Shadow and Bone Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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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 her 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.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 21 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 30, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #4,560 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#114 in Fantasy for Teens
#585 in Teen & Young Adult Fantasy
Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2020
This is a rehash of many other books, nothing new here.
It feels like half the book is about how people look, and only the beautiful people matter. Such a sad and stupid stereotype.
I won’t be buying the rest of this trilogy, but rather waiting for the author to write new works.
That aside, I couldn't really like the characters. I thought I liked the diamond-in-the-rough heroine but she never really pulled through to get her act together until the very end of this novel. She was constantly being pushed, shoved, led by others. She was easily deceived, and deceived even herself. You would think that after all this time she would figure out who she was and what she wanted. She is no longer a child but she is constantly looking to others to give her the answers.
The character development was really a mixed bag of "aha!" moments the author drops like candies on the floor. No real warning, just suddenly the heroine discovers why she's so brilliant (no pun intended), the hero suddenly decides he loves her, and the villain whom I was really cheering for went from a multi-dimensional puzzle box to a textbook villain with no soul. Ugh. Disappointment central.
The ending wrapped up so quickly it literally took half a chapter and one afterward to wrap it up. One moment it was all confrontation tension, the next, a miraculous resolution because the heroine just figured it all out. The problem with the big reveal is that she never really cared about anything. Not her work. Not her co-workers. Not her life. Not even her health/appearance. She lived her entire life just numb; without hope or joy, just pining after a childhood friend. She obsessed about her childhood friend as if her universe revolved around him, and despite everything that happens to her and everything she's discovered about herself she still clings to him in the end even though we were supposed to believe she completely broke free of that mold many chapters ago.
So she makes a choice, willing to sacrifice all else, including the friends she didn't think she could make and innocent people, to get her HEA. What makes her so different from the enemy, then? In the next book I'm supposed to believe she wants to fight a madman and save the country (she never really care for or fit in anywhere) and its people (she never really had any connection to)? Yeah, I'm thinking I'll just let her do that without me. I'm done Alina. Have fun with that.
The novel was rather short, as well. I think all three could really be reduced to two books, but for the greed of the publisher, we're forced to pay a tall price three times. The first 70% of this book was decent, but I'll save my money and read something else.
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But here we are.
Now I’ve already told a bit of a fib there because I didn’t exactly dislike Shadow and Bone – I have read far worse books – but even going into it with lowered expectations, this is not the book I thought it would be.
I fell head over heels in love with Six of Crows last year and it’s now one of my favourite books of all time. Knowing that one of the characters from that book would be making an appearance in King of Scars, I knew I’d have to read her original Grisha trilogy even though it was never a series I was particularly interested in – and at least now I know my gut instincts about this book were right.
I’m not going to sit here and compare Shadow and Bone with Six of Crows because that’s not fair on so many levels. Six of Crows is a heist story while Shadow and Bone is very much a traditional ‘chosen one’ fantasy story, they just so happen to be set in the same world, and if nothing else this book reminded me just how much I love Six of Crows. I love that we can clearly see how much Bardugo is improving with each book because Six of Crows is a masterpiece, so I’m not going to hold it against her that her earlier novel isn’t as accomplished because that’s how being an author works. Usually, authors get better at their craft with each story.
Shadow and Bone has a lot in it to be admired. It’s easy to see how this trilogy took inspiration from and went on to inspire other Russian-inspired fantasy novels, and I did like the setting and the concept of the Shadow Fold.
My main problem with this novel was the characters. I’ve seen Alina Starkov on so many ‘Favourite Heroine’ lists (and that’s nothing against the people who love her at all!) but I found her so… frustrating, and kind of boring. I wanted her to make more decisions for herself earlier in the novel, not only when her childhood friend Mal was in mortal danger. I felt like she spent the entire novel letting herself be pushed around by everyone, and while it could be argued that this was to show her develop when she finally stood up for herself I felt like I never actually knew her well enough to care when she did.
Considering the country of Ravka has been at war for years and has a big shadowy mess of literal monsters in the middle of it, I felt like I spent far too much time with Alina’s boy problems. The Darkling and Mal, and I’m sorry to say this because I know the Darkling is beloved, were kind of boring. In fact especially the Darkling, for me. I don’t think I saw enough of Mal to really have an opinion of him, but I saw plenty of the Darkling and considering he’s literally described as ‘ancient’ in this book I didn’t expect him to act like an angsty teenager.
I’m sure he has some kind of tragic past, and knowing the kind of stories I know Bardugo can write I’m sure I’ll learn more about him and start to like him more as a character (not as a person) as the series continues, but in this book he was just a bully, and I have no interest in romanticising bullies. In fact he was the worst kind of bully by lying and making himself appear to be a friend first; even all the Grisha he was nice to he was essentially using for his own gain, which I would be fine with if he was doing it honestly, but trying to seduce Alina while she thought he was someone he wasn’t? Again I know he’s beloved, but I just thought he was a bit of a creep.
And I suppose that’s the point. At least I hope so. I can’t really be annoyed with the villain for being the villain, but he’s been so romanticised by fans that I was expecting him to be more sympathetic than he is.
As for Mal, I am so bored of the childhood friend who only wants the girl when he sees her with someone else. When he and Alina had scenes together I thought they were pretty sweet – I know, Grisha fans everywhere are aghast – but, like Alina, I didn’t know enough about him or the Darkling or anyone to actually care. Alina and Mal at least had a history between them, but the ‘romance’ between Alina and the Darkling came completely out of the blue for me – or at least it started a lot faster than I was expecting.
