Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.
About the Author
Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She is fond of glamour, ghouls, and costuming, and gets to indulge all of these fancies in her other life as a makeup artist. She can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.
Read an Excerpt
Shadow and Bone
STANDING ON THE EDGE of a crowded road, I looked down onto the rolling fields and abandoned of farms of the Tula Valley and got my first glimpse of the Shadow Fold. My regiment was two weeks' march from the military encampment at Poliznaya and the autumn sun was warm overhead, but I shivered in my coat as I eyed the haze that lay like a dirty smudge on the horizon.
A heavy shoulder slammed into me from behind. I stumbled and nearly pitched face-first into the muddy road.
"Hey!" shouted the soldier. "Watch yourself !"
"Why don't you watch your fat feet?" I snapped, and took some satisfaction from the surprise that came over his broad face. People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don't expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it.
The soldier got over the novelty quickly and gave me a dirty look as he adjusted the pack on his back, then disappeared into the caravan of horses, men, carts, and wagons streaming over the crest of the hill and into the valley below.
I quickened my steps, trying to peer over the crowd. I'd lost sight of the yellow flag of the surveyors' cart hours ago, and I knew I was far behind.
As I walked, I took in the green and gold smells of the autumn wood, the soft breeze at my back. We were on the Vy, the wide road that had once led all the way from Os Alta to the wealthy port cities on Ravka's western coast. But that was before the Shadow Fold.
Somewhere in the crowd, someone was singing. Singing? What idiot is singing on his way into the Fold? I glanced again at that smudge on the horizon and had to suppress a shudder. I'd seen the Shadow Fold on many maps, a black slash that had severed Ravka from its only coastline and left it landlocked. Sometimes it was shown as a stain, sometimes as a bleak and shapeless cloud. And then there were the maps that just showed the Shadow Fold as a long, narrow lake and labeled it by its other name, "the Unsea," a name intended to put soldiers and merchants at their ease and encourage crossings.
I snorted. That might fool some fat merchant, but it was little comfort to me.
I tore my attention from the sinister haze hovering in the distance and looked down onto the ruined farms of the Tula. The valley had once been home to some of Ravka's richest estates. One day it was a place where farmers tended crops and sheep grazed in green fields. The next, a dark slash had appeared on the landscape, a swath of nearly impenetrable darkness that grew with every passing year and crawled with horrors. Where the farmers had gone, their herds, their crops, their homes and families, no one knew.
Stop it, I told myself firmly. You're only making things worse. People have been crossing the Fold for years ... usually with massive casualties, but all the same. I took a deep breath to steady myself.
"No fainting in the middle of the road," said a voice close to my ear as a heavy arm landed across my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. I looked up to see Mal's familiar face, a smile in his bright blue eyes as he fell into step beside me. "C'mon," he said. "One foot in front of the other. You know how it's done."
"You're interfering with my plan."
"Yes. Faint, get trampled, grievous injuries all around."
"That sounds like a brilliant plan."
"Ah, but if I'm horribly maimed, I won't be able to cross the Fold."
Mal nodded slowly. "I see. I can shove you under a cart if that would help."
"I'll think about it," I grumbled, but I felt my mood lifting all the same. Despite my best efforts, Mal still had that effect on me. And I wasn't the only one. A pretty blond girl strolled by and waved, throwing Mal a flirtatious glance over her shoulder.
"Hey, Ruby," he called. "See you later?"
Ruby giggled and scampered off into the crowd. Mal grinned broadly until he caught my eye roll.
"What? I thought you liked Ruby."
"As it happens, we don't have much to talk about," I said drily. I actually had liked Rubyat first. When Mal and I left the orphanage at Keramzin to train for our military service in Poliznaya, I'd been nervous about meeting new people. But lots of girls had been excited to befriend me, and Ruby had been among the most eager. Those friendships lasted as long as it took me to figure out that their only interest in me lay in my proximity to Mal.
Now I watched him stretch his arms expansively and turn his face up to the autumn sky, looking perfectly content. There was even, I noted with some disgust, a little bounce in his step.
"What is wrong with you?" I whispered furiously.
"Nothing," he said, surprised. "I feel great."
"But how can you be so ... so jaunty?"
"Jaunty? I've never been jaunty. I hope never to be jaunty."
"Well, then what's all this?" I asked, waving a hand at him. "You look like you're on your way to a really good dinner instead of possible death and dismemberment."
Mal laughed. "You worry too much. The King's sent a whole group of Grisha pyros to cover the skiffs, and even a few of those creepy Heartrenders. We have our rifles," he said, patting the one on his back. "We'll be fine."
"A rifle won't make much difference if there's a bad attack."
Mal gave me a bemused glance. "What's with you lately? You're even grumpier than usual. And you look terrible."
"Thanks," I groused. "I haven't been sleeping well."
"What else is new?"
He was right, of course. I'd never slept well. But it had been even worse over the last few days. Saints knew I had plenty of good reasons to dread going into the Fold, reasons shared by every member of our regiment who had been unlucky enough to be chosen for the crossing. But there was something else, a deeper feeling of unease that I couldn't quite name.
I glanced at Mal. There had been a time when I could have told him anything. "I just ... have this feeling."
"Stop worrying so much. Maybe they'll put Mikhael on the skiff. The volcra will take one look at that big juicy belly of his and leave us alone."
Unbidden, a memory came to me: Mal and I, sitting side by side in a chair in the Duke's library, flipping through the pages of a large leather-bound book. We'd happened on an illustration of a volcra: long, filthy claws; leathery wings; and rows of razor-sharp teeth for feasting on human flesh. They were blind from generations spent living and hunting in the Fold, but legend had it they could smell human blood from miles away. I'd pointed to the page and asked, "What is it holding?"
I could still hear Mal's whisper in my ear. "I thinkI think it's a foot." We'd slammed the book shut and run squealing out into the safety of the sunlight ... .
Without realizing it, I'd stopped walking, frozen in place, unable to shake the memory from my mind. When Mal realized I wasn't with him, he gave a great beleaguered sigh and marched back to me. He rested his hands on my shoulders and gave me a little shake.
"I was kidding. No one's going to eat Mikhael."
"I know," I said, staring down at my boots. "You're hilarious."
"Alina, come on. We'll be fine."
"You can't know that."
"Look at me." I willed myself to raise my eyes to his. "I know you're scared. I am, too. But we're going to do this, and we're going to be fine. We always are. Okay?" He smiled, and my heart gave a very loud thud in my chest.
I rubbed my thumb over the scar that ran across the palm of my right hand and took a shaky breath. "Okay," I said grudgingly, and I actually felt myself smiling back.
