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.
The Grisha Trilogy is a much loved young adult fantasy series and it’s easy to see why.
Leigh Bardugo has created a world that is unique and atmospheric and so different to other fantasy worlds and it was easy to be swept up in the wonderful storytelling. The characters are compelling and likeable and I became invested in Alina early on. Alina is such a strong female character in this book, and she doesn’t shy away from saying exactly what she’s thinking, which I love. No matter whether she’s talking to her best friend, Mal, or the Darkling, she speaks her mind. She is on occasion self-conscious and naive, but this only serves to make her a relatable character.
Mal is also a likeable character and the ‘childhood sweetheart love interest’ of Alina, although neither of them will acknowledge it to one another, but their dedication to each other is endearing. The Darkling is easily the most intriguing character of all, and I spent the whole book trying to piece together a coherent picture of who and what he was. There’s a whole host of side-characters that help to build up a picture of the world of Ravka.
The Grisha themselves are one of the most fascinating group of people I’ve read about in a fantasy series. In any other fantasy book, their abilities would be touted as ‘magic’ but in Bardugo’s world, they are simply practitioner’s of the Small Sciences (and magic is something else entirely). Their abilities, classification and class system was so interesting and I just wanted to know more about them and the Second Army.
I’m so glad I started this series, and I can’t wait to read the rest.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.
author // Leigh Bardugo
publisher // Hachette Australia
genre // Young Adult, Fantasy
publication date // October 2014
format // Paperback