Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
I loved the setting of this book--an embattled kingdom inspired by imperial Russia with the noteworthy addition of magic--as much as I enjoyed its story. While Alina Starkov is serving as an apprentice map maker in the army a deadly battlefield encounter on the monster-filled Shadow Fold forces out her dormant magical powers and brings her to the attention of the Tsar. Almost immediately Alina finds herself propelled into the opulent, demanding world of the Grisha, magicians trained from an early age to serve their country.
Alina is used to hard work, but in contrast to most Grisha she grew up an orphan peasant girl, living dormitory style with other war-stranded children on the estate of a charitable duke. Since her schooling in magic is starting much later than her Grisha peers, Alina has trouble fitting into their elite and cliquish group. Other issues include the corruption and incompetence of the royal family, the impassible zone of magic-made monsters that bisects and divides the country, the difficulty of knowing who to trust or believe, and the fact that Alina is expected to help save her country with a flashy magical power she can’t control. Plus there are boy problems, but these are at least as poignant as they are predictable.
Alina is a great POV character, contemplative but not a pushover, willing to jump into hopeless danger to try to save a friend, and full of slightly barbed but disarmingly candid comebacks. I wanted to read myself into a well imagined alternate domain, and Leigh Bardugo’s world conjuring skills were everything I hoped for. Between this book and Rachel Hartman’s Shadow Scale I’ve discovered I love a story with maps. Shadow and Bone is the first of a trilogy and (Oh happy day!) all three books are already published so there need be no waiting if you get caught up. Plus the covers are wonderful.