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Shadow and Bone

Book by Leigh Bardugo

Top 3 Shadow and Bone related articles

Shadow and Bone
First edition cover
AuthorLeigh Bardugo
Audio read byLauren Fortgang
Cover artistRich Deas[1]
CountryUnited States
SeriesGrisha trilogy (Book 1)
GenreFantasy, young-adult novel
PublisherMacmillan Publishers
Publication date
June 5, 2012
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
Followed bySiege and Storm 

Shadow and Bone is a fantasy adventure and debut novel written by American author Leigh Bardugo. Published by Macmillan Publishers on June 5, 2012, the novel is narrated by Alina Starkov, a teenage orphan who grows up in the Russia-inspired land of Ravka before her entire life changes when she unexpectedly harnesses a power she never knew she had to save her best friend. It is the first book in the Grisha trilogy, followed by Siege and Storm. A TV series adaptation, Shadow and Bone, premiered on Netflix Friday, April 23, 2021.

Shadow and Bone Intro articles: 5

Plot summary

Alina Starkov is a teenage girl who grew up with Malyen Oretsev at an orphanage in Keramzin in the Kingdom of Ravka. The story begins as they march through the Unsea (also called the Fold), a perpetually dark, barren, strip of land cutting most of Ravka off from the sea. Periodic expeditions sent across the sea to transport goods and bring back imports are often plagued by monsters called volcra that inhabit the Unsea. During their crossing, the volcra attack, and, while saving Mal, Alina displays an extraordinary Grisha talent. The Grisha are people with the ability to manipulate the elements to use as weapons, e.g. to call fire, to summon wind, to stop hearts. Alina can summon light.

The leader of the Grisha, the Darkling, rushes Alina to the capital Os Alta, saying her power is unique and valuable which makes her an assassination target by enemies of Ravka. She struggles to fit in with other Grisha and to have confidence in her own abilities as she begins rigorous training. She feels a strong attraction to the Darkling, which he seems to reciprocate. During two encounters they kiss, and Alina is confused by her reactions to the kisses.

After demonstrating her power to the King and his court, Alina is told by her tutor Baghra that she must flee, that the Darkling is using her, that the Darkling created the Unsea, and that he intends to enslave her and use her Grisha power to conquer the world. Baghra also reveals that she is the Darkling’s mother. Two weeks into her flight, she is nearly captured, but is saved by Mal who has a nearly supernatural ability to track and was sent to find her. Instead of turning her in, he helps her escape.

They decide to hunt a magic stag in the far north. If Alina kills the stag and makes a necklace of its antlers, her powers will be greatly amplified. After much time and effort they find the stag, just as they realize how much Alina and Mal love each other. She refuses to kill the stag, and the stag acknowledges this. At that moment the Darkling and his minions appear. The Darkling kills the stag and forces the antler necklace on Alina, making her his absolute slave, unable to disobey him in the slightest.

They quickly return south to the major crossing point of the Unsea. The Darkling forces Alina to protect the ship during the crossing. Near the other side, the Darkling extends the Unsea, causing great death and destruction. He then throws Mal off the ship, onto the Unsea, to be devoured by monsters. In desperation, Alina finally realizes that her act of mercy, sparing the stag, gives her the possibility to break free of the Darkling's enslavement. Her love of Mal grants her the strength she needs. Alina breaks free, leaps out of the ship, saves Mal, and destroys the ship.

The book ends with Mal and Alina taking passage across the True Sea, escaping from Ravka and the Darkling.


Shadow and Bone is Bardugo’s first novel. When Entertainment Weekly questioned Bardugo about her inspiration for the series, she explained, "In most fantasy, darkness is metaphorical; it’s just a way of talking about evil (darkness falls across the land, a dark age is coming, etc.). I wanted to take something figurative and make it literal. So the question became, 'What if darkness was a place?' What if the monsters lurking there were real and more horrible than anything you’d ever imagined beneath your bed or behind the closet door? What if you had to fight them on their own territory, blind and helpless in the dark? These ideas eventually became the Shadow Fold." [2]

Bardugo was inspired to model her fantasy world, Ravka, after the Russian Empire of the early 1800s. When asked why she chose this particular setting, Bardugo explained, "I think there’s tremendous power in the images we associate with Russian culture and history, these extremes of beauty and brutality that lend themselves to fantasy. And honestly, as much as I love broadswords and flagons of ale—and believe me, I do—I wanted to take readers someplace a little different. Tsarist Russia gave me a different point of departure."

