When adapting books for the screen, changes are inevitable. It might be that something doesn’t translate as well on screen as it does between the pages. Or something that a reader may overlook in the book has the potential to be expanded upon in live action. Netflix‘s Shadow And Bone, based on Leigh Bardugo’s best-selling Grishaverse novels, is no different.
Wrangling seven books worth of content into two eight-episode seasons (with more on the way, fingers crossed) would always be challenging. So, what’s the same, what’s different, and what’s entirely new?
10 A Job For The Crows
In the first season of Shadow And Bone, Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) and his Crows, Jesper (Kit Young) & Inej (Amita Suman), are hired by a wealthy merchant to kidnap the Sun Summoner Alina Starkov (Jesse Mei Li) from Ravka. In the second season, the Crows add demolitions expert Wylan (Jack Wolfe) and Heartrender Nina (Danielle Galligan) to their crew, and are tasked with a mission to Shu Han to retrieve a sword that can cut through shadow. Both of these jobs were created purely for the Netflix series.
But the Crows’ jobs in the books differ greatly. In Six Of Crows, Kaz is hired to rescue Bo Yul-Bayar, a scientist who has created a powerful drug called jurda parem which enhances Grisha abilities, from the Ice Court in Fjerda. Kaz first goes with Inej, Jesper, and Nina to break Matthias out of Hellgate prison, then adds Wylan to the crew. The six stage a heist of epic proportions, one fans can only hope to see on screen in the future. In Crooked Kingdom, following the Ice Court heist,Kaz is hellbent on taking Pekka Rollins down–something fans have already witnessed in season 2 of the TV show.
9 The Wraith & Her Knives
In both the books and the TV show, The Wraith Inej Ghafa is an expert knife wielder. But it’s how she comes into possession of one of her knives that changes. All of Inej’s knives are named after her beloved Saints including one called “Sankta Alina.” In the show, Alina Starkov gifts this knife to Inej personally after they escape the Shadow Fold.
However, in the books, Inej is already in possession of “Sankta Alina” along with a bevy of other blades, including “Sankt Petyr” the first knife given to her by Kaz. “Sankta Alina” has a bone handle and is still named after the Sun Summoner, even though Inej and Alina never meet in the books.
8 We Need A Heartrender
In season 1, Nina is working for the Darkling (Ben Barnes), capturing rogue Grisha when she herself is captured by Matthias and his band of druskelle. She manages to escape after their vessel is shipwrecked. She goes on the run with Matthias (Calahan Skogman), but he is then captured by a Kerch bounty hunter and sent to Hellgate. While on the ship on the way back to Ketterdam, Nina overhears Kaz saying that he needs a Heartrender. She follows the Crows, saves Inej from a group of enforcers, and bargains her way into working for Kaz, in exchange for his help freeing Matthias.
Much like in the show, Nina is part of the Second Army and does get captured by druskelle while out on a mission. She is even shipwrecked with Matthias and accidentally gets him sent to Hellgate. But in the book, it’s the Crows that seek her out rather than her following them. Nina is in Ketterdam trying to free Matthias when Kaz recruits her, and she begins working at The House Of The White Rose. Nina is already on The Dregs’ payroll when Kaz comes to her with the Ice Court job and his plan to break out Matthias.
7 The Darkling’s Death & Alina’s Future
In season 2, Alina kills the Darkling with the shadow sword Neshyenyer. She fulfills his final request, to have his body burnt so that it can’t be desecrated, and then goes on to become Queen of Ravka alongside Nikolai (Patrick Gibson).
In the books, the Darkling still dies at the hand of Alina’s blade with one small change–she uses a dagger crafted from Grisha steel rather than a legendary sword that cuts through shadow. But the biggest change is what Alina does next. Instead of becoming Queen, she fakes her own death, takes on a new name, marries Mal, and together they rebuild and run and Keramzin orphanage.
6 Mal Becomes Sturmhond
The season 2 finale sees Mal (Archie Renaux) breaking up with Alina. He believes she is destined for more, but he is also unsure if their connection holds up now that his purpose as an amplifier has been fulfilled. Nikolai passes the mantle of Sturmhond to Mal, and he becomes the infamous privateer with the flying ship.
Things are vastly different for Mal in the books. Both he and Alina are presumed dead after defeating the Darkling. They both take on new names, marry and live happily ever, running the newly rebuilt Keramzin orphanage where they are occasionally visited by Nikolai, Genya, and Zoya, who are the only ones that know their true identity.
5 David’s Sacrifice
During a particularly brutal scene in season 2, David (Luke Pasqualino) sacrifices himself to save Genya (Daisy Head) from the nichevo’ya by locking her in a dumbwaiter. When Genya emerges in the aftermath, she finds the walls splattered with the blood of her lover and vows to make Ravka a better place in his honor.
In the books, poor David still dies albeit in a different way. Although, he does get a little more time with his beloved Genya. The two wed and hold their wedding reception at the palace in Ravka when it is bombed by the Fjerdans, killing David.
4 Our Resident Demolitions Expert
Fans don’t meet Wylan until season 2 of Shadow And Bone, but he sure enters with a bang (pun intended). Wylan is responsible for the flash bomb Kaz uses in season 1 to escape the Darkling. Kaz seeks Wylan out personally in season 2, hiring him as a demolitions expert, and tasks him with making explosives to blow up the Crow Club.
In the books, Wylan is the son of wealthy merchant Jan Van Eck. After his father attempts to kill him, Wylan ends up in The Barrel, finding work at a tannery. Kaz recruits him to his crew in preparation for the Ice Court heist, due to his extensive demolitions knowledge.
3 The Neshyenyer Sword
In the show, the Crows seek out the Neshyenyer sword–a blade that can cut through shadow. Alina uses the sword to defeat the Darkling and his nichevo’ya. The Neshyenyer sword was forged by Ohval Saran (Tuyen Do) in Shu Han.
The Neshyenyer sword doesn’t technically make an appearance in the books but is an Easter egg for the most devoted of fans. Ohval Saran is also known as Sankta Neyar, the patron saint of blacksmiths. Sankta Neyar and her sword feature in a spin-off called The Lives Of Saints, which is based on the Istorii Sankt’ya–the book all Grisha children are given when they come to the Little Palace.
2 Nikolai The Nichevo’ya
In the show, Nikolai is injured by nichevo’ya during the battle at the Fold. While he doesn’t initially appear to be affected, the final moments of season 2 show Nikolai with a festering black wound on his shoulder that’s beginning to spread to the rest of his body.
In the books, Nikolai is attacked in a similar way when the Darkling infects him with merzost. But instead of a gradual demise, he is instantly transformed into a horrible winged beast with fangs, talons, and a hunger for human flesh. Nikolai eventually returns to his human form when Alina stabs the Darkling in the chest.
1 Shadow & Crows
Perhaps the biggest, most obvious change between the books and the series so far is the blending of storylines. In the show, the Crows and the Grisha come together to create one story but in the books, they never actually meet.
Nikolai, Zoya, and Genya do make a cameo in Crooked Kingdom but the King of Ravka presents as his alter-ego Sturmhond. Fans are eager to see how the blended story might progress when Shadow And Bone is hopefully renewed for a third season!
NEXT: ‘Shadow and Bone’: What Could Happen in Season 3 (According to the Books)