Loving Shadow and Bone, but slightly overwhelmed by the intricate world which comes with its own language, lingo, and locations? Leigh Bardugo's beloved books make quite the immersive fantasy series, but as with many fictional worlds we love there's a lot to get your head around. Have no fear, this guide is here to work as your dictionary, thesaurus, and loving Shadow and Bone companion. We'll take you through all of the must-know terminology and add a little context to the chaotic and epic fantasy world.
From the magical Grisha and all their powers to the multiple cities, townships, and royal abodes through to some vital phrases, this list will have you covered. Plus, you might even learn a little more about some of your favourite characters and creations along the way. So if you're happy to shake on it, then the deal is the deal, Moi Soverenyi. Let us begin!
The Grisha and the Small Science
These are probably the two most important things to know in the context of Shadow and Bone. The series is set in a world where magic is real, but it's known by the term "the Small Science." It's the idea that the magic comes from understanding the world around us and the science of it. Those who can wield these magical powers are known as Grisha.
Ravka (& Its Geography)
Bardugo mainly sets her Russian-inspired fantasy in a country called Ravka. Run by a monarchy, the nation is split by the huge and deadly Shadow Fold.
In East Ravka, you'll find the nation's capital city Os Alta and the Small Palace, where our hero Alina (Jessie Mei Li) is sent once she's discovered to have magical powers.
South Ravka contains Keramzin, the home of Alina and her best friend Mal's (Archie Renaux) orphanage.
West Ravka is the site of the city of Novokirbisk, which is touched by the border of the Shadow Fold. It shares borders with its political enemies, Shu-Han in the South and Fjerda in the North.
The Shadow Fold & The Volcra
Created centuries ago by the powerful Grisha known as the Black Heretic, the Shadow Fold is a sprawling void filled with shadow and monsters. It's home to the beasts known as the Volcra — winged creatures who feast on humans and can smell blood from miles away. The Fold and its dangerous inhabitants separate East and West Ravka.
The fabled Sun Summoner (more on that in a minute) is said to be able to rid Ravka of the Fold using her light manipulation powers, but it's yet to be seen if that's true.
Etherealki: Squallers, Inferni, & Tidemakers
The Order of Summoners can control the elements. This is one of the more easy to understand parts of Grisha lore and power. In the context of the world, there are three types of Etherealki: Squallers, who can create, control, and manipulate wind; Inferni, who have the power to wield and create fire and flames; and Tidemakers, who can manipulate water at will.
Sun Summoner and Shadow Summoner
Under the banner of Etherealki, there are two notable exceptions: Alina Starkov and General Kirigan (Ben Barnes). The former is the legendary Sun Summoner who can control and command the light of the sun — and who is prophesied to save the world. The latter is a Shadow Summoner and his power works as an inversion of Alina's, allowing him to control and command shadows.
Corporalki: Healers, Heartrenders, & Tailors
This segment of Grisha is known as the Order of the Living and the Dead. Their expertise in the small science focuses on the human body, and their ranks are: Healers, those who can heal wounds and fix injuries; Heartrenders, people who can control people's heart rates and the flow of blood through the body; and Tailors, who can change the appearances of others.
Materialki: Durasts & Alkemi
Imagine if your magical power was the ability to mend and make things. That's the Order of Fabrikators, known as Materialki. There are two main types in the group. Durasts can manipulate any solid matter including wood, glass, steel, and stone. And Alkemi, as their name suggests, create potions, gases, explosives, and other chemistry-based creations.
The First Army
This is where we meet Mal and Alina at the beginning of the show. The massive military forces of Ravka are split into two groups. The First Army is made up of exclusively non-Grisha soldiers and is as close to a "normal military" as you can imagine. Both Mal and Alina are First Army soldiers, the former is a tracker and the latter a cartographer.
The Second Army
This elite arm of the Ravkan military only allows in Grisha soldiers and is led by General Kirigan. They train and reside in the Small Palace at Os Alta. And while they often work alongside the First Army, they live a far more luxurious life under Kirigan. That, plus their natural powers, mean that the First Army and the Second Army rarely get along.
Where the Small Science is a generally accepted kind of magic in Ravka, Merzost is its evil twin. Twisting the scientific understanding into something monstrous, Merzost is essentially corrupted magic. It's what the Black Heretic used to create the Shadow Fold. Like any evil power, Merzost can take a brutal physical toll on those who attempt to use it.
Amplifiers & Morova's Stag
The nature of amplifiers is simple: some Grisha can utilize the bones or body parts of an animal in order to make their powers stronger. There are even rare cases of human amplifiers, who enhance other Grisha just by their mere touch. The mythical Morozova's Stag is rumoured to be an amplifier with the power to make the most powerful Grisha on Earth.
The bustling criminal underworld of Ketterdam thrives on Kerch, an island to the southwest of Ravka. This is where we meet Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) and his Crows. Loosely based on a mixture of Amsterdam, London, Vegas, and old New York, Ketterdam is a city of ill repute, but also freedom. There, Grisha and non-Grisha live alongside each other.
Dirty Hands and the Wraith
These are nicknames for Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman). Kaz gets the name from his ability to take on jobs no one else would touch. Wraith is a broader term for someone who can move around unseen and spy on others without them knowing. But Inej is the Crow's Wraith and she's a once in a lifetime talent — her circus skills and agility make her indispensable.
These witch hunters come from the Northern enemy of Ravka, Fjerda. The hulking male army lives to capture Grisha, taking them back to their home country to put them on "trial." Their fanatical religious upbringing means that they barely see Grisha as human. And while they're not supposed to enter Ravka, they still present a true threat to the Grisha community.
This phrase is often heard ringing around the halls of the Little Palace. In Ravkan, it's the formal way of addressing General Kirigan, the leader of the Second Army. Another similar phrase you'll likely hear is "moi tsar" or "moi tsaritsa," which are the terms that Grisha and non-Grisha alike use when they're addressing the two monarchs who rule Ravka.
"The deal is the deal"
A phrase that is most commonly used by the Crows, this is the confirmation on the terms of an agreement. Seeing as there are a ton of schemes, plots, and plans being made during this season of Shadow and Bone, you'll be hearing this one a fair few times.