“Shadow and Bone” Is One Of My Favorite Book Series, So I Watched The New Show And Here Are My Thoughts
"Fine. Make me your villain."
Welcome to Ravka! I've been eagerly awaiting the Shadow and Bone adaptation since last year. Based on Leigh Bardugo's worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone is about a lowly army cartographer named Alina Starkov who discovers she is the legendary Sun Summoner. Now, Alina might just be the key to destroying the monstrous Shadow Fold and uniting her country. But first, Alina is sent to train with the powerful Grisha alongside the enigmatic General Kirigan, known in the books as the Darkling. I binged Shadow and Bone in a single day, and as a huge fan of the books, I can say it exceeded my expectations. I wrote down my reactions below. All 101 of them. Please join me on this wild ride.
1. Last year, I said I was going to cry as soon as the title card came onscreen. Reader, I was right. IT'S HAPPENING.
2. Jessie Mei Li *IS* Alina Starkov. She is pure sunshine. We must protect her at all costs.
3. This boy did not just fix his mouth to say that to her.
4. The problem with having read the books is that I now feel like Nostradamus because I know all your fates.
5. Baby Alina threatening to cut someone for Baby Mal is very accurate.
6. MAL ISN'T AFRAID OF ANYTHING, THAT'S RIGHT!
7. I like how we're establishing borders to make clear Ravka is landlocked. (Shadow Fold to the west. Fjerdans, who want to kill Grisha, to the north. Shu Han, who is at war with Ravka, to the south.) Alina is part Shu and part Ravkan. She was always from a border town in the books; the show just makes that canon. Alina is in a perpetual search for home. In this essay I will—
8. ENTER MALYEN ORETSEV! (ARCHIE RENAUX IS PERFECT AS MAL.)
9. Dubrov and Mikhael are a sleeper surprise. So delightful.
10. "KAZ BREKKER DIDN'T NEED A REASON."
11. Excuse me, I just have to pause to compose myself. We're in Ketterdam. Six of Crows is my absolute favorite book in the Grishaverse. Jesper F*%$!#^ Fahey just drew his revolvers faster than Annie Oakley, and the first shot of Kaz is his cane.
12. Kit Young is everything. He embodies the chaotic good that is Jesper Fahey. I know he's going to be a fave.
13. Freddy Carter has this murderous stare. I don't know if I want to run away or pledge my allegiance to him and his criminal empire.
14. Rotty bringing up the DEKAPPLE. I'm dying inside. Book fans will be so happy.
15. KAZ SAID INVEST. *Screaming intensifies.*
16. Not Kaz Brekker crossing the ~Shadow Fold~ for *1 million kruge.* Is this a discount?
17. Zoya Nazyalensky is still the baddest bitch around. I'm looking forward to her character arc. Sujaya Dasgupta is perfection as our gorgeous but complicated mean Grisha.
18. The world-building here is phenomenal. It's everything I want in creating a fantasy world with different nations, cultures, and languages. There's intention, texture, and attention to detail.
19. ALINA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
20. Imagine if he'd caught that scarf. IMAGINE.
21. This sand skiff is made out of cardboard. They need the Fabrikators on this.
22. "I'LL MEET YOU AT THE MEADOW."
23. Men with these mustaches are either villains or circus performers, and there is no in-between.
24. Let the games begin. Damn. That was only Episode 1.
25. Episode 2, let's go! ALSO, Inej is the only person who calls Kaz on his shit.
26. I would just like to thank 2012 Tumblr for fan-casting Ben Barnes as the Darkling. Dreams ~do~ come true.
27. Me reading the books in 2012: The Darkling is a punk; Mal forever.
Me less than five minutes into Episode 2: YOU AND I ARE GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
28. I know General Kirigan has storm-gray eyes in the books, but Ben Barnes' tourmaline eyes are even more perfect. Demon eyes for a demon boy.
29. I would like to yeet Pekka Rollins into the Shadow Fold.
30. Imagine trying to have dinner with Kaz and he's like, "You say hello with your left hand, a gesture they only instituted in Novyi Zem after 1782, but you eat with your right hand, which means—"
31. Amita Suman portrays Inej Ghafa with all the grace, conflict, and strength of the Wraith.
32. Ivan and Fedyor are grumpy/sunshine boyfriends, and no one can convince me otherwise.
33. General Kirigan has two entrances in Episode 2, one where it's just his demonic stare. The second one is to show his perfect dismount.
34. The way the Crows are being lined up to go to Ravka is expert plotting.
35. I'm honestly shocked at how faithful this adaptation is to Shadow and Bone. Whoever is responsible, good job and I love you.
36. This was supposed to be 50 reactions and I'm only on Episode 2, help.
37. The way everyone hates on Grisha makes me want to join the Darkling; don't @ me.
38. I actually think Kaz enjoys when Inej throws daggers at him because it's as close as they will ever get to verbalizing their feelings for each other.
39. Does Ben Barnes ever slouch? Every time he comes onscreen, I sit up straighter.
40. I always imagined Kaz as having a crushed-glass kind of voice, but the susurration of Freddy's melodic voice is even better because underneath it all, he's just waiting to rip out your eye and throw it into the sea. IYKYK.
