Crooked Kingdom is the follow on book to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This review will contain spoilers from Six of Crows so if you have not read that book or listened to my review of that book, now is a good time to stop reading. This book is written in six parts; although it starts with the rescue of Inej, the overarching subject is about what Kaz will do to get his revenge on the people who have wronged him.
At the end of Six of Crows Kaz and his team rescued Kuwei from the Ice Court; they were supposed to rescue Kuwei’s father but he was killed before the team ever arrived. Furthermore, Kuwei knew enough about his fathers research that he could still be used to recreate the dangerous drug jurda parem. When Kaz and team went to hand over Kuwei to the Merchants Council they were prepared for a double cross, which of course happened. In the fight that ensued Inej, the Wraith, was taken hostage. This book opens with Kaz and crew working on a plan to get her back from the double crossing Jan van Eck.
There are other significant plot points going on besides rescuing Inej. Toward the end of the last book Nina took parem to boost her powers in order to save the crew from certain capture, if not death. She knew it was highly addictive and might kill her, but that was a risk she was willing to take. At the beginning of the book we find out Nina is alive but suffering from withdrawal symptoms. To make matters worse it seems her powers have been affected by parem and she cannot use her magic in the way she could previously. She begins to wonder how she will help the team rescue her dear friend if she is powerless.
Meanwhile, Wylan is still stuck looking like Kuwei after Nina altered his looks while she was under the effects of parem. He knew the change might be permanent since no one knows how the drug would impact normal powers. However, the altered looks come in handy since he can go places without being noticed because no one will recognize him.
Although the chapters follow different characters we are really looking at the story from two sides. Kaz and crew scheming to rescue Inej and her perspective while being held captive. At first Jan van Eck tries to trick information out of her by sending in one of his servants that is from the same country she is. Of course this does not work so Jan moves on to trying to torture the information out of her. There are some twists and turns to this part of the story that I will let you discover for yourself.
Ultimately Inej is rescued and we move on to the rest of the story. Kaz and team took on a lot of risk, made sacrifices, and put a lot of effort into rescuing Kuwei but they never got the reward they were promised. Kaz is not going to take that lying down so now he plots his revenge. First he has to destroy Jan van Eck for double crossing the crew.
He also needs to destroy Pekka Rollins while he is at it. In Six of Crows we learned that Pekka Rollins swindled Kaz and his brother Jordie out of their money when he was about 8 years old. The events that followed after the con led to the death of Jordie and Kaz has been slowly working toward destroying Pekka’s empire brick by brick. Now is a good time to take down both men.
At the same time the reader learns a bit more about the motivations of the rest of the Crew. In the first book we learned that Jesper needed the money from the Ice Court job to pay his gambling debts before the loan he took out against his fathers farm comes due. The bad guys in the story want to put pressure on Jesper so they call in the loan early and Jesper’s father comes to Ketterdam to see his son and figure out what is going on. Even the somewhat idealistic Wylan can see this is a trap, but Jesper will walk into it for his father. Before the end of the story, it will turn out to be a good thing that Jesper’s father came to town.
As usual Kaz has plans within plans. The idea he comes up with to ruin Jan will also result in a big pay day for the six crows. Additionally, there is a plan to get Kuwei out of Ketterdam and somewhere safe so he cannot be used by any government to produce parem. But of course, in a book this long, the original plan does not fully succeed so it is on to Plan B.
Plan B involves some people from Nina’s past. The country of Ravkan is where most Grisha come from and they have the most to loose if parem gets out and other countries try to force their people to consume the drug, use their powers in war before dying from the effects of the drug. In fact the Shu are already abducting Grish and forcing them to take parem. So Nina reaches makes it the price of her participation in Plan A to rescue the Grish still in Ketterdam. When the plan A goes wrong , it turns out some of her commanders form the Army of Kavkan are in town and they can be bargained with to help with Plan B.
I cannot really say a lot more without giving away too much. So I will just say that eventually one of the plans works out and we have a conclusion to this story. But in the true nature of this world that the author created, it is not all happy ever after. I think this is actually a good thing because after so much darkness and struggle it would seem strange if all of the sudden everything was perfect. Nope not perfect, but some things do get better and you can imagine these people going on to live their lives. They accept the positive things that changes and keep working toward their individual mission in life.
I hope you like the books and as usual, feel free to comment.