Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alina wakes up on her back, staring up at the sky—the skiff is clearly leaving the Fold. Remembering the attack and afraid for Mal, she sits up and comes face to face with a rifle barrel. The soldier tells Alina to stay where she is. She takes in the bloody deck, a Healer tending to casualties, and then realizes that soldiers and Grisha are guarding her like she’s a prisoner. Nobody will tell her what happened to Mal. When they reach the drydocks, Alina obediently gets up and walks at gunpoint back into the village she left an hour ago. What happened? Did she break military protocol somehow? She remembers nothing after the pain from the volcra’s claws, and then the light.
Alina’s confusion creates tension for readers. It’s not clear what happened, but clearly, something frightening and important happened in the Fold. It’s another sign of how self-conscious Alina is that she wonders if she somehow broke military protocol and is in trouble, especially since it seems she only did what everyone else on the sandskiff did. That her focus is on Mal shows again how much she cares for him; worrying about him seems to take up almost equal space in her mind.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
The party approaches the Officers’ tent, where the captain fetches Colonel Raevsky—what did Alina do to need a senior officer? When asked what she is, Alina tells him that she’s a mapmaker. With an odd look, the soldiers march Alina to the Grisha tent, where Corporalki Heartrenders and oprichniki, elite soldiers who serve the Darkling, are guarding the entrance. Alina waits outside as the colonel and a Corporalnik confer and go inside, and soon after, the captain leads Alina inside. Alina’s fear disappears: the tent is beautiful, draped in bronze silks with chandeliers and rich furs and rugs. Grisha in their bright kefta lounge around the room. The room is “alive with power and wealth.”
It’s noteworthy that Colonel Raevsky asks what Alina is, not who she is. The implication is that she’s more than a mapmaker, regardless of what she says. Getting to go inside the Grisha tent shows readers and Alina how the Grisha live. They live in luxury, with fancy furnishings and, it seems, more to keep them warm than non-Grisha soldiers. The narration then links this luxury to power and affluence when Alina describes the room as being “alive with power and wealth.” This is where people make decisions that influence all of Ravka.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
The soldiers march Alina to a raised black dais. In front of it are several Corporalki and King’s ministers—as well as a man in a black kefta. The Darkling is the only Grisha allowed to wear black. To Alina’s surprise, the Darkling looks only a bit older than she does. She remembers that powerful Grisha live a long time and flashes on Eva saying the Darkling isn’t natural. In the gathering crowd, Alina catches sight of the pretty Grisha girl who stared at Mal. The girl is clearly whispering about Alina, so Alina gives her a dirty look.
Alina’s first look at the Darkling gives her a bit of a shock: he’s maybe in his early or mid-twenties, something that she implies is at odds with how much power he has. One way he flaunts this power is by being the only Grisha who can wear black; this sets him apart and will be an important thing to remember going forward. Alina also seems to imply that, on some level, she now agrees with Eva: the Darkling is confusing and, perhaps, not a normal person or even a normal Grisha.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
At Colonel Raevsky’s word, the survivors from the sandskiff enter the tent—including the Senior Cartographer, Mikhael, and Mal. Alina wants to run to him, suddenly elated. But then, the Darkling looks at Alina and asks the captain what happened. The captain says, without expression, that the volcra attacked about 30 minutes into the trip. Things were going poorly, and then he saw a blaze of bright light. Alina nods along with the other soldiers; she also saw the light. The captain says they then returned to the drydock, but he didn’t see “the girl.” Raising an eyebrow, the Darkling asks if anyone actually saw what happened.
Alina’s emotional investment in Mal shines through again; she could be in huge trouble, and yet, she’s totally focused on the good news that he survived. During the captain’s testimony, Alina starts to feel a bit better: like everyone else on the skiff, she saw the light. Clearly, then, it’s not a sign that she’s unwell. Given that Alina is the one on trial in this situation, though, the implication is that the light may have come from her—and Alina just doesn’t know it yet.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
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The Senior Cartographer steps up. Wringing his hands, he describes all the blood and seeing volcra carry Alexei off. When he says he saw the volcra go for Alina and Mal, Alina angrily interjects and asks why the Senior Cartographer didn’t step in to help—Alexei might still be alive if he had. Colonel Raevsky silences Alina so the Cartographer can continue. The Cartographer says that then, he saw Alina “light up.” Alina figures he hit his head, but others verify the story. Several Grisha argue about whether this could be true, or if Alina is a “Sun Summoner”—and several laugh at the idea. The Darkling silences everyone and asks Mal what he saw. Mal describes the diving volcra and how the world just started to “shin[e].” But he insists that he’d know if Alina had special powers.
As Alina sees it, the real tragedy of the trip into the Fold is that people in charge, like the Senior Cartographer, didn’t go out of their way to protect subordinates like Alexei. And this led to numerous casualties that she believes were senseless. Indeed, this all seems far more important to her than the possibility that she herself is a Grisha—especially given the implication that being a “Sun Summoner” is highly unusual. Mal demonstrates his loyalty to Alina by insisting that he knows her well and that she can’t keep secrets from him. By extension, this suggests he may be aware of her crush.
Themes
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Noting that everyone keeps secrets, the Darkling approaches Alina and asks what she thinks happened. As he looks her over like she’s “something strange and shiny,” Alina maintains she did nothing. He commands her to hold out her arm and push up her sleeve. Alina is terrified. Saying that they’ll see what Alina can do, the Darkling claps his hands, filling the tent with darkness. He grabs her wrist and suddenly, her fear disappears. Alina feels a “call” go through her and she tries not to answer it—somehow, she knows that it’ll destroy her if she lets herself answer. But when the Darkling cuts her arm, the thing in Alina explodes out of her—and white light bursts around her, destroying the Darkling’s manufactured darkness.
That the Darkling looks at Alina like she’s “something strange and shiny” suggests that he doesn’t see her as a person. She’s an object and a tool to him, and when he touches her and makes light burst out of her, it shows that she’s a tool he can use. Alina’s feelings about the Darkling touching her are important. She’s terrified, but he touches her anyway. And it turns out that his touch raises more confusing feelings: Alina doesn’t want to be touched and she doesn’t want to let the thing inside her out. But she’s also no longer afraid.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Quotes
The Darkling catches Alina as she stumbles and then hands her to an oprichnik. He calls for Ivan, a tall Heartrender, and tells him to escort Alina to the Little Palace in his coach, along with a Healer. Alina protests—she’s not Grisha. But the Darkling says Alina has no clue what she is and turns away. Ivan roughly drags Alina down the aisle, ignoring her protests that she’s just a mapmaker. Alina looks back and meets Mal’s eyes. She wants to run to him, but she can’t.
Instantly, the Darkling situates himself as the one true authority on what Alina is. She’s no longer in control of her life, who she is, or where she goes—the Darkling is. The hurry and force with which the Darkling and Ivan bustle Alina away suggest that she’s more important or valuable than she realizes. But again, keeping her in the dark about it shows that they view her as a tool, rather than as an autonomous person.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon