Into the Grisha-verse! Years after changing the game for fantasy books, Leigh Bardugo’s hit series Shadow and Bone is coming to Netflix, and by all accounts, it may do justice to the imaginations of Shadow and Bone book fans.
For fans coming into the world of Shadow and Bone fresh, the nine-ish books in the young adult Grishaverse series could seem daunting. Let’s fix that. Here’s everything you need to know about the books, the Netflix adaptation, and what to expect, from major differences to Six of Crows.
Shadow and Bone book vs. Netflix show differences
Shadow and Bone is the first book in a trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It’s told in the first person as young orphan Alina Starkov serves as a mapmaker for the Kingdom of Ravka alongside her childhood best friend-turned-crush Mal.
In the world of Shadow and Bone, certain people known as Grisha have the ability to manipulate elements of the surrounding world, a power known as the “small science.”
Journeying across a very real manifestation of evil known as The Shadow Fold, Alina unleashes a Grisha power completely unseen before, a power that would change not only the course of her life, but the power balances in the kingdom and the very magic that makes up the fold in the first place.
Netflix’s upcoming adaptation Shadow and Bone is slightly misleading because it doesn’t just adapt the book Shadow and Bone, but also Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse spinoff Six of Crows. So while it follows Alina along her journey discovering, honing, and protecting her abilities, the series has a wider scope and tracks the gang from Six of Crows along their journey.
But from a surface-level standpoint, the protagonist of the new series is without a doubt Alina. The Six of Crows element allows for a thrilling subplot that couldn’t have been included in the Shadow and Bone books due to its first-person perspective. Much like other fantasy series adaptations such as Game of Thrones, the show is enriched with multiple points of view that allow us to see a lot of Ravka all at once.
What is Six of Crows in Shadow and Bone?
Six of Crows is the first part of a duology of the same name written by Leigh Bardugo as a follow-up to the Shadow and Bone trilogy.
It follows a gang of criminals led by bad boy crime prodigy Kaz Brekker. Other members include Inej, a knife-wielding spy, and Jasper, a charming sharpshooter. Unlike the Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows is told in the third person, which perhaps helps lend itself more easily to a TV adaptaiton.
With that said, the Six of Crows duology takes place a whole two years after the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, which raises some questions about its intersection with the new Netflix show — most provocatively, if these stories are taking place simultaneously, how does that change the characters as written in the books?
Do I need to read the books before watching Shadow and Bone on Netflix?
Need is a strong word! In success, Shadow and Bone the series will honor the book enough to communicate the plot to new fans, but also adds enough new elements to provide thrills to the hardcore book fans. So no, you don’t need to read the books before watching, but going back to read after the fact could reveal Alina’s internal monologue along the way.
Six of Crows may be a good read before the series, as it will get you familiar with the characters from those books, without spoiling the events of Shadow and Bone. But the series is meant to stand on its own as a treat for new fans, book fans, and everyone in between.
Shadow and Bone premieres April 23 on Netflix.