I was hooked from the first paragraph. It took a little while to get to understand the terms and expressions of the world this was set in but once I caught on, I flew through this book.
All of the main characters are teenagers around the age of seventeen but none of them had the mind sets of regular teenagers, probably because they all had grown up in a harsh world and had to fight just to survive.
It starts out with the POV of a kid named Joost who has recently become a city guard. He thought it would be exciting but he has mainly just been guarding one wealthy merchant’s estate because there was a recent assassination of the Trade Ambassador so the Merchant Council, the people who run the city, thought the wealthy merchants needed extra protection. The one good thing about it is that he gets to see the girl he likes on his rounds. She is an indentured servant and a Grisha. Grishas are magic wielders and it seems that all Grisha are indentured servants unless they somehow hide who and what they are from others. In this world, slavery is supposedly illegal but indentured servants are not but everyone knows that the Grisha never volunteered to be indentured servants.
Joost is called to the boat house to help guard an experiment that the merchant is testing. The girl Joost likes is sitting in a room with a young boy from the streets. She’s a healer so a man who was with the merchant cut the boy, she healed it. Then they gave her a drug called Jurda Parem. The Grisha instantly changed from being a sweet and scared girl to looking cold and evil. The merchant told the man to cut off the boy’s thumb but the Grisha commanded the merchant to come into the room. She was controlling his mind, something that no Grisha should ever be able to do. When the guards tried to save the merchant, she commanded everyone to wait. The entire room stopped in their tracks. Joost’s mind went from free will to blissful and only wanting to do what the Grisha ordered.
Kaz is the leader of a gang called the Dregs in a city of Ketterdam in a country called Kerch. His neighborhood is called the Barrel which sounds like a dangerous place to live. He’s clever and is always five steps ahead of any rivals. When he is caught off his guard by what seems to be a ghost who can walk through walls, he is more than surprised. No one gets the upper hand on Kaz. He wakes up chained to a chair in an opulent office. He recognized his captor as Councilman Van Eck.
Van Eck offers Kaz a deal he can’t refuse. He offers him thirty million kruges, their monetary unit, for a seemingly impossible mission. Van Eck tells him about the new drug called Jurda Parem that a scientist named Bo Yul-Bayur has invented that can turn Grisha into mighty magic yielders who can do unimaginable feats like walk through walls and control minds. Some can even fly. He tells him that the Merchant Council is worried about this drug getting into the wrong hands because it could change the whole world. Whoever controls the Grishas controls can control the world. Jurda Parem is highly addictive to the Grisha. The first dose addicts them and they’ll do anything to get another dose but it also kills the Grisha after a short period of using the drug. Van Eck showed him the scene where the other merchant had conducted his experiment. It had been six days since the event and there were guards standing with blank stares, some had dropped to the floor and died. Joost was one of them. The merchant had died a gruesome death and the Grisha had escaped out to sea but because she needed the drug, she had tried to come back to shore but had drowned.
Bo Yul-Bayur is currently in Fjerda, a far-off land, at the Ice Court which is said to be impenetrable. Kaz selects five people to go with him on the mission. He has to break one of them out of a prison and then he discovers that Van Eck had hired another team for the same mission, a rival gang. He’s putting his life on the line for this job which could change his life but he knows the odds are against him.
It has been a long time since I have been wowed by a new author and series so I was impressed with this book. It kept me on my toes wondering what Kaz was going to do next and getting to know his crew members was fascinating too.
I immediately bought the next book in the series. I’m not sure how many books will be in the series so I am not sure if the second book will be the conclusion or if it will be a trilogy. I vote for a really long series!