Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (June 5, 2012)
Description: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
My Thoughts: I just finished Shadow and Bone and I loved it. I had a hard time putting it down even to do necessary things. The writing was fluid. The characters were engaging. And the story swept me along to find out what would happen next.
The main character was Alina Starkov. She begins the story as a young orphan in a duke's house, unwanted and alone and with only one friend - a young orphan boy named Mal. When the Grisha come to test the children to see if they have potential to learn what they call the small science (but what you and I would call magic), Alina is determined that she and Mal not be separated.
The story next takes us some years later when they are older and are soldiers in the King's army. Mal is a tracker and has grown up to be handsome and a chick magnet. Alina is an apprentice cartographer who is small, thin, and sickly. She realizes that she loves Mal but he only sees her as his friend. Events change for good when their army is sent to cross the Fold. The Fold is an area of shadow and evil inhabited by flying volcra who attack anyone who tries to pass through. The troops board sandskiffs which the Grisha can propel through the Fold. When their sandskiff is attacked by volcra and Mal is injured, Alina reaches inside herself for a power that she didn't know she had. She summons sunlight to destroy the shadow.
It turns out that Alina is a very rare sort of Grisha. She comes to the attention of the Darkling who leads the Grisha and who sees her as a way to finally destroy the shadow. Alina is taken off to the king's city to be trained as a Grisha. She gets to know a number of other Grisha and gets to be a favorite of the Darkling. Alina struggles to find her place among the Grisha and really misses Mal. But then everything she thought she knew turns out to be wrong and she is swept into adventure again.
I loved the combination of tension and humor in the story. I especially loved that the villain wasn't the obvious character with shifty eyes and rude character. As Alina says, "He sounded so sincere, so reasonable, less a creature of relentless ambition than a man who believed he was doing the right thing for his people. Despite all he'd done and all he intended, I did almost believe him. Almost." So did I, Alina. So did I.
I am very eager for the next book in this trilogy to find out what happens next for Alina and Mal. Highly recommended to lovers of a good story!
Our instructor, Botkin Yul-Erdene, wasn't Grisha; he was a former Shu Han mercenary who had fought in wars on every continent for any army that could afford his particular gift for violence. He had straggly gray hair and a gruesome scar across his neck where someone had tried to cut his throat. I spent the next two hours cursing that person for not doing a more thorough job.I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.