"You are strong enough to survive the fall."
— Sankt Juris to Zoya, King of Scars


Zoya Nazyalensky is a member of the Grisha Triumvirate and the leader of the Etherealki, the Grisha order of Summoners. She previously possessed an amplifier in the form of a heavy silver bracelet studded with tiger teeth. Before the Ravkan Civil War, Zoya was a favored soldier of the Darkling and was frequently assigned to missions around Ravka.

As of King of Scars, Zoya has the ability to summon wind, water, and fire, and has demonstrated passable 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 Character[edit | edit source]

Zoya has long, black hair and dark blue eyes. She is half Suli through her father’s ancestry. In King of Scars, Nikolai Lantsov humorously describes her to be "pretty as a picture and brimming with spite."

She is feared by many in the Little Palace and in Os Alta, due to her immense powers as a Squaller as well as her caustic nature. Often Zoya is shown to be ambitious, stubborn, and vindictive, and is capable of being extremely mean and disagreeable. Despite her prickly demeanor and her sharp tongue, however, Zoya is intelligent, hardworking, and deeply loyal to Ravka.

Zoya fulfills her role as commander of the Second Army by teaching the younger Grisha students at the Little Palace alongside the other members of the Grisha Triumvirate, Genya and David. She is known to be extremely harsh in training younger Grisha, but truly cares for their well-being and has earned their respect as a leader and mentor.  

History[edit | edit source]

Zoya was born in a small Ravkan village, Pachina, to Sabina Garin and her husband, a Suli man. She painstakingly sought her distracted mother's affections by studying hard in her lessons, eating only half of her meals to share the rest with Sabina, and even going as far to steal peaches from a duke's estate for her mother. Sabina capitalized on Zoya’s looks and planned to wed her off to Valentin Grankin, a wealthy widower of the same village, when Zoya was nine years old. Zoya agreed to the arrangement so as not to displease her mother, despite having no desire to be wed. As she tells Nikolai in King of Scars, Zoya wanted to be a soldier before her Grisha powers manifested.

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.

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 began to hit Liliyana repeatedly with a walking stick, nearly beating Zoya's aunt to death. Before he could deal the killing blow, however, the upset and cornered 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 immediately began her training in the Little Palace. Starting on her first day at the Little Palace, Zoya began to learn combat, history, reading, as well 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 lure the mother as they suspected she was the amplifier. 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 lunged to attack the cubs. Zoya shielded their bodies with her own and took the brunt of the attack, leaving her with eight long scars on her back. She retaliated with a Squaller wind as she regained consciousness and sent the tiger into a tree, which snapped his spine and killed him. She obtained the tiger's teeth as an amplifier, forming the silver cuff she wore around her left wrist until the events of King of Scars.

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 Bone trilogy[edit | edit source]

Shadow and Bone[edit | edit source]

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. Zoya is later seen in the Darkling's tent, ridiculing and laughing at Alina when she was brought up before the Darkling. She arrived at the Little Palace a few weeks after Alina did.

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 and berates 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 her, an enraged Zoya uses Squaller wind to slam Alina against a wall and breaks her ribs. Botkin is furious and scolds Zoya for being foolish and reckless by using Grisha powers within the sparring ring. She was barred from the training rooms and sent to speak with the Darkling. Marie and Nadia told Alina they heard that the Darkling was mad at Zoya and she left his office crying.

Before the Winter Fete, Zoya was seen putting on her dress when Genya and Alina walked in to use the mirror, on purpose to make her jealous of Alina's black-and-gold kefta.

Siege and Storm[edit | edit source]

Off-screen, Zoya travelled alone across the Shadow Fold to Novokribirsk, where her aunt Liliyana Garin lived. Arriving in the town, destroyed by the Darkling, Zoya found her aunt's shop to be abandoned. The death of her aunt and adoptive cousin Lada, made her turn against the Darkling, and she travelled back to the Little Palace in Os Alta

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 announces her support of the Sun Summoner on behalf of the Etherealki. Although several Etherealki object to this statement, Alina is shocked and serval other Grisha at Zoya's proclamation seeing as her and Alina never had the friendliest of relationships.

