Shadow and Bone: The characters, politics, and war, explained

Shadow and Bone, Netflix’s brand-new dream drama, is based upon a series of very popular YA dream books. Instantly, the program drops audiences into an alternate universe where each nation in this world has its own culture, some more appropriate in the grand plan of the story than others. However the pilot for Shadow and Bone focuses on action over hand-holding audiences through the exposition, and there’s no clever map in the front pages to assist somebody comprehend all of it. (Although we have one.)

So, for those who can’t inform Ravka from Fjerda (or those who merely desire a refresher on the worldbuilding terminology that’s grown over the previous 10 years approximately), here’s a handy-dandy guide to the inner functions of Shadow and Bone’s world politics.

OK, so what is going on in Shadow and Bone?

Shadow and Bone occurs in a dream world with 6 core nations — Ravka, Fjerda, Shu Han, Novyi Zem, Kerch, and the Wandering Island — approximately going through comparable technological improvements as our mid-19th century (i.e., this is a dream world where they utilize weapons). The setting doesn’t have a particular canonical name, however fans understand it as the Grishaverse. While the book series covers throughout several nations, the Netflix program adjusts the very first book in the Grishaverse legend, which mainly concentrates on Ravka.

Alina being presented to court

Image: David Appleby/Netflix

And Ravka is…?

Motivated by Imperial Russia, Ravka is the nation where the majority of the action occurs — a minimum of in the very first 3 books. Ruled by a monarchy, Ravka beings in the middle of the continent, surrounded by Fjerda to the north and Shu Han to the south (more on them later on). It is noteworthy for being among the couple of nations where the normally maltreated class referred to as the Grisha, the world’s magic-users, take pleasure in a particular raised status in society, though they’re all required to serve the king’s army.

At the start of the program, Ravka has actually remained in chaos for some years, with the Very First and 2nd Armies securing the country. All of Ravka’s problems can generally be come down to the Shadow Fold splitting the nation in 2. The scenes with Alina and Mal begin in Ravka, however the scenes with Kaz, Inej, and Jesper happen in Kerch (more on that later).

What the heck is the Shadow Fold and why is it such a huge issue?

The Shadow Fold (likewise referred to as the Unsea or the Fold) is a swath of misty darkness that divides Ravka in 2. All that’s truly understood about its origin is that some extremely effective Grisha developed it centuries back. Crossing it is almost difficult since it has plenty of beasts, consisting of the Volcra, which like to consume human flesh. To avert the beasts, many tourists walk around it — either through Fjerda or Shu Han, both nations warring with Ravka. East Ravka, that includes the capital city of Os Alta, is generally cut off from the remainder of the world. West Ravka, nevertheless, where the port city of Os Kervo lies, has the ability to link with the remainder of the world.

jessie mei li as alina, staring off into the distance

Image: Netflix

Wait, wait — return to the part about the 2 armies: what’s up with that?

The Very First Army is Ravka’s routine, non-magical army comprised of typical soldiers with rifles and what not. The 2nd Army is comprised of Grisha soldiers. There is a great deal of stress in between the 2 armies. The First Army as an entire wonder about the 2nd Army, while the 2nd Army sees the Very first Army as weaker. Technological improvements from Fjerda and Shu Han, nevertheless, have actually assisted beat Grisha soldiers.

Who is Ravka at war versus?

At the start of the program, Ravka is at war with Shu Han, a nation motivated by China and Mongolia, and Fjerada, which is motivated by Scandinavia. It’s not a lot an official war as it is a century-long repeating border conflict in between Ravka and its 2 surrounding countries referred to as the Border Wars. The Shadow Fold has actually deteriorated Ravka, so both Fjerda and Shu Han wish to benefit from that and acquire more land.

Shu Han is the southernmost nation on the continent, surrounded by Ravka to the north. A matriarchal monarchy, Shu Han is likewise a land of clinical improvements … and understood for exploring on Grisha. Among the huge modifications in the program is that the primary character Alina Starkov is now half-Shu. She matured in Ravka, in the border town of Keramzin and has actually generally invested her entire life being compared to the opponent.

Fjerda, on the other hand, is the northern most nation, icy and frigid. It is the most conservative of the nations, fearing Grisha and calling them abnormal and hazardous. Fjerdans likewise credit extremely conventional gender functions. Soldier Mattias Helvar is Fjerdan — and he’s not simply a soldier however a drüskelle, or Grisha hunter.

Mattias looking cold and icy in a snowstorm

Image: Netflix

What about all the other citizenships?

Let’s simplify.


An island country in the middle of the Real Sea, Kerch is generally the center of world trade — their religious beliefs is based upon the god of market and commerce. It likewise has a large criminal underworld in the capital of Ketterdam. Grisha are typically bound to rich merchants as indentured servants, despite the fact that slavery is unlawful. The majority of the 6 of Crows books (the spinoff duology) happen in Kerch, which is motivated by 18th century Amsterdam, early New york city, and Victorian London.

Crucial characters: The 6 of Crows characters — leader Kaz Brekker, spy Inej Gafta, and sharpshooter Jesper Fahey — live in Ketterdam. Of the 3, Kaz is the only one who is totally Kerch.

jaspar, inej, and kaz draped in shadows

Image: David Appleby/Netflix


The Suli are a nomadic individuals, who come from the northwestern part of Ravka and are motivated by Roma and South Asian culture.

Crucial characters: Inej is Suli and Zoya, among the Grisha in the 2nd Army, is half-Suli.

Novyi Zem

All the method throughout the Real Sea, Novyi Zem is separated from the political dispute of the remainder of the world, which has actually enabled it to grow. Motivated by America and Australia, Novyi Zem is a location of flexibility, where Grisha live without prosecution or needing to serve anybody.

Crucial characters: Jesper is from Novyi Zem initially.

The Roaming Island

This is the nation we understand the least about given that no primary character is from the Wandering Island. However it is based upon Ireland and its residents are normally pale and red-haired. And obviously they consume Grisha blood given that they see it as a wonderful treatment! Yummy! Likewise, individuals from the Wandering Island are called Kaelish for no discernable factor.

Crucial characters: Though he’s from Novyi Zem, Jesper is half-Kaelish by method of his dad.

All episodes of Shadow and Bone are readily available on Netflix.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.