"Madam's spirits have been restored!" Mal shouted. "The sun can once more shine!"
"Oh will you shut up?"
I turned to give him a punch, but before I could, he'd grabbed hold of me and lifted me off my feet. A clatter of hooves and shouts split the air. Mal yanked me to the side of the road just as a huge black coach roared past, scattering people before it as they ran to avoid the pounding hooves of four black horses. Beside the whip-wielding driver perched two soldiers in charcoal coats.
The Darkling. There was no mistaking his black coach or the uniform of his personal guard.
Another coach, this one lacquered red, rumbled past us at a more leisurely pace.
I looked up at Mal, my heart racing from the close call. "Thanks," I whispered. Mal suddenly seemed to realize that he had his arms around me. He let go and hastily stepped back. I brushed the dust from my coat, hoping he wouldn't notice the flush on my cheeks.
A third coach rolled by, lacquered in blue, and a girl leaned out the window. She had curling black hair and wore a hat of silver fox. She scanned the watching crowd and, predictably, her eyes lingered on Mal.
You were just mooning over him, I chided myself. Why shouldn't some gorgeous Grisha do the same?
Her lips curled into a small smile as she held Mal's gaze, watching him over her shoulder until the coach was out of sight. Mal goggled dumbly after her, his mouth slightly open.
"Close your mouth before something flies in," I snapped.
Mal blinked, still looking dazed.
"Did you see that?" a voice bellowed. I turned to see Mikhael loping toward us, wearing an almost comical expression of awe. Mikhael was a huge redhead with a wide face and an even wider neck. Behind him, Dubrov, reedy and dark, hurried to catch up. They were both trackers in Mal's unit and never far from his side.
"Of course I saw it," Mal said, his dopey expression evaporating into a cocky grin. I rolled my eyes.
"She looked right at you!" shouted Mikhael, clapping Mal on the back.
Mal gave a casual shrug, but his smile widened. "So she did," he said smugly.
Dubrov shifted nervously. "They say Grisha girls can put spells on you."
Mikhael looked at me as if he hadn't even known I was there. "Hey, Sticks," he said, and gave me a little jab on the arm. I scowled at the nickname, but he had already turned back to Mal. "You know she'll be staying at camp," he said with a leer.
"I hear the Grisha tent's as big as a cathedral," added Dubrov.
"Lots of nice shadowy nooks," said Mikhael, and actually waggled his brows.
Mal whooped. Without sparing me another glance, the three of them strode off, shouting and shoving one another.
"Great seeing you guys," I muttered under my breath. I readjusted the strap of the satchel slung across my shoulders and started back down the road, joining the last few stragglers down the hill and into Kribirsk. I didn't bother to hurry. I'd probably get yelled at when I finally made it to the Documents Tent, but there was nothing I could do about it now.
I rubbed my arm where Mikhael had punched me. Sticks. I hated that name. You didn't call me Sticks when you were drunk on kvas and trying to paw me at the spring bonfire, you miserable oaf, I thought spitefully.
Kribirsk wasn't much to look at. According to the Senior Cartographer, it had been a sleepy market town in the days before the Shadow Fold, little more than a dusty main square and an inn for weary travelers on the Vy. But now it had become a kind of ramshackle port city, growing up around a permanent military encampment and the drydocks where the sandskiffs waited to take passengers through the darkness to West Ravka. I passed taverns and pubs and what I was pretty sure were brothels meant to cater to the troops of the King's Army. There were shops selling rifles and crossbows, lamps and torches, all necessary equipment for a trek across the Fold. The little church with its whitewashed walls and gleaming onion domes was in surprisingly good repair. Or maybe not so surprising, I considered. Anyone contemplating a trip across the Shadow Fold would be smart to stop and pray.
I found my way to where the surveyors were billeted, deposited my pack on a cot, and hurried over to the Documents Tent. To my relief, the Senior Cartographer was nowhere in sight, and I was able to slip inside unseen.
Entering the white canvas tent, I felt myself relax for the first time since I'd caught sight of the Fold. The Documents Tent was essentially the same in every camp I'd seen, full of bright light and rows of drafting tables where artists and surveyors bent to their work. After the noise and jostle of the journey, there was something soothing about the crackle of paper, the smell of ink, and the soft scratching of nibs and brushes.
I pulled my sketchbook from my coat pocket and slid onto a workbench beside Alexei, who turned to me and whispered irritably, "Where have you been?"
"Nearly getting trampled by the Darkling's coach," I replied, grabbing a clean piece of paper and flipping through my sketches to try to find a suitable one to copy. Alexei and I were both junior cartographers' assistants and, as part of our training, we had to submit two finished sketches or renderings at the end of every day.
Alexei drew in a sharp breath. "Really? Did you actually see him?"
"Actually, I was too busy trying not to die."
"There are worse ways to go." He caught sight of the sketch of a rocky valley I was about to start copying. "Ugh. Not that one." He flipped through my sketchbook to an elevation of a mountain ridge and tapped it with his finger. "There."
I barely had time to put pen to paper before the Senior Cartographer entered the tent and came swooping down the aisle, observing our work as he passed.
"I hope that's the second sketch you're starting, Alina Starkov."
"Yes," I lied. "Yes, it is."
As soon as the Cartographer had passed on, Alexei whispered, "Tell me about the coach."
"I have to finish my sketches."
"Here," he said in exasperation, sliding one of his sketches over to me.
"He'll know it's your work."
"It's not that good. You should be able to pass it off as yours."
"Now there's the Alexei I know and tolerate," I grumbled, but I didn't give back the sketch. Alexei was one of the most talented assistants and he knew it.
Alexei extracted every last detail from me about the three Grisha coaches. I was grateful for the sketch, so I did my best to satisfy his curiosity as I finished up my elevation of the mountain ridge and worked in my thumb measurements of some of the highest peaks.
By the time we were finished, dusk was falling. We handed in our work and walked to the mess tent, where we stood in line for muddy stew ladled out by a sweaty cook and found seats with some of the other surveyors.
I passed the meal in silence, listening to Alexei and the others exchange camp gossip and jittery talk about tomorrow's crossing. Alexei insisted that I retell the story of the Grisha coaches, and it was met by the usual mix of fascination and fear that greeted any mention of the Darkling.
"He's not natural," said Eva, another assistant; she had pretty green eyes that did little to distract from her piglike nose. "None of them are."
Alexei sniffed. "Please spare us your superstition, Eva."
"It was a Darkling who made the Shadow Fold to begin with."
"That was hundreds of years ago!" protested Alexei. "And that Darkling was completely mad."
"This one is just as bad."
