‘Shadow and Bone’ is a Netflix gunpowder fantasy adventure series developed by Eric Heisserer (‘Arrival‘). It is set in a world which closely resembles certain parts of 19th century Europe and America. It is based on Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Grisha’ trilogy and the ‘Six of Crows’ duology. Right in the middle of the Kingdom of Ravka, a mysterious strip of land known as the Fold exists, causing great suffering and hardship to the people of the country. If you are curious about the Fold’s creation, its history, and its effects on the socio-political situation of the region, here is everything you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD.
What is the Fold?
The Fold or the Shadow Fold or the Unsea is a stretch of pure darkness that extends from Fjerda in the north to Shu Han in the South. It splits Ravka in half, with the country’s capital, Os Alta, on its eastern side and the coastal port cities on the western side. The Fold is inhabited by various types of monsters, the predominant of which are the winged, flesh-eating creatures known as the Volcra. We know that other types of monsters also exist in the Fold from something that master thief Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) tells his crew. According to him, the Ravkans tried to create a path to the other side by digging under the Fold, but “something” found them.
Because of the dangers that lurk within the Fold, traveling through it is extremely perilous. People make legal journeys through the Fold on sand skiffs powered by the Squallers (such as Zoya Nazyalensky), an order of the Grisha that can manipulate the wind. Some smugglers travel via their respective methods with whatever they are transporting. For instance, Arken or the Conductor (Howard Charles) uses a steam railway engine to bring East Ravkan refugees and deserters to the west. The closest cities to the Fold in East and West Ravka are Kribirsk and Novokribirsk. Both cities serve as the crossing points on the respective sides.
Who Created the Fold and Why?
According to Ravkan history, a powerful Shadow Summoner known as the Dark Heretic created the Fold. It is later revealed that General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), also known as the Darkling, the leader of the Ravkan Grisha or the Second Army, is the Dark Heretic. Several hundred years earlier, he and other Grisha were hunted by the Ravkan army on the King’s orders. Although Aleksander, as Kirigan was called then, won the King a war, the latter came to fear him and his kind.
Driven by both desperation and arrogance, the Darkling tried to use Merzost, a forbidden form of power even among the Grisha, to create amplifiers just like the legendary Grisha Morozova had done before him. These amplifiers can immensely increase the abilities of the Grisha. However, the Darkling ended up creating the Fold. The Volcra are the people who once lived in the region, the soldiers who came to arrest the Darkling, and the Grisha he couldn’t save from his own power.
How Has the Fold Affected the Surrounding Region?
The Fold has had a devastating effect on the Eastern Ravkan economy. Cut off from the port cities, the capital and the surrounding regions have been forced to endure great difficulties. This has led the country to wage wars on both sides of its borders in the hopes of extending them beyond the Fold. As a result, the lines separating the countries are constantly shifting; it all depends upon which nation has the upper hand at the time.
West Ravka, on the other hand, has experienced massive economic growth during this period, as it doesn’t have to share most of its wealth with its eastern counterpart. This has inevitably given way to calls for independence. When the series opens, there is a rebellion brewing in West Ravka, led by the commander of the First Army there, General Zlatan. He even seems to have powerful backers, including the Fjerdan nobility, which considers Ravka its greatest enemy.
Who or What Can Destroy the Fold?
According to both the Grisha and the most prevalent religion of the world, the Sun Summoner can destroy the Fold. The Sun Summoner is the very antithesis of the Shadow Summoner, even though both fall under the Etherealki order of the Grisha. Just as the Shadow Summoner can control shadows and darkness, the Sun Summoner can manipulate light. However, they have been considered a myth for a long time. That changes when the protagonist, Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), uses her dormant light summoning ability to save herself and her childhood friend Mal (Archie Renaux) from the Volcra.
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