Shadow and Bone

Paperback | May 7, 2013

byLeigh Bardugo

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Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life-a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo''s Grisha Trilogy. This title has Common Core connections.

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From the Publisher

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dorma...

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She is fond of glamour, ghouls, and costuming, and gets to indulge all of these fancies in her other life as a makeup artist. She can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

other books by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
Six of Crows

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Crooked Kingdom: A Sequel To Six Of Crows
Crooked Kingdom: A Sequel To Six Of Crows

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Siege and Storm
Siege and Storm

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see all books by Leigh Bardugo
Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8.33 × 5.43 × 1.1 inPublished:May 7, 2013Publisher:Square FishLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250027438

ISBN - 13:9781250027436

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Promising I have mixed bag of feelings about this one. Overall, I liked it quite a bit, so I'm rounding up to 4 stars. Half of Bardugo's writing was was fairly plain, but the other half was lush, beautiful, and poetic. Some scenes were cinematic perfection with on-the-nose dialogue. Some scenes made my heart ache. But then, some just felt like they didn't fit with with the overall tone of the story. For example, although I found the Darkling attractive and enjoyed the slow-building romantic tension between him and Alina, I thought it was ruined when the romance suddenly got too quick. SPOILERS COMING! There is also a bit of a love triangle. I usually hate love triangles, BUT for the first time (perhaps) ever, I myself am torn between the two love interests. I feel like I could ship either way. A part of me is disappointed that Mal and Alina couldn't just be best friends, though. I feel like the value of best friends is often diminished in favour of romance in YA lit. That being said, people can be lovers and best friends at the same time. I just think it's important to show that two people can love each other without any sort of romantic feelings being involved. I guess I'll have to see how this progresses. I have a feeling the romance isn't done between Alina and the Darkling, either, however. As for the world building (because I must always discuss world building when I read a fantasy), it could have been stronger, but it did give me a good basic idea of the geography and culture of Ravka. I would love to know more history, so I hope there's some additional background in the second book. Anyway, even though this was not a top-notch fantasy for me, it was addictive, and I recommend it.
Date published: 2016-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Premise, Weak Execution & Lead I think the hype surrounding this book can make it a disappointing read for YA fans who have read many fantasy-high fantasy books. I didn't find Alina to be a very likeable heroine. She was a little dull for my tastes. It also doesn't help that the pacing is all over the place for this book. It has its faster moments but for the most part, I found it to be terribly slow. Because I have read a lot of high fantasy recently, this book just didn't meet the standards I've become accustom to.
Date published: 2015-09-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't Deliver As Much As I Wanted This one was ... interesting. It had so much promise but it just didn't deliver the way I wanted it to. I started out really loving this one, the writing style was great throughout. I did find the pacing a bit off though and as if there were multiple ideas that wanted to be brought together into one story but didn't quite fit together. One of my pet peeves with books is when the author creates a new language or new words, but does not explain them to the reader. We are supposed to just know what they mean, but clearly we do not. Like the volcra. I just assumed they were like overgrown vultures, but who knows?? They aren't really given a description so who knows what they are. The idea of the court intrigued me until it became a feature of the book. It was just a way for the author to show that everyone is catty and gross, even Alina. I also didn't like that Alina complained and complained about being "ugly" and then started using her powers and was magically beautiful. Then Zoya appears and Alina becomes a bitch. She complains about Marie and Nadia being so rude and judge-y about people, but then does the same thing to Zoya. I also didn't see the point in the displays of training or the court because it had like zero to do with the actual plot. I was (and still am) conflicted about the possible romance between the Darkling and Alina. He is kind of old for her even if he looks young. However, I don't like that her relationship with the Darkling was seen as a blip in her relationship with Mal. It also seems strange that when Mal came to the palace, he was so mad at Alina for not telling him she was okay when he has been on the move? What did he want her to do, magic a letter to him? She had been writing, he just didn't get it. The best part was the encounter with the stag, but I gotta say I still rolled my eyes. Like of course Mal is basically a magical tracker and able to find this magical stag once he has Alina with him even though the stag had alluded him for like MONTHS when he was first trying to track it. I also liked the Alina was able to really harness her power. I am intrigued to see where this is going, but it really wasn't enough. Overall: 3/5 stars. It was interesting and had potential but it just wasn't enough for me. I feel like I went in with too high of expectations and it just didn't deliver.
Date published: 2015-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing An alternate universe 19th century Russia that is so well written you won't find anything like it anywhere else. I work in a bookstore and the one thing I always tell customers is that this book well suck you right in without releasing you until it wants to, the characters are diverse and entertaining with so many secrets you never know what to expect.
Date published: 2015-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book was simply amazing. Great story idea, interesting plot, varied and developed characters, and brilliant writing.
Date published: 2015-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the first book in a trilogy and I will definitely be reading the others in this series. I read this book super fast. I literally could not put it down. I loved the main character, Alina, so much and despite the fact that the book is written in first person (which is sometimes a turn off for me and very rarely results in me becoming attached to any character), I stayed engaged for the entire novel. The action is ongoing, the relationships between Alina and the Darkling and Alina and Mal are complex and the mystery of the Fold along with the politics in her country, make the story intriguing. This is the first book in a trilogy and I will definitely be reading the others in this series. I highly recommend Shadow and Bone!
Date published: 2015-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Is on one of my favourites of all time! Alina and Mal, best friends since childhood, they grew up together under the care of an orphanage. Their parents long gone, they only had each other for comfort. Now older they take up positions in the First Army, Alina as a mapmaker and Mal as a tracker. Their new assignment is to cross the Fold. A place where volcra live, creatures of the dark and vast plains. When there are suddenly attacked by a flock of volcra, Alina saves Mal, blinding him in a bath of pure light. What she doesn’t realize is that she is a Grisha, and a very important one, a sun summoner. Set in a medieval like era, Alina’s world is under the ruling of the King, and the Grisha’s leader, the Darkling. What happens when she realizes she has powers that can help her country Ravka? A war torn teenage girl finds put she is stronger than she thinks and goes on a journey to find out. The whole world that Leigh has built was astounding. Throw in a group of people who have powers that seem like magic, and add in a tyrannical leader and you get a book that will leave you wanting more. Seriously, I had to stay up and finish this book. It was that good. You can get lost in this world, and rightfully so. The writing is fluid, so easy to pick up that the scenes just meld together in one continuous journey. I love the growth of the characters. I love Alina. Her confidence already shaken by being plain and scrawny. She thinks she’s not worthy of Mal’s attention, but is she ever wrong. Their relationship felt right. Not rushed and corny as most of the YA romances I have read. There’s enough fantasy, adventure, action and romance in here to keep any reader busy.
