'Shadow and Bone'
Source: Netflix

What Is the Small Science, and Other Things to Know While Watching 'Shadow and Bone'

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Apr. 22 2021, Published 8:57 p.m. ET

Netflix's Shadow and Bone is based on the best-selling fantasy novel series written by Leigh Bardugo, but to those who come to the show having never read the books, the series can be a bit confusing to follow. 

If you're new to the Grishaverse, or just need a refresher on some things to remember while watching the show, here are some things you should know before watching Shadow and Bone.

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What is the Small Science?

In Shadow and Bone, all of the Grishas' powers are rooted in something Leigh dubbed the "Small Science." Those who "practice" the Small Science, in a sense, are manipulating matter in its basic form.

But this doesn't mean that just anyone can be a Grisha. Only certain people are gifted with the ability to practice the Small Science, and in Ravka (the country Shadow and Bone predominantly takes place in), Grisha are discovered around the age of 8.

what is small science
Source: Netflix
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But being able to manipulate matter at such a basic and fundamental level comes with limitations. The Grisha are unable to manipulate what isn't there, meaning a Summoner cannot move water if there isn't any, and an Inferni needs to ignite a flame before manipulating the fire.

The basic principle behind the Small Science is that "like calls to like," meaning things of a similar quality are attracted to each other, which is what allows Grisha to manipulate matter.

Who are the Crows?

For those who haven't been gobbling up every piece of information about the series prior to its release, there might be some characters who are unfamiliar in Season 1. While Shadow and Bone is named after Leigh's original trilogy, the show also covers some of the content from the subsequent duology, Six of Crows.

The Crows are a group of thieves and gang members based in Kerch, an island in the True Sea.

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shadow and bone include six of crows
Source: Netflix

The Crows are led by their ringleader, Kaz Brekker (also known as "Dirtyhands"), who has worked his way up in the ranks in the Dregs (one of the local gangs), and is best recognized by his cane with a crow's head on top.

Inej Ghafa, otherwise known as "The Wraith," is one of Kaz's most trusted confidants and is known as the "spider" of the group, as her primary job is collecting information. She is stealthy and agile and really good with knives.

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Jesper Fahey rounds out the original Crows trio and is the sharpshooter of the group. Originally from Novyi Zem, he came to Kerch to attend university before developing a gambling addiction.

The Crows will expand as the season continues, but Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are the original three members.

grisha orders
Source: Netflix
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What are the Grisha ranks?

In Ravka's Second Army, there are three different ranks a Grisha can have based on their abilities. The highest ranking is the Corporalki, which consist of Grisha able to manipulate the human body. These Grisha can become either Heartrenders or Healers.

The next ranking is Etherealki, or the "Order of Summoners," which include Squallers, Inferni, and Tidemakers. Their designation depends on what capabilities they have.

Lastly, there's the Materialki, or the Fabrikators, who manipulate composite materials, like glass, metal, chemicals, and more. The two types of Grisha in this order are the Durasts and Alkemi — one deals with solids, while the other manipulates poisons and powders.

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