Netflix’s new series, Shadow and Bone, is gracing our screens this week. The show is based on a series of young adult fantasy books which brings with it a set of pre-existing fan expectations.
So for those of us who are uninitiated, what do you need to know about Shadow and Bone before watching?
Which books will it draw from?
Shadow and Bone is an adaptation of a series of books written by Leigh Bardugo.
The books are all based in a universe known as the “Grishaverse”. The first novel was released in 2012 titled Shadow and Bone. This was made into a trilogy with Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, which was followed by a duology – Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.
The first season of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone will span eight episodes, so it’s unclear how far into the series of books the show will get. So far it appears the events of both Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows will be combined in the show, so if you’re looking at which books to read you might need to cover all five mentioned above.
What is Shadow and Bone about?
Shadow and Bone follows Alina Starkov, who has her “yer a wizard, Harry” moment when she learns she is a Grisha. As a Summoner Grisha she has the ability to control the natural elements but, more importantly, she has the very rare power to summon light which might be the key to saving everyone.
You see Alina’s country, Ravka, is divided by an impenetrable darkness known as the Shadow Fold.
No fantasy series is complete without a sprawling land to discover and Ravka is no different. Most of the story in the Shadow and Bones book takes place in Ravka, which includes the Shadow Fold. Surrounding Ravka’s borders are two neighbouring nations, Fjerda and Shu Han.
The capital of Ravka is Os Alta but to get there from the east you need to cross the Shadow Fold, which is quite treacherous on account of the monsters and darkness, obviously.
Alina’s main quest involves travelling to Os Alta to begin her training as a Grisha, which will hopefully help her to vanquish the shadow fold for good.
But we’ll also see a few Six of Crows storylines going on, including the introduction of Inej, Kaz, Jesper, Nina and Matthias, who are a part of a ragtag group of thieves. They take part in a heist in the books but this show will follow the two years before that takes place.
Some people are tipping this as the next The Witcher or Game of Thrones but check out the trailer and see for yourself.
Netflix’s Shadow and Bone cast
So who’s who in Shadow and Bone?
Characters in the show might look a little different to how they were described in the books. Author Leigh Bardugo told Entertainment Weekly that she wrote the books to echo what she grew up reading, but that they didn’t reflect the world that we live in now.
Therefore they consciously changed elements of the show to make it more diverse, with Bardugo’s blessing.
Alina Starkov is played by Jessie Mei Li. She’s an army cartographer and an orphan who discovers her powers far later than the typical Grisha.
Then there’s Mal (Archie Renaux), Alina’s fellow orphan, gifted tracker and best friend – maybe love interest? Rounding out the love interests is Ben Barnes’ General Kirigan, who was known in the books as The Darkling. He’s a fellow Grisha with the power to control darkness.
As for the gang of Six of Crows characters, there’s Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan) and Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman).
When will it be on Netflix?
If you’re looking for other things to stream this month check out our full list.