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Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow & Bone (edition 2012)

by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Grisha (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2821436,122 (4.05)79
Title:Shadow & Bone
Authors:Leigh Bardugo
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Kindle, Read
Tags:Read January 2013

Work details

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
Enjoyable book with a strong yet vulnerable heroine. It has a little bit of everything -- fantasy, adventure, romance -- even magic. The romance is pretty tame -- the violence somewhat opaque. Fine for fifth grade on up. ( )
  amydelpo | Dec 9, 2014 |
I keep trying YA fantasy because I always hear so many wonderful things about the books. This one came highly recommended. But I think I need to limit myself to really unusual-sounding plots, because while I love regular fantasy, YA fantasy tends to lack description and a bit of depth for me. Or at least the several I've tried have.

Having said that, I still enjoyed this book. I liked the unusual Russia-ish setting, and I liked what I knew about the magic system. The void separating the kingdom reminded me a little of Sanderson's Elantris. And I liked the class divide between common folk/soldiers and the nobility, and the political situation.

I also loved the Darkling, and the magic system in this book, but there wasn't enough of it! We learn about the three main types of magicians, how they rank amongst themselves, and a few outliers that don't fit in. We know there's biological magic, making magic, and summoning magic, but we... don't really know any more than that. Summoners can summon wind and fire. Makers... can make metal? Light and dark magicians can... shoot light and dark out of their hands? I would have loved a lot more detail about the different kinds of magic, how it was used, and more about the job types of all the different Grisha.

The back cover also includes one of my absolute biggest pet peeves: "Alina Starkov has never been good at anything." Seriously? Advertising a book with a boring main character on the back cover? I think this is meant to make the main character more "average," but average people are always good at something. Alina really isn't good at anything, including her new-found magic, until more than halfway through the book. Her personality (and, indirectly, the fact that she isn't good at anything) seems to revolve around her friendship/relationship with her childhood friend. Yawn.

Granted, I liked Alina. But she was powerful average, and we were constantly reminded of how she wasn't good at anything. That doesn't make for interesting books.

The Darkling was the best character. But he was a little too mysterious for my taste. The working class population describe him as a boogeyman, and Alina has several conversations trying to find the truth in these stories. His magic is powerful and deadly, but she begins to see him as a regular person. And then he falls in love with her, presumably because she has the gall to talk to him like a person, but it happens after not very many interactions. Later plot developments with him didn't make much sense to me, precisely because we were told nothing about him.

And seriously? You're going to go from hopping into bed with him to taking some weird, random, spur-of-the-moment advice without much thought, just action?

Mal was also a puzzle. When we first meet him, he is obviously indifferent to Alina. When we see him again, he possesses a soul-melting ardor that he developed off-screen.

There's nice descriptions of the palaces and their interiors, but I found myself with an ambiguous sense of place most of the time. I never got a good mental picture of the fighting studio, nor any style of clothing, really, aside from Alina's initial uniform and Grisha robes. I would have loved more descriptions of scenery and places. Admittedly, a big chunk of the later part of the book takes place on open tundra. No description needed there.

I always feel bad writing reviews like this for books I enjoyed. I tend to be more critical when I like something that I felt fell short of my expectations. I really did enjoy the magic system, and I liked what I saw of the characters. I thought the ending was awesome, and I liked the struggle set up between the characters, and the awesome moral choice Alina had to make at the end (so rare in these kinds of books!). I want more more more. But... I don't know if I'm going to pick up the sequel yet. Maybe eventually. ( )
  ConnieJo | Oct 26, 2014 |
This is the sort of book I want to carry around with me and just read at random points of the day, it was just so wonderful.


The country of Ravka was once a prosperous place until the introduction of the shadow fold. A length of darkness that splits the country in two. The shadow fold is home to monstrous creatures like the volcra, that make crossing almost impossible. Orphan Alina Starkov is a member of the army, and chosen to undertake a crossing of the shadow fold. Great casualties are expected but when the regiment is attacked by flying volcra, Alina discovers powers she does not know she possessed, suddenly she could be the answer to all of Ravka’s prayers, but at what cost.


I just loved this book, really I did. It made me want to rush out and read the rest of the series immediately, and I only wish that I could. It’s a beautiful story full of action, romance and magic. The world building in this story is excellent, it’s excellently written, extremely believable with elements of Russian culture. The amount of history, the descriptions Bardugo has created for the kingdom of Ravka is wonderful, it forces you to become completely immersed in the story, and in the land itself.

I love the magical elements of the novel. The grisha are citizens of the country with particular powers - some can summon fire, some can cause your heart to stop beating (eek!) and various other things - the Darkling can summon tendrils of darkness, for example. Children are tested all around the country in hope of finding new Grisha with new powers. They go to school together, and jostle and fight to be the strongest. The chapters in which Alina is training are perhaps some of my favourites, and part of the reason for that is it’s such a hard graft, she is not magically amazing overnight, she has to work and fight and push herself in order to harness her power.

This brings me to the characters, Alina is an interesting character - though she can be a bit whiny and spineless - although the character development is great and she grows out of that. There are so many characters that I love. Genya, the grisha that has a unique power from everyone else - I definitely don’t want to spoil anything so that’s all I’m saying! The darkling is a fabulous character, he’s mysterious and charismatic, you’re constantly trying to guess what his motives are.

It really is a fabulous story - it will keep you hooked right to the very end. I definitely advise you to start this one on a weekend, because you’re not going to want to eat, sleep or move till you reach the end. Definitely one of my favourite books of 2014. ( )
  ColeReadsBooks | Oct 2, 2014 |
Review to come. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
Alina is an ugly orphan who finds herself in the battlefield as a cartographer. She unlocks powers never seen before and is immediately whisked away to a palace to hone her powers for the greater good by the Darkling. She leaves behind her childhood friend Mal, also an orphan turned unparalleled tracker.

She comes into her own at the palace and becomes beautiful, talented, and the unwitting consort of the revered Darkling, pushing past her initial ugliness/weakness/obscurity/bullies.

Some quick remarks:
-The Russian names for the character and titles were a little off-putting, but as with any book, I adapted to the world system here.
-The magic system could have used more development. We get that Alina has special powers, but I would have loved a little more insight into either battle magic or the classifications of magic.
-I adored that Alina had very little wish-washy feelings between the two male leads.
-I disliked how the book seemed to be partitioned into three or four parts, yet had little content for each section. As an entire book it works, but I felt that all parts could have used a lot more development. This could have been an epic book, seriously.
-Interactions between characters were divine. And Alina and Mal are very easy to love and root for.
-I wish there was more development for the Darkling and his motivations behind everything.

Seems like I'm only complaining about the lack of development. But pretty much everything else was on point and a delightful read. Two stars because I can't imagine rereading it again. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bardugo, Leighprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ahrens, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deas, RichCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fortgang, LaurenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, KeithMap artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wang, JenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, AprilDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my grandfather: Tell me some lies.
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The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest...
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Book description
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
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Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become the protege of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elite in the belief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.… (more)

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Average: (4.05)
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2 17
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3 60
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