"Often, the most interesting books will also deal with hard-to-grasp concepts and ideas"ANNA MOCHAR

Reading can be quite an exhausting activity at times. Often, the most interesting books will also deal with hard-to-grasp concepts and ideas. While putting your mind to making out the historical connections between two events, or the sociological point put forward by a groundbreaking thinker can be a very enjoyable task in its own way, it is also important to remember that ‘interesting’ and ‘worthwhile’ do not have to equal ‘difficult’.

“There is a sense of familiarity, as each of the countries in the Grisha universe is reminiscent of real-world nations”

That is why for my next read, I decided to pick the kind of book that I only rarely get to read during term time – a Young Adult fantasy novel. While this is a genre generally associated with a younger audience and guilty-pleasure reads, I must say that I have greatly enjoyed many of these kinds of novels. Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows Duology and, to a lesser degree, her Grisha Trilogy, have been particular favourites for a while. That is why I knew that her newest book, King of Scars – the first in a duology focusing on fan-favourite Nikolai Lantsov – would have to find a spot in my Lent term reading plan. Therefore, I was very excited to pick up a beautiful hardcover copy earlier this month, and to finally have the chance to delve into it.

From the get-go it was obvious that this is a book intended almost as a sequel to Bardugo’s other series, which are all set in the same fictional universe. There are many references to events and characters that the readers of her first five novels will instantly recognise. Bearing this in mind, frequent ‘information points’ seem almost redundant, as it is hard to imagine that an audience completely new to Bardugo’s books will pick King of Scars over her earlier books. Furthermore, while it is clear that the events from Six of Crows, for example, continue to influence certain character arcs, but I could nonetheless not help but feel that references were sometimes unnecessarily placed simply to curry favour with long-time fans.

“The more I read, the more fixed a habit of going to bed and getting up earlier is becoming”

As for the King of Scars itself, I was disappointed at first with the slow progress of events. As the first book in a duology, I couldn’t help but feel at times that this is a long-winded prologue to tenser scenes that will presumably unfold in the novel’s sequel. Nonetheless, it was a comforting return to a universe that Bardugo has obviously spent a lot of time on. There is a sense of familiarity, as each of the countries in the Grisha universe are reminiscent of real-world nations, while the novel’s fictional languages are similarly based on real languages and language families. This sense of familiarity is, of course, amplified for readers revisiting a fantasy universe they already know from earlier novels.


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Hitting the books: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

Ultimately, this is a book that will mainly be of interest to people who are already invested in the Grisha universe and Bardugo’s talent for exciting Young Adult fantasy. Nonetheless, new readers should not be discouraged from this release, though it might be helpful to take a look at Bardugo’s earlier work first.

The reading process for this book has been an interesting change from the routine I established for Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. The hardcover format of the book meant I was more constrained with regards to where I could read it. Reading in the bath was, after all, not an option, and I continued with my early-morning routine of a half hour of reading just after waking up.

The more I read, the more fixed a habit of going to bed and getting up earlier is becoming. As I move on into the next week of term, I have decided to look at reading non-fiction books for fun. To this end, I’ll be picking up two of the A Very Short Introduction books, and having a think about the artfulness of non-fiction writing.

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