Date published: 2014-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such a Good Book. I couldn't put it down! And the Darkling.....be still my heart.
Date published: 2014-10-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A pleasant surprise! The story, the characters, the plot - it was all so well done. I thoroughly enjoyed this book although the ending felt off.
Date published: 2014-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from exquisite storyline you will not regret reading this book
Date published: 2014-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth every cent. Amazing book, I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2014-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great start This book has the best start to it. As the book moves along, so do the characters and I personally love that. The book is so vivid and the writing....it's so fluid! Everything moves so smoothly! Great story.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth every cent. Excellent, well written story; I couldn't put it down! Now on to the second in the series!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Book I've Read this Year! Leigh Bardugo has created a fantastic new world in her Grisha Trilogy. This book was recommended to me by my best friend, I bought it that same day, and had finished it by 4am. The book instantly pulls you in with its seemingly regular heroine Alina, hooks onto you with the mysterious Darkling, and propels you through the rest with a gripping and action packed plot. As soon as I finished the novel I returned to the book store the very next day to purchase the sequel because I could not take another hour, let alone another day, without knowing what would happen next. At this time, all books seem to be about the same thing and have very similar plot lines. I was very surprised, impressed, and enamoured by this new novel, set in middle aged time in a land known as Ravka which is not too different from Russia. The language and idea of 'Grisha' are interesting and unique once you get a hold on them. If you enjoy a good storyline, love magic, and relatable characters, this book will not disappoint you. It's a very easy read and I guarantee you will not regret it!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully imaginative! From the first sentence, I was quickly drawn into the world of Ravka. The book begins quickly and never slows down, leaving me at the edge of my seat at all times. The plot was so well done, and I was so easily wrapped up in the story that the plot twist completely took me by surprise. By the time I hit the ~50% mark I found that I couldn’t tear myself away from the story, and now I’m kicking myself for not buying the sequel. The world of Ravka is wonderfully imaginative. It’s a welcome change from the typical setting of “the middle ages,” and the elements of Russian folklore that are weaved into the world are a really nice touch. While the language and the Grisha hierarchy take a little bit of time to get used to (you have no idea how proud I was when I finally got the hang of it), they add to the magic and mystery that makes Ravka so intriguing. I think it goes without saying that the writing is wonderful. The descriptions are vivid and I could easily visualize the Grisha world. It certainly helps that there’s a map at the beginning of the book, though the detailed descriptions kept me from having to tear myself away from the story and check it. And the romance! I found myself swooning over all the fictional men, since all of those scenes are just so well-written. All of the characters were very well-developed. I can’t say too much about them since I don’t want to spoil anything, but they all had distinct personalities and I loved them all so much. Alina is naive, weak, and rather self-conscious at the beginning, but by the end of the book she has undergone a journey of self-discovery and becomes a force to be reckoned with. I loved her loyalty and determination, and I can’t wait to see how her character deals with certain conflicts in the sequel. Mal is sweet, loyal, brave, and protective. If it weren’t for the fact that he didn’t truly notice Alina until she was gone (and the fact that I completely ship Alina and the Darkling) I probably would have liked him a lot more though, admittedly, he did start to grow on me near the end. And then there’s the Darkling. It took less than two scenes for me to become hopelessly fascinated by his personality, power, and the mystery surrounding him. If there’s ever a novella written from his perspective, I can guarantee that I’ll be the first in line for it. I absolutely loved Shadow and Bone, and I can’t recommend it enough. Go on, read it – you certainly won’t regret it.
Date published: 2013-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great start to a new series I was very excited to read this first book in The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. I had heard so many great things and everyone has recommended it as one of the best series' to read. The book lived up to the hype. It was exciting, different, and interesting. However, as the first book in the series it could have given me a little more background information in the "Before" chapter at the beginning of the book. I felt that I didn't have enough information about Alina and Mal to truly care for their story at the outset. I had a lot of unanswered questions that were left unanswered. I am hoping that as I read Siege and Storm some of the past will come to light. The love triangle between Mal, Alina, and The Darkling is atypical for this genre and the "bad boy" Darkling has the mystery and appeal as is the norm in all our favourite bad boys. In this first book, we don't really see enough of Mal to be able to root for him. I'm sure that Book Two will give us a little more Mal. The world that Bardugo has created is imaginative and unique and pits light against dark, good against evil. The Slavic-like setting works well with the super powers that she has created for The Grisha. Leigh Bardugo's writing is enjoyable and never long-winded. She tells the story without hiding it behind a lot of fluff. I have high hopes for Siege and Storm and am happy that I already have it so that I can just jump right in. Book Three is set for release in June 2014 however there are three companion folk tales (Grisha 0.5, Grisha 1.5, and Grisha 2.5) that may help to pass the time until it arrives and possibly help to fill in some of the gaps. Solid 4 Stars! Can't wait to see where Leigh Bardugo takes us!
