Does Mal have Grisha powers in Shadow and Bone? Here's what happens in the books
16 March 2023, 09:14
Netflix show how they brought Shadow and Bone to life
Spoilers ahead for Netflix's Shadow and Bone and Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising novel.
Shadow and Bone is already proving to be a huge hit for Netflix as it soars up the charts across the world, and fans can't seem to get enough of Alina Starkov, Malyen Oretsev and the rest of the Grishaverse characters.
The first season of the series follows Alina as she realises she is one of the rarest and most powerful Grisha: the Sun Summoner. After devouring all 8 episodes, fans are dying to hear what happens next – particularly with Mal's storyline.
While those that have already read the books will know full well what's to come, others are either avoiding spoilers and theorising themselves or straight-up skim reading the synopses of the next two books in the series.
If you're one of the latter who has an endless list of questions about Mal's backstory, then here's what you need to know about his connection with the Grisha. (If you haven't read the books and don't want spoilers, stop reading now!)
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Netflix's Shadow and Bone and Leigh Bardugo's book trilogy!
Does Mal have Grisha powers in Shadow and Bone?
In the Netflix series, Mal is a member of the First Army and has extraordinary skills as a tracker. Mal is not Grisha and doesn't have any of the Grisha powers. This is the same as in the book series.
As we find out in episode 2 and episode 4 of the show, children in Ravka are tested at a young age for Grisha powers. We see that Alina was eventually tested, although she managed to suppress her powers by inflicting pain upon herself to hide them from the test. Mal, however, was not tested because he was injured at the time.
The show does not reveal if he was eventually tested, but his position in the First Army likely means that he did not pass either way.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the third book, Ruin and Rising!
Later on in the book series, Mal begins to work closely with Alina and the Grisha, training them, training himself and assisting them in the fight against The Darkling.
While Mal does still not have Grisha powers, his family history and heritage is explored on a deeper level in Ruin and Rising, the third book in the trilogy. As we see in the show (and in the books), Mal has a deep connection to Alina and her powers, and it's also revealed that he has a stronger connection to the Grisha than originally thought.
Mal is a distant relative of Baghra's sister, who was killed by Baghra and brought back to life by her father, Ilya Morozova. As a result, she was effectively turned into an amplifier. Mal descends from this line, and it's revealed that he is actually an amplifier himself.
Hints of this have already been sprinkled throughout the first season of Shadow and Bone (much to the surprise of some eagle-eyed fans!), so there's no doubt that storyline will pop up in the TV series later down the line.