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 her 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.
©2012 Leigh Bardugo (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Shadow and Bone is one of the best Fantasy books I’ve read in a really long time! The dark, twisted, magical world that Leigh Bardugo created sucked me in from the very beginning, and I couldn’t get enough! At Leigh Bardugo’s signing, she spoke about the cover of Shadow and Bone…about how much she loves it and about how there are elements in the cover that are really significant to the story. I’ll have to admit that I was impatiently waiting for the moment that I would understand what these element meant while I was listening (yeah I read it by Audible) to Shadow and Bone, and now I’m super excited that I’m in the know! I’m pretty sure I squealed the moment I figured it out. Isn’t that just silly? I think I probably appreciated it even more because I already knew there was something significant about the cover before I even read the book.
The fantasy world that Leigh created is truly unique. It’s been a while since I’ve read a high fantasy book, and I forgot how much I truly enjoy them. And Leigh made it especially enjoyable because every moment while reading I had no idea what to expect, and that is what made reading Shadow and Bone so fun.
As for the characters, Alina was the perfect female protagonist. I loved watching her grow and I understood and respected her actions throughout the story. As for the dudes, I was a fan of The Darkling throughout most of the story, but I’m now actually a huge fan of Mal!
Overall, the story was amazing, the world was awesome, and the characters were very well developed…AND I’m now dying to get my hands on Siege and Storm.
I like to think of myself as open-minded; even when I do particularly care for a book I give it the benefit of the doubt and reason that it's just my cup of tea. Rarely do I outright hate a book.
With that in mind, I hated, hated, hated, hated, absolutely hated Shadow and Bone! I hated everything about it! And for the life of me I cannot figure why the author is trumpeted as the next big thing, or how this book in innovative by any stretch of the imagination!
Let's start with the characters. First Alana Starkov (technically ought to have been Starkova, but I doubt the author so much as touched a Russian to English dictionary). Good Ford, what a whiny, self-centered little...I probably shouldn't curse. I'm sorry, but she can't think one sentence, on measly little sentence without whining about her imperfections, or gushing about her beloved Mal, or generally not giving a damn about anyone but her own selfish needs. Actually, no, she was perfectly willing to toss away her talents to be with her beloved Mal. Bottom Line: Alana Starkov = Mary Sue
Now, Mal and the Darkling. Mal is completely one demential with not personality beyond being Alana's perfect love interest. The Darkling, on the other hand, is a not to subtle Edward Cullen knockoff; all dark, brooding and boarder line abusive to Alana (and yet she loves him so).
The rest of the characters were waaaaay more interesting than the core three; why the hell wasn't this story about them?! So, as for world building, we have Ravka, a serial numbers filed off version of 18th century Russia; boarder end by totally isn't Scandanavia, and couldn't possibly be China (who eats their wizards and make instruments of their bones). Again, the lack of research is apparent in such instances as a character getting drunk...on children's beer, and the butchering of the Russian language.
The authors has explain all sorts of fascinating world building facts in interviews, yet seems to have forgotten to include them within the context of the novel itself. Bottom Line: World Building = thin as rice paper.
What really irks me isn't the cultural appropriation, the horrible messages and morals, or the cardboard characters. No, what really gets me is that the author seems to posses genuine talent and ability, but squanders it with romantic plot tumors, YA cliches, and pandering to love-sick fourteen year olds; all the the detriment of the novel.
If that were the end of it; I would still dislike, but not hate this novel. What pushes me over is how anyone could call this bold, innovative, well written, or possibly award worthy!
Bottom Line: don't waste your time. If you want so good fantasy in a none standard setting checkout Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon, instead. You'll be glad you did.
If I could give this series 6 stars.. or 7... or 8.... I would. This series as a whole has stuck with me. It is my absolute all time favorite series, standing beside the ACOTAR series by SJM. I have yet to connect with another series as strongly as I have with these two.
So let me try to put my love for this book into a few categories.