Date published: 2013-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely loved it! Alina Starkov is an orphan of the border wars and, along with her best friend Mal, is a member of the first army. When they're attacked trying to cross the dangerous Fold, Alina discovers a dormant power in her that makes the once easy-to-overlook mapmaker sought after by The Darkling, a powerful Grisha who leads the magical elite. I really enjoyed this book. Alina had raised herself into my top ten favourite female characters by the halfway point of the book and, by the end, she was firmly in my top five. She grows a lot in the book, going from a shy, quiet, kind of insecure girl to a strong and determined young woman while remaining a realistic character even in a world completely different from ours. There's no suddenly-a-badass syndrome with her, she earns her bumps and bruises from her teachers. The plot and world that was created was amazing. I was completely sucked in to the point that I didn't realize how late it got while I was reading. This is the kind of book I need to set an alarm for while I'm reading to bring me back to reality so I can go to bed at a decent hour. Even though there wasn't always a lot of action, it never felt too slow or unnecessary. I also really enoyed Alina's relationships with people. Her best friend Mal, even when they were separated when she was taken to be trained as a Grisha, she still thought about him and he has a huge effect on her. Her wanting to be friends with Genya even though Grishas' with Alina's status don't really associate with someone like Genya. The way her teachers kept pushing her and never coddled her. I enjoyed them all. I can't wait to see what happens in the sequel.
Date published: 2013-03-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent read Excellent start, slows somewhat in the middle and ends strongly. I look forward to reading more.
Date published: 2012-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review from Esther's Ever After It completely makes my day when I discover that there are new fantasy YA books coming out - and then I heard everyone one raving about how amazing Shadow and Bone is, so I had extraordinarily high expectations when I read Leigh Bardugo's debut, Shadow and Bone. And here's the thing: I didn't think it was as awesome as I had hoped, but I think I was also expecting the second coming. While it's not that, it is an particularly noteworthy new release and one of the strongest debuts I've read in a long time. Plus, it features a strikingly rich and incredible fantasy setting unlike other books I've read within the genre. Reasons to Read: 1.A GREAT fantasy setting: You can kinda pick this up from the cover, but Shadow and Bone features a distinctly Russian influence for its setting - which is pretty sweet, if I do say so myself. You can really tell that Leigh drew some of her inspiration from it, which lends to this sort of magical setting that already exists within the book. And it keeps the characters and place just unfamiliar enough for those of us who aren't familiar with Russian language or names. 2.Dark, sexy villainry: I really love it when an author can come up with a really GREAT villain; someone that you both sort of admire and despise, in a twisted sort of way. It's a complex relationship, and I think that's why it's so hard to do. So I treasure these rarities whenever I can find them- but I love it when a villain never seems quite ALL bad or totally evil (kinda like Darth Vader. Completely evil, but we still love him for some reason). Leigh is a master at this. And this is the kind of villain that you can develop a book crush on, easily. 3.Childhood best friends: I'm a sucker for these relationships; I love it when two friends grow up together, and then something happens that tries to keep them apart. It's agonizing! But I always find that I feel such a deeper, stronger connection to the characters and I typically end up more emotionally invested in their story, because of their shared history. Mal and Alina are just too adorable; they fight like an old married couple (which sounds better than brother and sister). 4.A plot to care about: I love that the plot has clear direction and totally owns the story- the plot keeps the story moving along and we don't lose ourselves in side stories or minor characters. Yes, other things are happening- but the focus stays on the Fold and what can be done about that. And the volcra? Yeah, those are FREAKY. I got really excited about this story and it kinda sucks that I'm now twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next book ALREADY. Like I hinted at in the beginning of my review, my only complaint about this one is I think it may be a bit overhyped- yes, I definitely think this is a must-read YA of the year and one of the best books released in 2012. But I still felt like I was expecting TOO much from this one. Perhaps because I love and appreciate a good fantasy so much, I tend to put it up on a pedastal and I'm not sure this one is quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be. But it is utterly magical, with kissing scenes to make you swoon, lovely writing that easily showcases Leigh's talent - why can't we have more books like this one? E-galley received from publisher for my honest review; no other compensation was received.
Date published: 2012-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review of Shadow and Bone Overall Rating: 5/5 stars! NOTE: this review MAY contain spoilers. Take caution as you read. Review: Leigh Bardugo will go places with her skill to write so vividly and creatively to weave a beautiful story plot such as Shadow and Bone. Leigh Bardugo starts the story right into the world of Shadow and Bone, letting the reader absorb as much information of the story as possible. The world of Grisha is unique in all its way: the setting, wardrobe, language and naming of characters (how can one not love its originality?) Alina Starkvov, the heroine of Shadow and Bone. However, Alina isn’t your typical heroine in a fantasy novel such as this. It is easy to relate to Alina because she has so much emotions that the readers could feel into. The feeling that she does not belong anywhere because she grew up as an orphan and even with her best friend right next to her, she still felt alone because growing up, she would feel that they would sometimes drift apart. “I hesitated by the door. This was the hardest part of being around him—other than the way he made my heart do clumsy acrobatics. I hated hiding how much the stupid things he did hurt me, but I hated the idea of him finding out even more” -Shadow and Bone, pg. 22 This quotation is an example of the many relatable things I could feel with Alina. Sure, almost every young adult novel has this unrequited love thing going on but the way Leigh Bardugo wrote this statement and built this friendship, is another aspect that stands out from the novel. “I’ll meet you in the meadow” -Shadow and Bone, pg. 33’ Just wanted to fan-girl a bit and express how much reading that one short sentence truly tugged at my heartstrings. I think right at this moment, Malyen Oretsev owned by heart… except, well after I’ve met the Darkling. The Darkling’s character was very, very intriguing. I truly love this part of the book the most. The way Leigh Bardugo made the Darkling as suspicious as possible, however, giving enough information so that we could understand what’s going