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message 1: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments I wrote this for my journal, but since Baghra doesn't have a thread of her own yet, I thought I'd post up here too.

Perhaps it’s in the sound of the names, but Baghra has always reminded me somewhat of Baba Yaga. They are not without certain similarities. On the presentation front, Baghra lives in a small round hut in the woods, with an oven as a prominent fixture. She is quite thin (Alina describes her hands as ‘skeletal’ and her figure as ‘bony’) and possessed of a cane of silvery wood. People are really not that enamoured of visiting her; she is irritable and seems to anger easily.

Baba Yaga owns a rather infamous hut in the woods (prone to standing up on chicken legs and spinning in circles until the right incantation is said) and her oven has its own reputation. She’s known for baking children in it and sleeping atop it (if sleeping on top of an oven sounds bizarre, consider the type of oven most likely at play: She is associated with birch trees and wields a broom of silver birch. Silver birch wood is pale and Baghra’s cane was described as silvery. Also, the banya near the Little Palace is in a birch grove; perhaps the woods around her hut are the same.

On a tangent note, I’ve always envisioned the ‘slender trees’ described as being carved on the walls of the Darkling’s bed chamber as a birch stand. Possibly because they are the only type of slender tree I recalled the name of when reading that scene, but it’s an image I like nonetheless.

If there weren’t more than surface details, I wouldn’t have given it much more thought. But it feels like there’s a little more there. Baghra is definitely ‘interesting’ to deal with; whether one is her student or her son, she’s cranky and demanding. She is even a bit dangerous (within the bounds of what makes sense for this story) to said students, at least in Alina’s case - she whacked Alina with her cane during the very first lesson.

Baghra is also an ambiguous character. She is a bit of a chthonic mother thing going on (not to mention that both she and her son wield literal powers of darkness). And it is difficult to determine what her true motivations might be, given we are operating alongside Alina’s limited point of view. Hopefully we will find out more in Ruin and Rising, but based upon exchanges in both Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, at this point I think the likelihood is that her greater interest has been in preventing her son from becoming, in her words, a monster, than in saving Alina. She may turn out to have told the unvarnished truth to Alina, but I’m not prepared to bet on that at this stage. We have several contradictions on our hands and who (if anyone) was telling the truth depends on information unavailable right now.

More to come on the points above, in the midst of organizing my thoughts.

What does everyone else think of Baghra?

message 2: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Jordan | 103 comments Besides what j just skimmed on Wikipedia, I am unfamiliar with Baba Yaga. I do think that you could be on to something. There is definitely more to Bahgra than meets the eye. You can't parent the darkling and not be at least a liiiittle corrupt, after all!

I am just wondering how much of what she says is able to be trusted. If her word is untrustworthy, then we know pretty much nothing about the darkling since what little we do know cones from her. I have wondered is she isn't morozova... Or perhaps his wife? And aid in his endeavors?? Maybe she is the witch of duva?

Good thoughts, regardless!

message 3: by WinterRose (last edited May 04, 2014 09:06PM) (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments I wondered if Baghra was inspired by Baba Yaga too! :) Glad I'm not alone.

This line always interested me:

"Did she train you too?"

A shadow crossed his face. "Yes."

Also, when the Darkling said "I don't take ORDERS from you anymore, old woman."

message 4: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments First of all... THANK YOU!! I really love your post. So many interesting things to ponder about Bahgra.

My first question to you is on the symbolism, if any, of the birch trees, in the Baba Yaga story or otherwise. I do not know much about Russian lore so I assume many symbols/references may be lost on me if someone didn't point them out.

From what I've read of Bahgra so far, I'm intrigued by her as well. I actually like her very much.

In Leigh's last QnA there were questions about why Bahgra always felt cold. It's really interesting to see that the whole oven imagery may come from Baba Yaga.

In that conversation, Leigh hinted at the fact that Bahgra was cold because she was not using her powers. Now that answer was interesting to me and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. From what we know so far, Bahgra must have been using some of her powers, right? Otherwise she would have looked like an ancient lady when Alina met her and she looked young, instead. So, based on that alone, I would have never guessed that Bahgra was not using her powers. My guess is that by S&B she must be using some of her powers then, enough to look like a mature, attractive woman. But not enough to keep her "in good health." She must be really, really powerful then, right?
Also, why is she not using her powers? Is it guilt, a promise, a "wound" that's preventing her from being a "full" grisha?

The other interesting point about her is that if she's a tidemaker, how come she can also summon darkness? What else can she do?

Also, the way she calls Morozova a fool sounds so familiar to me, like she actually knew him. Sometimes I wonder if she knew the first Saints or even, if she's one of them herself.

Does everyone know she's the Darkling's mother or only Alina? Because if only Alina knows, perhaps this explains why Alina felt she should believe Bahgra and leave the Little Palace.
It's hard to know whether Bahgra said "the truth" or whether her advice was good. In my opinion, Bahgra said her truth, what she believed in. On that point much has been said, and almost none of it positive (because Bahgra is not popular in the fandom).
I am inclined to believe that she did mean to protect the Darkling from himself when she advised Alina to leave.

