"I’m the Sun Summoner. It gets dark when I say it does."
— Alina Starkov, Ruin and Rising

Alina Starkov is the Sun Summoner, one of the most powerful Grisha who has ever lived and the only one capable of destroying the Volcra and the Shadow Fold.

Appearance and PersonalityEdit

When Alina first enters Duke Keramsov's care, she is a quiet and odd girl. The Duke's housekeeper Ana Kuya even says she is ugly, and calls Alina "pale and sour, like a glass of milk that's turned." As a child, Alina had been extremely frail and sickly, never able to run as fast as her friend Mal could. 

As a teenager, Alina is described as a skinny girl with dull, brown hair and dark circles under her eyes. This changes after her arrival at the Little Palace, where Alina's appearance becomes healthier. Her distinct feature is a scar running across her right palm.

Later she wears the antlers of Morozova's Stag on her neck, and a bracelet made out of the sea serpent's scales. However, after losing her powers, the amplifiers are destroyed.

After using merzost, her hair becomes white.


Like Mal, Alina's family was most likely killed during the Border Wars. She spent most of her childhood in Keramzin before being taken to Duke Keramsov's estate orphanage.

Shadow and BoneEdit

At the Duke's residence, Alina and Mal are examined by Grisha, but they displayed no sign of Grisha abilities. As teenagers they join the military, and Alina becomes a junior cartographer's assistant.

When crossing the Shadow Fold, Alina's regiment gets attacked and Mal is almost killed. Before they get attacked again, Alina suddenly lets out a burst of light, and it turns out that she is a Sun Summoner, a type of magic caster that had been thought to be extinct. While getting escorted by some of the Darkling's men to Os Alta, Alina's group gets attacked by Fjerdans and she is forced to run away.

The Darkling saves her from the assassins and brings her to the Little Palace himself to meet the King and Queen. Alina's days are then spent learning from Baghra how to use her power, and from Botkin Yul-Erdene, a Shu combat instructor, how to fight. While learning at the Little Palace, Alina grows closer to the Darkling and eventually forms a romantic relationship with him. They grow closer because Alina never gets a response to any of her letters from Mal, and the loss of Mal also causes Alina to finally realize the extent of her powers.

During a fete in the Little Palace, Alina suddenly sees Mal. He has been tracking a stag for the Darkling, who wants to give the antlers to Alina as an amplifier. She learns that he has never received any of her letters, but is hurt when he is cold to her. Later, she finds out that it is because he felt jealous seeing her perform on stage with the Darkling. That night, Baghra comes to Alina and orders her to leave the palace. The Darkling's plan the entire time was to use Alina's powers to drive off the volcra in the Fold so that he could use his own powers to expand it and take over all the lands.

Realizing that Baghra is telling the truth, Alina runs away and eventually meets up with Mal by accident. The two go to find the stag before the Darkling can and grow close again before confessing their love for each other. Upon finding the stag, the Darkling then finds them and ends up killing the stag himself to bring Alina under his control. He then decides that Mal will be fed to the volcra after Alina helps him cross the Fold.

After Alina demonstrates her powers in the Fold to scared ambassadors and villagers, the Darkling has Mal thrown out of the boat, but this triggers something in Alina and breaks the hold that the Darkling has over her. She runs away with Mal after destroying the boat that they came on. When the story ends, the two are on another boat crossing the True Sea together, away from Ravka and the Darkling.

Siege and StormEdit

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by Irene Koh

Alina and Mal end up in the town of Cofton hiding and trying to find work in order to finance their trip west. They've been there two weeks, but while Mal thrives in their environment, Alina has gotten weak from not using her power. When they head back to their boardinghouse, they have an unexpected encounter with the Darkling and his Grisha. He ends up capturing them both, but not before showing Alina the new power he has gained in the Fold because of her: he is now able to create shadow creatures called nichevo'ya.

Alina wakes up on the ship of a privateer who goes by the name of Sturmhond. The Darkling has paid him in exchange for his services aboard the ship. His purpose is to find the sea whip, another supposedly magical creature as well as a powerful amplifier. The Darkling wishes to give the second amplifier to Alina and he is going to use Mal to find it.

After getting the amplifier and Sturmhond's revolt, Alina escapes with them and goes back to Ravka. When Sturmhond reveals himself to be Nikolai Lantsov, younger son of the King of Ravka, she tells him she wants to lead the Second Army, so they travel back to Os Alta together, drawing large crowds along the way. Nikolai proposes marriage to Alina, but she refuses.

