If You're Confused About Shadow and Bone's Shu Han, You're Not Alone

One of the biggest changes between Leigh Bardugo’s novels and the Netflix adaptation of Shadow and Bone involves protagonist Alina Starkov, whose background was updated to be half-Shu. “I live in East Ravka, but I’ve never been welcomed here because I looked like my mother and she looked like the enemy,” Alina explains during the first episode. Why Ravka is at war with Shu Han is never fully explained by the time Alina is being mistreated and mocked for the way she looks.

According to the Ravkan government, Shu Han is known for both its scientific advancements and harsh treatment of its Grisha. To aid in their research and capture Grisha, the Shu created human-weapons known as Khergud. Ruled by the Taban family, they are a matriarchal monarchy and have a penchant for falcons and the color green. Like the other nations in the Grishaverse, the inspiration for Shu Han comes from real countries.

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