Shadow and Bone Shadow and Bone books? How change does Grishaverse the
Fri, 23 Apr 2021 14:00:00 +0100
Read our comprehensive breakdown of the differences between Netflix's Shadow and Bone adaptation and Leigh Bardugo's books
Our comprehensive breakdown of the differences between Netflix’s Shadow and Bone adaptation and Leigh Bardugo’s books. **WARNING: SPOILER ALERT**
Published: Friday, 23rd April 2021 at 8:00 am
Book to screen adaptations are always tricky to pull off, more so when they involve packing two hefty series, a sprawling cast and a complex fantasy universe into eight episodes.
But that’s precisely what Netflix’s Shadow and Bone – which also incorporates Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology – attempts.
The fantasy series lands on Netflix on 23rd April, with Jessie Mei Li starring as orphan turned Sun Summoner Alina Starkov, alongside Ben Barnes as General Kirigan, aka the Darkling (though only the Fjerdans call him that these days). Other Shadow and Bone cast members include Archie Renaux as Mal Oretsev, and Freddy Carter, Amita Suman and Kit Young as three of the Six of Crows.
Though the characters remain mostly faithful to their book counterparts, much was changed, cut and reworked in the journey from page to screen.
So, what’s different? Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of just how much the TV series differs from the books. Though beware, spoilers for the Shadow and Bone Netflix series and Grishaverse books are ahead.
Probably one of the series’ most controversial moves was changing the Darkling’s name to General Kirigan. Only Fjerdans seem to refer to General Kirigan by his ominous book name in the Netflix adaptation.
Showrunner Eric Heisserer explained why the Darkling’s name was changed during a chat with RadioTimes.com, stating: “We just wanted to make sure that people had a name that they could call him outside of the General. This is one of those changes where it works really well on the page, it doesn’t really bother you, but then the moment you get actors in a room and you have [the actors] speaking to Ben Barnes it starts to get weird.”
“Like, is it General Darkling? Mr. Darkling? The? Do we just start with The as his first name? It got weirder and weirder as we went into it.”
We also find out Kirigan’s first name is Aleksander pretty early on in the Netflix series, whereas this remains a mystery until the third and final Shadow and Bone novel, Ruin and Rising.
If the name Kirigan sounds familiar to some Grishaverse book fans, that’s because there’s a character named Count Kirigin in the King of Scars/Rule of Wolves duology. And yes, he is connected to the Darkling. In the series, Baghra explains that Aleksander took a nobleman’s name to infiltrate the King’s Court, and that nobleman’s name is, you guessed it, Kirigin.
Leigh Bardugo confirmed the connection, telling RadioTimes.com: “‘Kirigin’, with a slightly different spelling, is a Count in a noble family – ‘Kirigin’ – in the books. We thought it would be kind of great if [the Darkling] had sort of nabbed this nobleman’s name at one point to be one of his many disguises in his long life.”
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In Bardugo’s Grishaverse, the events of Ruin and Rising take place roughly two years before we are first introduced to the Six of Crows gang.
The Netflix adaptation combines both book series’ timelines, meaning Alina’s first foray into the deadly Shadow Fold happens at the same time as the Crows are establishing themselves in the Barrel, Ketterdam’s seediest neighbourhood. It’s worth noting, however, that the onscreen Six of Crows storyline does not follow the book’s Ice Court heist plot. Instead, it works as a sort of prequel to it, allowing Kaz, Inej and Jesper’s world to collide with Mal and Alina’s.
The series also introduces Grisha Heartrender Nina Zenik and her Grisha-hunter love interest Matthias Helvar. When we meet them, the unlikely pair have yet to join the Crows as they are stranded in the icy border between Ravka and Fjerda after a shipwreck – a storyline we only get via flashbacks in the books.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Heisserer explained the reasoning behind the decision to bring the Six of Crows timeline forward, stating: “I think it’s a way to paint a broader scope to the show, it’s something that Leigh had already done with the Grishaverse. And to not acknowledge that part of the world, definitely those characters, felt like a disservice.”
Bardugo herself has also revealed that future series could adapt events from King of Scars and Rule of Wolves before their book timelines. More on that below.
Though the Netflix adaptation merges both book series, some familiar faces – particularly from Six of Crows – are missing. And yes, that sadly includes demolition expert Wylan Van Eck, although that doesn’t mean he won’t find his way to the Crows in future series. In fact, he’s probably daydreaming in a foul-smelling tannery somewhere in Kerch while Kaz and co. are off on their Ravkan adventure.
Nikolai Lantsov, second-in-line to the Ravkan throne, will also be sitting this one out, though that’s actually in line with the books since he doesn’t make his first appearance until Siege and Storm, the second Shadow and Bone novel.
Other changes include with Alina and Mal, who are half Shu in the Netflix adaptation, whereas in the books their ethnicity is never referenced as anything other than Ravkan.
The change adds another dimension to their relationship and establishes Ravka’s conflict with neighbouring country Shu Han. In the series, Mal and Alina are not just orphaned refugees, they also “look like the enemy”, which means they face a lot of racism growing up in Keramzin and as soldiers in the First Army.
Alina’s rival for Mal’s affections, the mighty Zoya Nazyalensky, is also given a slightly more prominent role in the Netflix show. Those who have read King of Scars know Zoya’s impact on the Grishaverse goes far beyond Shadow and Bone, and the TV series already hints at this. It also establishes Zoya and General Kirigan’s relationship in much firmer terms, which will certainly prove interesting should the events of King of Scars be brought forward in future seasons.
