Welcome to another glorious day in the month of May. Spring is in the air . . . #WyrdAndWonder is on the blogs . . .
And apparently I keep coming back to winter forests whenever I try to post anything. It’s only medium on purpose.
Anyway, today’s prompt is to celebrate an EPIC fantasy. I picked the first offering in Leigh Bardugo’s formidable Grishaverse, none other than Shadow and Bone!
Now, I did receive a little pushback from some of my friends regarding the “Epic-ness” of this book and whether or not I should go with something else. I believe the complaint was something about it’s close POV limiting its scope (too much to be considered epic), and that it is targeted towards a YA audience.
And I considered going with something from Brandon Sanderson, or maybe Robert Jordan. I recently read John Gwynne’s Shadow of the Gods which I believe probably fits this designation as well.
But I felt Shadow and Bone to be every bit as “epic” as these other stories, though perhaps it doesn’t quite seem to be at first.
So I made a little chart:
|Epic Fantasy||Shadow and Bone|
|Setting: A world other than ours. |
But vaguely medieval Europe
|✓ Definitely not set on earth|
— Not really medieval or Europe though (a feature not a bug!)
|Magic: Fantastical elements play a major role in the story||✓ Yup! Tons of magic. Fire magic, healing magic, tailoring magic, Sun/Shadow Summoning. Just tons! Also, a whole subplot about how tech is becoming as powerful as magic|
|Scale: Power politics, wars death of nations, gods walking the earth||✓ The main thrust of the plot effects a few nations and kingdoms (Ravka, Fjerda, Shu Han etc).|
|Morality: Good guys are good bad guys are evil||✓ — The characters are not quite as black and white as most (early) epic fantasies I’ve read. There is some grey. (Another feature not a bug)|
|Great Evil: An enemy which is near enough Evil incarnate||✓ There’s a character called The Darkling. Again he’s not as black and white on the morality scale as some villains but . . . DARKLING!!|
|Methods: Victory is achieved through the efforts of a small number of characters acting against great odds||✓ In the end, despite all the kingdoms, ships, monsters, wars etc. It really comes down to Mal, Alina, and the Darkling.|
|[my addition] —> Length: Doorstopper page length or a ton of sequels, prequels and spin offs||✓ ✓ ✓ Shadow and Bone isn’t that long, but it’s just the first in a something-verse . . . of like 7 books. It def counts.|
Targeted towards YA Audience?
Don’t let your hackles raise, “Epic” fantasy is NOT only written for adults. There are plenty of YA titles which fit that bill (Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia being the first of many to come to mind).
So . . . Read Shadow and Bone?
If that big list things Shadow and Bone contains within its pages wasn’t enough of a reason for you, then let my recommendation do the rest. Yes! Read Shadow and Bone. Again, awesome list up above aside, I really did fall in love with this book’s setting. I’ve mentioned in my reviews of The Bear in the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower how much I enjoy seeing elements of Russian history, religion and folklore represented in works of fiction.
It’s obvious that Bardugo searched through many historical sources (I think she includes a bibliography in the afterward) and used what she found to create a rich and intriguing world. Half the fun (for me) of reading this book was just mining it for little scraps of history and myth which I didn’t already know, or seeing the parts I recognized come to life.
Now I’ll admit, there appears to have been a bit of a controversy about when Bardugo chose to take liberties with Russian culture. So much so that Bardugo put out a statement explaining a lot of her choices. From her point of view, it seems pretty well thought out and purposeful, and from what I’ve read I don’t think many were hurt by the way she molded Ravka into its own place, reminiscent of Russia, but not the same. I’ll admit I was often confused during parts of the book when I was looking for connections and not finding them, but I don’t think it ever took away from my enjoyment of the story at all.
Just an interesting bit to know.
Anyway, has anyone read this book? This series? I’m only finished book one so no spoilers, but what did you think of Shadow and Bone! Would love to chat about this one so please leave your thoughts in the comments.
See you next time!!
Still here? Awesome. I’m glad you enjoyed my review of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. I was so inspired by this book, and others like it, as well as real Russian history, fairy tales and folk traditions, that I decided to write my own short story in a similar setting. It is called Farewell to Rusalka, and I released it to newsletter subscribers back in April. However, if you’re still interested in reading it, please sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll send you a copy as a thank you.
Thanks for your time, and I hope to see you around here more!
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