As with most page-to-screen adaptations, Netflix's Shadow and Bone has some significant differences between the show and the books. However, Shadow and Bone was even more ambitious in its changes thanks to showrunner Eric Heisserer and his writing team, with book author Leigh Bardugo, combining the events of the first book with a number of characters from later books in order to make it a more well-rounded, fleshed-out world. Happily, the changes all work.
The main storyline of Shadow & Bone more or less follows the route the first book takes. The main protagonist, Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), is an orphan who grew up in the country of Ravka with her best friend, Malyen "Mal" Oretsev (Archie Renaux). With the kingdom currently at war, both are conscripted into the First Army. During a dangerous mission with their military unit to cross the Shadow Fold, the swath of pure darkness that cleaves their kingdom in half, Alina discovers rare powers thought to be a myth. Her newly-discovered Sun Summoner powers mean she's a Grisha, someone with the ability to manipulate matter at the molecular level. It also means she's the only one who has the potential to destroy the Shadow Fold, making her a target for those who'd use her as a pawn – namely General Kirigan, a.k.a. the Darkling (Ben Barnes), leader of the Grisha Second Army and most powerful Grisha in the world.
At the same time, there are three other significant storylines going, as well. Mal has his own story, both remaining in the First Army when Alina is taken away, and his quest to track down Morozova's Stag, a mythical creature with magical abilities. Then there are the Crows, led by mastermind Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), master spy Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), and sharpshooter Jesper Fahey (Kit Young). The scheming trio from the city of Ketterdam is on a mission to kidnap Alina for a payment greater than any job they'd ever pulled off. While the paths of all the above converge, there's yet a fourth storyline unfolding: Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan) is a Grisha Heartrender on a secret mission for the Darkling when she's kidnapped by Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman), a Fjerdan Drüskelle – witch-hunters who hate and fear the Grisha. After an unexpected disaster, their lot is thrown in with one another, and they have to learn to trust each other to survive.
That's a lot of story for eight episodes, and the writing would be impressive no matter what. But considering how skillfully the series wove together new storylines and, it could be argued, significantly improved upon the book in some ways, it becomes an even more impressive accomplishment. Here are all the major changes in the Netflix TV show from the books.
The biggest and most significant change from the books is that the Crows are in the Netflix series. Not only do Kaz Brekker and his gang not show up in the first book, they don't show up in the Grisha trilogy at all. In fact, they aren't introduced until their own two books, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, a standalone duology. While it's set in the same world, Six of Crows unfolds in the city of Ketterdam and partly in the country of Fjerda, a place oft-mentioned in the trilogy but never visited. The Crows' adventure takes place after the events of the Grisha trilogy, so people and events are occasionally referenced in their books, but don't have any great impact on the story.
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