Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone Ending Explained

Dept. of Foldover Fantasies


This article contains spoilers for both the first season of Shadow and Bone as well as the first book in the trilogy. Click here to read our spoiler-free review of the series.

So, you’ve seen all eight episodes of Shadow and Bone and you came here looking for some answers. Not because that ending was particularly confusing, but rather because there may be some confusion among those of you who are unfamiliar with Leigh Bardugo’s novels.


To that end, we’ve put together this guide to everything that happens in that final episode of the first season to help you understand what’s going on and how it compares to what happens in the books. What’s more, we’ve also created this infographic for all of you looking for a quick and dirty cheat sheet to help you explain some of the genre jargon in the show.

Shadow and Bone

Now, let’s kick things off with the big question…

How is Shadow and Bone the Series different from Shadow and Bone the Book?

Shadow and Bone

The biggest change in this series is the introduction of characters from Leigh Bardugo’s later novels. Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), and Matthias Helvar (Calahan Skogman) were originally from the Six of Crows duology which takes place two years after the end of the original Shadow and Bone trilogy. What the writers of this adaptation have done is create a backstory for these characters and have that serve as something of a prequel to what happens to them in Six of Crows.

Showrunner Eric Heisserer and author Leigh Bardugo also made some adjustments to Alina’s backstory by having the character be half-Shu. (Bardugo doesn’t specify Alina’s race in the books, only describing her as “an ugly little thing” who is too small and too pale, which we later learn is a consequence of her suppressing her powers.) By making Alina and Mal mixed-race orphans in a predominantly white Ravka, by adding this adversity to their upbringing, the writers seem to have opened up new avenues for them to explore the racial dynamics within that world.


All the characters also seem to have been aged up for this series. While we aren’t explicitly told how old everyone is, they appear to be older than the teenagers we meet in the novels. (Which also makes that love connection between Alina and the Darkling a little less creepy.)

All of these changes do make for a more layered TV show with a lot more subplots and side stories. Where the novel was a first person narrative from the perspective of Alina Starkov, the series shows us a variety of different points of view, focusing on the world at large, and not just Alina’s ascent to power.

How Then Does Shadow and Bone, the Book, End?

While the overall narrative beats remain the same, the book’s ending was focussed primarily on Alina, Mal, and the Darkling. At the end of the first novel, Mal is thrown off the boat and Alina jumps down into the Fold and runs to save him. Alina leaves the rest to fend for themselves against the volcra while she and Mal escape to West Ravka.

The book ends with Mal and Alina on a boat, heading out to sea, to whatever is on the other side.

How Does Season 1 of Shadow and Bone, the Series, End?

We spoke to Jessie Mei Li and Archie Renaux about the show, their characters, and their inspirations.

The last episode of the season, “No Mourners,” finally sees all of our heroes come together on General Kirigan’s skiff. The Crows are still plotting to kidnap Alina. Mal is a stowaway. And Alina, now imbued with the antlers from Morozova’s Stag, is chained to the deck and made to demonstrate the scope of her powers to ambassadors from Fjerda and Shu Han.

After a brief demonstration of the Sun Summoner’s powers, the Darkling shows everyone the extent of his own, growing the Fold to engulf Novokribirsk, setting the volcra upon those on the other side, and taking revenge on General Zlatan for his treachery. We then learn of the Darkling’s true intentions as he briefly monologues, telling the ambassadors on board that he plans to end the war by having all the other countries submit to him out of fear. Since he has complete control over the Fold, he now has the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.


Everything then kicks off on the boat and once all the magicking, shooting, and heartrending is over, the Darkling is left for dead inside the Fold, while our six heroes (Alina, Mal, Kaz, Inej, and Jesper are now joined by the Squaller Zoya who’s had a change of heart) escape out the other side.

They all then gather around a campfire and plan their next steps.

Hold Up! The Darkling Killed the Stag, so How Come Alina Is Able to Harness Its Antlers as an Amplifier?

Shadow and Bone

We know that the bones, scales, and teeth of animals can serve as amplifiers that increase a Grisha’s powers. We are lead to believe that only the individual that claims the item can harness its power. During the showdown on the boat, Alina gets a vision in which the glowing stag appears to her. She tells Kirigan that amplifiers need to be given and not claimed. She tells him that the stag chose her and that is why she is able to harness its power.

This scene plays out slightly differently in the novel where Alina realizes that her act of sparing the stag’s life was as crucial to earning her amplifier as was the Darkling killing it.

Where Does the Squad Go From There?

Meet the Crows! We spoke to Kit Young, Amita Suman, and Freddy Carter about taking on the roles of Jesper, Inej, and Kaz.

Mal, Alina, and the Crows make their way to Os Kervo where they will get on a boat to Ketterdam before going their separate ways.

The Crows still have to deal with Dreesen and Pekka Rollins, both of whom will want their heads given their failure to capture the Sun Summoner.


Alina and Mal, together at last, venture out into the sea, in order to hide away from all those who would now be hunting her. Alina knows she needs to hone her powers before she’s able to come back and tear down the Fold. The both of them also need to make new allies in their fight to save Ravka and the world.

And when I’m strong enough, we’ll come back. Together. And tear it down… now that the Darkling is dead.

Alina Starkov

Zoya, who had family in Novokribirsk, goes back to look for survivors.

Wait, But What About Nina and Matthias?

Shadow and Bone

Poor Nina and Matthias. Their already forbidden love became even more complicated. After Nina tries to save Matthias’ life from by turning him over to a Kerch merchant for being a slaver, he believes that Nina was using her magic to manipulate him all along. The Kerch merchant will take them to Ketterdam, where Matthias will be sent to Hellgate prison.

Nina ends up on the same boat as the Crows who just happen to be on the lookout for a Heartrender. How convenient.

What Happens to the Fold?

Shadow and Bone

The large and imposing swathe of darkness that’s engulfing the land just got bigger.

At the end of the season, Alina frets that they may have made things worse, but Mal assures her that they will come back once she’s stronger and find a way to save their people.


The Darkling Lives!

But of course he does!

The final shot of the episode sees a wounded Darkling crawl out of the Fold, stand up, and walk away with some shadowy monsters in tow.

Ben Barnes speaks to us about how Anthony Hopkins and Silence of the Lambs inspired his take on the Darkling.
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