The 'Shadow and Bone' Books' Reading Order, Explained

Want to delve deeper into the Grishaverse? Here's your primer.

shadow and bone

If you, too, finished season one of Shadow and Bone (opens in new tab) and wondered what was next for Alina or the Crows, (opens in new tab) you're in luck. The hit Netflix series is based on the Grishaverse, a series of popular YA books written by Leigh Bardugo. The show's first season is a faithful adaptation of the Grishaverse's first book of the same name, which follows Alina Starkov as she discovers she has the rare power of sun-summoning. Alina is swept up into the world of her country Ravka's magical elite, called Grisha, (opens in new tab) and trains to become powerful enough to destroy the Fold, (opens in new tab) a region of darkness filled with monsters that has killed countless Ravkans.

The Grishaverse is comprised of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, the King of Crows duology, and three supplemental books. While the primary storyline of Netflix's Shadow and Bone follows the trilogy of the same name, the show also has a subplot with the characters from the Six of Crows duology. Bardugo and showrunner Eric Heisserer wrote a new plot for the Six of Crows cast that wove them into the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, which took place two years before the Six of Crows duology's timeline. The show also weaves in details and references from multiple Grishaverse books, including allusions to upcoming storylines. If you can't wait to dive in and learn more about this fantasy world, here's the order of the books and what to expect from each.

  • Shadow and Bone
  • Siege and Storm
  • Ruin and Rising
  • Six of Crows
  • Crooked Kingdom
  • King of Scars
  • Rule of Wolves
  • The Language of Thorns
  • The Lives of Saints

The Shadow and Bone trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising

Published in 2012, Shadow and Bone sets up the Grishaverse, with Alina discovering that she's the legendary Sun Summoner, and training to destroy the Fold under the Darkling. The book ends in the same place as the series, with Alina seeking to find new allies and continue her training. The second book, Siege and Storm, starts with Alina and Mal getting captured by the still-alive Darkling (literally within the first chapter). With the help of a new character, a pirate named Strumhond, they escape to Os Alta where Alina becomes the new commander of the Second Army and continues her search for another amplifier, the sea whip.

The trilogy's finale, Ruin and Rising, is the final standoff between Alina and the Darkling for the fate of Ravka. The Darkling rules Ravka and Alina is weakened, living underground with zealots who worship her as a Saint. Throughout the book she unravels the Darkling's secrets and searches for the last amplifier, the Firebird. The book also focuses on Prince Nikolai, the son of Ravka's previous king and queen, who wants to marry Alina and form an alliance between Grisha and non-Grisha. The end of the book gives answers, both for what will happen to the Fold and whether Alina and Mal end up together.

The Six of Crows duology: Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom

This spin-off series takes place two years after the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy. It follows Kaz and his team of Crows as they undertake a heist that will make them rich and save the world, similar in scale to the one they do in season one of Shadow and Bone. The crew is made up of Kaz, Inej and Jesper, along with Nina and Matthias, in their first appearance in the books. There's also a sixth Crow, Wylan Van Eck, who's planned to appear in the next season of Shadow and BoneCrooked Kingdom ends the Crows' storyline; after the events of their somewhat-failed heist, the group has to work together to save the lives of Grisha everywhere and take revenge on those who've wronged them.

While the Six of Crows takes place after the events of Shadow and Bone, the duology is just as popular as a stand-alone series. Heisserer loved them so much that he fought to include the Crows in the show, leading to their prequel storyline. Some Grishaverse fans even recommend to try Six of Crows first (opens in new tab), as the book has more diversity and deals more with the world outside of Ravka.

The King of Scars duology: King of Scars and Rule of Wolves

Following the events of Crooked Kingdom, this duology follows Prince Nikolai, now king of Ravka, as he struggles to rebuild Ravka and deal with the effects of the Darkling's powers on both him and the country. In King of Scars, Nikolai, with the help of Zoya, he attempts to fight enemies off his weakened borders and fight the darkness growing inside him. Nina also makes an appearance, disguised as a spy in Fjerda and helping to save a Grisha there. In Rule of Wolves, Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina are dealing with personal demons when a Fjerdan army invades Ravka. They all have to work together to save Ravka's future.

Supplemental: The Language of Thorns and The Lives of Saints

There are also supplemental stand-alone books that tell the history and folktales of the Grishaverse. The Language of Thorns is an illustrated collection of fairytales that the Grishaverse characters may have heard as children. The Lives of Saints is also an illustrated tome, this one telling tales of Grishaverse saints. While both are great for learning more about the world and its history, it's recommended to have read some Grishaverse books before trying The Lives of Saints. There's also a journal of writing prompts and quotes related to the Grishaverse called The Severed Moon: A Year-Long Journal of Magic, if you want to try your hand at writing about the fictional world.

As for possible continuations of the series, Bardugo told Bustle (opens in new tab) that she had her mind on some new Grishaverse stories. “I will admit there are Grishaverse stories I really want to tell, there's a very big door open at the end of Rule of Wolves, but there are a lot of other characters who I found very fascinating, who stepped onto the page in this book and that I would love to see get more developed stories of their own.” At least we, and the Netflix show, have plenty of material while we wait.

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.