With the release of Netflix’s new fantasy series, Shadow and Bone, I utter words that I never thought would come out of my mouth “The screen adaptation was better than the book.”
While the Netflix adaptation did change some things in the book, they actually enhanced the story. All while adding a richness to the world. It kept with the integrity of the book, and met my extremely high expectations as a massive fan of the Grishaverse. But what did they change from the books? What changes were better, or fell flat? Here’s my spoiler-abundant review of Shadow and Bone.
Adaptation: Which books were included?
Shadow and Bone is based on a book trilogy by the same name written by Leigh Bardugo. She was also an executive producer and writer for the show. It tells the story of the mythical country Ravka which has been split in two by a mysterious swath of darkness populated by monsters called the Shadow Fold. It’s foretold that someone with the ability to summon light, the Sun Summoner, will one day destroy the Fold. When her best friend is in danger, Alina Starkov reveals the ability to summon light. This puts her on a collision course with some of the most powerful people in Ravka.
The show also included a prequel story to the Six of Crows duology, which is a series that takes place in the same world. But in a different country with different characters two years after the last Shadow and Bone book. Where Shadow and Bone is an epic story of good vs. evil, literal light vs. dark, Six of Crows is about a group of teenage gangsters committing felonies. It’s grittier, darker, and objectively better and has a large fan base. The show took three of the principal Six of Crows characters. It sent them after Alina Starkov for a cool million kruge.
The Sun Summoner
Let’s discuss our principal Sun Saint, played by Jessie Mei-Li. Alina feels as though she stepped right out of the book. Mei-Li did a fantastic job portraying her. The way that she feels lost and out of place in her world, her sense of humour, her charming dumb decisions. She’s earnest and kind, while subtly foreshadowing the greed for more power that comes into play in the later books.
One major difference from the show to the book is the anti-Shu (East Asian) racism at play in the show. In the mythical world of the Grishaverse, Alina’s country Ravka is at war with Fjerda in the north and Shu Han in the south. While Ravka is inspired by Russia, Fjerda by Germany/Scandinavia, Shu Han is inspired by East Asian cultures. Mei-Li is half Chinese, and therefore show Alina’s mother was Shu and her father was Ravkan. It makes sense that Ravkans would be hostile towards someone who looks like they come from a country they’ve been at war with for over a century. The change works well in the story’s favour. In the books, Alina always felt lonely and out of place. Adding this extra level of isolation drives home the feeling that she doesn’t know where she belongs.
Another major change comes in the way the story ended. At the end of the story, General Kirigan uses Alina’s power against her will to expand the Shadow Fold and use it as a weapon, killing hundreds of people. In the show, Alina is able to escape the Fold on their skiff with the help of several other characters. But in the book, Alina realizes her power in the same way she does in the show. But she uses it to jump off their skiff and run away with Mal, leaving everyone on the skiff to die. Living with the knowledge that she caused about a dozen deaths is definitely something Alina deals with in later books. The fact that she didn’t do that in the show might affect her character’s development moving forward.
But all in all, Jessie Mei-Li’s portrayal of Alina was perfect.
Alina’s best friend, Mal Oretsev, played by Archie Renaux, is disliked by a lot of book readers. Renaux’s portrayal of Mal, however, flipped a lot of people’s opinion on the talented tracker. In this fictional world, there are people known as Grisha who have the ability to manipulate things around them. In Ravka they are treated very well, and before Alina was discovered to be one, both of them had a certain level of disdain for Grisha. Mal and Alina are orphans who grew up together, in the show they call each other their “true north;” their home. He’s one of Alina’s prominent love interest’s and they have a close relationship.
In the book, Mal preferred Alina weak and without her power. He was more of a playboy, a little more selfish and arrogant, and less understanding. In the show, he spends a great deal of time being beat up and shot at in an attempt to get back to Alina. Seeing him track down the Stag for her, listening to letters he wrote to her that never got delivered really helped in understanding Mal’s character. And making him more likeable. In the show, he is principally concerned with protecting her and getting back to her, and Mei-Li and Renaux’s chemistry is off the charts. Renaux took a character that a lot of people have mixed feelings about, and made him into a fan favourite.
The Darkling, or General Kirigan, played by Ben Barnes, faced the most book to screen changes. The biggest being that in the book, he is referred to as only the Darkling. Whereas in the show he’s referred to as General Kirgian and “Darkling” is used as a slur. For reference, Kirgan is a powerful Grisha who has the ability to summon darkness and use it as a weapon.
