Shadow and Bone Review

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Media by Netflix

Shadow and Bone is a new Netflix series based on the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy written by Leigh Bardugo. The first season follows the first book of the series while creating new plotlines based on characters from Bardugo’s spinoff duology “Six of Crows.”

Turning a book into a TV show or movie can be risky. It can mess up a character, stray too far from the book or just be a bad show. Netflix’s new “Shadow and Bone”, directed by Lee Toland Krieger’s, Mairzee Almas, Dan Liu, and Jeremy Webb is an interesting and well made TV show, but does not excel in its TV adaptation.

The show covers the first book of Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy “Shadow and Bone” as well as one of her spinoff duologies, “Six of Crows.” The first season covers the first book in the trilogy and brings in most of the main characters from her duology. 

It focuses on orphan mapmaker Alina Starkov and her war torn world plagued by the Shadow Fold (Fold), a place of complete darkness with monsters called volcra that kill many each year. 

One day, Alina finds out she is the legendary Sun Summoner, someone who is capable of destroying the Fold and fixing her world. 

Now, I have read almost all of the Grishaverse (the universe this book is based on) books written by Leigh Bardugo. So, I had lots of background knowledge and a very good understanding of the world when I watched the show. 

And this background knowledge is pretty important when you first watch the show. Something the show lacks is worldbuilding. Starting with the first episode, viewers are thrown into the world, not getting a lot of information.

The characters themselves seemed to be brought straight from the books. Every actor understood their assignment perfectly.”

Because I have read the books, I understand the characters, the world and the magic system. The book explains the different magical positions and details around the characters a lot better than the books. People like my family —  who have not read the books before —  needed an explanation of details they did not understand. 

The show itself took many creative liberties, using the books as a kind of outline. It follows the main events of the books, but adds many new details and scenes. As well as adding a completely new storyline with some of the characters from her duology. 

These new storylines, while different from the book, add so much to the story and made it much more enjoyable to watch. They develop the characters in ways that the books are not able to. 

The added scenes include detailed backstories and scenes that create a stronger bond between the characters. Especially with Alina and her best friend Mal, their chemistry and bond are significantly better than in the books.

The characters themselves seemed to be brought straight from the books. Every actor understood their assignment perfectly. Little mannerisms done by actors like Kit Young, who played Jesper, made the characters something special. 

“Shadow and Bone,” while it can be confusing, is a highly enjoyable show. It’s three dimensional characters keep me hooked. It strays from the books, but adds addictive scenes that make the story more complex. I am eagerly awaiting the next season.