Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Square Fish
Date published: June 5, 2012
Page Count: 416
Summary: 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, which is followed by book two, Siege and Storm, and book three, Ruin and Rising. This title has Common Core connections, and this deluxe paperback edition includes an interiew with author Leigh Bardugo, a lost letter from Mal, discussion questions, and more.
A great fantasy book, overall! I could not put this book down!
I found out about this book through the Bookstagram (Instagram) and bookish Twitter communities. There were numerous photos of The Grisha Trilogy on both social media platforms, and the colourful, and perfectly balanced covers really caught my attention. It wasn’t long before I looked the first book of the series (Shadow and Bone) up on Goodreads, and after reading the summary, immediately added it to my “to read” list. Some months passed after this, however, as I continuously received review copies of books to read and review. I am in no way complaining at the amount of books which I have had the opportunity to read (I wish you could see how happy this has actually made me), but it did keep me busy.
In late September, when Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom was released (the sequel to Six of Crows), I saw that duology all over my social media. And I felt the strong urge to read them. This also coincided with a lull in the amount of books which I had accepted to review, and also with my decision to no request any more review books for the rest of 2016, so that I could tackle some of the books which have been waiting patiently on my TBR list.
I came across some information which left me a little confused however; I had read somewhere that the Six of Crows duology, and The Grisha Trilogy were somehow connected or took place in the same world. I don’t like spoiling things for myself by reading the wrong thing first, so I asked my Twitter followers which series I should read first, and the majority voted for The Grisha Series because that story line takes place first.
Thus my decision was made, and here we are.
Needless to say, I had been bombarded with opinions about The Grisha Series for months before actually opening the first book, and it should come at no surprise that I therefore had some expectations in place for this book series. But the moment I took that first look at the map in Shadow and Bone, I knew that I had nothing to worry about, and that I had picked up a very good book.
And indeed, Shadow and Bone did not let me down. The world is highly detailed and well fleshed-out. Ravka, the home country of our main character and narrator, Alina, is based upon Tsar-era Russia, which is one of my favourite things about this book. The landscape, the weather, the architecture, the fashion, and some of the foreign terms (there are words from the Ravkan language, as well as from some of the other countries in this series, peppered all throughout the book). While Bardugo did not have Alina shift from her narrative to explain what some things were, I found that it was easy to look things up on the internet, and I also liked that we would learn about particular things along with Alina.
The characters were very enjoyable to read about because they were interesting, memorable, and they were very distinct from one another. Alina, our main character and narrator, was frustrating at times when she wouldn’t catch on to things quick enough, or when she stubbornly refused to do certain things. But I told myself that this just made her feel more real, because if she were perfect in every way, she would be considered a Mary Sue, and would make the narrative painful to read. The other characters were also great, and Bardugo really kept me guessing about a lot of their motives and choices, which was great. I don’t like predictable characters or stories!
Shadow and Bone’s pacing was just right, in that Bardugo gave us enough action (without it becoming tiring), and then enough of a resting period where we would immerse ourselves into the Ravkan world, take everything in, before the next bout of action. The writing was very good. It kept me interested in the plot and characters, and was easy to understand. The only un-positive (as I do not want to use the word “negative”) thing I have to say about the writing is that some of the dialogue felt too modern for this high fantasy setting. I think that there is a norm which has been set, regarding the kind of language used in the dialogue (as well as the writing in the books which are in the story, for example). And when it comes to high fantasy written in English, this norm (at least for me), is proper, British English. Whether the actual language in the story is anything like English does not matter, and this is not me being an overbearing, ethnocentric Westerner. If the book is written in English, the dialogue and such, has to be written like, let’s say 1700 – 1900 British English.
This reason, along with my expectation of just a little more (I’m not sure what exactly), is what made me rate this book as a 4.5 out of 5, rather than a complete 5. But don’t let that deter you from reading the book! A 4.5 rating is still very good, and I do highly recommend Shadow and Bone! I had a very good experience with the book overall, and I am currently trying to make time to devour the second book in the series!
Highly recommended to readers of high fantasy, who enjoy relatable characters, interesting plot twists, and a unique magic-system!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of Six of Crows and the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising). She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.
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