Alina arrives at Os Alta and quickly takes control of the Second Army. She frequently has visions of The Darkling.

Vasily Lantsov opened trading passage as an agreement for the Fjerdan's alliance, but instead, the Darkling uses it to access Os Alta and attack. During The Darkling's attack at Os Alta, he reveals that he has set nichevo'ya on Genya Safin for sparing Alina. Alina fights him and uses merzost, which causes her hair to turn white, and nearly drains her of her power, defeating them both. This leaves her almost dead and the Darkling, also, badly wounded. She escapes to the White Cathedral with the others.

Ruin and RisingEdit

Alina has spent two months in the underground tunnels of Ravka. She is controlled by the Apparat, who leads a cult convinced that Alina is a saint. As a result of her battle with the Darkling, Alina's hair has turned white and she is weak from being away from sunlight and her powers for so long.

However, Mal and the other Grisha form a plan that gets Alina back into contact with sunlight and restores her strength. She leaves the Apparat for the surface, in search of the Firebird. She, the other Grisha, and Mal make it to the surface but are soon discovered by a militia group. Nikolai rescues them with a new, blimp-like invention. He takes them to a hollowed-out mountain where the remnants of the First Army and some rogue Grisha reside.

There, Alina meets Baghra again, who teaches her to use the Cut to slice off the top of an entire mountain. She tells Alina about her father, Morozova, and how the Darkling is his last descendant. Nikolai also talks about their future as King and Queen of Ravka and gives her his mother's heirloom ring. Alina refuses to wear it, as she still wants Mal, but keeps the ring with her nonetheless.

Later, the Darkling attacks the mountain. He turns Nikolai into a nichevo'ya and forces Alina, Mal, and the Grisha to flee. They fly south to find the Firebird. On the way, Alina learns to bend light around an object to make it invisible. Once they arrive at the southern mountains, Mal tracks the Firebird. However, once he finds it, it attacks him and Alina. Alina realizes as she holds on to Mal that he is giving her power and that he is the third amplifier, not the Firebird. She does not want to kill Mal for his power, but he makes her promise to do it if there is no other option.

As they go back to the ship, Alina communicates with the Darkling. He tells her that he has invaded Keramzin and has the Grisha children with him as hostages. He tells her to surrender in five days or he will extend the Fold over west Ravka and to the sea. Alina knows she cannot face the Darkling without the third amplifier, but David has an idea that would not require a head-on confrontation.

They travel to the Fold and gather a dozen soldiers dedicated to Alina. There is a brief period of preparation and rest, during which Nikolai appears to Alina. The part of him that is human is battling his hunger, but he cannot resist and leaves before he can do any harm.

They enter the Fold to confront the Darkling. The battle goes well at first; Alina bends the light she creates to make her fighters invisible. However, once they have boarded the Darkling's skiff, she realizes that he never had the Grisha children with him—it was just a ruse to draw her to him. Two other skiffs loaded with soldiers also arrive.

Alina knows she cannot fight the Darkling with just two amplifiers. She runs away into the darkness where Mal finds her. He gives her a knife and convinces her to kill him. She stabs him in the chest, and he collapses. With the death of the third amplifier, Alina's power suddenly leaves her and manifests itself in any normal person within several miles. The Darkling is enraged and mournful that he has lost his Sun Summoner, and while he is distracted, Alina kills him with the same knife that stabbed Mal.

The newly-created Sun Summoners destroy the Fold and also return Nikolai to his former self. Tolya and Tamar manage to save Mal. However, Alina has lost her power. She fakes her death and claims a new identity. She and Mal marry and rebuild the orphanage at Keramzin, which was destroyed by the Darkling. Over the years, they take in children and keep in touch with the other Grisha and Nikolai.


Malyen OretsevEdit

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by Gabriella Bujdoso

Mal is Alina's childhood friend. Both of them grew up as orphans at the Duke Keramsov's estate in Keramzin. Alina believes she is in love with him but Mal seems oblivious to her infatuation. She doesn't get to express her feelings to him before she is taken away by the Darkling to train as a Grisha.