on. Also, making him so “loveable” but giving us all the reason and making it impossible for us readers to suddenly hate him. “Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: what is infinite? The universe and the greed of men” -Shadow and Bone, pg. 173 Gah! That line was such a beautiful foreshadowing. And I think the most twisted part about this whole thing is that, even after everything that the Darkling did, it seems as if it is truly impossible to hate him. Last but not the least, Malyen Oretsev. Alina Starkov’s best friend. It is impossible not to love this guy as much as it is impossible to hate the Darkling. He is charming and every girl will truly fall in love with him. Their backstory of growing up together is something that I’ve rarely seen occurring in young adult novels these days. “It’s probably for the best. I told myself, how would I have said goodbye to Mal anyway? Thanks for being my best friend and making my life bearable. Oh and sorry I fell in love with you for a while there. Make sure you write!” Hahahaha, I would STILL laugh each time I read that. Shadow and Bone may appear to be just a historical, fantasy, warrior-like novel but at its heart it is a novel of love and growing up, as she comes to understand things of herself and everyone around her. Finally, Leigh Bardugo’s style of writing, the character progression, plot progression, the plot itself, the world of Grisha, just every aspect of the novel truly calls out for a 5/5 stars! It is unlike anything young adult book that I’ve read. Just make sure that you are ready to have your mind blasted will all the unexpected events to come and take good care of your heart as you read through because I think mine is beyond repair after finishing the book—I must, must read the sequel! Happy Reading Everybody! Originally posted at litupmyworld.tumblr.com Litupmyworld’s Twitter: twitter.com/litupmyworld Shadow and Bone Fansite: http://otkazatsya.tumblr.com/
Date published: 2012-07-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a bad ride! FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. When the galley for Shadow and Bone came out, I was very intrigued. The premise sounded awesome and everyone was raving about it. Naturally, I requested the book from NetGalley and dove right in! I admit that I loved this book the minute I started reading it — the pace moved very quickly and I was turning it page by page, eager to find out what was going to happen next. I really loved the main characters, Alina and Mal, and was quite interested to see how things would turn out for each of them. Leigh Bardugo does know how to write an exciting book — I didn’t want to put this one down! I was a little confused about why Alina’s power is such a great power, but it was a unique kind of power to have. Things were a little predictable and parts of the story had just a little too much focus on fashion and makeup (and strange theatricals that just seemed a little weird?). That being said, the world that Bardugo created was quite fascinating and exciting — I just felt that while the excitement was there, the plot was just a little too predictable. I wouldn’t say that there was a love triangle per se … it was a little predictable what was going to happen. I found myself swooning over one character in particular and was happy that things worked out how I wanted them to. While I really did enjoy reading this book, I found myself feeling on the fence when it ended. There was so much action and I was turning the pages as fast I could, but when I finished I didn’t find myself overly excited to get to the next book in the series. Keep in mind that I’m not too into series books these days, so it might just be me, so I’ll have to see when the next book comes out how intrigued I am. Now, that being said, Bardugo tied most things up at the end of the book, which was nice — rather than making the first book a stepping stone to the rest of the series, leaving too many things open. If you really enjoy fantasy YA books, you should like this one. It’s very much like Maria V. Snyder’s Study series, but with a little less focus on the training.
Date published: 2012-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book of this year, possibly in the next ten years. no competition. Ok, this is one of the best books I've ever read, no doubt. And that's hard to get. I've read alot of books. (5-7a week). This is such an epic story. To start of, I love the main character, Alina Starkov. The book is told in first person from her point of view and she has a very sarcastic humor, worries over her friends extensively, is loyal, mostly positive and full of hope. It was an amazing experience seeing the world through her eyes. She is rather innocent and a bit naive; once you find out the "big secret," I highly doubt you'll see it coming either. The plot was beautifully created and even though it's something that has been seen before, the way the author has written it and artfully manipulated it to fit her story, makes it an amazing story. As you can see from the description, Alina Starkov is an orphan, along with her best friend Mal. They have their adventures in the first army, Alina as a mapmaker and Mal as a tracker. Alina struggles with slight insecurities as she has developed a bit of a crush on her childhood best friend who is now handsome and brave as well as the object of many girls admiration. Soon though, as their division is travelling through the Fold, they are attacked. Mal is injured trying to protect Alina and when a monster dives for her, the last thing she can remember, is fainting while seeing a bright light. when she wakes, she is informed of her power and taken to train as a grisha. Without her best friend. In the small palace she tries to fit into her new world while struggling through training, but making some friends and also falling for the mysterious Darkling. As for what happens next and all the other juicy details that include the fate of her world, well you'll have to read the book for that. This book is filled with twists and turns that no one will see coming and takes place in a wonderfully new and exciting world where the principals of light over dark and good over evil take on a new meaning, the characters ( who are extremely well developed and likable) take on challenges to save, help or destroy the world, powers, tempers and emotions rage and the writing will have you speechless. I advise you to take the time to read this book. You will remember the story for a long time and will not regret it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- favourite quotes: (Alexie); "where have you been?" "Nearly getting trampled by the Darkling's coach," I replied..(....) Alexie drew in a sharp breath. "Really?Did you actually see him?" "Actually, I was too busy trying not to die." --- (after Alina arrives at her new home and the maids have to get her ready to meet someone very important) (alina) "What is going on? Who are you? "I don't have ti-" "Make time!" I snapped. "I've covered almost two hundred miles on horseback. I haven't had a good nights sleep in a week, and I've nearly been killed twice. So before I do anything else, you're going to have to tell me who you are and why it's so very important that you get my clothes off." -- there's more but I really don;t have time to look for them all..... but yeah. read the book. you won't regret it. as far as buy or borrow, this is definitively one you'll want on your shelf.