Later, Alina calls for a meeting of the remaining Grisha with two representatives per order. Zoya is a representative for the Etherealki, and she plans with Alina and the other Grisha. In the events that follow, Zoya becomes a part of Alina's forces.

However Zoya and Alina's relationship take a turn for the worst when Alina spots Zoya and Mal kissing after Mal wins a fight against a Grisha.

When the nichevo'ya storm the Little Palace during Nikolai's birthday celebrations, Zoya fights beside her fellow Squallers. She is also present when the final confrontation of the Darkling and Alina takes place.

Ruin and Rising[edit | edit source]

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 remaining 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.

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.

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 duology[edit | edit source]

Six of Crows[edit | edit source]

In Six of Crows, Zoya is mentioned several times by Nina Zenik. Nina recounts an earlier experience with Zoya, during which the two were attempting to recruit rogue Grisha to the Second Army on the Wandering Isle[1]. A year after the end of Ruin and Rising, Nina and Zoya went undercover in search of Grisha to rebuild the Second Army, which had nearly been wiped out during the Ravkan Civil War. Zoya told Nina that she was not very stealthy as a spy and that she was too loud and 'big', and that people would notice her. Nina ran off and got captured by Drüskelle and taken to Fjerda. Zoya would not see Nina for over a year until Crooked Kingdom, believing she was dead.

Crooked Kingdom[edit | edit source]

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."[2]

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. When Jesper comments that Zoya doesn't seem like the type of person to risk her own life, both Nina and Nikolai answer simultaneously, "You'd be surprised." 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.[2] This shocks Nina, who apparently would never have expected Zoya to praise someone, or at least not her.

Nikolai duology[edit | edit source]

King of Scars[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

Marie and Nadia[edit | edit source]

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.   

The Darkling[edit | edit source]

Zoya was initially infatuated with the Darkling. 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. The Darkling's punishment for injuring Alina out of pure recklessness is taking away Zoya's amplifier.

After the events of Shadow and Bone, Zoya chooses to side with Alina Starkov's resistance due to the Darkling's attack on Novokribirsk which killed her Aunt, Liliyana Garin, and her adoptive cousin, Lada Garin.

In King of Scars, Zoya shows disgust and hatred towards the Darkling and repeatedly expresses contempt towards the Cult of the Starless Saint. She vehemently speaks on behalf of the Darkling’s victims—especially Genya, Alina, Baghra, and her aunt Liliyana.

Alina Starkov[edit | edit source]

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. As she is one of very few Grisha who stands behind Alina until the end of the war, Zoya forms a tentative 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'' after Alina loses her power.

In King of Scars, Zoya continually defends Alina’s legacy despite her own mistrust of Saints and worship. Zoya expresses pride in seeing the followers of the Sun Saint and Alina’s extensive influence.

Genya Safin[edit | edit source]

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.[3]

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

By King of Scars, Zoya and Genya have developed a close friendship. Zoya readily comes to Genya’s defense in the face of members of the Cult of the Starless, and Genya admits to missing Zoya when she and Nikolai disappear in the Fold. Before Zoya, Nikolai, Tamar, and Tolya depart on their pilgrimage around Ravka, Zoya surprises Genya by embracing her and telling her to be safe. When Nikolai and Zoya return from the Fold, Zoya and Genya hug again after Zoya reveals that she once asked Genya to bleach her hair blond when she was drunk.

Malyen Oretsev[edit | edit source]

Zoya and Mal have a brief relationship. Zoya saw Mal for the first time in the very beginning of Shadow and Bone, when Zoya is spotted by Mal and Alina in the Darkling's coach that nearly runs Alina over.

