Who is the strongest Grisha? The 10 most powerful characters in ‘Shadow and Bone,’ ranked

Shadow and Bones
Image via Netflix

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Grishaverse novel series.

Power, and what it means to wield it and possess it, is one of the central themes of the Grishaverse, the ever-growing epic fantasy franchise that began with a series of novels by author Leigh Bardugo and now encompasses the smash-hit Netflix series Shadow and Bone. Set in a world somewhat resembling 19th century Europe, it’s filled with magically powered individuals called Grisha, who serve the Russian-inspired nation of Ravka.

There are many different types of Grisha, who are split into three distinct orders. These are Etherealki (the Order of Summoners ⁠— Inferni, Tidemakers, and Squallers), Corporalki (the Order of the Living and the Dead ⁠— Heartrenders, Healers, and Tailors), Materialki (the Order of Fabrikators ⁠— Durast and Alkemi). As the abilities of the many Grisha that populate this universe vary so greatly, it’s difficult to rank the most powerful Grisha from least to most. But we’re going to try.

Although those that haven’t caught up with the TV series need not fear, in order to properly ascertain which Grisha is the most powerful, each character’s full history has to be considered, so spoilers for the novels are incoming.

10. Tolya and Tamar Yul-Bataar

Tolya and Tamar - Shadow and Bone
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A duo familiar to those who’ve binged Shadow and Bone season two, twins Tolya and Tamar Yul-Bataar are loyal allies to the privateer Sturmhond (secretly the Ravkan prince, Nikolai). Although they often rely on their combat skills, the twins are actually Heartrenders by nature, but their religious Shu upbringing means they didn’t receive formal Grisha training. The combination of Tolya and Tamara’s physical and Grisha power, and closeness to the eventual king, earns them tenth place.

9. Jesper Fahey

Kit Young as Jesper Fahey in 'Shadow and Bone'
Image via Netflix

Unlike his fellow Crow Inej, Jesper Fahey’s rumored Grisha status is canon. As introduced in Six of Crows, Jesper initially appears to be a seriously gifted gunslinger, capable of hitting virtually any target. In Crooked Kingdom, we learn he’s really a Fabrikator (specifically, a Durast) who has long hid his power after his mother died using hers. Jesper’s natural skill, which he’s cultivated to make himself a feared outlaw, is impressive, but his lack of actual Grisha training keep him from ranking any higher.

8. David Kostyk

Luke Pasqualino as David Kostyk in 'Shadow and Bone'
Image via Netflix

David Kostyk might not have a knack for combat like Jesper, but his sheer genius and more formal training undeniably make him the more powerful Durast. David is a born inventor, which made him first a useful tool for the Darkling and then a valuable friend for Alina in her fight against the villain. Following the conclusion of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, David became part of the Grisha Triumvirate, the three ruling Grisha that assumed command of the Second Army after the fall of the Darkling.

7. Genya Safin

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Like her love interest David (and Zoya), Genya Safin is another member of the Grisha Triumvirate, so her ultimate political and social stature immediately ensure her placement in this ranking. In addition, she’s also widely regarded as the finest Tailor of the age and is noted to be powerful enough to have been either a Corporalki and Materialki in the Second Army had she been given the chance. Genya’s cunning streak ⁠— like how she poisoned the Ravkan king by infecting her own skin ⁠— likewise makes her a formidable opponent.

6. Baghra

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Baghra is initially introduced as a fierce and irascible Grisha tutor at the Little Palace, but across the Shadow and Bone saga we learn the truth of her story. She’s really the Darkling’s mother, and like her son has had an extremely long life and is a Shadow Summoner. In addition, and again similar to her offspring, Baghra is a human amplifier, an extremely rare phenomenon which means she can amplify the powers of other Grisha. She’s notable for being one of the few beings capable of standing up to the Darkling.

5. Nina Zenik

Danielle Galligan as Nina Zenik in 'Shadown and Bone'
Photo via Netflix

Initially, Nina Zenik is a proficient Heartrender, although her real skills are her talents as a spy. Nina proves herself a truly unique Grisha in Crooked Kingdom, however, once she beats her addiction to jurda parem ⁠— a drug that increases Grisha’s powers ⁠— and her abilities transform from being able to control living matter to controlling dead matter, something no other Grisha is able to do. In King of Scars and Rule of Wolves, Nina’s necrotic powers grow and she embarks on her own personal war against Grisha persecutors.

4. Alina Starkov

Alina Starkov
Image via Netflix

Sankta Alina, the Sun Summoner. The entire Shadow and Bone novel trilogy and TV series revolves around her, so naturally Alina is one of the most powerful Grisha ever. The fabled Saint who would eradicate the Shadow Fold and free Ravka, Alina has enormous amounts of raw power, which is exacerbated by her rule-breaking multipleamplifiers, although it has to be said that she lacks the experience ⁠— not to mention a certain reluctance to embrace her status as chosen one ⁠— to rank any higher.

3. The Darkling

Shadow and Bone Ben Barnes Netflix Darkling
Image via Netflix

As skilled as Alina is, though, the Darkling has to place higher than her in terms of power rankings once you take a look at everything he was capable of across the Grishaverse books. His longevity and functional immortality means he’s amassed more experience and control of his abilities than any other Grisha, and his dabblings into merzost grant him dark powers that no one else has access to. In addition ⁠— major spoilers for King of Scars incoming! ⁠— he’s even able to come back from the dead after his death at Alina’s hands.

2. Elizaveta, Juris, and Grigori

Sankta Lizabeta Grishaverse
Image via Daniel J. Zollinger/Orion Children’s Books

Saints in the Grishaverse are worshipped like gods, although throughout the series we discover they were really just powerful Grisha whose myths have been embellished over time. In the case of the three most powerful Saints, however, they might as well be gods. Elizaveta (who commands bees and plant-life), Juris (who can transform into a dragon), and Grigori (a shapeshifter whose form is constantly changing) were ancient, practically all-powerful beings who appeared in King of Scars.

1. Zoya Nazyalensky

Image via Netflix

Zoya begins as the Darkling’s right-hand woman and the best Squaller in the Grisha army. She achieved this status after earning her tiger’s teeth amplifier at the age of just 13 — a rare honor for one so young.

In King of Scars, though, Zoya levels up in a whole new way when she loses her tiger amplifier and instead bonds with the spirit of Juris, which allows her not only to stretch between the three Grisha orders, restructuring the world’s understanding of Grisha powers in the process, but also to transform into a dragon herself.

Finally — big spoilers for Rule of Wolves in one, two, three… — her marriage to King Nikolai gives her political power too. It may not appear that way at the beginning of her story, but Zoya may just be the most powerful Grisha in the whole Grishaverse by its end.