Grishaverse novel I will definitely reach for again in future.