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Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix's "Shadow and Bone" and the book of the same name.
The "Shadow and Bone" TV show is an adaptation of Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse book series.
It made some major changes to the story found in the first book about Alina, Mal, and the Darkling.
For people who have only seen the show, you might not realize that the group of characters from the Crow Club (along with Nina and Matthias) are from a whole other book series.
The Netflix show took its title from the first book in a trilogy, which is known as the "Shadow and Bone" trilogy. But half of the main characters in Netflix's series — Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, and Matthias — never appear in that set of books.
Instead, they come from another of author Leigh Bardugo's book series: The "Six of Crows" duology.
Showrunner Eric Heisserer decided to combine the two stories into one new narrative, since "Six of Crows" is one of Bardugo's most popular books and it takes place in the same "Grishaverse" as Mal and Alina's story (just during a slightly later time period).
Heisserer said the first big challenge of making "Shadow and Bone" was figuring out how to put Kaz's crew into Mal and Alina's story with the Darkling.
"It was essentially inventing a prequel's worth of story for them and figuring out where they were at that time," Heisserer told Insider. "Since that was a few years before you see them in 'Six of Crows.'"
Insider also spoke with Bardugo, who says she had a lot of involvement during the beginning stages of the adaptation process.
"We've had long talks about how these stories fit together, because in my mind the show has become a kind of alternate timeline Grishaverse," Bardugo said. "It's not the way the stories play out in the books, but it absolutely could be."
In the book series, Alina's mother wasn't from Shu Han, the enemy country of Ravka.
Alina's race isn't specified in the book series — she's simply identified as a Ravkan orphan. But in the show, Alina's mother is from Shu Han (a fictional stand-in for an amalgamation of Asian countries), which makes Alina mixed-race.
That change was the first conversation Bardugo and Heisserer had about the "Shadow and Bone" TV series, before casting had begun.
"One of the first things I said to him was, 'You can do this better than I did,' and we talked about what it would mean to have a mixed-race character in the lead," Bardugo told Insider.
"In the books, Alina is born on the border between Shu Han and Ravka and, you know, borders are not solid; they're porous," she added. "People fall in love across them, do business across them, and the people there are forced to live in a crossfire of decisions that governments make from very far away."
Bardugo continued: "To me, it made perfect sense for Alina to be half-Shu. And it also made her story as the potential savior of this nation much richer and much more powerful as somebody who's been treated so shabbily, who has been repeatedly reminded of her otherness and the fact that she looks like the enemy. But then she would be the savior — forced to face such a darkness in the name of a country that had treated her so badly."
Alina and Mal's romantic relationship in the book is far less reciprocal at first.
The book is told from Alina's perspective, which means readers have an instant understanding of her and Mal's relationship from Alina's point of view. She's been in love with him since they were young teenagers, but Mal seems to believe they're just friends — at least as far as Alina can tell.
From the very first episode of the show, though, Mal's romantic affections towards Alina seem rather clear. It's more like they're two best friends who are subconsciously denying their mutual romantic feelings, rather than it being a one-sided love affair from the start.
The book doesn't follow Mal's story as he tracks the stag, since the story is written entirely from Alina's perspective.
The show took fans right alongside Mal and his friends as they tracked down Morozova's Stag, the ancient creature the Darkling (aka General Kirigan) wanted to use as an amplifier for his powers.
In the book, since we only have Alina's perspective, readers didn't get a detailed look at how Mal volunteered for the job and then eventually found the stag. Instead, the book has a bonus materials section at the end that includes a copy of a letter written from Mal to Alina that was "found near Ravka's northern border."
The show used Alina and Mal's letters to each other used as voiceover throughout the episodes where they were apart, so the audience could see how both characters were starting to realize their feelings for one another at the same time.
In the book, Mal sees Alina with Kirigan at the palace, and angrily confronts her about their relationship.
