Six of Crows

Six of Crows Study Guide

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows (2015) is a fantasy novel set in the Kerch city of Ketterdam, inspired by Dutch Republic–era Amsterdam. The novel is the first in a duology and is part of the Grishaverse, with ties to The King of Scars Duology and the Shadow and Bone Trilogy.

The novel follows a thieving crew of six young adults as they attempt to liberate a Shu scientist, Bo Yul-Bayur, from the Fjerdan government, getting rich in the process. It is told from the third-person viewpoints of seven characters, five of whom are members of the heist crew.

The crew is led by Kaz Brekker, master thief and de facto leader of the Dregs, an up-and-coming criminal gang in Ketterdam. He is assisted by two other members of the Dregs: Inej Ghafa, aka “the Wraith,” a nearly imperceptible spy Kaz saved from a whorehouse where she was prized because of her brown Suli skin; and Jesper Fahey, a Kaelish-Zemeni sharpshooter who is addicted to risk (particularly shootouts and gambling). Kaz recruits Nina Zenik, a Grisha Heartrender from Ravka; Wylan Van Eck, a demolitions expert and the runaway son of the man who hired them for the heist; and Matthias Helvar from Fjerda, a drüskelle (Grisha-hunter) who was wrongfully imprisoned, then freed, because of Nina. The group is troubled by many tensions (for example, Matthias doesn’t want to help the group break into his country, but the only way for him to return to Fjerda is with a pardon Kaz offers him). While they manage to break into the central stronghold of Fjerda, almost nothing goes according to plan, and each of the six must confront their tensions and traumas to complete the mission.

The novel and the Grishaverse are immensely popular, with a large fanbase and a Netflix adaptation. The New York Times recommends Six of Crows in the YA Crossover shortlist and their “7 Great Fantasy Novels for Teenagers” list, though NPR books criticized the characters for thinking and acting too mature for their stated teenage years. Six of Crows is followed by Crooked Kingdom (2016), a #1 New York Times bestseller.