All eyes may be on the upcoming debut of the series adaptation of Shadow and Bone on Netflix in April, but that isn’t the only place you’ll find new Grishaverse content this spring. Leigh Bardugo’s Rule of Wolves is here to wrap up both author’s King of Scars duology and the larger series itself.
And readers, if this is truly the last story we get from Bardugo in this particular world, the Grishaverse is definitely going out with a bang. Rule of Wolves deftly combines everything we’ve all come to love about this particular universe into one high-stakes adventure, with meaningful appearances from almost every major character across the series.
The story picks up basically where King of Scars left off with threats both political and existential mounting on all sides. Though, for those of you who may be struggling to remember the details of the many books whose stories feed into this one, Bardugo is good about inserting reminders and small plot recaps along the way. (Which, thankfully, never force the story to a standstill.)
Nikolai, formerly known as the privateer Sturmhound and now the King of Ravka, faces potential war with Fjerda, rumors that his family lineage means that he’s not fit to sit the throne, and the return of one of Ravka’s greatest threats. Oh, and there’s also the bit where he’s supposed to marry a Shu-Han princess whose sister has already tried to kill him.
As Nikolai battles his inner demons (literally, sometimes), he must decide not only what’s best for the future of the country he loves, but what he’s willing to sacrifice to obtain it.
Shadow and Bone favorite Zoya Nazyalensky continues to wrestle with not just with everything she’s lost at the hands of the Darkling, but what she’ll need to become in order to keep her country safe. And it may involve denying her heart what it wants most.
Elsewhere, Six of Crows standout Nina Zenik, still grieving the loss of the man she loved, is deep undercover in the Fjerdan Ice Court, working to undermine the rumors about Nikolai’s parentage and punish those she views as responsible for Mattias’ death. Her strange new death powers continue to intrigue, as does her growing friendship with Hanne Brum, daughter of Nina’s most hated enemy.
The story is a sprawling multi-POV affair that spreads across multiple kingdoms and clocks in at over six hundred pages. Bardugo’s skill at keeping multiple complex storylines churning alongside one another has never been more apparent, and the story is both action-packed and deeply philosophical at times. (A running question of what constantly escalating war turns the people who wage it into is particularly deftly handled.) Characters – particularly Nina and Hanne – get rich, complicated arcs that go in surprising directions and ask difficult questions about not just who these characters are, but what kind of people they want to become.
From thrilling battles to tension filled spy escapades and heartfelt reconnections, Rule of Wolves is a propulsive, page-turning adventure that’s difficult to put down. Yet, like all of Bardugo’s novels, it’s a story that works because of the care she takes with these characters — both in terms of the complex layers they have as individuals and their relationships with one another.
While some fan favorites – I’m mostly thinking of the crew in Ketterdam – don’t appear in this novel as much as I might have liked every scene carries weight and meaning, particularly for readers who are well-versed in the larger Grishaverse. There are multiple lovely callbacks, a few long-awaited updates, and an ending that feels both satisfyingly complete and like its story could easily continue, should Bardugo decide to return to these characters one day. And after this novel, it’s hard not to hope she does.
Rule of Wolves is available now. Let us know if you’re planning to read it!