One of the things that draws us to Leigh Bardugo’s new novel Shadow and Bone (which you can start reading here on Figment) is her amazing world-crafting ability. In creating Ravka, the war-torn backdrop for Alina Starkov’s adventures, Bardugo takes her inspiration from imperial Russia. By the end of the book, you feel like you know Ravka better than your own surroundings.
So much of Bardugo’s world—from her descriptions of the characters’ clothes to their fantastical environment—comes from her awesome imagination, but every author needs some inspiration. If you’re curious about what real-world influences are behind the detailed world of Ravka, take a look around Leigh Bardugo’s official site. You’ll find she has a whole Pinterest board of her inspiration, where she posts images that enrich the magical setting of Shadow and Bone.
The Russian-inspired Ravkan language is just another of the great details that makes the world of Shadow and Bone so rich and vibrant. The characters don’t say everything in this language, of course, but their speech is accented with invented terms and place names. Bardugo put a lot of thought into every single word she created, which makes Ravkan feel like a language that people really speak. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into creating a language, if you’d like to know how Ravkan and Russian are similar, or if you just can’t figure out how to pronounce Grisha, the language section of Bardugo’s site can answer all your questions.
If you’re hungry for more extra information, Bardugo also shares some traditional Ravkan recipes that you can try out!
So learn more about tsarpunk, brush up your Ravkan skills, make yourself some almond cake, and start reading Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone today!