Shadow and Bone TV Series Overview (2021)


Shadow and Bone is an American fantasy streaming television series developed by Eric Heisserer for Netflix.

It is based on two series of books in the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo, the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology.


The Grisha universe consists of the nations of Ravka, Fjerda, Shu Han, Kerch, Novyi Zem, and the Wandering Isle. Each adapts elements of language, culture and tradition from countries of the real world (drawn from different real time periods). Grisha are a people who have been described as “magic-users” but in their words, they are practitioners of “The Small Science” which reflects an individual gift each holds to manipulate matter at its smallest level, the “molecular level”.

Ravka is home to most of the Grisha as they are “usually discovered as children by traveling Grisha testers and brought to… [train in that nation’s] Second Army”. It is one of few places they can live safely and when training for the Second Army, they are divided into three orders. Etherealki summon natural elements such as wind, water and fire, Materialki control materials such as metal and glass and Corporalki manipulate people’s bodies. Ravka’s Second Army is led by General Kirigan, also known as the Darkling, who has spent his life searching for a Grisha who can summon light, the only person who could destroy the Shadow Fold (or “the Fold”) – a region of engulfing darkness, created hundreds of years ago and divides Ravka in two, the east from the west. Since then, Ravka has been at war and is now on the brink of splitting in two as the west seeks independence.

Alina Starkov turns out to be such a Grisha, and word spreads that a Sun Summoner has been found. In the Kerch capital and trading city of Ketterdam, Kaz Brekker, leader of a gang called the Crows, is hired to kidnap her; Fjerdan witch hunters are sent to kill her; the people of Ravka venerate her as a Saint. Alina must come to terms with who she is and decide whom she can truly trust as she searches for the power that will allow her to destroy the Fold and save Ravka.

Season 01

The series adapts the story of young Alina Starkov, an orphan and cartographer of the Ravka nation’s First Army, as she discovers she is a Grisha, one with special gifts, and one long awaited to address a dire need in the universe. The first season adapts Shadow and Bone (2013), and adds an original storyline featuring the Crows, a criminal gang for which the eponymous duology is named.

Season 02

The second season will adapt Siege and Storm (2013), and another original storyline featuring the Crows.


  • Main:
    • Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, an orphan and former assistant cartographer of the Royal Corps of Surveyors in the First Army. She discovers she is the Sun Summoner, a rare Grisha with the ability to control light. Alina was reimagined as half-Shu (having had one parent from Shu-Han) in the series.
    • Kaylan Teague as Young Alina.
    • Archie Renaux as Malyen “Mal” Oretsev, an orphan tracker in the First Army and Alina’s childhood best friend.
    • Cody Molko as Young Mal.
    • Freddy Carter as Kaz Brekker, leader of the Crows, known as Dirtyhands and the Bastard of the Barrel.
    • Amita Suman as Inej Ghafa, member of the Crows, known as the Wraith.
    • Kit Young as Jesper Fahey, member of the Crows, a skilled sharpshooter.
    • Ben Barnes as General Aleksander Kirigan / The Darkling, general of the Second Army and the Shadow Summoner.
    • Zoë Wanamaker as Baghra, Alina’s Grisha trainer.
    • Lewis Tan as Tolya Yul-Bataar (season 2).
    • Patrick Gibson as Nikolai Lantsov (season 2).
    • Anna Leong Brophy as Tamar Kir-Bataar (season 2).
    • Jack Wolfe as Wylan Hendriks (season 2).
    • Daisy Head as Genya Safin (season 2; recurring season 1), the only known Grisha Tailor, who befriends Alina.
    • Danielle Galligan as Nina Zenik (season 2; recurring season 1), a Heartrender, who is taken captive by Fjerdans.
    • Calahan Skogman as Matthias (season 2; recurring season 1), a Fjerdan Drüskelle (witch-hunter), who takes part in Nina’s capture.
  • Recurring:
    • Sujaya Dasgupta as Zoya, a Squaller (wind Summoner), who is interested in Mal and who is jealous of Alina.
    • Simon Sears as Ivan, a Heartrender, who serves under General Kirigan.
    • Howard Charles as Arken, the Conductor, who smuggles people across the Fold.
    • Julian Kostov as Fedyor, a Heartrender, who serves under General Kirigan.
    • Kevin Eldon as The Apparat, the spiritual advisor to the King of Ravka.
    • Jasmine Blackborow as Marie, an Inferni (fire Summoner), who befriends Alina.
    • Gabrielle Brooks as Nadia, a Squaller, who also befriends Alina.
    • Luke Pasqualino as David Kostyk, a Durast, he crafts weapons and other gadgets for the Grisha.



