While this is an excellent adaptation of the books, Netflix’s Shadow and Bone series does offer itself some liberties by making certain additions and modifications. We make the list for you. Be careful, spoilers.
Warning, this article contains spoilers for the Shadow and Bone series AND the Grishaverse books.
The Six of Crows
The biggest difference between the series and the Grisha books is the introduction of the characters of Kaz (Freddy Carter), Inej (Amita Suman) and Jesper (Kit Young), Nina (Danielle Galligan) and Mathias (Calahan Skogman), so even that they only appear in the Six of Crows duology.
The story of Alina’s kidnapping is therefore totally invented. Showrunner Eric Heisserer says he’s got an idea in his head when mixing the five novels and asks fans to trust him.
Two characters that do not exist: Arken Visser and General Zlatan
With the idea of mixing Six of Crows and Grisha, the writers decided to create two completely new characters. The first, Arken Visser aka the Controller, allows Kaz’s team to go through the Fold. As for General Zlatan, he foments a war against the Ravkans. There is no equivalent in the books, but we know that the Fjerdans and the Shu have always wanted to gain independence.
Alina was originally supposed to cross the Fold
A small change certainly but which allows us to understand the deep bond shared by Alina (Jessie Mei Li) and Mal (Archie Renaux). In the novels, the topographer is indeed part of the team that must cross the Fold aboard the new Skiff. In the series, the young woman burns part of Ravka-Ouest’s cards in order to get on the boat and stay with her best friend.
The mark on his hand
In the series, Alina gets her scar on her hand on purpose, so as not to be tested by the Grisha and be sure not to be torn from Mal. In the first novel, we learn that she was injured by accident.
The origin of Alina
The series makes Alina a half-Shu orphan, an Asian minority located north of the kingdom of Ravka and waging war on them. The topographer suffered from constant racism from the First Army. It was Eric Heisserer and the author Leigh Bardugo who chose to change his origin, in order to have a more inclusive cast.
The first novel remains quite evasive on the past of Darkling (Ben Barnes) while the series takes the time to bring a little depth to the character. Shadow and Bone humanizes him in a flashback scene where he witnesses the murder of the one he loves. We then witness the creation of the Fold and the origin story of the Black Heretic.
It’s Alina who kisses the Darkling
The novels focus on showing the physical and psychological ascendancy the Darkling has over Alina. He takes her by surprise by kissing her, knowing the power he has over her. What the series tried to correct since it was Alina who took the first step.
The writers thus wanted to show that the young woman remains independent and that she wants this proximity with Kirigan. According to the confidences of his interpreter Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes also insisted on adding the line “Are you sure?“in this scene, in order to explain to young fans the importance of consent.
Alina lets people die in the skiff
The end of the first novel corresponds to that of the end of the season. The Darkling embarks Alina on a skiff, in order to show witnesses that he has the power to cross the Fold safely and even to extend it.
While in the series it is Aleksander who gives the order to kill the dignitaries Fjerdans and Shu, the novel makes a more striking choice: Alina decides to run away with Mal leaving everyone on the boat, at the mercy of the Volkras. And the young woman will live with the weight of this decision …