Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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The King Character Analysis

The King of Ravka is in his mid-40s. Rather than being an imposing figure, the King is unattractive, with watery eyes and a weak chin. However, the King is still quite powerful, and he uses his power to sexually abuse and manipulate his servants: Genya reveals that the King forces many of his female servants, including her, to sleep with him. Female Grisha are also warned to lock their doors at night, presumably against the King. The King, Alina realizes, is far more caught up in living a comfortable life than he is in ruling. Grisha often speak of him as incompetent and uncaring, especially about his poorer subjects—many blame his unwillingness to take action and use his station to help people for the century-long wars ravaging Ravka. This leads many Grisha to support the Darkling when the Darkling seizes power for himself; the Darkling, unlike the King, is willing to do something. It’s implied that the Darkling does away with the King by having Genya cause the King to fall seriously ill.

The King Quotes in Shadow and Bone

The Shadow and Bone quotes below are all either spoken by The King or refer to The King. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
).
Chapter 7 Quotes

Everywhere I looked, I saw marble and gold, soaring walls of white and palest blue, gleaming chandeliers, liveried footmen, polished parquet floors laid out in elaborate geometric designs. It wasn’t without beauty, but there was something exhausting about the extravagance of it all. I’d always assumed that Ravka’s hungry peasants and poorly supplied soldiers were the result of the Shadow Fold. But as we walked by a tree of jade embellished with diamond leaves, I wasn’t so sure.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), The King
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

“Alina, the Darkling doesn’t notice most of us. We’re moments he’ll forget in his long life. And I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. Just…be careful.”

I stared at her, baffled. “Of what?”

“Of powerful men.”

“Genya,” I asked before I could lose my nerve, “what happened between you and the King?”

She examined the toes of her satin slippers. “The King has his way with lots of servants,” she said.

Related Characters: Genya (speaker), Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling, The King
Related Symbols: Alina’s Kefta
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

“Just admit it,” he sneered. “He owns you.”

“He owns you, too, Mal,” I lashed back. “He owns us all.”

Related Characters: Malyen “Mal” Oretsov (speaker), Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling, The King
Related Symbols: Alina’s Kefta
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

He wasn’t at all shocked to hear of the contempt with which most Grisha regarded the King. Apparently, the trackers had been grumbling more and more loudly amongst themselves about the King’s incompetence.

“The Fjerdans have a breech-loading rifle that can fire twenty-eight rounds per minute. Our soldiers should have them, too. If the King could be bothered to take an interest in the First Army, we wouldn’t be so dependent on the Grisha. But it’ll never happen,” he told me. Then he muttered, “We all know who’s running the country.”

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), Malyen “Mal” Oretsov (speaker), The Darkling, The King
Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

“He plans to bring us peace.”

“At what price?” I asked desperately. “You know this is madness.”

“Did you know I had two brothers?” Ivan asked abruptly. The familiar smirk was gone from his handsome face. “Of course not. They weren’t born Grisha. They were soldiers, and they both died fighting the King’s wars. So did my father. So did my uncle.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yes, everyone is sorry. The King is sorry. The Queen is sorry. I’m sorry. But only the Darkling will do something about it.”

Related Characters: Ivan (speaker), Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling, The King, The Queen
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

They’re hungry for this, I realized. Even after they’ve seen what he can do, even after watching their own people die. The Darkling wasn’t just offering them an end to war, but an end to weakness. After all these long years of terror and suffering, he would give them something that had seemed permanently beyond their grasp: victory. And despite their fear, they loved him for it.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling, The King
Page Number: 342
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Shadow and Bone LitChart as a printable PDF.
Shadow and Bone PDF

The King Character Timeline in Shadow and Bone

The timeline below shows where the character The King appears in Shadow and Bone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Before
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...clothes they desire. Ana Kuya says this would be the best way to serve the King. The children exchange glances and grab hands. Nobody sees the look pass between them, but... (full context)
Chapter 3
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
...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... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...about what will happen when they get to Os Alta. She’s certain she’ll disappoint the King and the Darkling, since she’s not special. They’ll probably kill her, and she didn’t even... (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...This gives way to a wide gravel path that leads, finally, to the Grand Palace—the King’s winter home. The Darkling rides up next to Alina and asks what she thinks of... (full context)
Chapter 6
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...use with a child, the girl, Genya, explains that Alina is being presented to the King in an hour. (full context)
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
When Alina continues to argue, Genya says the Darkling sent her because the King loves beauty. Looks are everything here, and Alina should look the part of Ravka’s savior.... (full context)
Chapter 7
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption 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... (full context)
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...eats and sleeps at the Grand Palace so she’s always available to the Queen—and the King. Suddenly, Alina isn’t hungry. (full context)
Chapter 14
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Alina asks Genya what happened with the King. Genya explains that the King “has his way” with many servants, and she got jewelry... (full context)
Chapter 15
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...the Second Army and Grisha won’t be important anymore. The Darkling will just serve the King. But if he controls the Fold, he’s the one in charge. Then, Baghra explains that... (full context)
Chapter 18
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...talk as they travel. Mal isn’t surprised to hear that most Grisha don’t like the King; the trackers and soldiers are also annoyed. Fjerdans have far superior weapons, and Ravkan soldiers... (full context)
Chapter 20
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...two brothers, a father, and an uncle—they weren’t Grisha, and they all died fighting the King’s wars. Everyone, including the King and Queen, are sorry for his loss. But the Darkling... (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...Deciding to take a chance, Alina asks if she could somehow get word to the King about what the Darkling is planning. Genya reveals that the King is ill, so the... (full context)
Chapter 21
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...isn’t being fair. Laughing, the Darkling says someone has to help the people, and the King won’t do it. But Alina shakes her head, so the Darkling calls her to him.... (full context)
Chapter 22
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
...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... (full context)