After Alina runs away from the Little Palace, they reunite for a while before they are captured by the Darkling. In this short time they are together, Mal confesses his feelings for her and they share a tender kiss. Later, when they are in the Darkling's camp in Kribirsk, they share several more kisses through Mal's jail bars and they hold hands until the morning when Alina is taken away from him to prepare for their journey into the Fold. When the Darkling leaves Mal for dead in the Fold, Alina takes control of the amplifier and runs away with him, abandoning the people on the skiff and leaving them unprotected from the volcra. When Mal and Alina reach the True Sea, they go on a ship to travel to Cofton. There they start a new life together.

In Siege and Storm, Mal tracks and finds the sea whip, the second amplifier for Alina. After Alina wears the second amplifier, she and Mal gradually grow distant from each other. Mal thinks he doesn't belong with Alina because she is growing more powerful every day. He believes she will not care for him after finding all three amplifiers. Later on, Alina finds Mal and Zoya sharing a kiss. Mal becomes suddenly aware of an enraged Alina and chases her when she runs away.

When the Darkling infiltrates the Palace, Alina uses merzost to weaken the Darkling, thus weakening her too. Right when she and the Darkling are about to be destroyed, Mal takes Alina away in fear that she might have died. This act strengthens Mal and Alina's relationship.

In Ruin and Rising, Mal and Alina's relationship is tested as Mal believes Alina should marry Prince Nikolai to save the kingdom and unite the people of Ravka, though Alina is not sure of what she wants or what is best. Mal remains indifferent throughout the majority of the book and only speaks to Alina as a guard would, though by the end of the book they have reconciled.

In the epilogue, Mal and Alina marry under different names and re-open the orphanage in which they grew up in Keramzin.

The DarklingEdit

Alina immediately feels drawn to the Darkling's mysterious air and handsome features. For her first kefta the Darkling wants the material to match his own black robes ‒ which no other Grisha has ever been permitted to do ‒ but Alina declines for the blue of the Summoners because she does not want to stand out. Though she does puzzle for a long time afterward of the meaning behind the Darkling's offer. Later when they are discussing her ability by the frozen lakeshore he suddenly leans over and kisses her, leaving Alina stunned. They don't get to discuss it because Ivan appears at that moment. After this incident, he seems to ignore her until the night of the Winter Fete ‒ to which she wears a black kefta with the Darkling symbol on it, where they perform their demonstration together for the pleasure of the crowd. Directly after he leads Alina to a small sitting room where he then begins to touch and kiss her. They are interrupted before it goes too far by a drunken group stumbling against the door to the room, which he has Alina pressed against. Before he leaves to meet Ivan in council he turns and asks if he could come to her that night which she doesn't answer, being too embarrassed by what they did.

When Alina learns of the Darkling's true intentions to manipulate her and her power from Baghra, she is left unsure if his feelings for her were genuine. It later becomes obvious that if not love, a deep physical and mental attraction to her remained throughout the series.  

Later, when he captures Alina and Mal in Tsibeya, he openly taunts her with what they did to shame her and anger Mal. When they reach the Darkling's camp in Kribirsk he summons Alina to his tent to talk. He then tells her he will throw Mal over the side of the ship to be devoured by the volcra when they travel into the Unsea. She begs him to spare Mal's life saying she will gladly comply to his wishes if he does. He tells her he will show mercy on Mal then kisses her. She is disgusted but makes no move to push him away for fear of punishment and for the strange attraction that his power had on her. When he pulls away he says that she can visit Mal in his prison cell for it will be the last time she'll see him alive, for the next day will be his last. Realizing the Darkling has broken his promise of mercy she launches her self at him screaming but is dragged away by his men before she can hurt him.

In the second book, after escaping him for the second time, Alina mysteriously starts seeing the Darkling everywhere. At first, she thought it was just visions, but then she realizes that she can feel his touch, and that he was actually there. During one dreamlike visit from him, he wears Mal's face and kisses her in her bed, knowing that she would scream if he showed up with his own face. When they meet each other at the Chapel, he reveals that her visions were real and promises that he would never turn away from who she truly was, for they were alike as no one else was. She then pretends to accept his offer of peace and kisses him, distracting him enough to steal his nichevo'ya through their connection and try to kill them both, but failing.

Alina then visits him in a dream. She talks to him to try to find out information. He offers her the throne sitting beside his, despite the fact she attempted to kill him. He tells her that was destined to be his balance and could make him a better man, to which she replied he could make her a monster. After a while, the Darkling tells Alina his real name, which earned him a lighthearted laugh from her, for it was far too common. He then smiles and pulls Alina toward him and kisses her, drawing her hands around his waist, telling her to allow him to do it since it wasn't real. Alina doesn't pull back right away, for they both wanted each other despite what recent things had happened.