The show-version of Mal is much less bothered by Alina's close connection to the Darkling. Show-Mal never sees the two of them together at the Ravkan palace, and when he does eventually reunite with Alina he tells her that whatever she did with the Darkling isn't his business.
In the book, Mal makes it to the palace before Alina escapes and sees her with the Darkling at the lavish party. He confronts her inside the palace, deriding her for becoming so openly smitten with Kirigan.
"The clothes, the jewels, even the way you look," Mal tells Alina in the book. "He's all over you ... he owns you."
Mal and Alina fight about her new dedication to the Darkling and the Grisha, and they part on bad terms.
The next time they see each other in the book is in the forest, just like the show's version of events, when Mal helps Alina hide from the Darkling's soldiers.
Book readers were probably expecting the Darkling to kiss Alina first, but the show has her make the first move.
In general, the show makes many small changes to the order of events so that Alina has more agency over her storyline. The biggest of these is how, in the show, Alina's physical romance with Kirigan is initiated by her.
In the books, Kirigan kisses Alina first, surprising her with his forwardness. The show reversed this dynamic, instead having Kirigan express surprise after Alina makes the first move.
Mal and Alina kiss right before finding the stag in the book.
In both the books and the show, Mal and Alina spend several key days together in the forest after she escapes from Kirigan. In the show, Alina decides they should track down Morozova's stag.
In the books, that's Mal's idea instead, and it takes them a few weeks to find the mystical creature. Over that period of time, Mal and Alina realize the full extent of their feelings for one another. It's only after Mal tells Alina that they belong together, and they kiss for the first time, that the stag appears nearby.
"The moment our lips met," Alina's narration reads, " I knew with pure and piercing certainty that I would have waited for him forever."
The show did away with this romantic moment, instead keeping Mal and Alina's relationship more of a slow-burn.
In the book, Mal is sentenced to death by the Darkling, and he and Alina spend a tragic "final" night together.
The show tames down Kirigan's reaction to the threat of Mal as a potential love interest for Alina. He imprisons Mal, but tells him time will do the job of killing him.
In the book, Kirigan orders Mal's execution and gives Alina the "mercy" of letting her spend one final night with him outside of his jail cell. Alina and Mal sit together all night, reminiscing about their childhood together and kissing and reminding each other of how much they love one another.
It's during this night together that the story of how Alina got that crescent-shaped scar on her hand is finally revealed.
The way Alina got the scar on her hand is different in the book.
The show explains that Alina got the scar on her palm when she tricked the Grisha testers. She used a piece of broken pottery to cut her own hand. Because she was already in pain when the testers pricked her skin, her Grisha powers weren't revealed and she was able to hide among the non-Grisha people for much longer.
But in the books, Alina's scar isn't the product of her hiding her powers — it's from the day she realized she was in love with Mal. In the book, Alina remembers being 15 years old and waiting for Mal to return from a hunting trip. She was holding a broken piece of a cup when he arrived back, and picked her up in a big hug.
Alina forgot she was holding the shard of pottery in her hand, too distracted by her fluttering heart and all the feelings suddenly coming to the surface.
"When he finally set me down and ambled off to the kitchen to find his lunch, I had stood there, my palm dripping blood, my head still spinning, knowing that everything had changed," Alina recalls in the book.
The Darkling's backstory is also different in the show and the books.
The show invented a whole new flashback scene to explain how the Darkling created the Fold.
In the cold open for episode seven, "The Unsea," the audience finally learns more about how and why General Kirigan used an ancient form of magic called "merzost."
As Bardugo and Heisserer explained to Insider, that scene was originally going to come straight from a short story published by Bardugo called "Demon in the Wood." But instead, the show now has its own explanation for the Fold's creation.
"I will candidly say that this is not the way I conceived of the invention of the Fold," Bardugo told Insider. "And it is certainly not what I considered canon in my head, but I also was really pleased with where we ended up.
Read the original article on Insider