"Peasant," Alexei said, and dismissed her with a wave. Eva gave him an affronted look and deliberately turned away from him to talk to her friends.
I stayed quiet. I was more a peasant than Eva, despite her superstitions. It was only by the Duke's charity that I could read and write, but by unspoken agreement, Mal and I avoided mentioning Keramzin.
As if on cue, a raucous burst of laughter pulled me from my thoughts. I looked over my shoulder. Mal was holding court at a rowdy table of trackers.
Alexei followed my glance. "How did you two become friends anyway?"
"We grew up together."
"You don't seem to have much in common."
I shrugged. "I guess it's easy to have a lot in common when you're kids." Like loneliness, and memories of parents we were meant to forget, and the pleasure of escaping chores to play tag in our meadow.
Alexei looked so skeptical that I had to laugh. "He wasn't always the Amazing Mal, expert tracker and seducer of Grisha girls."
Alexei's jaw dropped. "He seduced a Grisha girl?"
"No, but I'm sure he will," I muttered.
"So what was he like?"
"He was short and pudgy and afraid of baths," I said with some satisfaction.
Alexei glanced at Mal. "I guess things change."
I rubbed my thumb over the scar in my palm. "I guess they do."
We cleared our plates and drifted out of the mess tent into the cool night. On the way back to the barracks, we took a detour so that we could walk by the Grisha camp. The Grisha pavilion really was the size of a cathedral, covered in black silk, its blue, red, and purple pennants flying high above. Hidden somewhere behind it were the Darkling's tents, guarded by Corporalki Heartrenders and the Darkling's personal guard.
When Alexei had looked his fill, we wended our way back to our quarters. Alexei got quiet and started cracking his knuckles, and I knew we were both thinking about tomorrow's crossing. Judging by the gloomy mood in the barracks, we weren't alone. Some people were already on their cots, sleepingor trying towhile others huddled by lamplight, talking in low tones. A few sat clutching their icons, praying to their Saints.
I unfurled my bedroll on a narrow cot, removed my boots, and hung up my coat. Then I wriggled down into the fur-lined blankets and stared up at the roof, waiting for sleep. I stayed that way for a long time, until the lamplights had all been extinguished and the sounds of conversation gave way to soft snores and the rustle of bodies.
Tomorrow, if everything went as planned, we would pass safely through to West Ravka, and I would get my first glimpse of the True Sea. There, Mal and the other trackers would hunt for red wolves and sea foxes and other coveted creatures that could only be found in the west. I would stay with the cartographers in Os Kervo to finish my training and help draft whatever information we managed to glean in the Fold. And then, of course, I'd have to cross the Fold again in order to return home. But it was hard to think that far ahead.
I was still wide awake when I heard it. Tap tap. Pause. Tap. Then again: Tap tap. Pause. Tap.
"What's going on?" mumbled Alexei drowsily from the cot nearest mine.
"Nothing," I whispered, already slipping out of my bedroll and shoving my feet into my boots.
I grabbed my coat and crept out of the barracks as quietly as I could. As I opened the door I heard a giggle, and a female voice called from somewhere in the dark room, "If it's that tracker, tell him to come inside and keep me warm."
"If he wants to catch tsifil, I'm sure you'll be his first stop," I said sweetly, and slipped out into the night.
The cold air stung my cheeks and I buried my chin in my collar, wishing I'd taken the time to grab my scarf and gloves. Mal was sitting on the rickety steps, his back to me. Beyond him, I could see Mikhael and Dubrov passing a bottle back and forth beneath the glowing lights of the footpath.
I scowled. "Please tell me you didn't just wake me up to inform me that you're going to the Grisha tent. What do you want, advice?"
"You weren't sleeping. You were lying awake worrying."
"Wrong. I was planning how to sneak into the Grisha pavilion and snag myself a cute Corporalnik."
Mal laughed. I hesitated by the door. This was the hardest part of being around himother than the way he made my heart do clumsy acrobatics. I hated hiding how much the stupid things he did hurt me, but I hated the idea of him finding out even more. I thought about just turning around and going back inside. Instead, I swallowed my jealousy and sat down beside him.
"I hope you brought me something nice," I said. "Alina's Secrets of Seduction do not come cheap."
He grinned. "Can you put it on my tab?"
"I suppose. But only because I know you're good for it."
I peered into the dark and watched Dubrov take a swig from the bottle and then lurch forward. Mikhael put his arm out to steady him, and the sounds of their laughter floated back to us on the night air.
Mal shook his head and sighed. "He always tries to keep up with Mikhael. He'll probably end up puking on my boots."
"Serves you right," I said. "So what are you doing here?" When we'd first started our military service a year ago, Mal had visited me almost every night. But he hadn't come by in months.
He shrugged. "I don't know. You looked so miserable at dinner."
I was surprised he'd noticed. "Just thinking about the crossing," I said carefully. It wasn't exactly a lie. I was terrified of entering the Fold, and Mal definitely didn't need to know that Alexei and I had been talking about him. "But I'm touched by your concern."
"Hey," he said with a grin, "I worry."
"If you're lucky, a volcra will have me for breakfast tomorrow and then you won't have to fret anymore."
"You know I'd be lost without you."
"You've never been lost in your life," I scoffed. I was the mapmaker, but Mal could find true north blindfolded and standing on his head.
He bumped his shoulder against mine. "You know what I mean."
"Sure," I said. But I didn't. Not really.
We sat in silence, watching our breath make plumes in the cold air.
Mal studied the toes of his boots and said, "I guess I'm nervous, too."
I nudged him with my elbow and said with confidence I didn't feel, "If we can take on Ana Kuya, we can handle a few volcra."
"If I remember right, the last time we crossed Ana Kuya, you got your ears boxed and we both ended up mucking out the stables."
I winced. "I'm trying to be reassuring. You could at least pretend I'm succeeding."
"You know the funny thing?" he asked. "I actually miss her sometimes."
I did my best to hide my astonishment. We'd spent more than ten years of our lives in Keramzin, but usually I got the impression that Mal wanted to forget everything about the place, maybe even me. There he'd been another lost refugee, another orphan made to feel grateful for every mouthful of food, every used pair of boots. In the army, he'd carved out a real place for himself where no one needed to know that he'd once been an unwanted little boy.
"Me too," I admitted. "We could write to her."
"Maybe," Mal said.
Suddenly, he reached out and took hold of my hand. I tried to ignore the little jolt that went through me. "This time tomorrow, we'll be sitting in the harbor at Os Kervo, looking out at the ocean and drinking kvas."
I glanced at Dubrov weaving back and forth and smiled. "Is Dubrov buying?"
"Just you and me," Mal said.
"It's always just you and me, Alina."
