The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times. 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.
Back when I started with the Grishaverse – a few months ago, I thought I was doing research for the Shadow and Bone show and instead I was finding my next obsession – I looked at the upcoming Rule of Wolves like an ending. Everything that these characters were going through, all the storylines, had a fixed point in time where they would have to be resolved. At the end of Rule of Wolves, we would have all the answers.
That is not true of Rule of Wolves, I’m both sorry and excited to say. There’s clearly more to the story coming, and if you ask me, it seems like whatever is coming next is going to be more of an ensemble show than anything before has been, which is absolutely alright with me. In fact, it’s just what I wanted.
Which doesn’t take away from Rule of Wolves, at all. Rule of Wolves is a good, engaging book, one that’s almost impossible to put down because so much is happening, how can you even stop to get a snack? It’s also a book that brings back some beloved characters, cements a ship and oh yes, redeems what we all thought was an unredeemable character?
Let’s start with the fact that Rule of Wolves gives us Kaz, Inej, Jesper and Wylan again for a little bit – and a whole lot of Nina – so our Crows loving heart is happy. We even get Kanej crumbs thrown our way, because just as Nikolai is super obvious about his feelings for Zoya (Kaz sees through him in 0.2 seconds), Kaz has always been super obvious about his feelings for Inej. Obvious enough for a privateer to take advantage.
As an aside, a part of me wants Kaz and Nikolai to become reluctant BFFs, which doesn’t seem as far fetched to me now that I can clearly picture Queen Zoya and Captain Ghafa as BFFs, so like, if this isn’t something that I get in the books can someone at least write me the fic? I need it, for reasons.
There isn’t enough of the Crows in this, of course, but my Crows-loving heart would probably never think there was enough, and to know that they were fine, thriving, being themselves but almost a better, more advanced version of themselves, was enough. I don’t want more death to come to them. No mourners, no funerals.
Rule of Wolves also, of course, cements Zoya and Nikolai as a ship worthy of our attention. I’d even say it makes them my second favorite Grishaverse ship, and I never would have seen that coming before King of Scars. But the growth of Zoya as a character has made it so much easier to root for her, and the more I understood Zoya, the more I got why Nikolai – a character I liked from the start – was her perfect match.
Zoya isn’t your typical heroine, but then again, neither was Inej and though Alina might have started as one, she didn’t truly remain so. That’s part of what makes the Grishaverse work, at least for me. If the female characters don’t work, the books don’t work, and Zoya really, really clicked for me in King of Scars, but in Rule of Wolves …well, I was ready to kneel with Nikolai and call her my queen.
This brings me to the ship, which also really, really works because its foundation is trust. Zoya and Nikolai care about each other, and their feelings were more than friendship long before this book, but that someone as closed off like Zoya, and someone who put up so many walls made out of bravado like Nikolai, could find in each other the safe port in a storm they needed …that wasn’t just beautiful, it was real.
In so many ways, these two are the same. In the ways they react to feelings, they’re so different. And yet they balance each other very well, and I hope we get to see Nikolai finally ask that question and get a different answer in whatever’s coming next.
Finally, I guess I cannot end this without talking about that redemption. I didn’t truly expect it, even though it made sense after King Of Scars, and I wasn’t sure it would work for me. I’m typically very harsh on redemption arcs, which always seem rushed and like they happen for all the wrong reasons. Not this time. Aleksander, The Darkling, however you want to call him, was not a character I needed to see redeemed, and yet I will go on the record and say that his redemption really worked for me.
It isn’t about if it was earned or not, it’s about how, in the end, the decisions he makes that we would consider his redemption are actually totally in line with all the other decisions he’s ever made. He’s not asking for forgiveness for his mistakes, he had one goal, and his goal remains the same. It’s just that now …the way he goes about achieving that goal aligns with what everyone else needs.
What comes next for him, I am not sure, but I found myself truly agreeing with Zoya as she talked about the line between redemption and torture. How do we measure that and who are we to decide? That’s a philosophical question for another book, and one I’m utterly shocked to say I truly care about.
In conclusion, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. But warning – this is not a book you can pick up without knowing all the backstory that comes before. This is the 7th book in a series, and it needs to be read 7th if you’re going to enjoy it the way it deserves. No shortcuts here. Good stories don’t have one.
Rule of Wolves is available wherever books are sold.