Based on Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Grisha’ trilogy and ‘Six of Crows’ duology, ‘Shadow and Bone’ is a Netflix gunpowder fantasy adventure show that has garnered widespread positive reviews for depicting an immersive and diverse world inhabited by complex but likable characters. Since its premiere, the audience has fallen in love with the strong-willed and slightly overwhelmed Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), dark and ruthless Kirigan/the Darkling (Ben Barnes), brilliant and ambitious Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), and the rest of the main characters of the show.
But it’s Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux), or simply Mal, who has garnered the most attention from the fans. They can’t seem to have enough of his reclusive and brooding personality, casual charm, and near-absolute loyalty towards Alina. In the show, Mal and Alina’s incredible journey is just beginning. But we know where it is likely to end from the original books. If you are wondering whether Mal will survive when the journey ends, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Mal Dead at the End of Shadow and Bone Books?
No, Mal is not dead at the end of the ‘Grisha’ trilogy. While he does sacrifice his life to help Alina in her battle against the Darkling, he is later brought back by his two Heartrender friends. Like Alina, Mal is of mixed parentage. They were both born in a settlement in the Dva Stolba valley. Located along the border between Ravka and Shu Han, Dva Stolba has sometimes belonged to the former and other times to the latter.
The Border Wars have been catastrophic for the region, leading to the deaths of thousands, including Alina and Mal’s respective parents. They were subsequently brought up in the orphanage in Keramzin. They quickly became inseparable during their time there, with Alina often standing up against the bullies at Mal’s behest. They learned to trust and rely on each other.
When Grisha testers visited the orphanage, Mal couldn’t be tested because of an injury, and Alina had no intention to be separated from him. So, she sliced open a wound on her hand right before her test, making it give false results. In the following years, Mal’s extraordinary tracking ability emerges. They both joined the First Army, he as a soldier and she as a cartographer.
After Alina’s power as the Sun Summoner manifests, they start to grow apart. But fate has a different plan for them. They ultimately find their way back to each other. They realize that Mal has descended from the legendary Grisha Ilya Morozova through his younger daughter. After Baghra (Zoë Wanamaker), his older daughter, killed her sister, Morozova brought her back, effectively turning her into an amplifier. This quality has been dormant for generations, but the same is not the case with Mal.
In ‘Ruin and Rising,’ the third book in the ‘Grisha’ trilogy, while the two of them are in the Fold, Mal convinces Alina to kill him so she can use all three amplifiers and defeat the Darkling. After Mal’s death, Alina’s sun summoning ability leaves her body and finds countless new hosts all over the continent. She later kills the Darkling with the same knife she used on Mal. It is revealed that because Mal is an amplifier, he has two lives. This allows his friends, the twin Heartrenders Tolya and Tamar, to bring him back.
Although Alina has lost all her ability, she and Mal realize that they will be hunted for the rest of their lives by people with ambition and lust for power. With the help of certain influential people, they spread the fake news of Alina’s death. Mal and Alina subsequently retire to the orphanage of their childhood, rebuilding it and making it once again a home for children who have nowhere else to go.
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