Series Rating – 4 STARS
“You and I are going to change the world”The Grisha Trilogy, by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: Ravka is plagued by the Fold, a dark crossing full of monsters. Ravka is plagued by divisions between the Grisha and the mundane, between the Fisrt and the Second Army. The Darkling wants to destroy the fold and build a better Ravka, Alina is a sickly soldier and the person the Darkling may need. As Alina navigates this new world of information, she and the Darkling enter into a deadly dance of power, small science, and ambition.
CW/TW: Abuse/Murder/Neglect/Emotional Manipulation/Mentions of rape and sexual assault/Imprisonment/Fanatic beliefs and behaviours.
SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR ALL THREE BOOKS IN THE GRISHA TRILOGY.
“Fine… Make me your villain.”The Grisha Trilogy, by Leigh Bardugo
Heyhey, BookNerds! Another series review from me today and this time I’m reviewing a very popular series that has come to Netflix (I’m very late I know, aha)! The Grisha Trilogy has been on my tbr for a while and I FINALLY got around to reading it – and I can understand the hype. While I prefer the SoC/CK duology, The Grisha trilogy, despite having some very common/standard fantasy elements/tropes, has a charm to it that made me enjoy it. My review will be a bit different today but let’s dive into it!
The trilogy is an easy to read fantasy set in a brilliantly imagined world with unique ‘magic’ and interesting characters.
What I loved:
- The world and magic. I loved the creative world we were pulled into. It is well built and imaginative and the small science, or magic, was captivating and interesting. It was interesting to explore Ravka and the Fold, and the hints and information we got on other parts of this extensive world was cleverly done and let’s you imagination build a vivid image. I also enjoyed learning about the different types of Grisha and their powers, the system was unique and compelling.
- The plot. Though a little tropey at times, the plot was fun and engaging. I liked the idea of the fold, the monsters and the Darkling’s plot to ‘build a better Ravka’. I also enjoyed the tensions between the Grisha and ordinary people, the Armies and the slight political plot surrounding the King. Finally, I quite enjoyed Alina’s journey (bar Mal) – I liked her journey towards becoming the sun summoner, becoming powerful and bringing light to Ravka.
- The Darkling. Oh how I love a villain like this! I loved the Darkling as a villain, I loved his wit, his plans, his manipulation, his backstory – everything. I loved the tension and dynamic between him and Alina and their conflicts (I love the dynamic but I don’t ship the two as a couple since the Darkling is clearly toxic towards her – however it makes him a compelling villain).
- The cast of characters. The book has a decent cast of characters which are well developed and interesting. I really liked the cast and the side characters as they were all well developed and individual and made the book all the more enjoyable.
- The ending. I was conflicted by the ending, I liked parts of it, the consequences, the loss and the cost of war – it felt realistic and bittersweet, but I think it worked well for the story.
What I didn’t love:
- The pacing. The books had some slight pacing issues with some elements dragging a bit at times. Though this wasn’t a major issue it did make it a bit of a slow read at times.
- Mal and Malina. I realllyy hated Mal, I love friends to lovers but Mal was annoying, possessive and irritating. Because I hated Mal, I didn’t ship Malina and so I didn’t enjoy a lot of the Malina scenes.
- The ending. Again, a bittersweet ending which fit the books, but due to my dislike of Mal/Malina I didn’t like how they ended up together and Alina seemed to get the short end of the stick.
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”The Grisha Trilogy, by Leigh Bardugo
Overall, the series was fun, captivating and compelling with great characters and engaging world and interesting magic!
My Thoughts On The Netflix Show: Shadow & Bone!
So i’m a little behind the hype for posting my take on the Netflix adaptation of the Grisha series but I did watch it when it dropped and had to agree that it was a pretty good adaptation! But, I didn’t love everything. So let’s have a look at what I loved and what I didn’t!
So first off, while a lot has changed from the book series, the adaptation was surprisingly faithful to the Shadow and Bone story. The plot was very well matched to the books, but the little changes and the addition of the Crows kept it new and interesting. I think this was done surprisingly well and worked wonderfully.
I mean it’s Ben Barnes… But for real, he WAS the Darkling of the books, from the look to the acting it was perfect. The casting was truly impeccable here and his dynamic with ALina was excellently done. (Also book wise I was a Darkling fan and loved the Darklina dynamic but didn’t ship them because it is toxic and the show did a good job of making me feel the same way!) The tension is REAL and I loved the Darkling as a villain with my entire being.
Alina’s Powers. All the powers.
Alina’s powers were excellent, all the ‘small science’ powers were beautifully portrayed – the cgi was perfect. Alina’s powers are the focus though and it was beautifully done – from the learning process to her using them without an issue – just amazing!
DON’T COME FOR ME YET! Ok, I HATED book Mal, I did NOT ship Malina, he was annoying, possessive and didn’t love Alina as who she was in the books. But, the show took book Mal threw him away and gave us this cinnamon roll of a childhood friend to lover who isn’t afraid of Alina’s powers. I was CONFLICTED watching the show because of this.
THE CROWS – AHH! I prefer SoC to S&B, and the show bought all those reasons why forward! The crows were PERFECTLY characterised and flawlessly portrayed. I particularly loved Kaz’s ‘Spider’ scene, everytime Jesper used his pistols and everytime Inej used her knives 😍! NO MOUNERS. NO FUNERALS!
Milo the Goat was a hilarious addition to the SoC storyline of the show. There is no Wylan to keep our baby Jesper occupied but Milo did the trick 😂 (though I did see those hints towards Wylan, i hope he is in season 2!) Aha, aside from that the running gag of Milo was funny and charming.
The Stag is beautiful and the scenes with it were gorgeous – so I had to put a nod to it here! (Sadly I couldn’t add a gif of it here but it is stunning).
The Fold is dark, creepy, monster filled and magnificent! Another brilliant portrayal on sreen, and the use of Alina’s powers in the Fold were breathtaking!
The portrayal of racism
It is important to acknowledg the show isn’t perfect and unfortunately it failed terribly at portraying racism. Alina is, in the show, presumed to have had a Shu parent, her heritage making her a victinm of some racial slurs and abuse. However, it didn’t sit well, it felt forced, and eventually just disappeared? It wasn’t done well, and came across poorly, it felt like a half-hearted attempt at portraying racism.
I didn’t like book Zoya, she is classist and arrogant. However, the show was somehow worse, Zoya became classist and racist against Alina which makes NO SENSE. They should have kepy her classist attitude but tacking on the racism made her character unnecessarily cruel and again felt forced.
I LOVED the Darkling in the show and he delivered some of the book scenes perfectly BUT the name reveal?!?! NO. For some reason they didn’t use the book sscene and he just…dropped his name to Alina casually? My heart broke a little at the absence of that emotional reveal we got in the book.
… This was just downright ugly 😂. This was simply not how I pictured it in the books at all so I personally had a strong aversion to this creative decision.
Overall, the show is a good adaptation of the books and is enjoyable, however, it wasn’t without its flaws.