Review by Dan Skip Allen
Shadow and Bone is based on the books Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows, a young adult fantasy adventure by Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo. The first season premiered on Netflix in 2021 with good reviews and a lot of fan fervor. This March, the second season premieres. It picks up where the last season ended, so fans won't have a hard time following along.
The second season doesn't spread out the characters as much as the first, but they are separated into two distinct groups most of the season. One group features Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and Malyen (Archie Renaux), who meet Nikolia Lansov (Patrick Gibson), the future king. He helps them gather an army to fight against General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) and his dark creatures from The Fold.
Another group is led by Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), with crew Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), Inej Ghafa (Amita Surnan), and Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan). Together, they help him finish some unfinished business with Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly), before they get commissioned to retrieve a sword that may help destroy General Kirigan and his dark army of creatures from The Fold. Eventually, the two groups find each other and battle with the dark forces.
The thing about fantasy television series or films based on popular book series is that they have to keep the feel and tone of the books. Not having read the books, I don't know if that'd be the case, but from what I'm watching, the series seems authentic to this world that it creates. There are visual effects that play into that mix. The fighting scenes are pretty cool, and the aesthetic of the show seems pretty on point with similar fantasy shows of its kind.
With this show having such a sprawling cast, it's hard to focus on any one character for too long. Each of the characters has their own arc and motivation. As a viewer of the show, it forces you to take sides and root for one group over the other. That's the nature of these types of series or films. If the characters weren't so interesting, the show wouldn't work as much as it does.
Season 2 of Shadow and Bone delves deeper into the world created by Leigh Bardugo. Eric Heisserer did as well as one could adapting these novels into a series. They reach far and wide. They have a universal appeal to fans and newcomers who are watching for the first time. There is heart and love, as well as pain and anguish within each episode of season 2. The main characters all have room to shine, while supporting characters have surprising arcs of their own. With so many characters in the show, that's a hard thing to do.
Shadow and Bone is now streaming on Netflix. All eight episodes reviewed.