The world was taken by storm by the new, up and coming Netflix show, ‘Shadow and Bone’. The show is based off of Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy ‘Shadow and Bone’ and ‘Six of Crows’, the Grishaverse duology which takes place a few years after the former. The plot follows Alina Starkov as she discovers her Grisha powers and finds herself the object of an ancient prophecy, subsequently leaving behind her old life and becoming the most highly regarded person in the kingdom of Ravka.
‘Shadow and Bone’ Plot Summary
The series jumps between three different storylines, which end up interweaving. The action takes place in a fictional, Middle-Earth like universe called the Grishaverse. In this universe, the Grisha are the most powerful beings, masters of the small sciences who can manipulate reality.
Our protagonist, Alina, lives in Ravka, once a powerful kingdom, now a country split in half by a shroud of darkness called the Fold, inside which gruesome creatures lurk about. The Fold is not easily traversed and causes a rift between East Ravka and West Ravka, which eventually leads to fights for devolution and civil war.
The Fold can’t be destroyed unless a sun summoner, a mythical Grisha possessing great powers, breaks it apart from within. Problem is, sun summoners are unheard of outside of old folk tales and church teachings. The central plot oversees Alina Starkov’s journey from a homely cartographer serving in the army to the most powerful Grisha, the first sun summoner.
The first subplot centers around Kaz Brekker, a well-known street thug climbing ranks in the Ketterdam underworld, and his crew, stealthy Inej and quirky Jesper, as they try to kidnap Alina at the request of a wealthy businessman. And lastly, the third subplot builds around the love story between a Grisha hunter, a druskelle by the name of Matthias Helvar, and a Grisha named Nina Zenik.
I have read both the ‘Shadow and Bone’ trilogy and the ‘Six of Crows’ duology and I have to admit, the latter is a mind-blowing, innovative masterpiece which changed the rules of the genre it was born into. The former, on the other hand, falls back a long way from its successor. Choosing to turn the main characters of ‘Six of Crows’ into secondary characters was not the best choice. It takes a lot away from their personalities and flattens them out.
I could see that they really put an emphasis on casting. The actors’ interpretations were phenomenal and they really understood what their characters were about. Freddy Carter, Jessie Mei Lin and Kit Young put up flawless performances and surprised viewers with their out of this world acting skills. Unfortunately, the script did not do them justice and reduced their performance to the same, old, cheesy lines straight out of the YA playbook.
On the other hand, I couldn’t help but notice the fictional languages and the work that was put into devising them. It’s tiny details like these which bring a fantastic universes to life and ensure authenticity. I really appreciate the effort that was put into developing them and making them sound as natural as possible. This, I think, was a seemingly insignificant touch that really appealed to my nerdy side. This stuff really matter when building a whole new world from scratch.
So should you watch it?
Well, I would say yes, but don’t set the bar too high. This show is not the next ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’. If you want a light teenage fantasy, this is your go to show. However, if you expect a neat high fantasy to keep you on your toes, don’t hold your breath, this might not be the one for you.
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