Everything You Need to Know About Netflix's "Shadow and Bone"

The YA-book-adaptation movie genre was red-hot in the early 2010s, with movies like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner garnering huge fan bases. Since then, we’ve seen the shift to streaming services and television shows- books like Game of Thrones and A Series of Unfortunate Events have received the TV adaptation treatment. The latest to join them is Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy book Shadow and Bone (weaved together with her Six of Crows series). Here’s everything you need to know about the show, which is already Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 92% Fresh score. 

What is it about?

Shadow and Bone follows mapmaker Alina Starkov who, when traveling across the dangerous darkness where monsters lurk known as the Shadow Fold, discovers a magic she didn’t know she had. Alina is thrust into training with the Grisha led by the Darkling, who believes that she can destroy the Shadow Fold and mend Ravka, their war-torn country. However, nothing is as it seems, and dark forces conspire against Alina at every turn. 

Where does it take place? 

The Shadow and Bone show combines the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology, taking place in Ravka (inspired by Tsarist Russia), Ketterdam (inspired by Amsterdam), Shu Han (inspired by Mongolia and China), and Fjerda (inspired by Scandanavian culture). 

Who are the Grisha?

As the official Grishaverse (the name for the world of Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows) website says, the Grisha are the magical military elite of Ravka, also known as the Soldiers of the Second Army. The Grisha are humans who practice Small Science- also known as the art of manipulating matter (or, as the website likes to call it, “a magical version of molecular chemistry”). They are classified into three categories; Corporalki (The Order of the Living and the Dead), Etherealki (The Order of Summoners), and Materialki (The Order of Fabrikators). 

Who are the main characters?*

Alina Starkov: an orphaned mapmaker who reveals a dormant power that could be the key to freeing her country. 

Malyen “Mal” Oretsev: A gifted tracker, soldier in the First Army, and Alina’s childhood best friend. 

The Darkling/General Kirigan: The charismatic leader of the Second Army who has searched for most of his life for a way to get rid of the Shadow Fold, which was brought into being by one of his ancestors. 

Kaz “Dirtyhands” Brekker: The cunning criminal prodigy leader of The Dregs, a gang in Ketterdam. Willing to do any task, no matter the danger or violence, thus his alias was born. 

Inej “The Wraith” Ghafa: A spy with the ability to indiscreetly slip in and out of anywhere, using her Suli background and acrobatic skills with grace. She’s a member of The Dregs who gathers secrets and blackmail material. 

Jesper Fahey: An impulsive, witty sharpshooter and member of The Dregs with a gambling problem. He’s also a Durast (Grisha of the Materialki order), but won’t use his power due to past trauma, causing him to become reckless from the built up energy.

Nina Zenik: A Heartrender (Grisha of the Corporalki order who can damage a person’s internal organs), member of The Dregs, and soldier of the Second Army with a big personality who is naturally gifted at acting and languages.

Matthias Helvar: A former Fjerdan soldier trained to capture and kill Grisha as a holy mandate. Cold and uptight. 

*A major difference between the books and the show is the exclusion of The Dregs member Wylan Van Eck and fan-favorite Nikolai Lantsov (hopefully both of whom will be included if the show is given a second season). 

Make sure to catch Shadow and Bone when it drops on Netflix on April 23, 2021- I know I’ll have to stop myself from binging it all in one day.