Shadow and Bone


Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

The next morning is extremely busy. Finally, Alina joins Alexei and the other cartographers and boards a sandskiff, silent sleds that blow over the sands in the Fold. There are two Grisha Etherealki at the front; they control winds and will fill the sandskiff’s sails. Mal and the trackers are on the other side of the skiff, armed with rifles. At a shout from the dock’s foreman, men push the skiffs into the Fold. It’s like drifting into smoke. Everything becomes still and dark; Alina can’t even see her own hand. Hopefully, their party passes through the Fold without the volcra noticing them—but Alexei grabs Alina’s wrist and hisses for her to listen.
The preparations to enter the Fold highlight how dangerous and how big of a deal it is to try to get through the Fold unnoticed—and without major loss of life, if a sandskiff does get noticed. This illustrates just how much the Fold dictates life in Ravka: it creates huge problems as people try to cross it for military or commerce reasons. For now, the Etherealki seem like a tolerated part of this expedition; nobody says anything judgmental about them.
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Alina can hear wings in the distance, as well as people on the ship cocking triggers. At the signal, Grisha send flames into the air—and the flames illuminate hundreds of terrifying, shrieking volcra. Alexei and Alina cling to each other, but a volcra sinks its claws into Alexei’s back and carries him away. Alina screams for him, which just attracts another volcra to her. Mal shoots at it, but the volcra rushes at Mal and Alina. Alina stabs a knife into its shoulders, but Mal collapses due to his injuries. Alina kneels by him and puts her forehead to his. As two more volcra approach, Mal says he’ll meet Alina in their meadow. Just as a volcra sinks its claws into Alina’s shoulders, everything goes white. Volcra shriek and Alina passes out.
This scene is terrifying and chaotic, suggesting that, despite all their preparations, Ravkans still aren’t well prepared to handle the volcra in the Fold. And though Alina is focused on Alexei and Mal, the three of them are almost certainly not the only ones killed. This highlights again how dangerous crossing the Fold is. However, in this tense moment, Alina and Mal seem to reaffirm their friendship (or their love) for each other. Mentioning their meadow suggests that they both idealize their childhood and wish they could go back to that relatively happy, innocent time.
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