My Love-Hate Relationship With The Shadow And Bone Trilogy

Daria Paterek

In 2021, Shadow and Bone took the world by storm. From becoming one of the most popular books on TikTok to being made into a TV show, the trilogy has continuously risen in relevance. After binge reading the series, Daria gives her honest opinions about the trilogy.

What I love about the trilogy…

The first book was everything that I wanted it to be

The First Book 

The first book of the trilogy, Shadow and Bone, is the perfect embodiment of a young adult novel. As someone who grew up reading and loving The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner trilogies, Shadow and Bone was a very nostalgic and fun read. It contains all of the typical YA features. The gifted protagonist, a rich imaginary world, a love triangle, and the fight between good and evil. The first book was everything that I wanted it to be. I was mesmerised by the rich world, and the first book left me wanting more.

The Antagonist

The Darkling is everything I wanted in a villain. He is power-hungry, manipulative, dark, but charming. I think he is the perfect antagonist. While he is not the most complex character, his backstory and charm make him a mesmerising villain.

The Supporting Characters

I have very mixed opinions towards the protagonists. Alina experiences no character development, Mal is boring, and the Darkling is toxic. But you know who made the trilogy so good? The side characters. Genya, Alina’s friend and a Tailor, is amazing. She is strong, funny, and I wish she was included more in the series (she is everything I wanted Alina to be). Zoya, Alina’s enemy in the first book, experiences the best character arc. Nikolai, who first appears in Siege and Storm, is the best character in the series. And probably the only reason I finished the second book.

What I think I love the most about Shadow and Bone is the world it is set in

Rich World and Expanding Universe

What I think I love the most about Shadow and Bone is the world it is set in. At the beginning of each book, you’re presented with a map, which changes depending on the events in each book. While the main story takes place in Ravka, characters travel all over the map, and you can feel the breadth and depth of the world. And if you can’t get enough of the Grishaverse, there are numerous books based in this world, including the Six of Crows duology.

What I dislike about the trilogy… 

The Love Interests

It is clear that the Darkling is not an ideal lover for Alina. He is much older than her (by hundreds of years), power-hungry, and downright toxic. However, viewers of the TV shows don’t realise how toxic Mal is. In the first book, he acts like Alina’s brother rather than a lover. However, as you read more of the books, Mal’s toxicity is uncovered. He is immature, boring (there is no complexity behind his character), and resentful of Alina because of her power. The more I read the books, the more I wondered: does Alina really need a love interest?

Some quotes fall completely flat, and some are simply absurd

The Faux Inspirational Quotes

The Shadow and Bone trilogy is littered with great quotes. However, some quotes fall completely flat, and some are simply absurd. The worst quote is the infamous ‘I am become a blade’ (if you know, you know).

The Second Book

The second book, Siege and Storm, had an interesting beginning and a fascinating end. However, the rest of the book (approximately 200 pages) was anti-climactic and (at times) awfully boring. It felt like all the momentum of the second book completely crashed down, until about the last 30 pages. 

The Ending

After finishing the three books, the ending left a sour taste in my mouth. Without delving into too much detail, the ending felt like it missed many opportunities for character development, experimentation, and risk-taking. The ending meant that the third book, Ruin and Rising, was my least favourite out of the three.

Despite its flaws, I believe the Shadow and Bone trilogy is worth reading. Not necessarily for the main plotline or characters, but for the fascinating world and great side characters who later appear in the Six of Crows duology.

Daria Paterek

Featured image courtesy of Jens Rademacher via Unsplash. Image licence found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article video 1 courtesy of @netflix  via No changes were made to this video.

In-article image 1 courtesy of @netflix via No changes were made to this image. 

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