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New Featurette Takes You Inside The World Of Netflix's Shadow And Bone

Two years ago, Netflix announced that it was developing an adaptation of the popular 2012 fantasy novel Shadow and Bone, written by Leigh Bardugo (via Deadline). The show, executive produced by Bardugo, is currently set to debut its first season on April 23. It will follow a similar plot to its source material and also include characters and storylines from Bardugo's other novels set in her "Grishaverse." The most notable of these inclusions will be from Six of Crows, whose major characters are set to be key players in the live-action Shadow and Bone series.

Now, Netflix has shared with expectant audiences a new featurette that takes them inside this version of the Grishaverse. The featurette serves as a pretty thorough introduction to the series for newcomers and a nice refresher for longtime fans. It covers the basics of the show's major characters, the challenges they face, and the world they inhabit — without spoiling the plot's twists and turns.

The world of Shadow and Bone is like no other

The Grishaverse isn't your average fantasy IP. As detailed in the new featurette, the world of the Grishaverse is a land of "wonder and magic and adventure and scope," inspired by the culture and society of 1800s Russia, when Tsars were still in power and the world was just beginning to industrialize. Different types of mages called Grisha inhabit the war-torn landscape of its three principal countries: Fjerda, Shu Han, and Ravka. Of these three, Ravka plays the most important role, as it's the homeland of the show's protagonists.

Ravka also happens to be plagued by a mysterious "swath of darkness" called the Shadow Fold. The Shadow Fold practically bisects Ravka, forcing its inhabitants to make expeditions across its landscape to reach the ocean. Inside the Shadow Fold, however, are deadly creatures called Volcra, who routinely prey on Ravka's supply runs.

Meanwhile, in the city of Ketterdam on the Isle of Kerch, we meet the characters from Six of Crows. Basically, Ketterdam is to the Grishaverse what Mos Eisley is to the Star Wars franchise. It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy wherein the amoral con artists of the Grishaverse thrive. As the story progresses, the characters from Ketterdam are set on a collision course with the story's main characters and conflicts in Ravka.

Who are Shadow and Bone's main characters?

Just like the novel, the main story of Netflix's Shadow and Bone focuses primarily on Alina Starkov (Jessi May Li) and her best friend Mal (Archi Renaux), low-ranking members of the Ravkan infantry who become integral to the ongoing war after it's revealed that Alina is a uniquely powerful Grisha known as the Sun Summoner. She's the person capable of truly combating the Shadow Fold, which continually hampers Ravka in its war efforts.

Alina's status as the Sun Summoner makes her incredibly valuable, both to foreign powers and to General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), the leader of Ravka's Grisha forces. General Kirigan is also Alina's foil as the world's only Shadow Summoner. Here is where Alina's story begins. As Alina learns to control her abilities, powerful figures of the Grishaverse put a high bounty on her head. This attracts the attention of the Six of Crows, a group of underground criminals led by Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter).

Viewers will be able to learn more about Alina and her story when Shadow and Bone premiers on Netflix on April 23. So far, the show has been confirmed for only a single season, which is set to run for eight episodes. The show is run and written by Eric Heisserer, who also co-executive produces the project with Leigh Bardugo.