My Top 5 Leigh Bardugo Characters

06/01/2019 Lists, Reading 14

My Top 5 Leigh Bardugo Characters

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?

14 Responses to “My Top 5 Leigh Bardugo Characters”

  1. CG @ Paper Fury

    Aww YES! I love that you listed your favourites (how does she have so so many good characters that it’s actually hard to make a top 5?!) I think Nikolai is one of my top most favourites too…I was devastated with how his story closed in Ruin & Rising and theN I HEARD HE’D GET HIS OWN…*flails forever* He deserve the world. But somehow I think he’s about to have a rough time. 😭😂I also adore Kaz, but Nina is one of my favourites!

    • Laura

      I know, it’s crazy that for someone with only 5 books out (6, I guess, including the Wonder Woman book!) it’s a struggle to narrow down her best characters to just 5! She really is incredible at characterisation! 🙂
      And it was so hard for me to miss Nina off this list…I just couldn’t decide who I would swap her with. I love them all so much! 🙂

  2. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    Love this post! I have always wanted to read the Grishna series but never could get into the first book… You are a true Bardugo fan that’s for sure… you’ve convinced me I should give them another shot! <3

    • Laura

      I would definitely recommend giving Leigh Bardugo another shot. Maybe you could try Six of Crows if you couldn’t get into the Grisha books? As much as I liked the Grisha books, the Six of Crows duology is much better in my opinion! 🙂

    • Laura

      Yay, a lot of our favourites are the same! Zoya was another close contender for my list, but I just couldn’t decide who I would swap out! 🙂

  3. Helia @ Rose Quartz Reads

    I couldn’t agree more – Leigh creates the best characters. I love Nikolai and I’m thrilled he’s getting his own story told. The Darlking was also brilliantly manipulative. As for Six of Crows, Wylan is such a sweetheart! I think my favourite characters might be Nina, but honestly I always change my mind. Great post!

  4. Zoie @ Whisked Away By Words

    Aaaah this post was everything I wanted! 😆 I’m so excited for King of Scars, and I totally agree that Leigh Bardugo is the queen of creating beautiful characters (and beautiful settings, too). Kaz Brekker is a perfect antihero-but-not-quite, because I know in many people’s eyes he’s a hero through and through. For me, I would put Inej on the top of my list — I admired her personality so much and her reluctance to let Kaz into her life when she knew he still had many personal demons to overcome. She put her happiness before his, and that was such a beautiful and empowering part of her character (but, as we both know, everything ends up wonderfully anyways 😋). Great list, Laura!

    • Laura

      I totally agree with you about Inej! You don’t often see characters like that who have the sense to know they should be cautious around characters like Kaz, who clearly has a lot of demons in his past. Usually I think there’s a sense that ‘love will fix them’, but I don’t think that’s very realistic, or a good message for a book to give off. Even though they do sort of end up together, it’s very much on her terms, which I loved. She was such a strong character! She’s another one it was difficult to miss off this list 🙂

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