Date published: 2012-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the BEST books to ever hit the shelves! There's no doubt in my mind that this will end up being one of the BEST books of the entire year! Best world, best heroine, best writing, best romance... There are just so many breathtaking things in this book, I can't believe I ever had a doubt! Shadow and Bone is high fantasy at its best. (There's that word again!) The world-building of Ravka is flawless. It makes you believe and fear the terrible Shadow Fold that splits it in two, with its ravenous monsters, but there's never an overwhelming dump of information. It's always showing not telling, captivating not repelling, and kind of perfect — which I don't say for high fantasy very often (or at all)! Alina — smart, strong, vulnerable Alina — is one of my favourite heroines ever! She's not blindingly beautiful or perfect with her new found ability at first; she doesn't always know the right thing to say or the right people to trust. But she's one of the most REAL characters I've ever met, and she grows, learns, and loses so much that I almost wish I didn't care about her like I do so it wouldn't hurt as much. But of course, with Alina, that's impossible! And I loved the rest of the cast too — especially the Darkling, who seriously brings a new definition to the word mysterious, and Mal, for never giving up on Alina and always being the sweetest best friend ever! ♥ The romance is really a spoiler on its own, but I promise it's not your average best-friends-plus-one romance. I adored it so much! Also, I can't even say whether or not I expected the big twist near the end because I was so enamoured by the everything that I didn't pause a second to make any guesses! With some of the best writing and most brilliant worlds ever, Shadow and Bone will undoubtedly be topping people's favourites lists everywhere. I can honestly say that it's my favourite high fantasy book of all time... and that's coming from a fantasy-loving girl. ;) BUY or BORROW?: You will buy this book and love it and be at Leigh Bardugo's feet with me, begging to read the sequel! This is an absolute MUST, and I can't even stress how buy-worthy it is enough! (Want a reminder? Count the number of times I used "best" in this review!)
Date published: 2012-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shadow and Bone is a 2012 must-read! 4.5 maple leaves! I didn't really know what to expect about Shadow and Bone even though the epic premise grabbed my attention from the moment I first read it. Yet, what I found on Leigh Bardugo's debut novel really impressed me and surprised me with a unique story and a wondrous new world. Alina and Mal are orphans who grew up together and were tested by the Grisha (beautiful people with extraordinary abilities) to know if any of them had any kind of special skill that could make them Grisha. However, none of them showed any sign of power. Years later, they enrolled in the army and one day they are sent to cross the Folt, a place reigned by shadow and horrific winged creatures. It is here when the dark horrific creatures attack Alina but Mal, Alina's best friend, saves her life, but not without risking his own. Alina, in the despair to save Mal's life, feels something unchain a power that was long buried inside of her, freeing a unique skill that would change her life forever. Here the story picks up and I was unable to put the book back down. One of the things I love the most about this book was the exquisite and unique imagery. I think Bardugo's creativity is outstanding and definitely 3D movie material. Also,The Grisha concept has highly intrigued me. Grisha are people who, for some reason, are born with an special gift. They also have a hierarchy and a culture in a complex world lead by the mysterious Darkling. I loved Shadow and Bone and everything it has to offer. The story itself was enthralling from beginning to end. Alina is a character whose reaction are very realistic. I am glad how much thought Bardugo put into this character to make her more than just ink on paper, she made her flesh! Also, there is the Leader of the Grish, the Darkling. He is mysterious, alluring and extremely powerful. These three elements are more than enough to confuse Alina (and any reader) between Mal and the Darkling. Mal, in the other hand, is not very present in the story, at least not until the last third of the book. Yet, with what little I could see of him, I confess that I only needed those few pages to fall hard for him! Shadow and Bone is an excellent debut and the only "but" is that when Alina was at the little Palace, I felt that the story slowed down for a while. Besides that, I would dare to say that this book is perfect and 100% a Dazzling Read! Leigh Bardugo's debut novel is definitely a 2012 must-read!
Date published: 2012-06-09

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Shadow and BoneCHAPTER ISTANDING ON THE EDGE of a crowded road, I looked down onto the rolling fields and abandoned of farms of the Tula Valley and got my first glimpse of the Shadow Fold. My regiment was two weeks' march from the military encampment at Poliznaya and the autumn sun was warm overhead, but I shivered in my coat as I eyed the haze that lay like a dirty smudge on the horizon.A heavy shoulder slammed into me from behind. I stumbled and nearly pitched face-first into the muddy road."Hey!" shouted the soldier. "Watch yourself !""Why don't you watch your fat feet?" I snapped, and took some satisfaction from the surprise that came over his broad face. People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don't expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it.The soldier got over the novelty quickly and gave me a dirty look as he adjusted the pack on his back, then disappeared into the caravan of horses, men, carts, and wagons streaming over the crest of the hill and into the valley below.I quickened my steps, trying to peer over the crowd. I'd lost sight of the yellow flag of the surveyors' cart hours ago, and I knew I was far behind.As I walked, I took in the green and gold smells of the autumn wood, the soft breeze at my back. We were on the Vy, the wide road that had once led all the way from Os Alta to the wealthy port cities on Ravka's western coast. But that was before the Shadow Fold.Somewhere in the crowd, someone was singing. Singing? What idiot is singing on his way into the Fold? I glanced again at that smudge on the horizon and had to suppress a shudder. I'd seen the Shadow Fold on many maps, a black slash that had severed Ravka from its only coastline and left it landlocked. Sometimes it was shown as a stain, sometimes as a bleak and shapeless cloud. And then there were the maps that just showed the Shadow Fold as a long, narrow lake and labeled it by its other name, "the Unsea," a name intended to put soldiers and merchants at their ease and encourage crossings.I snorted. That might fool some fat merchant, but it was little comfort to me.I tore my attention from the sinister haze hovering in the distance and looked down onto the ruined farms of the Tula. The valley had once been home to some of Ravka's richest estates. One day it was a