Ravka is a place of hardship for most. It is ravaged by wars with hostile neighbors and has been split in half by the Shadow Fold for the past few hundred years. The Fold is a dead, dark place filled with volcra, creatures that fly out of the darkness and snatch and eat the men trying to reach the ports of Ravka on the other side of the Fold. Some in Ravka, known as the Grisha, have special powers ranging from the ability to heal wounds to the ability to summon fire. The Shadow Fold itself is the result of a Grisha known as the Black Heretic’s greed and lust for power.
Alina and Mal are soldiers in the First Army who grew up together on a noble estate after being orphaned in the Border Wars and have been best friends since their shared childhood. They must cross the Fold, or Unsea, on ships made to cross the dead sand and dust. Ships powered by Grisha who can summon the wind. When their ship is beset by volcra and Alina and Mal are moments from death, Alina’s desperation makes her use a dormant power, one the people of Ravka have been waiting for since the Fold first appeared.
Alina is swept away to the palace by the Darkling, head of the Grisha, to train and learn to use her new found power. Without Mal she feels more out of place than ever, and the palace is filled with intrigue and people with hidden motivations. Who can Alina trust in this strange new world?