Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Shadow & Bone Season 2: Who Is Sturmhond?

Contains spoilers for "Shadow and Bone" Season 2

Sturmhond is a pirate. Careful, though — he prefers the term privateer. It has a more romantic ring to it and Sturmhond is nothing if not a romantic. He's also a brilliant inventor and a charming conversationalist but, again, those are mostly his words. Most importantly, the privateer is the captain of his own vessel, sailing the True Sea with his crew where, together, they do what only they can — sabotage Ravka's enemies. Because Sturmhond isn't just a scourge of the sea, he's secret royalty. 

Sturmhond is only an alias. His real name is Nikolai Lantsov (Patrick Gibson), second-born prince of Ravka. Because of his status as second in line, the throne was never technically an option for him. If Nikolai wanted to enact change, he would have to do it elsewhere. So, under the guise of piracy, Nikolai controls the sea to best defend his homeland without any of those pesky laws getting in the way. 

The bastard prince

While Season 2 of "Shadow and Bone" hardly covers it, Nikolai's tenure as Sturmhond genuinely improves the living situation for Ravkan citizens — not only by safeguarding its borders but by offering the citizens a folk hero. As a pirate, Nikolai wins the heart of his people. Even so, his efforts aren't always altruistic. Whether as Sturmhond or as Nikolai, the second-born prince has another reason to strive for success: he's not technically of Lantsov blood.

In the later "Rule of Wolves" duology, Leigh Bardugo reveals that Nikolai is the result of an affair between his queen mother and a Fjerdan shipping magnate. But in Bardugo's "Shadow and Bone" trilogy, Nikolai's true lineage is a point of notable curiosity. Rumors that Nikolai is a bastard, unfit to bear the Lantsov name, haunt him like a poisonous shadow. As Sturmhond, Nikolai is not only free of legal ramifications, he is free of the unkind spotlight. That freedom means everything. 

Free or not, Nikolai's actions are spurred by a desire to deserve his station. He studies and trains and strategizes more than any other royal because he refuses to appear weak or lesser than his family. He never is lesser, though. Unlike his family, who are cruel, vile, and greedy, Nikolai possesses a pure heart. A massive ego and a sharp tongue, sure, but a pure heart — one that is destined to lead Ravka toward healing.