Leigh Bardugo represents the new wave of young adult fantasy readers, bringing in a mystical world full of heroes and appealing quests that no one could resist. Born in Jerusalem, Israel, and featuring an impressive portfolio of short stories, standalones, essays, and novels, she is better known for the Grisha trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, and the amazing King of Scars series. Apart from her successful stories, she also sings in a band – Captain Automatic. Confused about what to read first? Here are the best Leigh Bardugo books in order to try.


Shadow and Bone

This story follows the impressive nation of Ravka. Once a great kingdom, it has now been split in two by the so-called Shadow Fold. The darkness filled with monsters eats the kingdom inside out little by little. Its fate seems to reach an end soon, but things could change to 180 degrees. One random refugee might have the key to turn the darkness around and save the once-great nation.

The author takes you to Alina Starkov. She has never stood out in the crowd because she is not too good at anything. However, her regiment is attacked one day, and one of her best friends is severely injured. Trying to help her friend, Alina discovers an inner power that she has never known about. She realizes that her power might turn the war around, so she ends up training as a Grisha member – a magical elite.

Nothing in this unusual world is what it truly seems to be. The darkness keeps taking the kingdom over little by little. Featuring an unusual power, Alina will have to use her skills to discover the secrets of the Grisha. Furthermore, she will rediscover herself as she realizes that the Grisha may not be what she truly needs to change the fate of the war – the secret is in her own heart.

The Netflix series “Shadow and Bone” launched in 2021 is based on this fantasy trilogy.


Siege and Storm

This is one of the best Leigh Bardugo books in order and the second release in the Grisha trilogy. The book follows Alina's story after surviving her first adventure. She is hunted around, but also haunted by the spirits of those she had to kill in war. She will need to find a new place to settle down with Mal and start a new life. All in all, she knows she needs to keep her Sun Summoner identity secret.

However, her destiny is different, and she simply cannot run away from it. At the same time, her past is less likely to get away and will most likely return when least expected. The Darkling is now back and has a new plan to test the world. Furthermore, the plan is very dangerous and likely to destroy the world due to some new powers. Alina is forced to return to the Ravka kingdom and protect it one more time.

Her powers keep growing, but her brain is weak. The Darkling starts a new game of black magic, and Alina falls into it. She ends up distancing herself from Mal. Sooner or later, she will need to make a decision. She will have to choose between her power, her country, and the love of her life. She also risks losing everything by making the wrong decision.


Ruin and Rising

The Darkling runs the kingdom of Ravka with an iron fist. The nation is far from what it used to be back in the day. These days, it relies on a lost Sun Summoner, a random tracker, and the remains of what used to be an incredible army. No one wants to talk about it, but everyone is aware of the outcome of another conflict should it arise – and no one knows who to rely on in such a situation.

Alina is far from the kingdom's elite. Hiding in a network of tunnels, she is now hanging around with the Apparat and some zealots who aim to protect her. Her thoughts are in a different place, though. In order to complete her mission, Alina will need to work harder with Mal and find Morozova's last amplifiers. She will need new alliances and a good plan to change the world around.

As she learns more about the Darkling's secrets, she realizes that she has more than just a simple connection with him. She learns more about their past together, and she realizes that she will never be able to get away from it. However, she also knows that there is one thing that might save Ravka – the firebird. Finding it could cost Alina everything she dreams about.


Six of Crows

Six of Crows is one of the best Leigh Bardugo books in order and represents the first chapter of the Six of Crows duology. The action flows from one character or situation to another, only for everything to come together towards the end of the book like a puzzle. The action takes place in Ketterdam – the kind of place where you could buy or sell anything as long as you knew the right people.

International trade meant anything had a price. Kaz Brekker knows it better than everyone else. He has a criminal record, and somehow, he always ends up involved with sketchy activities. However, at some point, he is given a chance to join a heist that will simply change his life. If successful, the heist will make it rich enough to start a new life. However, he cannot do it by himself.

This is when the action begins. You will meet a convict who aims to revenge, a sharpshooter who likes a good deal, a runaway, and a spy. A heartrender joins the fun too, as well as a thief with great skills in terms of escaping. Kaz's crew is likely to succeed, yet no one really gets along with the others. The same crew might actually save the world too.


Crooked Kingdom

The second book in the duology brings back Kaz Brekker and his crew surviving in the world of Grisha. His outcasts have managed to succeed in a heist. Rewards are impressive, but instead of looking after themselves, they end up having to fight for their lives. The consequences of their actions are not to fool around with.

Cross played and low on resources, Kaz's crew has no allies or plans to survive this battle. Criminals and forces from all over the world reach Ketterdam in order to get their hands on a new drug – jurda parem. Everybody wants a piece of it, and people would do anything to get it.

New enemies target Kaz and his crew, as well as old rivals coming back for revenge. His team is not in the best shape, and the loyalty squeaks a little. When war breaks out, they will need to come together one more time in order to make it alive.


King of Scars

King of Scars is the first release in the King of Scars duology and follows Nikolai Lantsov's story. He is a young king, and he loves the impossible. No one knows what he had to go through during the civil war, but old enemies gather around the borders of his weakened Ravka kingdom.

Nikolai is now facing a new challenge. He can no longer hide the past. More importantly, he has to come up with some new alliances in order to keep his people alive. Once incredibly powerful, the Grisha army is now based on old retired soldiers who can no longer take a war.

Nikolai is joined by a monk and an old Grisha general. The three will have to risk everything – the actual kingdom and their own lives – to try and save everyone. However, old secrets come back from the past and threaten to destroy everything the young king has managed to build.


Rule of Wolves

Rule of Wolves is one of the best Leigh Bardugo books in order and brings in a final to the stunning King of Scars duology. A young prince's destiny is full of challenges, and the next one will change everything he knew about life.

Nikolai will need to use his charm and deadly skills to win a fight against a massive army. Then, the story moves on to Zoya, who has lost too much and wants to settle down. Nina is part of the game too. Her desire for revenge may cost her country actual freedom.

You have a king, a general, and a spy who will need to join their forces and try to fight Fjerda's massive army. They need to push through the darkness in order to see their nation raise one more time. Will they succeed?

Conclusion

Bottom line, these are some of the best Leigh Bardugo books in order. Based on how active she is, everyone is expecting new releases with every new year. Indeed, the series comes with independent stories, but they are still relatively connected. While things do make sense after a while, having some clues about the characters' background will definitely help.​