Monday, October 29, 2012
Shadow and Bone: the Grisha Trilogy (Volume 1) by Leigh Bardugo
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 know, 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.
This book's initial appeal for me was its elements of fantasy mixed in those of Imperial Russia. And since I had enjoyed The Gathering Storm so much for the same reasons, I figured that I couldn't go wrong with Shadow and Bone. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Shadow and Bone is loaded with the usual fantasy tropes that we all know and love in this particular genre: an orphaned hero/heroine with a special power; this hero/heroine represents the good side of a conflict between good and evil, while a dark figure represents the evil side of things; a settling that somewhat parallels reality; and a quest resulting not just in the conquest of good over evil but also in some real self-actualization on the part of the hero/heroine.
I don't bring these tropes up to be snarky, but only because they work so well and in the hands of Leigh Bardugo, coalescing in a book that is interesting and exciting.
The main character, Alina Starkov is the orphaned, plain, seemingly ordinary girl training to be a cartographer; ordinary that is until it is discovered that she is a Sun Summoner - a power so rare it is the stuff of fable. Sun Summoning is her only talent, but it is a big one, big enough to offer the possibiltiy of uniting and giving complete power over all the inhabitants of Ravka to anyone who can get her to make it work for them. What could be a more perfect metaphor for the representative of good in the battle of good and evil than a person who can provide bright light at will.
And naturally such a bright character needs a really dark foil. You would think it very well could be the handsome, mysterious, really seductive figure of the Darkling, a powerful Grisha who instills fear in the hearts of the people of Ravka. But he convinces Alina that his intentions are good, it was, after all, his grandfather who created the Shadow Fold and it is now the Darkling's greatest desire to fix things, to untie the country again.
Put these characters in Ravka, a country which has been split in two by the Shadow Fold, a lightless strip of land running through it and inhabited by Volcra, the former men, women and children now turned into vulture-like creatures who attack anyone trying to cross the Fold and you have the perfect setting for a battle between a light summoner and a dark lord. But could it be the Darkling, so called only because of his dark features, or could it be someone Alina would never suspect?
It all results in a fascinating first volume of Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy. Shadow and Bone is an exciting, chilling, heart-stopping adventure with an absolutely sympathetic protagonist. If you are in the mood for a good paranormal novel, you can't go wrong with this.
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was purchased for my personal library.
This is book 2 of my 2012 Spooltacular Paranormal Reading Challenge hosted by Marie @Ramblings of a Day Dreamer