'Shadow and Bone': Why Is General Kirigan Not Mentioned in the Books?

Shadow and Bone was just released on Netflix, and it’s already garnered a massive fan base. The series follows Aina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li)  – an orphan turned mapmaker. Though she’s been unremarkable for her entire life, Alina inadvertently finds herself thrust into the spotlight after uncovering some untapped magical powers she didn’t know she had.

Given the name the Sunbringer, Alina catches the attention of the stoic by the very sexy leader of the magical Grisha people, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes).

General Kirigan is a major character in Shadow and Bone, but why is he never mentioned in the book series the show is based on?

[Spoiler alert: This article contains MAJOR spoilers from Netflix’s Shadow and Bone Season 1. Read at your own risk.]

Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ is based on Leigh Bardugo’s book series

Shadow and Bone is based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha book series. The first trilogy of novels are Shadow and Bone (2012), Siege and Storm (2013), and Ruin and Rising (2014). However, the series crosses paths with books that also occur in the same world as the Grisha. They include Six of Crows (2015), Crooked Kingdom (2016), King of Scars (2019), and Rule of Wolves (2021).

Bardugo teamed up with Bird Box screenwriter, Eric Heisserer to bring Shadow and Bone to life.

“He kept me involved, and when I was frustrated or upset about something, we would talk it out,” Bardugo told Winter Is Coming. “I did not always get my way. That is not what collaboration is about — Sometimes, neither of you gets what you want, and the thing you get is better than what both of you were envisioning.”

Ben Barnes initially turned down the role of General Kirigan in ‘Shadow and Bone’

Along with Li’s Alina, Barnes is an integral part of Shadow and Bone. However, the Westworld actor nearly turned down the role on the show. “It’s difficult to uproot your life and go to Eastern Europe or wherever it might be in the world that isn’t your home for half the year, and you don’t know if you’re going to do more series,” Barnes told Metro.”So I said, ‘I don’t think this is something I want to be involved in.’”

In the end, Heisserer was able to convince him to put on the general’s black cloak. “He sort of talked me through the series and the themes that he wanted to highlight… So I felt like I was involved in this world already. I immediately became quite invested,” Barnes explained.

While it was important to nail down the right actor for General Kirigan, fans of Bardugo’s books won’t recognize the character.

Why is General Kirigan not mentioned in the books?

In Bardugo’s novels, the General is a Shadow Summoner, known as “The Darkling.” He is the only Grisha like him alive, and his origins go back to the Black Heretic.

The Black Heretic was an adviser of the king. However, in a power grab, he attempted to create his own army using merzost, a horrible and forbidden magic. Instead, he inadvertently created The Fold, terrifying darkness full of monsters, presumably killing himself and millions of others in the process.

Since then, every Darkling like General Kirigan has tried to undo what the Black Heretic did. For the purposes of Shadow and Bone, it appears that Netflix wanted to make sure they gave the General a name since “The Darkling” is far too general.

As Bardugo tweeted, “The Darkling has had many names.”

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