Bookish Things · Reviews

Review/Reflections: Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo (with spoilers)

Synopsis:

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.

The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.

Review/Reflections:

Disclaimer!!

This is not really a review but some thoughts I had after reading this book. It may contain spoilers but I will give you a heads up before jumping on it. Also, if you don’t want my review to influence your reading experience, feel free to move on to another blog/review. 

Also, please, don’t hate me. 

I had many feelings after finishing Rule of Wolves, mostly negative. I think I wrote this review two or three times, I continued to re-read it and tone down my thoughts. To be honest, the first draft of this review was full of very nasty and colourful comments. I feel very nervous about being fully honest about how I felt because I don’t want to gain negative comments from the loyal Bardugo fans. However, I can now say I have come to two conclusions: 

1 – So far all my 5 stars review predictions were epically wrong. Every book that I said was going to be 5 stars, turned out to be a big disappointment. Unfortunately, Rule of Wolves falls into this category. 

2 – Maybe there is some weird spell or the books I read come from a parallel universe because often I end up with a very different reading experience from the majority of readers and this is another of my unpopular opinions. 

I loved Six of Crows duology, it’s simply perfection, and I’m so excited about the Shadow and Bone adaptation I could cry, but this book killed me. While reading this story, I felt so overwhelmed by the useless amount of details and extra-complicated plot. But at the same time, I don’t even know how to explain it, this story felt absolutely rushed. I swear, after finishing I woke up with a massive headache and I didn’t want to pick up another book. 

The first problem I had with this book is that there are too many POVs and storylines that I felt were pointless, draining, and not taking me anywhere. The two most clear examples are Mayu and The Darkling. I think their presence in the book didn’t really make a massive contribution or impact on the main plot. I felt so sorry for Mayu, because she wanted to be something more, I could see the possibility of telling the stories of the Shu Han, but there was not enough space for her, but it looked more like an anchor? A plotline to explore in case Bardugo decides to write more stories of this world. But, at the end of the day, the war between Fjerda and Ravka happened and Mayu and The Darkling didn’t change the result. 

Before I continue, I think I need to make it clear that I am not a devoted fan of the Grishaverse (not as much as I am a fan of, for example, Throne of Glass), so many details from the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, SOC duology or Nikolai’s first book were not so vivid in my brain, so I concede, I may have forgotten something. However, I couldn’t help but feel all the characters we met in the past, in particular, my beloved Nikolai and Nina, were massively out of character. 

I thought this story was going to be about Nikolai, instead, it was an all-Zoya book. I don’t mind Zoya, I was really invested in her development during King of Scars, and all her potential was wasted in this book. So many details about her past and about her new power (the dragon in her) were introduced, but it was all smoke and mirrors. Nikolai was more of a sad clown and completely lost his smartass charm. 

And Nina… love of my life… when did you become so dumb? Why did you have to suffer and become a victim of poor writing? 

SPOILERS HERE:

Because here’s the thing, the whole story of Rasmus was so weak from the very beginning. It was clear from the beginning he was a prick – what a poor spy she became. And she had to pick up all the loose ends of this story, all the side storylines – Rasmus, Hanne, Matthias’s killer, Zoya being a dragon and The Apparat. And her personal story didn’t go much further. For some reason, despite the fact she found happiness in the end, I couldn’t be fully happy for her.

END OF SPOILERS. 

I need 10 minutes of meditation to continue this post. 

I am not going to talk about the Darkling – I think it’s just too heartbreaking. Such a powerful villain, absolutely wasted. I still don’t understand the purpose of bringing him back?

And I am not even going to discuss the misuse of the term “vampire” in the book (I’m still laughing) or the fact that the blight was brought in this story with no explanations, for no reason, because nothing had a meaning in this book… 

SPOILERS:

including those cameos. Which was just a massive PR stunt, in my opinion. Let’s bring back all the guys that will be in the TV show but who cares about continuity, let’s make them all OOC. Look, I missed those guys so much, but can’t we leave them happy in their books without forcing them out in a story that already is super crowded, and has no space for them and without making the ending of Lostit look like a masterpiece in comparison? 

END OF SPOILERS.

In general, it all felt like a PR stunt. Sometimes, I felt Bardugo didn’t care about these characters anymore and just wanted to be over with. At the same time, I had the impression she was leaving seeds here and there, to reap later in case the show is a massive success and she wants to attempt a Shadowhunter/Game of Thrones thing. The unclosed storylines, that dumb open ending/teaser of Six of Crows 3 suggests that, but after reading this disaster, reading a SOC 3 sounds more like reading a horror story. 

10 thoughts on “Review/Reflections: Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo (with spoilers)

  1. I bookmarked your review to read after I finished writing mine and it looks like we had some very similar opinions on the book! I 100% agree, bringing back the Darkling could have set up some really good conflict, but it was totally wasted. Your review is actually one of the very few I’ve seen so far that point these things out, so thank you for the honest review!

    Liked by 1 person

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