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“Shadow and Bone:” the TV Show Versus the Book

**Spoiler alert!**

Netflix is no stranger to book adaptations. They took “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “All the Bright Places” and brought them to life. Their most recent adaptation is set in a fantasy world filled with magic and warring nations. “Shadow and Bone” follows Alina Starkov’s journey after discovering she is the sun summoner and Ravka’s supposed savior. Although the TV show is based on the books from the Grishaverse, Netflix took some artistic liberties with the rewrites.

Mal’s Entire Character

As someone who was not a fan of Mal from the books, I appreciated this major change. The writers took Mal and did a complete character rewrite. In the books, he was annoying on his best days and seemed to only care for Alina after she was happy somewhere else.

He loved that Alina’s life revolved around him since childhood, but once her life started to eclipse his, he threw a fit any chance he got. The TV show did a really good job of making Mal’s character likable and showing he does care for Alina outside of the selfish desire book Mal showed all too often.  

The Darkling’s Name

In the books, we did not know the Darkling’s true name until the third book, “Ruin and Rising.” It was always a secret to hide his true identity. He had no name except for the Darkling. When I sat down to watch the show, it was a surprise to hear him being referred to as General Kirrigan (and then later saying his full name in only the fourth episode). The TV show took the name Darkling and turned it into a slur that his enemies use.  

The “Six of Crows” Storyline

The “Six of Crows” is a duology set a year or so after the events that happened in the “Shadow and Bone” Trilogy. The TV show rewrote some of the characters’ backstories (mainly Nina’s) to have events coincide with one another. I was not exactly thrilled with Nina’s rewrite at first, but I did like seeing these characters meet and have interactions.  

Alina and Her Friendships

The TV show depicts Alina’s friendship with Marie and Nadia as friendly and comforting. Alina is shown trusting them and willingly spending time with them. In the books, Alina’s only friend at the little palace was Genya. Alina had the majority of her meals with Marie and Nadia, but mainly for show and because she didn’t want to be alone. Most of the time, she is annoyed with them more than anything.

I appreciate the TV show not alienating Alina as much as was done in the books, but then they shouldn’t have killed Marie so early (even in the books, she dies in the later books and has an impact on Alina). I felt Marie’s character was important for later plot, especially her relationship with Sergei, but I guess the writers felt those characters and their relationships were not necessary. 

The TV show did a great job with these rewrites and reimagined something that so many people already loved. I didn’t personally love every single choice the writers made, but that is because I read the books and have a problem with change. It is definitely one of my favorites, though. Go stream “Shadow and Bone” on Netflix (it’s so worth it).  

Jaimison James is a writer for HerCampus at VCU. She is a current Junior majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Life Sciences and a minor in Biology.
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