‘Shadow and Bone’ is a web adaptation of Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Grisha’ trilogy and ‘Six of Crows’ duology. The story is set in a world inspired by 19th century Earth. Since its release, the show has received widespread positive reviews for depicting a vibrant and diverse world, multi-layered but relatable characters, and a complex but understandable magic system.
However, what drives the story forward is the developing relationship between the protagonist Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and her childhood friend Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux). In the show, they have just begun to acknowledge their feelings for each other, but we can glean how it will likely end for them from the original books. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Do Alina and Mal End Up Together in Shadow and Bone?
Yes, Alina and Mal end up together in the ‘Grisha’ trilogy. They were born of mixed parentage in a settlement in the Dva Stolba valley. The Border Wars between Ravka and Shu Hun took their respective parents. Both Alina and Mal were subsequently raised in an orphanage in Keramzin. They quickly became inseparable by withstanding the same racial prejudice from other children there and supporting each other. When the Grisha testers came to check their abilities, Mal couldn’t be tested because he had an injury on his hand. Alina sliced her hand open herself to ensure that they would not be separated.
When they were mature enough to go to war, Mal joined the First Army as a soldier and tracker, while Alina became one of the military’s cartographers. Their complete devotion to each other is tested when Alina’s dormant sun summoning power manifests, and she is moved to the Little Palace. There, she grows close to Kirigan/the Darkling (Ben Barnes), believing Mal can’t accept her new identity. This is because Alina hasn’t received any letter from him for a while. It is eventually revealed that Kirigan was intercepting their letters to each other with Genya’s (Daisy Head) help.
After Alina escapes from the Little Palace, she is later reunited with Mal. In ‘Siege and Storm,’ the second book in the ‘Grisha’ trilogy, a new potential love interest for Alina is introduced in the form of privateer Sturmhond, who later turns out to be the Ravkan Prince Nikolai Lantsov. The two of them start working closely together for the betterment of their country, and Nikolai even proposes to Alina, but he is ultimately turned down.
In book 3, titled ‘Ruin and Rising,’ Alina and Mal discover that the latter is a descendant of the legendary Grisha Ilya Morozova through his younger daughter. After Morozova’s older daughter Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker) killed her sister, the powerful Grisha brought her back through merzost, effectively reshaping her into an amplifier. This ability has remained hidden for generations until Mal. After Mal sacrifices himself to aid Alina in her battle against the Darkling, Alina’s sun summoning ability leaves her and gets numerous hosts in people all over the continent.
Despite not having any ability, Alina manages to kill the Darkling. Mal’s friends, the twin Heartrenders Tolya and Tamar, bring him back to life. Afterward, Mal and Alina spread the lies about her death with the help of their influential friends. Alina is subsequently turned into a saint. She and Mal adopt Misha, a boy they met when they went to see Baghra. Mal and Alina get married, and the three of them go back to the orphanage in Keramzin to rebuild and reopen it. They spend the rest of their lives there mostly at peace, giving a home to children who have lost everything.
Read More: Where is Shadow and Bone Filmed?