The Grishaverse
The Grishaverse

"When I was young, I was afraid of the dark. When I got older, I learned that darkness is a place, and it's full of monsters."
— Alina Starkov, A Searing Burst of Light

Alina Starkov is an orphan soldier and the Sun Summoner.


Early Life[]

Alina was born and raised in Ravka. Her mother was Shu, and because of that, Alina faced many prejudices from people.

Young Alina

Alina was orphaned, at a young age, when her parents died in the Fold. She became friends with Mal, and the two would often play together. One day, the Grisha came to test the children at the orphanage to see if they were Grisha. Not wishing to be separated from her friend, Alina secretly cut her hand as she was being tested, sabotaging the results, causing them to mistakenly believe she was not a Grisha.

When they were older, they became soldiers of the First Army, with Alina becoming a cartographer.

Crossing the Shadow Fold[]

Alina arrives at the First Army’s camp, where she experiences prejudice against her Shu Han heritage.

After Mal is selected to accompany the Second Army on an expedition across the Fold to Novokribirsk, Alina destroys the First Army’s records of the western coastline and Os Kervo, resulting in her entire unit being stationed on the very same skiff to redraw the destroyed maps.

Two out of thirty-seven markers into the Fold, the skiff is attacked by volcra. Alina remains hidden alongside the wall, that is until Mal finds himself being lifted from the ship. Alina picks up a rifle and shoots the attacking volcra. She rushes over to Mal, who tells her "I’ll meet you at the meadow." The volcra swoops back down and digs its talons into Alina’s back. She and Mal hold onto one another as the beast tries to take her, and suddenly, a large explosion of light to manifest from within her, destroying the nearby volcra.[1]

Birth of the Sun Summoner[]

Alina’s wounds are tended to by a Corporalki Healer and she is taken before General Kirigan, where he asks where she grew up and when she was tested, but Alina claims not to remember. She insists that she is nothing more than an ordinary map maker. However, when Kirigan grabs her forearm and makes a slight incision, a beam of light comes shooting out her arm and through the roof of the tent, confirming that she is indeed the Sun Summoner.

Alina is escorted to the Little Palace by Ivan and Fedyor without so much as a goodbye to Mal. She sees Mal chase after her carriage and she tries to scream to him that she did not know she was Grisha. The Heartrenders explain that her kefta is bulletproof and will keep her safe from attack. Which is all but certain once news of the Sun Summoner begins to spread. While Fedyor expresses joy that her the hope she represents, Alina is not so optimistic, as she will be a victim of further prejudice, and that her life will now be in constant danger. The carriage comes to a sudden stop and the Grisha find themselves under attack by the Drüskelle. Alina is pulled from the wagon and dragged into the field, where she is attacked by a Drüskelle soldier armed with a hatchet. Before he can bring any harm, General Kirigan arrives and slices the man in two with a single forward motion, using Grisha powers.

Alina is taken to the Little Palace the rest of the way by General Kirigan himself, who explains that what Alina witnessed was a signature summoner move known as "The Cut." He reveals that the attempt on Alina’s life proves just how much their rivals fear her existence. She may well be the first of her kind, but they’ve always had a name for her — someone who could harness light and use it to destroy the Fold, but Alina doesn’t wish to be Grisha. She sees her abilities as a curse as opposed to a gift.

Alina then arrives at the Little Palace. She is taken to her room, where she weeps uncontrollably. She arms herself with a letter opener, concealing it beneath her pillow.[2]

Dreaming of the Stag[]

Alina dreams of a white stag with enormous antlers — Morozova's Stag. She is awakened from her sleep and greeted by Genya, who has been tasked with making her presentable for the King. Genya is a Tailor and the Queen’s servant. She heals Alina’s surface wounds with the exception of a scar on her left hand, which Alina reveals is a reminder of home. Genya then proceeds to do Alina’s hair and makeup.

General Kirigan escorts Alina to see the King and Queen, who like others, are skeptical of Alina’s alleged sun summoning abilities. General Kirigan drapes the room in shadows before grabbing Alina’s wrist and provoking her abilities. Alina calls onto the sun and brightens the entire room. The King is pleased and agrees to allow Alina to remain at the Little Palace with General Kirigan for training. Afterward, Alina is greeted with open arms by her fellow Grisha, with the exception of Zoya, who embraces Alina only to whisper in her ear that she "stinks of the orphanage." Also referring to Alina as "half-breed."

