Netflix invited a horde of new fans into the Grishaverse with the release of Shadow and Bone, a series that combines two of Leigh Bardugo’s beloved series.
The books the delightful Netflix series is based on have been popular among readers for just under a decade, with the first book — also titled Shadow and Bone—releasing in the summer of 2012. The years since have seen Bardugo put out a handful of additional releases, the majority of which take place in the sprawling world she created.
The Netflix series aims to release “at least” four seasons to the public, a task that should see the show tackle a minimum of four — but more likely between five and six—of Bardugo’s books. And that’s if they avoid digging into the King of Scars duology, Bardugo’s most recent releases.
How to read the Grishaverse in order?
With such an expansive world put to the page, the Grishaverse can be intimidating to news readers. Fans of the Netflix series have been eyeing the books since the first season dropped, but many have avoided taking the plunge over concerns that the series is too long, or that they don’t know where to start. The books behind Shadow and Bone can be a bit confusing since the show pulls from two separate series, but there is a clear and simple way to enjoy each of the books set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse.
The Shadow and Bone trilogy
The Grishaverse expands far beyond a single book series. The Netflix series is based primarily around Bardugo’s first-ever full-length series but also pulls in characters and plotlines from her mega-popular Six of Crows duology. Readers hoping to tackle the entire series, in order, will want to start at the very beginning, i.e., with the Shadow and Bone trilogy.
Shadow and Bone
The first book in the Shadow and Bone series conveniently shares a title with the trilogy as a whole. It delves into the beginnings of Alina and Mal’s story, as well as offers an introduction to the fictional world established within its pages. It is the only real place to start if you want to fully enjoy Bardugo’s Grishaverse, since it provides a background on the many essential locations across the fictional world, establishes political tension and global power struggles, and lays out vital information about the Grisha themselves.
Seige and Storm
The second book in the Shadow and Bone series is a natural next step in your journey through the Grishaverse. It introduces a slew of new characters that will quickly become favorites and continues Mal, Alina, Zoya, and all of the other beloved characters’ journeys. Plus, Bardugo changes up the scenery in her second title, shifting the story’s location so that it largely takes place on board a ship, leading to plenty of delightful swashbuckling action.
Ruin and Rising
The final book in Bardugo’s premier series serves as a soft conclusion to Alina and Mal’s story. While a number of the characters from her first series appear in Bardugo’s later releases, the first part of their story comes to a conclusion in Ruin and Rising. The final book in the series sees the Grisha, led by Alina and her team of powerful allies, face off against the Darkling once and for all.
The Six of Crows duology
The second series set in Bardugo’s sprawling Grishaverse, the Six of Crows duology, offers up two stellar books that deviate immensely from the tone and storyline of her first series. They follow Kaz Brekker and his hand-picked team of thieves, heretics, and liars as they work to pull off a series of increasingly dangerous heists.
Six of Crows
The first Kerch-set book in Bardugo’s world introduces a band of gamblers, thieves, and gangsters, deviating from the more young adult themes of the first trilogy for a more mature reading experience. The Dregs — who fans of the Netflix series will recognize as the rebranded Crows — get a thorough examination in their first book, as does the complex and captivating job they set out on over the course of Six of Crows. The team sets out on a fast-paced heist that spans countries, as they head to the icy and unforgiving Fjerdan capital to steal a highly sought-after prize.
The story Bardugo began in Six of Crows resolves itself by the end of Crooked Kingdom, tying up the Kerch storyline while still situating some of its most popular characters for future re-introduction. Yet another wild heist sends shockwaves through the city of Ketterdam, and pits some of Kaz, Jesper, and Inej’s long-standing allies against them. The action hardly slows down in this book, as the Dregs work desperately to get the upper hand on one of Kerch’s most powerful men.
The King of Scars duology
A world away from the criminal underworld in Kerch, the action returns to Ravka with the King of Scars duology. The books return to several fan favorites from the Shadow and Bone series, focusing the story around Nikolai Lantsov and Zoya Nazyalensky, while including a very surprising return from one of Shadow and Bone’s most important characters.
King of Scars
The first of the sequel stories follows Ravka’s young king and his resolute general as they work to purge the final remaining vestiges of the Darkling’s power. Political strife quietly builds in the background as Nikolai and Zoya hunt down a solution to a growing personal problem, while — a world away — Nina Zenik from the Six of Crow duology works to sow discontent and religious turmoil in Fjerda.
Rule of Wolves
Following the resolution of the story that started in King of Scars, Rule of Wolves sees Nikolai and Zoya face off against an ever-growing swathe of enemies. Across the world, Nina struggles to maintain her cover as a deeply integrated spy among the Fjerdan upper ranks. Splitting its time between politics, war, and spycraft, Rule of Wolves is one of Bardugo’s best books yet, and really shows how the popular author has grown over the years. Including one or two stellar cameos from fan favorites, Rule of Wolves is a must-read for fans of the Grishaverse.