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The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo
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The Gathering Dark (edition 2012)

by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Grisha (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9321993,536 (4)95
Member:wyvernfriend
Title:The Gathering Dark
Authors:Leigh Bardugo
Info:Indigo (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Library Loans, Read but unowned, Read
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, read, 2012, library, december, fantasy, eastern european, romance, magic

Work details

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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» See also 95 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
Excited by this author and the rich and developed Grisha world she has created. I read this one after reading Six of Crows, her latest book which is not part of this series but still based on the same world. I would definitely recommend reading these before Six of Crows. Now should I race through all of these before Crooked Kingdom comes out? Aack! Too many books, too little time! ( )
  jmoncton | Apr 24, 2016 |
Actual rating - 2.5 out of 5

I decided to read this book as I saw it was on the selection for World Book Night and perhaps I've judged it a bit harshly because of that. As the WBN books are chosen by the public and examples of brilliant writing, I thought that this novel would be a lot stronger than it actually turned out to be. However, it's not entirely without merit.

The setting and world building are, frankly, excellent. Shadow and Bone is a departure from your typical high fantasy setting. The country of Ravna is loosely inspired by Imperialist Russia, taking much of its technology, political structure and aesthetics from this period. It's decadent and very beautiful, filled with rich descriptions of opulent castles and beautiful clothing. Its magic system is interestingly different, featuring some typical elementalists but also people who can control cloth or, simply, stop a man's heart with a look.

However, beneath this really original exterior is a rather standard story. Shadow and Bone is a very light read, containing little of the complexity of the likes of Red Queen or Graceling. It's a world of black and white. Characters that appear good at a glance generally are, while characters that seem evil have no subtlety. There are no shades of grey in the world at all which made the overall story very predictable. The plot also relies heavily on deus ex machinas to save the day, leading to a very sudden and weak climatic battle.

While the novel gets off to a strong start, this is quickly derailed as the inevitable YA love triangle between naive girl, bland childhood friend and bad boy creeps in. Personally, I found this to be the story's weakest point. Not enough time is spent on developing either relationship so I ultimately didn't really feel for Alina as she was drawn between them.

This is a problem with a lot of the characters in general - I just wasn't given a reason to care for them. While I did like Alina most of the time, she had random moments where she suddenly flipped character and did things that I couldn't explain. Similarly, Mal just irritated the Hell out of me. He projected his negative feelings for the situation on Alina, blaming her for things that she really had no control over. The Darkling was probably the most interesting character, at least initially, however he also provided to be rather 2-dimensional over all.

In all, the novel had a nice concept but was mired by some rather unoriginal plotting and characters. I hope that these issues are ironed out over the rest of the trilogy. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Apr 19, 2016 |
Great characters and story. Impressive world building.

A keeper. ( )
  CarmenFerreiro | Mar 28, 2016 |
I haven't read a ton of fantasy since high school when I decided to tackle Lord of the Rings. Well that's not completely true, I have read the first two books in A Song of Ice and Fire. But seriously, these are the only books I've read until Shadow and Bone. I absolutely LOVED this book. It was everything I hoped for and more. I was up late because I couldn't put it down.

Bardugo does an amazing job creating this world and the characters. Throughout the book I felt Alina's loneliness and need to be a part of a group. She never fit in with her troop, and still doesn't really belong with Grisha. She goes through so many emotions, including heart ache, in order to find who she is. The only person she has ever felt understood by is Mal, her childhood best friend. He is the one constant in her life, or was, until she was swept off to join the Grisha.

The Darkling is someone many people fear. He is the only Grisha with black robes, and is extremely mysterious. He has secrets that he means to keep hidden. I was so back and forth on him and his intentions during most of the book. But after certain events, and I'm not a fan. Or maybe that will change later. :P

I kept getting choked up on the some of the words. They can be a little hard to pronounce. But I did the best I could and moved on. It's mostly just titles that are difficult.

The world she built is still so vivid in my mind, even a week after putting the book down. I'm sure I'll be doing a re-read soon. I highly recommend this for fans of fantasy. It is an epic story that will leave you wanting more! ( )
  BookishThings | Mar 23, 2016 |
Shadow and Bone is the first novel in the Grisha Trilogy, which follows a girl named Alina in a land where magicians called Grisha serve the king. Alina and her longtime friend Mal both serve in the non-magical division of the army, but they are attacked by volcra (monsters) and then miraculously saved by Alina's latent magical power. The Darkling, the most powerful magician in the land, takes an interest in Alina, and training and heroics follow.

I loved the world in this. It was an interesting combination of fantastical but very real. Not real in a grit-and-grime, you-see-every-pockmark-on-the-whores kind of way, but all of the characters seem to solidly belong there and know what’s going on in their own land. There was just enough detail in the clothing, geography, etc that I felt comfortable in it. The magic system, too, was really comprehensive. I loved all of the details and rules for the different kinds of magic-users, even down to the clothes they wear.

Alina was a well-rounded protagonist who annoyed me a bit at first but she is developed very well through the course of the book, and easy to root for. It was frustrating that she couldn't manage to make any friends. I really want her to have a girl BFF, but every time she met a female she was all, “omg they haaaaaaate me.” She DOES befriend Genya (who I loved) but that didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, either.

The “love triangle” in this book was awkward because, for me, the Darkling was so much more complex and fascinating than Mal. In fact, he interested me above and beyond most everyone except for Genya. I loved her and the Darkling, probably more than Alina and Mal. I'm not saying the book should have been about them (but the book should have been about them (just kidding (mostly))). I also really loved Baghra, the teacher. I have a fondness for characters who kick protagonists in their hesitating-and-reluctant behinds.

I really disliked Mal, but I am hoping in future books that will change. It's hard to present a character, who is obviously well-loved by the main character, but whom we never see do anything particularly nice or heroic and then have him disappear for a large part of the book, and still expect us to like him. My frequent reaction to him was "Wow what a jackass". I think the author did her best to give us some good things about Mal, mostly through Alina’s memories, but I mostly only cared about him at all because Alina did, rather than for his own sake.

I liked the beginning and ending chapters a lot, their tone and style and how they brought the story into a full wraparound. The only thing that kinda ruined that effect was the climax. Boy howdy did I hate the climax. The climax accomplished almost nothing. In the end, it feels like the entire novel is just a giant prologue for the rest of the series/trilogy. We've gotten to know the characters, what's at stake, and who is working for Good and who is working for Evil, but nothing has really been accomplished except training and development (really great character development in this book, if I didn’t mention that) all around for everyone.

I gave Shadow and Bone four out of five stars. I really enjoyed it, in spite of my complaints, and I’m looking forward to more from this author.

(review also posted on my blog, bahnree.blogspot.com) ( )
  Stebahnree | Mar 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
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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 protegâe 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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