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Publisher's 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 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.

Featured Article: Alina Starkov—A Shadow and Bone Character Guide


Gather round, darklings, and let us tell you the tale of Alina Starkov, the star of the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Though the novel came out almost 10 years ago, the Grishaverse has expanded quite a bit since then. And now with the new Netflix adaptation, interest in Alina Starkov and the series at large is greater than ever. So keep reading to learn the answers to all your burning questions about Alina Starkov! (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

What listeners say about Shadow and Bone

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

People are dumb; this book was not

I was afraid to read this book bc some of the reviews were so SCATHING. I’m so glad I clicked anyways. I was swept into a world that interested me; one that felt familiar and foreign at the same time. If you are someone who has struggled with the shame of hiding parts of yourself from repeated trauma and/or neglect (or just plain old fear), then this MAY be the book for you. It may have a special meaning for your heart that tends to be lost on other folks. Not everything we hide is darkness - boy did I need that reminder! I wonder if some of what irks people about this book is a general ignorance of just how hard it is to come from a difficult childhood (the main character is an impoverished orphan forced to hide her powers) and find a way of belonging without sacrificing those abused parts of you all over again.

Over the years I have found that people will pick at anything that is hopeful, charming, cheese-y, and mythical bc they are too fraught with their entitled sense of “what art is” to love common, beautiful things. Has the love triangle been done before? Yes. Is the Darkling a sexier, younger version of Snape combined with Edward Cullen? Also yes. This book was NOT Dostoyevsky by any stretch of the imagination but who the hell cares. I’m glad it wasn’t. Frankly, I don't want to read something obtuse in the age of 2020/2021. I’m glad it was narrated by a woman who sounded a little corny at times. I thought her villainous voice was perfectly executed. People hate on the main character's whiney/codependant tenancies bc they've either a.) never been broken enough to become that dependent themselves or b.) been too proud to witness that kind of weakness in their own lives.

FINALLY. I am Russian and I did not find this to be cultural misappropriation at all. I actually felt honored that someone would set a story in the barren terrain of my ancestors.

186 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing- going to stick with Six of Crows

If I hadn’t bought books 1&2 together, I’d have stopped here. But, I continued on, and ultimately found each book in this trilogy to improve on the book before. I would have been upset at spending 3 credits, but am satisfied with getting all three on sale. I didn’t find heart or humor until books 2&3, when better characters enter the story. I will not re-listen to this trilogy, even though I have already re-listened to the stellar Six of Crows duology set in this same world.

Book 1 plays like every other YA series: Take an orphan/poor/scrawny kid, discover some rare power, spend half the book belaboring the training montage where everyone bullies and underestimates the kid, and then have a climax where the kid singlehandedly triumphs by one big “surprise” move. Oh, and if said kid is a girl, throw in a love triangle.

This is even more disappointing because I loved Six of Crows. Whereas this is generic YA fantasy, Six of Crows is a sharp steampunk fantasy duology that gives a unique take on an Ocean’s 11 heist, then an Ocean’s 13 revenge con in the sequel Crooked Kingdom, and features a cast of unique and complex characters.

Better books along similar lines:
🥀Looking for urban fantasy with a better, Buffy-esque lead? Try the Kate Daniels series, starting with Magic Bites (later books even have some Russian mythology including Chernobog and volves.

🥀If the Russian fantasy side was your main jam, try Uprooted or Spinning Silver (the former has a Russian narrator that takes getting used to, but the story is phenomenal, the latter has a bit slower story but a better narrator).

🥀If the steampunk urban fantasy springs your sprocket, go with Cinder, starting a cool series twisting fairy tales and cyborgs.

🥀For more unique medieval fantasy in a completed series, consider the Cerulean Queen series starting with A Queen in Hiding (beginning a quartet involving multiple strong women, a vibrant magic system, and world spanning epic).

🥀Or, try my current favorite: the post-apocalypse trilogy starting with Lifelike by J Kristoff. Pulpy send up of movies like Johnny Mnemonic with way better, funnier girls who may be good or bad or just crazy... but you’ll never know for sure until the end.

90 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Run of The Mill Debut

Disclaimer: I read the Six of Crows Duology before the Grisha Trilogy. Also, I do not tend to read young adult fantasy very often.

After completing the Six of Crows duology I was very intrigued by both the world and character development that Bardugo showed me in those two novels. I had heard rumors that this duology was better than her Grisha Trilogy and as far as Shadow and Bone is concerned I have to agree.

