All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Shadow And Bone – Leigh Bardugo

on April 13, 2013

Shadow And BoneShadow And Bone (The Grisha #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt & Co.
2012, 358p
Read from my local library

Her parents killed by the Border Wars, Alina grew up in an orphanage on the property of a Duke. With Mal, also an orphan and her best friend to keep her company, the two form a strong bond that carries all the way through into adolescence and their roles in the armed forces as tracker and cartographer.

Attempting a dangerous crossing of an area known as the Shadow Fold, Alina and the other crew on the boat are attacked by mysterious creatures that make the crossing so trecherous. They all should’ve died – but something happened to scare them off, something that one of the most powerful Grisha in the land has been waiting for. Alina suddenly finds herself as hot property, protected by The Darkling and spirited away to a castle of opulent finery where the King and Queen reside and where she can learn to accept the fact that she has a powerful talent – but now she just needs to learn to summon it on her own.

Alina can use this power for good – she can push back the Shadow Fold and wipe out the creatures that attack anyone that tries to cross, feasting on their human flesh. She can open up the land to crossings again, put an end to the rations and poverty she herself experienced when she was younger. Although she has harboured a love for Mal, now an extremely gifted Tracker, she begins to fall under the spell of the mysterious and powerful Darkling. He promises her a future that is as bright as the light she can summon.

Even with all that, Alina doesn’t forget Mal. And when it looks as though everything might be coming down around her, that she might be responsible for great evil rather than good, it is Mal who proves once again that the two are together forever, no matter what.

This is an interesting (also, hard) book to try and review. From what I’ve read and the overall feel, the location seems based on Russia but the author has taken some liberties and there are plenty of inaccuracies. That’s fine – this is a fantasy novel. I liked the setting – a land ravaged by wars, cut in two by the mysterious Shadow Fold. A place of crippling poverty where some people have little, but with palaces adorned with real gold and every luxury to indulge in.  Alina is to be honest, not a particularly original main character – she has few friends, very little in the way of support other than her deep friendship with Mal which is complicated at the beginning of the book by the fact that she’s in love with him and believes that he doesn’t feel the same way. Mal is apparently a bit of a flirt, a bit of a ladies man and has no problems attracting a female eye, something that causes Alina much jealousy and lamenting of her ordinary looks.

Then with the discovery of her superior power and the subsequent attention from The Darkling, she does undergo a bit of a metamorphosis but I liked the fact that it wasn’t a complete one. She isn’t just magically transformed into a beautiful and confident girl – she has to work very hard to summon her power and learn how to wield it and it takes her an awful long time. She enjoys the attention of The Darkling (quite frankly, who wouldn’t?) and slowly the memory of Mal fades a little, although she does continue to wonder where he is now and what he’s doing. She doesn’t hear from him even though she writes to him but she has plenty to keep her occupied.

I’m beginning to think that I am incapable of choosing the right side in a love triangle. I don’t know how often I get invested in a character only for the female main character to choose the other option either time and time again if it’s a series, or once and for all in a final novel if it’s a trilogy. This can make reading these books frustrating because quite often, the other option bores the pants off me. And I’m sorry to say that Mal….bored the ever living heck out of me.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with him, I just found him utterly unfleshed out and lacking in personality. He’s skilled and handsome and beginning to draw the eye of women but to be honest, I didn’t really sense an ounce of chemistry between him and Alina whatsoever. However I found myself immediately interested in The Darkling – he has layers to uncover and at the end of this book looks almost irredeemable. But there’s two more installments to go so I’m sure that more information will come out about him. He is indeed a very flawed bad boy type of character, but taken to another level. He’s what makes me want to pick up the next book, him and Alina and the interactions between them. I’m sincerely hoping that he isn’t going to be absent from the second novel just to pad things and out and waste time!

All in all this is a very engaging book – I enjoyed the magic side of it and as I mentioned, I like the setting. I had my issues with Alina, she wasn’t always the heroine I wanted her to be, but I think that she was taking the right steps the more she went on her journey of learning how to use her powers. I want the two of them to come face to face again and showdown (and more).  So I will read the next book when it comes out and hope that I come out of feeling a little more satisfied because there’s a little less Mal.

7/10

Book #89 of 2013

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