Shadow and Bone
by Bardugo, Leigh

Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become the proteg‚e of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elite in the belief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.

Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times-bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse. With over one million copies sold, her Grishaverse spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and The Language of Thorns-with more to come. Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including Some of the Best from and The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer and the forthcoming Ninth House. Leigh was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and even makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

Debut author Bardugo has conjured up a treat with her first book in the Grisha Trilogy. In the opening passages, a tight bond is formed by two small orphans: handsome, competent Mal and tiny Alina, who never seems to do anything right. Jumping forward in time, the story follows the two friends after they have joined the King's First Army-Mal as a soldier-tracker and Alina as a cartographer. Their land of Ravka is surrounded by enemies and divided by the Shadow Fold, a mysterious, magical darkness that seethes with flesh-eating monsters. After Alina discovers that she possesses a magical power, she is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, magicians who practice the Small Science. Resembling Czarist Russia, the court swirls with deceit and extravagance, and although Alina falls under the spell of the handsome Darkling, she misses Mal grievously. Bardugo weaves a captivating spell with lushly descriptive writing, engaging characters, and an exotic, vivid world. Readers will wait impatiently for the next installment. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A six-figure marketing campaign is already ensuring that this series debut receives blockbuster attention. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

In a Russian-inflected fantasy world, an orphan comes into immense power and, with it, danger. When the Grisha came to test inseparable friends Alina and Malyen, neither showed any aptitude for the Small Science. Years later, they are in the army, Alina in the cartographer corps and Mal a tracker. They are escorting the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in the land, across the terrifying Shadow Fold that divides Ravka's heart from its coast. An attack by the terrifying volcra brings forth a power Alina never knew she had: She is a Sun Summoner. The charismatic, quartz-eyed Darkling takes her to the palace to learn the art of the Etherealki, and Mal is left behind. Bardugo allows the details of Grisha magic to unfold with limited exposition, using Alina's ignorance for readers' benefit. While Alina's training borrows familiar tropes (outlander combat teacher, wizened-crone magic instructor, friends and enemies among her peers), readers will nevertheless cheer her progress. But the worldbuilding is continually undercut by clunky colloquialisms; such phrases as "Well, that's completely creepy" and "It's okay" yank readers out of this carefully constructed, mostly preindustrial world. Readers may also be troubled by the sexualization of power found in its pages. The plotting is powerful enough to carry most readers past flaws and into the next book in the series. (classification of Grisha types, map [not seen]) (Fantasy. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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