Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Darkling says, “We are expected.” With this, the Grisha arrange themselves into a line two abreast, with the Materialki first, then the Etherealki, and the Corporalki—the highest ranked Grisha—last. He then approaches Alina and says she looks well rested. Alina asks if there are other Tailors, but the Darkling explains that Genya is special, and she’s not walking with them because she attends to the Queen. When he saw her abilities, instead of letting her become a Fabrikator or a Corporalnik, he “cultivated her particular affinity” and gifted her to the Queen. Alina asks if Genya is any better than a serf, but the Darkling responds that they all serve someone.
Already, it’s becoming clear that the Grisha observe a strict hierarchy—and that Genya is at the very bottom of it. The Darkling also shows that, just as he found and plucked Alina out of the masses, he did the same to Genya, honing her gifts and then giving her a particular task. The difference at this point seems to be that, while Alina will presumably be one of the Grisha and have control of her life, Genya is beholden to the royal family—saying he “gifted” her to the Queen suggests Genya is fairly powerless.
Themes
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Then, the Darkling says the King will want a demonstration, but Alina doesn’t have to know how to do anything. When Alina snaps that this isn’t fair, the Darling says he’s never fair—but he won’t make a fool of her. If she cooperates, he won’t even have to cut her again. By now, the line of Grisha has reached the front steps of the Grand Palace. The inside is entirely marble and gold, with trees made of jewels. Alina always thought the Shadow Fold was to blame for the poverty in Ravka—but now, she’s not sure.
Again and again, the Darkling tells Alina he’s a dangerous person—the fact that he’s never fair suggests that Alina should expect manipulation. As Alina looks around the Grand Palace, it starts to seem more like Ravka’s poor are poor because those in power, like the King, choose to enrich themselves rather than help their subjects.
Themes
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Quotes
Finally, the Darkling leads Alina into the throne room, through the ladies and gentlemen assembled and to the golden throne. The King is excited—but he’s a plain, unattractive man. Next to him is a dark man with a priest’s robe emblazoned with the King’s double eagle symbol. The King studies Alina and observes that she’s plain, but he asks for a demonstration. The Darkling claps, filling the room with darkness. Alina feels the Darkling grab her hand, and then she feels the Darkling’s call in her body. She lets something rise inside of her—and light bursts out of her, causing the darkness to disappear. The King insists this is a miracle and gets up to grab and kiss Alina’s hand. Alina’s skin crawls. Then, the King praises the Darkling and leads him away to “make plans.”
The King reads as something of a selfish, spoiled child, especially given what Genya said earlier about how much the King loves beautiful women at his court. He’s initially unimpressed with Alina because she’s not all that pretty, but he’s willing to set aside this perceived infraction when he sees what she’s capable of. When Alina observes her skin crawling—but allows the King to kiss her hand anyway—she recognizes how little power she has in this situation. The Darkling and the King are in charge here, and she must play along whether she’s comfortable or not.
Themes
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
The priest stares at Alina in a disturbing way. He reminds Alina of a tomb, but thankfully, he follows the King. Then, the mass of beautiful people converges on Alina. Everyone wants to touch her, but Genya appears and pulls Alina away: the Queen wants to meet her. The Queen is in a sitting room, surrounded by ladies and snuffling dogs. Genya has clearly done work on her: her eyes are too blue, and her hair is too blond. Neither the Queen nor her ladies are as beautiful as Genya. Alina bows to the Queen and then answers the Queen’s questions: she comes from a peasant family, but her parents are dead and she was raised by Duke Keramsov. The Queen says it’s “marvelous” that Alina is an orphan and warns her to not let court corrupt her, implying that it’s corrupted Genya. Genya doesn’t acknowledge the insult.
As Alina describes the Queen, the Queen emerges as a bit of a try-hard: she wants to be the most beautiful woman at court, and she uses Genya to help in this regard, but it’s clear to anyone that she isn’t succeeding. Moreover, the Queen shows how out of touch she is when she insists it’s “marvelous” that Alina is an orphan. This is an insensitive thing to say at any time, but in this context, it suggests that the Queen idealizes difficult peasant life and sees Alina more as a compelling rags-to-riches story than as a person who’s suffered extreme hardship.
