Shadow and Bone: Shadow and Bone   Books Included 
April 26, 2021 3:15 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

I haven't read any of the books myself, but I was reading the Vulture recaps as I watched the season this weekend, which are so full of book-to-show information that I don't think I can participate in a show-only thread without going off-topic eventually. But maybe we can keep the Six of Crows Duology spoilers to a minimum, since it's my understanding that the bulk of the events from those books weren't covered in this first Netflix season, just the introduction of its characters.

Anyway, I enjoyed this. I thought it was pretty exposition-heavy, and yet at the same time I don't know that I would have gotten a handle on the geography of things without reading the recaps. And the plot was very coincidence-dependent. But I liked the casting and the visuals, and I hope they make more seasons.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2021

I am only up to Episode 2 so far. At this point, some of the changes from the book version of Shadow and Bone work well, such Alina having Shu heritage. Some of the changes don't work well, such as having her burn the maps (I get that it gives the character more agency, but it also makes her seem kind of stupid and self-involved.)

The changes from Six of Crows are, of course, far more extreme, but I am nonetheless having much the same reaction that I did to the book - namely, that nothing in the world could possibly make me care about Kaz Brekker or anything he does.
posted by kyrademon at 4:45 PM on April 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I first heard of the "Grishverse" series from the Netflix teaser for the series. My wife and I read in rapid succession Shadow & Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and then started on the King of Scars Duology. In short, we were hooked.

I liked the 'completeness' of the S&B books - not only was it exciting and well written, it had an ending of sorts, though the door was open for more stories. And then SoC took and expanded the world Leigh Bardugo was building - not just a rehash of first series, but a different but connected story that was different yet the same. I think I liked SoC even better, tbh.

So, we are both enjoying the Netflix series. The S&B parts are exactly perfect - the way the Grisha act, the clothes, the grit and grime of the first army, the glamour of the Little Palace. Yet we can also see where things were cut back or changed to fit the series. I'm struck with how sparsely populated the castles are - not a lot of money for extras? We saw a huge crowd of Grisha in the throne room scene, and then hardly any after. It's elaborate and sparse at the same time - there are lots of conversations between two characters, but few crowd scenes.

The Six of Crows parts, however, are full of people but they made the biggest changes to that story. They grafted the book plots onto a completely new plot thread, leaving reflections of the book coming out at different angles. And it feels shoe-horned in. We don't learn much about Kaz and his team - their motivations and back story - instead we are just asked to accept them as-is out of the gate, with little explanation as to who or what or how they are. I can fill in a lot of bits because I read the books, but I'd think anyone coming in cold would be kind of confused on who they are and why they act how they do.

We are half-way through the show, and while we are enjoying it we also see the seams and thin parts. Hopefully it'll be a big enough of a hit that a second season will be made. I'd rather they focused on S&B exclusively, and pick up SoC after, but overall I'm impressed at what they have on the screen, I just wish there was more meat to the story.
posted by jazon at 6:39 AM on April 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'd rather they focused on S&B exclusively

Milo is the true hero of the story.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed the whole thing, even with Kaz's crew grafted into Alina's plot. The Apparat was more creepy than sinister, and like the books, the Nina sections always seem to detract from the main story (particularly in this season where there is no payoff; in fact the only time I found her separate story not distracting was the last bit of Rule of Wolves).
posted by Marticus at 4:07 PM on April 27, 2021

I binged all the books last year, and loved them. The show is really good too, although I'm only on Episode 6 so far - trying to make it last.

Changing Alina and making her half Shu is brilliant, and really helps make her a much more compelling character. I was also happy with her having some more agency, and I find the Darkling a lot less creepy than in the books. They did a great job in translating this to the small screen, I think, even though the Crows storyline felt slightly grafted on.

Best character so far is Milo. But Jasper and Inej are up there. The video Kit Young posted of their first day on the Crow Club set is so great, makes me so happy. I really hope this show gets another season.
posted by gemmy at 8:08 PM on April 28, 2021

I know nothing of the books, and ran across the series on Netflix over the weekend. It looks pretty interesting, though it also has a certain GoT vibe about it that makes me a bit nervous about jumping in.

I originally started watching GoT, back in the day, but noped-out at the end of the first season because it felt like it was mostly bloodshed porn. Am I in for another trip through ultraviolence and gore if I jump into this show?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:55 AM on April 29, 2021

The source material is YA, so no, probably not a whole lot of extreme on-screen violence.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:47 AM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

The show is actually pretty violent and gory - plenty of death, gross methods, gross sound effects, etc.
posted by prefpara at 10:59 AM on April 29, 2021

I didn't find it particularly gory - certainly way less than GoT. There are deaths by knife, guns, and magic, but nothing that struck me as excessive torture-porn.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's way less rapey, at least. (I too noped out of GoT. And Outlander. And X, Y and Z, but I found this mostly ok? Except for one or two scenes here and there.)
posted by Coaticass at 1:33 PM on April 29, 2021

The number of times I found myself wondering "Wait...where are they and how did they get there?" really ruined the show for me. I never had a sense that there were stakes to people going places, or that anything was happening on a schedule, or how much time had passed between people being grievously injured and then appearing somewhere seemingly fine.

