The arrival of Netflix's Shadow & Bone has the internet abuzz with enthusiasm. The show, based on Leigh Bardugo's book series of the same name, follows mapmaker Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) on a journey of self-discovery and magic. One of the key plot elements is the Shadow Fold, a swathe of literal darkness filled with nightmare creatures that split fictional Ravka in two.
Here's everything we know about the Fold and why it's significant to the show.
What is the Fold on 'Shadow and Bone'?
In the books, the Shadow Fold is occasionally known as the "Unsea." The Fold is miles long, cutting through most of Ravka and into Fjerda, the fictional country above Ravka. To cross safely through the darkness and sand, you need to use a skiff (a shallow, open boat) typically operated by Grisha to push through. The world of Shadow & Bone exists pre-modern technology, no railroads or cars with which to cross!
There is also the added danger of the volcra, giant, monstrous creatures with wings and a taste for blood. Fans learn later that the volcra were once human soldiers, warped by dark magic that turned a small town in Ravka into a giant, gaping wall of darkness. The volcra hunt relying on sound and light, so people crossing the Fold can't use more than a single lantern to light their way.
One of the biggest plot points of both the show and the books is that the Fold is unable to be destroyed easily, and the best person to do so would be a Sun Summoner, a Grisha who can control light. When Alina discovers her abilities as a Sun Summoner, the pressure is on for her to grow in her gifts and eventually destroy the Fold.
While Alina quickly learns that her power, as great as it may be, isn't enough to destroy the Fold alone, she and the Darkling (Ben Barnes) quickly seek out other methods to strengthen her power ... or so she thinks. By the end of Shadow & Bone, the Fold is still standing, and Alina has to find a new method of tackling the problem, possibly in the form of another amplifier.
How was the Fold created?
Shadow & Bone reveals that the Shadow Fold wasn't always in existence but created hundreds of years prior by a powerful Grisha known as the "Black Heretic." Unfortunately for all the characters on Shadow & Bone, the "Black Heretic" was the Darkling in disguise, who was attempting to create an army with his shadow power that fell short.
In the end, this use of merzost, the Shadow & Bone word for black magic, the Fold was created. While initially, the intentions for creating a shadow army to protect the Grisha of the world were good, they created a problem too large for just one Grisha to fix. Fans will have to eagerly await a Season 2 to see what will become of this predicament, or perhaps get a sneak peek by picking up Leigh Bardugo's books.
Even if the Shadow Fold has terrifyingly realistic effects, it's still just a part of the larger, exciting world of Shadow & Bone left to explore.
Shadow & Bone is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.