Themes
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
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Clearly annoyed, the Queen dismisses Alina and Genya. In the hall, the Darkling intercepts them. Alina admits that she’s not sure if the Queen liked her, since the Queen kept looking at her like she was vomit. The Darkling says that’s court: nobody likes it, but they all pretend to. He explains that the man in priests’ robes is the Apparat; the man is either a fraud or a fanatic, but he “has his uses.” With this, the Darkling tells Genya to take Alina back to her room and fit her for her kefta—which will be black. Horrified, Alina asks if she can wear Summoners’ blue instead. She already feels like she doesn’t belong. The Darkling gives in and walks away. Shocked, Genya says that wearing black would’ve marked Alina as special and important, but Alina snaps that she doesn’t want to be more important than everyone else. 
The Darkling essentially suggests that doing one’s best to fit in is the name of the game at court. It doesn’t matter if people enjoy the intrigue and catty drama or not—they have to conform, or they’re going to be even more miserable. It’s interesting when the Darkling initially insists on Alina’s kefta being black. This will set Alina apart from the others and mark her as powerful, but Alina just wants to fit in. Wearing blue will make her look like just another Summoner, which will be more comfortable for her. Her biggest concern, for now, is fitting in.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Quotes
Alina realizes that Genya’s kefta is the same color as the servants’ uniforms—that explains why she thinks Alina is silly for refusing to wear black. When they reach Alina’s room, Genya summons a seamstress and asks if Alina wants to eat dinner with the other Grisha. Alina asks if Genya would stay and eat with her here, and Genya hesitates but asks the servant for dinner for two. Then, Genya explains that Corporalki, Summoners, and Fabrikators don’t mix. She says she’s happy to stay and eat, but other Grisha might not like Alina spending time with Genya. The other Grisha don’t think what Genya does is valuable, and she’s mocked because she’s “the Queen’s pet.” Alina wonders if the King is also involved and wonders how it must feel to be separated from the Grisha and not a real member of court.
Understanding that Genya’s kefta marks her as a servant (though the fact that she’s wearing a kefta at all also marks her as a Grisha) highlights for Alina that Genya doesn’t fit in anywhere. Alina might really like Genya, but she doesn’t yet have the power to force others to be nice and accept Genya—especially now that she’s chosen to become just another Summoner. The fact that Genya tries to explain so much to Alina about how the social structure works indicates that she realizes it’s in Alina’s best interests to fit in—and even if it might hurt, she will understand if Alina chooses to prioritize her reputation and social standing over their burgeoning friendship.
Themes
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
The seamstress arrives to fit Alina for her kefta, and Alina insists it be made in blue. The food arrives after, and fortunately, it’s not too exotic. Genya gossips about people Alina doesn’t know over dinner and promises to come get Alina for breakfast in the morning. She warns Alina to rest, as tomorrow she’ll met Baghra—an “absolute treat.” With this, Genya leaves. Suddenly, Alina’s excitement disappears and she’s exhausted, anxious, and lonely. She dresses for bed, admires Genya’s work on her face again, and climbs into bed smiling. Alina listens to everyone else going to sleep in neighboring rooms. She’s never had her own room before, and it’s lonely. Crying, she wonders if this is a dream. Maybe she’ll wake up tomorrow and be able to tell Mal about it.
That Alina continues to insist on getting a blue kefta isn’t just a sign that she wants to fit in with the Summoners; it also suggests that at this point she’s not particularly concerned with pleasing the Darkling. But though she stands up for herself in this regard, once she’s on her own, Alina can’t ignore the fact that she’s lost and lonely in a totally unfamiliar world. Genya is making things feel a bit better, but she’s not a lifelong friend like Mal—and even she speaks in puzzles, as when she refuses to say more about Baghra.
Themes
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon