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 two of Shadow and Bone and wondered what was next for Alina or the Crows, 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 two seasons adapt the first three Grishaverse books, which follow 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, and seeks to amplify her powers and become strong enough to destroy the Fold, a region of darkness filled with monsters that has killed countless Ravkans. Standing in her way is Kirigan, the former general of Ravka's Second Army who wants to take over the world using the power of the Fold.

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.

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 season one of 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 within the first chapter, a plot point that diverges from the beginning of season two. Both the show and the book follow the same overall arc though, as Alina—with the help of a new character, a privateer named Strumhond—becomes the new commander of the Second Army and searches for the last two amplifiers, the sea whip and the firebird.

In a surprising change for viewers who expected the show would cover the three books over three seasons, season two also included events from the book trilogy's finale, Ruin and Rising. In the book, the final standoff for the fate of Ravka starts with the Darkling ruling over Ravka and a weakened Alina living underground with zealots who worship her as a Saint, as she sets out to unravel the Darkling's secrets. The book also focuses on Prince Nikolai, the son of Ravka's previous king and queen, who wants to form an alliance between Grisha and non-Grisha. The end of the book gives answers, both for what happens to the Fold and whether Alina and Mal end up together (no spoilers here in case some show viewers are still in the middle of season 2).

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 joins the crew in season 2 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, 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, 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 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.

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.