King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo: FAQ

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King of scars is an exciting new novel by bestselling author Leigh Bardugo. This novel was first published in 2019. King of Scars is a YA fantasy novel.

In this article, you will find some frequently asked questions about this book. I have tried to answer them as best and honestly as possible.

I hope you enjoy reading these, and I hope this post answers some of the questions you may have about this book!

Since I will be answering questions about the book and its story, this article will contain spoilers.

What to know before reading this book

King of scars isn’t a fun and easy young adult fantasy book. It takes on a lot of dark and difficult issues.

Also, it is part of a larger series. And reading this book before having read the other books will reveal spoilers.


Below is the official summary from the book:

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war. And he intends to keep it that way. Enemies gather at his weakened borders. Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day, dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives, all to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried. And some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Is King of Scars YA?

King of scars is officially a YA book. However, some of the subjects are a bit heavy for a YA book.

So I would classify this as a YA book but at the top of the genre.

Is this story about Nicolai?

Yes, Nicolai is the main character in this story.

We follow Nicolai after the ending of the Grishaverse books. He is now a king and has to deal with the mess that was left after defeating the Darkling and with taking back his land and his crown but also with the after-effects of the curse the Darkling had put on him.

Trigger Warnings

Below you will find a list of some of the content trigger warnings of this book. This is to make you aware of what you can expect when reading this novel. With this in mind, please take note of the next warnings:

  • Slavery
  • Sexual assault, implied
  • Physical assault
  • Substance addiction
  • Suicide
  • Drug abuse
  • Torture
  • Captivity
  • War
  • Bullying

Is King of Scars a standalone, duology or part of a series?

King of Scars is the first book in a duology. The books are to be read in this order:

  1. King of Scars
  2. Rule of Wolves

However, these books take place in the same world and time as the Grishaverse books. So to know everything about the story, I recommend reading the other books in the Grishaverse before picking this one up.

What to Read before King of Scars

King of Scars is part of a separate duology. But it takes place in the same world as the Grishaverse and Crows books.

In order to really understand the entire story, I would recommend reading all the other books first. That would come down to this order:

  1. Shadow and Bone;
  2. Siege and Storm;
  3. Ruin and Rising;
  4. Six of Crows;
  5. Crooked Kingdom;

And then continue with King of Scars.

Can you read King of Scars first before Crooked Kingdom?

It is possible, but I would not recommend it. The ending of Crooked Kingdom has an effect on the rest of the story. Also, some of the characters and stories will return in this duology.

So it is best to read them in the order as stated above to keep on track with the story.

Is King of Scars in the Grishaverse?

The story takes place in the same world as the Grishaverse books. It continues where the Shadow and Bone books and Crooked Kingdom ended.

Is this a romance story?

King of Scars fanart

No this isn’t a romance story. Even though there are some hints about the feelings Nicolai might have for Zoya, there is no real romance in this book.

When and where does King of Scars take place?

As said before, the story takes place in the Grishaverse world, right after Crooked Kingdom ended.

This is a fantasy world but has a lot of similarities to old Russia and Poland.


One of the most important themes in this book is faith. First, we have Yuri’s faith in the Starless one (as they call the Darkling). He has faith that everything will turn out as it is supposed to be. But also Zoya’s faith in Nicolai and his abilities to become a great king.

Another important theme is self-acceptance. Both Nicolai and Zoya realize they have to accept who they are in order to accomplish what they need. And although this isn’t easy, they strive toward it. For Nicolai, this is the hardest, as he is literally struggling with a monster inside of him. Only when he lets the monster take over does he find out that the monster is a part of him. And this acceptance helps him find a solution.


King of Scars Map

At the beginning of the book, there is a map. This is a map of the entire world as talked about in the Grishaverse books.

You can see Ravka in the middle with Fjerda above and Shu Han below. On the left of Ravka lies the True sea. At the bottom of the map, you can see Kerch, with Ketterdam where the Six of Crows book takes place. And all the way on the left is Novyi Zem.

What tropes are there in this novel?

For a young adult book, this one didn’t have a lot of the standard tropes in it. And I think that’s what also makes it such a great story.

But of course, there are some tropes in this story that are a little less common. And also you don’t notice them at once. The next tropes are the ones that came to mind:

  • Arranged marriage
  • Dark secret
  • Emotional scars
  • Dark lord

Tropes don’t have to be a bad thing if they are written in the right way. And in this story, it certainly is done the right way.

Who dies in King of Scars?

Mostly minor characters die in this book. But their deaths are very important to the story.

Isaac, one of the young soldiers, is killed while he is pretending to be Nicolai. This way, they know someone is targeting Nicolai.

Elizaveta, one of the ancient Saints, pretends to want to help Nicolai. She knows of a way to get rid of the demon inside of him. But it turns out she has her own agenda and wants Nicolai gone. In the struggle to survive, Elizaveta is killed by Zoya.

How does this book end?

Nikolai has returned home. And his guards and friends want to know where he and Zoya have been. But also if they were able to find a cure for his demon.

While Nicolai admits he found a way that didn’t work, he leaves out a lot of the details. He then brings in Yuri and shows his friends what they discovered. Yuri begins to change in front of all of them. And he starts to look like the Darkling.

Even though a part of the Darkling soul snapped back into Nicolai, the rest went into Yuri, turning Yuri into the new vessel for the Darklings soul.

Everyone is in shock, and no one knows what to do. Then the Darkling looks at everyone around him and says it is good to be back.


King of Scars is a new book in the Grishaverse universe. The story follows King Nicolai instead of Alina. But this doesn’t change anything about how amazing the story is. Leigh Bardugo knows how to write amazing characters with extensive worldbuilding. You just can’t finish the series without reading this book as well.

I hope I have answered some of the questions you may have had about this book!

And if you have more questions that I didn’t answer, feel free to let me know in the comments below!

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