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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2012 Leigh Bardugo (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Shadow and Bone

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Twilight 2.0

This book had a great premise but my goodness was it poorly executed. The characters were shallow, contradictory and felt very fake. The plot felt thrown together and rushed with misplaced, heavy-handed attempts at foreshadowing. The "special girl" with a love triangle trope has been over done, and this is no exception. Sure the author threw a twist into it but, as I said, poorly executed.

The performance of the narrator was this books saving grace, but even that was marred by odd moments where the voice she was doing would suddenly change mid sentence, as if recorded in a different take weeks apart.

11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

Female lead spends an inordinate amount of time wallowing in self-pity and questioning why her super hot boyfriend who every woman flirts with likes her.
That shit is awful.
stop it.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Impressive World-building

This book threatens to fall victim to YA Fantasy clichés.. the awkward misunderstood/maltreated orphan protagonist with a heart of gold, frustrated hidden attractions, lovelorn jealousies..
Alina, to be sure, is a petulant teen with raging hormones and an inferiority complex - defying authority, resenting the unnaturally beautiful Grisha race, and resisting her destiny to be a powerful being - but she is surprisingly relatable.
Leigh Bardugo spends her time introducing a world every bit as interesting (though less maturely fashioned) as N.K. Jemisin's 'Broken Earth'. The Grisha (a magical class that can manipulate energy & matter) are (usually) identified as children, trained to battle in a number of magical disciplines, and enlisted in an army at war with competing kingdoms and cut off from coastal supply by a monster-populated strip of magical shadowy desert - an 'Unsea'. Bardugo's world includes monster threats (the horrific Volcra), a magically manipulable environment, competing kingdoms at war, and ominous "allies" (the Darkling is a most interesting character). Bardugo builds tension, describes terrifying events realistically, and explores fascinating class distinctions and even racism. The Kingdom of Ravka is a darkly intriguing setting.

The weakest feature in this recording is the narrator. Lauren Fortang is an average reader at best. She reads at a little-too-slow pace (I sped it up to 1.10X on the Audible app to good effect), uses cartoonishly artificial-sounding huskiness for some male characters, and has a slightly arrogant baseline reading tone. Her reading voice is strikingly sibilant, too ("s"s actually *squeak* on occasion). Her use of Eastern European accents is appreciated, however, and for the most part sounds accurate. Fortang's performance is interested, but best described as "adequate". A different narrator likely would have improved the recording.

Altogether, this first entry in the Grishaverse sets up a brilliant concept. I look forward to more. This is a solid 4.5-star introductory novel. The YA elements ("young love") and relatively weak narration bring it down to 3.5.

2 people found this helpful

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So good

There's something new about this series which is great given all the fantasy out there. A nice change!

1 person found this helpful

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So much potential

Let me start by saying that this is a good book. The world is interesting as are the characters. However, I was so so so disappointed in darkling. He was the most interesting character and then he got boring and predictable. I coud just cry at the waste.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it.

Excellent narrator and a delightful story that twists and turns and digs in its claws. Definitely continuing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MV
  • 2021-06-18

Love the story not the narrator

I love the world and lore the Leigh Bardugo has created!

As for the narration, I found the voicing to be quite over the top and irritating…it sounded like everyone was whining most of the time…. If it weren’t for the great story, I would have stopped the audiobook very early on because of the Narrator. I get that it’s a dramatic story for young adults but I still think narration could have been much more dignified. Most of the story takes place in a fictional country called Ravka which seems to be inspired by Russia. Most of these characters will probably be speaking “Russian/Ravkan” when she voices the characters, the main characters have American accented voices and some of the antagonistic characters have TERRIBLE Russian accented voices…..it’s pretty mocking and annoying in my opinion.

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Standard but good

The story is a pretty standard chosen one journey of self/power discovery. it's not bad by any means but do keep in mind it hits fairly common tropes square in the face.

