WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
Back in 2012, Leigh Bardugo published her first book of the Grishaverse, “Shadow and Bone”. Soon enough, Bardugo published the next two books in the trilogy, “Siege and Storm” and “Ruin and Rising” before putting out two sets of duology spin-offs right after, both set in the same universe as the first.
When rumors came out about the books turning into a Netflix series, fans were stoked.
And for good reason, it seems. “Shadow and Bone” was on the Top 10 Netflix charts for 12 of its opening days, after it was released on April 23, 2021. This was an unusual trend for a show to “hit the ground running”, according to Forbes Magazine.
The real question that stands is whether or not the show compared to Bardugo’s series.
One of the biggest differences the show brought to the screen was how it mixed the story of the “Shadow and Bone” triology’s main characters, Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev, along with the story of one of her spin-off duologies, the “Six of Crows” series. The “Six of Crows” portion of the show includes the separate origin of the six main characters, before they were united in the duology’s plot.
It was a bit hectic to fit that many characters and their stories within one season, but with its recent renewal on June 7, 2021, according to Marie Claire Magazine, they’ll be able to expand the storyline and create a deeper development for the characters.
Another notable difference was Alina’s race. There had been a few references in the book as to her being a “pale, mousy orphan” but in the series, the creators made her “half-Shu” which is the enemy of the Ravkan people she’s surrounded by. Jessie Mei Li, who plays Alina, is able to bring her character into new depths as she explores more challenges, like racism, on her journey of discovering who she really is.
The Darkling in the book “Shadow and Bone” is one of Alina’s love interests. Played by Ben Barnes in the series, the Darkling is revealed as General Kirigan, a “shadow summoner.” Barnes explained to CinemaBlend that they chose to call him General Kirigan to “feed into the theme of humanizing him.”
Unfortunately, as a fan, it was a bit odd to see him referred to as Aleksander Kirigan, instead of the Darkling like the books did. Not only does hearing his real name diminish his dark powers and status a bit at the beginning, but it also cancels out the intimate moment Alina and the Darkling share in the third book, when he tells her his true name—a scene that fans won’t get to see in the Netflix show.
It did however add to the suspense and drama when his character’s betrayal came about, since Aleksander wasn’t referred to by his villainous name.
Alina’s other love-interest, Malyen “Mal” Oretsev, played by Archie Renaux, only seems electrifying in the book.
Alina has a massive crush on her best friend Mal in the books, but it isn’t that obvious in the Netflix series. Only their connection of a strong friendship is portrayed on screen, so it is a wonder where the creators will take their romantic storyline.
The parallel storyline of the “crows” follows the origin of only five of the six main characters, including Kaz Brekker, played by Freddy Carter; Jesper Fahey, played by Kit Young; Inej Ghafa, played by Amita Suman; Nina Zenik, played by Danielle Galligan; and Matthias Helvar, played by Calahan Skogman. The sixth, Wylan Van Eck, is expected to appear in the second season, according to showrunner Eric Heisserer.
As mentioned before, the show only delves into the origin of the characters in the “Six of Crows” series. This brings us a whole new storyline and gives us a taste of the beloved characters and their relationship tensions from the popular duology.
Overall, the show brings fans a pretty good taste of the Grishaverse, and still does a good job of drawing people in that are not familiar with Bardugo’s books.
If you haven’t already read the books and/or watched the show, grab your popcorn and get your full attention ready because this storyline will send you on a dangerous, binge-worthy adventure.
According to Collider, the second season of “Shadow and Bone” is “expected in late 2022 or early 2023.”
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @xox_jaedyn.