King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

what happened in king of scars

The basics

Title: King of Scars


Series: Nikolai Duology #1

- King of Scars (2019)
- Untitled

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Here’s our recap of what happened in King of Scars. Read on for a full plot summary to refresh your memory!

what happened in King of Scars?

  • The book starts with a farmboy coming across a creature that turns out to be Nikolai. MY KING. His gang smuggle him back into a coach so they can get him away.
  • Nina is smuggling Grisha out of Kerch and into Fjerda. She’s disguised as a woman called Mila. She and her group end up in a convent where girls are trained to be “girls”. They think there’s something going on at the factory nearby because the water is poisoned.
  • It turns out that Nikolai has been turning into the creature at night, which causes issues when he’s touring Ravka and trying to make aquaintances. The group discuss how to fix this, as well as the whole “no money” situation that Ravka in. They suggest that Nikolai hosts a party for all of the continent’s leaders so they can mingle, and also find Nikolai a wife.
  • Nikolai admits he’s a bastard. He talks a bit about his childhood and it’s very sad.
  • Nina comes across a group of girls who are out in the woods. They shouldn’t be in there because they’re not supposed to leave the convent. Nina promises not to tell anyone.
  • Nina is rescued from wolves by Hanne, one of the convent girls. She tells Hanne that her sister was a Grisha and she went missing, so she’s looking for her. Nina realises that Hanne is Grisha, and asks if she wants her help with her powers.
  • A group of pilgrims arrive at Os Alta, and they turn out to be a cult that worships the Starless One, aka the Darkling. Nikolai invites one of the pilgrims, Yuri, into the palace so he can assess the situation better.
  • Yuri tells Nikolai that miracles have been happening all over the country. The group realises that the miracles have been leading to the Fold. This must mean something. So the group goes off to investigate.
  • Nikolai as the creature nearly kills Zoya.
  • Nina goes to investigate the factory and she finds a load of pregnant women who are addicted to jurda parem of some sort. She’s almost caught but she runs back to the convent. The Wellmother finds her dirty clothes, but Hanne claims they’re hers and saves Nina.
  • Nikolai and the group reach the Fold. Nikolai and Zoya then get taken into another dimension by some saints who want to escape this dimension and become mortal again. They claim to be able to help Nikolai with his monster possession problem.
  • Nina tells Hanne about the factory and she wants her help getting the women out of there.
  • Hanne’s father arrives at the convent and it turns out that it’s Jarl Brum from the Six of Crows duology. Jesus Christ. Nina woos him a bit with flattery and he doesn’t recognise her because she has had her features changed.
  • At this point, everyone is freaking out back at the palace because Nikolai and Zoya just vanished and there’s a party or gathering happening. They recruit a guard, Isaak, to imitate the king. He does a pretty good job.
  • Zoya is trained by one of the saints to use her powers properly. It turns out that the Grisha training is very restrictive right now and she can actually do a lot more than she originally thought.
  • Zoya shares the story about where she got her now broken amplifier. She was on a trip with the Darkling and the other Grisha, and she killed a white tiger.

how did King of Scars end?

Nikolai goes through with the ritual and it turns out that Elizaveth doesn’t want to become mortal, and she’s instead trying to bring the Darkling back. There’s a massive fight, and Nikolai and Zoya win. They return to the palace.

Nina and the others get the women out of the factory. They are revealed as Grisha, but it’s ok because the townspeople just want their sisters and cousins and friends back. Hanne makes Nina take Brum with them.
Isaak is killed by an assassin pretending to be a Shu princess. Nikolai arrives at the palace and says he’s going to marry the real princess, Ehri.

Nina and Hanne are welcomed into the Brum home, as Jarl Brum thinks Nina saved his life. Nina leaves her group to continue to help people in Fjerda.

That’s everything that happened in King of Scars so your memory should be refreshed for the second book! For more recaps, check out our recap list. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


  • Courtney says:

    Thanks so much for the recap! I read a bunch of different series and often forget a lot of what happened in previous books. So your website is a lifesaver!

Leave a reply