If there's anything that makes a good series even juicier, it's a love triangle. Netflix's Shadow and Bone is an adaptation of the bestselling book series by Leigh Bardugo, and in addition to magic and mystery, there's an epic romance. Fans are wondering who the main character Alina Starkov ends up with at the end of the series, and the answer might come as a surprise.
Alina is wooed by more than a few suitors, but she ends up with her one true love.
As both book readers and show watchers can attest, Alina initially struggles between two suitors: dedicated Malyen "Mal" Orestev, her childhood best friend and fellow soldier, or General Kirigan/The Darkling, a terrifying yet alluring Grisha with dark powers. Both present their own sets of pros and cons.
Mal goes through the classic friends-to-lovers arc, especially thanks to his initial obliviousness about Alina's affection. She considers Mal her anchor to her humanity and her childhood at the orphanage in Keramzin, and while it does take Mal a while to figure out that he's been in love with her too, he arrives in the nick of time. Together, they escape the Darkling's power and go on a quest for the magical amplifiers that would give Alina an edge to fight the Darkling.
The Darkling, on the other hand, has been imbued with hundreds of years of knowledge and skills as a Grisha. Like Alina, he is the only being with his particular kind of power, making them equals in both their power and their loneliness. That said, he did also try to manipulate her for his gain, including shackling her with a magical collar to give him access to her power — a deal-breaker in any relationship!
Book readers will recall that while he doesn't make an appearance in Netflix's Shadow and Bone, there's also a third suitor in the mix: the wily, charming, and astoundingly handsome Ravkan prince, Nikolai Lantsov. Nikolai falls in love with Alina during her time escaping the Darkling, and he believes her presence is enough to unify the country and attempt peace.
By the end of the series, there's only one man who has stuck by Alina's side and provided her with the support she needs: Mal. While this caused heated debates around the time the books were published due to Mal's seemingly more toxic nature, his character was adjusted for the show to offer his perspective. Fans can look forward to watching their relationship ups and downs!
Season 1 of 'Shadow and Bone' is set to cover the events of the first book, leaving lots of room for the future of the series.
Fans of the books should be reminded that the first season of Shadow and Bone only covers the first book, so characters like Prince Nikolai who arrive later in the series might be saved for potential Season 2 reveals. There's plenty of relationship drama ahead for Alina, as becoming a legendary Grisha and finding romantic happiness doesn't exactly happen overnight.
Ultimately, both fans of the books and new fans watching the series will be pleased by this adaptation. We can't wait to see what happens next (and are keeping our fingers crossed for a Season 2)!
Shadow and Bone arrives exclusively on Netflix, April 23, 2021.