"I’m a soldier of the Second Army. This is where I belong."
— Zoya Nazyalensky, Siege and Storm

Zoya Nazyalensky is a member of the Grisha Triumvirate. An incredibly powerful Grisha and an excellent fighter, she initially possesses an amplifier in the form of a heavy silver bracelet studded with tiger teeth. Before the Ravkan Civil War, Zoya was one of the Darkling’s favored Grisha and was frequently assigned to missions around Ravka.

As of King of Scars, Zoya is the only living Grisha capable of using powers from more than one Grisha Order. She has the ability to summon wind, water, and fire, displaying powers from all three primary Etherealki denominations, and has demonstrated a modicum of skill as a Fabrikator. Currently, she possesses a new amplifier in the form of two black fetters constructed from the scales of Sankt Juris as a dragon.

Appearance and CharacterEdit

Zoya is a stunningly beautiful girl with long, black hair and deep, jewel-like blue eyes. She is half Suli through her father’s ancestry. One of the most powerful Grisha in the world, she is feared and respected by many in the Little Palace and in Os Alta. Zoya is shown to be ambitious, courageous, and intelligent, but can also be vain and, at times, extremely disagreeable. 

Despite being caustic, stubborn, and ruthless, Zoya has an unshakable moral compass of her own and a fierce devotion to Ravka and the Second Army. Although Zoya is unforgiving and vindictive on many occasions, she is shown to be a capable commander and is described as a strong leader by various characters, including Matthias Helvar, Nina Zenik, Adrik Zhabin, and Nikolai Lantsov

As revealed in King of Scars, Zoya often wears a mask of anger and arrogance in order to conceal her own fear and grief. She is almost always on guard and rarely conveys her true emotions, often holding others at a distance.  

History Edit

Spoilers for King of Scars ahead: Edit

Zoya was born in a small Ravkan village, Pachina, to Sabina Garin and her husband, a Suli man. She grew up in a poor household and painstakingly sought her distracted mother's affections, even going as far to steal peaches from a duke's estate to present to Sabina. At the age of nine, Zoya's parents agreed to wed her to a wealthy widower, Valentin Grankin. Despite having no wish to be married, Zoya agreed to the arrangement so as not to displease her mother.

Before the ceremony, Zoya's aunt Liliyana arrived from Novokribirsk in order to dissuade Sabina from proceeding with the wedding. Liliyana accused Sabina of selling her own child, and the argument was overheard by Zoya; soon, Sabina banished Liliyana from her house. On the night before the wedding, Zoya wept uncontrollably and prayed to the Saints so as to stop the proceedings.

When the day of Zoya's wedding arrived, Liliyana appeared in the chapel, demanding that Valentin Grankin stop the marriage and blaming the gathered spectators for doing nothing to impede the ceremony. However, Grankin only began to hit Lilyana with a walking stick, nearly beating Zoya's aunt to death. Before he could deal the killing blow, however, Zoya's Grisha powers emerged, a vast gust of wind striking Grankin and destroying the church. Afterwards, Liliyana took Zoya away to embark on the journey to Os Alta, where Zoya would be trained in the Little Palace. Upon learning that families of Grisha soldiers were heavily compensated, Zoya, at the age of ten, petitioned that her fee was paid to her aunt in Novokribirsk instead of her parents in Pachina. Beginning from her first day at the Little Palace, Zoya began learning combat, reading, as well as the Shu language.

At the age of thirteen, Zoya accompanied the Darkling and several older Grisha students on a trip to Tsibeya to search for the white tigers of Ilmisk, where an amplifier was suspected to be located. The other students discovered and captured three tiger cubs and prepared to kill them as amplifiers. Zoya, hearing the cubs' mother outside of their camp, freed the baby tigers at night and attempted to herd them away. However, an aggressive male tiger approached and, in order to protect the cubs, Zoya concealed their bodies with her own. The male tiger left deep wounds on Zoya's back, but she was able to kill the tiger with Squaller wind. As a result, Zoya obtained the tiger's teeth as an amplifier, forming the heavy silver cuff she wore around her left wrist for years.

