At the start of 2019, Netflix announced its partnership with Leigh Bardugo, the author of the famous book series “Six of Crows” and “Shadow and Bone.” Both series take place in Barugo’s Grishaverse, a world filled with magic, where a war is being waged between three powerful armies that has spanned over centuries. In the Grishaverse, the citizens of Ravka are known as Grisha, those who can use their magic to manipulate the world around them. However, the citizens of Ravka are threatened by two armies that want magic to be destroyed. This universe covers the stories of young heroes who want to save their world from destruction. Bardugo includes intricate plots with diverse characters that each have a unique way of telling their story. For those who do not know where to start before the TV show is released, these are the books that tell the story of the whimsical Grishaverse.
“Shadow and Bone”
The first book in the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy tells the story of Alina Starkov. Abandoned at a young age, Alina Starkov was forced to spend her years in a school meant to house Grisha children. After she displays a never before seen power while on a trip with her fellow students, she catches the eye of a general from the Grisha army called The Darkling. He promptly rushes her to the heart of the kingdom and tells her that her unique ability to harness light could lead to her being a prime target for assassination. She becomes a member of the royal court where she is meant to harness her powers. However, the Darkling has hidden intentions when it comes to Alina and she must do everything in her power to escape him. The only way to harness her abilities is to kill a magic stag that’s antlers will grant her ultimate control of her power.
“Siege and Storm”
In the second book, Alina and her friend Mal have managed to flee the Darkling and escape to a foreign land across the ocean. However, the Darkling finds them and takes them as slaves on his ship. The Darkling plans to use Alina as the ultimate weapon and takes her to find the Sea Whip, another magic amplifier that will make her even more powerful. A privateer intercepts the Darkling and frees Alina and Mal from his clutches and manages to take the Sea Whip as well. As they flee, the pirate reveals himself to be Nikolai Lantsov, the second prince of the Ravka Kingdom. He tells Alina that he needs her help in taking command of the army, and promotes her to general. However, the more she fights to be free, the further she drifts away from Mal, her country, and the control she has over her powers.
“Ruin and Rising”
In the final book of the trilogy, Ravka has fallen. The Darkling rules on a throne made of shadows and Alina and her friends have been disgraced and the army broken. There is one more amplifier left, and it is her only hope of saving her home and her friends. However, Mal and Alina have to turn to old enemies and new friends for help. While they track down the last amplifier, Alina learns more of the Darklings past. It is her only shot at defeating the tyrant forever, but the more information she is given she becomes less in touch with reality. Alina only has one shot to save everything she's ever loved, but when the world as she knows it is shifting around her, her chances of winning the war become slimmer.
“Six of Crows”
The first book in the “Six of Crows” duology tells the story of six teenage gang members who live in the small, prosperous island of Ketterdam. In Ketterdam, the Barrel is the most dangerous part of town, brimming with gang violence, slavers and thieves. The Barrel is also the place to find those who are willing to do any job for the right price. This is where the merchant Jan Van Eck meets gang leader Kaz Brekker, also known as the notorious “Dirty Hands,” since he takes all jobs given to him. Jan Van Eck wants Brekker to travel to Fjierda to save a scientist that has been kidnapped and shoved into prison. The scientist is a Grisha named Bo Yul-Bayur, who has made a highly addictive drug called Jurda Parem that will dramatically enhance a Grisha’s powers to the point they could wipe out an entire country. Van Eck wants to make sure the drug does not fall into the wrong hands and offers him millions of dollars to do the job, but to succeed Kaz would have to break into a prison known for being impenetrable. To complete the task, Kaz recruits five of his best members. Inej Ghafa, Kaz’s closest thing to a friend who is known for being able to sneak into any building or establishment; Jesper Fahey, a sharp shooter with a gambling addiction; Wylan Hendriks, a demolitions expert with a privileged past; Nina Zenik, a Grisha Heartrender who wants to serve her country; and Matthias Helvar, a disgraced Fjierdan soldier with a grudge against all Grisha. The six teenagers have to succeed or the fate of the entire world could be in danger.
Kaz and his team have successfully infiltrated the Ice Court, the prison holding scientist Bo Yul-Bayur captive. When they arrive, they find that the Grisha scientist has died and the Fjierdans have been holding his son, Kuwei Yul-Bo, captive in hopes he can copy his father’s work and reproduce the drug. They manage to smuggle him out and return him to Jan Van Eck. However, Van Eck has other plans and reveals he is actually wanting to sell the drug himself to profit off the end of the world and has teamed with a rival gang run by the king of the Barrel, Pekka Rollins. Kuwei proves that he is actually Wylan, who was tailored using Grisha magic by Nina to look like Kuwei incase Jan Van Eck tried to do anything harmful to the real boy. Kaz manages to grab Wylan back before Van Eck can take him, but Van Eck uses Jurda addicted Grisha to steal Inej away. Van Eck instructs that Kaz has a week to bring him the real Kuwei Yul-Bo or he’ll dismantle the empire Kaz has built, with the help of Pekka Rollins. Kaz has to outsmart the entire city to save the world and his closest friend with the help of his crew or he risks losing everything and everyone he’s worked so hard to keep.