Netflix’s new fantasy series Shadow and Bone is coming soon, and you would not want to miss it. Based on the worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo, the eight-episode series centres on orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov, who finds herself entangled with dark forces conspiring against her when she unleashes an extraordinary power that could change the fate of her war-torn world.
If you’re not familiar with the books, the whos and whats of the Grishaverse can be overwhelming. Fret not, we’re here to get you up to speed.
Let’s Start With the Basics – the Story
Shadow and Bone finds us in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold always looming in the horizon, Alina is torn away from everything and everyone she knows to train with an elite army of magical soldiers known as the Grisha.
But as she struggles to hone her power, she discovers that allies and enemies can be one and the same, and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. There are dangerous forces at play, and it will take more than magic to survive.
Wait, Back Up. What’s a Shadow Fold?
The Shadow Fold is a swath of unnatural, impenetrable darkness crawling with winged monsters called Volcra that feast on human flesh. Also known as The Unsea or simply The Fold, it was accidentally created by an infamous Shadow Summoner known as the Black Heretic.
Upon its creation, the wall of darkness split a country named Ravka in two – East Ravka and West Ravka – leading to years of conflict and turmoil.
Ravka and Its Surroundings
East Ravka is locked in between Fjerda, an icy, heavily militarised country to the north of Ravka that’s a constant threat of invasion, and Shu Han, a vast and prosperous nation to the south of Ravka with a well-trained and sizeable army guarding its mountains.
East Ravka’s only lifeline is with its countrymen in West Ravka. To keep their enemies at bay, they must cross the treacherous Fold and brave the wrath of the volcra to reach West Ravka to access the supplies they need. However, with West Ravka growing ever weary of supporting East Ravka at such great cost, their only chance at survival is to somehow destroy the Fold. Which brings us to…
The Grisha and Their Magical Abilities
First, you need to know that the Ravkan armies are split into two groups – the First Army and the Second Army. At the bottom of the hierarchy is the former, made up of non-Grisha soldiers including trackers, mapmakers, and the infantry. The latter is the kingdom’s magical military elite called the Grisha, who are divided into three Orders according to their specific abilities:
- Corporalki: Dressed in red kefta, they are the highest-ranking and most valued due to their abilities in manipulating the human body. The order consists of Heartrenders who are trained to kill and Healers who are trained to mend.
- Etherialki: Dressed in blue kefta, they are Summoners who can manipulate the elements of fire (Inferni), water (Tidemakers), and air (Squallers).
- Materialki: Dressed in purple kefta, they are Fabricators who can manipulate physical materials. Durasts focus their power on metals, wood, and glass, while the Alkemi work with textiles and chemicals.
The Grisha are led by General Kirigan, also known as The Darkling. A descendant of the Black Heretic’s bloodline, he is a Shadow Summoner, a rare and powerful Grisha with the ability to summon darkness and blind or confound their enemies. Kirigan is determined to destroy the Fold, but needs a miracle that is about to reveal itself in the form of Alina Starkov, the one and only Sun Summoner who can form and summon sunlight. Everything is starting to come together, right?
Meet the Characters
You’ve made it this far, so now it’s only a matter of keeping up with some of the Grishaverse folks!
- General Kirigan: Played by Ben Barnes, General Kirigan is also known as the Darkling to his enemies. He is the head of the Second Army and determined to see his nation freed from the Shadow Fold, no matter the cost.
- Alina Starkov: Played by Jessie Mei Li, Alina is an orphan and soldier in the First Army whose latent power may be the key to setting her troubled country free.
- Malyen Orstev: Played by Archie Renaux, Mal is Alina’s childhood friend and a gifted tracker in the First Army whose world unravels after a brutal ambush in the Shadow Fold.
- Kaz Brekker: Played by Freddy Carter, Kaz is a rising star in the criminal underworld and leader of the Crows with a gift for unlikely schemes and a thirst for vengeance.
- Inej Ghafa: Played by Amita Suman, Inej is a key member of Kaz’s gang. Known as the Wraith, she is a dangerous spy with a troubled past and impeccable knife skills.
- Jesper Fahey: Played by Kit Young, Jesper is a gambler and sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager – even one as risky as running with Kaz.
Need a TL;DR? Watch the video below to see how the cast and crew brought the gorgeous fantasy world of Shadow and Bone to life.
Make sure to catch Shadow and Bone when it premieres on 23 April, only on Netflix!