Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shadow and Bone Read-Along: Week 1 Discussion Questions

Welcome to the first week of the  
Shadow and Bone Read-Along,
hosted by
Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books!
Come join the fun!!

Shadow and Bone
(The Grisha #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Hardcover, 368 pages
Henry Holt & Co.
June 5, 2012
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance,
Young Adult Fiction

Purchase Links

Amazon US (Print)
Amazon US (Kindle)
(includes a link for the Nook edition)

First Week Discussion Questions
"Before" - Chapter 5
Vonnie's Reading Corner

1.)   What are your thoughts of the world Leigh Bardugo created so far?

Oh, I absolutely love it!!  I'm totally fascinated!  I love the characters, the history of the Grisha, the fact that her world is obviously modeled on late 19th-century Russia.  The name "Ravka" (the country inhabited by the Grisha, as well as those who are not Grisha) sounds like it could be a corrupted form of "Russia"".  This series is now on my favorites list!

2.)   Did the terminology affect your reading?

I would have to say, "Yes and no".  There were words that I think came from Russian.  Although Bardugo did make the meaning of each word pretty obvious through relevant context, I still think it would have been nice if she had provided a glossary.  For example, the meaning of the word 'kefia' is obvious from the context it appears in, but I still would have liked to know the exact meaning of the word.  However, encountering unfamiliar words did not take away from my enjoyment of the story.  (Note: A 'kefia' is a special robe worn by the Grisha.)

3.)   What time period do you think this takes place in?

As I happened to mention in my answer to the first question, I think the world is based on late 19th-century Russia, so that's the time period I feel the story takes place in.

4.)  Who are the Grisha and what does it mean to be one of them?

The Grisha are people who are born with magical powers, and are grouped in  different classifications.  For instance, some of them are Fabrikators -- they can make certain objects through magical means.  Others are Squallers, who are able to raise wind, and project it wherever they wish.  Alina Starkov, the first person narrator of the novel, is a Sun Summoner.  She has the power to bring forth brilliant light.  

It's a great honor to be a Grisha.  They attend a special school in the city of Os Alta, and are housed in the LIttle Palace, which is located very close to the Grand Palace, where the King and Queen live.  They have the very finest clothes and are always attended by servants.  When they finish their training, they serve the King in several ways.  Most of them go into the Second Army, but others serve aristocratic families.

5.)  In the  chapter, "Before", it is said that 'small science' has nothing to do with magic.  Then how do the Grisha Examiners explain the super powers that some people have?

The Grisha Examiners in this chapter explain that there are many things in nature that could be considered magical.  Also, from what I've read so far, it seems that "The Small Science" is the name the Grisha give to what they do with their powers.  The Examiners encountered by Alina and Mal at the beginning of the book insist that they're not witches.  Also, Grisha are born, not made.  Once a Grisha's power is discovered, he or she is sent to the special school to be trained in the proper and most effective use of that power.  The Grisha Examiners seek out talented young people to be trained in their school.  They find them by testing their abilities.

6.)   What kind of relationship do Alina and Mal have in the beginning?

They were brought to an orphanage around the same time, and became best friends as they grew up together.  In fact, they did everything together, and were practically inseparable.

7.)   Describe the "Unsea", aka "Shadow Fold".

The Shadow Fold was once a valley of fertile fields and land for grazing sheep.  Then one day, out of nowhere, a great belt, or 'swath' of nearly impenetrable darkness appeared over the entire area.  This darkness is full of strange creatures called 'volcra', that attack and eat humans attempting to cross to the other side.  The Shadow Fold cuts across Ravka, while the real sea lies beyond.  Since it's so dangerous to cross, that means the country is essentially landlocked.

8.)   Why do you think Alina's power was dormant for so long?  What is so special about her power?  Why are the Grisha desperate to protect Alina?

At one point, Alina herself mentions that she didn't want to allow her power to manifest, because the Grisha would then take her away from Mal, and she feared she would probably never see him again.  Her power is very special because Sun Summoners are very rare.  The Grisha are desperate to protect her because they're afraid their enemies might try to capture Alina so as to use her power against the Grisha.

9.)   The Darkling is introduced as a mysterious individual with dark powers.  He even cuts a man in half to save Alina.  Will he be a villain or a hero?  Why?

Well, the fact that he always wears black is not a good sign, although  having a villain wear black is definitely a stereotype.  At this point in the story, though, it's hard to tell.  The fact that he saves Alina by cutting a man in half could mean that she's very valuable to him as a weapon he can use.  However, he's very kind to Alina as well, and he knows she initially feels intimidated by him.  I feel attracted to him myself.  He's so mysterious and powerful....  He obviously wants Alina to see him as a hero, from the things he tells her he wants to do, with her help, to save Ravka.

10.) Where do you think the story will go after Alina arrives at the Little Palace?

She will probably be introduced to the King and Queen, and start her lessons at the school, where she will learn to harness her power.  If the Darkling is a hero, she will help him destroy the Shadow  Fold, and unite the people of Ravka, Grisha and non-Grisha alike.  Mal will re-enter the picture, having realized, too late, that he's always loved Alina, and should have told her so.  He will therefore be jealous of Alina's relationship with the Darkling.  He will try to convince her that the Darkling is in reality evil, and a love triangle will ensue.  Alina will be torn between her love for Mal, her childhood playmate and friend, whom she fell in love with years ago, and the Darkling, who is a Grisha like herself.

Be sure to visit Vonnie to see
how she answered! 
Next week, it'll be my turn
to ask the questions!
If you'd like to participate,
you can link up
If more people join in,
Vonnie and I will also hold
a giveaway,
for a $15.00 Amazon gift card,
and a printed copy of
Shadow and Bone!!


  1. Sounds like very interesting book Maria.

    19th century Russia was such an interesting time and place so that placing a fantasy world in universe based upon it is a great idea. I never heard of anyone doing that before.

    Glossaries in fiction books can be helpful but if you think about them they are odd. I could imagine an author opting not including one and relying on readers to figure out meaning based on context. I think my first encounter with such a glossary was the first time that I read Dune.

  2. Hey, Brian!

    Oh, I know! This novel grabbed m right away, and I'm so looking forward to reading the sequel!!

    This time period totally fascinates me! And the fact that Bardugo has even included a character reminiscent of Rasputin is even more fascinating! Years ago, I read a nonfiction book about the last days of Tsar Nicholas and his family. The parallels are so interesting! And like you, I haven't come across anything like this in any other fantasy novel.

    I do think that glossaries are very helpful in fiction books. True, they're somewhat time-consuming to read, but then, when you come across an unfamiliar word, you'll be struggling with it. In this case, such words were not that common, but still, I think it would have been nice to have a glossary.

    Thanks for visiting and leaving such a thought-provoking comment!! : )

  3. Hey Maria!

    I liked how you explained parts/terminology from the story. I felt like I was being taught by a teacher.

    As I read your responses, I am getting a sense as to what's going to happen in the next few chapters. I know you are way ahead of me (and you are most likely done with the book by now) so you know what's going to happen. But, you did a great not to bring up any spoilers, and I thank you for that!

    1. Hey, Vonnie!

      Oh, thank you!! What a nice thing to say! I LOVE teaching!

      Yeah, even though I know what's going to happen, I tried hard not to give anything away. However, the way Bardugo writes about the three main characters, it sure looks like there will be a love triangle!

      Thanks for such a nice comment!! : )


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