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What We Can Expect from Netflix’s “Shadow and Bone”

On Apr. 23, Netflix users can look forward to the highly-anticipated fantasy epic “Shadow Bone” joining the streaming service’s impressive catalog.

Based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling “Grishaverse” novels, “Shadow and Bone’s” eight-episode first season promises a grand-scale exhibition of the much loved fantasy world. Although Bardugo’s series has already reached three million readers, many will be visiting the fictional country of Ravka for the very first time upon the release of the Netflix adaptation.

Like many fans of the books, I am counting down the days until I get to see some of my favorite characters on the small screen. However, I also understand that the intricacies of the fantasy genre can be intimidating for many first-time viewers. As such, let’s break down what you can expect from “Shadow and Bone’s” adaptation and demystify Bardugo’s complex magical world.

As shown in the show’s official trailer, audiences can catch a glimpse of “Shadow and Bone’s” central characters, sweeping locations, and impressive visual effects to translate the book’s magic to screen. The show is adapted from Bardugo’s debut novel, “Shadow and Bone,” which follows unassuming mapmaker Alina Starkov. When a life threatening excursion brings Alina’s immense magical ability out of dormancy, she is taken to train among the magical elite: the Grisha. While honing her abilities among the Grisha, Alina becomes acquainted with their enigmatic leader, the Darkling. Incredibly persuasive and charming, the Darkling prompts Alina to question if his mission to vanquish darkness from Ravka is truly genuine.

Although the adaptation bears the title of the series’ first novel, the Netflix adaptation also incorporates characters and elements from its companion series, “Six of Crows.” Set in the same universe as “Shadow and Bone,” “Six of Crows” follows a group of six outcasts and criminals who are tasked with an impossible heist in exchange for a sizable fortune. As the trailer indicates, it would seem that key players from “Six of Crows” like Kaz Brekker, Inej Ghafa, and Jesper Fahey will be interacting directly with characters from the “Shadow and Bone” series. The current running theory? The self-proclaimed “crows” will be tasked with infiltrating the Grisha’s residence and kidnapping Alina for an unknown sinister force.

“Shadow and Bone’s” cast is significantly compromised of newcomers and fresh faces to the television world. Leading the crowd is newcomer Jessie Mei Li as map-maker-turned-Grisha Alina Starkov. Accompanying the leading lady is Archie Renaux, who will be playing Alina’s childhood best friend, Mal Oretsev. Rounding off the “Shadow and Bone” crew is “Narnia” alum Ben Barnes, who will be playing General Kirigan (but readers may know him better as the Darkling). 

As for the “Six of Crows” gang, Freddy Carter will be playing criminal mastermind Kaz Brekker alongside Amita Suman’s knife-wielding Inej Ghafa and Kit Young’s sharpshooting Jesper Fahey. Fans can also expect an appearance by notable members of the Crows gang, like Nina Zenik and Matthias Helvar, who will be played by Danielle Galligan and Calahan Skogman. 

Although “Shadow and Bone” is pulling its story directly from Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels, it remains to be seen what creative liberties the showrunners might take to seamlessly combine both of Bardugo’s beloved series. As of right now, season one appears to primarily focus on the events of the first “Shadow and Bone” novel while also incorporating a prequel story for the “Six of Crows” characters.

Regardless of potential deviations from its source material, “Shadow and Bone” promises a fantasy spectacle that can stand on its own.

Shadow and Bone premieres on Netflix Apr. 23. Watch the trailer here.

Marissa Joyce

George Mason University '22

Marissa is currently a senior at George Mason University and serves as Senior Editor of George Mason's Her Campus chapter. At Mason, she is pursuing a double major in English and Communication. When Marissa isn't writing articles, she can be found over-caffeinated, tackling her extensive library of books, or curating her vinyl record collection.
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