Lets start off with the good. I enjoyed Bardugo's world building for the most part. She does a good job of creating an interesting landscape and showing us a very convoluted magic system. The word convoluted is important though, because I feel as though the boundaries of the magic system are very loose and many items are not explained in enough detail for my taste. I was often confused as to how powerful the magic that is used actually is, at one point you have a single Grisha (magic user) killing multiple people effortlessly, but then at other times common soldiers are able to overcome a Grisha and simply dodge their magical abilities. Therefore, there is definitely a magic system consistency problem, but this isn't uncommon among high fantasy novels.

The other element that Bardugo succeeds in some degree at is her character development. She really does do a good job at showing real emotions from her characters and making their personalities individualized and believable, although they lack the same flare and interestingness as her Six of Crows characters. However, the main problem with the characters for me was Alina herself, who I generally found a little obnoxious, naive, and very resistant to change. She really did annoy me especially for the first half of the book, although she did improve as the book went on.

The main problem I had with this novel is the plot is a little generic, and really lacks any flare or twist that really jumps out at you. In comparison with her duology the plot seems incredibly simplistic, and the rest of the book suffers for it.

Just a quick note on the narrator, I thought she gave a decent performance, but I did feel she lacked range of voices to some degree, and she worked a little hard on her accents, which came off as a bit ridiculous at times.

In conclusion, I put this novel down to first novel inexperience, and it was just good enough for me to buy Siege and Storm. One final thought: Ms. Bardugo is far better at writing in several points of view as opposed to singular first person.

104 people found this helpful

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Like Twilight in 18th Century Russia

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.

80 people found this helpful

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Arrrgh, I can't take any more. Please make it stop

I was duped by all the 4 star reviews. Here is, in my estimation, what someone interested in listing to this story should know.
1. The antagonist/part time love interest (cliché anyone?) of the "heroine" is named The Darkling. Enough said.
2. After 5 hours the author finally gets to the plot twist (a.k.a. the point of the story so far). Seriously I could have listened to the first 30-40 minutes, skipped to the 5 hour mark, and not missed anything of significance!
3. From the publisher's 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." Learned about this in the first hour of the story, and it lasted about 10 minutes. This was the best part of the 5 hours I made it through, and was mediocre at best.
4. Also from publisher's summary "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." THIS IS THE NEXT 4.5 HOURS, or roughly 1/2 of the book!!! Her failure at training (which the author does not give any inkling as to why she is failing, she just is) is over an hour long. Later it is revealed that her block was self-imposed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Oh, and by the way, her "super power" (spoiler alert) is creating light. Ultimately this was 5 hours of white noise, and is where I cry off. At this rate would take 10-20 books to complete the story. I am done.

38 people found this helpful

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Twilight, but with pointless magic!

Uggg another love triangle book. Hey let's make the lead female character completely useless and dependent on the male leads for EVERYTHING! My eyes got stuck in permeant eye roll for the last act. Will not continue with series. If you are into teenage frustration then this is the book for you!

11 people found this helpful

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Read this before committing.

I’ve written the review I wish I’d spotted before wasting my time and money on this book: Stay away! Don’t be fooled by the slick Netflix trailer. This book is actually about a catty sorority of witches who give each other magical makeovers and fight over boys. Will the female protagonist end up with her childhood jock friend or the bad boy warlock she just met? Who cares? I would only recommend this book to sociologists studying the shortcomings of contemporary tween fantasy fiction. I would advise my own teenage daughters that they would be better off rereading Harry Potter than spending any time with this pile of tired teen tropes.

9 people found this helpful

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😥

I thought that this book would be better. It did have a good ending but her new book, six of crows, was much better. A waste of time and money.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

So much potential wasted..

Oh my god I hate the progression in this book. The main character is a girl with the power of light which is unique to only her but she is so painfully stupid she totally ruins this book for me.

She is a train operative but her automatic instinct is to use her power which reveals her identity when she is supposedly trying to keep a low profile.

So many parts of this book are molded to fit the storyline but the writer doesn't seem to have a seamless way to bring it together without making all the characters look naive, ignorant idiots.

I pray the second book is better than this first one because the world building and intrigue that is developed in this world is really interesting

29 people found this helpful

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disappointed

I LOVED Six of Crows and it's sequel. both were amazing. This one just pissed me off. Stupid Girl doing everything they tell her not to. I just wanted to slap her.I got bored at the half way point and almost gave up. Not sure if I will listen to the others. Six of Crows was leagues above this.

81 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-23-21

Not suitable for adults

Apart from the narration which is great, there is not much here for adults. This book is a YA full of unlikeable teen characters that care more about appearances, gossip and their latest crush than they care about anything else.