place where farmers tended crops and sheep grazed in green fields. The next, a dark slash had appeared on the landscape, a swath of nearly impenetrable darkness that grew with every passing year and crawled with horrors. Where the farmers had gone, their herds, their crops, their homes and families, no one knew.Stop it, I told myself firmly. You're only making things worse. People have been crossing the Fold for years ... usually with massive casualties, but all the same. I took a deep breath to steady myself."No fainting in the middle of the road," said a voice close to my ear as a heavy arm landed across my shoulders and gave me a squeeze. I looked up to see Mal's familiar face, a smile in his bright blue eyes as he fell into step beside me. "C'mon," he said. "One foot in front of the other. You know how it's done.""You're interfering with my plan.""Oh really?""Yes. Faint, get trampled, grievous injuries all around.""That sounds like a brilliant plan.""Ah, but if I'm horribly maimed, I won't be able to cross the Fold."Mal nodded slowly. "I see. I can shove you under a cart if that would help.""I'll think about it," I grumbled, but I felt my mood lifting all the same. Despite my best efforts, Mal still had that effect on me. And I wasn't the only one. A pretty blond girl strolled by and waved, throwing Mal a flirtatious glance over her shoulder."Hey, Ruby," he called. "See you later?"Ruby giggled and scampered off into the crowd. Mal grinned broadly until he caught my eye roll."What? I thought you liked Ruby.""As it happens, we don't have much to talk about," I said drily. I actually had liked Ruby--at first. When Mal and I left the orphanage at Keramzin to train for our military service in Poliznaya, I'd been nervous about meeting new people. But lots of girls had been excited to befriend me, and Ruby had been among the most eager. Those friendships lasted as long as it took me to figure out that their only interest in me lay in my proximity to Mal.Now I watched him stretch his arms expansively and turn his face up to the autumn sky, looking perfectly content. There was even, I noted with some disgust, a little bounce in his step."What is wrong with you?" I whispered furiously."Nothing," he said, surprised. "I feel great.""But how can you be so ... so jaunty?""Jaunty? I've never been jaunty. I hope never to be jaunty.""Well, then what's all this?" I asked, waving a hand at him. "You look like you're on your way to a really good dinner instead of possible death and dismemberment."Mal laughed. "You worry too much. The King's sent a whole group of Grisha pyros to cover the skiffs, and even a few of those creepy Heartrenders. We have our rifles," he said, patting the one on his back. "We'll be fine.""A rifle won't make much difference if there's a bad attack."Mal gave me a bemused glance. "What's with you lately? You're even grumpier than usual. And you look terrible.""Thanks," I groused. "I haven't been sleeping well.""What else is new?"He was right, of course. I'd never slept well. But it had been even worse over the last few days. Saints knew I had plenty of good reasons to dread going into the Fold, reasons shared by every member of our regiment who had been unlucky enough to be chosen for the crossing. But there was something else, a deeper feeling of unease that I couldn't quite name.I glanced at Mal. There had been a time when I could have told him anything. "I just ... have this feeling.""Stop worrying so much. Maybe they'll put Mikhael on the skiff. The volcra will take one look at that big juicy belly of his and leave us alone."Unbidden, a memory came to me: Mal and I, sitting side by side in a chair in the Duke's library, flipping through the pages of a large leather-bound book. We'd happened on an illustration of a volcra: long, filthy claws; leathery wings; and rows of razor-sharp teeth for feasting on human flesh. They were blind from generations spent living and hunting in the Fold, but legend had it they could smell human blood from miles away. I'd pointed to the page and asked, "What is it holding?"I could still hear Mal's whisper in my ear. "I think--I think it's a foot." We'd slammed the book shut and run squealing out into the safety of the sunlight ... .Without realizing it, I'd stopped walking, frozen in place, unable to shake the memory from my mind. When Mal realized I wasn't with him, he gave a great beleaguered sigh and marched back to me. He rested his hands on my shoulders and gave me a little shake."I was kidding. No one's going to eat Mikhael.""I know," I said, staring down at my boots. "You're hilarious.""Alina, come on. We'll be fine.""You can't know that.""Look at me." I willed myself to raise my eyes to his. "I know you're scared. I am, too. But we're going to do this, and we're going to be fine. We always are. Okay?" He smiled, and my heart gave a very loud thud in my chest.I rubbed my thumb over the scar that ran across the palm of my right hand and took a shaky breath. "Okay," I said grudgingly, and I actually felt myself smiling back."Madam's spirits have been restored!" Mal shouted. "The sun can once more shine!""Oh will you shut up?"I turned to give him a punch, but before I could, he'd grabbed hold of me and lifted me off my feet. A clatter of hooves and shouts split the air. Mal yanked me to the side of the road just as a huge black coach roared past, scattering people before it as they ran to avoid the pounding hooves of four black horses. Beside the whip-wielding driver perched two soldiers in charcoal coats.The Darkling. There was no mistaking his black coach or the uniform of his personal guard.Another coach, this one lacquered red, rumbled past us at a more leisurely pace.I looked up at Mal, my heart racing from the close call. "Thanks," I whispered. Mal suddenly seemed to realize that he had his arms around me. He let go and hastily stepped back. I brushed the dust from my coat, hoping he wouldn't notice the flush on my cheeks.A third coach rolled by, lacquered in blue, and a girl leaned out the window. She had curling black hair and wore a hat of silver fox. She scanned the watching crowd and, predictably, her eyes lingered on Mal.You were just mooning over him, I chided myself. Why shouldn't some gorgeous Grisha do the same?Her lips curled into a small smile as she held Mal's gaze, watching him over her shoulder until the coach was out of sight. Mal goggled dumbly after her, his mouth slightly open."Close your mouth before something flies in," I snapped.Mal blinked, still looking dazed."Did you see that?" a voice bellowed. I turned to see Mikhael loping toward us, wearing an almost comical expression of awe. Mikhael was a huge redhead with a wide face and an even wider neck. Behind him, Dubrov, reedy and dark, hurried to catch up. They were both trackers in Mal's unit and never far from his side."Of course I saw it," Mal said, his dopey expression evaporating into a cocky grin. I rolled my eyes."She looked right at you!" shouted Mikhael, clapping Mal on the back.Mal gave a casual shrug, but his smile widened. "So she did," he said smugly.Dubrov shifted nervously. "They say Grisha girls can put spells on you."I snorted.Mikhael looked at me as if he hadn't even known