Summary

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 475

In Shadow and Bone, Alina Starkov, the protagonist of the novel, is an orphaned girl who lives in the Kingdom of Ravka. The novel begins with Alina and her childhood best friend, Mal Oretsev, marching to the desolate, haunting, barren land of the Unsea (also known as "the Fold"). Alina and Mal must make this journey across this dangerous wasteland so they can bring goods to trade by way of the sea. However, while the two teenagers are making their way across the Unsea, vicious creatures known as Volcra attack Alina and Mal. As the two are being attacked, Alina suddenly discovers a magical power: she summons a light that drives out the darkness-loving Volcra. Alina has no idea that she possesses such a power and is bewildered by the display. As it turns out, Alina is Grisha. Grisha are citizens of Ravka who are able to use magical abilities. Each Grisha is able to perform one specific power.

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The leader of the Grisha, the Darkling, discovers that Alina has this special power and convinces her to train with other Grisha to harness her power to defend Ravka from enemies. However, Alina soon learns that the Darkling has evil intentions, and she must flee from the capitol of Ravka. Mal is sent to track her and bring her back (as he is a masterful tracker). However, when Mal finds her, he instead aids her in her escape from the Darkling. The two journey deep into the north where they search for a magical stag that can amplify Alina's powers if she kills it and wheres its antlers as a necklace. Alina and Mal finally find the stag, but Alina realizes that she can not simply kill this living creature for her own selfish gain. She realizes that doing this would make her no better than the Darkling, who seeks to use her powers for his sinister plans of conquering the world. Alina spares the stag and also realizes how much she loves Mal.

Unfortunately, the Darkling appears, kills the stag, forces Alina to wear the necklace, and as such, makes Alina his total slave who is bound to be completely obedient to him. Alina and Mal are then forced to make the journey back to the Unsea. The Darkling uses Alina's powers to protect the ship as they cross the treacherous sea. As the Darkling approaches land, he begins enacting his plan of expanding the Unsea and it's darkness and despair into every corner of the world. The Darkling then viciously tosses Mal off the boat into the deadly waters below. Alina and Mal's love for each other is so strong, however, that Alina is able to break free from the curse and save Mal's life. They are then able to escape the Darkling and journey away from his reaches and the land of Ravka.

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Themes