*Spoiler Warning: For Both the Books and the TV Show*
You could say I fell into this fandom hard down six flights of stairs and off a bridge. A mere week ago I hadn’t even read any of the Grishaverse books. Now, thanks to a couple of obsessed friends, here we are. I started and finished the Six of Crows books just in time to watch Shadow and Bone on Netflix this past Friday. These characters and this universe is all that has been on my mind from the very first page. So here are some thoughts on the TV adaptation of the Grishaverse (but from someone who literally arrived here a week ago).
Disclaimer: I have only read the Six of Crows duology and not the Shadow and Bones trilogy. Therefore, it’s hard to give an opinion on how good this adaptation is of the first book. For the most part will be refraining to give an opinion on this aspect.
Six Of Crows
With the knowledge that the Crows aren’t actually in the Shadow and Bone books, I was curious to see how much screen time they would even have. Was this just an introduction to their characters? Would they just be a little side story? How much screen time would they get?
I’m ecstatic to see they are actually a huge part of the TV show. I LOVE these characters so much with all my heart. Whilst I’m unable to compare this adaptation to the Shadow and Bone book, from an outsider perspective it feels like these stories have been interwoven together seamlessly. Hopefully, the changes and cuts made from the first book didn’t upset dedicated book fans too much!
We’re going to start with Jesper because one, I know he’d want that, and two he’s the first Crow we meet on screen. Jesper is a charismatic, confident and an unabashedly flirtatious member of the Dregs gang who brings humour to every scene. His gunslinging skills are beyond measure and every time he did those gun twirls it had me swooning (and he did them in practically every scene, Kit Young has mad skills). I absolutely lost my mind whenever he pulled out his weapons.
I think Jesper was probably one of the most difficult roles to find a good match for, but somehow they managed to fill those shoes with the most perfect actor. Another thing I loved is that Jesper is canonically bisexual and it’s so refreshing to see a world in which LGBTQ+ characters are accepted in society as a normality with no questions asked. He’s also not the only character we see this with!
I screamed at the foreshadowing of Jesper telling Kaz they need to find a demo expert. Fans of the books will have made the direct link to Wylan, who we will *fingers crossed* be seeing next season. I also can’t talk about Jesper without giving a special mention to Milo, the goat (also known as the cutest scene stealer ever). They were the iconic duo we never knew we needed. I too would like an emotional support goat.
Kaz Brekker didn’t need a reason to have an entrance that iconic. The way we see his cane before we see him. How the music changes when the camera pans up. We know we’re meeting a character who knows how to command the attention of a room. Kaz is known around Ketterdam as cold, calculating and ruthless. Adding on to the list of ‘what is refreshing to see’, it’s great to see a leading character with a disability as well.
Admittedly, we see a softer Kaz in the show, and I know some are disappointed about this. But there’s a couple of reasons why this could be. Firstly, imagine Kaz being exactly the same as he is in the books, but we’re unable to know his thoughts.
Six of Crows relies heavily on introspection and flashbacks to explain why Kaz acts the way he does. Without this context, this could easily have made him a hated character on screen. Not knowing his internal thoughts and feelings, his outward actions could easily be misinterpreted. The showrunners and Freddy Carter will instead have to find the perfect balance between making Kaz outwardly merciless, but not dislikable to the audience.
Secondly, the Crows plotline in this show is completely new material. We don’t necessarily have any reference to what Kaz would or wouldn’t be doing during this earlier period. Frustratingly, I’ve seen some people saying things like “Kaz would never give up on a heist so easily” or “Kaz would never make that many mistakes.” The Kaz we know in Six of Crows probably wouldn’t, true. But he can’t just go from one day knowing nothing about conducting a heist to then breaking into the Ice Court. We have to assume that even Kaz has had things go wrong before. We know he’s a calculating man and every failure to him will be a learning process. I’m excited to see more of the Bastard of the Barrel going forward. I’m confident they won’t let us down.
She is my Queen. Inej was the character I was genuinely most excited to see on screen. Somehow, the show made me love her even more, which I didn’t think was possible. Amita Suman’s performance of this badass lady is everything we need, and more. Inej is a compelling strong-willed character, guided by her moral compass with unmatched stealth skills. To say I love her would be an understatement – I would die for her.
We know that Inej’s Saints are important to her, and that she has sometimes felt guilt for having killed before. So I thought it was great that we were able to see her reluctance to kill at the beginning which led up to how her first kill happened.
It was, in a way, symbolic that her first kill not only happened in a chapel, but was to save Kaz. As the Wraith, she is constantly sulking in the shadows and watching his back. My excitement levels are through the roof knowing how many more exciting things are to come plot wise regarding Inej.
Another thing I absolutely adored was seeing Jesper and Inej’s friendship. They bicker like siblings but they’re there for one another when they need it. They are such a pure on-screen duo. She didn’t share his appreciation for Milo the goat though.
Nina Zenik & Matthias Helvar
I’m gonna group these two just because, for the most part, all their scenes were together. Can we please just talk about how stunningly accurate their story was to the way it is written in the book. Some of these scenes were word-for-word identical to what is written on the page. I realise it was harder for them to stay completely true to the content elsewhere in the TV show as they were combining two books together and changes had to be made. But with the Nina and Matthias scenes, they had the freedom to take it straight from the page and put it on our screens. We even got a cute waffles scene.
A disappointment with these scenes for me though was how we didn’t really feel the passage of time very well. It felt as though one day they met and hated each other, the next day they were madly love. I also was not too thrilled in them giving us the reason behind Nina’s deception. In the book, we had to wait so long to find out why Matthias held such hatred for Nina.
Shadow and Bone
As I said earlier, I haven’t read these books yet (although I have just started the first one). The main thing I want to say here is I don’t understand why some fans think the Darkling loves Alina. It was very obvious to me that he doesn’t love her, and probably never will. He’s obsessed with the power she wields and loves the idea of her. My friend Sam pointed out that he’s like Mother Gothel from Tangled… and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree.
As crazy as this comparison is, the Darkling is infatuated with her power in a disturbing way. What we see with him is textbook manipulation, regardless of how the Darkling himself views it. I’m glad the TV show doesn’t portray this as ‘love’, but some fans interpret it that way which is concerning. When the author is telling you this is an abusive relationship, maybe you should stop romanticising it. Ben Barnes is a wonderful actor though! Of course they would find the sweetest person to play such a dark character.
I’ve been on a whirlwind with these characters the past week or so. It went from a ‘oh, I’ll just give these books a go’ to ‘I would literally sell my organs for all of you’. I know there have been many people waiting years to finally see these characters on screen, but for me I just feel like I’m having content overload. It all happened so quickly all at once, and I’m very much enjoying it.
Despite not having yet read the other Grishaverse books, I think it was insanely clever for them to weave these stories throughout one another for the TV show. After all, they all happen in the same universe so it makes sense to do so. The only thing is I wish they had made it ten episodes rather than eight. It felt like there was more space to develop these characters a little and spread out the story just a tad more. Now can they give us a series two release date already?
Did you watch Shadow and Bone on Netflix? Who is your favourite character? Let us know in the comments below.