Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ivan leads Alina back to her tent and soon after, Genya arrives to help Alina get dressed. Alina puts on the black silk kefta she wore to the winter fete and then Genya piles Alina’s hair high on her head with gold pins—the better to show off Morozova’s collar. Then, Ivan escorts Alina to the Darkling and they all walk to the drydocks. On the sandskiff, Alina meets Fjerdan ambassadors, a delegation from Shu Han, and an envoy from the King. The Darkling clearly brought them to witness his new power, but how far will he go? Summoners send wind into the sails and the sandskiff moves into the Fold. Alina isn’t afraid like she was last time. She realizes she once looked forward to this: to pleasing the Darkling and becoming the orphan who changed the world.
Alina’s entire look symbolizes that the Darkling controls her every move. Her black kefta, recall, is the Darkling’s color, which highlights that her relationship to the Darkling is more important than what she can do. Morozova’s collar, meanwhile, is also a symbol of the Darkling’s power—though it's unclear if anyone else is aware of this at this point. As Alina enters the Fold, she can’t ignore how much she’s changed in the last year. She’s no longer happy to please the Darkling and change the world, as she believes she’s bringing about something terrible rather than something good. 
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
When the skiff is well into the Fold, the Darkling tells the Inferni to release fire; this will draw the volcra to the sandskiff. Alina hears them coming and, now that she knows the volcra were once people, their cries sound almost human. When the volcra get close, the Darkling grips Alina’s arm and draws her power out. The light bursts out of her, illuminating the Fold. There are shipwrecks on the sand and volcra above. Looking around, Alina thinks the Grisha principle “like calls to like” is true: this emptiness, this dead space populated by monsters, is just like the Darkling’s soul.
The entirety of the Fold represents the Darkling’s soul and his greed. He’s willing to turn people into monsters if it makes him powerful—including the volcra, but also including Alina. He’s left all manner of “shipwrecks” in his wake, as he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. And the darkness also is a classic symbol for evil, strengthening the association even more.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Quotes
Alina follows the Darkling’s command to create a path. The sandskiff flies ahead and soon, Alina can see the West Ravkan village Novokribirsk ahead. People there are staring at the light in the Fold. But the skiff slows, and the Darkling raises his arms. He doesn’t listen to Alina’s cries and instead sends darkness rippling along the path Alina made. It engulfs the village, and the volcra begin killing villagers. Alina tries desperately to expand the light or somehow make the Darkling stop, but she can’t.
While things felt different this time around, now, the trip into the Fold mirrors Alina’s first, with the volcra killing innocent people. The difference, though, is that the Darkling clearly planned for the villagers here to die, just to make a point to those on the sandskiff about how powerful he is. Alina can’t avoid how powerful the Darkling is, and she cannot wrest any of her power back from him.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Finally, the Darkling stops and turns to the passengers on the skiff. The message is clear: he could ravage the Shu Han or Fjerda tomorrow, if he wants. When the envoy says the King won’t stand for this, the Darkling says the King will do as he’s told. He says from now on, there are no individual countries. There’s the Fold and whatever land is outside of it. There will be peace. Alina knows he’s serious. Turning to the Grisha and the soldiers, he asks them to tell everyone about what they’ve seen and to say that a new age has begun. Most people cheer, though a few soldiers and several Grisha look concerned. Most people are afraid, but they don’t care that the Darkling just slaughtered a village. They want the wars to end and Ravka to be powerful.
As Alina studies the Grisha, the soldiers, and the diplomats, she realizes just how bad of a position the King has left Ravka in. To many of these people, she can tell that they understand how powerful the Darkling is—and they believe that this kind of power, though it has the potential to be violent, is the only way forward. It is, again, seemingly the best of several bad options. However, it is worth noting that the Darkling targeted a village where, presumably, mostly lower-class people live. Due to the class strife in Ravka, the wealthy people on the ship simply don’t care as much when the victims are poor.
Themes
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Quotes
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Then, at the Darkling’s signal, Ivan throws Mal over the skiff’s railing. Alina screams and punches Ivan, stunning him. The Darkling’s power tells Alina to contract her circle of light, and Alina is powerless to resist. Alina sobs and screams, but Mal just stands in the sand. He shrieks as the darkness and the volcra reach him. Suddenly, Alina is back in the glade with the stag, and she realizes why he keeps visiting her dreams. He’s not haunting her to taunt her for being weak. Rather, the stag has been trying to show Alina the power of mercy. Mercy is power, and the Darkling doesn’t understand it. So, the stag’s power belongs to Alina—not the Darkling. Gasping, Alina takes control of her power and expands the circle of light to include Mal.
