Alina wakes to a rifle in her face. The soldier holding the rifle commands her to stay where she is while the sandskiff is steered back to the port in Kribirsk by the last remaining Squaller. Alina remembers the horrors of the battle as she looks across the blood-soaked deck. She pleads with the guards to tell her what happened to Mal.  

When they reach Kribirsk, Alina is escorted to the military camp where she’s brought to the Darkling’s lavish tent. The Darkling is handsome and young, though Alina observes a sense of wrongness to his youth and beauty. The Darkling interrogates several people from the sandskiff. Even though he’s visibly wounded, Alina is relieved to see Mal among them. The witnesses piece together the story of how a blaze of light burst forth from Alina. Reluctantly, even Mal confirms that there was a bright light coming from somewhere on the ship, though he insists that it couldn’t have been Alina’s doing.  

The Darkling takes hold of Alina’s arm and attempts to force her power to the surface. Alina manages to resist at first, but the Darkling cuts her arm and a bright light bursts forth from Alina, proving that she is the fabled Sun Summoner, a Grisha who can manipulate light. The Darkling orders his guards to escort Alina to the Little Palace in his carriage. Alina protests as she’s dragged away. Alina’s wounds are tended to by a Grisha Healer. The carriage leaves Kribirsk in a hurry for fear that rumors about the Sun Summoner would put Alina in danger. The carriage is heavily guarded and the Healer is ordered to surrender her kefta to Alina before being left to return to Kribirsk. Ivan explains that the kefta is made of a fabric that can withstand bullets.  

Alina continues to insist that she is not Grisha on the way to the Little Palace. Ivan, her guard, explains that the Darkling acts as an amplifier, a person or object that can magnify a Grisha’s power. He shows Alina the amplifier he wears around his neck made from the claws of a Sherborn bear. The group encounters a fallen tree that blocks the road. A group of Fjerdans ambush them when the carriage stops. The attack happens quickly and Alina is left alone in the carriage during the fight. One of her guards in killed in front of her and Alina is seized by a Fjerdan who breaks into the carriage. Though she fights him fiercely, he drags her away from bloody battle. Alina fights with everything she has but she’s overpowered. Just as he threatens to gut her, a group of Grisha riders arrive with the Darkling. In the brief moment that the assassin is distracted by trying to stab Alina, the Darkling kills him with a burst of magic that slices him in half.  

Shaken and wounded, Alina is whisked away by the Darkling on his horse, accompanied by twenty of his men. He commands that the carriage be sent to the Little Palace by another route as a distraction. The Darkling rests his hand on Alina’s neck and a sense of his power overwhelms her, sending her into a troubled sleep.  


Fear of Grisha power is at the center of Chapters 3 and 4. Nowhere is it more apparent than the way that Alina is treated after regaining consciousness on the Fold. The questioning Alina undergoes before she even reaches the Darkling’s tent serves to illustrate just how fearful of Grisha powers people truly are. While the Ravkans are widely accepting of the presence of Grisha prior to this, the moment her power is presented in a way that is not familiar to them they treat it with fear and hostility. The other passengers would most certainly have died if Alina had not scared the volcra away, yet they detain her and tremble in terror when they tell the Darkling what they saw. This fear is also what drives the Fjerdan assassins to hunt her down. While Fjerdans are notorious for their hatred of Grisha, believing them to be witches, it is specifically the power that Alina possesses that they fear most. The Fjerdan assassin that attacks Alina isn’t driven by bloodlust, but a desire to keep Alina’s power out of the Darkling’s hands and he says as much when he raises his knife to kill her, swearing that the Darkling will not have her power. 

On a personal level, this section represents a pivotal point of change in Alina Starkov’s life, beginning with the moment that she exits the Shadow Fold only to find herself held hostage by a soldier once sworn to protect her. This sudden reversal destabilizes Alina, especially because she’s unable to remember exactly what happened on the Fold. All her life, she has lived with the knowledge that she’s an average person unable to use Grisha power, so when she’s confronted with the accounts of the other riders on the skiff she’s left in complete disbelief. She cannot wrap her mind around the fact that she’s a Grisha in the first place, let alone one with a type of power that has never been seen up until that point. Even after the Darkling proves that she has this power by amplifying it before dozens of witnesses in his tent, the revelation goes against what she knows of herself so completely that she refuses to believe it.  

Chapter 3 establishes the political power that the Darkling has, casting him in a role not unlike a king as he holds court in the palatial black tent when Alina is brought to him. The people gathered in the tent treat him with the kind of reverence expected of a ruler and even the ship’s captain, who is not a Grisha, refers to him with the honorific “moi soverenyi.” The Senior Cartographer is visibly nervous when he tells the Darkling about what he saw on the skiff, even going so far as to pick at the hem of his clothing while he speaks. Most telling is the way the Darkling’s own people react when he gives them orders. There are no questions asked and no protests other than the ones coming from Alina. At the very end of Chapter 3, the Darkling is “swarmed by advisors and ministers,” which supports the notion that the Darkling is a powerful decision-maker in Ravka.  

The powers the Darkling possesses set him apart from the other Grisha. In just this section, we see two of the more conventional aspects of his power and one that is much more insidious. The first two are his abilities to summon the darkness and to cut someone down with his power. While Alina’s is shocked when she first sees the Darkling perform the Cut, these abilities make sense to her as an aspect of standard Grisha powers. Beyond this, however, we are shown the different ways the Darkling can manipulate other Grisha. The first occurrence takes place when he tries to coax Alina’s power out of her. Even though she resists, he is eventually able to force her to exhibit her light power in front of everyone in the tent. We learn that the Darkling is a living amplifier, but this isn’t the only time he does something to influence another Grisha with his power. While only a small component of Chapter 4, the Darkling’s power over the Grisha is touched on again when he presses his hand to Alina’s neck and she is lulled to sleep. This small scene speaks volumes to how the Darkling is able to manipulate those around him as he can physically and emotionally compel Grisha with just a touch.