Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1)
Leigh Bardugo

n Alternative Cover Edition #1n

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.

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #1) book cover

A grim opener to a series, I confess that although I enjoyed it for itself, I’m not overly sunk on following up. I enjoy some bleak fiction, but there’s a nebulous nature to the powers called that has yet to really be defined and, if I’m being brutal, I’ve just spent 22 chapters reading about an orphan girl hiding her powers because of another orphan while some sort of centuries old planner tries to bring things to fruition. We’ve not yet been told about any ancient or mysterious reason for this, the old-woman-as-mother trope was easy to spot from the beginning and almost everything present was muted: – the training for talented kids although set in a palace was only briefly covered. The creepy priesthood is very much underrepresented by the apparat. The political mess of the other lands only really comes into any sort of meaning in the final chapter, and the actual people are really only given form in the hierarchy of Corporalki versus Summoners, with serving girls who don’t know their place, Orphans with mysterious scars, and trackers who never actually explain their tallents and seem overpowered to the story anyway.

A quite unsettling mix of things which, I would hope in future works, would fall onto a more even keel but for me here and now left me felt a touch disappointed.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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