The Grishaverse

The Darkling, also known as General Kirigan, is a commander of the Second Army and a Shadow Summoner.


Creation of the Shadow Fold[]

Many centuries ago, known then as the Black Heretic, the Darkling returned home to his partner Luda, who was also a Grisha Healer. Not long after his return, their home was surrounded by the King’s soldiers, demanding that the Darkling turn himself over. The Darkling did as instructed and gave himself up peacefully. However, the King's men had no intentions of bringing him in and shot the Darkling with arrows. Fortunately, Luda remained hidden inside, healing the Darkling as he was struck with each arrow. However, one of the soldiers managed to capture Luda and kill her. Enraged by her death, the Darkling used the Cut, killing nearly a dozen of the King’s men.

The Darkling rode on horseback to the sanctuary with Luda’s body, hoping to heal her, but he was too late. The Darkling then informed his mother of the soldiers sweeping west. Baghra blamed the Darkling for making the King afraid, so now in turn he sought to make the Grisha fear him. The Darkling reminded Baghra that she taught him how to kill, meaning their blood is on her hands as much as his own. She urged him to flee west to Kerch and wait for the King to die. Then he could return under a new identity and make peace with the new King. However, the Darkling refused to run while Grisha were in trouble. He sought to train them how to fight, but with so few of them actually knowing for to fight, the Darkling decided he would make a new army as Morozova did by forging new life to amplify their power using merzost.

Despite his mother’s warning, the Darkling sought out Morozova’s journals in the archives. Just outside the sanctuary stood more of the King’s men, armed with arrows. The King wanted the Darkling in custody. Surrounded by dozens of soldiers, the Darkling raised his hands. Using merzost, he turned the King’s men into his own army, unintentionally creating the Fold in the process.[1]

The Sun Summoner’s awakening[]

General Kirigan arrives at the campsite of the First Army to see the skiff off as they travel into the Fold to Novokribirsk to retrieve supplies.[2]

General Kirigan requests for Alina Starkov to be brought to his tent after hearing that she allegedly destroyed the volcra attacking the skiff with light. He suspects that she may be the highly prophesized Sun Summoner and asks what she is. Alina insists that she is nothing more than an ordinary map maker. However, when Zoya Nazyalensky swears that Alina emitted a searing light, General Kirigan asks where she grew up and when she was tested, but Alina claims not to remember. He then grabs her forearm and makes a small incision, causing a beam of light to shoot from her arm and through the roof of the tent, confirming the Darkling’s suspicion.

General Kirigan rescues Alina on the road to the Little Palace, where her carriage is attacked by the drüskelle, one of whom manages to pull Alina from the wagon and drag her into the field. Armed with a hatchet, the drüskelle raises his hand to Alina, but before he can bring his hand down, General Kirigan arrives and slices the man in two with "the Cut." He then helps Alina up and takes her the rest of the way to the Little Palace, during which time he explains that what Alina witnessed was a signature summoner move known as the Cut. Kirigan believes that the attempt on Alina’s life proves just how much their enemies fear her existence. Her light show in the Fold must’ve alerted them. 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 from within, but Alina doesn’t wish to be Grisha. She views her abilities as a curse as opposed to a gift. He then asks Alina once more if she was tested as a child. Alina reveals that she and Malyen Oretsev hid during the testing, as she didn’t want to be separated from her only friend.

Kirigan drops Alina off at the Little Palace and orders for her to be taken to the vezda suite. She asks if she’s a prisoner. Kirigan replies that all of Ravka is until they banish the Fold.[3]

The King’s blessing[]

General Kirigan escorts Alina to see the King. With his blessing, Alina will hopefully remain at the Little Palace for training. Kirigan introduces her as the Sun Summoner who will rid them of the Shadow Fold. The King and Queen, like others, are skeptical of Alina’s alleged sun summoning powers. Kirigan consumes the room in darkness before grabbing Alina’s wrist and invoking her abilities. Alina calls onto the sun and lights up the entire room. The King applauds and agrees that Alina should remain at the Little Palace with General Kirigan for training. Before parting ways, he welcomes Alina home.[4]

Seducing Alina[]

General Kirigan requests for Alina to join him for a horseback ride around the palace, though she chooses not to wear the black kefta he handpicked for her — black being his color. He takes Alina to a fountain and asks how she’s adjusting to life at the palace. Alina admits that she feels lonely, a sentiment the Darkling knows well enough. When he was a boy, he used to hide by the fountain once he realized he was the descendant of the Black Heretic, the creator of the Fold and the most hated Grisha in Ravka. He’d go to the fountain, throw a coin, and wish that he could be anyone else. Kirigan has devoted his life to undoing the sin of his ancestor, but he’s never seen as the solution, only the reminder of the problem. Alina is hopefully his solution, but she fears that if she fails to destroy the Fold that she will become the most hated Grisha in Ravka. Kirigan promises that he won’t allow that to happen and assures her they will change the world.

