Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha, #1
Release Date: June 6th 2013
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Laini Taylor.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
As an orphan Alina only had one person growing up, her best friend Mal. Alina has harboured feelings for him for a long time now but she is content to fade into the background, as long as she has Mal in her life she is happy to live in his shadow. Growing up she was told she was unremarkable, nothing special and certainly not pretty. However when her regiment, where she serves in the First Army as a mapmaker, is attacked and Mal is injured Alina discovers she is the least unremarkable person there is.
Alina’s ability to summon sunlight makes her the most powerful and rare of the Grisha. After her power is revealed Alina is whisked away from the front line by the Darkling and taken to the Little Palace, a very different world from the one she grew up in. However she soon realises that just because the royal court is far away from the front lines of the war, it doesn’t mean it is any safer for her. As a Sun Summoner Alina is the only person who can open a path through the Fold, destroying it once and for all and bringing peace to the kingdom of Rakva, which makes her a tempting target for enemies.
The more time Alina spends developing her powers and learning from the Darkling, the more confidence she starts to show; not only in her powers but in herself as a person. However in order to make her powerful enough to face the Fold the Darkling plans to track down a stag from Morozova’s Herd, a myth to some people, and use the beasts antlers to make a powerful amplifier for her.
Alina soon realises there is a dark side to the Darkling and that he has plans for her powers that she has not anticipated. Instead of a powerful amplifier for her Alina realises the stag will become a collar around her neck, enabling the Darkling to control her powers himself, making her his prisoner and using her to weaponize the Fold.
Alina starts off as a very naive character. She is content with her life in the army even though she doesn’t feel like she belongs there, not even with Mal. Once accepting her normal life is over and that she is a Grisha and the Sun Summoner she starts to grow as a character, becoming stronger and more powerful, confident in her abilities. She makes mistakes, trusts the wrong people, but she accepts her failings for what they are and remembers the lessons they teach her so next time she can do better.
The Darkling is an interesting character. He has lived for a long time and he is infinitely powerful. He is used to having a strong influence over the other Grisha and moves them around like pawns on a chessboard, he honestly doesn’t expect Alina to move against him. I don’t think he can truly be called evil, he believes in what he is doing and he does care for Alina in his own way. He would have made her his queen but she forced his hand with her actions and, in his mind, he has no other choice but to keep her his prisoner.
Growing up together in an orphanage all Mal and Alina had were each other, but since joining the First Army Mal blossomed and Alina didn’t. Mal is unaware of Alina’s true feelings for him and he doesn’t acknowledge any feelings for her, other than friendship, until she leaves him and the First Army and is whisked away to a better life with the Grisha. When the two come face to face again there is a massive chasm between them. Her time in the royal court, learning from the Darkling and the other Grisha, has turned Alina into someone Mal doesn’t recognize. He believes she abandoned him and no longer needs him or his friendship, but when she needs his help he leaves behind everything he knows and risks his life to help her.
Both Alina and the Darkling are very rare and powerful Grisha. They understand one another in a way other Grisha, and normal humans like Mal, cannot. Whereas Mal will always be wary and fearful of the Grisha side of Alina the Darkling encouraged it and helped her grow and develop her powers.
The world-building in Shadow and Bone was written with so much detail; everything from Alina’s and Mal’s lives on the front line, the horror of the Fold, and the luxury of the Royal Court and the Little Palace. Seeing everything through Alina’s eyes made it seem all the more real; experiencing it with her as she entered the Fold for the first time and first laid eyes on the extravagance of Little Palace. The history of the country of Ravka, their religions and saints, and the Grisha themselves is all incredibly detailed and well thought out. Leigh Bardugo has a writing and world-building style that reminds me of the Grimm Brother’s fairytales; dark and sinister, but enchanting all the same.
Shadow and Bone starts off slow. We travel with Alina as she learns to access and develop her powers, and the actual plot doesn’t seem to kick in until about two thirds of the way through. However I would still highly recommend this book. Once you pass Alina’s transformation from cartographer to Grisha this book becomes un-put-down-able.
What did you think of Shadow and Bone? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.