Happy Friday, everyone!
My week has been an absolute whirlwind, so sorry if I’ve been a bit absent these past few days! I finally started coding for my thesis, have a video project due in my Russian class, and on top of that, I’m currently in the middle of moving. I’ve been thinking about getting a flat closer to university for a while now – I currently live out in the countryside with my parents – so when a room in my best friend’s shared apartment unexpectedly became available and she asked me whether I’d be interested, I figured – Why not? My TA job pays well enough that I can afford it, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing people my own age again somewhat regularly, the vicinity to the city would make things much easier workwise, I’d have more independence, and I can still go home on weekends if I want to… It’s a new adventure, and after over a year of lockdown, I am more than ready for that!
Still, despite my week already being super busy, just couldn’t stop myself… I knew Shadow and Bone was waiting on Netflix, ready to be consumed, so the moment I finished all the work I had to do that Friday, I dropped everything and started binging 😂🙈 I think I finished Saturday at about three in the morning? 😅 And although getting up the next morning to do homework was absolute torture, I can’t say I regret it. I had a such a fun time being back in this world and am currently in the middle of re-watching the series in Russian, so that I can use “language practice” as an excuse to pay attention to more of the details this time around 😁
So yeah, overall, I was very pleasantly surprised! I must admit, after suffering through countless bad adaptations and the fiasco of a fanfiction-reminiscent ending we got to King of Scars, I was a bit skeptical that this would turn out good, even with Leigh Bardugo on board. Especially when I heard Netflix would be mixing two different series set at completely different points in time… But for the most part, I think it worked!
WARNING: This review includes spoilers for the entire Shadow and Bone Netflix series, the Grisha trilogy, and the Six of Crows duology. I also hint at a few things that happened in King of Scars, but nothing that I’d consider to be a spoiler.
First off, I just love this world. The cinematography was absolutely stunning in the way it brought everything to life, and the details!!! 😍 If I hadn’t already wanted to visit Ketterdam before, I would definitely want to now. The Fold was eerie in the absolute best way possible. All the shots of Ravkan landscapes and architecture had me entranced, even though things didn’t look exactly the way I had pictured them. Also, someone please introduce keftas into everyday fashion, so that I wouldn’t look weird wearing one? Seriously, they’re even cooler than I imagined!! 🤗
My favorite detail by far, though, has probably got to be the introduction of the Ravkan writing system. AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! You guys know I am an absolute sucker for anything language-related, so the fact that they invented an alphabet and put it in the show has me over the moon!!! And now that I’m re-watching it, you bet I am hitting “pause” pretty much every time writing crops up, so that I can practice reading all the Ravkan words and compare them to Russian 🥰 Yes, I know I’m a bit weird. But if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, that probably shouldn’t surprise you all that much 😜
But let’s get to the show itself! Like I already said, I’m mostly very happy with how the story unfolded. I was initially skeptical about how Netflix planned to integrate the Crows, but surprisingly, I think the changes worked rather well. Yes, I do think their roles currently pale a bit in contrast to Alina’s, and I wonder how many of the details someone who hadn’t read the books would pick up on – Did anyone else squeal when they saw Kaz meticulously taking off his gloves?! 😍 – but overall, I think the writers stayed very true to everyone’s character and used the Crows to add an interesting subplot to the original Shadow and Bone story. The characters were similar enough to the ones we knew that I immediately loved them, but the story was also so different from the source material that I was able to separate the two of them enough in my head to not get upset by all the changes.
And the friendships! Jesper being there whenever Kaz and Inej needed him. Kaz trusting Jesper and Inej with his life, when he is so deeply mistrustful at heart. Inej being the absolute coolest Wraith ever while she was swinging from that rope right in front of Jesper’s pistols and Kaz was seconds from having a panic attack. The Kaz and Inej tension in general was just done so well! Kaz willing to wager the Crow Club for Inej’s freedom and not telling her about it had my heart melting, as did the look on Inej’s face when Kaz called her his “investment”. And Kaz trying to hide his panic when Inej got stabbed! It was everything!! Oh boy, this had better be leading up to that epic bathroom scene, because I am already fangirling about this relationship every bit as much as I did when I first read Six of Crows. 😍😍😍
However, I think the love story this season got me most invested in was the one between Nina and Matthias. The enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my absolute favorites, so I was absolutely thrilled that we got to see their backstory play out in so much detail! Danielle Galligan absolutely nailed Nina’s personality, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her all over again. And Matthias! That boy is such a precious little waffle, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to read Crooked Kingdom again any time soon without bursting into tears 😭 Seriously, Matthias is adorable, terribly good-looking, and his accent is just the cutest! Nope, I didn’t think I’d ever be saying this about an accent that sounds so similar to the horrifying German one, either, but here we are… I definitely want more Matthias! I can’t wait for season two, where he and Nina will hopefully reconcile 🙃 Also, did someone mention we might be getting Wylan?
