Image source: Variety
The new young adult fantasy series recently dropped on the popular streaming platform Netflix. Shadow and Bone TV series is based on Leigh Bardugo’s best-selling Grishaverse novels. It is one of the three books from the Grisha trilogy, including Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising as its subsequent novels.
The first trilogy presents a story of a war-torn Russian-inspired nation known as Ravka, split by an impenetrable darkness called “The Shadow Fold,” where monsters called “volcra” occupy the space. The story revolves around the life of a teenage orphan named Alina Starkov, who later develops immense power and reveals to the saintly sun summoner. Following the narrative, she is considered the chosen one who could heal a divided nation and destroy “The Shadow Fold.”
Compared to all good fantasy books, Leigh Bardugo’s fictional universe has a name of its own. It is called Grishaverse. The name is derived from the word “Grisha,” which pertains to the people in Shadow and Bone. To put it simply, the Grishas are people with magically gifted abilities. They are a class of individuals with supernatural powers, and they are considered unique compared to the rest of the humans who live there. In the said Netflix adaptation, Grishas are divided into groups based on their set of abilities. Each child undergoes a test to determine whether they’re Grisha or not. Once a child is classified as a Grisha, they are sent to the “Little Palace” to hone their abilities.
There are three main types or orders of Grisha. The first one is called Corporalki, having the ability to manipulate/treat the human body. Next, the Materialki, having the power to manipulate materials. Lastly, the Etherealki, having the power to control the natural elements. Alina, the protagonist, belongs in the Etherealki category because of her ability to summon light. The series focused on giving light to the different classes of the Grishaverse. Another thing that sets apart the Netflix series is the complexity of the narrative, which tackles societal issues such as race, politics, and social prejudices.
It was considerably a long journey for Leigh Bardugo before Shadow and Bone was adapted into a television series. Back in 2012, the first book of the trilogy came out and became a New York Times bestseller. In the same year, Dreamworks planned to franchise for an adaptation of the book. However, it didn’t come to fruition. According to Bardugo, “Well, we did first sell the option to the original trilogy to DreamWorks in 2012. And then, as so often happens in Hollywood, the executive who had brought it in and shepherded it left to work for another studio. So, the project was essentially orphaned.”
It was not until Netflix came into the picture and decided they wanted to adapt the book. When she met with Netflix, she felt she was in the right place. “One of the executives there said, ‘Yes, there’s all the flash and dazzle, but we take the stories of young people seriously, and we care about them.’ That really resonated with me,” the author said.
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