The only reason I give it two stars overall is the fact that the setting, which seems to be inspired by imperial Russia just before the Bolshevik revolution, felt new and interesting to me. Shame it didn’t amount to anything worthwhile in the first book. I won’t continue this series.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Annette
  • 07-08-13

Interesting YA Fantasy Debut

I picked up this book for its fantasy elements – Shadow and Bone introduces us to a divided country called Ravka, besieged by the myth and magic. Leigh Bardugo’s vision for Ravka felt wonderfully cohesive – with Russian sounding place names and slang, and good explanations were offered for the Shadow Fold and other anomalies.

Alina’s ‘narration’ was full of personality and wit, and terms like “miserable oaf” leap off the page. I liked Alina although at times she lacked confidence. Mal’s character was initially presented as a womaniser and it wasn’t until the last third of the novel that I started to warm up to him.

The storyline throws you a few curveballs, which was a great surprise. These stopped the story from coming across as too sedate (despite it’s slow, plodding pace) and leant depth to the novel. I enjoyed the hints of romance and the scattering of action sequences, but it was the lack of certainty which really kept me on my toes.

I am interested to see where the sequel will take us. My ‘stab-in-the-dark’ prediction: Siege and Storm will somehow feature the King’s second son who was off training in the army during the events of Shadow and Bone…

22 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Emma (Star Crossed Reviews)
  • 12-28-18

great start to the series

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this via Netgalley but I actually read (listened) to this on audible. I sign up to a lot of blog tours and I end up pausing some books half way through so I can meet blog tour deadlines (totally going to be more organised next year) but I have found I can listen to books while I do other things like getting ready for work, driving, washing up etc so I actually listened to this one instead of reading the netgalley copy.

I was actually going to listen to Six of Crows as it had a full cast but I found out that the two series were related and this book was chronologically first. A lot of people said it was fine to listen to Six of Crows first but I'm a bit of stickler for that sort of thing so I went for this book (and the rest of the trilogy first) I am actually glad I did it that way round because there's a lot of world building that is in Shadow and Bone which I think you are expected to know when you read Six of Crows.

I found Alina a realistic character for one in such a made-up world. She is your average girl. There's nothing special about her. She is in love with her best friend who doesn't realise it and carries out her day to day chores and roles. I know a lot of people don't like Alina but I found her character intriguing because she was such an average girl before she discovers that she's actually grisha.

Once Alina's true identity is discovered she meets The Darkling. Essentially the leader of the grisha. I had a love-hate relationship with The Darkling. There is something so appealing about him that you want to like him but you just know you shouldn't. He's also a great character to quote.

Leigh did an amazing job with the world building in this book. I believe it is inspired by Russian history. I am not big on history but Leigh did such a good job of pulling me into the world that it really didn't matter. Everything you need to know Leigh will tell you. Piece by piece.

This was a great start to the series that will have you gasping in shock, sitting on the edge of your seat in suspense and screaming in anger. As soon as I finished this one I had to start Siege and Storm because I knew I had to be back with these characters again.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ms. G. Sneesby
  • 01-10-21

Not your average love triangle

I was a little bit put off when the protagonist declared feelings for a childhood sweetheart, only for a dark handsome stranger to appear and catch her eye. ‘Here we go’ I thought another who’s she gonna pick. But actually the descriptions of their interactions put me firmly in her mind and I wasn’t sure who I’d pick either. But then the rest of the book happens!
I liked it, interesting to set it in a sort of Russia type place but with magic. I look forward to book 2 and the tv adaptation

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sam Lucas
  • 05-18-18

Pretty good but narration was weird

Very interesting world and captivating plot but at times was predictable. The Narration was weird sometimes couldn't tell when the protagonist was speaking or thinking as the narrator used the same voice. Sometimes had strange moments where they sounded like a different recording partway through narration like it's been edited. Also found it strange that a lot of the characters from the same country spoke with American accents (often the main characters) but some of the people then spoke with Eastern European accents and a lot of the words sounded Eastern European. The narrator should have gone all the way with the accents or not at all.

Don't get me wrong I would read this again but I wouldn't listen to it again. I would still recommend it.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Terri Woods
  • 10-23-19

A great start to a series

The perfect narrator for such a fantastical story, Miss Fortgang gives life to not only Alina's voice but to the whole cast, I don't think I can imagine them soundig any other way now.