Nadia and Marie guide Alina to combat training, where she is greeted by Botkin and pitted against Zoya in combat, who Botkin has personally trained since she was ten years old. Alina charges towards Zoya twice but is bested both times. When Zoya makes an inappropriate remark about Mal, Alina becomes enraged and strikes her in the face. In a fit of rage, Zoya uses her Squaller abilities against Alina, which is strictly prohibited. While unconscious, Alina again dreams of the Stag before being coming to and noticing Marie and Nadia hovering over her.

Alina is approached by the Apparat in the library. He tells her that it is important that they are friends and then notices her looking into the lore of the Stag and informs her of the Bonesmith, one of the first Grisha in recorded history. He knew Grisha would always be hunted, so he sought to magnify their power. He made mythical animals from his own bones brimming with powers. Killing one of these beasts and then molding a piece onto a Grisha’s body would amplify their abilities. Only the Grisha who takes the creature’s life can take its power. The Apparat then gifts her a book titled The Lives of the Saints.

Alina trains with Baghra to harness her power. Baghra asks about her parents and origin. She then asks Alina where she belongs, but Alina is no longer sure. Baghra reveals that General Kirigan is a human amplifier and questions if Alina can summon light without him gripping her wrists. Given her uncertainty, Baghra commands Alina to leave and to only come back once she truly believes that she’s capable of destroying the Fold.

Alina writes several letters to Mal without response, in which she discusses her trials and tribulations at the Little Palace.[3]

Summoning the Light[]

Alina is gifted a black and gold kefta — General Kirigan's color, however, she decides to wear her ordinary blue kefta when joining him for a horse ride. He takes Alina to a fountain, where they bond over their mutual loneliness, with Alina being both Shu and a Sun Summoner and Kirigan being descendant to the Black Heretic, the creator of the Fold and the most hated Grisha in Ravka. Alina fears that if she fails to destroy the Fold then she will become the most hated Grisha.

Alina continues her training with Baghra over tea but repeatedly fails to summon even the smallest ball of light. She proposes they find her an amplifier, but Baghra argues that amplifiers are for the weak and lazy. Instead, she utilizes Alina’s rage to push her to summon light. Baghra’s tea takes effect, and Alina finds herself back at the orphanage with Mal being tested by Grisha examiners. In fear of being separated from Mal should she happen to be Grisha, Alina had her palm in order to deceive the examiners, as sudden pain was often used to detect Grisha powers. Baghra then encourages Alina to bring forth the light, but still, she struggles.

Alina enters General Kirigan’s room unable to sleep. She finds him looking over a map of Ravka. He reveals that there is talk of uprising in the west led by their First Army General. Shadows begin to engulf the room as General Kirigan becomes overwhelmed with grief and concern. Alina touches his hand and light emerges. Having captured his attention, she tells him that he is not alone.

Days later and Alina has still yet to receive any letters from Mal. Convinced that he is ignoring her, Alina lets go of him and summons light without the need of an amplifier, much to Baghra’s satisfaction. Later that night, Alina asks Genya to erase the scar on her palm.[4]

Fleeing the Little Palace[]

Alina and Genya prepare for her performance at the Winter Fete. When Alina expresses her desire to keep her black kefta, Genya warns her to be careful of powerful men. David interrupts with a pair of gloves for Alina’s demonstration but she assures him she can perform well enough without them.

Alina meets with General Kirigan and reveals that she’s a bit nervous about her performance but that she’s confident in her ability. When he expresses his feelings for her, Alina kisses him.

Alina enters the ballroom dressed in General Kirigan’s colors. He guides her up to the stage and introduces Alina as their liberator before encasing the room in darkness, allowing for Alina to bring light, much to the guests’ amazement. After her performance, the Apparat approaches Alina and informs her that the people are erecting altars to Sankta Alina because she has given them faith and warns her that she has a much bigger role to play than even she realizes.

