Netflix's Shadow and Bone Adaptation Gets a Chilly Teaser

Wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of those antlers.
Wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of those antlers.
Screenshot: Netflix
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“You and I are going to change the world.” Author Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy saga has come to life in the first look at Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, about a young woman with the power to fight the (literal) darkness.

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Netflix revealed in a press release that Shadow and Bone, helmed by showrunner Eric Heisserer (Bird Box, Arrival) with Bardugo serving as executive producer, will debut its first eight-episode season in April 2021. The series was first announced back in January 2019, and stars newcomer Jessie Mei Li and Westworld’s Ben Barnes as two powerful figures determined to stop a terrifying war with the Shadow Fold—although one of them might have darker, ulterior motives.

Mei Li plays orphan-turned-soldier Alina, who lives in a world ravaged by terrifying creatures that live in the Shadow Fold. Alina has the rare abilities of a “Grisha,” someone who can summon light to fight the darkness. Her powers make her the focus of Barnes’ General Kirigan, part of the Grisha himself, who yearns to free his kingdom from the Shadow Fold...while making sure Alina stays under his thumb.

In a statement, Bardugo praised the adaptation and noted how exciting it was to see the world of the Grishaverse become real. “When I was on set, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay in that world longer. This is a privilege that so few authors get, to see their worlds brought to life right in front of their eyes,” Bardugo said. “When you start an endeavor like this, you don’t know what’s going to happen. To have your expectations surpassed, to see magic on top of magic, and to see things come to life in a way that is bigger and more beautiful than you ever could have hoped, it’s impossible to fathom.”

The first season combines the events of the first two books in the Grishaverse series, Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows, which means characters who weren’t introduced until the second book will make their debut a lot earlier. Heisserer and Bardugo chose to give the key Six of Crows newcomers—Kaz, Inej, and Jasper—their own “prequel stories” so their timelines would still match up with book events. According to Heisserer, this means characters who normally wouldn’t cross paths in the books may end up doing so in the series.

“I get most excited talking about certain characters meeting certain other characters—meetings that don’t happen in the books because they’re set on different timelines. But they happen in the show, and I believe those moments are meaningful,” he said in a statement.

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Shadow and Bone arrives on Netflix in April 2021.

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

DISCUSSION

Eccentric_Circle
Eccentric_Circle

Errata: Shadow and Bone is book one of the original Grisha trilogy. Six of Crows is not the sequel as the article suggests, but rather the first book in a second trilogy which is somewhat related to the first (and gets more so as it goes along). So what they are effectively doing is adapting both trilogies in parallel, so that they can keep things in chronological order. This naturally makes some stuff flow better, but means fabricating more plot for characters who don’t become significant until the second trilogy of books.

IO9 articles never describe the series very well, and so tend to bury the lede. Its about wizards in a fantasy counterpart culture of Imperial Russia. Imagine a cross between elemental benders and Jedi, recruited to fight in the motherland’s “second army”, both against the demons of the shadow fold and rival Great Powers. Alina is important because she’s the first known Light Summoner, so has a radically different power set to most other Grisha, and one perhaps most suited to taking the fight to the shadow demons.