“Shadow and Bone” takes place in a world torn apart by magic. For years, a dangerous and barren place called the Fold – utterly dark and dead inside, save for the winged gargoyle-like monsters that hunt anyone who tries to cross it – has divided Ravka’s realm. On one side of East Ravka, which has access to the sea only by the fold; on the other side is West Ravka, who wants sovereignty. There are two armies that have sworn loyalty to the King of Ravka: the First Army, which includes soldiers and warriors, and the Second Army, exclusively populated by Grisha, or individuals capable of wielding magic. In the First Army, serve Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), a cartographer, and her best friend, Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux), a stalker and fighter. Inseparable since they grew up in the same orphanage, there is clearly something between Alina and Mal – an unusually deep bond that always makes them find their way back to each other. Is it the connection that activates Alina’s magical power on her first journey through the fold?
Whatever the cause, once Alina is revealed as a Grisha, her entire world changes. Sworn in to defend the whims of the kingdom, Grisha comes in many forms. Heartrenders can tell if someone is lying or telling the truth based on their heart rate, while Healers are, well, self-explanatory. Inferni can control fire, Squallers can control air, and Durasts can manipulate materials. They all live in the small palace in the western capital of the Ravkan, Os Alta, and they all serve the dreaded and disturbing General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), who can control the darkness, and they are mostly hated and resented. by the common people. The Grisha are rewarded for their innate abilities by the Ravkan elite, and feared, hunted and killed by others in this world, such as the Fjerdan. And when Alina is revealed to have a unique, almost mythical power, the law of the land requires her to leave Mal behind and go with the general to the Petit Palais to train.
This revelation, and the literal and figurative journey that Alina undertakes thereafter, constitutes the essence of the main plot “Shadow and Bone”. The other main plot exists in reaction to Alina: Crime prodigy Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) wins an offer to kidnap Alina for an impressive payment, and hires two members of his gang to help her: sniper Jesper. (Kit Young) and spy Inej (Amita Suman). They will have to cross the fold, sneak into the little palace, take Alina back and, somehow, cross the fold to deliver her to their employer. It’s a heist that could kill them at any time, but “Shadow and Bone” avoids getting too dark thanks to the underlying hope of its characters and the strength of their cast.