Alina goes back to General Kirigan’s room, where the two of them proceed to kiss until they are interrupted by Fedyor. General Kirigan leaves but assures Alina that he will return. Just moments after General Kirigan’s departure, Baghra enters through a secret door and tells Alina that she must leave the Little Palace immediately. She reveals that not only is General Kirigan her son but that he is also the Black Heretic and that he intends to expand the Fold and use it as a weapon. Baghra leads Alina down a secret passageway and tells her to wait for allies, but instead, Alina exits through a door, leading her outside the Little Palace. She then proceeds to hide in the trunk of a carriage.[5]

Reunited with Mal[]

After the carriage comes to a stop in Ryevost, Alina opens the trunk to find Kaz Brekker, Jesper Fahey, and Inej Ghana watching her. They make her a deal to safely escort her through the Fold. However, when Alina declines their offer, refusing to be anyone else’s captive. When they refuse to step aside, she blinds Kaz and Jesper, and though Inej is fast enough to conceal her eyes, she holds a great deal of respect for the Sun Summoner and allows for her to flee.

Alina runs into the nearby woods after being attacked by a fleet of soldiers. There, she is reunited with Mal. After they’re clear of the soldiers, she accuses him of ignoring her letters for months, but he insists that he wrote her. He then asks how long has she known that she was Grisha, however, she insists that she didn’t know until that day in the Fold. Mal then reveals that he found the Stag with help from Alina's drawings. She realizes that the Darkling must’ve stolen her drawings and informs Mal how it can be used as a Grisha amplifier. She then embraces Mal and thanks him for finding her. That night, they find shelter, spending the night out in the wilderness, during which time she shows Mal her abilities.

Rather than going to the Fold as planned, Alina and Mal decide to hunt the Stag and use it against General Kirigan and the Fold. Before long, they find themselves only a day or two behind the herd.[6]

Hunting the Stag[]

Alina and Mal track down the Stag. Alina points a rifle but ultimately opts against killing the creature, suddenly coming to the realization that she can claim its power without killing it. Alina pets the Stag and her powers are amplified, though only momentarily as General Kirigan arrives with his men and shoots the Stag with an arrow, wounding the creature. Mal attempts to kill the Stag but is attacked by Zoya and Ivan. As Alina pulls the arrow from within Mal, General Kirigan attempts to kill the Stag, but Alina deflects his strike. General Kirigan presents Alina with an ultimatum: either kill the Stag and let Mal die or release the Stag and he'll have Mal healed. Alina chooses Mal, allowing for General Kirigan to deliver the killing blow to the Stag, decapitating the creature with the Cut.

General Kirigan proposes that he and Alina join forces. She takes his hand, and David molds the Stag’s antlers into a collar. The antlers infuse with Alina, with the sharp ends protruding from her shoulder blades, thus bridging the gap between Alina and General Kirigan, allowing him to control her powers.

Alina is taken back to camp, where Genya, in her new Corporalnik red kefta, informs her that the King has fallen ill and the Apparat has been ruling in his stead. Alina recalls Genya mentioning that General Kirigan gifted her to the Queen when she was 11 years old, leaving Alina to believe that Genya is one of General Kirigan’s spies and that she poisoned the King. She also realizes that Genya never sent her letters to Mal. Genya didn’t have much of a choice. She was a whipping girl for the Queen and a Grisha without a color. She didn’t have the luxury to choose friendship over survival. While Alina agrees that the King deserves his fate, she doesn’t believe that General Kirigan deserved Genya’s loyalty.

Alina confronts General Kirigan for being the Black Heretic and constantly lying to her. However, he claims that he hasn’t lied to her and that he’s only ever acted in the best interest of the Grisha and begs her to join him, but she refuses. Alina and General Kirigan then board the skiff into the Fold.[7]

Re-entering the Fold[]

The skiff enters the Fold and General Kirigan binds Alina’s feet to the deck. As the volcra approach, General Kirigan uses Alina’s power to create a tunnel of light for safe passage. He then reveals that he has no intentions of destroying the Fold, rather expanding it. As they reach the borders of Novokribirsk, General Kirigan expands the Fold into the city, killing many in the process. Alina and Mal attempt to stop him but both fail. Mal lays on the ground bleeding as Ivan weakens his heart. Zoya then joins forces with Kaz, Jesper, and Inej to defeat General Kirigan.

