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You won’t come away empty-handed if you’re searching for easter eggs in “Shadow and Bone” on Netflix. Netflix’s adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s beloved Grishaverse books draws from both the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy and the “Six of Crows” duology, so homages often flash across the screen for loyal fans to enjoy. If the show is your first experience in Bardugo’s vivid fantasy world, you won’t notice these hidden references. Most are drawn from the “Six of Crows” duology, since it has a denser plot, better world-building and more points of view from more complex and diverse characters than the “Shadow and Bone” trilogy (though some borrow from the trilogy, or add to it to foreshadow future plot points). Bibliophiles in love with Ravkan Grisha, swooning over the barren ice of Fjerda, intrigued by enemies to the south or cheering on the thieves of Ketterdam must read on for a list of fun references to the books. Major spoiler alert for the books and the show ahead!
Matthias Helvar and the wolf head
After a perilous ordeal at sea and then over sheets of ice, Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan) and Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman) find themselves in Ravkan territory at an inn. After they make plans for the future, Nina runs downstairs to check if all is clear for Matthias to descend as well. When she returns to give him the go ahead, he is staring with distress at a wolf head mounted on the wall of the inn.
To viewers who haven’t read the books, you might think Matthias simply has a love for animals. To devoted readers, you’ll know that Matthias is a Fjerdan witch-hunter, or druskëlle, and that wolves are sacred creatures to their order. They breed Isenulf, a kind of wolf that bonds with the witch-hunters and becomes a brother-at-arms. This reference may send a stab of pain through readers. We know that Matthias will soon be forced to kill wolves for entertainment, and that his own wolf will become an outcast doomed to die alone in the ice.
Kaz Brekker and the DeKappel painting
In the first few chapters of “Six of Crows,” criminal prodigy and gang leader Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) is jumped by a merchant named Jan Van Eck who propositions him for an impossible heist. When asked why he chose Kaz for the job, Van Eck hints that he knows Kaz stole a prized DeKappel painting of his. That painting appears in Kaz’s first scene in the show. It immediately positions Kaz as the dangerous thief the streets of Ketterdam created.
Mal Oretsev and the ringing noise
Though perhaps this jumps to conclusions based on knowledge of the trilogy, it’s likely that the ringing noise Mal Oretsev (Archie Renoux) hears when he holds Alina Starkov’s (Jessie Mei Li) hand or approaches Morozova’s stag references his status as one of Morozova’s amplifiers. Why would an otkazat’sya have the ability to sense merzost or Grisha power? Because he himself is an amplifier, which we learn in “Ruin and Rising,” the final installment in the trilogy.
Jesper Fahey’s Fabrikator abilities
If you haven’t read the books, you might wonder how Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) has an inhuman ability to shoot anything without seeing it. If you had, you know it’s because Jesper is in fact Grisha, a secret revealed toward the end of “Six of Crows.” He belongs to the Materialki, or the order of Fabrikators, which means Jesper can manipulate composite materials like glass or metal.
“No mourners, no funerals”
Said without context, viewers may tilt their heads in confusion at the sound of the Dregs’ dire motto. Fans of the books will chuckle conspiratorially as if they are a part of the Ketterdam gang. These words pass for “good luck” among the Dregs. They also hint at something more sinister: the recognition that, as they are but gang members of the Barrel, no one will bury them or give them a funeral.
Ketterdam’s famous waffles
One of the best parts about Nina Zenik’s character is her love of food. Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for a healthy depiction of a character, especially a woman who isn’t skin and bones and instead savors her dessert. Everyone in “Six of Crows” mentions waffles with relish, especially Nina. It’s customary among the Dregs to treat others to waffles as a thank you. She introduces Matthias to them when they dine at the Ravkan inn.
Who could resist the unlikely pairing of a pious Suli former acrobat turned sex slave turned deadly gang member and a criminal genius consumed by vengeance and so traumatized he can’t stand contact with human skin? Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) lived as a traveling performer before slavers ripped her away from her parents and sold her to a brothel in Ketterdam’s West Stave, the Menagerie, run by a ruthless Heleen Van Houdon. Seeing her potential as a spy for his gang, Kaz freed her from the Menagerie to gather intelligence. They form a wary bond that mainly consists of intense gazes, Suli proverbs and sharp retorts. From the get-go, the chemistry between the two characters hangs tangible in the air. Each interaction in the show hints at the romance and friendship that grows between them in the “Six of Crows” duology.
Inej’s first kill
The most telling plot point the show delivers between Kaz and Inej is her first kill. The books mention that she wept after she killed for the first time, and that Kaz ignored her sobs, but they don’t elaborate on the circumstances of that kill. In the show, Kaz questions Inej’s trustworthiness in a fight-to-the-death because her religion forbids murder. Later, when an Inferni almost burns Kaz alive, Inej flings one of her precious knives through his skull, saving Kaz’s life. On the sand skiv while crossing the Fold, Kaz jumps in front of a disarmed Inej to rescue her from a volcra with nothing but his crow’s head cane.
The Darkling’s name
The books refer to the antagonist of “Shadow and Bone” as the Darkling until the final installment, when he reveals his name to Alina: Aleksander. The show refers to him as the general, or General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), and he insists Alina call him Aleksander. The creators decided to humanize his character earlier in the story, paying homage to the man he once was.
The name of the gang
In the books, Kaz’s gang goes by the Dregs. The show makes a sensible change to the Crows, which references the title and the tattoo symbolizing gang membership. The tattoo depicts a crow drinking from the remnants, or the dregs, of a goblet. Instead of a gang named for scraps, the show gives Kaz, Inej and Jesper a more hopeful name. As Kaz explains to Inej near the end of the show, crows don’t only remember the faces of those who wronged them, but those who were kind to them. These avian creatures look out for one another, just like Kaz, Inej and Jesper do for one another.
You can watch “Shadow and Bone” now on Netflix. Keep your eye out for Netflix’s renewal announcement for a second season.
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