For a moment, it seemed like it was true. The world was this step, this circle of lamplight, the two of us suspended in the dark.
"Come on!" bellowed Mikhael from the path.
Mal started like a man waking from a dream. He gave my hand a last squeeze before he dropped it. "Gotta go," he said, his brash grin sliding back into place. "Try to get some sleep."
He hopped lightly from the stairs and jogged off to join his friends. "Wish me luck!" he called over his shoulder.
"Good luck," I said automatically and then wanted to kick myself. Good luck? Have a lovely time, Mal. Hope you find a pretty Grisha, fall deeply in love, and make lots of gorgeous, disgustingly talented babies together.
I sat frozen on the steps, watching them disappear down the path, still feeling the warm pressure of Mal's hand in mine. Oh well, I thought as I got to my feet. Maybe he' ll fall into a ditch on his way there.
I edged back into the barracks, closed the door tightly behind me, and gratefully snuggled into my bedroll.
Would that black-haired Grisha girl sneak out of the pavilion to meet Mal? I pushed the thought away. It was none of my business, and really, I didn't want to know. Mal had never looked at me the way he'd looked at that girl or even the way he looked at Ruby, and he never would. But the fact that we were still friends was more important than any of that.
For how long? said a nagging voice in my head. Alexei was right: things change. Mal had changed for the better. He'd gotten handsomer, braver, cockier. And I'd gotten ... taller. I sighed and rolled onto my side. I wanted to believe that Mal and I would always be friends, but I had to face the fact that we were on different paths. Lying in the dark, waiting for sleep, I wondered if those paths would just keep taking us further and further apart, and if a day might come when we would be strangers to each other once again.
Copyright © 2012 by Leigh Bardugo
Reading Group Guide
1. Alina and Mal grew up in an orphanage in Kermazin. How does this relate to Alina's experiences at the Little Palace? To Mal's experiences in the First Army?
2. How is the Fold connected to the Darkling? What does it say about him and his power?
3. How does Alina feel about her power? How do her feelings change? Why?
4. What is the connection between Alina and the Darkling? What does Alina think of this connection at different points in the novel?
5. How are the Grisha talents like science? Why are other people afraid of what the Grisha can do?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fantasy fans will love this young adult novel. It is well written and thoroughly enjoyable. More of an epic fantasy than a light fantasy. It draws from Russian folklore and features a strong female lead. There is some romance, but the main focus is on the lead learning she has power and then learning how to wield it. My only complaint is that I wish it had been longer. I was really into the setting and the characters. I chose this book because of my fondness for the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. I wasn't disappointed and can't wait to read the sequel to Shadow and Bone.
Excuse me while I FANGIRL all over this book! The last couple of books I've read, have been such downers for me that I've either been unable to finish them or tempted to throw in the reading towel altogether. That is until this book... I'd seen the reviews, heard the hype and had it recommended to me by numerous people but honestly, when I got it and realized there was a map in the front, I was in no hurry to bump it up in my TBR pile. What's the big deal about a map? They just scare me. Always have. Old ones, new ones, doesn't matter. I see a map and a part of my brain panics. (Irrational, stupid, silly...I know.) Maps don't deter me from reading books but they do delay me sometimes which is what happened with Shadow and Bone and I am kicking myself for it. This is a fantastic debut! Bardugo has created a colorful world filled with fantasy, adventure, and a heart-clutching love story. Her world building is detailed, her characters complex and engaging and the story itself sucked me in immediately. I couldn't and didn't WANT to put this book down! Alina is a strong willed MC, whose courageous, with a good heart and a witty sense of humor. Mal, is a mix of comfort, strength and swoon (OhMyMal!) and the Darkling, a character that's equal parts beauty and danger, is one you can't help but feel drawn to. There is SO MUCH I want to say about this book *flails* and I don't want to spoil anything, but the plot twists and turns kept me guessing right up to the very end and left me craving the next book.
After much consideration I've decided that I will give the book 5 stars after all, though there was some time in the middle there where I was worried about it. I, momentarily, feared that it included the one thing that can bring an otherwise good book down; insta-love. Luckily that matter was resolved, and I was able to go on enjoying the book. What I liked: - World building. To me, world building is one of the most important parts of a book. If I don't understand the setting, or if the author makes me effort to create a good fantasy world, then the book loses an entire layer of enjoyment, but this book had great world building. I think that including the map in the front of the book, as well as the explanation of the order of the Grisha, was a really good thing to do. I ended up flipping back to there a few times as I was reading, and it made the world building make a lot more sense. - She made me feel for both sides of the love triangle. As far as love triangles go, this one was good. The author got me on board with one side, and then managed to make me switch. Usually I get stuck on one side, and then no matter what the author does I just can't seem to see the light on the other side, but she made me feel for the Darkling, and the made me feel for Mal. - The Darkling. At first I really really liked him, and I wanted him to be with Alina. And then I really hated him, but in that way that good villains have, where you hate him so much that you like him. Kind of like Loki in The Avengers. He's the villain, but I can't really hate him. What I didn't like: - I could have done without the insta-love scare. Alina and the Darkling was my ship, but when he kissed her I really couldn't get on board with it. It was so sudden, and weird. However, this issue was resolved so this isn't really much of a negative. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series! When does it come out? June? That's too far away!
I read the post by the anonymous user who killed the book but he/she has a point about the protagonist. There is a huge gap in time from where Alina is in an orphanage to the time where she becomes a map maker in the army. That time SHOULD have been spent defining exactly who Alina is rather than being just a rebellious youth spouting off one or two lines responses. This book is going to be compared to the HP series since it has young protagonist with no parents, who holds a mysterious untapped power, and eventually finds her way to a school of magic. With that said it's not nearly as complex in terms of plot and character. It's still a fun read and the series has good potential. I need to see more from Alina though. I need to find out who she is and what drives her.
