Is Shadow and Bone Based on a Book? Book Series Explained

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Credit: Netflix

Shadow and Bone is an upcoming Netflix show due to be released this Friday, the 23rd of April. Judging from the trailer and other promotional material, this is going to be an intriguing, diverse fantasy show, which fans have eagerly waited for a long time. If you know anything about the premise, you might have heard that Shadow and Bone is based on a YA fantasy book – but which one? If you are interested in the source material of the Netflix show, keep reading.

Which Book is Shadow and Bone Based on?


The Shadow and Bone Netflix show takes its name from Leigh Bardugo's debut YA fantasy novel of the same name. Bardugo's Shadow and Bone was published in 2012 and it was the first of her many YA books taking place in her fantasy world, now collectively known as the Grishaverse. In Shadow and Bone, Alina Starkov is an unassuming young soldier and map maker living in war-torn Ravka, a fictional country loosely based in Russia.

Her story begins with her as part of an army marching through the Fold, a dark, barren wasteland that cuts most of Ravka off from the sea and is plagued by dangerous monsters known as "volcra." When she and her friends are attacked by volcra, Alina displays an extraordinary talent she did not know she had. She's a strong Grisha – a person who can fight by manipulating the elements. More specifically, Alina is a Sun Summoner; a rare Grisha, who can summon and manipulate light.

From there on, the mysterious Darkling, who acts as leader of the Grisha, takes Alina to the capital Os Alta to train her. Alina struggles to fit in with her Grisha peers, all of whom have been training since childhood. Many see her as a saint, due to her extraordinary talent, but many others oppose her. Her coming-of-age journey involves magic, loss, and love.

This is the story Netflix's Shadow and Bone will tell… for the most part.


What About the Other Grishaverse Books?

Shadow and Bone is part of Grisha Trilogy, Leigh Bardugo's first full Grishaverse story and, according to many, not her best. The trilogy has been praised for its plot, incredible world-building, and mythology. However, many readers find Alina a flat, angsty character of the kind you would encounter all too frequently in YA books of the early 2010s. Ultimately, her story focuses too much on her indecision over her many potential love interests. Thankfully, Bardugo's talent and imagination more than compensate.

It is in later Grishaverse novels that Bardugo's gifts truly shine. In Six of Crows duology, a magical heist story taking place in the fantastic Ketterdam, a country loosely inspired by Dutch-Republic Amsterdam. The characterization is a huge improvement, and the six main characters are rightfully counted among the most beloved YA protagonists of the past few years.


If you are a fan of the books, you will have noticed that key characters from Six of Crows appear in the trailers and other promotional material, including Kaz Brekker, Inej Ghafa, Jesper Fahey, Matthias Helvar, and Nina Zenik. So, will Netflix's Shadow and Bone adapt both shows?

Shadow and Bone Adaptation and Timeline Explained

Judging from the trailer, the main focus of Shadow and Bone is still going to be The Grisha Trilogy, particularly the first book. We don't know yet how far the tv show will adapt, so we have to wait until the release date to find out.


However, the team working on the adaptation has chosen not to wait before introducing five out of the six protagonists of Six of Crows. Going into the duology, we know that Kaz has been a gang leader of sorts for a long time, with Inej as a spy and Jesper as his second in command.

The group is soon joined by an unlikely pair: Nina; a Grisha and Matthias, a Grisha-hunter (think of a witch hunter equivalent). We go in Six of Crows knowing that due to a twist of fate, the two had spent a long time surviving alone in the wild, but this is only told in flashbacks. The show will likely account for that part of the characters' backstories.

Meanwhile, if the trailer is any indication, it looks like Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are tasked with capturing Alina Starkov. While this didn't happen in any of the Grishaverse novels it will most likely not change the story dramatically – particularly since author Leigh Bardugo is one of the executive producers. Most likely, it will be a chance to get to know the characters and serve as a prequel to a story that will solely focus on our beloved Crows.

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