When the official trailer for “Shadow & Bone” came out a few weeks ago, the entire book community went crazy (or at, least, I did) in anticipation of the show. However, as Netflix announced that they had the rights to some of the most beloved fantasy books of this generation, a lot of fans were also worried because of previous book adaptations that didn’t really please the readers.
Nonetheless, considering what we’ve seen so far, the show seems to be really faithful to the original material. So, if you have no idea what the hype is all about but want to be prepared for the premiere, here’s everything you need to know about it.
- The Books
Leigh Bardugo is a fantasy author who created the beautifully diverse universe that her books are set in, the Grishaverse. Her debut novel, “Shadow and Bone”, was released in 2012, and it was only the beginning of the stories of beloved characters that surpassed different sagas and are now being translated into the screen.
The “Shadow and Bone” trilogy tells the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan who finds out she has the power to summon light. This discovery makes the entire world turn their eyes on her and she becomes the only hope for Ravka, a country that is divided in half by the Shadow Fold, a magical barrier of darkness. To become a weapon against the Fold, she begins training with other Grisha, an army of magical people, whose leader is the mysterious Darkling. The entire trilogy (“Shadow and Bone”, “Seige and Storm”, “Ruin and Rising”, respectively) earned the heart of fantasy lovers all over the world. Without spoiling anything, Alina’s journey is marked by a quest for rare magical animals, a concerning connection to the villain, being the target of religious fanatics, an epic love story… And a powerful war.
A year after the conclusion of the saga, in 2015, a new book set within the same universe was released. “Six of Crows” was an instant hit, even bigger than the first trilogy. The duology (composed of “Six of Crows” and “Crooked Kingdom”) is darker and less heroic, set in the gritty city of Ketterdam, where morals have no value against money.
This time, Leigh no longer writes from the perspective of a single main character; rather, she portrays all six members of the gang, known as the Dregs, as equally important to the story and equally dangerous. Kaz is their leader and a cunning thief, Inej uses her acrobatic skills to spy, Jesper shoots his pistols with precision, Nina uses her Grisha powers to survive, Wylan is a privileged boy found amidst the missions of the gang, and Matthias gets rescued from prison despite his prejudiced beliefs. The first book follows their plan as they try to break into a high-security prison known as the Ice Court. The crows stole all the readers’ hearts with their interesting dynamic and heartbreaking backstories, which deal with loss, prejudice, slavery, and the effects of war.
- Grishaverse, Adapted
For the on-screen adaptation, Netflix decided to combine both of the book series into one show. Considering that “Six of Crows” takes place a few years after the end of “Shadow and Bone”, the producers have explained that they are portraying some of the backstory mentioned in the books mixed in with new plots for the crows.
The first season of “Shadow and Bone”, which consists of eight episodes, will focus on the plot of the first book that has the same name, following Alina’s journey to learn how to control her powers with help from the Darkling and his team. One of the big questions to be answered is how the producers will tie in the characters from “Six of Crows” with the storyline of “Shadow and Bone”. The trailer has helped us with some context, and we can only guess that the crows will be hired to kidnap Alina.
- Why You Should Watch It?
Early watchers that have reviewed the show say that this is like a mixture of “Game of Thrones” epic plot and “Peaky Blinders” amoral characters. If you’ve enjoyed both of these successful shows, you should give “Shadow and Bone” a chance! The casting is also incredibly diverse, as well as the book characters. Jessie Mei Li, who plays Alina, and Amita Suman, who plays Inej, have mentioned in interviews how happy they are with the inclusivity of the show for bringing more actors from different parts of Asia and how it can set a positive precedent in the industry.
Just by watching the trailer, you can get a sense of how big the production is, with amazing special effects, intricate costumes, and realistic set designs, as well as their own orchestral scores made especially for the show. If you still need convincing just remember that Ben Barnes is in it as the sexy Darkling!
“Shadow and Bone” premieres worldwide on April 23rd only on Netflix.
The article above was edited by Isabella Gemignani.
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