Dragonspire Watch: Shadow and Bone

Hey Everyone!

Welcome to another TV review post, featuring Shadow and Bone, which I enjoyed despite not reading the book it’s based on. This post was originally going to include The Irregulars too, but I’ve been spending more time at the beach and less time watching TV lately!

Dragonspire Watch Shadow and Bone

Summary:

Based on the book of the same name by Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone follows Alina and Mal, two friends who grew up in an orphanage, as they discover she has Grisha powers, the powers of the chosen one, and their journey to try and destroy the ‘fold’ of darkness which divides their country.

Shadow and Bone Netflix Cover Art: Alina (top) Mal (bottom left) and the crows crew, Kaz, Inej and Jesper, (bottom right), above a castle and deer antlers.
Shadow and Bone Netflix Cover Art

Genre:

YA/NA Dark Fantasy.

Content Warnings:

Some violence and blood, and suggestive scenes, but nothing more than kissing is shown. Dark scenes with monsters jumping out, life threatening situations. Mention of assault. Guns.

Plot:

The story follows two sets of characters: Alina and Mal as they are separated and reunited, and the heist crew who break into the Grisha stronghold where Alina is to capture her.

Shadow and Bone Alina is presented to the king and queen at the Little Palace by the Dark One
Shadow and Bone: Alina is presented to the king and queen at the Little Palace by the Dark One

I found Alina and Mal’s parts dull, and mostly clichΓ©. Reluctant chosen one. Orphans. Girl obsessed with the wrong man. Sudden development of powers just in time to save Mal and her friends. Plenty of tired tropes, without any new twists, and I got bored of their scenes quickly.

I wouldn’t have watched past episode one if it weren’t for Kaz, Inej and Jesper; characters from Six of Crows, a book by the same author set in the same world as Shadow and Bone. The Shadow and Bone TV show adds Kaz and his diverse crew into the Grishaverse timeline earlier than they appear in Six of Crows, and they steal the show with their clever planning and close friendships.

Characters:

Alina was very dependant on her connection to Mal, had little agency, and was led along by the plot for 95% of the show. I know lots of people love Alina, but like Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent,Β I found Shadow and Bone’s lead character bland and uninteresting.

She represents one of the things I hate about ‘strong’ female characters: Writers focus so much on making them ‘strong’ that the rest of their character development is lacklustre and the character ends up strong to the point I can’t relate to them. Mal was also more interesting in the flashbacks of the orphanage than as an adult pining for Alina.

Six of Crows Kaz Inej Jesper in Shadow and Bone
The Six of Crows crew, Kaz Inej Jesper, in Shadow and Bone.

The Six of Crows crew were far more interesting, and the female characters, Nina and Inej, were truly amazing. Alongside Kaz and Jesper, they’re the reason I continued watching. I hope Alina becomes a character I can root for and relate to a bit more in later seasons.

Favourite Character:

Kaz, Inez or Jesper. I can’t choose between them. Jesper is a cocky bisexual sharpshooter, Inej is a skilled stealthy acrobat with strong religious morals and deadly aim, and Kaz Brekker is suave, cold, and deadly, despite chronic pain from an old leg injury. He also cares a lot for Inej, despite their differences, and I ship them hard, despite rarely seeing chemistry between straight characters!

Favourite Scene:

When Inez protects Kaz from the fire mage, at great cost to herself. These two are adorable and it’s clear they love each other even though it’s not explicitly said. I’m adoring reading more of their interactions in the Six of Crows books.

Bad Stuff:

Alina and pretty much everything she does. An orphan chosen one with a special power, with no qualities that make her stand out other than that, doesn’t appeal to me at all.

Dragon Rating:

4 Purple Dragons with Purple Stars behind them.
4 Dragons!

I struggled to rate this show, as although I didn’t like the main character, I loved watching Kaz, Inej, and Jesper, and the series inspired me to read their books, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. My hope is Alina becomes more relatable in later seasons and I can rate the show higher.

Watch it if you like:

Magic, fantasy, medieval fantasy kingdoms, diverse grey-area characters with shady pasts, clever heists. Six of Crows: The casting feels spot on in Shadow and Bone!

How did I discover it?

Randomly scrolling Netflix. I was on the fence about watching it, as from the trailers I didn’t think I’d like the main character, but a friend enjoyed it, and I think I remember my sister recommending the books, so I gave the first episode a chance.