This was a great book to read not for What happens but How it happens. I'd have liked to see more time spent with the different style of magic (soft science that is never explained just that it is kind of a frustrating point for me when people get mad at being called magic but can't explain what they do scientifically)

I can't really say more without spoiling things so I'll just leave it that its good.

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New Takes on Overdone YA Tropes

This book can be boiled down to very overdone YA tropes. However, there's enough new takes on things and interesting world building to keep the reader hooked. Overall a good read, although I really hope the series strays from the beaten path it's currently taking.

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Shadow and Bone

Very enjoyable kept me sewing for hours. Good company. Give it a try. You’ll like it

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tony Anderson
  • 2021-03-02

People are dumb; this book was not

I was afraid to read this book bc some of the reviews were so SCATHING. I’m so glad I clicked anyways. I was swept into a world that interested me; one that felt familiar and foreign at the same time. If you are someone who has struggled with the shame of hiding parts of yourself from repeated trauma and/or neglect (or just plain old fear), then this MAY be the book for you. It may have a special meaning for your heart that tends to be lost on other folks. Not everything we hide is darkness - boy did I need that reminder! I wonder if some of what irks people about this book is a general ignorance of just how hard it is to come from a difficult childhood (the main character is an impoverished orphan forced to hide her powers) and find a way of belonging without sacrificing those abused parts of you all over again.

Over the years I have found that people will pick at anything that is hopeful, charming, cheese-y, and mythical bc they are too fraught with their entitled sense of “what art is” to love common, beautiful things. Has the love triangle been done before? Yes. Is the Darkling a sexier, younger version of Snape combined with Edward Cullen? Also yes. This book was NOT Dostoyevsky by any stretch of the imagination but who the hell cares. I’m glad it wasn’t. Frankly, I don't want to read something obtuse in the age of 2020/2021. I’m glad it was narrated by a woman who sounded a little corny at times. I thought her villainous voice was perfectly executed. People hate on the main character's whiney/codependant tenancies bc they've either a.) never been broken enough to become that dependent themselves or b.) been too proud to witness that kind of weakness in their own lives.

FINALLY. I am Russian and I did not find this to be cultural misappropriation at all. I actually felt honored that someone would set a story in the barren terrain of my ancestors.

70 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe Chad
  • 2017-09-07

Run of The Mill Debut

Disclaimer: I read the Six of Crows Duology before the Grisha Trilogy. Also, I do not tend to read young adult fantasy very often.

After completing the Six of Crows duology I was very intrigued by both the world and character development that Bardugo showed me in those two novels. I had heard rumors that this duology was better than her Grisha Trilogy and as far as Shadow and Bone is concerned I have to agree.

Lets start off with the good. I enjoyed Bardugo's world building for the most part. She does a good job of creating an interesting landscape and showing us a very convoluted magic system. The word convoluted is important though, because I feel as though the boundaries of the magic system are very loose and many items are not explained in enough detail for my taste. I was often confused as to how powerful the magic that is used actually is, at one point you have a single Grisha (magic user) killing multiple people effortlessly, but then at other times common soldiers are able to overcome a Grisha and simply dodge their magical abilities. Therefore, there is definitely a magic system consistency problem, but this isn't uncommon among high fantasy novels.

The other element that Bardugo succeeds in some degree at is her character development. She really does do a good job at showing real emotions from her characters and making their personalities individualized and believable, although they lack the same flare and interestingness as her Six of Crows characters. However, the main problem with the characters for me was Alina herself, who I generally found a little obnoxious, naive, and very resistant to change. She really did annoy me especially for the first half of the book, although she did improve as the book went on.

The main problem I had with this novel is the plot is a little generic, and really lacks any flare or twist that really jumps out at you. In comparison with her duology the plot seems incredibly simplistic, and the rest of the book suffers for it.

Just a quick note on the narrator, I thought she gave a decent performance, but I did feel she lacked range of voices to some degree, and she worked a little hard on her accents, which came off as a bit ridiculous at times.

