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.
Shadow & Bone is a book that fantasy fans definitely do not want to miss out on! It takes place in a country torn by war. Along with that, the country itself has been geographically split by a big strip of land that was turned into a vast darkness called The Fold centuries ago. Any that enter it will likely perish from the darkness and creatures that dwell within its darkness. Still people must cross the fold to maintain contact and trade with the other half of the country.
The magic system in this story is quite interesting, in fact I wish there would have been more background information devoted to explaining it. Essentially though it isn’t really magic but science, not that I know how to explain it at all. The magic users are called grisha and there are different kinds. Those that can wield the elements, those that can create things from raw materials, etc.
The main character, Alina, is a mapmaker in the military and is supposed to cross The Fold with her unit. Her lifelong best friend Mal is also in her unit. When the crossing is attempted they are attacked and it is ultimately discovered that Alina is a grisha one of those few that has certain powers. Hers is that of a sun summoner.
She is taken away to the palace where she must train to learn how to use her power because they believe her powers to summon the sun can help destroy the darkness of The Fold and reunite the country.
Although some points while she is in the palace seem a bit slow I was still sucked so much into the story that it didn’t feel slow at all. I think it’s important to note that I didn’t get bored at all during Shadow & Bone. That is a very important thing for me, being sucked in the whole way through even if there isn’t any action packed scenes propelling the story forward.
Alina has such a strong personality and I became very attached to her and felt like all of her character growth through the story was excellent. We see her struggle against herself and who she thinks she wants to be, as well as her feelings for her friend and growing feelings for the man “The Darkling,” the strongest grisha in the country.
Admittedly, I didn’t anticipate the twists and turns that took place towards the end, which left me so pleasantly surprised every time. Too often I speculate as to what is going to happen and hit so close to the mark that it takes away some of my enjoyment. With Shadow & Bone this didn’t happen at all.
On a final note I have to say that I really liked the romantic aspect of the book, it was in no way the main focus and thus it simply added to the story instead of dominating it like often happens in so many other fantasy stories I’ve read lately.
Tabitha the Pabkins
*Review Copy provided by Publisher for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.