Other Random Watches:

Zero Chill, about a wannabe figure skater and her hockey playing brother. It was all right, but the acting felt a bit forced in places and as the story continued it started to drag and become predictable. I like watching anything ice skating though because it’s so graceful and impressive!

Spinning Out, about an ice skater struggling to get her career back on track after a nasty fall. It was good, but difficult to watch at times given the graphic scenes of self harm, predatory male characters, and tricky family relationships depicted between the main character and her mother, who both suffer from bi-polar. It covered a lot of difficult topics well, and it’s a shame the show didn’t get renewed.

scales divider copyThanks for Reading!

Have you seen Shadow and Bone? Read the book? Read Six of Crows? What did you watch this month? Chat in the Comments!

26 comments

  1. I haven’t seen or read Shadow and Bone, but it sounds like the book would be better. (And they almost always are!) The hubster and I watched Gunpowder and Milkshake. It was really good, like a film noir with a modern vibe and a slightly surrealistic setting . . . not everyone’s cup of tea, but we really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Louise! πŸ™‚ I too enjoyed Shadow and Bone! While I liked Alina, I think you made some valid and accurate criticisms of her character. I agree that the show (haven’t read the book) did use a lot of the same tropes that other stories used.

    **Spoilers ahead for anyone reading the comments**

    But now that Alina has embraced her powers and is growing in them, do you think she’ll be a more relatable character?
    Like you, I love the Six of Crows characters. I love Jesper’s laid back, charismatic attitude and humor. I also like Inej’s courage, how she does her best to stay true to her convictions, and her amazing skills. And, I like Kaz’s strategic nature and toughness – and most of all, I love the bonds that they share. They are definitely a close knit group of friends and are so cool and I instantly became invested in their stories. πŸ™‚

    I love the show and can’t wait to read Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone! :). Great review, my friend. :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I haven’t read the Shadow and Bone book either, and after reading some of the reviews I’m probably not going to. It seems the book has even more problems than the show, especially with Mal’s character, who is apparently pretty toxic!

      I hope the show takes a different direction to the books, and hope Alina becomes more relatable, but we’ll see!

      If you love Kaz, Jesper and Inej, you’ll like the Six of Crows book. I’m nearly done with it and I’ll review it soon πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yikes. Yeah, Mal wasn’t that exciting in the show, but at least he wasn’t toxic (he seemed like a decent guy overall). Awful how he’s pretty toxic in the book. In the reviews that you read, did people tend to like Six of Crows more too? That’s the feeling that I got from friends who read both books.

        πŸ™‚ Yep, we will see how things go. Do you think there may be more focus on the Six of Crows characters in Season 2?

        Awesome! I look forward to your review. :). I heard the first few chapters are a bit tough to get through due to lots of names and places mentioned – is that true?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah they had to adjust Mal quite a bit for the show to make him a better person apparently! People tend to adore Six of Crows and struggle with Shadow and Bone in the reviews. Hence I’m only reading the Crows duology πŸ™‚

          From reading most of Six of Crows, I think I know the direction Season 2 will take, and it’ll probably be pretty awesome: My guess is Alina and Mal will work together with the Crows team and it’ll follow the plot of the Six of Crows book a bit!

          The first chapter was a struggle as it was from the perspective of a character I wasn’t familiar with, and who didn’t stick around so I struggled to see the relevance, but after that it was fine, and I didn’t think there were too many names and places πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, that is a huge change. Did the reviews also indicate that Shadow and Bone book also uses the tropes that you mentioned? It sounds like the Crows books are more enjoyable! πŸ™‚

            Neat! Were there parts (besides the characters) of the duology that ended up being used in the show? I think it’d be cool if Alina and Mal work with the Crows team – they already kind of know each other and I can see them working together again (and it seems like Inez and Alina are friends). πŸ™‚

            Thanks for the info! I’m not so worried now about getting through the book πŸ™‚ Appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

            Liked by 1 person

            • The reviews mostly focus on Mal I think. If I get really invested in the show I might end up reading Shadow and Bone anyway for more background on the world, plus I like to compare books vs TV shows!

