So…is everyone else super excited that Leigh Bardugo has a new book coming out at the end of this month? And is it just me, or is it even more exciting that this new book is all about Nikolai Lantsov, my absolute favourite Leigh Bardugo character (spoiler alert for this list!)?
And calling Nikolai my favourite is really saying something, because as far as I’m concerned, Leigh Bardugo is a master of characterisation! I’ve literally adored so many of her characters that creating a ‘Top 5’ list was hard…I could have just written ‘every single character!’, and had done with this post.
Her characters are just so wonderfully funny, believable and complex, that it’s hard not to like them (even the ones you aren’t supposed to like!), and some of my absolute favourite moments in her books have just been banter between characters, or heart-warming moments of friendship or love.
But I’ll stop all of my blathering now, and get to the list I painstakingly narrowed down to my Top 5 Leigh Bardugo characters:
- Nikolai Lantsov
So I already spoiled this one, so I thought I’d cover Nikolai first! In short, he was the highlight of the original Grisha trilogy for me. I liked Alina and Mal just fine, but I felt that Nikolai stole pretty much every scene he was in!
From his first appearance disguised as the privateer Sturmhond he was intriguing, but I feel he fully came into his own when he was revealed as Prince Nikolai of Ravka. Brash, cocky and charming, he seemingly has a witty remark to make about everything, yet as time goes on, you start to see his more vulnerable side.
Not to mention, the things he goes through in the final book of the Grisha series is heart-breaking, and I’m really looking forward to reading about it’s aftermath in the new book that’s coming out!
- The Darkling
Yes, the Darkling is a bad guy. And yes, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the fact he continued to be a kind-of love interest for Alina throughout the Grisha series (even after she realised what a bad guy he was!). But I have to admit, the Darkling was certainly one compelling villain!
From having me fooled along with Alina in the first book that he wasn’t such a bad guy, to turning full on villainous dictator in the later books, he certainly took you on a rollercoaster journey. And somewhere, deep down, it was always clear he had a more vulnerable side, and felt isolated from everyone else by his one-of-a-kind powers…
I do love a complex villain!
- Kaz Brekker
I literally loved all six of Kaz’s crew members from the Six of Crows duology, and I feel like I could have just listed them all here, but Kaz was one I knew had to make the list!
For one thing, I just love the shades of grey aspect you get with any kind of anti-hero, and Kaz is definitely an anti-hero. Cool, calm, collected and often cruel, he seems like a character who has an answer for everything, and a plan for every eventuality. He’s always cleverer than his opponents, and has built up a strong and loyal crew around him.
At the same time he hides a lot of deep-seated issues – such as his fear of contact with other people, hence him always wearing his trademark gloves – resulting from a tragic and traumatic past. Summarised like this, his character sounds like it should be a huge cliche – emotionally unavailable anti-hero with a tragic past and vulnerable side – but somehow it works for him, and he comes across as a very believable character.
And I adored his growing relationship with Inej!
- Jesper Fahey
Jesper is another character I loved for his complex, and many-layered personality. On the surface he is fun-loving, reckless and sarcastic, and his banter with the others is so much fun to read!
But he also hides a lot of vulnerability and a much softer side deep down. His loud personality covers up the fact that he actually isn’t all that confident, and I liked getting to know more about his past throughout the books.
Plus I loved his relationship with Wylan!
- Wylan Van Eck
Speaking of Wylan…
I just loved that in this world of crazy magically gifted people, badass gang members, and even quieter people like Inej actually being super deadly, there’s one character whose just an absolute sweetheart.
Wylan is just so nice, and the fact that this makes him such a charming and lovable character as opposed to boring is a testament to Leigh Bardugo’s characterisation ability. Even after the things he’s been through with his father and running away from home, the fact he’s not a horribly bitter person is amazing, and I liked seeing him gradually becoming accepted into the Six of Crows group.
So who are your favourite Leigh Bardugo characters? Are you looking forward to the release of King of Scars?