41. Episode 3! F*%# me, this is amazing. This show is going to break me. I can feel it.
42. Genya Safin pulling zero punches.
43. Genya's Grisha power is my favorite. Really would save me thousands of kruge on my self-care.
44. THIS LITTLE GIRL DID NOT JUST— Alina Starkov is the Sun Summoner, a living saint, and she can't escape microaggressions. I want to crush everyone who looks at her wrong.
45. NINA ZENIK. Okay. Danielle Galligan is a star. She's been onscreen for three minutes and it's like she was pulled out of my mind while I was reading Six of Crows.
46. Jesper is not eating at a crime scene. What am I saying? Of course he is.
47. Kaz: What's a million kruge worth to you?
Jesper: FUN for like a few months, idk.
The Conductor: Retirement.
Sounds about right. Again, Kit is king.
48. Kaz telling Jesper "No detours" sounds like a recipe for disaster. Oh, Jesper.
49. When Alina uses her power, I mentally hear the opening chords to "Here Comes the Sun."
50. No thoughts. Just Summoners.
51. I LOVE AUTHOR CAMEOS, AND THIS GOES TO THE TOP. LOOK AT LEIGH BARDUGO WEARING A PURPLE MATERIALKI KEFTA AND HUGGIN' THE CHARACTER SHE CREATED! I CRY.
52. Can we discuss Kaz holding a goat? I have risen to a new plane of existence.
53. MATTHIAS HELVAR.
54. Nina and Matthias together...my brain is *shutting* down.
55. It's Kaz looking at the Shadow Fold like he's watching a game of Makker's Wheel for me...
56. There is a macro conversation here about the ways that people put themselves in danger to cross borders, but they do it anyway because they have to. I love that the show didn't back away from this narrative and that even in a fantasy world, we understand that war creates refugees.
57. Zoya making a Mal dig to Alina.
57. The Apparat: You like books?
Me, a book lover: Mmm, no thank you. I don't know how to read.
58. Some people have security blankets. Inej Ghafa has her knives.
59. I wish Baghra could fix my life, too.
60. Someone telling Jesper to sit still or die. Guess we're dying tonight, bitch.
61. PROTECT MILO AT ALL COSTS.
62. Kaz Brekker did not spend a lifetime nurturing his grudges into the perfect revenge scheme just to die in the Shadow Fold!
63. FRIENDS AND VILLAINS, I GIVE YOU JESPER FAHEY. Seriously, MVP.
64. Jesper always going above and beyond for Kaz's approval is my love language.
65. Episode 4. We're not sleeping tonight, friends and fiends!
66. “Smells like braised lamb.” LMAO THEY DID NOT JUST?!?!
67. CALL ME ALEKSANDER!!!
68. “Make friends.” —Kaz, who has never made friends
69. Do we think Alina’s wish was for Mal to bring her sweet rolls or for General Kirigan to kiss her?
70. CLIMB, INEJ, CLIMB!
71. Kaz not clapping for Inej because if he did, he’d just confess how much he loves her. I MEAN, LOOK AT THEM LOOKING AT EACH OTHER.
72. Circus guy: What’s your skill?
73. Nothing good happens when you walk in on a man staring at his world-domination plan.
74. Darklina walked so Reylo could run.
75. Regular stags: BASIC. Morozova’s stag:
76. Episode 5. We are not stopping now, fam.
77. If they don’t get Malyen “I Am Become a Blade” Oretsev a medic soon, I will scream.
78. David has a whole "Edward Scissorhands among people" thing going on, and this is truly a compliment. I love Luke Pasqualino.
79. The Darkling looks like he smells like a combination of Ravka's first snow, sandalwood, and my ruination.
80. Mal really said to the Darkling, “Ask her about me, BRO!”
81. A scoundrel. General Kirigan is ~A SCOUNDREL~, I said.
82. Kaz: Let me show you why they call me Dirty Hands.
Inej: Let me show *you* why you’d be lost without me.
83. The Darkling needs a chancleta.
84. Jesper laughing to himself because he knows he’s the luckiest motherf!@#er in all the world.
85. Episode 6. Demon Eyes is back. How do you even try to lie to THE DARKLING?
86. There’s a choking joke in this scene that I am *too mature* to make right now.
87. Finally, more Nina and Matthias! Unlike some other shipwreck victims, Nina and Matthias know there’s room for two on that flotation device.
88. H E L N I K, we ride at dawn.
89. Nina: Men look the same; can’t surprise me. Seen it all. Also Nina as Matthias is undressing:
90. I’m going to tell my kids this is Batman v. Superman.
91. “He threw a book at me!” DID YOU SEE THE BOOK????
92. Ben Barnes is so good at being a bad guy, I forget he genuinely looks like a nice human in every interview and he LOVES BOOKS. Where are his awards, dammit?!
93. Episode 7. We're in this together.
94. Literally speechless. For once.
95. I need someone to work on this wig, tho.
96. MAKE ME YOUR VILLAIN, INDEED.
97. All he wanted was some vitamin D.
98. ALINA SAID WHAT SHE SAID.
99. Episode 8. We’re in the endgame now.
100. I hope we get Nikolai Lantsov in Season 2 just so he can punch General Zlatan.