I bought this book with high expectations, as it is being hailed as an epic fantasy. This book had potential, if the story and the characters had properly been fleshed out and if the writing/editing team had done a little fact-checking and research. I kept having trouble picturing Alina. She is described as mousy, nicknamed "sticks" and has plain brown hair..... This gives me nothing. Does she have gypsy heritage? Does she have dark, beady eyes or thick lashes or freckles? I didn't know she had dark circles under her eyes until about halfway through the book. What drives her? Does she long for her mother? Was she an only child or does she have long lost siblings? Does she remember her Mother's soft voice or her Father sharing hot cocoa? Other than being an orphan with a childhood we gloss over, this character has no back story. Her life as an orphan is reduced to running off to the woods with Mal, avoiding the other children, and one adult.... Yet,, despite all of this, Alina fails to acquire a single trait that makes her relatable. Not only can we not understand what drives her, we really don't care. I have no idea how old she is or why she joined the military. I have no idea if she likes sunny warm days or cold days by a fire. I have no idea if she likes music or reading or drawing or how she spends her spare time or where her mind wanders when she's not pouting for herself. I have no idea who this girl is. The assorted other characters-the friends they make along the way- are so flat and boring that even the main characters have no attachment to them. Alina avoids most of her new friends and she avoids actual dialogue that would help establish any kind of real relationships in the book. The world they live in is supposed to be loosely based on Russia? I can only guess this because of the misused vocabulary. On every other page someone is drinking kvas, which the author seems to think is hard liquor but is a barely alchoholic soda served even to children. Not only that, aside from travelling for days, we have no real idea of what kind of climate we are seeing, aside from generic trees, mountains, meadows. We could be in Seattle or Upstate New York or Alaska for all I know. Finally, the characters learn nothing by the end of the book. Everything she should have discovered for herself is just blurted out by other characters, she shows more mercy to an animal than she does to the people who have tried to help her for the last several months. She only finally learns to use her power and then regain her power based on how she feels about Mal or breaking away from the darkling. You would think this would give her some perspective. It doesn't. When we meet her and when we leave her, the only thing about her that has grown is that she discovers her super power. Speaking of learning what exactly is the Little Palace. School? Training grounds? Why is it that, despite her mandatory reading, she learns nothing to prompt her to question her origins, her power, the motives of the darkling..... The author asks us to give up a willing suspension of disbelief without giving us something else to believe in. I could never completely understand the Shadow fold or the beasts inside or half their clothes. As a result, the epic fantasy is nothing but a muddled mess.....
I really enjoyed this book. Alina’s journey from childhood to adult is quick and to the point. It’s enough of a background to allow the reader to understand her actions in the upcoming adventure. The storytelling is beautiful, the imagery compelling, with just enough vagueness to allow the read to fill in the blanks. I especially loved the points in the story when Alina learns that changes happen, accepts them, and moves on. The decisions she makes are not always the “right” decision, but she owns the outcome and is able to think for herself and grow as a person. I look forward to the next book in the series. *Originally posted on goodreads
Shadow and Bone was a marvelous fantasy tale. Bardugo created relatable characters and paired them with an exceptional fictional world. The hype of this book has been large. As with many popular books, they have the tendency to have all the same qualities. Not this one. Shadow and Bone is like nothing I have ever read. I can't wait to finish the trilogy. Pick up this fantastic series today! It's fresh, unique, and filled with action. Alina Starkov is an orphan. She was an abused child living in a house with a wretched duke, and cared for by an even more horrible lady, named Ana Kuya. Alina's life was drained of love. But when Mal , another orphan, shows up they immediately have a deep connection. Mal and Alina's relationship lays the foundation for this novel. They are the center that holds the world together. Mal is the only person that Alina can rely on. He is her rock. Alina has been in love with him since the beginning. The fictional world of Shadow and Bone is incredible. It's kind of hard to explain, though. Basically you have the country of Ravka, which is separated by the Unsea, or the Shadow Fold. The Shadow Fold was created hundreds of years ago and contains killer creatures called Volcra. Volcra are flying creatures that used to be the people living in the area before the Fold was created. Mal and Alina are both stationed near the fold in the First Army. Mal is a tracker and Alina is a mapmaker. This isn't a normal military base though. In Bardugo's world, there are Grisha. The Grisha are people with powers. They live in the Little Palace and are treated like royalty. However, the less important or powerful Grisha serve in the army, as well. There is a very distinct line between normal humans and Grisha. They do not associate with each other. During Alina and Mal's service, they travel with an army into the Shadow Fold. This is a daunting task that will have many casualties. Not even the Grisha can protect the army from the dangerous Volcra. Mal and Alina are both at the brink of death. Their skin torn from the Volcra's sharp claws. As Alina's life slips, a bright light as large as the sun shines out of Alina herself. When Alina comes too, she finds herself in the Grisha tent. Confused, she tries to play off what happened on the ship. There was no way she could be Grisha. She had been tested as a child and wasn't. There was simply no way. But the Darkling has other views on the situation. The Darkling is the leader of the Grisha. He is the ruler of the Little Palace and corresponds with the King himself. He has dark gray eyes and a handsome smile that everyone seems to fancy. The Darkling is also an amplifier. Meaning he can increase the power in a Grisha significantly. Items can also be amplifiers, and this comes into play a little bit later. The Darkling takes Alina into his grasp, and again, she lights up like the sun. The word choice and imagery that Bardugo uses in this part of the story is incredible. Having a girl light up brightly may seem a little odd, but the way that the author beautifully explains it makes is magical. The Darkling pronounces Alina as the Sun Summoner. She is destined to team up with the Darkling and eradicate the Shadow Fold entirely. She is taken away from camp, away from Mal, and to the Little Palace, to live her life as a Grisha Alina is revered at the Little Palace. She is prayed to and touched carefully. The Darkling goes to great lengths to protect Alina from harm. She is too importa
I was hesitant to start this series! The synopsis does nothing to what the book is really about! I love the character of Alina! She was a refreshing personality! I liked how well the book was written and how much it pulled me in to continue with the series! I will definitely be recommending it to everyone I know!
Perfectly crafted world. Original plot. Authentic, intriguing characters. A VILLAIN TO KILL FOR. Beautiful. Just. Beautiful.
I FEEL IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK! I HAD TO KEEP TELLING MYSELF TO STOP SKIPPING PAGES ( IT WAS THAT GOOD) THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A GIRL NAMED ALINA WHO HAS A HUGE CRUSH ON HER BEST FRIEND MALYIN ( MAL ). BUT IN A NEAR DEATH EXPRIENCE WITH HER CRUSH SHE THEN...SNAPS AND SOMETHING MAGICAL OCCURS! SHE IS TAKEN AWAY FROM HER LOVE AND LIVES WITH DARKLING ( KINGS SECOND HAND MAN) AND MUST LEARN HOW TO CONTROL HER MAGICAL POWER AND WORK WITH THE DARKLING TO SAVE RAVKA. BUT CAN SHE? THE AUTHOR DID A GREAT JOB WITH PLOT ( BY THE WAY IT'S RUSSIAN THEME ) THE AUTHOR MADE U WAN TO READ THE BOOK AND NEVER WANT IT TO END! UNFORNATLY I RECOMMEND THIS TO 13 AND UP. IT HAS INAPPERITE LANG AND SOME SEXAUL CONTENT. BUT I WILL SAY THIS...I CANT WAIT FOR THE 2ND BOOK!!! :)
The story of the book is engaging and interesting. However, as someone who was born and raised in Russia, I thought the author demonstrated a glaring lack of knowledge of the Russian linguistics and ignorance about the culture and traditions. It would have been better for the story to be set in a completely imagined country and using an invented language. But if you are going to try and derive terms, names, and locales, from a language spoken by over 150 million people in the world today, you should at least strive for authenticiy.
