Netflix's Shadow and Bone Adaptation Adds Jessie Mei Li and Westworld's Ben Barnes

A look at the cast of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone.
Image: Netflix

The dark world of magic is about to get some new light. Netflix’s Shadow and Bone series has announced its cast, featuring Jessie Mei Li as a young woman whose power draws the attention (and wrath) of the world, and Westworld’s Ben Barnes as the man desperate to control her.

In a press release, Netflix revealed the stars of Shadow and Bone, an eight-episode series based on author Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse fantasy novels, Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. Bardugo will serve as co-executive producer, alongside showrunner Eric Heisserer (Bird Box, Arrival) and director Lee Toland Krieger, along with a few others.

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The series takes place in a harsh world threatened by monstrous creatures that live in a realm called the Shadow Fold. Jessie Mei Li, known for her performance in this year’s National Theatre Live performance of All About Eve, will play the main character, Alina, an orphan-turned-soldier who discovers she has the powers of a “Grisha, and can summon light itself into the world.

This power brings her to the attention of General “Darkling” Kirigan (Barnes), a military leader of the Grisha, who seeks to grow her powers and free his kingdom from the Shadow Fold...although there’s malign intent behind his real plans for Alina’s power. Alina has to choose what side she’ll stand with in a growing war, but at least she’s not alone: by her side is Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux), her childhood friend.

“I was so wary going into this process because these characters have lived in my head for so long. Turns out I had nothing to fear. Watching these actors begin to inhabit these roles has been pure magic,” Bardugo said in a press release provided to io9.

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The series looks to be immediately diving into the events of both novels, simultaneously featuring main characters from each of the stories. Freddy Carter (Pennyworth) will play Kaz Brekker, a criminal mastermind who’s the main character in Six of Crows (and absent from Shadow and Bone). Amita Suman (Doctor Who) will play Inej, a member of Kaz’s gang, and Kit Young is a gambler who comes into Kaz’s sphere.

The series is currently in production for eight one-hour episodes, but no release date has been announced. We’ll bring you more on Netflix’s plans for Shadow and Bone as we learn them

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About the author

Beth Elderkin

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.