Sprawling yet intricate and completely engrossing.

GILDED SERPENT

From the Dark Shores series , Vol. 3

The parallel storylines of Dark Shores (2019) and Dark Skies (2020) continue in this sequel that ties the two together.

Teriana, Marcus, Killian, and Lydia return as point-of-view characters in interwoven stories. Thematically uniting the protagonists is the idea of struggling against conflicting loyalties. Teriana and Marcus struggle with trust, both in terms of being able to trust each other, as they are technically enemies, and individually. Teriana is torn between protecting her people, held hostage by the Empire, or keeping the Empire from spreading into the West; Marcus longs for freedom from the Empire even as his loyalty to the men of his legion is challenged by his knowledge that there’s a traitor among them. Killian feels guilty over the choice he made between Lydia and Malahi, whose father is an inferior ruler, while Lydia’s struggles sneak up on her. The multiple storylines spread the characters to distant corners, presenting new worldbuilding opportunities. The balance between characters allows for a sense of time and travel while characters are on the move, with quicker check-ins preventing the pace from getting bogged down in between devastating revelations, deadly action, intrigue, and, of course, romance culminating in steamy scenes. The characters’ storylines resolve their immediate dilemmas while presenting new dangers for the next installment. Both the East and West feature casual diversity—skin tones (ranging from fair-skinned Lydia to black-skinned Teriana) are sometimes geographically linked but generally lack significance.

Sprawling yet intricate and completely engrossing. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31779-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance.

RULE OF WOLVES

From the King of Scars Duology series , Vol. 2

Following King of Scars (2019), the world’s a powder keg of political hostilities and existential threats.

In a juggling act between viewpoint characters, readers follow far-ranging intrigues inside countries, between countries, and between individuals. King Nikolai faces imminent threats from Fjerda, rumors of his bastardy that threaten to dethrone him, complicated trade relations with both Zemeni and Kerch, and an engagement to Princess Ehri of Shu Han—despite her sister, Queen Makhi, having schemed to kill both of them. Zoya, Nikolai’s loyal general, is handed a series of nigh-impossible assignments, including some having to do with the Darkling. Meanwhile, deeply embedded Nina spies on Fjerda, working to undermine the rumors surrounding Nikolai’s parentage, uncover Fjerda’s military plans, manipulate their royals toward a more peaceful path, and secretly sway the population’s view of Grisha. And all over the world, a mysterious blight suddenly appears, destroying everything in its path. Sprinklings of recaps and lots of action help to prevent the massively intricate world from becoming overwhelming. Battles in particular shine, not just for their action, but for the questions they pose about the direction of warfare in an arms race. The multiethnic cast that includes queer characters and relationships showcases a White-passing biracial character grappling with identity and another character’s trans-coded journey. A big finish manages to tidy up almost all ends but still leaves space for more to come.

A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance. (Orders of Grisha guide, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14230-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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