Warning! Spoilers ahead for Shadow and Bone season 1.
Shadow and Bone has a complicated glossary dedicated to its “magic” users, known as Grisha, and their variants, which include the Durast, a category of Fabrikator. Netflix’s adaption of the best-selling book by Leigh Bardugo is an engaging watch but its complex lexicon leaves even the most devout watchers scratching their heads at the types and powers of various Grisha, most notably the Durast.
In truth, Grisha are not technically magic users but practitioners of the “Small Science,” i.e. manipulating matter at the atomic level. Three different Orders of Grisha are introduced in the first season. The Order of the Living and Dead (Corporalki) includes Grisha that can influence the body, such as Nina Zenik, a Heartrender, or the various Healers in the Grisha ranks. Alina Starkov, the Sun Summoner, belongs to The Order of Summoners (Etherealki), the most-shown type of Grisha. Including those who can manipulate elements like air, fire, and wind, even shadow and light, the Summoners are by far the flashiest of the Grisha. However, dedicating screen time to these two Grisha Orders results in the Fabrikators and their powers being glossed over.
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The Order of Fabrikators is split into two: Durasts and Alkemi. Alkemi, who can create and alter chemicals, were largely absent from the first season. Durasts, however, are mentioned in the first episode by Mal. Their power of manipulating solid matter is first alluded to as Mal explains Fabrikators made a new, fast and ultralight skiff for traversing the Shadow Fold. David Kostyk, the expert resident Fabrikator of the Little Palace, is hinted to be behind this. David demonstrates his power of altering matter on an atomic level by creating the blue light used on skiffs crossing the Shadow Fold. In addition, David also creates performance-enhancing gloves for Alina, which make it easier to split her sunbeams. This is only a peek through the keyhole at the powers of a Durast, with their abilities being used to create similar inventions and discover breakthroughs of equal caliber.
With such ingenious creations, it is easy for Durasts to use their abilities to assist others as the scientists and inventors of the Grisha. While Durasts’ abilities are largely used in a defensive capacity, they do have the capability to use them offensively, as well. They can absorb harmful matter from another’s body into their own, but can also turn it upon another person and use it to wound or sicken them. And their abilities can be used in other dark ways. During the final third of the novel, David creates an unbreakable collar of stag antlers that fastens around Alina’s throat, like a necklace. However, the Netflix Shadow and Bone adaption strays from the books. Using his Fabrikator powers, David sinks the antlers under Alina’s skin until only the tips emerge from her collarbones.
As demonstrated by David, Fabrikators have the potential to help or hinder an individual with their ability to change matter on a molecular level. They’re considered the lowest order of Grisha, but their contributions to society are not to be overlooked or their power underestimated. In Shadow & Bone, all Grisha are powerful and to be respected. With Durasts being able to influence matter, these types of Fabrikators could potentially change the fabric of Ravka and the universe itself.
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