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Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) Hardcover – June 5, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: Alina Starkov has never been anything more than yet another orphan of her country’s on-going wars...until she channels magic not seen in centuries to protect her best friend, Mal. Her new-found powers attract the attention of the Darkling, the most powerful of the country’s magic-wielders. He tells Alina that her magic could heal the Shadow Fold, if she can only learn to control it--and if she agrees to trust the Darkling despite the mystery that surrounds his very existence. Leigh Bardugo brings a cast of well-defined characters and a unique magic system to her lavishly imagined world, where light doesn’t always conquer dark and deception runs so deep that it becomes truth. And yet, against all expectations, the bonds of sacrifice and friendship remain too strong to be severed in this thrilling debut. --Malissa Kent
Amazon Exclusive: Editor Noa Wheeler Interviews Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone
Nora Wheeler: I was really struck when I was reading Shadow and Bone by the beautiful setting. It's not our world exactly but it feels very Russian. Can you tell me a little bit more about the setting and how it played into your writing?
Leigh Bardugo: I think a lot of people have come to expect the medieval European setting from fantasy, and I wanted to use a different cultural touchstone for my world. There's also this terrible tension between the beauty of Russian culture and the brutality of its history that just lends itself to high-drama narrative. The more I researched the more inspired I got.
NW: I truly believe that Shadow and Bone is a book for everyone. It's fantasy but there's plenty here for someone who's not a regular fantasy reader to fall in love with. That makes it feel different to me from a lot of what's out there. Do you agree? And if so, what do you think makes this book different?
LB: I hope you're right! I tried really hard to make the book accessible to people who might not ordinarily pick up high fantasy. I'm a fantasy writer, so I love world building. I love maps. I love all that good stuff. But the story really began for me with the relationships between Alina and Mal and the Darkling. And I hope that comes through. Some people are put off by fantasy because they pick up a book and there are 10 terms and each one has 20 consonants and three apostrophes and you have no idea how to pronounce things and it kind of makes the book feel like work. So I tried to ease people into the world a bit more gently. That's also why I chose to tell the story from Alina's point of view. She's very down to earth, very pragmatic, has a modern sensibility. I hope her perspective will make it easier for readers to enter Ravka.
NW: Another thing I think makes this book so different is that the magic is very accessible. For instance, I love the idea of the Small Science, of something that looks like magic being an enhancement of what's actually around us all the time. Can you elaborate on that aspect of the story a little bit?
LB: I've just always been interested in the functionality of magic. I love Harry Potter and I always wondered what actually happens physically and structurally when you mutter a curse or wave a wand. I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of how the magic worked. So the Small Science is really about manipulating matter at its most fundamental levels. It's basically magical molecular chemistry.
NW: This is a little bit of a fangirl question, but if you could meet one of your characters who would it be and why?
LB: Well, my fangirl answer would be The Darkling. Because he's gorgeous and mysterious and dangerous and all those fun things. But I would also love to meet Genya. She kind of serves as Alina's guide into this magical world of the Grisha and the political maneuvering of the royal court. She's a combination of a make-up artist, a plastic surgeon, and a sorceress--and on the surface she's the classic fairy godmother, sassy best friend character, but there's a lot more to her than that. She's been kicked around and looked down on a lot throughout her life, yet she's always managed to keep her chin up and stay fabulous. I like that, and I think she'd be really fun to hang out with.
NW: What do you want readers to take away from this book?
LB: The message at the heart of the story is basically that the things that you fear most in yourself, the things that make you different, are also the things that give you power. And that embracing them can make you beautiful. So I would love it if people took that away from the book. I would also love it if people came away from it wanting to know what happens next for Alina and Mal! Things get really intense in the sequel, Siege and Storm. There are some new characters and what I hope will be some big surprises.
NW: Thanks so much for talking about Shadow and Bone with me today.
LB: My pleasure. Thank you!
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From School Library Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
Now you might question why, if it's so dangerous, does anyone even try to cross the Fold? It's due to geography. Ravka is hemmed in by hostile countries to north and south and to the east, there is nothing but mountains. Across the Fold lies Ravka's port cities, it's only means to export and import goods, supplies, and wealth. In essence, West Ravka is the backbone of the land's economy. The only way to get across the Fold is to bring armed guards or soldiers, and hopefully, some Grisha.
