Netflix has made the newest entry in the growing genre of epic fantasy TV adaptations, but it takes more creative liberties with its source material than many others tend to. Shadow and Bone is based on a novel by the same name by author Leigh Bardugo, but it also draws from Bardugo's separate series, Six of Crows. Deciding how to read these books can be a little tricky.
Bardugo created her "Grishaverse" world with Shadow and Bone in 2012 and went on to complete that story in a trilogy of novels. She then wrote a separate story about brand new characters in the Grishaverse called Six of Crows, which was spread across two books starting in 2014. In the books, the duology takes place two years after the end of the trilogy, but in the show the Crows characters are included from the beginning. However, the show hardly touches on the real plotline of Crows, instead creating new ways for those characters to participate in the Shadow and Bone story. This required some tweaks to the timeline that new fans might be confused by if they try to pick up the books after watching the show.
Fans should be wary of spoilers of they try to dive into the books after watching the show. Because Six of Crows is set years after the Shadow and Bone trilogy, it will spoil the events of the trilogy if they pick it up first. Fans should complete the trilogy first and then start Six of Crows if they want to get ahead on the story at all.
Sadly, this means fans of Kaz Brekker and his crew will have to do quite a bit of reading before they can meet him on the page. Shadow and Bone was published in 2012, followed by Siege and Storm and ending with Ruin and Rising. If fans pick up Six of Crows after that, they'll find that two years have passed, but Kaz, Inej and Jesper are all still teenagers. This kind of change is sure to have ripple effects if the show ever gets that far into the story.
Bardugo has now written two more novels in the Grishaverse — King of Scars, published in 2019 and Rule of Wolves, published in 2021. She also wrote two collections of short stories called The Language of Thorns and The Lives of Saints, which are full of fictional folklore about the world of the Grisha. Bardugo's books are bestsellers for a reason and are sure to see an even greater surge in popularity as their TV adaptation picks up. Shadow and Bone is streaming now on Netflix. To start Bardugo's novels, you can pick up Shadow and Bone on Amazon here in print, digital or audiobook format.