They always say the book is better than the on-screen adaptation but sometimes there are exceptions. The story of Shadow And Bone begins in a place called Ravka which is inspired by the 18th century Taurus Russia, this is where we meet Alina and Mal two childhood best friends who are now serving in the army together there. The Country has been torn in half by something called the shadow fold which is essentially this wall of darkness filled with horrifying creatures things. Get complicated for the two friends when Alina discovers that she has a very unique magical ability to summon light that could potentially unite the country.
Suddenly She and Mal get separated and she has to go learn how to use her powers at a palace with other magic users. Now I know this sounds like the most basic fantasy chosen one plot and you might be wondering. Why this is even a story you should care about but the world-building and the characters are what makes this story so special you have this fascinating world with beautiful and very different locations.
You have magic you have some political intrigue there’s a pretty large cast of fun characters and every good fantasy story needs a great Villain. I’m not going to tell you who it is because you don’t actually find out right away but if you’ve read the books you know I also have to mention that bringing in characters from Six of Crows which technically takes place after the events of shadow and bone was the right choice here. I initially had some concerns that this was going to feel like some strange add-on plot that doesn’t really fit the rest of the story but they do not feel shoehorned in at all.
Shadow And Bone Season 1 Review
The writing makes this feel natural and they bring a lot to the series the show weaves them into the main story really well while also setting you up for a completely different storyline that will pay off in future seasons as long as this season does well. I can’t really imagine the show doing poorly I think this is going to be big whether you’ve read the books or not so let’s talk about some of these characters obviously we have Alina and Mal who grew up in the same orphanage it is clear that they are very close.
The chemistry between the two actors feels so genuine right from the beginning you see their bond they’re both so likable and you immediately want to root for them yes even Mal. I know most of the book readers aren’t big fans of his but I promise you the way they changed his character makes a huge difference no matter how much you hated him in the books, you’re going to be rooting for this guy now at the palace you have the mysterious General Kirigan, whose magical ability is just as unique as Alena’s. He can summon and manipulate shadows this is a character you really learn more about as you get further into the series. So I’m going to let him be a mysterious self but I do have to say I cannot imagine a more perfect casting for this character than Ben Barnes.
He is absolutely spot on the roll feels like it was made for him and you can just tell how much he’s enjoying it in. General the casting in the series is impressively good for the most part they fit their roles really well and the dynamics between these different groups of people feel very natural and really work. I think even fans of the novels are going to be happy with these character portrayals I know people were pretty happy with the trailer and the way the photos looked but once you see all these actors in action and how much fun they’re having with their roles. You’re going to love them speaking of which there are three more characters I want to highlight there are definitely more than three but these three need to be mentioned and they happen to be from the six of crow’s books.
A Netflix Original Series
This is a small group of thieves and tricksters from a different part of the world Jesper Inej and their leader Cass who is probably the audience’s favorite character in the entire series of books and shows. These three are so much fun and their story has a completely different feel to it it’s a lot more playful they are constantly trying to get away with something and whenever the show switches to this group you feel like you’re watching some heist movie.
I loved all three of them they just feel so cool for lack of a better word they are clearly deadly and when they mean business it’s best not to stand in their way but they are also really entertaining and funny and of course, they’re trying to pull off a job I adored them in the books which I do love the Six of Crows duology a lot more than Shadow And Bone particularly because the characters feel a lot more mature and than this series. I love how they turned out I think they really did these characters justice and as a bonus, it is really cool to see a completely different side of the world through their perspective.
So let’s talk about this world now I’ve already mentioned Ravka being based on the 18th century Tsarist Russia but you know the magical version of it there is an entire army of magic users. This is how Rafkins are able to stand their ground against more industrialized parts of the world. These magic users are called the Grisha silly name if you actually speak Russian but let’s not focus on that they actually toned down a lot of the Russian inspired silliness in the show which I really appreciated because in the books some of these things are just ridiculous and comical but anyway these Grisha essentially fall into three categories those who practice elemental magic those who can control physical materials and those who can manipulate the human body.