When Zoya was sixteen, she made her first journey across the Shadow Fold with the Darkling and other Grisha. Upon arriving in Novokribirsk, Zoya brought copious gifts to her aunt Liliyana and met Liliyana's ward, an orphan named Lada who became Zoya's adoptive niece.

Shadow and BoneEdit

Zoya is first seen riding in the Darkling's entourage through Kribirsk, the town where Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev are stationed, and shows interest in Mal when she sees him. Later, when Alina is escorted into the Little Palace, Zoya is envious of Alina and her powers, unable to stand the fact that she herself is no longer the Darkling's favorite. When she greets Alina in the dining hall of the Little Palace, the two girls hug, while Zoya quietly threatens Alina so that only the two of them hear. Soon Botkin pairs Zoya and Alina together in combat classes, hoping that Zoya, a star pupil, can assist Alina in training. When Alina astonishingly succeeds in besting Zoya, Zoya cannot stand the damage to her ego and uses Squaller wind to slam Alina against a wall and break her ribs. Botkin is furious and scolds Zoya for using Grisha powers within the sparring ring. Zoya is barred from the training rooms and sent to speak with the Darkling.

After an unknown punishment from the Darkling, Zoya emerges from his room in tears[1] but no longer bothers Alina, although there remains tension between the two.

Siege and Storm Edit

Zoya n by phantom rin

Zoya by phantomrin on Tumblr

Unbeknownst to Alina at first, Zoya is among the Grisha who stayed at the Little Palace after it was abandoned by the Darkling and his Second Army troops. Upon Alina's return, Zoya openly announces her support of the Sun Summoner on behalf of the Etherealki. Although several Etherealki object to this statement, Alina is shocked at Zoya's proclamation.

Later, Alina calls for a meeting of the remaining Grisha with two representatives per order. Zoya is voted as one representative for the Etherealki, and she plans with Alina and the other Grisha.

As Alina is evacuating the Grisha schools to send Grisha children too young to fight to Keramzin, she questions Zoya about her motives in staying, saying that Zoya had once been among the Darkling's favorites and would have stood by him no matter what. [2]

Zoya responds with tears in her eyes and tells Alina of her aunt and niece who lived in Novokribirsk before the city was demolished by the Darkling's power. She believes that the Darkling could have warned her about the attack before her family was killed in the surge of the Shadow Fold. Afterwards, although Alina remains somewhat suspicious, her doubts of Zoya diminish significantly. In the events that follow, Zoya becomes an integral part of Alina's forces.

In King of Scars, it is revealed that Zoya had ventured across the Shadow Fold alone after hearing of the attack on Novokribirsk. Upon seeing the town decimated, learning that her aunt Liliyana was killed, and finding no trace of her niece, Zoya left the city, crossed the Shadow Fold, and vowed vengeance on the Darkling.

Ruin and Rising Edit

Being one of the twelve surviving Grisha from the attack on the Little Palace, Zoya stays with Alina and the other surviving Grisha at the White

Cathedral until they manage to escape. Together with the others she travels through Ravka until they find Nikolai and are brought to the Spinning Wheel. She survives the Darkling's surprise attack on the hideout and escapes together with Alina and the remaning Grisha aboard the Bittern. After the Grisha decide to split up after creating plans to find the third amplifier, Zoya, along with Mal, Alina, Harshaw and Tolya, searches for the firebird near Dva Stolba. When the group decides to stage a surprise attack against the Darkling, Zoya and the other Summoners become a vanguard to attack the Darkling's sandskiff.

In the final battle within the Shadow Fold, Zoya fights volcra and nichevo'ya along with the remainder of Alina's forces. When Alina is forced to kill Mal, Zoya is seen with a burn on her cheek running towards Alina along with Tamar and Tolya. At the end of the battle, Zoya saves Nikolai from almost certain death by falling, after he regains control of his human body, by cushioning his drop with an updraft.[3] Later, Zoya commandeers one of the Darkling’s skiffs to take the survivors of the battle, including Alina and Mal, away from the Fold and keeps the curious Soldat Sol distracted when Alina’s and Mal’s bodies are taken aboard the ship.

Upon Alina’s resignation from her position as leader of the Second Army, Zoya, along with David and Genya, is appointed to lead the Grisha by Alina and Nikolai. Genya, Zoya, and David become the Grisha Triumvirate, representing the Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki respectively.

