Enter the Grishaverse

By Lizzie Carr

Shadow & Bone debuted on Netflix at the end of April and, if you were already obsessed with the Grishaverse, it was a glorious moment to see the long-awaited adaptation of the book that started it all on screen. A glorious, teary-eyed, lump-in-your-throat, karate-chopping-in-front-of-the-tv kind of moment. For those of you who are new to this incredible universe, created by our queen Leigh Bardugo, we graciously welcome you. We have been waiting a long time for you.   

The show packed a lot of Ravka lore and names and characters into its debut season, and if you haven’t read the books, it’s okay if you’re feeling a little lost. Have no fear though, my little Grisha! I’ve compiled some of the basic things to know/understand about Shadow & Bone to aid you in your journey across the fold. If you haven’t seen the show or read the other books just yet, you can still read on – there are no spoilers here!


What are Grisha?
What are Grisha?

Grisha are people who have seemingly magical abilities, but let’s get one thing straight: it’s not magic. The Grisha practice ‘Small Science’, which is the art of manipulating matter in its most basic form. Their powers are an extension of the world around them, and their abilities are divided into three orders: Materialki, Etherealki, and Corporalki.  

Who are the Materialki?
Who are the Materialki?

Also known as the Order of Fabrikators, the Materialki are Grisha whose power concentrates on the matter of composite materials (textiles, glass, chemicals, and metal). This Order, although all referred to Fabrikators, is separated into Durasts and Alkemi. Durasts manipulate solid materials, like steel and glass, while Alkemi specialize in poisons and explosive powders.  

Who are the Etherealki?
Who are the Etherealki?

Also known as the Order of Summoners, the Etherealki are Grish whose power comes from the ability to manipulate natural elements. This Order is divided into Squallers, Inferni, and Tidemakers. Squallers can summon and manipulate air pressure, creating storms and gusts. Although it seems they create fire, Inferni summon flammable gases and require a flint to ignite a spark. Tidemakers control the temperature to summon and manipulate water.  


Who are the Corporalki?
Who are the Corporalki?

Also known as the Order of the Living Dead, the Corporalki are Grisha whose power stems from and focuses on the human body. This Order is initially separated into Heartrenders and Healers. Healers can manipulate matter of the human body to heal wounds and injuries. Heartrenders manipulate the human body as well, but to cause harm, most often stopping another human’s heart. Heartrenders are the most feared Grisha, and most valued in the Second Army.  

What is the difference between the First Army and the Second Army?
What is the difference between the First Army and the Second Army?

While the First Army, also known as the King’s Army, is made up of non-Grisha humans, the Second Army is comprised of Grisha and are led by the Darkling (referred to as General Kirigan and the Black General in the Netflix show).  To the two armies ’ irritation, they work together to protect Ravkas borders from Fjerdans (North of Ravka) and the Shu (South of Ravka), but the antagonism between the groups is ever mounting. The First Army is wary of the Grisha’s powers and is resentful for their superior treatment, while the Second Army looks down on the non-Grisha, also called the otkazat’sya (‘the abandoned’), for being ordinary.  

What is the Shadow Fold?
What is the Shadow Fold?

‘What if darkness was a place?’ The Shadow Fold, also called ‘the Unsea’, is a long band of shadow and darkness, that cut Ravka into Eastern and Western sides. Although many try to cross it, most commonly on a Sandskiff, not all reach the other side due to the residents of the fold, the blood-curdling monsters that feast on human flesh: Volcra.  

MY RECOMMENDATION

Now, armed with this basic knowledge, go forth and summon Netflix on your screen to watch Shadow and Bone. As a diehard, I highly recommend reading the Shadow and Bone trilogy so that you can make an educated decision on whether you stan Malina or agree that people who stan Darklina need therapy (…I need therapy).  

Side note: The show stitches together two of Bardugo’s books, Shadow and Bone (of course) and the Six of Crows. If you’re wanting to dive in, but are unsure of the order to read the trilogy or duologies, here’s my recommendation:  

  1. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy
    • Shadow and Bone
    • Siege and Storm
    • Ruin and Rising
  2. The Six of Crows Duology
    • Six of Crows
    • Crooked Kingdom
  3. The King of Scars Duology
    • The King of Scars
    • Rule of Wolves

Welcome to the Grishaverse.