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 unexpectedly harnessing a power she never knew she had to save her best friend.

Plot summary[edit]

Alina Starkov is a teenaged orphan, a citizen of Kingdom of Ravka. She grew up with Malyen Oretsev at a 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 who can manipulate particles 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, valuable, and makes her an assassination target by enemies of Ravka. While there she meets other Grisha, 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. Alina in desperation finally realizes that her act of mercy, in 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.[citation needed] 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]


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

Six of Crows, a new story set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, was released in 2015. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The project, described as a blend of Ocean’s 11 and Game of Thrones, is set in Kerch, a small island nation in the "Grishaverse" (meaning the same universe as her Shadow and Bone books) with tremendous economic power, the hub of all international trade and a country rich in art and culture, but also home to a teeming criminal underworld. A crew of dangerous misfits face impossible odds when they are pulled together to break into one of the most guarded places in the world."[7]

King of Scars, a new story set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, was released in 2019[8] 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."[9]


In September 2012, Holly Bario, president of DreamWorks’ production, announced that he had picked up the movie rights to Shadow and Bone.[10] David Heyman, who in the late 1990s had secured the film rights to J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter, will produce Shadow and Bone. Jeffrey Clifford, president of his Heymaker Films, will also produce the film.[11]

In January 2019, Netflix ordered an eight-episode series based on the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology.[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". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  3. ^ McCormick, Casey (2011-01-10). "Leigh Bardugo: From Query To Book Deal in 37 Days". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  4. ^ "Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) (9780805094596): Leigh Bardugo: Books". Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  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. ^ "Shadow and Bone Author Gets Two-Book Deal With Henry Holt & Co". The Hollywood Reporter. 2014-05-22. Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  8. ^ " King of Scars (King of Scars Duology) (9781250231185): Leigh Bardugo: Gateway". Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  9. ^ "'King Of Scars' Muses On The Monstrous". Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  10. ^ "DreamWorks' Shadow and Bone Lands Writer". The Hollywood Reporter. 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2015-04-01.
  11. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2012-09-12). "fantasy for DreamWorks". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  12. ^ 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.