Series Review: Shadow and Bone Trilogy

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

In preparation for the upcoming Netflix series based on Shadow and Bone as well as the characters from Six of Crows, I decided it was the perfect time to read the trilogy.

I wanted to write a brief review of each book to give you an overall idea of each to help you decided whether to read them/ to give you an idea of what each book offers.

Shadow and Bone

For some reason, this series was just one of those series that I struggled to pick up. But I am so happy I finally did. This book was so much more than I has expected, and I devoured it.

This book is mostly set in Ravka, home to most of the Grisha – the Grisha are those who can learn the Small Science (the magical elite), there are several different types (Divided into three categories: Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki). The story is set in a time when Ravka has been divided by the Shadow Fold, and the follows the journey of Alina Starkov – an orphan who is currently in the First Army.

Alina was a good protagonist – her feelings were realistic and relatable, and whilst it took me a little time to warm up to her, I loved it when she started to come into her own. I expect some amazing character development and can’t wait to see where her journey takes her. I adored a lot of the characters and I really feel it’s a testament to Bardugo’s excellent writing that I couldn’t help but like the Darkling (and I know I am not alone in that) even though I know I shouldn’t. I didn’t like Mal for the majority of the book, however, I really started to like him more by the end, and I liked the Darkling a little less. Regardless, the writing really connected me to the characters and their stories, I was so invested in each of them and I can’t wait to see where the story goes.

As I said, the writing is wonderful and the world-building is fantastic, the descriptions invoked such strong imagery that I felt very immersed in the world. It takes a minute to get your head around the concept of the Grisha, the two armies and the Shadow fold but once you understand that the story is incredibly gripping. I read the books in the wrong order, reading the Six of Crows duology first so I went in understanding the Grisha and the world but I think it would normally take a little while to really understand the world.

Siege and Storm

This book follows a few weeks after the events of the first book and gave me a lot of twists I wasn’t expecting!

I absolutely adored the new character that was introduced. He was completely unexpected for me, and I loved his personality throughout the story. I wish we would have gotten to know him better, but I loved everything we did get. Along with this introduction, we got a return of some of those we met in book one which I enjoyed, as well as some newer characters.

I loved the plotline, and we really got to know a lot more about the Darkling’s original plan for Alina. The stakes were raised a lot in this book – rather than the focus being on Alina learning about her power, this book felt a lot more urgent. War is coming, the world needs saving kind of vibes. I loved the change of atmosphere – it really gave us the excellent character development of Alina and showed her really accepting her role. The tension this created between Mal and Alina was unsurprising though Alina’s responses were unexpected. She really understood herself better and what she wanted. Rather than being passive and following others, Alina started playing a much greater role and it suited her. I’m very excited to see where it goes and to see how her choices and sacrifices in this book will have changed her.

I would say that this book has slightly slower pacing, though I didn’t feel a massive difference, there is less action throughout, but it is still a very enjoyable and gripping read.

Ruin and Rising

This was an excellent final installment to the series. I was gripped throughout the whole book and found the pacing to be ideal, with a good flow to keep the story moving. I loved where the story took the characters and found that this book really connected the last pieces to the puzzle together, everything linked in well and it all really came full circle in the book.

This conclusion to the series gave me everything I wanted and more. It hit me in the heart, and after everything they went through, the characters pushed even harder in this book. The group that developed was amazing, and I loved every single character as they all added a new and interesting dynamic - even the characters we hadn’t seen much of before, I had time to fall in love with.

The ending was very bittersweet for me, after everything the characters went through, I wanted them to have more (more joy, more peace etc), but it felt like the right ending, it would not have been realistic for the ending to be anything other than what it was. They went through a lot; the war, the heartbreak, the loss, and the ending were good but they all had a lot of trauma to deal with in the aftermath. The epilogue type ending was perfect, I loved being able to see what happened to them and the decisions they made in the aftermath of the events.

Nikolai was my favorite character and I cannot wait to read the books that focus more on him (King of Scars and Rule of Wolves). The events of this book affected every character deeply and I look forward to seeing how this plays out in these books.

Overall, I adored this series and it is one that will stay will me. The character's journeys and the struggles they endured were beautifully written and thoroughly explored in the series. This trilogy is a wonderful part of the Grishaverse and I cannot wait to read more of this world.

Rating: 5 Stars

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the series/ your favourite characters etc!

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