Deputy Entertainment editor Chloe Barrett discusses Netflix’s recently released adaptation based on the bestselling novels while exploring its integral theme of resistance.
Leigh Bardugo’s fantastical world, commonly referred to as the ‘Grishaverse’, has had two epic seasons on Netflix, with the latter having been released only a month ago. Within it live unforgettable characters, intricate world building, and a plot centred on equality.
Based on Bardugo’s bestselling novels, which I would highly encourage you to pick up (they are brilliant), the adaptation brought characters that have been beloved by book lovers globally onto the screen. Uniquely, a creative approach was taken to blend together Bardugo’s multiple book series into one shared production. The main plot focuses on her first trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising. At the centre is Alina, a soldier who has discovered that she possesses the ability to summon light. She is a Grisha, which simply means that she can harness a gift and is a magic user. There are three orders of Grisha, and their abilities range from summoning elements found in the natural world, such as fire, to being able to slow someone’s heartbeat down with the wave of a hand. Alina was granted a supremely unique power, and falls into the presence of General Kirigan, a man who is her opposite, he can summon darkness. He believes that Alina can destroy the Fold, a pitch-black desert that very few can cross, which resulted in their world being at war. The theme of resistance is an overarching concept throughout the series’ entirety, as not only is Alina attempting to bring an end to a war, but she is also advocating for her fellow Grisha’s rights. Being able to cast magic is not seen as the wonderous ability that many believe it to be throughout the world, with Grisha being knowingly trafficked and executed for their ‘witchcraft’ based abilities. For the Grisha, their war extends far past an abyss of unyielding darkness, but each day is a battle for who they are as people. After all, why should they be punished for being born with a gift that they had no control over?
The subplot of the show dedicates its attention to the infamous Crows, a gang of misfits residing in Ketterdam. Their leader, Kaz Brekker, can be found hiding amongst the most dangerous shadows with Inej and Jesper, the two he trusts most, at his side. While the duology consisting of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom which is deemed as Bardugo’s best work, is canonically non-existent in her original trilogy, the show writes a new storyline for them and brings the characters together, with the Crows having been hired to kidnap Alina. If you are a fan of the books, it is a really clever way to connect their two worlds together. Plus, the Crows are the highlight throughout both seasons, so you do not want to miss them. After all, who doesn’t love some traumatised criminals that look absolutely dashing when they wear black?
The show itself does an excellent job of portraying the injustices that these fictional characters are faced with, and how they will not take defeat easily. Featuring an incredible cast full of up and coming stars, many of who will be rightfully stealing the spotlight in the future, you really can’t go wrong with sitting down and having a binge of this awesome show.
Shadow and Bone season two is now streaming on Netflix.