Shadow and Bone, Chapter 11: A New Challenger Appears!

Last time on Shadow and Bone, Alina went through an Epic Fail Montage and received a Plot Important Book from the Apparat. Will she ever figure out how to do magic? Find out after the cut.

Sometime after the training montage…

A notable Grisha finally arrives at the Little Palace! She is Zoya, the very same Grisha that Mal wanted to seduce way back at the beginning of the book. Marie and Nadia don’t like Zoya because she’s snobby, talented, and hella attractive. Alina immediately dislikes Zoya because Mal probably went out with her while they were stationed at the Shadow Fold. But maybe Zoya can give her a Status Update on Mal…

Yeah, no chance of that. Zoya makes some snide remarks about Alina’s rural upbringing when they’re introduced.

Of course, the day just gets worse:

  • Alina fails during her lessons with Baghra.
  • Zoya makes more snide remarks about Alina’s upbringing while regaling the other Grisha with tales from the Shadow Fold.
  • Alina beats Zoya during combat training … and gets blown back with a Gust of Wind in retaliation. (At least Botkin gets pissed at Zoya for using magic during the bout.)

After Alina is healed, Marie and Nadia finally reveal why Zoya hates her guts: because Alina is a Protagonist the Darkling’s favorite. And since Zoya got chewed out by the Darkling for being an asshole during combat training, Marie and Nadia hope that she gets exiled to not!Siberia Tsibeya.

That evening, the Apparat pays Alina a visit at the infirmary and reveals that the peasants are already building altars in her honor. And then he warns that Alina may become a threat against faith. Luckily, Alina summons a Healer by breaking a glass of water, interrupting this rather creepy conversation.

But as she sits alone in the infirmary, Alina realizes that she’s probably failing not!Russia by not learning how to harness her powers.

The next morning…

Genya visits Alina in the infirmary the next day and offers to use her Beautician Mage powers on her. Alina declines, but she asks Genya to get in contact with Mal because he hasn’t replied to any of her letters. Genya only agrees to help if she can remove the dark circles under Alina’s eyes.

Alina returns to her room soon after, and spends her day feeling sorry for herself. Why can’t she do magic? Why doesn’t she look attractive like the other Grisha? Maybe she doesn’t belong with the sorcerers after all.


Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:

Zoya wears a magic amplifier: a silver bracelet studded with bone.

In case you’re wondering why Alina got sent to the infirmary: Zoya’s spell broke one of her ribs.

I’ve always imagined the Apparat looking like Vater Orlagg from Metalocalypse.

Names in Russian:

  • lubok — лубок
  • Zoya — Зоя


Next time: We take a break from our regularly scheduled recap to cover Genya’s short story, “The Tailor.”



  1. Yes, when I read this today I too immediately thought “Zoya hates Alina for being the protagonist.” Writers have got to find a way to write more organic rivalries; crap like this happens just because.

    1. Yeah, I’m not a fan of the “character hates the Protagonist because they’re the Protagonist” trope, either. It’s too convenient. Same with “Protagonist has to do The Thing because they’re the Protagonist.” But then you wouldn’t have a story without it, so I understand its existence. The former is rather lazy storytelling, though.

      Don’t worry, Zoya gets punished for being a dick during combat training. I think you first learn about her fate in Genya’s story.

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