The Lives of Saints is a must-read for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo. Image courtesy Macmillan Publishing Group
The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo. Image courtesy Macmillan Publishing Group /

A companion collection to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series of novels, The Lives of Saints will delight fans of both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows.

Part of the appeal of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse series of novels is its rich worldbuilding, which crafts a complex history alongside its present-day plot.  The settings of the Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows feel fully realized and lived in, from the ways they impact characters’ daily lives to the rich magical systems they can command.

There’s a reason that Netflix is busy adapting this story as a television series, is all I’m saying.

The Lives of Saints s a short story anthology that also serves as a piece of that Grisha universe come to life. Technically, it’s a book itself within the story, a copy of which protagonist Alina Starknov carries in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Known as the Istorii Sankt’ya in the story, it’s a collection of tales about the Saints of Ravka, a group of magical, often martyred individuals who are sacred to the Ravkan religion. Alina’s copy of the book is well-loved from constant reading and several of the stories within it are not only referenced, but they are also used as drivers for plot points at important moments in the story.

This version contains twenty-eight tales, all ranging in length and subject matter and each accompanied by gorgeous full-color illustrations by Daniel J. Zollinger.

Reading The Lives of Saints, you’ll come across some of those stories that are at least partially referenced in Bardugo’s other novels, such as the brutal death of Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses, and the tragic tale of Sankt Ilya in Chains. In fact, hardcore fans will notice that both Sankta Alina of the Fold and the Darkling himself get entries, which means that this version of the book was compiled following the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy.

But many of the stories in this volume will be new to readers, and though some end happily, most run the gamut from painfully gory to deeply tragic. Though a few show us examples of a (future) saint displaying or being protected by some sort of otherworldly power, most are gruesome stories of their martyrdom.

Some of the deaths are calm or a form of sacrifice  – they occur when the future saint is engaging in an activity that’s meant to help others, protect their people, or something else. But more often it is simply the darker side of human nature at work, whether that is greed, selfishness, jealousy, or plain laziness. They are heartbreakingly sad and painfully realistic and an utter delight to read, particularly for those who are already predisposed to love the world in which these tales exist.

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The Lives of Saints is available now. Rule of Wolves, the next novel in the Grishaverse series, will be released in 2021.