It didn't really do it for me, and the characters all just felt jarringly absent self-awareness or competence, which I guess makes sense when characters are supposed to be 17. It just feels weird when these teenagers are somehow soldiers but are more concerned about writing to their bestie than like, surviving an obviously life-threatening situation? And they're played by people in their mid-20s?

And so many characters with so little relevance to a central conflict in this season. I get that they want to set some stuff up for later, but it left me feeling like I was waiting for a unifying plot that never materialized and then the season was over.
posted by wakannai at 3:52 AM on May 6, 2021

I had moments when I thought I would like this, but then it changed. Kirigan/the Darkling is far more interesting when conflicted than when moustache twirling evil, but perhaps that can’t be expected from YA. Wondering whether the books are worth picking up though - I enjoy the concept more than some of the actors.
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2021

I loved the heck out of this. I felt the changes from the books largely worked. I loved having the Ketterdam crew in it. (I always wanted them to meet Alina and now they have!) And seeing HOW Nina and Matthias got to where they are in the beginning of Six of Crows was fabulous. The casting on this is utterly impeccable.

My two favorite moments:
- the flashback of them going through the fold when everyone looks up at the Volcra and screams...including the goat
- Alina crawling into the trunk of Jasper's carriage

They've also provided a reason for Nina to connect with the crew. It makes me wonder if they're going to accelerate the 6OC plot.

I'm very excited for the next season.
posted by rednikki at 7:39 AM on May 8, 2021

I'm a much bigger fan of the Six of Crows duology than Shadow & Bone itself, so it's not a surprise that I was mainly in it for Kaz & co., but man they were fun. All three were just perfectly cast and a delight to watch. Alina's storyline still felt like it was going through the motions of a YA fantasy plot, and probably could have used some of the time dedicated to the crew (or at least Nina and Matthias) to breathe, but oh well. I'm definitely hoping it gets a second season, and curious about what they're planning for the Ketterdam side -- maybe swap the goal of the SIX OF CROWS/CROOKED KINGDOM heist to something relevant to how the Alina/Mal trilogy plays out?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:08 AM on May 10, 2021

All right! Finally finished watching the series, and I Have Opinions.

In terms of my feelings on the books, I'd rate them as follows, from best to worst:

1) The Language of Thorns. Incredible, beautiful, just my cup of tea.
2) The King of Scars duology. Bardugo puts her notable talents as a writer in the service of writing about characters I *really* want to follow.
3) The Shadow & Bone trilogy. Some hiccups and flaws, and the lead character was a little less interesting to me than the ones in King of Scars, but still a fun YA series in a great setting.
4) Six of Crows. A heist book with no sensible plan, and also I hate Kaz. He's annoying, terrible at his job, and he never once comes across as believably being a 17 year old. If it had been about the other characters without him (and had their heist plan been significantly better and less improvised flailing around), I might have liked it, but as it was, I never bothered to read Crooked Kingdom because the last thing I wanted was More Kaz.

So, in terms of comparing this with the show:

Mixing a Six of Crows backstory in with Shadow & Bone was a good idea. Alina is oddly passive in Book One -- which is one of its major flaws -- so throwing in More Plot with other people works well while her character is getting up to speed.

This does end up cutting a lot into Alina's time at Magic School. While that was a good place to cut, sometimes it pared away a bit too much, and Zoya's character development suffered in particular. Her turning against Kirigan should have been a *much* bigger deal than it was, but we don't know that because we never really saw how loyal she was to him.

Nina and Matthias were an eternal delight, especially Nina, and I always wanted to see more of them. Inej and Jesper were great, too.

I still hated Kaz. Aging him up was a good choice, but it wasn't enough. I suppose it's appropriate that he was as hilariously terrible at making plans or getting anything done as he was in the books, but I don't think that was intentional, and characters who are idiots but get treated by the narrative as geniuses are a pet peeve of mine.

I appreciate that the show tried to give Alina more agency, but it didn't always work; as I mentioned before, stuff like burning the maps made her seem kind of dumb. Giving her Shu heritage was an interesting choice that I thought worked well.

I think I liked Weirdo Loner Mal from the books more than Mal With Actual Friends in the show.

Overall, I thought it was a decent, although not perfect, show, and would tune in for a second season expecting to have much the same reaction again.
posted by kyrademon at 2:26 PM on May 11, 2021

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