Enter the Fold of ‘Shadow and Bone’
Shadow and Bone‘s second season just kicked off and has already introduced us to some murderously cool new characters. But some of us are confused. Some of us are just getting into the series and need a little refresher about the lore. You know, that thing that nerds love? Dusty maps and bestiaries and stuff? Some good old fashioned world building!
Well, we can’t discuss the world of S&B without first discussing the Fold. Is it a bar? A mid-10’s indie band? A secret society of laundry enthusiasts?
No, no, and I wish.
The Fold: not a fun place!
400 years ago (because it wouldn’t be good lore if it happened yesterday) the Fold (a.k.a. “The Unsea”) was created by a mysterious sorcerer called the Darkling. But what is it? It’s basically a massive shadow that splits the nation of Ravka in half. Ravka was once a rich and fertile land, but it is now a barren wasteland shrouded in a cloak of darkness.
And something lives inside it … something EVIL.
The Fold is populated by vicious monsters called the volcra. These creatures thrive in the darkness of the Fold, and pass their time killing anyone they see. It’s kind of their hobby, like bird watching—if you tried to massacre every bird you laid your eyes on. They’re so dangerous that even the mighty Darkling is unable to use the Fold. Because of this unfortunate fact, the Fold is described as the Darkling’s “punishment” and a “living testimony to his arrogance.”
Unsurprisingly, the Fold has had devastating consequences for the inhabitants of Ravka. Well, half of them. The Fold divides the country in two, so one half of the country is in dire need of resources while the other half is able to enjoy prosperity. It’s just the luck of the draw. Because of this, it is necessary to cross the Fold. But who could possibly survive such a feat?
May I introduce the Grisha.
The Grisha are a magical people with the ability to manipulate the wind. Like airbenders! They use their windy powers to sail ships across the dark expanse of the Fold. But there’s no water in the Fold? How do they sail across? The answer: sandskiffs! Big ol’ boats that ride the sandy waves! But there’s a catch. The riders of these skiffs have to operate in total darkness. If the volcra see even the tiniest little light onboard the ship, they will attack!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “If the Fold is so dangerous, why don’t they just go around it?”
Well, they’re trapped between a rock and a hard place. Fjerda, the nation to the north, believes that Grisha are witches and deserve to be hunted and killed. Shu Han, the nation to the south, are enemies with the country of Ravka as a whole. So rather than bump into this rock and hard place, they have to go through the dark and sandy place. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff, but not by much.
(featured image: Netflix)
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