Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Page Count: 358
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Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold-a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, 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.
As the threat to the kingdom mounts and 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.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
Coming back to the Grisha Trilogy, I never knew what to expect. How can you when Leigh whips you from one fantastical world to the next? I’ve anticipated this series since Six of Crows enchanted me.
Obviously, the first series doesn’t surpass my love for the second. And nothing will. Kaz owns my heart, so there’s no trying. But I knew I should have read it when I was younger. But I can’t resist the pull of Leigh’s writing. Her world building outclasses several authors I love. So I always want to come back to her universe.
Grisha practice the Small Science. And each caster is split into three orders: Corporalki; who are Heartrenders and Healers; Etherealki, who are Summoners; and Materialki, who are Fabrikators. Let me tell you: the magic system and the political intrigue in this series still captivate me to this day. Even though these Grisha are powerful, they must serve in the Second Army, where some consider themselves the superior beings in Ravka. I cannot get over how Leigh has crafted her debut book though.
Alina Starkov is your typical YA heroine who doesn’t know her own strength or beauty. Yup. Leigh went there. But what makes me enjoy Alina’s growth is how the new Sun Summoner is sarcastic. Praise the book gods! Finally, a character knows how to use sarcasm properly. While her voice at the beginning is somewhat annoying, I grew to enjoy her as a character. Now, with Malyen Oretsev—Alina’s friend, secret love, and soldier in the First Army—is harder to get around. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoyed him, but he grew on me toward the end.
Now let the lower creatures step aside so the Darkling can take centre stage. Yes, I loved his scenes. And he’s one reason why I kept reading during the slower sections. He is such a dynamic and conflicting character, and yet I adore him as the villain.
But I hoped for more action where the slow pacing detracted from the overall storyline. I don’t mind a slow build, but sometimes I was looking for more. And what threw me off is the difference in writing style and voice. Six of Crows vastly eclipses her previous storytelling in the Grisha Trilogy. But it shows how far she has evolved as a writer though.
If you’ve fallen in love with Leigh’s other work, I recommend reading Shadow and Bone before you dive head first into King of Scars. Leigh is a queen at writing the perfect plot twist, and I’m glad finally to strike her debut novel off my TBR list.