Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows shares with Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora (two of my all time favorite fantasy books), an unlikable protagonist, a boy thief, preternaturally smart, totally untrustworthy, yet so very vulnerable, he will steal your heart even as you believe he only deserves your hate.
In the story, an Ocean’s Eleven kind of heist in a fantastic world where a slightly perverted version of XVI century Amsterdam dominates trade, a motley band of the usual suspects is recruited to travel by sea and through snow to rescue a man from an impenetrable fortress surrounded by a frozen moat and walls of ice. The prisoner they will risk their lives to free has created a drug that can magnify the magical powers of the Grisha (the people born with magic) tens of folds, a drug so destructive it will destroy their bodies in the process, so addictive it will turn them into junkies after just one taste.
All the members of the crow of six that agree to this impossible mission do it for the obscene amount of money they have been promised. They want money to prove their value, to buy freedom, to get revenge, to pay a debt, to find a purpose, to go back home.
The story proceeds at a frantic pace, yet there is time for romance and friendship to blossom along the way.
The plot is so intricate you will have to over guess your beliefs again and again until you finally admit like Kaz that you have run out of tricks.
Kaz knows that to pull this off, they must hold their wits and allow no distraction, especially not the most dangerous of all, feelings. He knows that in the world he lives in, feelings are more dangerous than blades, and nothing could get you killed faster than love.
You may not like him, you may call him thief and bastard, for he kills for gain, and shows no mercy, yet at the end we realize he is not so different from us. For we all are, in a way, broken heroes, betrayed by life, survivors in a world were death is just around the corner, or simply one step behind, or ahead, or just below the surface of the ice that is about to crack under your feet.
Kaz has warned Inej, the girl he digs, when he finds her feeding crows the night she has killed for the first time, following his orders.
“You shouldn’t make friends with crows. They don’t have any manners.”
“Neither do you, Kaz,” Inej had said and laughed, and, the author tells us, “if he could have bottled the sounds and gotten drunk on it every night, he would have.”
And this unwelcome feeling for the girl ‘terrifies him.” As it should. Because, at the end, it is his feelings for Inej that will cause his downfall.
And this brings us to the end. An end that is only the beginning of another story.
One I can’t wait to read in the Fall of 2016 when the second volume in this so engrossing series will be published.

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