CBRBingo – Gateway
I haven’t read Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, and I don’t think I will after the consensus at the CBR catch-up that the worldbuilding was let down by the execution. But I loved Six of Crows, also set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. So did many other Cannonballers, who have written a number of excellent reviews that free me from the need to focus on plot or character profiles in mine.
This was an obvious choice for the Gateway Bingo square. While most definitely a fantasy novel, set in a secondary world where magic is a weapon of war, this is at heart a heist story. A squad is assembled – “A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.” They travel to an intriguing distant locale to steal a unique treasure from an inpenetrable fortress, each with their own motives and plans for their share of the spoils. As their meticulous plan unspools, it twists and snags, and looks like breaking apart and sending them all crashing down to disaster.
These familiar tropes are embedded in a skilfully constructed fantasy world. Grisha magic and its mechanics are at the heart of the stakes, obstacles and strategy of the heist. And the engaging characters are grounded in their distinct corners of this world. Any mental blocks to reading fantasy are disarmed, sidestepped, and slipped through as deftly as the squad’s entry into the Ice Court.
Six of Crows also provides a gateway into YA literature for more mature readers who might be resistant to stories focussed on teens. The squad may be young, but they are not shallow and their concerrns are far from trivial. They are highly capable, but not without explanation or price. I’ll be reading the next instalment, but probably not until it’s on a Kindle daily deal, because while I’m not narrowminded about genre, I remain a cheapskate.