New season of ‘Shadow and Bone’ honors the books


Nick Glover

A screenshot of the “Shadow and Bone” page on Netflix. The show’s second season came out Thursday.

By Sarah Rose, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

All hail the Grishaverse, and all hail our queen and sun summoner Alina Starkov. 

The long-awaited second season of Netflix’s original series “Shadow and Bone” was released on Thursday. The show is adapted from the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and “Six of Crows” duology by author Leigh Bardugo. 

Bardugo’s series of books are collectively known as the Grishaverse. The show connects her two book series and focuses on both series’ casts of characters. 

Book-to-TV adaptations can be hit or miss and it usually depends on how involved the author is with the writers of the TV show. The second season of “Shadow and Bone” follows the events of books two and three of the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy. The events of “Six of Crows” don’t take place until three years after the events of “Shadow and Bone” do, but the Crows, a nickname given to the six characters in “Six of Crows,” have been given a filler story in season two, like they were given in season one. 

Four new characters are introduced in season two. The witty Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson), Tamar Kir-Bataar (Anna Leong Brophy) and Tolya Yul-Bataar (Lewis Tan) appear as Mal (Archie Renaux) and Alina (Jessie Mei Li) team up with Sturmhond after enlisting their help to find the Seawhip and Firebird, mythical creatures who contain great power. These creatures can be turned into Grisha amplifiers when killed, expanding a Grisha’s, or magic user’s, power capability. Wylan Hendriks (Jack Wolfe) makes the last of the six of crows by joining Kaz, Inej and Jesper in their mission to take back control of “the barrel” and future jobs. To book fans, the four new characters add a sense of completeness to the story. 

The second season takes place right after the events of the last episode of the first season. Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling (Ben Barnes). Alina’s end goal is to vanquish the Shadow Fold; a strip of darkness full of Volcra, creatures that feed on humans, that stretches across the country of Ravka. To end the reign of darkness and the Darkling, she must acquire the last two Grisha amplifiers to increase her sun summoning power. Unbeknownst to her until later, the Darkling has created an army of Grisha and Nichevo’ya, creatures made from shadows. To combat the evil that is coming for her and Ravka, Alina gathers up her own army of loyal Grisha and soldiers. 

A character that stood out this season is Genya Safin (Daisy Head) who is a Grisha healer and tailor. Last season, Genya was a side character, as she was the queen’s tailor and a servant inside the Ravkan palace. This season, her role is much larger, as it became in the books. Going from the Darkling’s prisoner to joining Alina’s army, Genya’s backstory is explored as well as why she was important to the Darkling. She was subjected to a lot of pain this season, both emotionally and physically, and instead of hiding it as she did in the past, she wears it on the outside. Head’s sophisticated, raw performance of Genya contributed to this season’s heinous undertaking, as the show’s writers took it upon themselves to make this season have a more evil tone than last season.

Across the map in the city of Ketterdam, the Crows, consisting of Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), are keeping a low profile on Ketterdam. At the same time as Wylan joins the Crows, Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), the waffle loving Grisha heartrender from season one, joins the Crows. Our five, not yet six, of crows gang is enlisted by Alina’s crew to track down a legendary sword that may be the only weapon that can kill the Nichevo’ya. 

All eight episodes are either at the hour mark or over due to the packed storylines the writers weave in this season. Though the storylines feel a bit rushed, especially to fans of the books, the series still grips viewers into a more dark and sinister fantasy thrill. The themes of good vs. evil and how much power a person can wield do enhance the darkness of the show. Secrets kept in the dark are revealed and bloodlines play a crucial part in the game of who lives and who dies. 

Throughout each storyline, a thick tension can be felt, making the viewers aware that something bad could happen at any given moment. There are more fights this season, all brutal with more blood being spilled. With each fight, brief slow-motion moments happen which follow a character’s strategized punch, for example, or the sharp path of a bullet going through someone’s chest. These shots enhance the brutal aspects of the show and make it seem more real. 

The soundtrack to this season topped last season’s score. The music added a new emotional level of sophistication that described each scene without words. The soundtrack contained ominous noises and the instruments created resonant frequencies. The score completed the malicious tone of the series and finalized it. 

Episodes seven and eight brought everything and everyone full circle. The plethora of storylines converged into one and had everyone fighting together to meet one end goal: to defeat the Darkling and to destroy the Fold. One thing that the TV show does that the books don’t is have characters meet who had never met in the books. Instead of those fantasies only existing in our minds and fanfiction, the last two episodes brought all the characters together fighting side by side. 

The show also allowed characters to be more flushed out and known to the viewers, opposite to what the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy does. Make no mistake, the books are always going to be better than their TV adaptations, but the books were all told in Alina’s point of view which made it hard at times to connect with characters she was interacting with on her journey. The show briefly focuses on the side characters at times, giving them private moments and new dialogue that enhance their character and purpose. 

The end of the season left off on quite a few cliffhangers, of course, that sets up the next season, if there is a season three. If anything can be learned from fantasy it’s that evil doesn’t really perish, it just waits for the right time to show its face again.