In conclusion, I put this novel down to first novel inexperience, and it was just good enough for me to buy Siege and Storm. One final thought: Ms. Bardugo is far better at writing in several points of view as opposed to singular first person.

94 people found this helpful

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  • Phx17
  • 2021-03-12

Disappointing- going to stick with Six of Crows

If I hadn’t bought books 1&2 together, I’d have stopped here. But, I continued on, and ultimately found each book in this trilogy to improve on the book before. I would have been upset at spending 3 credits, but am satisfied with getting all three on sale. I didn’t find heart or humor until books 2&3, when better characters enter the story. I will not re-listen to this trilogy, even though I have already re-listened to the stellar Six of Crows duology set in this same world.

Book 1 plays like every other YA series: Take an orphan/poor/scrawny kid, discover some rare power, spend half the book belaboring the training montage where everyone bullies and underestimates the kid, and then have a climax where the kid singlehandedly triumphs by one big “surprise” move. Oh, and if said kid is a girl, throw in a love triangle.

This is even more disappointing because I loved Six of Crows. Whereas this is generic YA fantasy, Six of Crows is a sharp steampunk fantasy duology that gives a unique take on an Ocean’s 11 heist, then an Ocean’s 13 revenge con in the sequel Crooked Kingdom, and features a cast of unique and complex characters.

Better books along similar lines:
🥀Looking for urban fantasy with a better, Buffy-esque lead? Try the Kate Daniels series, starting with Magic Bites (later books even have some Russian mythology including Chernobog and volves.

🥀If the Russian fantasy side was your main jam, try Uprooted or Spinning Silver (the former has a Russian narrator that takes getting used to, but the story is phenomenal, the latter has a bit slower story but a better narrator).

🥀If the steampunk urban fantasy springs your sprocket, go with Cinder, starting a cool series twisting fairy tales and cyborgs.

🥀For more unique medieval fantasy in a completed series, consider the Cerulean Queen series starting with A Queen in Hiding (beginning a quartet involving multiple strong women, a vibrant magic system, and world spanning epic).

🥀Or, try my current favorite: the post-apocalypse trilogy starting with Lifelike by J Kristoff. Pulpy send up of movies like Johnny Mnemonic with way better, funnier girls who may be good or bad or just crazy... but you’ll never know for sure until the end.

24 people found this helpful

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  • sam
  • 2014-04-14

Like Twilight in 18th Century Russia

I like to think of myself as open-minded; even when I do particularly care for a book I give it the benefit of the doubt and reason that it's just my cup of tea. Rarely do I outright hate a book.

With that in mind, I hated, hated, hated, hated, absolutely hated Shadow and Bone! I hated everything about it! And for the life of me I cannot figure why the author is trumpeted as the next big thing, or how this book in innovative by any stretch of the imagination!

Let's start with the characters. First Alana Starkov (technically ought to have been Starkova, but I doubt the author so much as touched a Russian to English dictionary). Good Ford, what a whiny, self-centered little...I probably shouldn't curse. I'm sorry, but she can't think one sentence, on measly little sentence without whining about her imperfections, or gushing about her beloved Mal, or generally not giving a damn about anyone but her own selfish needs. Actually, no, she was perfectly willing to toss away her talents to be with her beloved Mal. Bottom Line: Alana Starkov = Mary Sue

Now, Mal and the Darkling. Mal is completely one demential with not personality beyond being Alana's perfect love interest. The Darkling, on the other hand, is a not to subtle Edward Cullen knockoff; all dark, brooding and boarder line abusive to Alana (and yet she loves him so).

The rest of the characters were waaaaay more interesting than the core three; why the hell wasn't this story about them?! So, as for world building, we have Ravka, a serial numbers filed off version of 18th century Russia; boarder end by totally isn't Scandanavia, and couldn't possibly be China (who eats their wizards and make instruments of their bones). Again, the lack of research is apparent in such instances as a character getting drunk...on children's beer, and the butchering of the Russian language.