In January 2019, it was announced that Netflix had given the production a series order for an eight-episode first season with Eric Heisserer as showrunner, creator, head-writer, and executive producer. The project falls under Netflix’s deal with 21 Laps Entertainment with Shawn Levy executive producing. Leigh Bardugo, Pouya Shahbazian, Dan Levine, Dan Cohen, and Josh Barry acted as the executive producers as well. On 02 October 2019, Lee Toland Krieger was announced as the director of the pilot.

In June 2021, the series was renewed for an 8-episode second season. It was confirmed in January 2022 that production on the second season had begun. In December 2022, it was reported that the second season will not only cover Siege and Storm, but also Ruin and Rising of Leigh Bardugo’s main Grishaverse trilogy.


In a panel discussion led by Petra Mayer, NPR books editor, Leigh Bardugo disclosed to San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that David J. Peterson would be working on the Grishaverse’s fictional languages. Christian Thalmann is also involved in this effort.


Casting began in April 2019 with calls for Alina. On 02 October 2019, it was announced that Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Freddy Carter, Archie Renaux, Amita Suman, and Kit Young would be starring. Sujaya Dasgupta, Danielle Galligan, Daisy Head, and Simon Sears would also feature. The second round of casting was announced on 18 December 2019, with Calahan Skogman, Zoë Wanamaker, Kevin Eldon, Julian Kostov, Luke Pasqualino, Jasmine Blackborow, and Gabrielle Brooks in the recurring cast. Bardugo, the book series’ author, was scheduled to cameo as a Materalki Durast in the third episode.

Prominent book characters Nikolai Lantsov and Wylan Van Eck did not appear in the first season, but will be introduced in the second. On 13 January 2022, Lewis Tan, Patrick Gibson, Anna Leong Brophy and Jack Wolfe officially joined the cast while Daisy Head, Danielle Galligan, and Calahan Skogman were promoted to a series regulars for the second season. More new cast members were confirmed in November 2022, including Tommy Rodger, Rhoda Ofori-Attah, Alistair Nwachukwu, Tumi Fani-Kayode, and Seamus O’Hara.

Filming and Locations

Principal photography for the first season began on location in and around Budapest and Keszthely (Festetics Palace), Hungary in October 2019 and wrapped at the end of February 2020. Additional shoots took place in Vancouver. Filming for the second season began in early January 2022 and wrapped on 06 June 2022.


Post-production began after the February 2020 close of shooting. Bardugo reported through Twitter in June 2020 that working remotely in light of COVID-19 had slowed post-production down, rendering the release date less certain.


Joseph Trapanese is the composer for the series. Heisserer and Bardugo appeared on a panel at New York Comic Con in October 2020, during which they played some of the score. Executive producer Josh Barry reported on 16 December 2020, that the final sound mix was complete.

Trapanese wrote the score over 11 months. In an interview with, he explained how he put it together in lockdown, between conducting an orchestra over Zoom and incorporating solo recordings. Russian and Slavic music provided the basis of the score’s inspiration, Bardugo naming Sergei Prokofiev and folk songs as specific examples. In addition, elements from other musical traditions were used, such as gamelan.


Netflix released a season one announcement teaser in December 2020 followed by promotional stills through Entertainment Weekly as well as main character posters in January 2021. Bardugo, Heisserer, and the six main cast members appeared on a panel at the IGN Fan Fest in February 2021, during which a teaser trailer was released in addition to more stills. Netflix also posted a poster featuring the Shadow Fold the day before. The official season one trailer was released on 30 March 2021, by Netflix, after having been leaked previously.

Bardugo answered in a November 2019 interview with SensaCine that the season one series was expected to air in late 2020. The series was released on 23 April 2021, on Netflix. On 24 April 2021, Netflix released an aftershow for the series on the service, titled Shadow and Bone – The Afterparty. The second season is slated to be released on 16 March 2023.

Audience Viewership

Netflix revealed alongside the season 2 renewal announcement that 55 million households had watched the first season in its first 28 days of availability.