Overall Plot + Theme
Alright. I don't want to go over the details of the plot in this review -- because I went into this not knowing one darn thing about it so every single page was a surprise for me! What I will say is this... this book will be a wild ride in a dark fairytale-esque world with unpredictable characters. There is action, magic, romance, intrigue.. and really.. what more could you want from a series? I was absolutely 100% entranced with every page that I read... and that feeling continued with the second and third book.
But I will say this... just when I thought I knew what was going on... just when I thought I was safe... well, Leigh Bardugo, you got me.
I found myself jumping out of my bed screaming.. LITERALLY screaming... "Run Alina run!!!" or "Give in Alina, just give in!"
If I could get stuck in any world from any book- this would be the one. It is vivid, dark, magical, and completely entrancing.
Here's the thing. I've read a lot of negative reviews basing their reasons on the fact that Leigh Bardugo didn't make a convincing Russian world... but my opinion is that his is her world- not actual Russia- she can do whatever she wants! Sure it has Russian inspiration, but it is clearly its own place. Maybe if you are really attached to the Russian language, it would bother you... but my opinion is to leave preconceived notions aside and let this be what it is.
Alina, our heroine.
As with many first books, she needs to grow up some. She is fairly naive, but I liked growing up with her through this series. She's very relatable, in my opinion, darn right hysterical. She's very common with familiar insecurities that we all face. She gets a lot of grief for the mistakes she makes in this book... but come on ladies- I think we would all make the same mistakes she makes, if put in her situation. She will always be one of my favorite heroines because of how relatable she is. I adore her.
I'm not going to say too much about him other than this. He is without a doubt the most interesting character I've ever read about. Ladies, good luck. Honestly I wish I could put some of my favorite quotes from the book here, but it would spoil.
I can't even go into the rest of the characters without spoiling. Just enjoy trying to predict everyone!
This is my favorite magic system out of any book. I think that stems from me being an artist. The way Leigh describes the powers that some of the characters *cough* have.. its so unique and abstract... like a painting. And classes of magic? Freaking sweet.
This series overall is probably the most quotable one out there, in my opinion anyway. Simply gorgeous. And the pacing? I don't know how some people think this is slow... the pace was like.. holy freaking I can't keep up with my emotions...
The narrator who does this series is PHENOMENAL. It for sure enhanced my experience of this book 100000%. So yes, I HIGHLY recommend giving the audiobook a go!
So to summarize all of my thoughts...
Thank you Leigh Bardugo for this precious gift. Thank you.
And just a hint for the next book... it may or may not introduce my next all time favorite character...
;) ;) DON'T STOP HERE!!
Writer, actor, improviser, and family man working as a content writer/editor in a SaaS Marketing Department.
Had me for awhile and lost me at the end. I can't stay emotionally connected to characters who make choices that go against the intelligence the author has already set up for them just to serve a clever ending.
Author was amazing. Quick moving storyline. This is my first book from this author hardback or via audible. I will be looking for more from Leigh Bardigo as well as more narrated by Lauren Fortgang. Kept me well entertained, and I was sad when it ended. Author did a good job describing the world the characters lived in without getting boring. Story was between juvenile and an adult read.
Its sequel series Six of Crows is better, but this was still a good performance, an interesting storyline, and helpful history that gives background for Six of Crows.
I am listening to this series for the second time and this is the first book of the series. The "language" of the book envelops you, and sends you on journey to a place similar to a fictional Czech Republic or Prague. It is a tad confusing in the beginning, but my biggest suggestion is to stick with it. I promise you will not be disappointed! It is a story of triumph over evil with magical twists and turns. There is love, magic, underdogs, and whimsy. It is very similar to Avatar: The last air bender, but on a more mature level. Definitely recommend this series for teens and up.
I absolutely loved this book. It made me furious at some points but it was also able to surprise me. This book really welcomes you and shows you this whole new world. I would definitely recommend this book to teens and adults.
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