Alina Starkov is a young orphan soldier who hopes not to die on the Shadow Fold but comes to learn that she has a buried power that saves her life and may be the key to saving all of Ravka. She is whisked off to the Little Palace by The Darkling, where she is trained with her fellow magic-wielding Grisha. But being a Sun Summoner has its downfalls as well as its perks and Alina finds that her life is anything but easier thanks to it. I wish I hadn't put this one off for so long. I honestly kind of wish I had read it instead of Maas' 'Throne of Glass' and ACOTAR series, which eventually aided in my turning away from YA. This was much more interesting, with characters I didn't loathe, but I'm still a little disillusioned by YA right now and think I would have liked it better when I was younger. This book is filled with magic and evil and romance and is perfect for young fantasy lovers. I did not read this trilogy before I read the Six of Crows duology and because of that, I didn't quite understand the Grisha magic parts of it. My mistake. I don't think it's required to read this trilogy first but I will say I would have been less confused about the magic system if I had. I don't want to give anything away but if you enjoy YA, fantasy, or reading the book before the tv/film adaptation, I'd give it a chance! Netflix will be adapting this into an eight-episode series!
This book was amazing! I’ve heard nothing but good things about it for months and decided to finally give it a go. I really enjoyed that this had such strong Russian vibes, which isn’t something I usually see in fantasy fiction. The main character, Alina, was my favorite (not surprising). She’s a lonely girl, having grown up as an orphan with all of one friend, Mal, who is also her only friend in the army they’ve been conscripted to. She’s head over heels in love with him, but believes the love is unrequited, so she’s content to simply be his best friend. But then, as the army is attempting to cross the Shadow Fold (a swath of darkness inhabited by dangerous creatures), they’re attacked by aforementioned creatures. To save Mal’s life, Alina uses hidden magic she didn’t realize she possessed, outing herself as Grisha (basically a person with magical talents… though it’s not technically magic, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m calling it magic). After this, Alina’s life becomes a whirlwind as she’s whisked away by the Darkling (a powerful Grisha who is supposedly a servant of the King) to live in the Little Palace (in the royal city) and train her powers to become a powerful Grisha. The Darkling tells Alina that she’s their only hope of defeating the Shadow Fold once and for all, a task he had been trying to do for decades. I loved reading all about Alina’s training in the Grisha city as she attempts to master her power and become a skilled fighter. The politics among the Grisha orders was fascinating, as there’s a definite hierarchy of power. It broke my heart to see Alina so alone in the Little Palace. She has no friends, and anyone who is interested in her is really only interested in her powers as the Sun Summoner, and what her powers can do to save them from the Shadow Fold. I hurt for Alina when she realized that, after Mal has made no attempts to contact her or reply to the numerous letters she’s sent, her best friend really doesn’t miss her at all. Her relationship with the Darkling was one of my favorite things about this book (not for the romance, but for the twist to come). He’s a mysterious, powerful being that shows and interest in Alina, and of course she’d captivated. He’s been one of the first people to show a genuine interest in her and treat her with love and kindness. I loved everything about this universe, from the magic to the characters to the plot. The last 100 pages were a whirlwind of twists that I never saw coming but enjoyed thoroughly.
I'm not sure what took me so long to get to this. Time, other books I'd rather read, but no matter what, now I get what all the fuss is about. I loved this book and am so eager to read on! I finally gave in and bought a copy of this, don't remember if it was on sale, or if I decided to use my extra employee appreciation discount back in November to save more on it, but I bought it, and it was one of my goals to get it read this year. One of my Bookish Resolutions. Now, because I'm new to the series, there are questions I have that probably those who have read them all know the answers to. Like, did we know the Darkling's real name? And then so much was left kind of up to not know what is true and who is good and who is bad, etc! I can't wait to have time to read on in this series. So while this is a pretty short review, that's because I know so many of you have probably already read it. But just know that I loved it and that I think the hype is totally well deserved!
This book will cut into you like the sharpest blade and then pour a little bit of its magic into you. This is my second time reading this book. The first thing that a person may notice when beginning this book is the rich world building. Bardugo has drawn inspiration for her fantasy world from Russian elements and it leaves this world so utterly breathtaking. It is easy to trip over some of the Russian inspired words in this in the beginning, but it gets easier as the story progresses. It is hard to describe the complexity and originality of this world. It leaves the reader so immersed in the story, so full of wonderment. Bardugo paints a clear picture of the extravagance in this world, the things that are less than extravagant, and everything in between. It is easy to live through the main character's eyes. These characters evoke such emotion in me that there are hardly words to describe them, but let me try. First of all, I have to put it out there that The Darkling is my all-time favorite villain. The complexity of his character is staggering. There is so much gray area surrounding him that the reader doesn't truly know how to feel about him. I am a sucker for morally gray villains. Alina is the main protagonist in the story. She is a wonderful character. It is truly easy to slip into her shoes and feel as she does. She is easy to like and easier to root for. At first, she comes off as weak, but there is a strength inside of her that shines through. The side characters in this book are also written extremely well. We get to know the side characters as the story progresses, and it is not hard to see how much depth they add to the story. The romance in this book is a mix of a friends-to-lovers trope combined with a love triangle. As far as love triangles go, this one does not disappoint. The build-up of the relationships, between Mal and Alina and Alina and The Darkling, are powerful. They mean something, so the love triangle aspect really works well. It's believable. And the friend to lovers trope is beautiful since Mal and Alina have been best friends since childhood. Alina has been pining after Mal, but he never noticed her in that way before. Then she is whisked away to become a Grisha and he is left to come to terms with her absence. It is hard for him since she has always been at his side. The entire romantic aspects of the book are written beautifully. And the amazing this is that they are written so extremely well that the reader doesn't know whether to root for Mal or The Darkling. I personally root for both! The plot of this story is utterly clever and so full of originality. The crafting of this story is nothing short of genius, and when you get to the last book it is apparent even more so. The foreshadowing is intricately placed and then things show up later to blow your mind. I am so impressed with Bardugo's storytelling. She is a master of telling stories that will grip you and become a part of you. I recommend this series to everyone! Especially if you are a fantasy fan. This is such a unique world with a powerful plot and complex characters. The story will become all that you think about for weeks. But the good news is that there is an entire Grishaverse to explore. Leigh Bardugo will not leave you hanging.
