In Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo,
We dive into the world of Ravka and explore the lives of the Grisha.
The nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a sea of darkness crawling with monsters that feed on the flesh of the living.
Alina Starkov is just a simple girl who works as a mapmaker for the First Army of the Ravka kingdom. One day her regiment is forced to go into the Fold and is attacked. There she reveals a dormant power – the power of the Grisha, the magical elite- when she tries to save the life of her childhood friend Mal. After the awakening of her powers Alina is pulled away from everything she knows and is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, whom are led by a mysterious man by the name of Darkling.
I was blown away by the world that Bardugo builds. It is not easy building a brand new world from scratch but Bardugo excels in bringing this new place to life. (And the map at the begging helped loads) Think of Middle-Earth with a tinge of Civilizarion. That is Ravka. In this world Magic is considered Small Science because nothing is created (other than darkness), everything is just amplified and Bardugo explains all this as Alina learn more about the life of a Grisha.
Alina was such a great character; at first I feared that she would just let other push her around, because that is kind of the essence she gives off in the beginning of the novel. Thankfully she is not, she only needed to able to see it within herself, she had to see that she was powerful and not a useless nobody.
I related a lot of Alina’s character, because the only reason she was unable to move forward because she kept putting herself down and tying herself to the past. But once she was able to let everything go, she was such a strong and powerful character. Physically, mentally and spiritually. She was not written off as a clique ‘strong female character’. It did not just appear from night to day, her strength was built slowly, and as a reader you are caught off guard of her growth, because it was slow and subtle. I loved it.
There are other characters, like Mal, Darkling, and Geyna, but they will not top Alina. Mal is Alina’s childhood friend who has been by her side since their days in the orphanage. He is sweet, charming and a bit rude, but lovable either way. Darkling is the second most powerful man in the land of Ravka, and he has the power to control and create darkness (hence the name) oh and he is also like 120 years old. (We have a love hate relationship right now). Geyna is a sweet character that befriends Alina once she is thrown into the Little Palace (a place were Grisha train and study). Though towards the end of the novel I kind of wanted to punch her in the stomach for reasons you will understand if you read the book (which you should btw).
I do not want to talk about the story plot for the obvious reasons of: Spoilers. My dear reader, if you want to dive into a brand new world of
magic small sciences, mystery and amazing character growth you should pick up this book.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book of the Grisha Trilogy and continue on following Alina’s story.
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