Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
Author: Leigh Bardugo
“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”
I entered the world of Leigh Bardugo via the Six of Crows duology, which I loved. Friends promised that the Shadow and Bone trilogy wouldn’t disappoint. The first book started slowly, but once it took off, it really drew me in.
“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”
Our main character is Alina, who grew up in an orphanage with her childhood-friend-turned-crush, Mal. She’s always been a little awkward and suffers from weak health. She and Mal are both members of the Ravkan King’s First Army, Mal as a tracker and Alina as a mapmaking apprentice.
Then their regiment attempts to cross the Shadow Fold, a sea of unnatural darkness that separates Ravka into east and west and is home to terrifying, man-eating birds. Mal’s life is threatened, and Alina’s power wakes up. She’s grisha—part of a group of people who have an innate, genetic ability to master the “small science” (for all intents and purposes: magic). But she’s not just any grisha—she’s the only one of her kind.
Now she has to learn how to master her powers, learn who the real bad guys are, and figure out how she’s going to—you guessed it—save the world.
“’There is something more powerful than any army. Something strong enough to topple kings, and even Darklings. Do you know what that thing is?’ I shook my head, inching away from him. ‘Faith,’ he breathed, his black eyes wild. ‘Faith.’”
Alina’s heart is in the right place, but she’s kind of blind to the world around her. The problem with naive first-person narrators is that they have to notice everything (so that the reader can notice them) but never stop to put the pieces together. That’s kind of frustrating for me.
But, that being said, I did enjoy this one. I’m eager to read the rest of the series, because I think I’m going to love it by the end.