If you’re a lover of the fantasy genre, you’re aware it’s easy for films to get carried away. In fantasy, the sky’s the limit with world-building, which can be as destructive as applicable. The trick with fiction is creating impossible worlds and making us believe they’re real. Films like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Avatar sucked us into unrealistic realms and made us believe they were real, and Shadow and Bone has done the same.
The series aired on Netflix in April 2021, and even before its release, fans were beating pots and pans to voice their joy. The series is an adaptation of the bestselling Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo. Diehard fans of the books were excited about the adaptation but worried that the novels’ brilliance would be butchered onscreen. Once aired, the series scored an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and watchers worldwide challenged that score that Shadow and Bone is Netflix’s best fantasy series since The Witcher.
The series follows Alina (Jessie Mei Li), a lonely orphan girl who discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the magical elite, the Grisha. Grisha are humans who practice the Small Science, manipulating energy and matter. Grisha aren’t supernatural beings but indeed gifted. They follow the principle that “like calls to like,” meaning their gifts are an extension of the world around them. An Inferni can’t create fire, but they can manipulate natural combustible gases. That particular twist brought about a sense of realism for watchers.
Shadow and Bone
In the Grisha universe, a massive valley of darkness, The Fold, has split the world in half and is littered with flesh-eating monsters. Crossing from one side to the next is a suicide attempt. Alina is a rare Sun Summoner, a Grisha whose specialty is creating light, and the only one capable of putting an end to The Fold and the impenetrable darkness. We all know the “you’re the chosen one” troupe, but Shadow and Bone didn’t let things rest there. Almost every character in the series has a story of their own, which takes away from the repetitive chosen one troupe and helps us immerse into the universe by seeing it through the eyes of various characters.
With so many stories being told, you’d expect difficulty keeping up, but like Game of Thrones, Shadow and Bone held firm and gave us more than one character and story to love and cheer for. Here’s what we know so far about what’s to come in season 2.
Season 2: The Plot
A few changes are always made with adaptations, and Shadow and Bone wasn’t spared. However, the series stayed true to the novels as much as possible. Season 1 ended with our beloved villain, General Karigan (Ben Barnes), The Darkling, becoming even more powerful than he already was as a Shadow Summoner. In an interview with Digital Spy, Barnes had this to say about his character, “He’s sort of all-powerful now. He just has to think something dark, and it will happen. So it’ll be interesting to see which characters we find him interacting with going forward.”
General Karigan, the only Shadow Summoner, lived a lonely life until he met Alina, an equally uncommon Grisha, but season 1 ended with him even more alone than before. We don’t know what changes will be made from the novels for season 2, but without a doubt, the show’s writers won’t let us down.
In the meantime, for those who haven’t read the books and even those who have, the synopsis for the second novel, Siege and Storm, may shed some light — pun intended — on what’s to come:
“Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.”
Did you get chills reading that? We sure did. Netflix picked a winner with this one, and we’re counting the days to season 2’s release.
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Season 2: The Cast
After its expected success, Shadow and Bone got the green light for season 2, and production has already begun with new cast members. Such cast members include Anna Leong Brophy (Back, Traces) as Tamar Kir-Bataar, Patrick Gibson (The OA) as Nikolai Lantsov, Lewis Tan (Mortal Kombat) as Tolya Yul-Bataar, and Jack Wolfe (The Witcher) as Wylan Hendricks. Returning members will, of course, be lead stars Jessie Mei Li (Alina Starkov), Archie Renaux (Malyen Oretsev), Ben Barnes (General Karigan), and Kit Young (Jesper Fehay), among others.
The release date for the coming season is yet to be confirmed, but since filming began in January 2022, we can expect the second season to be released in late 2022 or early 2023.
Shadow and Bone vs. The Witcher
Comparison can be the killer of creativity, and both The Witcher and Shadow and Bone are equally unique trendsetters in the fantasy genre. Both adaptations were created with a massive following already in place and are among the few adaptations that didn’t disappoint. The Witcher is a go-to for those who want more gore, death, grotesque creatures, and true magic. It has a “chosen one” trope, but like Shadow and Bone, switched things up, and the character said to be the most powerful doesn’t solely have the spotlight. Both series are wildly different and give us storylines that aren’t predictable and played out.