At the end of Ruin and Rising, the Darkling panics and suffers over her loss of power, realizing she was no longer his balance and he was truly alone in the world, being distracted enough to let her stab him. Alina killed the Darkling with the same knife that she's had 'killed' Malyen with. She cried over his body, and obeyed his request to not have a grave that people can desecrate. The Darkling's corpse is later burned. Although in the end Alina somewhat mourned the Darkling's death, she didn't completely regret her decisions. Alina whispers his name, Aleksander, above his body.

Nikolai LantsovEdit

The developing relationship between Alina and Nikolai becomes a theme as they arrive at Court. He asks her to be his queen in front of Mal, she refuses, for she is grieving about the Darkling's betrayal and she had trusted him. Their allegiance develops quickly, with Nikolai first revealing to his parents that he is Sturmhond, and then supporting Alina and Mal as they face the King. Alina is put in charge of the Grisha (the Second Army), just as she had wanted, and Mal is installed as her head guard. Tolya and Tamar, the twins from Sturmhond’s ship, make up the rest of her guard, and she takes over the Darkling’s old rooms while Nikolai sets himself up at Court.

Nikolai kisses Alina in front of a crowd to appease the audience and make a big show. Alina, not yet comfortable with his changes in personality kicks him in fear that Mal might be angry. She couldn’t afford to have Mal angry at her and walk out of her life. Alina and Nikolai present themselves as a united front, attending meetings together. Vasily proposes marriage to Alina just as his brother had done. She refuses any kind of familiarity with him, and as time goes on she starts to view Nikolai more kindly. Not yet romantically, for she didn't want to upset Mal. Though she acknowledges that it can be hard to trust him since it’s not clear whether he is ever really being himself or simply wearing whatever mask he thinks she wants to see, she spends more and more time talking with him. For his part, Nikolai appears to become more vulnerable around her than around anyone else. Eventually, he even seems to become willing to talk about personal matters with her.

He talks again about the rumors that he is a bastard, admitting to Alina that he has heard those rumors all his life and he is perhaps not so unaffected by it as he may seem. He makes reference to his childhood nickname, Sobachka, which means ‘puppy’, and says that his mother had refused to call him that because she thought it made him sound like a mongrel. Alina, who had been raised as an orphan, connects with him over this since she remembers being called many names herself. She begins to get angry when she hears people questioning his birth, even when they are strangers, to the extent that Mal furiously asks her why she’s so quick to defend Nikolai.

Nikolai has risen in Alina’s esteem. In this moment she seems to be not only his ally, but his friend, and possibly his lover. At the same time, Alina’s relationship with Mal – in theory still her romantic partner – has been deteriorating. Mal is shown to dislike the Little Palace and to have reservations over how powerful Alina is becoming and whether it is changing her. Alina, who has some doubts over this herself, feels a distance growing between her and Mal, and she is also suffering due to her continued ‘visions’ of the Darkling. She seems in general to be more at ease in Nikolai’s company. They grow closer. As his birthday approaches, he even comes close to kissing her, telling her that he wants to but will not until he’s sure she’s not just trying to forget Mal.

Genya SafinEdit

Genya is Alina's first friend at the Little Palace. She becomes very close to Alina in Shadow and Bone, but betrays her in the end, turning out to be a fake, told to be her friend by the Darkling to draw her in and make her feel comfortable (and to collect information). Genya actually liked being her friend and missed Alina when she ran away. Alina missed her too. In Siege and Storm, when Alina escaped from the Darkling, she had the chance to shoot Alina and stop her and Sturmhond from getting away, but she didn't and helped her and was later punished because of that by the Darkling. The next time she shows up she is covered in scars and she lost an eye. The Darkling gives Genya to the second army to show that he had no mercy. Genya then helps Alina and they become close friends again. At the end of Ruin and Rising, Alina made her into one of the new leaders of the Second Army. Genya is a Tailor, a Grisha type that lays somewhere between Corporalnik and Materialnik

Memorable QuotesEdit

Shadow and BoneEdit

  • "I will fight you any way that I can. I will spend every waking minute looking for a way to end my life, and eventually, I'll succeed. But show him mercy, let him live, and I will serve you gladly. I will spend the rest of my days providing my gratitude." ‒ p. 326

Ruin and RisingEdit

  • "I'm the Sun Summoner. It gets dark when I say it does."


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