This Friday, Netflix will bring Leigh Bardugo’s much beloved Grishaverse books series to life with Shadow and Bone, an ambitious series that combines characters from two Bardugo books: Shadow and Bone, and Six of Crows. This first few episodes of this 8-episode season are, frankly, a lot to digest for those unfamiliar with the books. (The number of characters introduced alone!) But once you get over that steep learning curve, you are in for a real treat.
Want a primer before you hit “play”? Here’s a quick, helpful (and non-spoilery) guide to help the uninitiated navigate this buzzy new show.
When Are We?: We’re in an alternate world entirely. Bardugo’s Grishaverse is, however, a bit closer to our world than, say, Westeros. Given that there are tsars and tsarinas in this show, and very little by way of modern technology, I suppose it’s safe to say we are somewhere around the turn of the 19th century.
Where Are We?: Yeah, I said tsars and tsarinas. The main location for this series is a place called Ravka, which is a fictional and fantastical version of Russia. Ravka is at war with its neighbor to the north, Fjerda—a nation based on the Nordic countries. It is also at war with its neighbor to the south: Shu Han, a stand-in for China. There’s also some trouble brewing in West Ravka. But for the purposes of understanding the first few episodes of this show, it’s helpful to know that if you see soldiers and something that looks like a battlefield, you’re in Ravka. Same goes for the palace. That’s Ravka.