Netflix’s newest adapted fantasy series released

Corinne McDevitt, Staff Reporter

Book-lovers and fantasy fans, it is finally here! April 23 marked the release of the Netflix series “Shadow and Bone” based on Leigh Bardugo’s best-selling book series. The show transports viewers into the impressive world of the Grishaverse full of power-blessed Grisha, dangerous gangs and human problems. The Grisha possess powers ranging from the manipulation of the material world to the summoning of elements. Netflix’s adaptation, developed by Eric Heisserar, successfully delivers on the tricky task of translating a beloved book series to the screen. 

Netflix’s newest series, “Shadow and Bone,” is based on Leigh Bardugo’s best-selling fantasy book series. (Flickr)

Netflix’s “Shadow and Bone” remains faithful to the main plot points of the book with only small changes in chronology and titles. The most significant change is that the television series wove characters and events from Bardugo’s sister series,  “Six of Crows,” into the original “Shadow and Bone” storyline.

“Shadow and Bone” takes place in the fictional country of Ravka, which is heavily inspired by imperial Russia. Ravka is a war-torn country in conflict with its northern neighbor Fjerda, inspired by Scandinavia, and its southern neighbor Shu Han, inspired by China and Mongolia. Ravka is split in two by a massive swath of darkness called the Shadow Fold, home to the Volcra monsters. 

The story follows orphan army cartographer Alina Starkov, played by Jessie Mei Li, as she discovers she is a gifted Grisha and possesses the power of light. Alina is then torn from her childhood best friend, Malyen Oretsev, played by Archie Renaux, and thrust into the dangerous and exciting world of the Grisha. 

General Kiragin, the Grisha leader who has the power to manipulate shadows, tasks Alina with destroying the Shadow Fold, a feat only she can hope to accomplish. Meanwhile in Ketterdam, a city inspired by Amsterdam, Kaz Brekker and his gang of crows accept a job to kidnap Alina. Heroics, betrayal and wonder ensue as the series unfolds.

When adapting a book to screen, many creators make the mistake of changing or adding elements uncharacteristic to the source material, as shown by the trainwreck of the “Divergent” movies. Fortunately, the “Shadow and Bone” series does none of this. The changes in the Netflix series add another layer to the characters and their stories. 

For example, the Netflix show adds depth to the protagonist Alina, who is already an outsider, by making her half-Shu. Despite her being a Ravkan native, Alina is ostracized by her fellow soldiers and citizens, because of her resemblance to her mother, who is from the enemy country. The brilliant choice of casting all around only emphasizes this interesting character twist. 

Alina’s best friend Mal has a similar background, another reason the two cling together. They share unique experiences, which strengthens the bonds of their friendship, making the fantasy world so human.  

“Shadow and Bone” shines in many ways, but the detailed production sets it apart from all others book-to-screen adaptations. The intricate costuming, magnificent scenery and careful props make the fantasy world come to life. 

The casting in this show is the best I have ever seen in an adaptation. Every single actor goes above and beyond to do justice to their characters. It is so beautifully clear that everyone involved actually read the books and understands the assignment. 

“Shadow and Bone” is a book-lover’s dream come true. Even if you haven’t read the series, the “Shadow and Bone” Netflix series is quick paced, full of obsession-worthy characters and 100% worth the watch.