Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alina and Mal stay awake all night, bundled in furs and warmed by Alina’s light. Everything is white when they wake up in the morning, and Mal looks disgusted—they’re easier to track now, while the herd’s tracks will be covered by snow. Alina knows they’re in trouble as they cross a plateau and as Mal tries to cover their tracks. Eventually, they enter a grove of trees. Without thinking, Alina slips her hand into Mal’s, and he allows it as they continue. They reach a little glade at sunset and, rather than make camp, they just stand, holding hands.
The snow creates tension due to how easy it makes Alina and Mal to track, but it also gives this chapter a beautiful and otherworldly feel. Alina seems to pick up on this when she slips her hand into Mal’s in the glade—the snow is a bit magical, even if it causes issues. However, the fact that they’ll now struggle to track the herd also symbolically brings Alina and Mal together: they are truly alone in the wilderness.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Mal apologizes for what he said at the Little Palace and for “everything else.” He explains that he came after Alina initially because he thought he owed her for saving his life. Now, everything has changed. They discuss how happy Alina looked the night of the fete, but Alina says she was just happy to fit in—she’s never fit in anywhere, even with Mal. Mal spits that he missed Alina all the time after she left, and it surprised him. He’s come so far for her, and he’d do it all again just to be with her—they belong together. Mal kisses Alina. Alina thought she was silly for loving Mal, but now, she knows for sure that she was right to wait for him.
It's a big step for Alina to be able to voice that for her entire life, her main goal has simply been to fit in. The Darkling, for all his faults, offered her the opportunity to fit in—and she took it. The intimate conversation adds to the sense that Alina and Mal are alone in an otherworldly place: for now, they can put aside the rest of their worries and focus on the fact that they do indeed love each other. Further, with Mal, there isn’t the power imbalance like there was in a relationship with the Darkling. Alina is on more equal footing, if not the more powerful one in the relationship.
Themes
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Alina sees movement in the corner of her eye—Morozova’s herd. The stag is staring at Alina. Mal pulls out his bow but tells Alina she’ll have to kill it, but Alina asks him to wait as the stag approaches her. She walks to the stag and puts a hand on his muzzle. Alina thinks of how miserable she’s been while traveling, but how happy she is to be with Mal. She knows she can’t kill the stag, and she tells Mal they’ll find another way.
Notice the shift in pronouns: the stag changes from being an “it” to being a “he,” something that highlights that Alina recognizes the stag’s life and sentience. This leads Alina to realize she can’t kill the stag—she’d rather work harder and come up with another way to best the Darkling than take this creature’s life.
Themes
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Out of nowhere, an arrow pierces the stag’s chest. The other deer flee as oprichniki and Grisha appear out of the trees—along with the Darkling. Mal tries to shoot the stag, but a Squaller sends wind to knock the arrow off course. When Mal tries again, the Darkling tries to perform the Cut on the stag. Alina throws herself in front of the stag, and the Darkling directs the Cut at a tree instead. He sends out darkness and Alina summons light, which stays around her, Mal, and the stag. The Darkling chuckles that Alina is doing well, but she’s not strong enough. He begins taunting Mal and asks if Alina has told Mal “what [he] showed [her] in the dark.” Alina blushes, and her light falters.
All at once, the magic of the glade disappears when the Darkling arrives. Both the Darkling and Mal fight to kill the stag—if Mal kills it, nobody gets the stag’s power; if the Darkling kills it, it belongs to him. Alina’s goal, meanwhile, is to keep anyone from killing the stag. As the Darkling taunts Alina, he shows how well he knows her (or girls like her): he essentially taunts her for her sexual interest in him, something he knows will embarrass her in front of Mal. In this way, he continues to use sex as a weapon to control her.
Themes
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
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Alina knows what has to happen: she tells Mal that it’s time. But though Mal picks up his knife, he says he can’t do it. Alina loses control of her light, and people grab her and Mal in the darkness. The Darkling promptly slits the stag’s throat and tells an oprichnik to cut off the stag’s antlers. David appears, unwilling to meet Alina’s eyes—of course, the Darkling would want his best Fabrikator to make the collar. Alina tells David not to do this, but the Darkling snarls that David “understands the future.” Alina refuses to open her coat, so Ivan tortures Mal until Alina obeys.
Mal’s refusal to kill Alina makes some sense—he loves her, and he doesn’t want to kill the person he’s admitted he wants to spend his life with. However, it becomes clear now that this condemns Alina to obeying the Darkling’s every order. The fact that David doesn’t seem proud of cooperating with the Darkling offers some hope that other Grisha don’t agree with what the Darkling is doing.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Alina watches the pieces of bone in the Darkling’s hands. He places them around her neck and seems angry when Alina flinches away. David fuses the ends of the antlers together—and doesn’t create a clasp. Everything is quiet for a moment. Then, the Darkling grips Alina’s shoulder and Alina hears a command inside her. Light bursts out of Alina, but it doesn’t feel right. She can’t resist as the Darkling calls for more and more light, and what once felt joyful now makes Alina feel powerless and like she’s drowning. Finally, the Darkling releases Alina and tells the oprichniki to put Mal in chains. They’ll leave for the Fold in the morning, where they’ll meet the Apparat. After warning Alina not to hurt herself on purpose, the Darkling commands someone to burn the stag.
The fact that there’s no clasp on Morozova’s collar highlights that it is a collar, not a necklace: Alina can’t take it off. The power dynamic is thrown into sharp relief when the Darkling tests Alina’s new power for the first time. The language implies that this is a huge violation. Alina’s power was something that gave her joy, but now, she can’t control it at all—she’s entirely at the Darkling’s mercy. This highlights how little the Darkling cares about other people, and the novel reinforces this when he simply has someone burn the stag’s body. He shows it no respect in death, since he already got what he wanted.  
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon