Leigh Bardugo answers five questions about the heart-pounding ending of Crooked Kingdom! Serious spoilers ahead!
Crooked Kingdom concludes Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, a gripping and multifaceted heist story set in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy. Bardugo spoke with Hypable last month about crafting Six of Crows and her writing process in an in-depth, spoiler-free interview.
Now, the New York Times bestselling author offers a look behind the curtain at the shocks and spoilers of Crooked Kingdom!
What was it like to write characters from the Grisha Trilogy in the very different perspective of Crooked Kingdom? Was that part of your original plan, or did Genya, Zoya, and “Sturmhond” turn out to be the best characters for the job?
Leigh Bardugo: The original plan was to take Matthias and Nina to Ravka, but it just didn’t work for the book. I wanted a really tight timeline and the sense that the city had become a trap for Kaz’s crew. So I brought Ravka to Ketterdam. And I loved writing those characters again. I know them so well. It’s like seeing an old friend and just picking up where you left off.
The inversion of Nina’s power into the realm of death is fascinating, and one of the most distinctly magical elements of Crooked Kingdom. What was it like to expand Grisha power in this way? Do you think Nina has a chance to make a change in Fjerda, with her powers now even more arcane than ordinary Grisha?
I think I really like the idea of magic and transgression. There had to be consequences for the power that Nina tapped into, and I liked the idea of the price being something unexpected. I also enjoy pushing at the boundaries of Grisha power, but I try to do it in a way that feels authentic to the reader. As for Fjerda, it’s certainly a challenge. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Let’s talk about Matthias’ death. (Sniffle.) Was he always going to be the character that got the axe? How did you decide on the almost random (and tragically real-world) manner of his death? I don’t think of it as random.
Matthias was murdered by the younger version of himself. This is the reckoning he couldn’t escape. I always knew we were going to lose Matty, but there were times I thought about sending him and Nina off to Novyi Zem or undercover in Fjerda. I hope they find each other in the next life.
Regarding Dunyasha: Do you have more of her story in your mind? Do you think she really had a destiny, or was she just indoctrinated with that belief? Are there more from whence she came?
I think we all know Dunyasha’s story, right? Because she’s a character, but she’s also meant to be a pretty explicit subversion of the chosen one trope. I just think it would be very reassuring and empowering to believe you had a grand destiny. But how would you know you were chosen? How could you be sure? Maybe we just don’t hear about the ones who get it wrong.
The epilogue with Pekka Rollins is fascinating, and totally unexpected. How did you decide to end the duology this way? What do you think the chapter says about Inej, who seemed to have found a very pure contentment in just the previous chapter?
Contentment is an interesting word. I think she found happiness, and a kind of peace. But Inej has an agenda. She has a mission and that doesn’t allow for a lot of contentment. I also wanted her to give Kaz this gift. She knows that, as long as Pekka is alive, he’ll be a danger to Kaz, and that he’ll drive Kaz to be his very worst. So she ties up this loose end for him.
There’s a lot of mirroring in the two books in terms of structure — the showdown at the Exchange, the walk to the docks. You could say that all of this began with Pekka and the con he ran on Jordie and Kaz. I think it was right that this story end with him too.