In order to combine the timelines, a new character was introduced to bring the crows to Ravka. The Conductor, played by Howard Charles, is an expert at crossing the Fold – though, to be fair, he’s never tried to do it alongside Kaz, Inej and Jesper before. The trio don’t have the best track record when it comes to staying out of trouble.
To say the Grishaverse has a complex magic system would be an understatement. Different Grisha orders with their own coloured keftas, small science vs merzost, amplifiers, Saints… there’s a lot going on. The series adds a more visual aspect to these elements so we can see how they work, especially when it comes to amplifiers.
Book fans know that General Kirigan/the Darkling is a human amplifier, which means he can detect and expand other Grisha’s powers by touching them. In the series, it involves slightly more than touch. Kirigan has a special claw-like device that awakens Alina’s power after she lights up the Fold for the first time. How this will play out with other human amplifiers remains to be seen, though it’s possible the “claw” acts as a channeling device for amplifying power, meaning physical touch could still be enough to activate it.
The way Morozova’s stag finds its way unto Alina’s neck is also slightly altered, and takes a little more meddling from awkward Fabrikator David, with much more gruesome results.
Though Alina and Mal also end up on the run from General Kirigan/the Darkling by the end of the adaptation, where they plan to go into hiding differs from the fist novel. It’s heavily implied the pair will head to Ketterdam rather than Novyi Zem, meaning there’s plenty more room for crossover with the Crows in future seasons.
As for the grim-faced Crows, whatever scheme Kaz has planned next is likely going to involve a lot of near-impossible feats – and a heartrender. It sets up Nina officially joining the crew, and opens up the possibility for the Ice Court heist plot should a second series be confirmed.
We better get praying to the Saints.
Shadow and Bone will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday 23rd April. For inspiration on what to watch next, check out our TV Guide or our dedicated Sci-Fi & Fantasy hub.
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Shadow and Bone
Fri, 23 Apr 2021 14:00:00 +0100
The Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo's bestselling novels is filled with mystery, dark deeds and flesh-shredding monsters but falls short of fantasy's finest
The Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling novels is filled with mystery, dark deeds and flesh-shredding monsters but falls short of fantasy’s finest hour
Last modified on Fri 23 Apr 2021 08.23 EDT
The phenomenon that was Game of Thrones has only become stranger since it ended – after eight pile-driving, epically drawn, epically expensive, incest- and direwolves-filled seasons – two years ago. It was a cultural landmark, the hit of hits, the high fantasy show of high fantasy shows. And then it all just … went away. There have been efforts to follow it, but they have all seemed half-hearted at best. It’s as if George RR Martin, DB Weiss and David Benioff stripped the larder bare to create their endlessly rich, meaty, winter-is-coming stew of battles, betrayals and bloodshed of more kinds than a single or entirely sane mind could invent. Those who would like to have crack at following up are still labouring to restock the empty shelves.
The latest effort is Shadow and Bone, an adaptation and amalgamation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grisha trilogy, which provides the main storyline of the Netflix series, and her Six of Crows follow-up, which gives us the second plot strand. The most obvious change from the original material is that the central character Alina Starkov (played by Jessie Mei Li) has been made mixed-race; half-Shu and half-Ravkan. She belongs to the latter’s army but looks like the former – the Ravkans’ enemy. Her friendship since childhood with fellow soldier Malyen (Archie Renaux) helps her endure the petty and not-so-petty bullying that results from Ravkan racism. This is what is known as a Parallel or Analogy. It is like a Metaphor but more on the nose.
They end up together on a supply run, captained by an elite band of magical humans known as the Grisha, across the Fold. This is no one’s idea of a good time, as the Fold is a strip of dark mist that divides the country in two, plagued by monsters known as volcra who can, will and frequently do tear voyagers apart and scatter them over a large, lightless area. Darkness is a Metaphor, here standing for All Sorts.
When one of the lesser crewmen loses his nerve and lights a lantern in the darkness, the winged monsters duly descend and start shredding the ship and everyone therein. Until – wait, did I mention? There have long been rumours throughout the Grishaverse that a rare being known as a Sun Summoner would have the power to destroy the Fold, were one ever to be born or found. But none ever has. Until – get this! – now. As Mal is mauled by a volcra (volcrum?) and, in her grief, Alina unleashes a mighty burst of energy and light that repels the monsters and gives them safe passage to their destination. Consider your Sun Summoner located and activated!
In later episodes she will be taken under the wing of General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), a Shadow Summoner and leader of Ravka’s army for rigorous training and honing of her powers. But if you think he’s doing that out of the goodness of a heart unstuffed with ulterior motives, then you, my friend, have never met a Shadow Summoner, a fantasy trilogy or indeed any narrative fiction and are going to need to hold on to your hat.
Meanwhile, a survivor of the attack drops the dime on Alina to a very nasty man who reckons he could make quite some use of a Sun Summoner himself on the island of Kerch and promises the Dregs gang, led by Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter, who has the most naturally satanic face since Jack Nicholson), a million kruger to face the Fold themselves and bring her back to him. Off they jolly well go.
And it’s all fine. Perfectly competent, enjoyable stuff. But, like The Witcher and the other contenders for the Thrones’ crown that there have been since, it doesn’t – or can’t, whether for merely budgetary or more creative constraints – build on what has gone before. We sup still on thin gruel.
– April 23, 2021
Shadow and Bone How does change the Grishaverse books?
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