I was there. "Hey, Sticks," he said, and gave me a little jab on the arm. I scowled at the nickname, but he had already turned back to Mal. "You know she'll be staying at camp," he said with a leer."I hear the Grisha tent's as big as a cathedral," added Dubrov."Lots of nice shadowy nooks," said Mikhael, and actually waggled his brows.Mal whooped. Without sparing me another glance, the three of them strode off, shouting and shoving one another."Great seeing you guys," I muttered under my breath. I readjusted the strap of the satchel slung across my shoulders and started back down the road, joining the last few stragglers down the hill and into Kribirsk. I didn't bother to hurry. I'd probably get yelled at when I finally made it to the Documents Tent, but there was nothing I could do about it now.I rubbed my arm where Mikhael had punched me. Sticks. I hated that name. You didn't call me Sticks when you were drunk on kvas and trying to paw me at the spring bonfire, you miserable oaf, I thought spitefully.Kribirsk wasn't much to look at. According to the Senior Cartographer, it had been a sleepy market town in the days before the Shadow Fold, little more than a dusty main square and an inn for weary travelers on the Vy. But now it had become a kind of ramshackle port city, growing up around a permanent military encampment and the drydocks where the sandskiffs waited to take passengers through the darkness to West Ravka. I passed taverns and pubs and what I was pretty sure were brothels meant to cater to the troops of the King's Army. There were shops selling rifles and crossbows, lamps and torches, all necessary equipment for a trek across the Fold. The little church with its whitewashed walls and gleaming onion domes was in surprisingly good repair. Or maybe not so surprising, I considered. Anyone contemplating a trip across the Shadow Fold would be smart to stop and pray.I found my way to where the surveyors were billeted, deposited my pack on a cot, and hurried over to the Documents Tent. To my relief, the Senior Cartographer was nowhere in sight, and I was able to slip inside unseen.Entering the white canvas tent, I felt myself relax for the first time since I'd caught sight of the Fold. The Documents Tent was essentially the same in every camp I'd seen, full of bright light and rows of drafting tables where artists and surveyors bent to their work. After the noise and jostle of the journey, there was something soothing about the crackle of paper, the smell of ink, and the soft scratching of nibs and brushes.I pulled my sketchbook from my coat pocket and slid onto a workbench beside Alexei, who turned to me and whispered irritably, "Where have you been?""Nearly getting trampled by the Darkling's coach," I replied, grabbing a clean piece of paper and flipping through my sketches to try to find a suitable one to copy. Alexei and I were both junior cartographers' assistants and, as part of our training, we had to submit two finished sketches or renderings at the end of every day.Alexei drew in a sharp breath. "Really? Did you actually see him?""Actually, I was too busy trying not to die.""There are worse ways to go." He caught sight of the sketch of a rocky valley I was about to start copying. "Ugh. Not that one." He flipped through my sketchbook to an elevation of a mountain ridge and tapped it with his finger. "There."I barely had time to put pen to paper before the Senior Cartographer entered the tent and came swooping down the aisle, observing our work as he passed."I hope that's the second sketch you're starting, Alina Starkov.""Yes," I lied. "Yes, it is."As soon as the Cartographer had passed on, Alexei whispered, "Tell me about the coach.""I have to finish my sketches.""Here," he said in exasperation, sliding one of his sketches over to me."He'll know it's your work.""It's not that good. You should be able to pass it off as yours.""Now there's the Alexei I know and tolerate," I grumbled, but I didn't give back the sketch. Alexei was one of the most talented assistants and he knew it.Alexei extracted every last detail from me about the three Grisha coaches. I was grateful for the sketch, so I did my best to satisfy his curiosity as I finished up my elevation of the mountain ridge and worked in my thumb measurements of some of the highest peaks.By the time we were finished, dusk was falling. We handed in our work and walked to the mess tent, where we stood in line for muddy stew ladled out by a sweaty cook and found seats with some of the other surveyors.I passed the meal in silence, listening to Alexei and the others exchange camp gossip and jittery talk about tomorrow's crossing. Alexei insisted that I retell the story of the Grisha coaches, and it was met by the usual mix of fascination and fear that greeted any mention of the Darkling."He's not natural," said Eva, another assistant; she had pretty green eyes that did little to distract from her piglike nose. "None of them are."Alexei sniffed. "Please spare us your superstition, Eva.""It was a Darkling who made the Shadow Fold to begin with.""That was hundreds of years ago!" protested Alexei. "And that Darkling was completely mad.""This one is just as bad.""Peasant," Alexei said, and dismissed her with a wave. Eva gave him an affronted look and deliberately turned away from him to talk to her friends.I stayed quiet. I was more a peasant than Eva, despite her superstitions. It was only by the Duke's charity that I could read and write, but by unspoken agreement, Mal and I avoided mentioning Keramzin.As if on cue, a raucous burst of laughter pulled me from my thoughts. I looked over my shoulder. Mal was holding court at a rowdy table of trackers.Alexei followed my glance. "How did you two become friends anyway?""We grew up together.""You don't seem to have much in common."I shrugged. "I guess it's easy to have a lot in common when you're kids." Like loneliness, and memories of parents we were meant to forget, and the pleasure of escaping chores to play tag in our meadow.Alexei looked so skeptical that I had to laugh. "He wasn't always the Amazing Mal, expert tracker and seducer of Grisha girls."Alexei's jaw dropped. "He seduced a Grisha girl?""No, but I'm sure he will," I muttered."So what was he like?""He was short and pudgy and afraid of baths," I said with some satisfaction.Alexei glanced at Mal. "I guess things change."I rubbed my thumb over the scar in my palm. "I guess they do."We cleared our plates and drifted out of the mess tent into the cool night. On the way back to the barracks, we took a detour so that we could walk by the Grisha camp. The Grisha pavilion really was the size of a cathedral, covered in black silk, its blue, red, and purple pennants flying high above. Hidden somewhere behind it were the Darkling's tents, guarded by Corporalki Heartrenders and the Darkling's personal guard.When Alexei had looked his fill, we wended our way back to our quarters. Alexei got quiet and started cracking his knuckles, and I knew we were both thinking about tomorrow's crossing. Judging by the gloomy mood in the barracks, we weren't alone. Some people were already on their cots, sleeping--or trying to--while others huddled by lamplight, talking in low tones. A