Why Is the Darkling Immortal in Shadow and Bone?

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The Darkling from Netflix's Shadow and Bone
Credit: Netflix

While the release date for Shadow and Bone Season 2 hasn't been announced yet, the filming is currently in progress and we have new adventures and 4 new characters to look forward to. The ending of Shadow and Bone Season 1 made an unsettling revelation about the Darkling, also known in the series as General Kirigan, suggesting that the villain people love to hate (or simply love) is here to stay. But why is the Darkling immortal, when most Grisha we've seen are not?

Who Is the Darkling in Shadow and Bone?

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Credit: Netflix

Warning: If you haven't caught up with Netflix's Shadow and Bone or Leigh Bardugo's YA fantasy books you might want to hold off as this article contains spoilers.

The Darkling, known by the less threatening name General Kirigan in Netflix's tv show, is the leader of the Grisha. His powers are the opposite of Alina's; he can summon the shadows while she can summon light.

As the series progresses, we find out more about the Darkling's past. Originally known as Alexander Morozova, the series' main villain lived a nomadic childhood and survived constant mistreatment due to his status as Grisha. This inspired his wish to create a safe space for those with powers like his own.

His experimentation with immense power and the anger he harbored after years of abuse corrupted that dream and led him to create the Fold, a swath of darkness that divides Ravka. At the time, the Darkling was known as the Black Heretic due to the dark path he had chosen. Fans still debate whether the Darkling is evil or not, but he definitely did shady things back in the day.

In the narrative present, most people believed that the Darkling, who was given the more mundane name Kirigan in the series, was the highest authority in the Grisha ranks. The Black Heretic was treated as a terrifying, almost legendary figure, but no one knew he and the Darkling were the same person. But how did he survive so long?

Why Is the Darkling Immortal in Shadow and Bone?

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Credit: Netflix

The Darkling can theoretically be killed (though later books in the Grishaverse might beg to differ) but he has survived more than any known Grisha, apart from his mother, as far as the first trilogy and the Netflix tv series are concerned. This is likely because of his immense power, though the manipulation of merzost - dark magic - by his ancestors, Ilya Morozova might have played a part.

Normally, Grisha are not immortal in the sense vampires are. However, using their powers grants them health and strength. As Nina points out in the Six of Crows book, Grisha who use their power never get sick, so, unless they die in battle, they can be very long-lived and age slowly.

Related: Will There Be Another Grishaverse Book?

The Darkling is understood to be quite old by normal standards, even before his identity is revealed. While people around him accepted that he was around a century old, the revelation that he has been around for many centuries still comes as a shock. While the Grisha can live much longer than regular humans, it is not the norm for Grisha to live forever. The Darkling's immortal status immediately sets him apart from other characters and might explain his obsession when he found someone equally powerful - who could likely be equally long-lived - in the face of Alina.

But can there ever be peace when someone like him is alive? Book readers might already know the answer, but the rest of the fans will have to wait for the show to answer - and find out if it will answer the same way as the books. And, if you haven't yet, go check out the series on Netflix. We promise that Shadow and Bone is worth watching!


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