              Nah it seems like mostly the characters from Six of Crows were used, they have a different story in their own duology. But I think given the adjusted timeline of the show season 2 will probably use some of the Six of Crows plot. I’d love to see more of Alina and Inej interacting, I think they’d be great friends πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • That would be cool! Do you think you’d post a review on here if you end up reading Shadow and Bone?

                Interesting how they have a different story. I’m looking forward to see them incorporate the SoC plot. Was SoC a pretty fast read? And I too would love to see Alina and Inej interact more. Inej looks up to Alina too and I def want to see their friendship shown more.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Depends if I like it or not. I don’t like to dedicate entire posts to things I dislike as that feels too negative. I prefer to focus on things I enjoy πŸ™‚ If I do read it and didn’t like it I’d probably just mention it briefly at the bottom of another book review post.

                  SoC was fast paced, but I tend to only read a few chapters a week of anything as I’m very easily distracted and often doing too many things at once!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • That makes sense. I think that’s why (along with understanding how rough a bad review can be) I generally only review if I give something at least 3 stars. How many books do you generally try to read every year?

                    Nice πŸ™‚ I get what you mean. Sometimes, there are weeks between my reads due to distraction. How do you get yourself to get back to reading?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah, I just have no interest in writing bad reviews. I think the only reason I’d do it is if a book was triggering, homophobic, racist etc, as I feel like those kinds of things need to be called out. I aim for 12 books a year, but don’t always meet that goal! How about you?

                      If I’m in a reading slump the only thing that works is forcing myself to read a few chapters, and after that I’m usually enthusiastic again πŸ™‚ Getting started is the hardest part, with anything, and I think if I sat around waiting to be inspired to read or write I’d never get anything done.

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great analysis, Louise. I’ve read all of Bardugo’s books in the Grisha Universe and enjoyed the first season of the television series even though it’s a mash up of different stories. I’m looking forward to season 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah I don’t like writing bad reviews either. But yeah, if it is particularly egregious, I can see myself writing a review about that. I also aim for 12 books, but I usually don’t meet it. Well, if I count graphic novels, then I would. Perhaps I should count them?

    How do you usually force yourself to read? Good point – we can’t just wait for inspiration. I need to force myself to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d count graphic novels, they’re still books, but with far less words πŸ™‚ If I counted fanfiction, I read a ton, but somehow I feel it doesn’t count!

      I usually have to put aside anything electronic, disable the internet, or sometimes go to the beach with a book so there are very few distractions!

      Like

      • Good point. They are books :). Do you like graphic novels? I say fanfictions count. Do you feel that they may not count because they are not published?

        Good idea. How often do you go to the beach, my friend?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have a ton of manga, which I guess are similar to graphic novels πŸ™‚ Thanks, I guess I never saw fanfic as reading because most people look down on it. But I like it so I guess that’s what counts!

          I try to cycle along the seafront 3 times a week to stay healthy, but I usually only stop and sit on the shore if it’s quiet. It’s summer holidays here at the moment so the beach is packed and I don’t stick around. But when it’s term time I stay on the beach at least once a week πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, they are similar πŸ™‚ Do you like comics too? Which manga books did you collect most?
            Yes, what counts is that you enjoy it. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Do what makes you happy πŸ™‚

            That’s a good amount of cycling. πŸ™‚ Do you plan to cycle 3 times/week this month? Is it usually pretty quiet during term time? Hope it gets quieter soon.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Comics were pretty rare in the UK when I was younger so I never really got into them. I have the entire Fullmetal Alchemist Manga and Gravitation as well as a few others πŸ™‚

              Hopefully, although it’s been raining for a few days which on the one hand makes it quiet but on the other hand doesn’t make for good cycling! Term time during the day is usually pretty quiet, but if we get nice weather it’s busier as people like to walk along the seafront.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Interesting. Are mangas more popular than comics in UK?
                Nice! How many volumes does FMA have?

                Oh wow. Will the rain be ending soon? Makes sense. What’s the weather going to be like this week?

                Liked by 1 person

                • I think manga is more popular, but I’m pretty out of the loop when it comes to what’s popular xD FMA is 28-32 from what I remember!

                  I have no idea, the weather has been so weird for August, rain one day, super hot the next. Better than the constant unbearable heatwave we had last year though, at least with the current weather we get a break from the heat πŸ™‚

                  Like

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