Grishaverse #1; The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1
by Leigh Bardugo
Nikki’s Rating: 9 out of 10
Summary: Caught in war with no end in sight, Alina and Mal are just trying to survive as soldiers and keep their heads down. But when they enter into the Fold, things go very wrong. Alina and Mal should be dead and yet somehow they miraculously survived. Alina’s unique hidden powers saved their lives. Now the Darkling, the ruthless leader of the Second Army, wants Alina for himself and to exploit her powers for his own means.
9 Spellbinding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone”
(May Contain Spoilers)
1. World Building
Leigh Bardugo is a phenomenal world builder! There are so many wonders of the Grishaverse, my favorite being the Grisha themselves. Masters of the small science, the Grisha are broken down into three orders and then into categories of those orders depending on their specialty. So there is the order of the living and the dead, the Corporalki, with their Heartrenders and Healers. The Etherealki or Summoners that consist of Squallers who can manipulate air, Inferni who can command fire, and Tidemakers who can control water. Then there are the Materialki, the order of Fabrikators, that include the Durasts and Alkemi.
2. Russian Influence
While Bardugo’s Grishaverse is entirely fictional, Bardugo did pull inspiration for her world from our own and the nation of Ravka is deeply influenced by Imperial Russia. And the inspiration doesn’t end at just the artitecture, Bardugo uses Russian construction of plurals, Ravka’s economy and national state are similar to that of Imperial Russia with it’s mostly conscripted army and huge inequality between classes, and then the use of “kvas” as a stand-in for strong spirits.
3. The Darkling
The Darkling is incredibly intriguing and seductive. While ruthless, power-hungry, and manipulative, he also wants to protect the Grisha and do what is best for Ravka. He believes the ends justify the means regardless of how many have to die and that is what is so tragic about the Darkling, he wants to do the right thing, but he goes about it in all the wrong ways and therefore, the bad guy.
“Shadow and Bone” is a complex book with some very dark themes and is thankfully balanced with some very well-placed humor. The banter between the characters is often hysterical and really makes them all lovable.
As mother of the Darkling, I love Baghra because she is constantly trying to save her son. As she says, “I will not let him put himself beyond redemption.” And while Baghra gave the Darkling his ambition and pride, she knows the value of life. She could have easily killed Alina to keep the Darkling from using her but instead arranges for Alina to run away.
6. The Fold
The Fold, the Unsea is terrifying and one of my favorite elements of the Darkling’s story. From his own arrogance, the Darkling created a place that his own power is useless and that is a reflection of his own dark soul.
7. Mal & Alina
I tear up every time I read Mal’s confession of love to Alina, it is so beautiful:
“‘I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me we don’t belong together’”p. 298
Bardugo is a wonderful writer with a creative and active imagination. Pacing throughout “Shadow and Bone” was done well, character development was amazing, and overall the book was very enjoyable.
Thankfully the Grishaverse continues in The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 2, “Siege and Storm.”