General Kirigan informs Fedyor that Nina Zenik has been on a priority mission for him and that she hasn’t reported in. He fears that she’s been captured and tasks Fedyor with finding her.

General Kirigan receives an unexpected visit from Alina during the late hours of the night while looking over a map of Ravka. They can only defeat their enemies if they present a united front, but there has been talk of an uprising in the west led by their First Army General. Kirigan is disgusted at the thought of their own people turning their backs on them. Shadows begin to engulf the room as Kirigan becomes overwhelmed with grief and anger. Alina grabs his hand and light fills the room. Having gained his attention, she tells him that he is not alone. Her face cupped in his hands, he says that he’s waited a long time for her.[5]

Winter fete[]

General Kirigan prepares for the winter fete. Alina enters his room and admits that she was nervous at first but that she’s confident in her abilities. The longer she spends at the palace, the more she realizes that she’s a part of something greater and that they can offer a brighter future for Grisha. When he expresses his feelings for her and says that she means a lot to everyone, Alina kisses him.

That evening, Kirigan is joined in the ballroom by Alina, wearing a black kefta. He then guides Alina up to the stage and introduces her as their liberator. General Kirigan fills the room in darkness, allowing Alina to bring light, amazing the guests.

General Kirigan meets with Mal after learning that he spotted the stag north of Chernast, twice as big as any other, all white with enormous antlers marked by a symbol. When Kirigan asks for an exact location, Mal demands to see Alina first, insisting that they’re close friends. In exchange, he will give General Kirigan the location of the stag. Despite already being aware of Mal’s relationship with Alina, Kirigan asks Mal to prove that he knows her by revealing something that only few would know about her, such as her favorite flower, which Mal reveals is blue iris. Assuming Mal is telling the truth, Kirigan promises to bring Alina to him.

General Kirigan returns to his room with Alina, where the two of them proceed to kiss until they are interrupted by Ivan, who reveals that Marie and Genya were attacked in the fitting room and that Alina was the target. General Kirigan leaves but assures Alina that he will return. However, by the time he makes his way back, Alina is gone. He goes searching for her in the courtyard, where he finds his mother Baghra, instead. And she reveals that she’s disposed of Mal in order to prevent him from finding the stag. Baghra knows his true intentions — to manipulate Alina into helping him expand the Fold. He now realizes that his mother is the reason for Alina’s disappearance and threatens her should Alina have been harmed.[6]

Hunting Alina[]

General Kirigan interrogates the man who killed Marie while attempting to assassinate Alina. With Ivan at his side monitoring the man’s heartbeat, he detects that the prisoner is lying. Kirigan realizes that the man they have before them is actually the Conductor, Arken Visser, who has been smuggling Grisha out of the Little Palace to find refuge elsewhere. Kirigan has been surveying Visser for some time, revealing that Nina is one of his spies. The last report he had from her was that she’d be crossing the Fold with the Conductor and three rogues from Ketterdam, but they haven’t heard from Nina since. Visser insists that he had nothing to do with Nina’s disappearance, which Ivan confirms. Kirigan suspects that Visser struck a deal with the three rogues but that he had a stronger relationship with West Ravkan General, Zlatan, who has notions of ruling his own country so long as the Fold remains intact. Supposedly, Visser made another deal with him to kill Alina. Visser admits this is true and offers to kill General Zlatan, but Kirigan declines his offer before consuming Visser in darkness.

Fedyor reports to General Kirigan that Nina was abducted by Fjerdans and put on a ship with other Grisha captives bound for the Ice Court, meaning someone likely gave her up. Kirigan orders Fedyor to reach the western coast, go as far north as he can, and bring back any Grisha he finds. Barring that, General Kirigan orders him to bring back a Fjerdan as well.

General Kirigan requests for Zoya to join him at sundown when he leads a team in pursuit of the criminals that took Alina. Zoya questions if Alina may have left of her own free will, noting that Alina never fit in at the Palace. However, Kirigan could relate to her, as the King’s soldiers treated him the same way because they knew he was more important than any of them. Zoya recalls how Kirigan used to call on her when his table was messy but his bed was neat. She’d help him make it the other way around. She seeks to rekindle what they once had, but General Kirigan is only interested in Alina.

General Kirigan and his team track the Crows down to Ryevost, where Kirigan comes face to face with Kaz Brekker. He asks where they've stashed Alina. Kaz reveals that she fled on her own and that he doesn’t know where she is. Kirigan calls on the Cut and slashes in Kaz’ direction, but Kaz dodges the attack with a smoke bomb and flees.

