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    An Introduction To "Shadow And Bone," Netflix's New Fantasy Series

    Meet your new fave fantasy series.

    Shadow and Bone is a new fantasy series dropping on Netflix on April 23. If you're curious about the show, here's a guide to the world and its characters...

    The Darkling and Alina look at each other as a light beam shoots up from Alina's arm

    Is Shadow and Bone based on a book?


    Shadow and Bone is based on the Grishaverse book series by Leigh Bardugo. Specifically, Shadow and Bone, the first book in a trilogy, and Six of Crows, the first book in a duology. Although the books are set in the same universe, they tell very different stories with different casts of characters. Interestingly, the show is bringing them together and setting them on the same timeline, with characters and plot elements from Six of Crows brought into the narrative arc of Shadow and Bone.

    What is the world of Shadow and Bone like?

    Someone on horseback rides through a green countryside; a dark shadowy wall of clouds called the Fold is ahead of them

    Shadow and Bone is a fantasy world; but unlike standard medieval Britain–esque fantasy (like Game of Thrones), it's influenced by tsarist Russia of the 1800s. The country where most of the action takes place is Ravka, which is ruled by a monarchy in its capital Os Alta.

    For centuries, the country has been cleaved in two by something called "the Fold": a virtually impenetrable space covered by a dark, shadowy force that is infested by flying beasts called Volcra.

    Ravka is at war with both countries at its borders: Fjerda to the north and Shu Han to the south. There are two armies that fight for Ravka: the First Army, made up of regular soldiers, and the Second Army, which consists of Grisha.

    The series also features an island nation near Ravka called Kerch, which maintains neutrality in the wars. Its capital is Ketterdam, a hub for international trade and criminal activity.

    What are the Grisha?

    A group of Grisha hold their hands together in front of their bodies

    The Grisha have powers that derive from what is called "Small Science" — the ability to manipulate matter. There are three orders of Grisha, and within them different specialities:

    Corporalki. Their powers involve the human body. This includes Heartrenders, who can manipulate a person's internal organs; Healers, who can heal; and Tailors, who can alter a person's appearance. Corporalki always wear red (with the exception of Genya — see below).

    Etherealki. Their powers involve the natural elements. This includes Squallers, who manipulate the wind; Inferni, who can manipulate fire; and Tidemakers, who can manipulate water. Etherealki always wear blue.

    Materialki. Their powers involve other materials. They are known as Fabrikators and are either Durasts, who can manipulate anything solid, or Alkemi, who manipulate chemicals. Materialki always wear purple.

    Who are the characters?

    Alina Starkov

    Alina stares at something in front of her with a concerned look

    Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) is an orphan whose parents were killed in the Fold. Her mother was Shu — Ravka's enemy — and Alina grew up ostracized because of her race.

    At the start of the show, Alina is in the First Army, where she works as a cartographer. She doesn't know she's Grisha but when she finds herself and the person she cares about most in grave danger, her powers reveal themselves. It turns out she's the Sun Summoner, an extremely rare Grisha with the power to manipulate heat and light. She is prophesized to be the chosen one who will destroy the Fold and restore Ravka.

    Malyen "Mal" Oretsev

    Mal stands outside and frowns at something; there is a cut on his cheek and his face is dirty

    Mal (Archie Renaux) is Alina's best friend. He's also an orphan with Shu heritage, and he and Alina's incredibly close bond was forged thanks partly because they only had each other to rely on growing up.

    He is otkazat'sya, aka someone without Grisha powers (in other words, a Muggle). He's a soldier in the First Army and a skilled tracker.

    General Kirigan

    Kirigan wears a dark fur-trimmed cloak and stares at someone off camera.

    Also known as the Darkling in the books, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) is the leader of the Second Army, thereby making him leader of the Grisha. He is a Shadow Summoner, a Grisha as rare as the Sun Summoner. He has the ability to manipulate darkness (the same power the Grisha who created the Fold wielded centuries ago).

    Although technically Etherealki, Kirigan's power is so unique he wears his own colors — he is always seen in black.

    Genya Safin

     Genya wears a cream fur-lined outfit in a low-lit room and looks at someone or something offscreen
    David Appleby / Netflix

    Genya Safin (Daisy Head) is a Corporalki — a tailor, to be exact. She works at the royal court, primarily altering the queen's appearance. Because her talent and position is quite unique, like the Darkling she wears her own colors — white and gold. She does not enjoy her isolation and is in a vulnerable position at the palace, frequently abused by the king.

    David Kostyk

    David looks at Genya (offscreen) with affection

    David (Luke Pasqualino) is a Materialki — a skilled Durast — who works at the palace and creates objects that aid Kirigan and the Grisha. He and Genya seem to have feelings for one another.

    Zoya Nazyalensky

    Zoya stands in a crowd at the palace
    Attila Szvacsek / Netflix

    Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta) is a member of the Etherealki and a powerful Squaller. She is ambitious and enjoys the idea of being a favorite of General Kirigan.


    Baghra stands in a darkened room and looks concerned
    Attila Szvacsek / Netflix

    Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker) is a mysterious and powerful Grisha teacher who becomes a mentor to Alina. Her methods are very tough love.

    Kaz Brekker

    Kaz wears a hat and coat and stares straight ahead

    Kaz (Freddy Carter) is the leader of a criminal gang in Ketterdam. He runs a gambling house called the Crow Club. He has a brilliant mind that makes him a quick thinker, a great strategist, and a master manipulator.

    Inej Ghafa

    Inej sits at a table and holds a sharp dagger stuck into the table

    Inej (Amita Suman) is a member of Kaz's gang. She is trying to gain her freedom from an indenture that forces her to work at a pleasure house called the Menagerie. She is a trained acrobat and a gifted knife-wielder.

    Jesper Fahey

    Jesper stands in a doorway and smiles
    Attila Szvacsek / Netflix

    Jesper (Kit Young) is another member of Kaz's gang. He's a highly skilled sharpshooter and a gambling addict with a cheeky sense of humor.

    Nina Zenik

    NIna wears a fur-trimmed cloak and looks at something off camera
    Attila Szvacsek / Netflix

    Nina (Danielle Galligan) is a Grisha who is part of Kaz's gang. She can speak multiple languages and sometimes works as a spy. She's also a Heartrender.

    Matthias Helvar

    Matthias wears a fur-trimmed outfit and stands outside in a snowy area; he has a reddened face covered in frost

    Matthias (Calahan Skogman) is a Fjerdan soldier and Grisha hunter; he believes all Grisha are evil witches who must be destroyed.

    What is the plot?


    When Alina's power is revealed, General Kirigan takes her to the palace to learn the Grisha ways and trains her to be ready to destroy the Fold. Not trusting the situation, Mal tries to find his way to Alina after they are separated. Meanwhile, Kaz and his gang take a job to cross the Fold and retrieve the Sun Summoner from Ravka for a huge reward.

    To say any more than that would be to wade into spoiler territory. Let's just say you should be prepared for plenty of action and mystery.

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