However, now that I’ve gushed a bit about the Crows, let’s move on to Alina! Don’t get mad at me, but I think I actually like her a bit more than I did in the books. The show did a great job in giving her a bit more complexity, and I kind of like how the decision to make Alina half Shu adds another layer to the story. Sure, logically speaking, I do think it’s strange that Alina having Shu features is such an abnormality, since Ravka and Shu Han share a border, but I’m willing to suspend that disbelief since I loved how much depth the exploration of racism added to the show. And getting to see Alina slowly come to terms with being Grisha was also really interesting! Though I kind of wish we’d gotten to see a bit more of her training and interactions with other people at the Little Palace…
Though maybe I shouldn’t be complaining, because we sure got a bunch of interactions with the Darkling! Seriously, Ben Barnes, how did you do it? This time around, I knew from the get-go that the Darkling was evil, but I still couldn’t help but fall for his charms and find him alluring. Evil, but alluring. Do I want Alina to end up with him? Obviously not. I have never shipped Alina and the Darkling, I’m team Mal all the way! But I guess I do kind of see where the Darkling is coming from, in his own weird, twisted way? He’s been hurt. He’s suffered. He’s alone. He wants Grisha to be treated with respect. [And he’s a power-hungry maniac.] As much as I’ve always hated him, he’s a fascinating character, and probably one of the most interesting ones in the entire Shadow and Bone trilogy. And, in my opinion, the show did him justice.
And then there’s Mal. I’ve always loved him and never understood all the hate he gets, but here? My love for Mal increased a hundred-fold! I think the show really benefited from actually showing what he was up to while Alina was snatched away to Os Alta. That gave us much more insight into his personality, and I loved that! Especially since Mal is just about the purest friend imaginable. Seriously, how could anyone prefer the Darkling to this guy? Nikolai, I could maybe get on board with, but do you all really hate Alina enough to want her to end up with the Darkling??? Especially when Mal is just so perfect 😍 Plus, I also love how the show went out of its way to establish the friendship between Alina and Mal, rather than barging straight into the romance. It makes their connection seem so much stronger and genuine! It was still obvious how much they cared for one another, but things were just way more slow-burn, which I wholly appreciated. I’m actually pretty pleased they got rid of that awkward pre-stag-slaughter kiss.
Speaking of the stag, though – that collar was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in my entire life!! UGGGHHH! That wasn’t at all what I’d pictured, and I couldn’t wait for Alina to finally get rid of it. Looking at it was seriously disturbing!!! But I can’t deny that it added a lot of wonderful dark undertones to the show 😈
To sum it up, I was very happy with this adaptation, and am definitely pumped for the next season! Even though a lot of changes were made to the source material, I didn’t mind and even enjoyed most of them. Sure, there were a few minor things I didn’t really see the point of, like Alina burning those maps to secure herself a spot on that ship and no one being suspicious when she immediately offered to go on the mission. There were some aspects that could have been explored a bit further, like Alina’s shock at finding out who the Darkling really is, or the lives of the other Grisha at the Little Palace. The whole amplifier storyline felt a bit rushed. But on the whole, I’d say Shadow and Bone is a success. [Even if it does pronounce Genya’s name wrong. There’s no way it doesn’t start with a /g/ sound, or my entire life is a lie!]
Anyway, it has now gotten me quite excited to reread the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, which I should probably be doing anyway because I haven’t read Rule of Wolves yet… I guess I’ve just been putting it off since I wasn’t a huge fan of King of Scars, especially that ending, and from what I’ve heard, the sequel takes that stuff to a whole other level 😅 But I guess I’ll never know unless I read it, so maybe I should get a move on!
But yeah – that was it for today! If you’ve made it this far, I am very much hoping you’ve already seen the show, too, so, please, spill the beans in the comments and tell me what you thought! Were you disappointed because it was so different from the books? Or were you like me and loved it anyway? I’d love to hear your opinions!