Finally, I made it. I had long only read the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo, but now: my head is full of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. Here are my thoughts!
The orphan girl Alina Starkov has learned long ago that she will never be special: she is neither particularly pretty, she’s rather plain and above all, she isn’t a Grisha, the country’s magical military elite. But when her regiment is chosen to cross the dangerous path the Shadow Fold, she unleashes a power far greater than any Grisha power in order to save her best friend, Mal. Frightened because she didn’t know she even possessed the power and unaware what will happen to her, the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha, takes her with him to train as a Grisha. There, he reveals his great plans for her: together, they will end the Shadow Fold that has caused the death of so many people in order to reunite their country. But Alina has long learned not to trust everyone and so she must find out the truth, the truth of her gift, the truth of the Grisha power and everyone’s true intentions in order to safe herself and the future of her country.
For some reasons, the plot at the back of the book has always kind of kept me from reading the book because it didn’t strike me as outstanding. But after reading the book, I must say that Leigh Bardugo has really earned her success and fame after released this series.
The plot started right in the middle of the story, with insights to Alina’s personality, her self doubts and uncertainties. To be honest, tho, the descriptions of her travel and her first month at The Little Palace, the place where Grisha train, were a little long, but surprisingly: I didn’t mind at all. Normally, I easily get annoyed when nothing spectacular happens for a long time, but this book always mastered to keep me hooked: Alina’s feelings were very relatable and not at all boring ans simple, the every day life of Grisha were very interesting and the theme high school drama queens and idiots was surprisingly enjoyable.
Another great fact was that Alina wasn’t a born protagonist. She isn’t pretty, she isn’t strong and is neither a good fighter nor a natural talent when working on her gift, summoning sun light. She struggled a lot during her first months as a Grisha and that made her very relatable and sympathetic.
I also really enjoyed the plot twist, although it could have been predicted. It wasn’t an outstanding plot twist as the one in Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen or the one in Six of Crows, but it still was spectacular and caught me off-guard.
I already mentioned the easy to love characteristics of Alina, her physical appearance, her weaknesses and so on. But I have not mentioned her homesickness and that she misses her best friend, Mal, whom she grew up with at an orphanage. Remarkable and showing strong character was the resistance she showed when overwhelmed with prosperity and wealth: all she wanted was her friend to end her loneliness.
Mal himself wasn’t that present during the first half of the book, but was very caring and lovable during the second half. I cannot quite judge him yet, due to the next two books waiting for me. But that doesn’t mean he will turn evil, just for clarification.
I really enjoyed the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha, able to call darkness. He was simply a very interesting and mysterious character and his development really shocked me. I was never really sure what was behind his words and gestures and could only assume his true intentions which is a rare pleasure in books!
Alina, Mal and the Darkling are the main characters, however, the book has more to offer. I liked how Leigh Bardugo reflects all sort of characters perfectly, never revealing their full true intentions: we have the creepy one, the jealous one, the pretty one and the silent one.
This story is set in old Russia, and even though I have never been to Russia, I liked Leigh Bardugo’s display of it. She often used a Russian word and also entwined Russia’s architecture.
I was personally fond of her detailed description of living a Grisha’s life. How there are different sorts of Grisha, different ranks and orders, different training places and characters.
Although Leigh Bardugo’s writing wasn’t as spectacular as in Six of Crows , probably because this series was written first, I still enjoyed her style. She wrote simply, nothing like Six of Crows, with not many remarkable sentences (as May Djel watch over you until I can once more or I will have you without armer or I will not have you at all,). But I still liked her writing. She managed to get suspense when it was needed, humor when it was right and sadness when one was supposed to grief.
All in all, this series I will not love as much as I loved Six of Crows, but it’s very very worth reading and I recommend it to everyone who searches for a YA fantasy series filled with darkness!