It was a strange change, and I’m not sure why they did it, but it didn’t bother me too much. It took the mystery of his character away a little bit, but it’s something I can overlook. But there is one change to Kirigan’s name that truly bothers me. Kirigan’s back story and real name was revealed way too early. In the books that doesn’t happen until book three, Reign and Ruin. But we get his real name as an offhand comment in Episode Four and then his backstory in Episode Seven. General Kirigan is a fantastic villain but revealing his backstory this early waters down his character.
However, Ben Barnes understood the assignment. He portrayed Kirigan perfectly, really driving home how manipulative a villain he is. You want to like him, you want to trust him. The twist that he is the man who created the Shadow Fold and has no intention of destroying it stung even for book readers who knew it would happen. He’s likeable and hateable at the same time, and fans of the show are in the same boat as Alina. As in they have no idea whether to kiss him or kill him.
By far the best addition to this show was including the Crows; our principal criminals from Six of Crows. The Six of Crows book follows Kaz Brekker, a rising star in the criminal underworld of Ketterdam, as he is hired to break a man out of a high security Fjerdan prison. He establishes a crew of Inej, Jesper, Matthias, Nina, and Wylan and they go have a heist.
The Crows have a lot of fans, so show-runners decided to twist the plot a little bit to include them. Six of Crows does do some groundwork in explaining where these characters are during the events of Shadow and Bone. From there it was finding ways for these two books to bump into each other. And they did it perfectly without making as many major plot changes as I thought they would.
Wylan is the only Crow missing from the line up in the show. But it should be noted that show-runners have said that he will be in Season Two.
Six of Crows outlines how star-crossed lovers Matthias and Nina meet each other, and the show follows that plot for the pair. Nina (Dannielle Galligan) is a powerful Heartrender, which is a Grisha who can control the body. Matthias (Calahan Skogman) is a Druskelle, a witch-hunter from Fjerda who had dedicated his life to hunting down and burning Grisha.
After fate pulls Nina and Matthias together through a shipwreck, they have to rely on each other to survive. They fall in love in spite of their differences. But to save Matthias from her Grisha comrades, Nina gets Matthias arrested, claiming he’s a Kerch slaver. This destroys Matthias’ trust in her despite Nina still loving him and sets them on a course for Ketterdam. Both actors do a great job setting up their relationship in only a few short scenes. And showrunners set them up to join Kaz’s crew in the next season.
But the real stars are Kaz (Freddy Carter), Inej (Amita Suman), and Jesper (Kit Young). The three of them get just as much screen time as Alina, Kirigan, and Mal. Their story begins when they get a hit on a job to go to Ravka, cross the Fold, and bring back the woman who claims to be the Sun Summoner.
Six of Crows
Reading Six of Crows definitely makes the Crow plot more enjoyable, as it is teeming in Easter Eggs. But everything with the Crows in this show is prequel and therefore new. Kaz is still building a reputation in Ketterdam, Inej still belongs to the Menagerie, and Jesper is pretty much the same.
One complaint I’ve seen fans have is that Kaz is not violent enough. In the books, we’re talking about a man who ripped a guy’s eyes out. And convinced a man that he buried his toddler alive. He’s also smarter in the books, always has a plan, and is maybe the most intelligent character in the Grishaverse. Yet, in the show, he doesn’t win many fights and pushes himself into a corner. But I still think that Freddy Carter was the perfect Kaz.
Fans of the book should note that this story is two years before Six of Crows. He’s not the Kaz we know and love yet. He definitely lays crumbs down for him to become that, and there are scenes in the show where Kaz shows just how ruthless he can be. There were also complaints that he was too outward with his emotion. But everything that makes Kaz sympathetic in the book comes from that we can read his internal monologue.
If Carter and script writers portrayed Kaz like how he is in the book to a fault, we would have no reason to sympathize with him. In my opinion, Carter, who is openly a massive fan of Kaz Brekker, did a fantastic job with the character. Portraying a younger, less experienced Kaz.
They also did a fabulous job of setting up Kaz’s heart-wrenching back story without spoiling it too early (take notes Kirigan). They put emphasis on his cane, his gloves, his relationship with Barrel King Pekka Rollins, and his inability to touch people. Kaz is a disabled character, having to walk with cane, and suffers from extreme PTSD and touch aversion. Carter did an amazing job of portraying those things and how they make Kaz stronger. Kaz embraces every part of himself to the point that they truly do make him a force to be reckoned with, and the show did an excellent job with that.