Grisha are the equivalent to what we would call sorcerors. They don't really use magic though. They simply have the ability to manipulate matter at its most basic level. Kinda more like the alchemists in Fullmetal Alchemist. Some can control the elements such as the Inferni or Tidemakers. Others are soldiers or healers that can effect living things, either positively or negatively. Some are even used in manufacturing.Read more ›
Admittedly, this book wasn't an instant pick for me when it showed up in my Vine selections. But then I remembered I had put it on the wishlist I use to keep track of upcoming books, so I grabbed it, and wow, am I happy I did.
I hated having to put "Shadow and Bone" down. Real life is always so annoying when you're in the middle of a great book, and that's just what this is. I'm going to try every way I can to get my hands on a copy of book two before it comes out, because I'm THAT eager to find out what happens to Alina, Mal, the Darkling, and Ravka.
At the start of "Shadow and Bone," Alina is a regular girl. Unremarkable, even. She's terrified of crossing the Shadow Fold, but then, so is everyone else. The Fold is a swath of darkness across Ravka, cutting the country off from the sea. Volcra, monsters that attack humans, live in the Fold, and it's said they can smell human blood from miles away. Mal, Alina's best friend, reassures her that nothing is going to happen.
But of course, something does happen. On their way across the Fold, the volcra attack. When they go after Mal, nearly killing him, Alina is desperate to save him. Somehow, she does. Light suddenly fills the Fold, driving the volcra back.
And that's where the story really starts. Alina is whisked away from her life in the army to train as a Grisha. Grisha are sort of like witches or mages. Usually, children are tested to see if they have Grisha abilities, and if they do, they are taken to a special school to be trained. Alina didn't pass the test as a child, but she's one of the most powerful Grisha ever. Only she can get rid of the Fold and rescue Ravka from darkness.Read more ›
I've been thinking about this novel for the past four days, trying to gather my thoughts in one cohesive review. But I may have to go bullet-style, because there's so much I want to address and not sure if I can if I go about it my usual way.
Alina--oh, Alina. I wish I liked you. I think this is my biggest problem with Shadow and Bone. She just wasn't a character I liked at all. I hated that she thinks she isn't special at anything. I hated how she kept talking about her insecurities--girl, trust me, I get that, but you DO NOT HAVE TO REMIND THE READER EVERY OTHER PAGE. Seriously, you bothered me with that. Which, I'm all for the "average" looking protag, but I'd rather her be comfortable in her skin. And yeah, it's hard to be around gorgeous people (The Grishas) but honestly, there's only one you. Own it. I mean, she would say things like this and I would want to beat my head against the wall:
Genya's voice was light, but it had a funny little edge to it, and when I glanced at her, I saw that there were bright spots of color on her perfect cheekbones. I looked back through the windows to where I could still see David's bony shoulders and messy brown hair. I smiled. If a creature as gorgeous as Genya could fall for a skinny, studious Fabrikator, there might be hope for me yet.
"HOPE FOR ME YET"? WHAT THE CRAP. Oh no, you did not just say that. Oh wait, you did.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm a sucker for a great new fantasy world, so I've no idea why I waited so long to get into the Grisha Trilogy. Read morePublished 6 hours ago by Caitlin
No time to review this excellent story. I need to move on to the sequel NOW! Lovers of Hunger Games and Red Queen and Divergent...this is your new series!!!Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Three point five stars, rounded up (I wish Amazon would let us give half stars!)
I was talking with a friend the other day about the Young Adult label and what did it... Read more
This was a great start to the Grisha series! We meet Alina and Mal, two orphans who grow up under the care of Ana Kuya, living at the Duke 's estate. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Kendra Waldriff
It was the first book, and there was A LOT to introduce, including characters, their backstories, geography, politics, history, cannon. Read morePublished 5 days ago by hessbri
Do you ever read a book and then you just sit there at the end and have a fight with yourself over how you could have possibly waited so long to start?? Read morePublished 5 days ago by Tracy @ Cornerfolds
Like the characters and love the setting. Love it when I find a series after its completed. On to book 2Published 6 days ago by Kathleen E. Munroe
This was such an incredible read. I wasn't too sure what to think at first, but the minute Alina opened her mouth and showed what a strong young lady she is, I was hooked. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Devon