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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!
See a map of the world of Shadow and Bone
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From School Library Journal
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 ›
Their next assignment is to cross a dangerous area called “the fold”. This is really dangerous and so the army has Grisha to accompany them. The Grisha are a magical breed who each wield a certain skill. (All children in this kingdom are tested for Grisha skills. Alina and Mal didn’t have any.) The fold is a dark space, created hundreds of years ago by a dark Grisha. The land is full of killer Volcra.
When their ship is attacked by Volcra, and Mal is injured, Alina’s power manifests in a burst of light to get the dark killers away. When the Grisha see what Alina can do she is swept away from Mal and her regiment to join the Grisha and train to save the world from the darkness.
Ok, now that we have that little summary out of the way, let me tell you everything that I LOVED about this story.
The world building: I don’t even want to imagine all the details that went into this for the author. It is just magical. There is a Russian feel to this world. It is elaborate and rough. The world is extravagant and full of details of tongue, food, dress and custom (← click for more info), that make it very unique. The army life for Mal and Alina is about what you would expect, but then we trickle in the politics and the presence of Grisha and it becomes something really unique. Alina is whisked away to the Little Palace to live with the Grisha, and there nothing little about this place.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A dark shadow threatens to engulf the country until the orphan, Alina, with her special powers is identified as the potential savior. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Reddspace
I was captivated by these characters! The story was engaging and the world building strong and complete. Read morePublished 3 days ago by TraceyS
This whole universe is thrilling and intricately woven. Truly a masterpiece. It's a great piece of fiction. Entertaining without being overtop, fresh and a surprisingly easy read.Published 3 days ago by marcela
A beautifully woven tale infused with Russian culture. I am fascinated by the way this trilogy developed and by the tone it presents.Published 16 days ago by Kira Budge
It had a fantastic plot twist! Not entirely what I expected, but still really good! I need five more words.Published 16 days ago by Emily
This was a fairly generic fantasy novel. There is an orphan, and a dark power, and the orphan just happens to have the power to dispel the dark power, and trains and makes friends,... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Jess S
The great nation of Ravka is troubled by war with her neighbours and by the Shadow Fold, a mysterious force of darkness which has cut off the west coast from the rest of the... Read morePublished 25 days ago by A. Whitehead