Another thing to note is his relationship to Inej. Inej was kidnapped from her home when she was fourteen and illegally sold to a brothel in Ketterdam. But Inej has some skills in terms of espionage as she was trained as an acrobat as a child.
So Kaz buys her indenture, setting up a payment plan to pay for the massive sum, and Inej works for Kaz. Inej can’t leave Ketterdam without her previous owner’s permission, so Kaz puts up his gambling hall as collateral and a promise to pay off her indenture in full when they return. Inej has also expressed that she has never killed anyone and doesn’t want to, but when Kaz is in mortal danger, Inej makes her fist kill. These two characters are never going to admit that they love each other, but they repeatedly show that they do through their actions, and in the end, Kaz begrudgingly admits that he needs her. Inej is also the most religious character in the show, and going after the Sun Saint definitely provides some conflict in her heart.
She’s an assassin who is full of compassion and is incredibly pious and complex. Suman did an amazing job bringing this complicated character to life, and Carter and Suman have wonderful tension in their scenes.
And here to steal the show is Kit Young as Jesper Fahey. He does a great job as comic relief, releasing tension in high-stress scenes and being the comedic break-out of the show. But even through that, he alludes to Jesper’s crippling gambling addiction, his desire to be validated by Kaz, and his tender friendship with Inej.
All three of these actors embody the Crows perfectly. They simply stepped off the pages, and seeing them cross paths with Shadow and Bone characters feels natural and exciting. They definitely stole the show and my heart.
All in all, there is way too much to discuss in this series vs. the book, so I’ll boil it down to this, Shadow and Bone was perfect. The casting was phenomenal, the plot changes were natural and bettered the story, the inclusion of the Crows was genius, and everything about it was incredible. It set up the Crows to be united as the six of them and set them up for future heists, and it propped up the Shadow and Bone arc for book two. The show has not been announced for another season yet, but Bardugo has stated that she wants five, and I’ll be praying to the Saints for as much as I can get.
What did you think of Shadow and Bone the series vs. the book? Let us know in the comments below.
Whilst on Netflix check out the best of British movies HERE.
Read IMDb information on Shadow and Bone HERE.
DC Fandome 2021 – Revelations, Trailers and the future
At the recent virtual DC Fandome 2021 over 66 million fans tuned in across 220 countries. They listened in 12 different languages. All to find out the scoop on what’s to come for the comic book franchise, new DC revelations and even watch trailers of soon to be released films and TV shows.
But, if you weren’t one of the millions to be watching from home, below is the Film, TV and Gaming announcements and revelations that would interest any DC fan.
DC Fandome 2021 started with a world exclusive trailer of Black Adam! The man himself Dwayne Johnson. Along with a host of the films other stars including Pierce Brosnan, Aldis Hodge, Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo. They introduce themselves and the exclusive trailer.
During the 4-minute intro below, you see Johnson excitably launch his passion project. He explains how much the Black Adam universe means to him. We are also told that the film is currently in post-production with the film being released on the 29th of July 2022.
We don’t get much information or storyline from the trailer. But Dwayne’s enthusiasm for the character and the gritty darkness of what we do get in the trailer is enough, for now, to keep us excited about this Movie.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
During the day’s events, Jason Momoa was on hand to give fans an in-depth dive into the world of Aquaman. Firstly, apologising for the four-year wait. However, Momoa and director James Wan appeased fans with a host of behind-the-scenes clips. Plus a glimpse of some unusual conceptual art. Which included quirky looking desert creatures and giant grasshoppers.
We have also been promised by Wan that we are going to be getting a film that’s more mature, giving the audience something new, exciting and an experience we haven’t seen before. The 2-and-a-half-minute look into the sequel, below, was enough to make any fan excited for its theatrical release in December 2022.
DC’s League of Super-Pets
A fun animated adventure was also announced. DC’s League of Super-Pets will bring super-pets like Krypto and Ace the Bat-Hound to life for the first time.
In an exclusive trailer, fans were introduced to the two pups, voiced by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, in a light-hearted look into the film. The full movie voice by the comedy pairing along with some other famous names such as Keanu Reeves and Vanessa Bayer is set to be released next November.
Another film trailer to hit the DC Fandome 2021 screens was The Flash. Portrayed once again by Ezra Miller and directed by Andy Muschietti. Fans were introduced to the trailer and the concept of the film, where the Flash unlocks the DC cinematic universe. He time hops back to the ’90s where Michael Keaton, reprises his role, he originated in 1989’s ‘Batman’ and 1992’s ‘Batman Returns’.
