Shadow and Bone S1
IMDb rating: 9.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 92%
The Netflix Original Series is based on the Grisha trilogy, the first of which is Shadow and Bone, and the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. The good news is, you don’t have to have read the books to enjoy the small screen version: “Shadow and Bone Creates a Smart, Immersive World Distinct From the Novels,” says Variety, among the many positive critics’ reviews ahead of the release.
For the uninitiated, however, it can be challenging. “Comprised of a central trilogy and various spinoffs in its ‘Grishaverse,’ this is the kind of series with so many of its own terms, languages and traditions that turning on the subtitles might be advisable; otherwise, the constant allusions in invented languages might blend together into one indecipherable syllable soup,” continues Variety. It shouldn’t take more than an episode or two to become familiar with the language, though.
In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s review, reading the books (in order) won’t help you if you’re planning a crash course; the eight-part series follows the plan, more or less, “in addition to the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the series has worked in Bardugo’s parallel/subsequent Six of Crows books as well.”
It’s next to impossible to postage stamp the plot. Briefly, it’s a different world (hence “Grishaverse”), with two sides at war on opposite sides of a vast, dark, swirling darkness called The Fold. It’s populated by flying monsters called volcra who have a taste for human flesh, so not a good place. Lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov (Jessie Mai Li) is found to have a superpower that will overcome these problems, and of course everyone wants a piece of that action.
In such matters of young adult fantasy, we look to the words of those who know: Den Of Geek. “Netflix Adaptation Brings the Magic,” reads the headline. “No mourners. No funerals. Netflix’s adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling fantasy novels will delight existing Shadow and Bone fans and newcomers alike.”
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