The World of Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ Explained
Shadow and Bone is coming back for a second season next month. So before we’re back in Ravka, let’s review the basics of the Grishaverse.
Shadow and Bone is coming back soon. It’s been a while since the first season and though it was undeniably awesome and successful, there’s a good chance some of us don’t remember some of the finer details of the world. So before Shadow and Bone comes back for a second season, let’s talk about the world, the Grisha, and what’s been going on.
The world of Leigh Bardugo’s books is known as the Grishaverse. And while the books are full of tireless worldbuilding and allow the reader to get a real sense of the bigness of it all, the TV show more or less lays out what you need to know to understand the characters. But you know what might help?
So far most of the show has taken place in Ravka, a kingdom fighting a war with Kjerda to the North and Shu Han to the South. But perhaps the kingdom’s biggest problem is that blocking their direct access to the sea is the Shadowfold or the Unsea.
The Shadowfold is a huge swath of darkness and storm that seems to house nothing but monsters. It was created about four hundred years prior to the beginning of the Shadow and Bone saga by the Darkling. But in his search for power, he didn’t realize what would happen to normal humans caught in the fold and turned some of the most fertile farmlands and richest estates in Ravka into sandy wastes full of nothing but storms and monsters. The only way to cross the Shadowfold is by sandskiff.
West Ravka is separated from the rest of the kingdom by the Shadowfold. And as a result, they are working towards succession from the rest of Ravka. They also have access to the ocean and all of its strategic advantages.
The Grisha are humans who practice “the small science.” While characters in the show don’t like to refer to it as such, their powers look to us a lot like magic.
The small science is divided into three orders. Corporalki or the “Order of the Living and the Dead” wear red and use their power to focus on the human body, whether to heal, hurt, or change someone’s appearance. Etherealki or “The Order of Summoners” manipulate various natural elements. Finally the Materialki or the “Order of Fabrikators” are focused on manipulating materials like metal, glass, textiles, and chemicals.
Grisha usually see their powers as an extension of the natural world and often cannot create new, rather they only manipulate what already exists. In Ravka, Children are tested for powers at a young age and sent away for training if any are detected.
In season one, Alina Starkov is discovered to be a Sun Summoner, a very rare kind of Grisha who can bend and summon light and heat directly from the sun. Her powers are directly opposed to the Darkling and can be used to protect against and possibly even end the Shadowfold.
What did you think of the first season of Shadow and Bone? Are you looking forward to season two? What kingdoms or locations do you hope we see more of in coming episodes? Let us know in the comments!