Within the world of the novel, mercy, compassion, and kindness are far more powerful than greed and straightforward power grabs—and now, finally, Alina realizes this is the case. It’s notable, too, that Alina realizes this as she tries to protect Mal, someone she loves. This is also how and why her power ultimately burst out of her at the beginning of the novel, suggesting that Alina can gain power for herself and gain more self-knowledge as she tries to help others. With this, she also emerges as the polar opposite of the Darkling, who wants only to help himself.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Quotes
The Darkling, confused, tries to take Alina’s power back, but she shrugs him off. She knows he won’t kill her; he needs her to get back out of the Fold. Sure of herself, Alina performs the Cut, sending one of the sandskiff’s masts falling. The Darkling looks shocked, but he tells Alina she’s not a murderer. Alina asks everyone assembled if they really want a dark world. If they work together, they can stop the Darkling. But everyone is too afraid to fight the Darkling. Knowing what she must do, Alina dives for the rail and lets the light go out. She runs toward Mal, surrounding them both in light. People shoot at Alina and Mal, and the Darkling shouts that she can’t run.
As Alina predicted, the Darkling has no idea Alina could even take her power back, since he doesn’t understand that mercy itself is powerful. But he's still not without his own particular skills: he appeals to Alina’s desire to essentially be a good person to try to convince her not to abandon or outright kill everyone on the sandskiff. Alina, though, now knows that she can’t trust the Darkling to ever keep his word. So, her only option, as she sees it, is to leave him and run with Mal.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Alina can’t let the Darkling come after her. He has to die, though she’s not sure everyone else on the skiff does. The Darkling says that Alina knows what will happen if she kills people, and he asks if this is her idea of mercy. Alina waves her hand, splitting the skiff in half. Then she grabs Mal and they race for West Ravka in a dome of light. They hide in an orchard once they leave the Fold and begin traveling toward the coast that evening. They reach the True Sea before dawn and stand there, staring at it.
The Darkling essentially implies that if Alina kills people to save Mal, she’s starting down a morally complicated path—and, perhaps, is just as bad as he is. But for now, the novel leaves this question for later installments and focuses instead on Alina and Mal’s relief at escaping, and at Alina having taken her power back from the Darkling.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Mal plucks a gold hairpin from Alina’s hair; he’ll use it to buy clothes. Alina’s heart twists. She’s never going to see Genya again. But she tries not to think about that, or about what she did in the Fold, as Mal leaves. Some part of Alina wants to feel as powerful as she did in the Fold, when she cut the skiff in half. Alina doesn’t want to think of the people who died. Is the Darkling even dead? Alina spends the entire afternoon getting increasingly anxious and almost cries when Mal returns. She dresses in the ugly orange dress he brought for her and feels like she’s putting down a huge burden as she drops the black kefta on the ground. Alina and Mal agree that she’ll never wear black again.
Already, Alina begins to see what the Darkling was getting at when he warned her not to kill people in the Fold: using her power to do something as huge as the Cut is intoxicating, even if she did kill people. Still, Alina still doesn’t think of herself as being associated with the Darkling. Taking off the kefta, for instance, symbolizes a shrugging off of the Darkling’s hold on her. Now, she’s her own person and can use her power however she wants.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Quotes
Mal pulls out a scarf to cover Morozova’s collar. He says they’ll figure out how to get rid of the collar before summer, but Alina protests—it’s the only way they can get rid of the Shadow Fold. She doesn’t tell Mal how much it feels like the collar belongs to her. The stag’s power feels like part of Alina’s power, and she doesn’t really want to lose it. As Mal studies Alina’s face, Alina remembers the Darkling’s warning. But she promises Mal they’ll get rid of the collar. They burn the black kefta as Mal pulls the pins from Alina’s hair, kisses her, and holds her.
Things are already getting complicated for Alina—power, her reaction to Mal’s suggestion implies, is intoxicating. Again, though, this is a problem for later books in the series. With this novel ending with Mal and Alina burning the kefta, Alina symbolically frees herself from the Darkling in a very final way. She’s chosen Mal, and she’s chosen to destroy evidence that she ever belonged to the Darkling.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon