“This isn’t a job for trained soldiers and spies. It’s a job for thugs and thieves.”
– Six of Crows
When criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered the chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, he knows he cannot turn it down. However, he can’t do it all on his own. He recruits five others to join him on his journey: Inej Ghafa, Jesper Fahey, Nina Zenik, Matthias Helvar, and Wylan Van Eck. Inej is a spy known as the Wraith, Jesper a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A Grisha from Ravka, Nina is a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums, and along with her is Matthias Helvar, a convict with a thirst for revenge. Bringing up the rear is Wylan, a runaway with a privileged past, serving as a demolitions expert for the crew. Their mission is to break into the most guarded place in Fjerda: the Ice Court.
Leigh Bardugo has a talent formaking her characters so artfully original and intricate in their complexity. Despite the extremity of some of their skills, readers can easily relate to most of the figures in the story – personally, I found it easiest to relate to Wylan because it is revealed early on that his talent is his intelligence. Bardugo weaves realistic situations in a world of high fantasy to further allow us to understand what it means to be daring and adventurous in our own way.
Each of the characters represent a different part of us that we may or may not hide, and it invokes the sense that perhaps the distance between fiction and reality is not too large. Being able to identify with at least one of the incredible personas in the story also enables us to feel as though we are experiencing the tale alongside them instead of feeling disconnected and detached.
The streets of Ketterdam are said to be based off of the twisted canals of Amsterdam, and it is easy to imagine why. Throughout the novel, Inej is often climbing across the rooftops of the city, and Bardugo’s detailed storytelling provides a clear image of what Ketterdam truly looks like in the reader’s mind.
In Six of Crows, however, most of the action happens in the Ice Court, a frigid fortress in the nation of Fjerda. The thought and detail put into the security around the entire court exposes the effort Bardugo made into ensuring that only the smallest of loopholes will prevail when the crew tries to sneak in. Readers understand the utter contrast between the warmer country of Kerch (of which Ketterdam is the capital) and the snowy mountainous region that is Fjerda as Matthias, who is a native Fjerdan, is the only one not to suffer the effects of the cold.
For fans of Bardugo’s previous series, we are able to easily reconnect with the style of writing that is unique to only her. Even as her characters are in the midst of a tense scene, she injects humor into her writing that makes the novel all the more enjoyable. She relies on reflection, but her thorough descriptions of the setting and the distinctive voices that come with each character facilitates the realization that there is no other author that could possibly replicate her work.
Since the novel is written in multiple points of views, it should be confusing to differentiate between the character’s inner voice without checking the first page of the chapter, but she manages to create individual traits that give away who is thinking what. For example, Inej’s thoughts are more observations than dialogue, and her patterns of thought reveal her hidden desires. Truly, Leigh Bardugo’s style is unmatched in the literary world.
From beginning to the end, the plot of the novel is steadily fast-paced and elicits the sense of urgency and peril that comes with traversing the world of fantasy. The inciting action occurs within a few chapters of the story’s genesis, and readers are left on the edge of their seats up until the final word.
Nonetheless, the storyline has several underlying meanings that will contribute to the satisfaction of the reader once they put the book down. There is a plethora of lessons to be learned from Six of Crows, numerous thought-provoking ideas that will leave one wondering for a long time after finishing. To summarize, the plot is intriguing and so unbelievably complicated that it is difficult to stop reading for fear of forgetting the smallest of details.
To be completely honest, Six of Crows has made it onto my list of favourite fantasy novels. Kaz’s sharp wit and the camaraderie between the deadliest crew in Ketterdam create a special place in my heart where I know they will always be. Upon finishing the novel, I was left feeling bereft of excitement, and I instantly realized that Bardugo had once again captured my interests.
Although I read many good books, there are a select few that really solidify my specific preferences for high-fantasy novels, and this one rapidly became one of them. This story is perfect for anyone wishing to escape contemporary literature and dive into the world of fantasy – the ideal novel to spend a rainy Sunday with. I personally believe that this would be the most enjoyable for young adults because they would more easily relate to the equally young characters. Nevertheless, the adventure that Kaz and his crew go on will sweep any reader of their feet and leave them breathless.