Critical Response

Shadow and Bone has received positive reviews from critics.


  • Kit Young researched cowboys and gunslingers for his role as Jesper Fahey.
    • He trained with guns to the point that the crew found out during pre-production that several trick shots which were planned for CGI were actually stunts Young could do himself.
  • In the books, the adventures of Alina and those of Kaz Brekker and friends, while taking place in the same fictional universe, were not connected, as Kaz and crew were hired to retrieve a scientist who had invented a powerful drug and not the Sun Summoner.
  • David J. Peterson an American language creator known for Game of Thrones (2011)’s Valyrian and Dothraki languages, is behind the Grishaverse’s fictional languages; he previously helped Leigh Bardugo with the languages in books as well.
  • Freddy Carter learned to do sleight of hand tricks for his role as Kaz Brekker.
  • Writer Leigh Bardugo explained the Shadow Fold: “In most fantasy, darkness is metaphorical; it’s just a way of talking about evil: darkness falls across the land, a dark age is coming, etc. I wanted to take something figurative and make it literal. So the question became: what if darkness was a place? What if the monsters lurking there were real and more horrible than anything you’d ever imagined beneath your bed or behind the closet door? What if you had to fight them on their own territory, blind and helpless in the dark? These ideas eventually became the Shadow Fold.”
  • Following the Russian aesthetic and inspiration of the books, the uniforms and weapons of the First Army draw heavily from the Tsarist Russian army in WWI, while the look of the Second Army is more similar to the Soviet Army.
    • This serves as foreshadowing for the the future events of the series and the conflict between them.
  • The book thrown at Jesper in episode 6 is a copy of the Shadow and Bone book.

Shadow and Bone Series

  • Series 02 (16 March 2023):
    • Episode 01:
    • Episode 02:
    • Episode 03:
    • Episode 04:
    • Episode 05:
    • Episode 06:
    • Episode 07:
    • Episode 08:

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Mairzee Almas … (4 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Lee Toland Krieger … (2 episodes, 2021).
    • Dan Liu … (2 episodes, 2021).
    • Jeremy Webb … (2 episodes, 2021).
  • Producer(s):
    • Leigh Bardugo … executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Josh S. Barry … executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Dan Cohen … executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Daegan Fryklind … co-executive producer / executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Eric Heisserer … executive producer / executive producer / producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Dan Levine … executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Shawn Levy … executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Pouya Shahbazian … executive producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Willa Whalen … associate producer (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Becca Edelman … co-producer (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Rand Geiger … producer (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Shelley Meals … co-executive producer (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Chris Patterson … local producer: NI (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Christina Strain … producer (8 episodes, 2021).
    • M. Scott Veach … supervising producer (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Thane Watkins … producer (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Lee Toland Krieger … executive producer (2 episodes, 2021).
  • Writer(s):
    • Leigh Bardugo … (based on the books by) (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Eric Heisserer … (developed by) (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Eric Heisserer … (teleplay by) (3 episodes, 2021).
    • Vanya Asher … (executive story editor) (8 episodes, 2021).
    • Vanya Asher … (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2021).
    • Daegan Fryklind … (teleplay by) (2 episodes, 2021).
    • Nick Culbertson … (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2021).
    • Shelley Meals … (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2021).
    • Christina Strain … (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2021).
    • M. Scott Veach … (teleplay by) (1 episode, 2021).
  • Music:
    • Joseph Trapanese … (16 episodes, 2021-2023).
  • Cinematography:
    • Owen McPolin … (4 episodes, 2021).
    • David Higgs … (4 episodes, 2023).
    • Petra Korner … (4 episodes, 2023).
    • David Lanzenberg … (2 episodes, 2021).
    • Aaron Morton … (2 episodes, 2021).
  • Editor(s):
    • Niven Howie … (4 episodes, 2021-2023).
    • Tyler Nelson … (2 episodes, 2021).
    • David Trachtenberg … (2 episodes, 2021).
  • Production:
    • 21 Laps Entertainment.
    • Netflix.
    • Chronology Entertainment.
    • Loom Studios.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Netflix (2021) (World-wide) (video) (VOD).
  • Release Date:
    • Series 01: 23 April 2021.
    • Series 02: 16 March 2023.
  • Running time: 45-58 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link(s)

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