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.
Harry Potter: The Questions You Keep Asking, Answered
It’s been over 24 years since the first instalment of the Harry Potter series was published. But regardless of the length of time passed, many questions are still left unanswered. Fansites still tear apart page upon page looking for the key to unlock J. K. Rowling’s extraordinary mind. Interviewers have fired question after question at the infamous author. Yet, when one question is answered, it seems to open the flood gates for many more.
J. K. Rowling has now moved onto crime fiction. But she still finds the odd spare moment to grace Potter fans with her virtual presence. Using Twitter to answer some of the endless questions’ fans have conjured.
Let’s take a look at some of the most valid Harry Potter questions asked on Twitter and how J.K. Rowling answered them.
What happened to Fluffy the three-headed dog?
Poor Fluffy wasn’t mentioned again after being set free in the Forbidden Forest. Never fear! Rowling is here to tell us of Fluffy’s fate.
Back in February 2015, Rowling replied to the question on Twitter. stating that ‘He was repatriated to Greece. Dumbledore liked to put Hagrid’s more foolish acquisitions back where they belong.’
Beyond the happily ever after
A snapshot of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s Happily Ever After is presented at the end of the final book. The three (and Ginny) complete the circle by walking their own children to the Hogwarts train.
But, their lives developed much more than having children. As Rowling revealed back in 2007. Hermione began her career within the Ministry of Magic. She worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Here, she became instrumental in the improvements for the treatment of house-elves. After this, she moved to the Dept. of Magical Law Enforcement, where she ensured the eradication of pro-pureblood laws.
Harry and Ron took different paths. Harry became an aura, a highly trained law enforcement officer. Ron went into the family business, helping his brother run Weasley’s Wizarding Wheels.
Did Harry, Ron and Hermione return to their schooling?
There’s a huge gap at the end of The Deathly Hallows. The pages seem to jump from the defeat of Voldemort to 19 years later. So did the famous trio return to school?
Rowling stated that Hermione returned to Hogwarts to complete her NEWT’s. But Harry and Ron did not, instead, they followed their career paths straight away. Although, I’m pretty sure defeating the source of all evil scores big points on a C.V.
Harry’s scar shape is important, right?
Well, no. Unfortunately, Rowling just thought ‘it looked cool’.
Potter super-fans have other ideas, though. One Tweet back in 2019 revealed that the scar could symbolise much more. @TodayYearsOld Tweeted:
‘Did you know Harry Potter’s scar isn’t a lightning bolt, but the hand motion to cast Avada Kedavra.’
Avada Kedavra is a killing curse used within the Dark Arts. The hand movement looks like a lightning bolt, but much softer. Not surprisingly, the Tweet went viral and caused shock waves through the Potter community.
What does Hufflepuff’s common room look like?
We are taken on a trip to Slytherin and Ravenclaw’s common room, and we spend a lot of time in Gryffindor’s. So, when fans asked Rowling for a description, she was only too happy to oblige.
‘The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a portrait near the kitchens, as I am sure you have deduced. Sorry – I should say ‘painting’ rather than portrait because it is a still-life. It is a very cosy and welcoming place, as dissimilar as possible from Snape’s dungeon. Lots of yellow hangings, fat armchairs, and underground tunnels leading to the dormitories. All of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops.’
Is there more than one Wizarding school?
If you are one of those people who watch the films before the books. You’ll have probably asked ‘Is Hogwarts the only school for wizards?’. In this instance, it’s the books that hold the key, and if you take notes in ‘The Goblet of Fire.’ Students from other schools arrive at Hogwarts to attend the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
The books reveal more about a couple of schools, such as the Palace of Beauxbatons. Beauxbatons is a beautiful chateau situated in the Pyrenees mountains of Southern France. Durmstrang is another, and one of the three largest in Europe. Durmstrang is situated in the northmost regions of Norway or Sweden and is known for its Dark Arts.
Rowling has since revealed more schools, including Castelobruxo, Mahoutokoro, Uagadou and Ilverymorny.
Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood end up together?
It’s a no, which has disappointed fans. But the two remained close friends as Luna followed a career in Wizarding Naturalism. She became famous for tracking rare creatures before marrying Rolf Scamander.
Neville married fellow Hogwarts student Hannah Abbot. Surprisingly, Neville became an aura before returning to Hogwarts as a Herbology Professor.
Did Draco Malfoy get his just desserts?
This is a big one for Potter fans who wished to see Draco pay for everything he subjugated Harry to. But, as The Deathly Hallows hints, it appears he went through a huge transformation.
Draco was a complex character, not only a member of Slytherin, but he was also a bully. But much of his behaviour came from his upbringing.
Draco tried to prove himself to the Dark Lord, only to be rescued by the three he often tormented. This caused him and his mother to neglect Voldemort once it was believed Harry was dead. The two avoided Azkaban, and he went into a very dark place, emotionally. But he emerged a changed man. He had a wife and a son, and a simple nod to the trio 29 years on seemed to solidify that he had changed.
Thanks for reading our article on unanswered Harry Potter questions now answered. Did you already know these? Did we miss any big ones? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out 5 Hidden Messages In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows That You Missed HERE.
Read IMDB information on Harry Potter HERE.
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