From a few of the local soldiers, General Kirigan learns that Alina fled north into the woods. They also reveal that Mal came through looking for her as well, leading Kirigan to suspect that they’re going after the stag.[7]

Killing the stag[]

The Darkling and his team track down Alina and Mal and prevent them from killing the stag. Mal is gravely wounded during the scuffle, as is the stag. General Kirigan attempts to kill the creature, but Alina deflects his strike. However, Alina can either help Mal or kill the stag. Alina chooses Mal, allowing for General Kirigan to deliver the killing blow to the stag, decapitating the creature with the Cut.

General Kirigan recalls that when he and Alina first met, she wished she could give her powers to someone else. Now, she’s being given the chance, Kirigan claims. He heals Mal as promised and proposes that he and Alina join forces. Together, they can end all wars and protect the Grisha. Alina asks if they are destroying the Fold. He replies they can do anything and then extends his hand to Alina. She takes his hand, and then David Kostyk crafts the stag’s antlers into a collar. The antlers infuse with Alina, with the sharp ends protruding from her shoulder blades and another piece of the antler being infused in Kirigan’s hand, thus bridging the gap between the two, allowing him to control her powers given that he killed the stag.

General Kirigan takes Alina and Mal back to the First Army’s camp, where Mal is kept chained to a banister. Mal refers to him as the Black Heretic and promises to kill him the first chance he gets. Kirigan acknowledges that Mal and Alina care greatly for one another judging by the letters Kirigan read between the two. Admittedly, Alina may take years to forgive him, but as Grisha, Kirigan can wait, whereas Mal will age and one day she will forget all about him and realize that she only has one equal, that being the Darkling. So he doesn’t need to kill Mal, as time will do it for him.

General Kirigan enters Alina’s tent simply to talk. However, she accuses him of being the Black Heretic and killing her friends and parents via the Fold. Karigan claims that he hasn’t lied to her, only told her half truths. As for poisoning the King and conspiring with the Apparat, Kirigan admits this is true. Continuing to serve such a King would make him a traitor to his country. Kirigan claims that everything he’s ever done was to make Ravka and Grisha safer, including forcing the collar on Alina. He begs her to join him, but she refuses. Still, they board the skiff into the Fold.[1]

Expanding the Shadow Fold[]

The skiff enters the Fold, and General Kirigan binds Alina’s feet to the deck of the ship. When the volcra near the skiff, 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. He intends to expand it. Once they reach the other side of the Fold leading into Novokribirsk, General Kirigan expands the Fold, engulfing the city and killing many in the process. He declares that the Fold is his to control and tells the passengers to take what they’ve seen back to their home countries and spread the word, for there will be no more war with Ravka. Mal joins them on deck shooting several soldiers before being stopped by Ivan.

General Kirigan turns his attention to Zoya upon realizing that she has betrayed him. However, before he can act, he is under attack by the Crows. Jesper shoots at him and Inej pierces his chest with a blade, though he pulls the knife out with little difficulty before pulling the dark in closer on the back end of the skiff, leaving Zoya and Inej susceptible to the volcra. The Darkling then extends his hand to Alina. She grabs Inej’s knife and stabs General Kirigan, removing the stag’s bone that was embedded in his hand, granting Alina full control of her abilities as she reveals that she was able to claim the stag’s power because it chose her when she decided to spare its life. She then proceeds to call on the light as Mal tackles General Kirigan overboard. Kirigan and Mal battle alongside the skiff. Mal keeps Kirigan distracted long enough for the volcra to sneak up behind and attack him.

Despite being torn apart by the volcra, the Darkling emerges from the Fold, followed by his nichevo'ya.[8]

Personality and traits[]

The Darkling is manipulative, and can easily find a person's weaknesses and exploit them.

As a result of the discrimination he endured and the death of his partner, Luda, at the hands of soldiers, he advocates for a change for Grisha in Ravka and elsewhere. Although regarded as a villain by many for the methods he uses to achieve his goals, he doesn't see himself as morally corrupt.

Physical description[]

The Darkling has black hair and dark brown eyes.

Powers and abilities[]

Known by many names, the Darkling's is a Shadow Summoner — a rare and powerful class of Grisha with the ability to summon and manipulate darkness and shadows. He is capable of filling entire rooms with darkness. Through the use of merzost, the Darkling created an army of dark followers and unintentionally created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling is also exceptionally talented at the Cut, using it on both the stag and on several other people.


Alina Starkov[]

"You and I are going to change the world."
— The Darkling to Alina, Otkazat'sya



Season 1[]


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Behind the scenes[]



  • His blood turned black as a side effect of merzost.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Season 1, Episode 7: The Unsea
  2. Season 1, Episode 1: A Searing Burst of Light
  3. Season 1, Episode 2: We're All Someone's Monster
  4. Season 1, Episode 3: The Making at the Heart of the World
  5. Season 1, Episode 4: Otkazat'sya
  6. Season 1, Episode 5: Show Me Who You Are
  7. Season 1, Episode 6: The Heart is an Arrow
  8. Season 1, Episode 8: No Mourners