The Types of Grisha in 'Shadow and Bone,' Explained

Your guide to the Grishas' different powers.

jessie mei li shadow and bone
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

The best fantasy shows weave a world of specialized magic...and it comes with a bit of a learning curve. Many fantasy fans have fond memories of when they first learned the difference between a Slytherin and a Ravenclaw, or whether they would be a child of Athena or Apollo. For the Grishaverse, the series of books written by Leigh Bardugo which inspired Netflix's latest hit Shadow and Bone, magic is called Small Science, and practitioners of Small Science, Grisha, join different groups, or orders, organized by their specialized types of magic. Shadow and Bone follows Alina, an ordinary mapmaker who finds out she has the rare power of sun-summoning, as she gets swept into the world of the Grisha and trains her powers to one day destroy the Shadow Fold, which has split her country Ravka in two.

Shadow and Bone has great effects that show the range of Grishas' powers, but the show doesn't spend much time explaining the difference between the more common types of Small Science. The Grishaverse books go into much more detail, explaining intricacies which Grisha powers are most common, which are more valued in Ravka, and why wearing a different colored coat is important. Here's what we know about the different types of Grishas that make up Ravka's Second Army.

Summoners are Grisha that can control the elements.

The Grisha are split up into three orders: Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki. They're grouped into these orders based on the nature of their specialized powers, and each order has a different color for their kefta, which is like a uniform. Most of the Grisha characters we see in season one, including Zoya and Alina's friends at the Little Palace, are members of Etherealki, the Order of Summoners. Summoners are Grisha that summon and control the physical elements of water, fire and air. If you're starting to think of Avatar: The Last Airbender comparisons, Summoners are cannot make elements out of nothing. They just control the elements that exist around them. It's a distinction that exists for all Grisha; they call what they do Small Science instead of magic because they manipulate matter at its most basic form. They can't make their own matter, so their powers are considered extensions of the natural world.

Squallers can manipulate the wind by raising or lowering air pressure. Zoya is a Squaller, and we usually see her using her power in the show by filling a ship's sails. Inferni can manipulate fire and flammable gases, but they need a spark to start the fire. The Inferni in the Shadow and Bone show wear gloves that they can snap to create a spark. Tidemakers can manipulate water. The Grisha in the Etherealki wear blue kefta with different colors of embroidery: silver for Squallers, red for Inferni, and pale blue for Tidemakers.

shadow and bone grisha

Alina and two other Etherealki–note the colored embroidery.


Alina and the Darkling are rare summoners that control light and darkness.

Alina's power of sun-summoning is a hereditary power so rare that before her, Ravkans thought it was a myth. Sun Summoners can bend and summon light, and they can also summon heat from the sun. Before the events of season one of Shadow and Bone, Alina had been suppressing her powers, which made her physically weak. She became stronger and healthier once she began using her powers. That's common for all Grisha; when they don't use their powers for an extended period, they can become ill. When Alina begins training, she becomes a member of the Etherealki and wears a blue kefta with gold embroidery.

General Kirigan, also called the Darkling, is a Shadow Summoner who can gather and manipulate darkness and shadows. As far as we know at the beginning of the series, he's the only Grisha alive with the power. He's also so strong that he can use the Cut, a move where he conjures darkness as a dagger to cut people. Though Shadow Summoners are technically members of the Etherealki, Kirigan wears a black kefta with black embroidery.

Corporalki are Grisha that can control bodies.

The second order of Grisha, Corporalki, include Grisha whose powers focus on the human body. It's also known as the Order of the Living and Dead, and its kefta color is red. Heartrenders are one of the most feared Grisha types, who can manipulate the body of another person to cause harm. They can stop a person's heart or keep air from entering someone's lungs, for example. Heartrenders' powers are not all destructive though; in the show, Nina Zenick uses her Heartrender powers to save Matthias from drowning, and to warm him up when he's under threat of freezing. Healers are also members of the Corporalki who can manipulate the human body to heal wounds and injuries.

Light spoilers for season 1 of Shadow and Bone. Alina's friend Genya Sefin is a Tailor, a Grisha who can change a person's appearance. When Alina has to meet the king and queen of Ravka, Genya applies her makeup and removes her scars with a wave of her hand. At first Genya is a Grisha without an order, but after doing a mission for the Darkling she becomes a member of the Corporalki, and wears a red kefta with blue embriodery.

Fabrikators control composite materials like metal, textiles, and chemicals.

The last order, Materialki, is the Order of Fabrikators. These Grisha control composite materials, including metal, glass, textiles, and chemicals. They've created scientific and military innovations, including a woven material called corecloth that can withstand bullets, the Grishas' steel weapons, blasting powders, and a type of liquid fire called luminya. In the books Fabrikators are either Durasts, who deal with solids like steel and glass, or Alkemi, who specialize in poisons and blasting powders. They wear purple keftas. 

Spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of Shadow and Bone. The Fabrikator we see in season 1 of Shadow and Bone is David Kostyk, who assists Kirigan at the Little Palace. He made the light-splitting gloves that Kirigan gifted to Alina, and he later links Alina and Kirigan's powers through the stag amplifier. However, it turns out that we've known a Durast all along: Jesper Fahey. It's revealed in the season 2 premiere that he can manipulate metal, and part of the reason he's such an expert marksman is because he can manipulate the trajectory of the bullets.

Quinci LeGardye
Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.