Six of Crows Edit

In Six of Crows, Zoya is mentioned several times by Nina Zenik as someone whom the younger Grisha admired, and, at times, idolized. Nina recounts an earlier experience with Zoya, during which the two were attempting to recruit rogue Grisha to the Second Army.[4]

Crooked Kingdom Edit

Zoya makes several appearances in Crooked Kingdom: first at the Ravkan embassy in Ketterdam, where she and Genya Safin are attempting to help a group of Grisha refugees escape the city. There, she encounters Nina Zenik and Matthias Helvar in the middle of a fight, pinning them and several other men to a wall with Squaller wind. She and Genya reunite with Nina after a full year of separation and Zoya expresses clear contempt towards Matthias for being a former drüskelle. After some discussion, Zoya and Genya agree to accept Nina's and Matthias's help in rescuing the Grisha. Soon, however, Nina's original escape plan is scrapped; Zoya, Genya, and the refugees are forced to remain in Kerch.

Much later, she meets Kaz Brekker and several of the Dregs as a Ravkan delegate and a member of the Grisha Triumvirate, along with Genya and Sturmhond. She is outraged at Kaz when he orders everyone but Sturmhond to wait in the outer room while the two discuss. Afterwards, in conversation with Wylan Van Eck and Jesper Fahey, Genya comments that the Kerch are strangely attached to money and Zoya storms away when Jesper mutters in response, "Says the woman with a bankrupt country."[5]

Near the very end of the book Zoya joins the Dregs, once again with Genya and Sturmhond, to take Kuwei Yul-Bo to Ravka after the ploy that was conducted at his auction. Zoya summons lighting, an action that could cost her her own life, in order to restart Kuwei's heart. Before departing, she informs Nina Zenik that she should "remember where [her] loyalties lie" and that Ravka would be fortunate if Nina were to rejoin the Second Army.[5]

King of Scars Edit

Spoilers for King of Scars ahead: Edit

Zoya goes with Tolya and Tamar to a goose farm outside the town of Ivets to collect Nikolai, who has escaped in his shadow monster form. Zoya finds Nikolai in time to save a young boy named Dima whom Nikolai was about to attack. She shackles Nikolai and takes him to a carriage to be transported back to Ivets. Once Nikolai returns to his human form, the two share their concerns over the strange occurrences that have been happening all over Ravka lately and the fact that Ravka is currently highly unstable due to the lack of funds or a queen.

Back in the capital, Zoya, Nikolai, Tamar, Toyla, Genya, and David discuss the trouble that Ravka is in regarding the use of jurda parem by other countries and Ravka's amassing debt to the Kerch. Zoya is clearly very worried about the fate of the world's Grisha and Ravka. They decide to hold a festival to host foreign dignitaries, and Zoya declares they shall use the festival as a way to find a bride for Nikolai. Later, she and Nikolai discuss potential brides and Zoya learns that Nikolai is a bastard.

Zoya accompanies Nikolai into the city to respond to the new cult of those that worship The Darking, The Cult of the Starless Saint. Nikolai decides to bring the leader of the cult, a young man named Yuri Vedenen, to the Grand Palace. Zoya is highly opposed to this due to her personal history with The Darkling and the pain and loss he caused her and her friends. That night, Nikolai escapes his bonds in his monster form and flies to a town called Balakirev. Zoya fights Nikolai in his monster form on top of a bell tower. Nikolai almost kills her before she is saved by Toyla.

Relationships/Friendships Edit


by bucumber

Marie and NadiaEdit

In the beginning of Shadow and Bone, Marie and Nadia act as Zoya's friends but badmouth her in her absence, calling her stuck-up to Alina. Later, however, Zoya and Nadia work together several times in battle, seeming to have developed a genuine friendship.   

The DarklingEdit

Zoya is, at first, deeply infatuated with the Darkling, like most other Grisha girls. Upon Alina's arrival at the Little Palace, Zoya instantly hates her for becoming the Darkling's new favorite, and expresses her jealousy by cheating during a duel and injuring Alina. After an unknown punishment or scolding from the Darkling for her behavior, Zoya is seen leaving his office in tears, further revealing how much she respects and desires him.