This book was published in 2012 and, reading it now, I could really tell. This is very post-Twilight YA with the love triangle featuring a girl with no gumption, a broody bellend and a childhood friend bellend. This is a better book than Twilight and, even though it might not seem it, there was stuff in this book that I did like a lot. My problem was I wanted to know more about the politics and the war and less about how Alina was wearing her hair.
The majority of Shadow and Bone was essentially a set-up for a wider story, but I can’t help feeling it could have been a few chapters at the beginning of another book rather than a whole book by itself.
I do understand why this book is so well-loved and this is very much just my opinion! I think I was ruined for this trilogy reading Six of Crows first, but I’m glad I read the books this way around because I might not have enjoyed this trilogy enough to be inclined to pick Six of Crows up if I’d read Shadow and Bone first.
If nothing else, Shadow and Bone was fun and fast-paced and, even though I didn’t love it, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy the rest of the trilogy and I think a Netflix adaptation will be really fun to watch!
She was one of the most powerful beings in this universe and the author throws all that away so she can be with some guy. This is a YA novel and we shouldn't be telling young adults and teens that this is what love looks like, being stripped of all that makes you special so a man doesn't feel inferior. I know that author was probably going for a "he loves me just way I am" situation but a relationship where you're not able to grow as a person is not a relationship worth fighting for (certainly not one worth losing all your superpowers for). I know the main character didn't intentionally loose her powers for a guy but the author made it so when she put the protagonist in the exact position the male love interest wanted her in.
It's a shame because the world is fascinating and the plot and premise is page-turning, it was ripe with opportunities of female empowerment but the author decides to keep her main charcter in a bubble and doesn't let her act like what she is, a being with God-like powers who should eventually (after some personally growth) act like that and not bow to insecure and violent men. Go read Six Of Crows (maybe my all time favourite book) it's in the same universe but the characters are incredible and compelling especially the women. Six Of Crows is the author's later work and clearly shows a significant characterization improvement and how the authors evolved as a person and a writer.
Reviewed in Canada on May 3, 2021
The world-building is complex and with well-defined characters. The storyline has a perfect amount of action, peppered with relaxed moments so that the reader can breathe and contemplate everything that is happening in this book.
Based on Russian culture, Ravka is a land divided by war and split in two by a barrier of darkness called the Unsea in which terrifying creatures lurk, making it hard for anyone to cross it without being torn apart. Until Alina Starkov makes her way into the Fold. She's an apprentice mapmaker in the army who somehow saves her fellow soldiers when they enter the expanse of land where there is no light. She then discovers she's a Grisha, a person who has a magical ability. Alina has a rare power, one that can be matched only by the Darkling, the leader of the Grisha. The only problem is that she doesn't know how to wield it so she's sent to the royal palace to learn how to control her magic.
I like how Bardugo uses the contrast between light and darkness to convey the fact that sometimes things and events around us are as seen in just in black and white. The veil of naivety is torn from Alina's eyes when she discovers that everyone in the kingdom depends on her and sees her as their saviour. She is a strong heroine, full of wit and wisdom and has a kind heart. Her relationship with Mal, the boy who's always been by her side since they were orphaned as children, was heartwarming. They care deeply for one another but they just don't know how to express their feelings and that just confuses them and makes up for a lot of angsty moments. But as always my favourite character is the villain. The Darkling got my attention from the first moment and what a remarkable villain he is. He's a seductive and mysterious character, but at the same time frightening and very dangerous. His ability to control darkness turns him into the strongest and most feared Grisha of all time, making him an insightful strategist and an influential and charismatic leader.
Shadow and Bone is the kind of book that simply makes you visualize the scenes, like watching a movie. The characters gradually evolve throughout the book, but they do not forget where they started. Leigh Bardugo has created a unique and fantastic world, full of magic, adventure, power and suspense that will capture your hearts. I can't wait to read more!
Alina Starkov is a mapmaker on such a crossing when the regiment is attacked. One of her friends is killed and her best friend Mal is about to be. In an effort to save him Alina reveals herself to be Grisha. Usually, Grisha are detected as children, but no abilities were discovered in Alina at this testing.
The Grisha are people who can use magic (called The Small Science here) to summon certain elements, heal, make special artefacts, etc. The most powerful of them all is The Darkling. He summons shadows. Alina is The Sun Summoner.
Alina is taken away to The Little Palace, where she will learn to use her powers. The Darkling informs her that The Shadow Fold was created by one of his ancestors in an accident born of greed for more power. The Darkling has spent his life trying to fix this mistake and get rid of The Shadow Fold, but he has not been able to. But with the powers of The Sun Summoner and The Darkling combined, this may now be possible.
I did enjoy reading this book. As I mention, Leigh Bardugo writes beautifully and I was certainly hooked. However, this book was incredibly derivative. There are a lot of parallels with The Magicians Guild by Trudi Canavan, which is a significantly better series. The Darkling shared a lot of similarities with The Dark Lord from the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson (phenomenal world-building in that series).
One of my issues with these books and others like it is that the female main character is usually depicted as this malnourished, unlovable creature, whilst any love interest is created as a stereotypical ideal of masculinity. Yuck!
I did like the overall story. It was a fun read and I liked how this first instalment ended.