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Shadow and Bone

A two-part review of the new series from Netflix
Shadow+and+Bone

PART ONE: SPOILER-FREE REVIEW 

Shadow and Bone is a new Netflix adaptation based on the Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo. The story follows a young soldier named Alina Starkov, played by Jessie Mei Li, who discovers she has the power to summon light.

In a world full of people who practice “Small Science,” or the Grisha, and those without these powers both look to Alina to save them from the Shadow Fold, a void of darkness that prevents Ravkans from gathering resources from the coast. General Kirigan, played by Ben Barnes, is the descendent of the creator of the Fold and looks to Alina to right the wrongs of the past. 

Whether you are a fan of the books, or just looking for a new show, Shadow and Bone will exceed all of your expectations. Book lovers will see a new twist to the story, combining the story of the first novel in the series, and the characters from Six of Crows, bringing us a story we know and love, with twists and turns we would never expect. And they added many little easter eggs and hints that only the book-crazy fans will catch.

And for those who are unfamiliar with the world of Grisha, it’s no worry. The show does an amazing job of establishing the different types of Grisha as well as their conflict with the neighboring countries of Shu Han and Fjerda. While your admiration for the characters will not be as strong as those who have read the novels, it’s easy to fall in love with them and the actors who play them! 

The actors in this series take their characters to new heights. Not only was the acting phenomenal, but the chemistry between them showed the undescribed tensions and relationships between many of the characters. The combination of the Crows and the Shadow and Bone characters was originally a worry for me, but the execution brought a new layer of background to the Crows that we would not have seen before. 

With all fantasy books, it’s hard to execute what readers have visualized in their heads into reality. But the makers of the series did all of this and more, creating a Fold that is scarier beyond description but also bringing us into a setting that completely immerses the audience into the worlds of Ravka and Ketterdam. The costume design is also very unique, with the beautiful keftas that the Grisha wear. 

Shadow and Bone is a prime example of how show makers can create live-action adaptations that do not follow the books page-for-page but are still fan favorites. Make sure to watch Shadow and Bone on Netflix, and read the books from the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo! 

PART TWO: SPOILERS 

The rest of this article contains spoilers for the Grisha Trilogy, Six of Crows, and the series.

Now to get into specifics. 

I loved almost everything in this series, so I will not go into too much detail. The aspects that really brought it home for me would be the flashbacks to the orphanage, the addition of Mal’s perspective, the consensual relationship between Alina and The Darkling, David and Genya, Milo the Goat, Inej obsessing over her Saints, and the Stag! 

And while I loved every aspect of everything, it was the scenes of Nina and Matthias that stood out to me the most. The character dynamic of Danielle Galligan and Callahan Skogman was incomparable to anything else, and they embodied their characters to perfection, along with Kit Young as Jesper who continued to steal the show. Their portrayals make me beyond excited for upcoming seasons, and the possibility of the Ice Court Heist. 

While the show did exceed all my expectations, it must be said that there were some issues that had me questioning the (hopefully) future seasons. I had my initial worries for intertwining the stories of Six of Crows along with Shadow and Bone, but this season showed me that I had nothing to worry about. I believe that the show is in really good hands, but I still wonder if the story of Six of Crows will be pushed aside to really showcase Siege and Storm

Where my frustration came into play, along with that of many fans, was the name drop of Aleksander and the knowledge of Morozova’s connection to Baghra and the Darkling. His name is only shared with Alina in Ruin and Rising, giving the readers a hint that he might have some human inside him besides being an absolutely horrible person. That vulnerability is lost when his name is not hidden whatsoever and brought up so nonchalantly. 

Another aspect of the show that could have been handled better are the racial issues presented. One positive change from the books to the movies is that Alina is half Shu, which makes sense as to why she feels very disconnected and wishes to be like everyone else. With that being said, non-book readers will have no idea why the Shu face so much discrimination. We see anti-Shu propaganda, racist remarks against Alina and Mal, and are told the Shu are the enemy, but why?

Alina learns at the orphanage that the Fjerdians want the Grisha killed and the Shu guard their borders, but there is no mention of a war or conflict that would bring up these actions. I think making Alina half-Shu makes more sense than anything else, but there should have been just a little more explanation. 

And as much as I loved all the characters, the one character that I feel was underwritten was Kaz Brekker. The cleverest, greediest, and most ruthless character in all of the Grishaverse has been watered down to the vulnerability that we only see in his mind.

It’s understandable that the writers wanted to show Kaz’s weaknesses, but the issue is that Kaz does not appear vulnerable in the eyes of others. He is loved by fans for his wit and ability to always win, which hurts the most when he essentially loses in the end. I would not be as disappointed by this if we were to actually see Kaz steal the jewels off of Alina rather than have them being handed to him. Regardless, I loved Freddy Carter’s portrayal and hope he’s written to be more ruthless next season. 

Truthfully, many of these things that disappointed me were very small. The show is beyond amazing, and it felt surreal to hear iconic quotes like “no mourners, no funerals” and “fine, make me your villain.” I am excited to see what is to come, and until then I will be re-watching these eight episodes again! 

About the Contributor
Arline Daniali
Arline Daniali, Staff Writer
Arline is a senior at Glendale High School. She is the Senior Class President, the Make-a-Wish president, and a member of ASB. In her free time, Arline likes to watch movies, bake, read, and crochet!
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