As for the book itself, its been a long time since I've been so pushed to find out what happened next but with Shadow and Bone I simply could not devour it quick enough. The world is oddly realistic and enchanting, the characters complex and interesting. I'm looking forward to reading more from Leigh Bardugo.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-19-19

Not bad

A good beginning and a promising setting, but the characters are a bit feeble and something was lacking.
I thought this book might be a complete disaster on the first half but I still managed to come through to the end and my impression has improved a bit. If you're looking for some light romance, then this might be to your taste.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-21-18

Good story but performance was missing something.

I enjoyed the story...I think. I felt that the reading was lacking. I think a story that has such action needed a more dramatic reading.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sybil_ann79
  • 03-02-21

So worth the hype!

The excitement for Shadow and Bone was unreal. I started to read to this book but had to get it as an audiobook too because I needed that extra sensory enjoyment that only an audiobook can bring.
I’ve not been disappointed. The story started off slow initially but fell into a steady pace. I found myself second guessing the plot and my heart was racing up to the very end with trepidation.

Hype books don’t always do it for me and I wanted to get the book version before i get consumed by the upcoming Netflix series.

Highly recommend this book.

5 STARS for the Sun Summoner

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rae Seak
  • 07-25-18

Great narrative and voice.

Really enjoy the story. Was hoping that each character to portray in a suitable voice or sound.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Trish
  • 02-14-19

Awesome!

I bought this because I'd just finished the King of Scars and enjoyed it so much I wanted to start the series from the start. The author's writing is just amazing, and her themes have me thinking long after I press the pause button, but I was really disappointed with this book *at first*.

At the start came across like a teenage romance only it made too much sense for the most part. But after the King of Scars, I was pretty disappointed, because it's just not the kind of thing I'm interested in. I liked the fantasy, the world of magic the author has built is really intriguing and thought. I am just not up for the shallow 50 shades of romance thing. At one stage I groaned when a (spoiler I won't give away here) happened and I said that's it, I'm returning it. But everything else about the book was spot on (so don't let my personal opinion about teenage romance hold you back from buying this!) so I decided to give it a few more chapters.

I'm SO glad I did! The entire book jumped on it's head, what I thought was happening, actually hadn't been happening, betrayal, fighting and magic and swords and rifles! The pace ramped up so much I found I was often holding my breath. I seriously could not put it down, and the build up I'd rolled my eyes and groaned at, turned out to be like the slow haul at the beginning of a roller coaster, which really, was exactly what this book was like! Oh, and what a beautiful portrayal of real love as opposed to what passes for romance these days. What a ride.

Yes, read this book, I say, wholeheartedly. I really enjoyed it and by the end, I finally got used to the way the narrator read the story. It took two books for this to happen though. There were just a few ways she intoned things that kind of pulled me out of the story, and/or which I thought didn't suit the character but for the most part she is really, really good to listen to. So yeah! Two thumbs up! I'm stoked to see there is more for me to read in this series! I'm off to get the next book!

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Julia emms
  • 12-04-18

eh...

the book is fine but the narrator makes every single character sound like a stuck up snob, makes it REALLY hard to get attached to any characters

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • manga_me_over
  • 06-03-17

fantastic fantasy

this is a great way to start a fantasy trilogy. Soo good, I really liked the way the story had good character development, enough to keep you engaged with both the characters and the plot.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-16-21

Don’t waste your time

I was very excited to read this book when I saw the trailer on Netflix.
I found it a struggle from the start. What is an amazing storyline is ruined by the fast pace of the story. Jumping from one event to the next without fluidity. It all feels so rushed and juvenile. I was very disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-04-20

Good book

I started this book but then got bored with it and swapped to six of crows also by Leigh Bardugo which I fell in love with! After finishing the books in that set it made me determined to and wanting to read the other books in the Grisha series which lead me to finish this book, although reading six of crows first spoiled some things in this book for me it also helped compel me on as I wanted to find out how it ended up that way and started to enjoy the book much more once it got past the slow start.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anneli
  • 02-18-16

Ready for the next book!

Audio was very weak, constantly had to have it up at high volume. Overall really well written, found myself following every step eagerly. Already have downloaded the next book in the series :)

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kaari Watkins
  • 05-10-21

The show is better.

I was saddened to find out that my favorite characters don't exist in the book.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Joseph
  • 04-14-21

It's alright

Good, but not a fan of the focus on relationships, of there was more fantasy and action it would be better.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary
  • 11-25-20

Wow

I’m buying the box set for my 15 yr old daughter. I love that I have found another book series to avidly share with her. Thank you to the author and the beautiful reader.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Freedom
  • 04-16-19

I love this

Amazing storyline, definitely reading more.
New fan.
The details described is incredible, it takes you another world.
Would recommend

1 person found this helpful