After the events of Shadow and Bone, Zoya is no longer loyal to him after she learns that her family in Novokribirsk were killed in an attack commanded by the Darkling. She is among the Grisha who remain in the Little Palace and those who join Alina Starkov's resistance.

Alina StarkovEdit

In Shadow and Bone, Zoya seems to hold a grudge toward Alina and does not miss a chance of taunting her. After unfairly injuring Alina in combat, Zoya is punished and does not confront Alina, but evidently still dislikes her.

While the story goes on, Zoya supports Alina and stays at her side, even giving her advice about Alina's relationship with Mal. As she is one of very few Grisha who stands behind Alina until the end of the war, Zoya exhibits genuine loyalty and friendship towards Alina. In the epilogue of Ruin and Rising, Zoya gifts Alina a blue kefta with the note You'll always be one of us even after Alina loses her power.

Genya Safin Edit

When the two characters are first introduced, they have a mutual dislike of each other: Zoya resents Genya because of her status as a servant, while Genya loathes Zoya for her arrogance. Genya and Alina even barge into Zoya's room before the Winter Fete in Shadow and Bone, forcing Zoya to wait in the hallway while Genya uses Zoya's cosmetics to style Alina. Genya admits that she only wanted to see the look on Zoya’s face when the Squaller saw Alina dressed in the Darkling's colors.[1]

Throughout the series, as Zoya and Genya share many experiences in the war, their animosity fades. Eventually, their bickering becomes of a playful nature: in Ruin and Rising, Genya insists that Zoya has "weird incisors", and when Zoya protests that her teeth are perfectly fine, Genya soothes her, "You're the prettiest walrus I know."[2] As the two browse through kefta and dresses in Alina's room later in the book, Zoya declares that she would make an excellent queen, only for Genya to respond, "The day I curtsy to you is the day David performs an opera naked in the Shadow Fold." Zoya retorts, "Like I'd have you in my court," to which Genya says, "You should be so lucky," before helping Zoya to straighten her headpiece.[3]

By the end of the third book, Zoya and Genya have both accepted roles in leading the Second Army as heads of the Etherealki and Corporalki respectively. Although Genya initally complains that Alina must be punishing her by forcing her to work with Zoya, the two Grisha are shown bickering good-naturedly and cooperating in Crooked Kingdom.

Memorable Quotes Edit

Siege and Storm Edit

  • "I'm a soldier of the Second Army. This is where I belong." – p. 306
  • ”I don’t want to live in darkness.” – p. 307

Ruin and Rising Edit

  • "Toss him over. Break his heart cruelly. I will gladly give our poor prince comfort, and I would make a magnificent queen." – p. 192
  • "I am horrible. All these people dead, and I miss pretty things." – p. 192
  • "I miss knowing what happens next." – p. 193
  • "This is my home. I won't be chased out of it." – p. 254
  • "If he gets any more charming, men and women may start lying down in the street for the privilege of being stepped on by the new Ravkan King. However did you resist him?" – p. 391 (about Nikolai)

Crooked Kingdom Edit

  • ”Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.” – p. ?? (originally from Liliyana Garin)

Trivia Edit

  • Zoya, along with Nikolai and Genya, was one of Leigh Bardugo's favorite characters to write in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. [6][7]
  • Zoya’s POV chapters in King of Scars were Leigh Bardugo’s favorite to write.[8]
  • In Ruin and Rising, Zoya reveals that, when she was in school, she and other Squallers discovered a way to create an acoustic anomaly using their powers, which they used to eavesdrop on people in other rooms.
    • This trick later becomes integral in Alina's plans to defeat the Darkling.
  • According to Leigh Bardugo, Zoya is a Slytherin.[9]
  • Zoya is the only character to make an active appearance in all six primary works of the Grishaverse.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
  2. 2.0 2.1 Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo
  4. Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
  5. 5.0 5.1 Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
  6. Leigh Bardugo author interview; Ruin and Rising bonus materials
  7. Leigh Bardugo's post-Ruin and Rising Q&A; Goodreads
  8. Leigh Bardugo’s interview at the Library of Congress National Book Festival
  9. Leigh Bardugo's Tumblr