"The Fold was no mistake… The only mistake was the volcra. He did not anticipate them, did not think to wonder what power of that magnitude might do to mere men… I warned him that there would be a price, but he didn’t listen. He was blinded by his hunger for power. Just as he is blinded now."

Baghra discusses the Darkling’s power and the Shadow Fold with Alina in Chapter 15. This conversation touches on several aspects of the Darkling’s relationship with power as Baghra tells Alina about the Darkling’s plan. First, it establishes the scope of what he’s capable of doing, revealing that he was the person who created the Shadow Fold and that he did so intentionally. Second, it exposes the kind of unintended consequences power of that nature can reap. The Darkling didn’t mean to make the volcra. Rather, they were a consequence of the power he unleashed to create the Fold, which suggests that their transformation into monsters was the price paid for the Shadow Fold’s existence. Third, it underscores the recklessness of the hunger that the Darkling has for even more power. Despite the consequence that went along with his creation of the Fold, the Darkling is blinded by his appetite for even more power, even in the face of the living evidence that is the volcra.  

“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”  

This is an excerpt of Grisha philosophy that Alina stumbles on while researching amplifiers in Chapter 12. Alina’s research into the nature of amplifiers comes in response to her own search for power in the shape of a secondary amplifier that she can use while she waits for the Darkling to locate Morozova’s stag. Alina wants to increase her power badly enough that it tests her patience and she goes to the library in search of answers. That there is a philosophical tradition of Grisha pondering why they may only use one amplifier suggests that this push for power is quite common, which only serves to emphasize the greed the excerpt speaks to. According to this philosopher, the amplified Grisha power and greed go hand in hand, gesturing toward the events that will unfold with the Darkling later on in the novel.  

“Do you ask your heart to beat or your lungs to breathe? Your power serves you because that is its purpose, because it cannot help but serve you." 

In this quote, Baghra explains the nature of Grisha power to Alina in Chapter 13. Concerned by Alina’s lack of progress during their lessons, the old woman stresses that her power is a fundamental part of her as a Grisha and not something that should be able to evade her call to it. Through this, we learn that Grisha power is much like a body part in that the Grisha ought to have complete control over it. The insinuation here, of course, being that Alina is intentionally not using her power as if she was a person holding her breath. This helps us understand the nature of Grisha power which is one of the central ways that power itself is figured into the book.  

“There is something more powerful than any army. Something strong enough to topple kings, and even Darklings. Do you know what that thing is?"


I shook my head, inching away from him. 


"Faith," he breathed, his black eyes wild. "Faith."

The Apparat comes to see Alina in the infirmary in Chapter 11, delivering this cryptic message about the power of faith. While Alina doesn’t understand the reason for the Apparat’s visit, she is deeply unsettled by what he says to her. The Apparat, however, is describing the social power that comes with Alina’s role as the Sun Summoner. While the King and the Darkling are the people at the apex of the social hierarchy in Ravka, capable of commanding people and armies, Alina’s role as the Sun Summoner makes her a paragon to the people. This invests her with a considerable amount of power among the Ravkans. Though we never really see Alina act on this social power in Shadow and Bone, the Apparat’s words suggest that she may be able to upend the entire social power structure. 

"Just… be careful."

I stared at her, baffled. "Of what?"
"Of powerful men."

Genya warns Alina about powerful men while she helps her dress for the winter fete at the Grand Palace in Chapter 14. Genya’s warning comes after Alina’s black kefta arrives, which acts as an unsubtle statement about Alina’s connection to the Darkling. While she never explicitly goes into detail, Genya implies that the King assaulted her, which prompts her to warn Alina about the Darkling. The subtext here being that the social power that both men enjoy makes the women vulnerable to exploitation. Genya is especially weary of the potential harm that could come to Alina because of the Darkling’s attention as his power over her is goes beyond the social realm and into the magical.