As she lies on the ground, Alina has a vision of the Stag and realizes that she has as much power over the antlers as General Kirigan. She grabs Inej’s knife and stabs General Kirigan in the hand, removing the Stag’s bone that was embedded in his hand, granting Alina full control of her abilities and causing the protruding antlers to recede. She then proceeds to call on the light as Mal tackles General Kirigan overboard. Alina attempts to help, but she is attacked by Ivan, who nearly kills her before Jesper intervenes. Mal makes it back into the skiff as General Kirigan is being attacked by volcra and Alina lights the way for them to escape the Fold.

Alina, Mal, Zoya, and the Crows gather around a fire after escaping the Fold. Alina gifts Inej with a new knife and pays Kaz off with royal jewelry in exchange for his silence about her whereabouts. They then part ways with Zoya, who is headed for Novokribirsk. Alina hugs her goodbye and promises Zoya that they will reclaim Ravka. Alina and Mal then board a ship headed for Ketterdam.[8]

Personality and traits[]

Alina is a young woman who can be confident and funny at times, and insecure at others.

Physical description[]

Alina is a young woman of Shu and Ravkan descent.[9] She has pale skin, with dark brown hair and eyes.[10]There is a scar on her hand from when she cut her hand on glass during the Grisha test. She is said to be short, as stated when she arrives before the King and Queen and they comment that 'They thought she'd be taller'.

Powers and abilities[]

Alina is the long since prophesized Sun Summoner, bestowing her with the abilities to bend and summon light even when engulfed in darkness.



Alina amplifier Netflix.png

After killing Morozova's Stag, the Darkling had a collar fashioned from the antlers, to use as an amplifier for Alina. The collar was physically melded to Alina's bones by David. The antlers, as an amplifier, increased Alina's Sun Summoning abilities. For a short time, while the Darkling had control over Alina's powers, the antler bones were visible, sticking out of her skin, but after she regained control of her power and could use the amplifier, the antlers melded perfectly within her bones, no longer noticeable to viewers.


Malyen Oretsev[]


Alina and Mal have been friends since they were orphans at Keramzin, where they formed a strong bond. Whenever Grisha would arrive to test the children to see if they were Grisha, the two would escape examination, and the one time they were caught, Alina sabotaged her exam, in fear she and Mal would be separated if she was confirmed to be a Grisha. Eventually, she and Mal develop romantic feelings for each other, unbeknownst to the other. When Mal was drafted to board the skiff to go through the Fold, Alina burned maps of West Rahman areas, so she could go with him through the Fold. After she was discovered as the Sun Summoner and taken to the Little Palace, she would frequently write to Mal, but never received a response. With her separation from Mal, not hearing a word from him, Alina started to suspect that her feelings towards him were unrequited and she soon gave up the idea of being reunited with him.

However, after she escaped the Little Palace, Mal was able to track her, reuniting the two friends. Once they were able to find a safe place to rest, the two finally spoke, both confirming that neither of them was receiving their letters and the two made up. When Mal was injured, protecting Alina from the Darkling's forces, Alina accepted the Darkling's deal to lower her defenses, allowing the General to kill Morozova's Stag, in exchange for having Mal's injuries healed. Mal was still kept prisoner, forcing Alina's cooperation to the Darkling's plans. After the Darkling was defeated in the Fold, Alina and Mal boarded a ship, together, to cross the True Sea.

The Darkling[]


"You may have needed me, but I never needed you."
— Alina Starkov to the Darkling, No Mourners

Alina first met the Darkling when she was brought to his tent, following her display of summoning light in the Fold. She found him very intimidating and was unsettled after he used the Cut to kill her would-be assassin. He was constantly encouraging her, exclaiming her importance to Ravka and destroying the Fold. She started developing romantic feelings for him, as he began to show her his more vulnerable side, with his frustration in the war and his desire to protect all Grisha. Letting go of the idea of any reunion with Mal, Alina became closer to the general, and on the day of the Winter Fete, she kissed him, catching him off guard but he was not displeased. Later that night, the two shared a more passionate kiss but were interrupted.

