An engaging trilogy and introduction to the Grishaverse and the small sciences but could the TV ( I can’t believe I’m saying this) series be slightly better than the books?
A spoiler free review of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the first season of the netflix show.
Author Leigh Bardugo
Books in series
Book 1 Shadow and Bone
Book 2 : Siege and Storm
Book 3: Ruin and Rising
Alina Starkov, an orphan discovers she is a rare Grisha, a sun summoner when she saves her childhood sweetheart in the Fold a piece of land deprived of life when he is attacked by creatures called the volcra. The Darkling is the leader of the Grisha, a group of people with great power and the ability to manipulate the elements using a system called the small science and takes Alina under his wing to train her to use her powers in the hope this will destroy the fold and defeat Ravka’s enemies. Alina has to learn not only how to control her power but also how to negotiate life at court, people trying to use her power for their own purposes her own feelings towards the Darkling and Mal but also how to save Ravka.
I have to confess, I only picked up Shadow and Bone after I finished the Six and Crows and The crooked Kingdom and was hoping to fix my Grishaverse craving. Even though I had some idea about how Alina’s. Mal’s, Genya’s, Zoya’s and Sturmhond”s stories pan out, I was still surprised by some of the twists and turns in these books. These books are in the first person from Alina’s point of view and she only really comes to life in the Siege and Storm, which not surprisingly coincides with Sturmhond dramatically making an entrance. Alina isn’t your typical feisty, hardass heroine and needs a lot of rescuing but I think this makes her more relatable if a little bland. The Russian inspired Grishaverse is an intricate tapestry of world-building, vividly brought to life by Leigh Burdugo. I found myself caring about the secondary characters more than Mal and Alina and I found myself rooting for Zoya, Genya, Nicholai and was beyond pleased when their stories continued in the King of Scars trilogy. The Darkling is an intriguing villain cast who like Dracula always seems to come back no matter how many times we think he has died and Baghra has now become my all-time favourite angry, old woman.
The story really picks up pace in Siege and Storm with more political and court intrigue. I may be biased but Stormhond and Nicholai make their appearance here and bring some needed humour and swashbuckle to the story. The second book remains my favourite and you can see how Alina’s character develops into the Saint and the leader the people of Ravka would like her to be.
Alina’s takes control in book three (after a dramatic rescue) and finally fulfils her destiny and create a new Ravka but we find out more Mal’s unique role and the part he plays in saving Ravka.Click here to read more