Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

When fire burns, it uses up the wood. It devours it, leavening only ash. Grisha power doesn't work that way.

Why I read this book

I heard people talking about this new series in 2012. It had a very good premise, saying it used Russian mythos elements and so I considered I would like it. Once it got on sale at the Book Depository I decided to go for it. It also makes part of my Once Upon a Time Challenge.

What the book is about

The main characte, Alina Starkov, has always been a bit sickly looking and weak. She is an orphan that join the first army along with his good friend Mal...Whom she is also attracted to. On day, her regiment tries to cross what is known as The Fold, an area of the country covered in darkness, where evil creatures lurk. Is here that she almost looses both her life and Mal and it is when her powers surge saving both of them. She will now have to leave the first army to join the second, the Grisha, dealing with the little Science. Her powers might be able to get rid of the Fold...or they could give someone else infinite power to abuse.

First impressions

I would say that it took inspiration of Russian folklore, albeit with a fair amount of literary license taken. There is not a lot of world building at the beginning although it does feel like it would be settled on a very cold part of Russia. Characters are interesting but a bit predictable.

Final thoughts

I think the book itself is physically pretty, both the cover and the map were visually pleasing. The division between the different Grishas according to their powers was interesting, but not particularly different from other books with similar stories.

Now, the story itself is not completely original, taking the "ugly duckling" type of story and mixing it worth magic and some Russian inspired words and constructions. I liked the comparison of the magic to science, when considered as manipulation of matter, but there wasn't a lot of development there. I believe this might be tackled in the sequel.

I am conflicted to give this less than a 4, because while the story was not great I got immersed in it pretty fast. I finished the book in a 2 day weekend and basically devoured it. Maybe it is because I needed something light at the moment and it delivered exactly what I was expecting of the book but I liked it enough to preorder the paperback edition of the sequel. Hopefully I'm not disappointed.

And there is nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be hawk.

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