Bardugo progressed through the steps of querying agents to accepting representation to being offered a three-book deal in 37 days.[3] The Grisha series went to auction on December 1, 2010 and was sold to Henry Holt and Co./Macmillan on December 3, 2010.[3] Shadow and Bone, the first book in the trilogy, was published in June 2012.[4]

Shadow and Bone Plot summary articles: 2


Publishers Weekly commented that "Alina’s angst and passivity are a bit of a letdown, but Bardugo’s storytelling and world-building more than compensate."[5] Kirkus Reviews noted "The plotting is powerful enough to carry most readers past flaws and into the next book in the series."[6]

Shadow and Bone Reception articles: 2

Sequels and related works

Its sequel and second book in the trilogy, Siege and Storm, was published in June 2013.[7] The final book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was published in June 2014.[8]

Also set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy[9] are the Six of Crows (2015) and Crooked Kingdom (2016) duology; the standalone short story collection The Language of Thorns; and the King of Scars (2019) and Rule of Wolves (2021) duology, which features characters from both the original trilogy and Six of Crows.[10]

Shadow and Bone Sequels and related works articles: 3


In September 2012, Holly Bario, president of DreamWorks’ production, announced that she had picked up the movie rights to Shadow and Bone.[11] David Heyman, who produced the Harry Potter films, was announced as producer. Jeffrey Clifford, president of Heyday Films, would also produce the film.[12]

In January 2019, Netflix ordered an eight-episode series based on the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology with Eric Heisserer as showrunner.[13] Production began in October 2019 with Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, Ben Barnes as General Kirigan (The Darkling), Archie Renaux as Malyen Oretsev, Sujaya Dasgupta as Zoya Nazyalensky, Daisy Head as Genya Safin, and Simon Sears as Ivan.[14]

All eight episodes of the series were released on April 23, 2021.[15]

Shadow and Bone Adaptations articles: 10


  1. ^ Cecil, Amanda (June 17, 2014). "Guest Post: Rich Deas on Designing the Grisha Trilogy Covers". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved October 27, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Brissey, Breia (2015-01-18). "'Shadow and Bone': Author Leigh Bardugo talks her debut novel". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2019-10-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b McCormick, Casey (2011-01-10). "Leigh Bardugo: From Query To Book Deal in 37 Days". Literaryrambles.com. Retrieved 2015-04-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Bardugo, Leigh (2012-06-05). Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) (9780805094596): Leigh Bardugo: Books. ISBN 978-0805094596.
  5. ^ "Shadow and Bone". Publishers Weekly. June 5, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  6. ^ "SHADOW AND BONE". Kirkus Reviews. June 5, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  7. ^ Leigh Bardugo. "Siege and Storm | Leigh Bardugo | Macmillan". Us.macmillan.com. Retrieved 2015-04-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Leigh Bardugo. "Ruin and Rising | Leigh Bardugo | Macmillan". Us.macmillan.com. Retrieved 2015-04-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "'King Of Scars' Muses On The Monstrous". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  10. ^ Bardugo, Leigh (2019-01-29). Amazon.com: King of Scars (King of Scars Duology) (9781250231185): Leigh Bardugo: Gateway. ISBN 978-1250142283.
  11. ^ "DreamWorks' Shadow and Bone Lands Writer". The Hollywood Reporter. 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2015-04-01. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2012-09-12). "'Harry Potter' producer to make 'Shadow and Bone'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2019-10-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (January 10, 2019). "Netflix Orders Shadow And Bone Series Based On Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse Novels From Eric Heisserer & Shawn Levy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 15, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Harris, Latesha (2 October 2019). "TV News Roundup: Netflix Reveals Cast of New Series 'Shadow and Bone'". Variety. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Netflix's Shadow and Bone is a muddled, joyless checklist of fantasy tropes". Retrieved 2021-04-23.