Holy shit, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to love this book as much as I did. Of course, the huge Crows fan that I am, I didn’t realise there were another set of books before SOC before getting halfway through the book. I got copies for Christmas, but never got around to reading them. The other week I was invited to the BKMRK event to celebrate some new summer titles, including the new cover releases of the Grishaverse trilogy! Of course that meant I HAD to read them, as having two lots of the same books on the favourites shelf just wouldn’t do!
Alina Starkov is a soldier. When her regiment is attacked whilst crossing the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters – Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.
Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha – her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift. But as Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.
I absolutely loved the dynamic of this book. I can see why some people say that it’s best to read this series before delving into Six Of Crows, as you get introduced to the world of the Grisha, how elite they are, what sort of powers they have and what they can control. However it’s not a requirement to read them first, as I didn’t and still had fair understanding of what happens.
Shadow & Bone is an excellent first instalment to what I’m hoping will be an exciting and gripping trilogy. Alina is a soldier, and has grown up with Mal knowing of the existence of Grisha and the knowledge of their mysterious leader, The Darkling. Now as a teenager, she is a solider preparing to cross what’s known as The Fold, a terrifying rip in the land inhabited by disturbing creatures and dark shadows. The Fold prevents people from crossing to other places, and was created by a previous Darkling. During their voyage, they are ambushed by these creatures and Alina unleashes an almighty wave of magic, magic that has lay dormant in her veins for years. Now seen as the Sun Summoner with the power to cut through darkness with blinding light, she is whisked away by The Darkling to train and grow stronger while he remains mysterious…
Leigh Bardugo crafts worlds so, so well. Instantly in this book, you are transported immediately to these settings with ease; the terrifying darkness of the Fold, the grandeur of Os Alta, even the bitter cold of Tsibeya. These places are unlikely to leave you after you finish the book, as their descriptions are so finely put together they leave lasting impressions on the reader. Put these with the beautiful map at the beginning of the book and you know exactly where the characters are travelling to, and how long it takes as well.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book too. Alina, although a bit whiny at times, grew on me as I read on. She had witty one liners, and was very much your typical teen character who’s had the weight of the world’s problems shoved on her shoulders and told to deal with them. It made her choices as a character interesting, as they would leave me waiting to see what impact she would have on her surroundings. Mal is also a main character, although he comes into the story properly again about midway. He’s a sweet and loyal character, and is a skilled tracker within the army.
But lets discuss The Darkling. He’s also another main character, but one that I had so much trouble with. At first glance, The Darkling is trying to right the wrongs of his ancestors, and is trying to bring out the best in Alina. There is a bit of romance bubbling under the surface, and I began to wonder whether Alina would be left to choose between Mal – who she has loved since they were young – or The Darkling, who is every bit the Tall Dark and Handsome stranger. As the book continues, things about The Darkling’s past begin to surface through the shroud of secrecy he keeps himself so guarded with, and you start to understand that he’s quite dark, disturbing and dangerous… Although knowing this, it just makes me even more excited to get properly into the next book in the series, Siege & Storm.
Final thought: A dark, intriguing and exciting start to the Grishaverse. 5/5