Upon learning from Baghra that the Darkling was the Black Heretic, who created the Fold, Alina felt betrayed, believing all his words of support and displays of vulnerability were lies and she fled the Little Palace. After Alina and Mal are taken prisoner, the general tries to reason with Alina that together they could do great things. However, he has David fuse the Morozova's Stag antlers to her bones, and a piece of the antler to the Darkling's hand, allowing him control of her light. Before they went into the Fold again, he tried to reason with her, but with all he had done, she no longer trusted his good intentions and was horrified when he used the Fold to consume Novokribirsk, as he claimed retribution for the attacks on Alina and other Grisha. She finally was able to break free of his control, cutting out the stag's bone from his hand, and believed him dead in the Fold after escaping it.

Genya Safin[]


The morning after Alina arrived at the Little Palace, she met the Tailor, Genya, who arrived with a few maids to help prepare Alina to be presented to the king. After a maid suggested that they make Alina look less Shu, Genya dismissed them and apologized to Alina for their comments. Alina asked her not to change her, and Genya assured Alina that she did not care that Alina was part Shu. Genya proceeded to tailor Alina, telling Alina that she had been a Tailor for years and was gifted to the queen by General Kirigan. During Alina's time at the Little Palace, Alina would frequently ask Genya if Mal had written to her, which Genya would always claim that he did not. During the day of the Winter Fete, Alina told Genya that she no longer needed to be informed if Mal wrote to her, and that she would begin wearing black kefta instead of blue, like General Kirigan. Genya was happy that Alina was feeling much better than when she arrived at the Little Palace, but advised Alina to be careful of powerful men. Alina was introduced to the Durast, David, and Alina could see, immediately, that Genya had feelings for him, by the way the Tailor acted in front of him and complimenting his work to his face. Something Genya would usually never do. The two snuck out to the palace grounds to watch the performances, though Genya was concerned Alina might be recognized as the Sun Summoner.

After Alina fled the Little Palace and was captured and taken to Kribirsk, Genya arrived, now wearing a Corporalnik red kefta. Alina begged her to speak with the king about the Darkling's plans, but Genya told her the king had taken ill. Noticing the new kefta, and remember that the Darkling gifted Genya to the queen, Alina realized Genya was conspiring with him. Alina was furious with Genya, now knowing it was her who stole her letters to Mal, and was the only one close enough to poison the king. Genya opened up to Alina, that for years she was a victim of the king and that her actions were retribution for his crimes against her. Alina was more sympathetic to Genya's plight, but told her that the Darkling did not deserve her loyalty as he was also responsible for her position, and told her that all Grisha are just his pawns. Genya stormed out of the tent. Genya left Alina, still the Darkling's prisoner.


See more here


Season 1[]

Behind the scenes[]

A worldwide casting call for a "biracial Asian actress" was released in April 2019.[9] The casting was a deliberate choice made by showrunner Eric Heisserer and author Leigh Bardugo:

"For the series, Alina is half Shu (Asian). It is a decision Leigh and I made together after a lengthy discussion of the character."
— Eric Heisserer[11]

In her newsletter to fans regarding the newly announced Netflix adaptation, Bardugo wrote:

"We also talked about how to bring more diversity into play early in the Shadow and Bone narrative. This is something the show can do better than I did. That means some of the characters aren't going to look the way they were described on the page—and that's the way it should be."
— Leigh Bardugo[12]



  1. Season 1, Episode 1: A Searing Burst of Light
  2. Season 1, Episode 2: We're All Someone's Monster
  3. Season 1, Episode 3: The Making at the Heart of the World
  4. Season 1, Episode 4: Otkazat'sya
  5. Season 1, Episode 5: Show Me Who You Are
  6. Season 1, Episode 6: The Heart Is An Arrow
  7. Season 1, Episode 7: The Unsea
  8. Season 1, Episode 8: No Mourners
  9. 9.0 9.1 CAPE - Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment - Facebook. April 12, 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jessie Mei Li - Wikipedia. Accessed September 30, 2020.
  11. Eric Heisserer (showrunner) - Twitter.
  12. File:The Grishaverse Is Coming to Netflix.pdf. January 2019.