Except for of course the two really rare cases we know of in Kerrigan who manipulates shadows and Elena who manipulates light a really fun magic system if you ask me and you do see those things in action quite a bit some of which are kind of horrifying.
I am so happy they did not turn this into some cute family show version of magic when you see the darker sides of it which by the way they did really well with the visual effects. In general, you understand why people in this world don’t love Grisha there are two sides to everything if you take for example someone who can manipulate the body they’re not just a healer they can also manipulate your mental state and your emotions or they can kill you through and giving you a heart attack. Now with the crow’s trio, we get to see the more industrialized part of the world they’re based in a city called Ketterdam which seems to be inspired by 19th century Amsterdam.
You’ll see some machines with different kinds of weapons bomb traps this location looks and feels completely different. From what you see in Rafka where the use of magic has delayed the industrial revolution the scope of the show is incredibly impressive from the magic itself to all of the different locations. you get to see how much detail went into all of that and none of it feels like some isolated set piece. This is actually one of the issues I had with Netflix’s adaptation of another fantasy book series The Witcher, some locations were developed better than others.
The world itself didn’t always seem cohesive with shadow and bone you get this very strong sense of place the surroundings are always rich and detailed even though they look different depending on where the characters are. It all feels like it’s a part of one world I need to start wrapping this up because I can sit here and talk about shadow and bone for a really long time but I want you to go and watch this series so you can actually discuss it without being afraid to spoil anything for anyone.
Star Cast Of The Series
- Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov
- Ben Barnes as General Kirigan
- Archie Renaux as Malyen Oretsev
- Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker
- Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa
- Kit Young as Jesper Fahey
- Danielle Galligan as Nina Zenik
- Calahan Skogman as Matthias
- Simon Sears as Ivan
- Sujaya Dasgupta as Zoya
- Julian Kostov as Fedyor Kaminsky
- Howard Charles as Arken
- Zoë Wanamaker as Baghra
- Daisy Head as Genya Safin
- Kaylan Teague as Young Alina
- Cody Molko as Young Mal
- Hugo Speer as Lieutenant Bohdan
- Andy Burse as Dubrov
So here are my final thoughts first of all as you can tell I was really impressed by this series there is a lot they did right and actually pulling off a high fantasy series is a difficult thing to do when it comes to the story. The logistics of the visuals it’s not easy and yet shadow and bone succeeded I also think they found the right balance when it comes to the tone in this particular story they didn’t go too light or too dark and they actually worked with these characters making the more traditional fantasy character types feel more interesting and more compelling.
There are two people in the series who I think need a lot more work they are currently a small part of the show but taking six of crows into account they are going to become a lot more important to the story for book readers.
I am talking about Nina and Matthias compared to everything else that’s going on their part of the story just feels less interesting and even the dialogue they were given seemed a bit rough there’s one particular episode where the two are featured a lot more prominently and that was definitely the weakest episode of them all. I also have to say I wish we got to see more of Alina’s training the show kind of skims over that part pretty quickly and while it’s not that big of a deal it still would have been fun to see the Grisha training in a bit more detail however compared to everything else neither of these is major issues at least they weren’t for me I think.
There’s so much going on here so many interesting things happening that it’s pretty easy to look past these small issues especially because they nailed the ending. The final two episodes of this season are so good and just the right amount of dark wing I’ll see myself out as I said at the beginning of the video you are often going to hear people say that the books are always better than their on-screen adaptations and while that is often true there are some exceptions to this rule and I think that Shadow and Bone is one of those exceptions.
The changes they made were ones that needed to be made because they improved the story merging two-book series together really elevated the main plotline the adjustments to some of these characters were for the better there’s no doubt in my mind that this version of shadow and bone is better than the original series I cannot wait for you guys to see it because I think many of you are going to enjoy it a lot before I give my final rating for season 1 of shadow and bone more than I expected to be shadow and bone entertained me it enchanted me it surprised me on quite a few occasions I can’t wait to see what they do with season two and for all of those reasons I am giving season 1 a 9 out of 10.