Alina Starkov is an orphan soldier and the Sun Summoner.

History

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, causing 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. They 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. 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.

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.[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 for 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 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 on 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 of 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

TBA

Physical Appearance

Alina is a young woman of Shu descent.[9] She has pale skin, with dark brown hair and eyes.[10]

Abilities

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

Relationships

TBA

Appearances

Season 1

TV

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]

Trivia

References

  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.
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