If you’ve been enjoying Netflix’s Shadow and Bone and weren’t previously familiar with the source material, chances are that you now can’t wait to get stuck into the books.
The thing is, knowing where to start could be more complicated than you might expect: the show is actually based on two different series of novels, both of which form part of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse.
The main storyline – concerning Alina Starkov – is adapted from the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but the characters Kaz, Inej and Jesper actually stem from the follow-up Six of Crows duology, with this part of the series essentially serving as a prequel to those books.
The major changes that have been made to the story have been described as “daring” by Bardugo herself and she has already spoken about updating more of her work for future series.
Of course, this means that there’s plenty to be gained from heading back to the original stories if you’re interested in this unique world, and RadioTimes.com has your essential guide to the best reading order.
Grishaverse reading order explained
The expansive Grishaverse is currently comprised of three series of novels and a selection of short stories, so it’s not surprising that some readers may be confused about where to start.
To clear up any uncertainty, here is the intended reading order:
1. Shadow and Bone trilogy (aka The Grisha Trilogy)
The ideal place to start your journey through the Grishaverse is with Bardugo’s first trilogy of novels, which serve as an excellent introduction to her fantasy world, as well as one of its key characters, Alina Starkov.
The trilogy should be read as follows:
2. Six of Crows duology
Once you’re finished with the Shadow and Bone trilogy, you should then move on to the Six of Crows duology, which picks up two years later in a different setting and with a new cast of characters.
While it would be possible to start reading here, it is not advised as these two novels contains some spoilers and references to the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy.
The duology is comprised of:
3. King of Scars duology (aka The Nikolai Duology)
After you’ve burned through both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, you can move on to Bardugo’s most recent additions to the Grishaverse.
The King of Scars duology takes place one year after Six of Crows and takes us back to Ravka, where the events of Shadow and Bone unfolded.
As the culmination of everything that’s happened so far, it’s strongly recommended that readers brush up on the previous novels before diving into these two.
The King of Scars duology should be read in this order:
Once you’ve finished those two offerings, you’re up to date with the main story of the Grishaverse – but there is more content to explore, if you’re hungry for it.
Grishaverse companion books explained
For those who want to soak up as much of the Grishaverse as they possibly can, author Leigh Bardugo has also released two companion books that can be enjoyed as a bonus to the main saga.
The Language of Thorns is a collection of dark fairytales that also exists within the canon of the Grishaverse, meaning the characters in the novels would have read the very same stories when they were growing up.
The beauty of this collection is that it doesn’t actually require any knowledge of the wider Grishaverse and so can be read at any time when you fancy a break from the drama of the central plot – or even first, if you’re really keen!
Meanwhile, The Lives of Saints is another collection of shorter tales, this time following the saints that are referenced throughout the prime series of novels.
This book is not directly connected to the main plot and so it doesn’t contain any spoilers for readers who aren’t up to date, but it is recommended for those with a sturdy understanding of the Grishaverse.
For that reason, we suggest tackling The Lives of Saints as an intermission of sorts after you finish either the Shadow and Bone trilogy or the Six of Crows duology.
If you see a book called The Severed Moon, don’t be confused! This is neither an entry in the main series nor a collection of short stories, but rather a journal, which you are encouraged to fill with your own writing. Naturally, it’s an entirely optional exercise.
Want more show content? We’ve got plenty – discover all about The Grisha and powers with our explainer, check out our guides to where Shadow and Bone was filmed and who stars in the Shadow and Bone cast, or, if you’ve already completed series one, read our Shadow and Bone ending breakdown and whether there will be a Shadow and Bone season two.