Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo:

1. Book 1: Shadow and Bone

2. Book 2: Siege and Storm

3. Book 3: Ruin and Rising 

Kinokuniya | Book Depository


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. (Source: Goodreads)


I will try to give an overview of the whole trilogy with as spoiler free as possible. Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo is one of the most popular series in the book community, be it Booktube, Bookstagram or the bookstore. If you ask a reader whether they have read the trilogy, chances are, they had. The popularity it gained shone through the Netflix adaptation starring Jessie Mei Li as Alina and Archie Renaux as Mal. However, the Netflix series is a combination between Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology. Thus, if you watched the Netflix before jumping into the book, you might get confused.

The series is about Alina, who started off as a regular mundane. Living her normal life as a cartographer with her childhood best friend, Mal until one day, in the darkness of the Fold her true identity called forth. The revelation of Alina’s power soon had reached the Darkling’s ears and he had Alina sent to the Little Palace, the training place for Grisha, to train and fully take command of her true power. The Darkling, the ruler of the Grisha was portrayed and rumoured as a powerful, menacing and merciless creature. But something stirred in Alina every time the Darkling touched her. She longed for the confidence and surety that surged through her whenever they touched. Being apart from Mal, Alina was easily swooned and fell into the Darkling’s trap.

Leigh Bardugo’s world-building is out of this world. She wrote intricate details about the world; it’s culture, food, festivals and language. She created everything from scratch. In the acknowledgment, Leigh Bardugo shared her love for superstition and the readers can clearly see how her love for it inspired her writing in an excellent way. She wrote something not any ordinary people can ever imagine. 

The magic system behind the Grisha is fascinating and unique. In a way, it reminds me of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. There are 3 levels of Grisha; Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki. Each Grisha level donned their own kefta with different colours. Their difference in roles and status drift the Grisha apart and distant. 

As for the plot of the trilogy, I would say they dragged quite a lot especially in book 1 and book 2. In book 2, there was nothing much happening. I think it would be better to make this into a duology instead. The ending in book 3 was somewhat rushed and felt too sudden. Like all these build-ups in the beginning of the book was pointless and fruitless. However, this doesn’t mean the ending is bad per se, I just thought it should be more elaborated and stretched with more conflicts to clearly convey how powerful the Darkling actually was. I would like to see more action and teamwork among Alina and the others. It would be more interesting if the Darkling had something up his sleeves as his trump card and Alina and her friends were forced to think of a last minute plan. I think failed plans could raise more suspense and keep reader on edge. 

The writing style could get repetitive and Alina asked the same questions over and over again in her monologue. It was honestly exhausting, being in Alina’s head was draining which was why I had to put down book 3 midway through to read Alex, Approximately.  

I know I shouldn’t compare but I don’t love any characters as much as in Six of Crows. I feel like Alina lacks a definite personality that make her, her. At some point she was edging towards the I’m-not-like-other-girls trope. 

However, there was a character development in Alina as she was more insecure in book 1 but by book 3, she gained more confidence in her power. 

The love interest, Malyen Oretsev gave me secondhand embarrassment in book 1 and book 2. He was that typical white boy; blonde hair, blue eyes. He was a good tracker and Alina’s childhood best friend since their days in the orphanage. I love Mal’s character development in book 3. He was more humble and accepting. It’s not like he was cocky in the first place, but I found him bland. However, I could really feel his love for Alina. 

The love triangle in this book is incredulous. I wouldn’t say triangle, but more to pentagon. I found it unconvincing and absurd how all these male characters could fall for Alina. There was no proper reason other than the fact that she was the special Sun Summoner. 

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this trilogy for people who prefer action packed fantasy, but it’s more of a character-driven story. Even so, I don’t think it was executed well. Go into this with an open mind. Don’t get your expectations too high. 

Rate: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

QOTD: Have you watched the Shadow and Bone on Netflix? Is it any good? I still have yet to watch it!