‘Shadow and Bone’: 10 Changes From the Book

With adaptations, especially young adult ones, it’s always interesting (and sometimes mind-numbingly frustrating) to see how they differ from the original source material. Little changes here and there are expected given that books and TV shows/films are two completely different mediums so something that works in one is not always going to transfer well to another. But more often then not you get the unfortunate adaptation that bears no resemblance to the original story fans fell in love with. When a new adaptation of a beloved book is announced, fans never know what to expect and are left crossing their fingers, hoping for the best.

The latest adaptation to take over the world has been Netflix‘s Shadow and Bone, which is based on the best-selling Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo. Just how faithful was Shadow and Bone to the books? Keep reading to find out.

1. The crows

One of the biggest differences between the book and the show is, of course, the incorporation of the Six of Crows characters. In the Shadow and Bone trilogy, there was no overlap and any interactions between the two sets of characters didn’t occur until much later. From what we know, the crows didn’t actually try to kidnap Alina in the background of Shadow and Bone, but I really loved this addition.


2. Inej’s “Brother”..?

I put a question mark here because I’m just not sure if they are going to continue with it. While Inej was talking with the Conductor in episode 2, she mentioned how she was separated from her brother (that she didn’t have in the books) when she was captured by the slavers. The next episode, however, introduces the plot of Inej searching for her parents, but there was no mention of a sibling. Now, she could have been lying to the Conductor, but I guess we’ll wait and see if this newfound brother is ever brought up again.


Image Via TV Guide

3. We actually like mal

Believe me, this is just as much of a shock to me as it is to you. I was never really a fan of Mal in the books. I just accepted that he would be with Alina because I didn’t really like the Darkling that much either. Based off the trailers, though, I had a feeling that I was actually going to like Mal in the show. And I’m happy to say that I was right.

The show wisely stepped beyond the first person POV from the books, which provided the opportunity to further expand the world and develop characters by showing events Alina was not present for in the books. For example, viewers got to follow along on Mal’s journey to find the stag, which we only ever heard about in the books. One of my biggest issues with Mal in the Shadow and Bone trilogy is I felt like he didn’t really care about Alina until he saw her with the Darkling. Here, viewers are able to see just how much he cares about Alina and how far he is willing to go to get back to her. Now, the true test of my newfound love for Mal will come when Nikolai is introduced in a potential season 2. Renew it Netflix!

4. Zoya’s role in the finale

In the Shadow and Bone book, Zoya is not present during the climatic scene on the skiff, but in the show she is. In the books, Zoya found out about the Darkling attacking Novokribirsk after the fact and traveled on her own through the fold to look for her family. She was actually there in the show and was able to see for her own eyes who the Darkling really is. Now, this sets the stage for Zoya choosing to team up with Alina not being as much of a shock as it was in the books.


Image Via Polygon

5. Call me aleksander

I had a very visceral reaction to this change. As soon as the Darkling said, “Call me Aleksander,” to Alina, I let out a noice best described as a hybrid between a gasp and a cackle. I was just so shocked that it was revealed so early in the show as we had to wait so long for it in the original trilogy. In the books, the Darkling doesn’t reveal his true name to Alina until Ruin and Rising when he is… SPOILER ALERT…. dying.


6. grisha testing

Another small change I noticed was the way Grisha testing is done. In the show, Grisha power is detected by sudden pain, but in the books the Grisha examiners are living amplifiers so they can detect power just from touch. This change was probably made so Alina’s scar will serve as a constant physical reminder of Mal and indicate the fact that she is thinking of him whenever she looks at it. Since we’re not privy to Alina’s thoughts in the show, her having Genya erase her scar was a way to visually show her letting go of Mal and embracing her powers.

7. no k-i-ss-ing for malina

I was actually kind of shocked and a little mad about this one as I actually ship Malina in the show. Not only was Mal just a better character than he was in the books, but all those parallels of the hand holding and calling each other their true norths were just so effective in making me root for them to be reunited. But then again… the chemistry between Alina and the Darkling especially in episode 5…. I mean.. wow. I’m conflicted!


Image Via Netflix

8. Nina’s mission

When I first heard Netflix was combining Six of Crows with Shadow and Bone, I was mainly confused by it because of Nina. In the books, Nina is at school in the Little Palace when the original trilogy is happening and it is her mission with Zoya that leads to her being captured by the Fjerdans. In the show, Nina is actually a spy for the Darkling when she was captured. This change is not particularly detrimental as it still leads to the same end.

9. fedyor and ivan

Again, characters that were not really memorable for me in the books, but they were actually really adorable. Fedyor, in particular, was really sweet and funny when he said he was just practicing his Ivan impression instead of really being mad when Alina and Genya snuck out. Also, that moment of Fedyor trying to get Ivan to eat a pastry was goals.

10. all hail sankt milo

Probably the stand out character from the show for doesn’t even exist in the books. That’s right. I’m talking about Milo the goat. I was truly scared that they were going to use the goat as bait or to be thrown into the fire, but I was both relieved and amused that it ended up being an emotional support animal for Jesper. That whole scene with the crows crossing through the fold was one of my favorites in the series and it was only heightened by the presence of an adorable baby goat. Milo even came back around to save the day yet again while Mal was trapped by the Darkling in episode 7.  Bring back Milo for season 2!

Despite the changes, I would definitely consider Shadow and Bone to be one of the most faithful book adaptations I’ve seen in a long time. I’m hopeful for where the show goes from here and how it does adapting the future novels in the Grishaverse. Assuming it gets renewed… hint hint Netflix

What did you think of all these changes? Let us know in the comments down below!

feature images via amazon and vanity fair