Just like I’ve loved all of her other books!
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I have so much love for it that I just want to scream to the world my excitement over it! Seriously, if you love books with kick-butt characters, this book is for you!First off, let me say how much this book blew me away. I loved the action, the characters, as well as the impending doom that happens towards the end. Fantastic! The characters of the book are so out of the loop. I like reading a book where the characters themselves have no idea that power that they possess. To see them come into their power and do great things is amazing. I liked reading along with them, seeing everything new through their eyes.The powers of this world is soo cool! I especially enjoyed the ranking cloaks that they get. Awesome touch! The author never cease to amaze me with the world building. The land, the people, the magic, and even the boys.The love interest went where I wanted it to go. There are two people grown up together and now split due to one gaining a power that is rare. I loved that while they were split they yearned for each other. They really just wanted to go back to the way it used to be and pretend that everything going on around them is not happening. The small moments of peace they have together gives the reader an amazing touch of real love.I'm going to end this review before I ruined it for everyone. Shadow and Bone delights the reader with an amazing story that is epic. With dashing heroes, ultimate power, and a kingdom that is on a verge of a war, make no mistake that you need to read this book! Shadow and Bone excels in what a book should be. Fast, shocking, and overall awesome!
An absolute delight to read! The book is about a girl (Alina) who discovers she has a special power that can either save or end the world. She now has to learn how to use her power and its significance in order to decide the path she must take. Heard it before but told so well that you won't really care.The characters are all so sharp and witty! It's a great break from the usual confused protagonists. Granted, Alina still doesn't know what's happening half the time but she makes the best of the situation. I really love her strong personality. The author makes it clear that you can be feminine and still able to kick butt. Also, she is not the only one with witty one-liners. The whole cast of characters had such great chemistry that I can easily relate to how my own friends like to tease each other. The pacing of the story was nice and smooth. The shift between the mood was just perfect. I found no big problems with this wonderful thing but I did notice some hiccups. For one thing, I really hope this book comes with a glossary. There is so much terminology like HeartRender or kefta that was difficult for me to keep track of. The characters were all introduced so quickly that it was also difficult for me to figure out who was who at first. Pro: witty and realistic characters, engaging story, nice twist Con: lots of information in the beginning!Overall, I would recommend this book to any lover of fantasy. It's not quite action-packed but there's still enough action to keep the reader from getting bored. This book was a wonderful addition to my library and I look forward to hearing from this author again!Won an ARC copy in a giveaway in return for an honest review
I just finished Shadow and Bone and I loved it. I had a hard time putting it down even to do necessary things. The writing was fluid. The characters were engaging. And the story swept me along to find out what would happen next.The main character was Alina Starkov. She begins the story as a young orphan in a duke's house, unwanted and alone and with only one friend - a young orphan boy named Mal. When the Grisha come to test the children to see if they have potential to learn what they call the small science (but what you and I would call magic), Alina is determined that she and Mal not be separated.The story next takes us some years later when they are older and are soldiers in the King's army. Mal is a tracker and has grown up to be handsome and a chick magnet. Alina is an apprentice cartographer who is small, thin, and sickly. She realizes that she loves Mal but he only sees her as his friend. Events change for good when their army is sent to cross the Fold. The Fold is an area of shadow and evil inhabited by flying volcra who attack anyone who tries to pass through. The troops board sandskiffs which the Grisha can propel through the Fold. When their sandskiff is attacked by volcra and Mal is injured, Alina reaches inside herself for a power that she didn't know she had. She summons sunlight to destroy the shadow.It turns out that Alina is a very rare sort of Grisha. She comes to the attention of the Darkling who leads the Grisha and who sees her as a way to finally destroy the shadow. Alina is taken off to the king's city to be trained as a Grisha. She gets to know a number of other Grisha and gets to be a favorite of the Darkling. Alina struggles to find her place among the Grisha and really misses Mal. But then everything she thought she knew turns out to be wrong and she is swept into adventure again.I loved the combination of tension and humor in the story. I especially loved that the villain wasn't the obvious character with shifty eyes and rude character. As Alina says, "He sounded so sincere, so reasonable, less a creature of relentless ambition than a man who believed he was doing the right thing for his people. Despite all he'd done and all he intended, I did almost believe him. Almost." So did I, Alina. So did I.I am very eager for the next book in this trilogy to find out what happens next for Alina and Mal. Highly recommended to lovers of a good story!
Alina Starkov is unimportant, unremarkable, and never really excelled at anything. She grew up as an orphan in an orphanage with Mal and together they enlisted for the military when they were old enough. They are cartographers together, Mal being the talented one, and they run into trouble when their regiment crosses the barren and dangerous Shadow Fold that splits the nation Ravka with impenetrable darkness and winged carnivorous monsters. When she and Mal are about to be monster food, light bursts from her, scaring away the monsters, and she passes out. She later finds out she is the most rare type of Grisha, a Sun Summoner. She is immediately whisked away by the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha, to the palace where she endures training (both fighting and magic) away from everything she has known. She is told over and over that she is the savior of Ravka and will be able to destroy the Shadow Fold and unite the nation again, but the power in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Should she stay with the Darkling in the palace and take him for his word or should she leave and ensure her power won't be abused?I didn't really know what to expect starting Shadow and Bone. When I started it, I was a little confused with all the Russian jargon and visualizing the world. I usually appreciate being thrown into the middle of a world and figuring it out as I went along, but this one was a little harder to get my head around. This all turned around when Alina discovered her power in the dark and sinister Shadow Fold. After a bit of a rocky start, I was completely immersed in this world and in awe of it just as much as Alina as she is thrown into an entirely different realm than she is used to. The palace offers physical comforts like she has never known, but the training (both combat and magical), the politics, and the two faced nature of the many of the people around her take a physical and mental toll on her. Her life had been so straight forward before and generally unremarkable that this new experience where people either want to kill her or worship her is a shock. It isn't all fun parties, good food, and people fawning over her. Life as the only Sun Summoner is hard when everyone expects you to save the country. I really liked the characters in the story in particular. They all were realistic and fully realized. Alina's psychology fascinated me. She had no idea for years and years that she had this power because she suppressed it. All are tested as children for power and she successfully kept her power in check and did so for years afterwards, eventually without even knowing it was there anymore. This suppression had serious physical repercussions. She was perpetually tired, never really had an appetite, and was generally sickly. When she finally learned to harness her power and call it on her own, her health improved greatly. I really liked that her psychology had a huge effect on her physically and also the drastic difference in her after she accepted her power after denying it for so long.The Darkling, the most powerful Grisha, is frightening and attractive at the same time. His motives and emotions are never apparent and he keeps a lot of secrets. His real role in the plot isn't revealed until well into the novel. He is a fascinating character that I can't wait to see more of.Shadow and Bone was a wonderful read that took me about a day because I needed to know what happened. I loved this Russian influenced world with its unique magic system and vibrant characters. I would have like a glossary in the back of the novel because I forgot the meanings of some of the Ravkan words, but it might be included in the finished book. I would recommend this to anyone tired of formulaic boring YA. I can't wait for the next book!
