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Bardugo, Leigh

Shadow and Bone

Ravka, a nation divided by the monster-filled Shadow Fold, pins its hopes on Alina Starkov, a refugee with no notable skills until a crisis unveils her extraordinary power to save her injured friend. Her ability could liberate Ravka, leading her to the royal court for training among the Grisha, a magical elite. However, as she navigates the opulence and intrigue of court life under the Darkling's guidance, Alina must face the deceptive depths of Grisha politics and the truths within her own heart.

Shadow and Bone

My Rating 📖📖📖📖/5📖


"Shadow and Bone" is the first novel in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, a young adult fantasy series set in a world inspired by Tsarist Russia, called Ravka. This enchanting novel introduces readers to a richly detailed universe of magic, intrigue, and darkness. At the heart of the story is Alina Starkov, a seemingly ordinary soldier in the army, who, in a moment of lethal danger, discovers a power within her that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free from the grip of the Shadow Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh.


🌍 Plot and Setting

The novel skillfully constructs a world where Grisha, practitioners of the Small Science, serve as the elite magical military force of Ravka, divided by the perilous Shadow Fold. Alina's journey from obscurity to the lavish court of the Grisha, where she trains to hone her newfound abilities, is filled with trials, betrayals, and a struggle for power. Bardugo's writing vividly brings to life the opulent yet perilous world of the Grisha, juxtaposing the beauty and brutality of Ravka with skillful ease.


🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Characters and Relationships

Alina Starkov emerges as a relatable and complex protagonist, whose internal battles are as compelling as her external ones. Her relationships, particularly with her childhood friend Mal and the enigmatic Darkling, the leader of the Grisha, are central to the story, offering a mix of romance, friendship, and rivalry. Bardugo excels in creating multifaceted characters, each with their own desires, fears, and secrets, making the narrative both rich and unpredictable.


📚 Themes and Messages

"Shadow and Bone" delves into themes of identity, power, and the nature of darkness and light. Alina's journey is not just about mastering her abilities but also about understanding her place in the world and the complexities of choosing between right and wrong. The novel explores the seductive allure of power and the costs that come with it, posing questions about corruption, loyalty, and the sacrifices one must make for the greater good.


Memorable Quotes

  • "I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I love you, Alina, even the part of you that loved him."

  • "I'm not Grisha. I'm a mapmaker. I'm not even a very good mapmaker."

  • "I've been waiting for you a long time, Alina. You and I are going to change the world."

  • "Make me your villain."

  • "The problem with wanting, is that it makes us weak."

  • “So I'm the Darkling's prisoner?" "You're under his protection." "What's the difference?" "Pray you never find out.”


💭 Final Thoughts

Leigh Bardugo's "Shadow and Bone" is a compelling start to a trilogy that promises adventure, magic, and a fight against the darkness. With its richly imagined world, complex characters, and gripping plot, it's a must-read for fans of fantasy. Bardugo weaves a tale that is both unique and familiar, pulling readers into a world where light and darkness battle, and where the heart's desires can be both a gift and a curse. Whether you're drawn to the intricate magic system, the depth of character development, or the twists of the plot, "Shadow and Bone" is a journey worth taking.


Next in the The Shadow and Bone Trilogy



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