In a world cleaved in two by a massive barrier of perpetual darkness, where unnatural creatures feast on human flesh, a young soldier uncovers a power that might finally unite her country. But as she struggles to hone her power, dangerous forces plot against her. Thugs, thieves, assassins and saints are at war now, and it will take more than magic to survive.
Final Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
After less than 24 hours of releasing, it became #1 in the United States. It has surpassed all my expectations. I may or may not have binged it in 2 days.
And we have the crows in it. So it can’t not be good.
Shadow and Bone Season 1 follows cartographer Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), who, after her and her best friend, tracker Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux), are attacked in the Shadow Fold. When Mal’s life is in danger, Alina reveals her power to summon light. Due to the rarity of this power, she’s immediately taken into the protection of General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), leader of the 2nd army, which is composed of Grisha, people who can manipulate the small science, AKA people with powers. General Kirigan believes that due to Alina being the Sun Summoner, and him with his power of being able to manipulate pure darkness, together they will be able to tear down the Shadow Fold.
You and I are going to change the world.
That is all happening in Ravka. Let’s take a trip to Kerch, and, specifically, Ketterdam. When criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) learns of a job that will require crossing the Shadow Fold and capturing the Sun Summoner, he enlists the help of his right hand girl, Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), an assassin known as the Wraith, and sharpshooter Jesper Fahey (Kit Young).
And then we have another storyline, one that follows heartrender Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan) when she’s captured by elite Fjerdan soldier, or Druskelle, Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman).
Something that I thought was going to mess up the series was how spread out the stories were. There’s not a lot of interaction between the crows and Alina in the first half of the season, and I thought it was going to feel detached, but Eric Heisserer did an amazing job of making the stories feel engaging even though it could feel like the 2 groups were never going to meet.
One of the biggest things that fans love about the grishaverse is the characters.
Cardinal north is a direction on a map. True north? True north is home. It is where you feel safe and love. You have always been my true north, Mal.
Alina was played incredibly by the talented Jessie Mei Li. Heisserer changed Alina’s character to being half Shu, which added to Alina being an outsider. You can see her emotions, her homesickness at being away from Mal, her confusion at being the Sun Summoner. She is the perfect heroine, who makes mistakes but you ultimately root for her.
If it goes wrong?
I’ll find my way back to you.
Mal was someone I didn’t really care about in the books. He was just there, with no real purpose (at least in my mind). Archie Renaux did an amazing job of bringing him to life. You can clearly see Mal and Alina’s friendship clearly, and though some people may not ship them, you can see their chemistry.
Hope is dangerous. It clouds your judgement.
One of the biggest characters of the show was General Kirigan. I hated him in the books. I didn’t ship him with Alina for a half second. He was not hot, or brooding, he was manipulative and sometimes even abusive. But . . . Ben Barnes made me like him? I kept telling myself that the Darkling is horrible, but he was just so charming. It takes a seriously talented actor to do that.
And now we get to what everyone is waiting for; the Crows.
Kaz was played so, so well. I’ve watched a couple of Freddy Carter’s works (Free Rein, anyone?), and I’ve always been impressed. I think Freddy Carter was a highlight of the show. Something to remember is that unlike a book, a TV show or movie doesn’t have internal monologue. Since Kaz barely shows his emotions, all his thoughts are kept in his head, which we don’t get to see in a show. That thought was really worrying me, but I needn’t have been worried. Kaz was perfect. He says things that hint at emotions, but never really shows them, which is exactly how he is in the books.
Crows don’t just remember the faces of people who wronged them. They also remember those who were kind.
Inej has always been my favorite character. I loved her in the show. Her strength, her bravery, she’s a queen. Something else to remember is that this takes place almost 2 years before Six of Crows. Inej isn’t the Wraith who can kill and hurt easily (I’m not trying to insult Inej). In this series, she actually hasn’t killed anyone. But still, I loved watching her become friends with Jesper and start to trust Kaz.
The Kanej content killed me. Kaz doesn’t say what he actually feels, but he hints at it. And Inej . . . queen.
Jesper, obviously, was “incredibly charming and overly handsome“, as said by the actor. I loved him so much. He was played brilliantly in the show. He had the playfulness but also could be serious when needed. And he may or may not have flirted with a stable hand.
Nina was the sassy, bold girl we come to love in Six of Crows. She was awesome. I loved watching her changing Matthias’s views on what a woman should be like. And how Grishas should be. And also, Nina can fight. I know that the Grisha are trained in combat, but I never realized how good Nina really was. Look forward to her beating up some really annoying men.
Matthias . . . really annoyed me. I liked him well enough in Six of Crows, but before he met Nina and the crows he hated all Grisha and thought that women can’t be warriors, that that wasn’t their job. So obviously, he wasn’t may favorite. But I loved watching Nina educate him.
Girls don’t want to fight.
Have you ever asked one?
The only reason this wasn’t 5 stars was that Nina and Matthias’s storyline felt disconnected from the rest of the characters, which was really disappointing because I loved their banter and dialogue. Their story was in Fjerda, while everyone else was in Ravka.
Overall, this was amazing. I loved it, and if you haven’t already, recommend it to everyone so we can get a season 2. Also, who else noticed Leigh’s cameo?