Thoughts on Netflix’s Shadow and Bone Adaptation (Spoilers)

Normally I do not have a Netflix subscription, but a friend surprised me with a gift card so I could watch Shadow & Bone, so here are some thoughts I had while watching the first season. This comes with the disclaimer that I barely remember reading Shadow & Bone and Siege & Storm, and I never read Ruin & Rising at all. I did read both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

1. Overall, I Loved the Series

One benefit of barely remembering the books is that I didn’t have a lot of expectations going in to watching the adaptation, either for casting or plot, and I loved most of the choices that were made. I loved pretty much all of the casting choices, particularly for the Darkling and Alina. I was also pretty invested in the story and eager to see what happened next (because I sort of knew but also didn’t know, both because of my memory lapses and because the plot was obviously changed, since the Crows were integrated into Alina’s story).

2. I Agree the Racism Wasn’t Handled Well

I’ve seen a lot of viewers who are not happy the writers decided to make Alina part-Shu and then make it a plot point that she doesn’t quite belong in Ravka and experiences racism because of it. My biggest issue is that I don’t think it was well-integrated. It felt a bit as if the writers were going along, writing their story, and then would suddenly remember Alina’s supposed to face racism and then have a random character shout a racial slur at her and then disappear. A few times Alina tried expand on the point by explaining that she’s used to being Othered because of her race, so being apart because she’s a Grisha with legendary powers isn’t an entirely new feeling for her, but overall it just felt awkwardly done.

3. I’m on the Fence about how the Crows Were Integrated

I loved seeing Kaz and company on screen, and he, Inej, and Jesper were definitely badass. Jesper in particular comes across as having real flair and skill with his guns, which impressed me because he wasn’t my favorite character in Six of Crows or anything, but he’s fabulous in this series. However, I have some reservations about the show writers giving the Crows a task that they, very obviously, are not going to accomplish. As soon as it comes up that their task is to kidnap Alina and bring her back to Ketterdam, viewers know they’re not going to succeed. First, that ruins any sense of suspense. Second, it ruins the idea that Kaz and his friends can accomplish the impossible. Because clearly they do NOT. I’m not sure how they’re going to get out of the mess that failing has put them into in season one, and I don’t know what heists they’ll be up to next, but I do hope they’ll be given more room to actually pull it off this time.

4. Mal Is Way More Awesome Than in the Books

Again, I barely remember the books and I never read Ruin & Rising, but I do remember feeling “meh” about Mal as a love interest while reading. In the show, however, I’m a huge fan. His loyalty to Alina, his deep friendship with her, his protectiveness, and his support are all clear. He also gives her her space to do what she needs to do. If she’s not going to take the hints that he’s in love with her, someone else needs to snatch him up because he’s just incredibly nice!


9 thoughts on “Thoughts on Netflix’s Shadow and Bone Adaptation (Spoilers)

  1. Lais @ The Bookish Skies says:

    i think it’s interesting that you point out what failing will mean for the crows now. i suppose i agree that, having them come back empty handed to ketterdam without alina, won’t help with their reputation and therefore the actual six of crows plot won’t be as believable, but the ending of the show was pretty open, so maybe they do have a plan for the crows to come back to ketterdam without alina but with something equally impossible to get (idk what that would be, tho).

    i have never read the books, but i do agree that mal in the show was absolutely fantastic and def one of my favorite characters! i’m super looking forward to season 2!


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, I just wasn’t sure what to think of it all. There are moments where you can see how clever Kaz is, and I get that they have to fail at some things sometimes to be human and make it more awesome when they do pull something off, but they just failed so badly at the whole mission here! They didn’t even get Alina out of the Little Palace; she accidentally stowed away in their cart!

      I hope they find a clever way out of it all and to pay off their debts in the next season, but I am scratching my head a bit at the whole thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Krysta says:

    I don’t think combining the Crows with Alina’s plot makes much sense, from a storytelling point of view. There is the issue, as you mention, that the Crows now have to fail at their first major heist, which hardly makes them seem like an amazing crew. But there is also the issue that I simply can’t believe that Inej, of all people, would agree to kidnap a young woman from another country, transport her across the border, and sell her to a random man. Inej is angry at the Conductor when she thinks he’s a trafficker–but what is she?


      • Krysta says:

        I am very surprised that no one working on the show thought that was a problem. I don’t really think Jesper and Kaz would kidnap women and sell them, either, but Inej for sure wouldn’t.

        It’s like audiences are supposed to feel bad because Inej NEEDS Alina to be free of Heleen–but Inej is presumably just tossing another woman in the kind of situation she’s trying to escape.

        And then there’s all this talk of whether Alina is real or fake. That doesn’t matter. It’s not “better” to sell off Alina if she’s not Grisha! Inej doesn’t have sun powers and audiences know they are supposed to be angry she was kidnapped and sold!


        • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

          I also wasn’t really sure what Alina was wanted for. To…sell to the highest bidder? To…enslave her and make her do sun magic? Could you even do that? Without other Grisha coming to get her? The whole thing was badly thought out.


          • Krysta says:

            I assumed the guy wanted her so he could have a monopoly on trade going through the Fold, but, really, we have no idea. Because no one ever asked. They just said, “Oh yeah, we’ll kidnap the nation’s only hope! No problem!”

            But maybe it’s a ransom situation? Because I’m sure he couldn’t keep her and have no one know about it.


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