We’re elated that we get another film with Michael Keaton as Batman. Even if the storyline does sound a little farfetched. We’re sure Muschietti will get the narrative across perfectly and the film will be an instant hit. The film is due to hit cinemas in November 2022.
The DC Fandome 2021 team knew exactly what they were doing when they left the release of the second Batman trailer to the very end of the day. Like fans around the world, we also couldn’t wait to see more of Patterson, fully suited up, showcasing his gritty take on the hero. Director Matt Reeves, Robert Pattinson (Batman) and Zoe Kravitz (Selina Kyle/ cat woman) were there to lead the trailers release.
Granted the jury is still out if Patterson can pull of the dark knight or not but we have to admit we are excited to see him in action. We also have a sneaky suspicion that for the first time in a film setting since Michelle Pfeifferthey may have nailed the casting for Selina Kyle with Zoe Kravitz. We don’t have long left to find all this out though, as after a few Covid related interruptions Batman is now set to be released in theatres on March 4th, 2022.
Injustice and Catwoman: Hunted
If some of these DC film releases seem a little far away, fear not because we were also made aware that two animated films will be released quite soon. With Injustice’s release this October and an anime-inspired animated DC offering in the form of Catwoman on February the 8th 2022, both the feature-length animations will be available on digital, 4K and Blu-ray. To take a sneak peak of Catwoman: Hunted you can watch the trailer below.
When it came to the TV side of the DC world there were a lot of announcements and trailers mainly around continuing shows such as, Titans, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Stargirl along with the more anticipated trailers for:
Has been renewed for another season, despite the departure of Ruby Rose. The new trailer showcased its new Batwoman – Ryan Wilder played by Javicia Leslie.
Is set to be returning for a fourth season. During the announcement followers of the show were treated to a wonderfully odd and endearing mid-season trailer.
Is set for yet another inter-universe team up as The Flash team takes on a deadly mission against the ‘Armageddon’ villains. Which could decide the fate of humankind. The villainous gang is headed up by Tony Cuttan as Despero, Arrowverse’s Tom Cavanagh as Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash and Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk.
First seen in this summer’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ Movie, John Cena’s comedic take of the Peacemaker is set to have its own HBO Max show. The fun and quirky trailer to the first series premiered at the event. Along with a behind the scenes look at the making of the series. It shows that director James Gunn is staying true to his unique, comedic style. The Trailer also shows the other great actors involved in the series including the hilarious ‘Orange is the New Black’ star Danielle Brooks, Christopher Heyerdahl, Robert Patrick and Jennifer Holland. This eight-episode series is set to be released on 13 January.
Viewers of the event didn’t find out much about this Netflix offering. But we did get glimpses of Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Wwhich let’s be honest along with the announcement that this is actually happening, is enough to get most of us DC fans excited about its release. There is no release date yet but I’m sure over the coming months there will be more announcements about this extraordinarily dark and forbidding series.
Based on the comic book series of the same name created by Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker and Jamal Campbell. The TV adaptation of the story was announced with a one-minute ten-second trailer. This superhero drama is based around a comic book-loving teenager who discovers she has superpowers. Her curiosity leads her onto a journey into the Multiverse in search of answers. We haven’t got a definitive release date yet, but we have been promised it will be in 2022.
Suicide squad: Kill the Justice League
Since the announcement of this game at last year’s Fandome we haven’t had much information or even any gameplay footage. However, at this year’s event, we did get quite an in-depth trailer and a little look at the storyline. In this game, the player gets a choice of playing Harley Quinn, King Shark, Captain Boomerang or Deadshot. As they take on a new mission against an alien threat that has brainwashed the Justice League. There is still no hint to a release date or even a gameplay trailer, but we have been assured 2022 will be full of hints about the game and hopefully a conclusive release date.
Another game trailer that was released at the Fandome, that excited fans across the world was Gotham Knights. Continuing its Arkham-style adventures, Games Montreal has been working hard on the narrative and gameplay functions of this game. This game, in particular, was supposed to be released sometime in 2021 but it was delayed and we have now got a 2022 release time frame.
In this game you get to play a number of characters including Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood in an open-world action online RPG in order to uncover secrets and take down the Court of Owls.
So there you have it, some of the top DC new from the Fandome 2021. What do you think about all the new announcements? What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below..
Read our review of DC’s The Suicide Squad HERE.
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