In Siege and Storm, Mal constantly fought other Grisha near the stables after dark. Once when Alina was watching a fight between Mal and another Grisha, Malyen won the fight and the crowd cheered as Zoya came over and kissed him, leaving Alina hotheaded and jealous.

When asked by Alina whether or not the two had done anything in Kribirsk, Zoya responds "It happened.”

Nikolai Lantsov[edit | edit source]

Though Nikolai and Zoya do admit that they find eachother attractive, they mostly balance each other and respect each other. Nikolai often refers to Zoya as his steady commander, and feels as though he can count on her ruthlessness. Though Zoya often feels drawn to Nikolai, she reminds herself that she as a Grisha could never be his queen.

Throughout King of Scars, Zoya is the one to lock Nikolai up at night to stop the beast. The intimacy of it often gets to Zoya. For Nikolai, he enjoys the excuse to talk to her, and her presence keeps him calm and grounded. He feels that he never has been entirely immune to her beauty.

In the Shadow Fold, before the ceremony, Nikolai and Zoya share a moment. Nikolai admits that he likes seeing Zoya comfortable, and wants to be the one making her feel so. Nikolai feels as though Zoya is still a mystery, and asks her how she got her amplifier. When Zoya reveals her scars, Nikolai feels a sudden overwhelming attraction towards her. Zoya has never told anyone about her amplifiers, and telling this to Nikolai is intimate.

As they say goodbye before the purging, Zoya is about to say something when she is interrupted. Nikolai wishes badly to know what she was about to say.

When Nikolai is training with Elizaveta, she says that there is a reason she chose Zoya to put in danger, because Nikolai cannot let her be in harms way. When he is ultimately battling the beast, it is Zoya's words in his mind that bring him back to himself.

When Nikolai tells Ehri she is to be his queen, Zoya must push down her jeaolusy, even if it confuses her.

Juris[edit | edit source]

In King of Scars, as Zoya battles Juris in his dragon form in the Shadow Fold, he destroys her amplifier, causing Zoya to feel broken and hate him. But as Juris teaches Zoya the old ways of Grisha power, he becomes her mentor. Juris teaches Zoya what he knows; that her form of an amplifier was the weakened way, and that true amplifiers occur when the Grisha and the beast become one. Juris explains that when he battled the dragon, he became the dragon, and with that he held the strength, powers, and memories of the dragon. He became the Heart of the World. He also explains that he was not only a Squallor, but and Inferni and Tidemaker, because like Morozova says, aren't we all things? Juris teaches Zoya that she doesn't call power, she is the power.

When Zoya uses this knowledge of her new powers to escape Elizaveta's prison, she runs to Juris. He is already dying, but tells Zoya that she must kill him to allow him to become her amplifier. She hesitates, because Juris has become like a father to her. But ultimately she kills him, surrendering herself to him and becoming him and the dragon. She uses her newfound Durast powers to form new amplifiers for herself, and Juris's memories, lives, and powers pass onto her.

Later Nikolai notices that Zoya's eyes turned silver for a moment, becoming slits like a dragon's.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]

Siege and Storm[edit | edit source]

  • ”I don’t want to live in darkness.” – p. 307

Ruin and Rising[edit | edit source]

  • "Toss him over. Break his heart cruelly.'' – 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

Crooked Kingdom[edit | edit source]

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

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Between the events of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, Zoya crossed the Shadow Fold alone in a small sand skiff to find her aunt Liliyana, after hearing the Darkling destroyed Novokribirsk.
  • 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.
  • Zoya is half-Suli, from her father's side.
  • Zoya comes from a small village called Pachina, which was probably not too far east from the Shadow Fold.
  • As a Grisha Squaller, Zoya developed unique lightning powers.
  • Zoya is fluent in Kerch, Shu, and most likely Suli as well in addition to her native Ravkan.
  • As parents of Grisha children receive money from the Ravkan government, Zoya made sure her aunt received the payments, saying she was her only guardian.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
  3. Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
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