My thoughts:Fantasy mixed with the supernatural combined with unforgettable characters. Can we say 'WIN!'? A first person POV with a female protag that acted and reacted in believable ways to unbelievable situations? WIN again!Alina has had a hard life but she doesn't complain about it. She's had horrible things done to her but she doesn't back down. She doesn't need anyone to take care of her yet she longs for companionship. Weak is never a word I would use to describe her. She is fierce, which is made all the more alluring by the fact that she is her own person. She doesn't need anyone to define her - even when her life is thrown upside down she doesn't loose her sense of self. I really could go on and on - suffice it to say, I absolutely loved Alina. And she isn't the only one I feel in love with - even the bad guys got under my skin in a good way.Even if Shadow and Bone didn't have such wonderful characters, I think the world alone would have done me in. Magic reins but magic also destroys. The world everyone lives in is angry with mistakes and full of reasons to be terrified. There are a lot of layers to this world and at the same time, everything about it felt within my grasp. I felt a connection right from the start and could easily imagine myself living on the edge of the Shadow Fold, fighting for my life.Final verdict:Love! Young adult fantasy at it's best. Layers and hidden meanings combined with romance and betrayal. Shadow and Bone was easily devoured and satisfying yet it left me longing for more.Defiantly a series I will continue and Leigh Bardugo is absolutely an author I will be following closely!
I wasn't going to review Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, which has been hailed by many reviewers as one of the high points of the summer reading season (for young adults). Indeed, I have yet to see a negative review in any publication, and users will note the novel's current aggregate rating (4+ stars as of 25 June 2012). When Shadow and Bone was mentioned in the Barnes & Noble Review as one of the three recommended summer "thrillers" for teens, I finally decided that I must weigh in. I admit up front that I am not part of Bardugo's intended audience. I am not a teenager, nor am I a girl. (Bardugo and readers may or may take issue with the notion that Shadow and Bone is written more for female than male readers, but it nonetheless skews that way.) That said, I read young adult fiction, particularly in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction, because that's where much of the most creative fiction being published these days originates. Consider The Hunger Games, the novel in particular and the trilogy in general. Collins' series was much more inventive and fun than comparable works written for "adults." (Basically, I believe that, if a book is "good," the intended "audience" is irrelevant. It is worth reading.)Perhaps it is this gender different, though, that explains my negative reaction to Shadow and Bone. I've already noted that all of the reader reviews I've skimmed were by females. I suspect that, like me, male readers will be put off. Shadow and Bone is in part a love story. That's not in itself so troubling for male readers, as long as it isn't the focus of the book. (The love story in Shadow and Bone is a bit more prominent than some male readers might prefer, but it is not off-putting.) The love story here is a triangle between Alina, the protagonist, her childhood friend/now soldier Mal, and a powerful wizard known as the Darkling. It's clear from the beginning that Alina loves Mal but doesn't feel able to express it to him. Through a variety of twists and turns, Alina and Mal are physically and emotionally separated from one another and Alina eventually falls for the Darkling, who is described in what I can only call very girlish terms. It is VERY evident that the Darkling, dark, gothic, handsome and mysterious, is an example of adolescent female wish fulfillment. Male readers will find this dull; nor does Alina's involvement with the Darkling add much to the story.Alina's puzzling relationship with the Darkling (he's called THE DARKLING) aside, there are other aspects of Shadow and Bone regarding which I am more concerned. Along with Alina's affair with the Darkling is his sudden (THIS IS A SPOILER) and not very surprising turn to evil. The Darkling shows his true colors (evil, represented by black, in which he constantly cloaks himself, incidentally) halfway through the book. Although Bardugo goes to great lengths to convince the reader that the Darkling is actually good, and Alina falls for his tricks, the revelation that he is really evil is not surprising. That said, it is AWKWARD. It comes from nowhere, falling from the sky into the middle of the story. It simply does not make sense the way it happens and the way it is introduced into the plot. The Darkling's change is unconvincing not because the reader really believes that he is good (AGAIN, HE'S CALLED THE DARKLING), but because it is delivered awkwardly. The story makes a 90 degree turn without first preparing the reader.The middle portion of Shadow and Bone describes Alina's training by the Grisha (the wizards who serve the nation of Ravka). This is an occasionally interesting series of chapters relating Alina's introduction to Grisha training and the ways of palace life. It's reminiscent of portions of the Harry Potter books: Magic! Visiting the village! Festivals! Again, Bardugo's extreme tendency toward the effeminate (not to be confused with femininity) mars this section. Much emphasis is placed on characters' appearances, not only their wardrobe
*claps loudly and with much enthusiasm* I¿m giving a round of applause (I really did clap my hands) to Leigh Bardugo for writing a wonderful fantasy book that had me devouring it in a 24-hour period! I just couldn¿t seem to stop reading it! Shadow and Bone should be added to every fantasy lovers must read list!Alina is a character who I love because she does show emotion. Some protagonists I wish would just break down and cry at times because I know I would in that situation, but sometimes they never do. She isn¿t this strong character at first who can conquer anything. She¿s unsure of herself at first, but she slowly starts coming into her own and sees what she¿s truly capable of.There is a bit of romance in Shadow and Bone that I think the reader needs to see for themselves. I won¿t talk at all about it because if I say anything, I will probably give everything away.The world Leigh Bardugo built in Shadow and Bone was¿PERFECT! Have you ever read a book and you can picture every detail on those pages just like you were watching a movie?! I can¿t name one off the top of my head other than Shadow and Bone. I felt like I was watching a great fantasy story in movie form. That¿s how perfectly detailed this story was. Just because I say it was detailed doesn¿t mean it was overly so either. Leigh used the right amount of words to show us how this world Alina lives in works.The pace was just right as well. At the best moments, we would get a new bit of information or a new twist in the story that had me reading faster and faster!I¿m not sure whatsoever where Leigh is going to take the story after the ending of Shadow and Bone, but I do know I want more of this world! I¿ve been searching everywhere for more information on the second book in The Grisha Trilogy¿but nothing. I guess there are downfalls to reading Shadow and Bone months in advance of it¿s release.