The authors has explain all sorts of fascinating world building facts in interviews, yet seems to have forgotten to include them within the context of the novel itself. Bottom Line: World Building = thin as rice paper.

What really irks me isn't the cultural appropriation, the horrible messages and morals, or the cardboard characters. No, what really gets me is that the author seems to posses genuine talent and ability, but squanders it with romantic plot tumors, YA cliches, and pandering to love-sick fourteen year olds; all the the detriment of the novel.

If that were the end of it; I would still dislike, but not hate this novel. What pushes me over is how anyone could call this bold, innovative, well written, or possibly award worthy!

Bottom Line: don't waste your time. If you want so good fantasy in a none standard setting checkout Saladin Ahmed's The Throne of the Crescent Moon, instead. You'll be glad you did.

70 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott
  • 2015-01-17

Arrrgh, I can't take any more. Please make it stop

I was duped by all the 4 star reviews. Here is, in my estimation, what someone interested in listing to this story should know.
1. The antagonist/part time love interest (cliché anyone?) of the "heroine" is named The Darkling. Enough said.
2. After 5 hours the author finally gets to the plot twist (a.k.a. the point of the story so far). Seriously I could have listened to the first 30-40 minutes, skipped to the 5 hour mark, and not missed anything of significance!
3. From the publisher's summary: "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." Learned about this in the first hour of the story, and it lasted about 10 minutes. This was the best part of the 5 hours I made it through, and was mediocre at best.
4. Also from publisher's summary "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." THIS IS THE NEXT 4.5 HOURS, or roughly 1/2 of the book!!! Her failure at training (which the author does not give any inkling as to why she is failing, she just is) is over an hour long. Later it is revealed that her block was self-imposed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Oh, and by the way, her "super power" (spoiler alert) is creating light. Ultimately this was 5 hours of white noise, and is where I cry off. At this rate would take 10-20 books to complete the story. I am done.

26 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Hayley Jensen
  • 2021-01-07

Twilight, but with pointless magic!

Uggg another love triangle book. Hey let's make the lead female character completely useless and dependent on the male leads for EVERYTHING! My eyes got stuck in permeant eye roll for the last act. Will not continue with series. If you are into teenage frustration then this is the book for you!

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • HKJ
  • 2016-01-18

😥

I thought that this book would be better. It did have a good ending but her new book, six of crows, was much better. A waste of time and money.

29 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Whovian
  • 2018-08-31

disappointed

I LOVED Six of Crows and it's sequel. both were amazing. This one just pissed me off. Stupid Girl doing everything they tell her not to. I just wanted to slap her.I got bored at the half way point and almost gave up. Not sure if I will listen to the others. Six of Crows was leagues above this.

79 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-07-03

So much potential wasted..

Oh my god I hate the progression in this book. The main character is a girl with the power of light which is unique to only her but she is so painfully stupid she totally ruins this book for me.

She is a train operative but her automatic instinct is to use her power which reveals her identity when she is supposedly trying to keep a low profile.

So many parts of this book are molded to fit the storyline but the writer doesn't seem to have a seamless way to bring it together without making all the characters look naive, ignorant idiots.

I pray the second book is better than this first one because the world building and intrigue that is developed in this world is really interesting

27 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Najima Rainey
  • 2015-06-09

Mediocre

While I liked the world of the story, I think it would have been better told from an omniscient narrator's perspective because the main protagonist isn't particularly like able.

She makes a lot of mistakes but never seems to learn from them. She's suspicious of everyone EXCEPT the bad guys. It's like being inside the head of an acerbic, self obsessed kid, who spends the whole time complaining. An experience not worth repeating for the 2nd or 3rd book.

24 people found this helpful

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  • fenner Kathryn
  • 2020-11-21

Superb!

I loved this book and the other two. The story is great, characters are really touching and you get to love them. If you like love stories mix med with drama and magic this book is for you!