Shadow and Bone

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Shadow and Bone
Shadow and Bone (2012)-Leigh Bardugo.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorLeigh Bardugo
Audio read byLauren Fortgang
Cover artistRich Deas[1]
CountryUnited States
SeriesGrisha trilogy (Book 1)
GenreFantasy, young-adult novel
PublisherMacmillan Publishers
Publication date
June 5, 2012
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
Followed bySiege and Storm 

Shadow and Bone is the first novel of the fantasy-adventure Grisha trilogy, written by American author Leigh Bardugo. Published on June 5, 2012, the novel is narrated by Alina Starkov, a teenage orphan who grows up in the Russia-inspired land of Ravka before her entire life changes after she unexpectedly harnesses a power she never knew she had in order to save her best friend.

Plot summary[edit]

Alina Starkov is a teenaged orphan, a citizen of the Kingdom of Ravka. She grew up with Malyen Oretsev at an orphanage in Keramzin, which is sponsored by a wealthy patron. As the story begins they are marching to the Unsea (also referred to as the Fold), a perpetually dark, barren, strip of land cutting most of Ravka off from the sea. Periodic expeditions are sent across to take goods to the sea and bring back imports. The crossing is dangerous because the Unsea is inhabited by monsters named volcra. Early in their crossing, the volcra attack, and, while saving Mal, Alina displays an extraordinary Grisha talent. The Grisha are people with the ability to manipulate the elements to use as weapons, e.g. to call fire, to summon wind, to stop hearts. Alina can summon light.

The leader of the Grisha, the Darkling, immediately rushes Alina to the capital of Os Alta, saying her power is unique and valuable and makes her an assassination target by enemies of Ravka. While there she meets other Grisha. She struggles to fit in and to believe in her abilities, and begins rigorous training. She feels a strong attraction to the Darkling, which he seems to reciprocate. During two encounters they kiss, and Alina is confused by her reactions to the kisses.

After demonstrating her power to the King and his court, Alina is told by her tutor Baghra that she must flee, that the Darkling is using her, that the Darkling created the Unsea, and that he intends to enslave her and use her Grisha power to conquer the world. Baghra also reveals that she is the Darkling’s mother. Two weeks into her flight, she is nearly captured, being saved by Mal. Mal has a nearly supernatural ability to track and was sent to find her, which he did. But instead of turning her in, he helps her escape.

They decide to hunt the magic stag in the far north. If Alina kills the stag and makes a necklace of his antlers, her powers will be greatly amplified. After much time and effort they find the stag, just as they realize how much they love each other. Alina refuses to kill the stag, and the stag acknowledges this. At that moment the Darkling and his minions appear. The Darkling kills the stag and places the antler necklace on Alina, making her his absolute slave, unable to disobey him in the slightest.

They quickly return south to the major crossing point of the Unsea. The Darkling forces Alina to protect the ship during the crossing. Near the other side, the Darkling extends the Unsea, causing great death and destruction. He then throws Mal off the ship, onto the Unsea, to be devoured by monsters. In desperation, Alina finally realizes that her act of mercy, sparing the stag, gives her the possibility to break free of the Darkling's enslavement. Her love of Mal grants her the strength she needs. Alina breaks free, leaps out of the ship, saves Mal, and destroys the ship.

The book ends with Mal and Alina taking passage across the True Sea, escaping from Ravka and the Darkling.


Shadow and Bone is Bardugo’s first novel. When Entertainment Weekly questioned Bardugo about her inspiration for the series, she explained, "In most fantasy, darkness is metaphorical; it’s just a way of talking about evil (darkness falls across the land, a dark age is coming, etc.). I wanted to take something figurative and make it literal. So the question became, 'What if darkness was a place?' What if the monsters lurking there were real and more horrible than anything you’d ever imagined beneath your bed or behind the closet door? What if you had to fight them on their own territory, blind and helpless in the dark? These ideas eventually became the Shadow Fold." [2]

Bardugo was inspired to model her fantasy world, Ravka, after the Russian Empire of the early 1800s. When asked why she chose such a peculiar setting, Bardugo explained, "I think there’s tremendous power in the images we associate with Russian culture and history, these extremes of beauty and brutality that lend themselves to fantasy. And honestly, as much as I love broadswords and flagons of ale—and believe me, I do—I wanted to take readers someplace a little different. Tsarist Russia gave me a different point of departure."


Bardugo progressed through the steps of querying agents to accepting representation to being offered a three-book deal in an unusually quick 37 days.[3] The Grisha series went to auction on December 1, 2010 and was sold to Henry Holt and Co./Macmillan on December 3, 2010.[3] Shadow and Bone, the first book in the trilogy, was published in June 2012.[4]

Sequels and related works[edit]

Book 2 in the trilogy, Siege and Storm, was published in June 2013.[5] The final book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was published in June 2014.[6]

The Six of Crows (2015) and Crooked Kingdom (2016) duology are set in Grishaverse, as is a standalone collection of stories, The Language of Thorns.

King of Scars, a new story set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, was published in 2019[7] and features characters from both the original trilogy and Six of Crows. According to NPR, "Specifically, it is about Nikolai Lantsov, king of Ravka, former soldier, former pirate and privateer (known occasionally as Sturmhond), former bright star of Bardugo's other books."[8]


In September 2012, Holly Bario, president of DreamWorks’ production, announced that he had picked up the movie rights to Shadow and Bone.[9] David Heyman, who produced the Harry Potter films, was announced as producer. Jeffrey Clifford, president of his Heymaker Films, would also produce the film.[10]

In January 2019, Netflix ordered an eight-episode series based on the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology with Eric Heisserer as showrunner.[11] Production began in October 2019 with Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, Ben Barnes as General Kirigan (The Darkling), Archie Renaux as Malyen Oretsev, Sujaya Dasgupta as Zoya Nazyalensky, Daisy Head as Genya Safin, and Simon Sears as Ivan.[12]


  1. ^ Cecil, Amanda (June 17, 2014). "Guest Post: Rich Deas on Designing the Grisha Trilogy Covers". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
  2. ^ Brissey, Breia (2015-01-18). "'Shadow and Bone': Author Leigh Bardugo talks her debut novel". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
  3. ^ a b McCormick, Casey (2011-01-10). "Leigh Bardugo: From Query To Book Deal in 37 Days". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  4. ^ Bardugo, Leigh (2012-06-05). Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) (9780805094596): Leigh Bardugo: Books. ISBN 978-0805094596.
  5. ^ Leigh Bardugo. "Siege and Storm | Leigh Bardugo | Macmillan". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  6. ^ Leigh Bardugo. "Ruin and Rising | Leigh Bardugo | Macmillan". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  7. ^ Bardugo, Leigh (2019-01-29). King of Scars (King of Scars Duology) (9781250231185): Leigh Bardugo: Gateway. ISBN 978-1250142283.
  8. ^ "'King Of Scars' Muses On The Monstrous". Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  9. ^ "DreamWorks' Shadow and Bone Lands Writer". The Hollywood Reporter. 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  10. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2012-09-12). "'Harry Potter' producer to make 'Shadow and Bone'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (January 10, 2019). "Netflix Orders Shadow And Bone Series Based On Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse Novels From Eric Heisserer & Shawn Levy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Harris, Latesha (2 October 2019). "TV News Roundup: Netflix Reveals Cast of New Series 'Shadow and Bone'". Variety. Retrieved 2 October 2019.