calm sea during golden hour



stan kaz brekker!!!



2/10/20243 min read

“Greed may do your bidding, but death serves no man.”

While the YA fantasy book- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardvgo is a spectacular specimen of literature in itself, its intricate quotes serve as a reminder how revenge can rise out of the darkest traumas. The author, Leigh Bardvgo, a female writer based in America, has created an entire series enveloped around her dystopian world structure, the Grishaverse, a dangerous world lurking with thieves and bandits, punctuated with Dutch words and dialects and cunning gangs ready to slit throats and commit fraud just for kruge, their predominant currency.

The plotline of Six of Crows follows a group of six criminals, each adept in their own field, as they embark on a heist to retrieve a mind-altering drug (jurda parem) from the depths of the most unbreachable territory in their country, the Ice Court. Fighting off numerous opposing teams, life-threatening situations, planning intricate strategies to break into the impregnable court and finding out more about each other, the six strive and struggle through overcoming their own traumas and intertwining their qualities with their strengths.

A convict with a thirst for vengeance.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a gamble.

A runaway with an affluent past.

A Suli spy known as the Wraith.

A powerful Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A mastermind thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist.

Kaz Brekker’s team is the only thing that might stand between the world and annihilation – if they don’t kill each other first. Overcoming their pasts is just the beginning.

The protagonist of Six of Crows is Kaz Brekker, a 17 year old indomitable leader of one of the most menacing gangs of Ketterdam. Orphaned at a young age, he took to crime and rose to high ranks in the underworld, joining one of the highest ranking gangs, the Dregs, earning the callsign “Dirtyhands” on account of his notorious unfastidious aptness for all criminal activities. Lean, dark-haired and never seen without his gold-topped cane, he makes a formidable sight as he gathers an elite criminal team for the heist of the century.

The other five protagonists who make up the rest of the team for the heist are Inej Ghafa, the Suli Spy for the Dregs; Jesper Fahey, the Zemeni-born sharpshooter for the Dregs, Nina Zenik, a Grisha Corporalnik Heartrender, another member of the Dregs. The other two are salvaged from either prisons or captivity, Matthias Helvar, a former druskelle (Grisha hunter) from Fjerdan, and Wylan Van Eck, the son of the very mercher who hires Kaz Brekker to retrieve the jurda parem from the Ice Court.

The book, while also proving as an excellent and thrilling read, contains a depth not usually found in YA books. It focuses more on the brilliantly built world-map and intriguing plotline and less on the cringey love-triangle trope that is found in nearly every YA fantasy book. The symbolisms and countries, the different races and nationalities created in the story form a mystic aura which envelopes us from the inside out and lures us in to read more. The Grisha’s esoteric magic, the Barrel’s wide array of criminals and cut-throat murderers, Kaz Brekker’s dark appeal, everything about the book is well-thought and charming.

Unlike most books, Six of Crows uses a multi-character point of view, showing us each character’s unique perspective of the heist and their heart-wrenching backstories. This book will have you fawning, shedding tears and being curious simultaneously as you trespass Ketterdam and Kerch with the characters, thoroughly immersed and feeling as you were just another character in the criminal gang. The capital city of Kerch, Ketterdam, is loosely based off of Dutch-republic era Amsterdam, complete with crime-ridden streets and extravagant casinos and gambling houses. The language is primarily English, punctuated with a few Dutch words, but there are many more languages of other races made up by Leigh Bardvgo herself. The sheer newness of everything serves to be confusing at first, but as we read on, the dystopian landscape is more than familiar to us, and seems to be almost real and absorbing as we read.

I felt like one of the Dregs as I started reading, could feel the whizz of bullets in the air in every gunfight scene, felt the coolness of the sea-breeze and smelt the saltiness of sea-water as the team sailed over the sea, was just as intrigued as any of them at the intricate impregnability of the Ice Court. The book allured me in a way that I could imagine every scene and felt included.

Six of Crows, overall, is a book to read and enjoy, to fawn over and love, to reread when times get tough, and even to laminate as if it were a work of art, which it is. It is a masterpiece of words, amazingly put together, the characters as complex as if they were real and as beautifully broken as if they could feel. This book made me realize that there’s so much outside classic YA books like The Hunger Games and cliché tropes. It taught me that you can find beauty and light in the darkest and strangest places, and that you can glue yourself together no matter what adversities you have to go through, how much pain and hurt you feel, how many struggles you overcome. And most of all, it taught me that the world is a cruel place, but you can find the refuge and peace in it, only if you try.