In Shadow and Bone we meet Alina Starkov, a mapmaker apprentice in Ravka, who is about to cross the Unsea, a giant stretch of darkness that divides her country into two, for the first time. During her crossing it turns out that she’s a Grisha, part of Ravka’s magical elite. Her ability to control light could be the way to save Ravka and defeat the darkness of the Shadow Fold, but as the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha, takes her to Ravka’s capital to be trained, she starts to realise that maybe not everything is as clear as she thinks it is.
I decided to read this trilogy because I really loved the Six of Crows duology and I was eager to read more about the world it is set in. Plotwise and even characterwise it doesn’t hold up against Six of Crows so far. It’s not bad, but it lacks the complexness that I loved about Six of Crows.
The plot is a fairly straightforward saviour narrative, that much was obvious from the blurb, and it really doesn’t present any surprises so far. To be clear, I’m not holding that against it at all, since the book doesn’t even try to appear like something it isn’t.
Shadow and Bone lays the groundwork for the expanded world of Six of Crows, but it is a lot more limited in its worldbuilding since it only focusses on Ravka and there are no non-Ravkan characters to speak of. Once again this is not a bad thing, Ravka is interesting in its own right and it’s only the first book in the series so I’m holding out hope for the rest of it.
The characters are well written, and while there’s not as much diversity as there was in Six of Crows, they’re intriguing me, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about them. The only thing that really weirded me out was the out of nowhere “romance” that was just suddenly there about half way through the novel, and even that did mostly make sense by the end of it.
Overall I think it was probably a mistake to read Six of Crows before the Grisha trilogy, considering how much I love the duology. It’s a tough story to have to live up to. I’m aware that my review doesn’t sound all that thrilled, but the truth is I genuinely like Shadow and Bone and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 Stars)
Publication Date: 7 May 2013
Publisher: Square Fish
Page Count: 406
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two.