Available On: Netflix
Duration: 8 Episodes / 50 Minutes
Story: Shadow and Bone explores the events of the first novel in Leigh Bardugo's main Grishaverse trilogy. The show follows an exceptional child Alina Starkov, who grew up with Malyen Oretsev at an orphanage in Keramzin in the Kingdom of Ravka, divided by The Fold.
Review: Created by Eric Heisserer, Shadow and Bone is not the next Game Of Thrones but it does not disappoint by any means. The fantasy show based on Leigh Bardugo's main Grishaverse trilogy has also highly incorporated characters from the spin-off duology Six Of Crows, as well. While it may seem overwhelming to a non-reader, the show has kicked off the Grishaverse franchise successfully.
With every book adaptation, Netflix is getting better and better. While they have struggled with the pacing in several other shows, Shadow and Bone gives a promising start. The biggest complaint regarding The Witcher was that the first season only severed as a starting point, as a set up for the entire story. Meanwhile, Shadow and Bone has packed in a lot more than necessary in mere an hour-long eight episodes.
We are first introduced to Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and her childhood best friend Mal (Archie Renaux). Both grew up as orphans and lived in fear of being separated from each other. While Alina becomes a mapmaker, Mal joins the First Army as a tracker. Both head over to The Fold, darkness that separates their country Ravka in two, in an attempt to find a better life on the other side. But when they are attacked by creatures of the dark called Volcra, Alina uses her suppressed powers to rescue them.
While the story mainly follows the two and their love for each other, there is a bigger evil at play. After her powers are exposed, Alina is whisked away to the Little Palace to be trained as a Grisha and be a part of the Second army, away from Mal. She becomes the beacon of hope for all of Ravka and Grisha.
The makers have incorporated the world-building with an assumption that the audience will come prepared. The show quickly introduces a lot of new-world vocabulary without explanations which may be hard to follow for the non-readers. However, those who will be able to keep up are in for a fun ride.
The show also introduces several plots, only a few of which drive till the end, however, some do pave the way forward for season two. Since the makers have had a storyline that released about a decade ago, the characters have been developed well enough to shine on their own, in every episode.
The diverse cast including Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Archie Renaux, Freddy Carter, Amita Suman, and Kit Young, all get their rightful moments under the spotlight. However, since the makers have attempted to divide focus between all characters and subsequent plotlines, it proves harder to keep track of them all. Especially with a world as wide as the Grishaverse, it is hard to follow the events that take place all over the map.
And yet, the cast and their well-rooted characters drive the plot home. They will also have the audience excited for what comes next. Overall, Shadow and Bone is one of the best Netflix adaptations so far and definitely a must-watch for fans of the fantasy genre.