few sat clutching their icons, praying to their Saints.I unfurled my bedroll on a narrow cot, removed my boots, and hung up my coat. Then I wriggled down into the fur-lined blankets and stared up at the roof, waiting for sleep. I stayed that way for a long time, until the lamplights had all been extinguished and the sounds of conversation gave way to soft snores and the rustle of bodies.Tomorrow, if everything went as planned, we would pass safely through to West Ravka, and I would get my first glimpse of the True Sea. There, Mal and the other trackers would hunt for red wolves and sea foxes and other coveted creatures that could only be found in the west. I would stay with the cartographers in Os Kervo to finish my training and help draft whatever information we managed to glean in the Fold. And then, of course, I'd have to cross the Fold again in order to return home. But it was hard to think that far ahead.I was still wide awake when I heard it. Tap tap. Pause. Tap. Then again: Tap tap. Pause. Tap."What's going on?" mumbled Alexei drowsily from the cot nearest mine."Nothing," I whispered, already slipping out of my bedroll and shoving my feet into my boots.I grabbed my coat and crept out of the barracks as quietly as I could. As I opened the door I heard a giggle, and a female voice called from somewhere in the dark room, "If it's that tracker, tell him to come inside and keep me warm.""If he wants to catch tsifil, I'm sure you'll be his first stop," I said sweetly, and slipped out into the night.The cold air stung my cheeks and I buried my chin in my collar, wishing I'd taken the time to grab my scarf and gloves. Mal was sitting on the rickety steps, his back to me. Beyond him, I could see Mikhael and Dubrov passing a bottle back and forth beneath the glowing lights of the footpath.I scowled. "Please tell me you didn't just wake me up to inform me that you're going to the Grisha tent. What do you want, advice?""You weren't sleeping. You were lying awake worrying.""Wrong. I was planning how to sneak into the Grisha pavilion and snag myself a cute Corporalnik."Mal laughed. I hesitated by the door. This was the hardest part of being around him--other than the way he made my heart do clumsy acrobatics. I hated hiding how much the stupid things he did hurt me, but I hated the idea of him finding out even more. I thought about just turning around and going back inside. Instead, I swallowed my jealousy and sat down beside him."I hope you brought me something nice," I said. "Alina's Secrets of Seduction do not come cheap."He grinned. "Can you put it on my tab?""I suppose. But only because I know you're good for it."I peered into the dark and watched Dubrov take a swig from the bottle and then lurch forward. Mikhael put his arm out to steady him, and the sounds of their laughter floated back to us on the night air.Mal shook his head and sighed. "He always tries to keep up with Mikhael. He'll probably end up puking on my boots.""Serves you right," I said. "So what are you doing here?" When we'd first started our military service a year ago, Mal had visited me almost every night. But he hadn't come by in months.He shrugged. "I don't know. You looked so miserable at dinner."I was surprised he'd noticed. "Just thinking about the crossing," I said carefully. It wasn't exactly a lie. I was terrified of entering the Fold, and Mal definitely didn't need to know that Alexei and I had been talking about him. "But I'm touched by your concern.""Hey," he said with a grin, "I worry.""If you're lucky, a volcra will have me for breakfast tomorrow and then you won't have to fret anymore.""You know I'd be lost without you.""You've never been lost in your life," I scoffed. I was the mapmaker, but Mal could find true north blindfolded and standing on his head.He bumped his shoulder against mine. "You know what I mean.""Sure," I said. But I didn't. Not really.We sat in silence, watching our breath make plumes in the cold air.Mal studied the toes of his boots and said, "I guess I'm nervous, too."I nudged him with my elbow and said with confidence I didn't feel, "If we can take on Ana Kuya, we can handle a few volcra.""If I remember right, the last time we crossed Ana Kuya, you got your ears boxed and we both ended up mucking out the stables."I winced. "I'm trying to be reassuring. You could at least pretend I'm succeeding.""You know the funny thing?" he asked. "I actually miss her sometimes."I did my best to hide my astonishment. We'd spent more than ten years of our lives in Keramzin, but usually I got the impression that Mal wanted to forget everything about the place, maybe even me. There he'd been another lost refugee, another orphan made to feel grateful for every mouthful of food, every used pair of boots. In the army, he'd carved out a real place for himself where no one needed to know that he'd once been an unwanted little boy."Me too," I admitted. "We could write to her.""Maybe," Mal said.Suddenly, he reached out and took hold of my hand. I tried to ignore the little jolt that went through me. "This time tomorrow, we'll be sitting in the harbor at Os Kervo, looking out at the ocean and drinking kvas."I glanced at Dubrov weaving back and forth and smiled. "Is Dubrov buying?""Just you and me," Mal said."Really?""It's always just you and me, Alina."For a moment, it seemed like it was true. The world was this step, this circle of lamplight, the two of us suspended in the dark."Come on!" bellowed Mikhael from the path.Mal started like a man waking from a dream. He gave my hand a last squeeze before he dropped it. "Gotta go," he said, his brash grin sliding back into place. "Try to get some sleep."He hopped lightly from the stairs and jogged off to join his friends. "Wish me luck!" he called over his shoulder."Good luck," I said automatically and then wanted to kick myself. Good luck? Have a lovely time, Mal. Hope you find a pretty Grisha, fall deeply in love, and make lots of gorgeous, disgustingly talented babies together.I sat frozen on the steps, watching them disappear down the path, still feeling the warm pressure of Mal's hand in mine. Oh well, I thought as I got to my feet. Maybe he' ll fall into a ditch on his way there.I edged back into the barracks, closed the door tightly behind me, and gratefully snuggled into my bedroll.Would that black-haired Grisha girl sneak out of the pavilion to meet Mal? I pushed the thought away. It was none of my business, and really, I didn't want to know. Mal had never looked at me the way he'd looked at that girl or even the way he looked at Ruby, and he never would. But the fact that we were still friends was more important than any of that.For how long? said a nagging voice in my head. Alexei was right: things change. Mal had changed for the better. He'd gotten handsomer, braver, cockier. And I'd gotten ... taller. I sighed and rolled onto my side. I wanted to believe that Mal and I would always be friends, but I had to face the fact that we were on different paths. Lying in the dark, waiting for sleep, I wondered if those paths would just keep taking us further and further apart, and if a day might come when we would be strangers to each other once again.Copyright © 2012 by Leigh Bardugo