About a week ago I finished Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. It's the second book of a duology that starts what Six of Crows began, and I considered it a stunning triumph.
One aspect that fascinates me about Crooked Kingdom is how similar to and how different it is from Six of Crows. It's very much the back half of the story that started in the first book, but the tension is a completely different flavor. When I read Six of Crows, the most pressing questions were about the conflict within the team of thieves. Who would betray who first? And what would result from the inevitable betrayals?
In Crooked Kingdom, the tension within the crew takes a back seat to each character's internal struggles, as well as their battles between the crows and the forces arrayed against them.
It works, beautifully.
The tension here is dialed higher than ever before. The characters are richly written, their interactions priceless. I read this story with my wife, and both of us were talking about our favorite character moments as though we were talking about the hijinks of old friends. Up until the very last page (not hyperbole), I wasn't sure how the book would end.
Although the year isn't quite over yet, I feel pretty safe in saying that this duology will probably be my favorite fantasy read of 2021.