We know their mother-son relationship seems strained, but from what we see in S&S (she's devastated by the turn the Darkling has taken) I believe at least she's consistent. Bahgra really believes the current state of affairs will end badly for the Darkling. I wouldn't be surprised if whatever is going on now, she has seen before in her long life and is merely trying to prevent history from repeating itself.

message 5: by Natalia (last edited May 05, 2014 12:46AM) (new)

Natalia (natalia_g) | 574 comments Cari and everyone, here is an interesting article on Baba Yaga for you to ponder )))

"Origins of Baba Yaga"

message 6: by Natalia (last edited May 05, 2014 12:54AM) (new)

Natalia (natalia_g) | 574 comments And about birches in Slavic mythology:

"The attitude towards the birch tree was rather controversial in Slavic tradition. On one hand, birch and goods made of it are considered to be talismans that protect people from evil spirits (the famous birch flag broom used in the Russian sauna—banya—was an instrument of ritual cleansing); on the other hand, birch was an incarnation of the souls of the dead. There is an interesting expression from the Kaluga region connected to that—there people say about a dying person, “he/she is going to the birches."

A simplified scheme of birch’s image shows that the tree’s crown reaches the sky and connects to God (as the keeper of Truth and the main source of knowledge about the world) and to the Sun (as the symbol of life); the roots go deep down into the ground where they reach the Underworld, the world of the dead and spirits; the middle part of the Tree is associated with Earth and everyday human life.

Weeping birch, also called Navya tree (Navya in Russian mythology is a spirit of the dead), was given specific magical gifts. The mythology attributed to it a connection to mermaids (according to Slavic belief, dead girls and unbaptized children became mermaids) that appeared near birch-trees on Whitsun week. Such birches were cared for in order not to invoke the wrath of other-worldly powers.

There is an image of a World Tree as a Universal model in the perception of birch in Slavic traditions. Symbols of Nature's fertility, of a thread between the world of the dead and the world of the living, of a temporary home for mythological characters along with general comprehension of the world and its connection to the image of the Female Deity are merged in such a model. The natural traits of birch, whose leaves appear earlier than those of many other trees in Spring, generated the main image of birch as a symbol of fertility and eternal renewal."

message 7: by Natalia (new)

Natalia (natalia_g) | 574 comments And last, but not least, Baghra sounds very much like bhurga, which is "birch" in Sanscrit.

From an article I found : "The word birch is thought to have derived from the Sanskrit word bhurga meaning a 'tree whose bark is used to write upon'."

Curious, isn't it? A coincidence or not?

message 8: by Marinaserina (new)

Marinaserina | 55 comments I am now convinced Baghra is indeed inspired by Baba Yaga. I used to love the stories about her, especially the one about her chicken house.

I like Baghra, and I like her more when she patronizes the Darkling. Their relationship is really interesting. Can the Darkling actually kill her though? And if so why didn't he? Does he still love her? He must love his mother or at least care for her a little.

She obviously loves him. The guy is evil and she still sees him as a little innocent boy.

message 9: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments Natalia wrote: "Cari and everyone, here is an interesting article on Baba Yaga for you to ponder )))

"Origins of Baba Yaga""

Thank you for this article.

This stands out for me:
Baba Yaga may stand for a person's fate. When someone enters the hut, they live or die depending on what they say and do. Some also say that Baba Yaga stands for the dark side of wisdom

I hope she doesn't stand for fate in this book because if that is the case, they're doomed. Alina may have fled but in the end she did as the Darkling did: completely disregard Bahgra's advice about the amplifiers.
I've been saying this all along. I think she's actually trying to protect the Darkling by preventing him from doing something that will cause harm to him and possibly everyone.

This doesn't mean she's perfect. I'm sure she did something terrible in the past and she's atoning for it. But I think the night she told Alina to run she was trying to spare them both, the Darkling and her.

message 10: by Cari (last edited May 05, 2014 02:52PM) (new)

Cari | 644 comments Also from the same webpage mentioned by Natalia:

Baba Yaga tells the truth and is an etherealki
 However, she is wise and is all knowing, all seeing and tells the whole truth to those who are brave enough to ask. 

She rules over the elements (fire, air, earth and water).

Baba Yaga helps Vasilisa by giving her a light. 

Any chance Alina and Vasilisa have things in common too? Other than being given light by Baba Yaga. (Bahgra helps Alina find her powers, after all.)

message 11: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments Natalia wrote: "And about birches in Slavic mythology:

"The attitude towards the birch tree was rather controversial in Slavic tradition. On one hand, birch and goods made of it are considered to be talismans th..."

Wow, I don't even know where to begin with this. It is so charged with meaning... "connected to the Sun".. "eternal renewal" "the souls of the dead" ... "truth." It seems very significant indeed. But I am not sure what it says.

I'll have to think more about this.
Did you post a link in another topic with more info on birch woods?

It's kind of fascinating really. I am tempted to do a search on my Kindle to see how many times does the word "birch" appear and in which context!!

message 12: by Natalia (last edited May 05, 2014 03:14PM) (new)

Natalia (natalia_g) | 574 comments @ Cari: No, all links are only here. I gave some info in my own words in the other thread, buy this article sums it all up way better.
And what do you think about my post about Baghra's name in connection to the tree? Could it be?

And I'll have to check about Alina vs. Vasilisa, but tomorrow. Now I'm off to bed ))

message 13: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments Natalia wrote: "@ Cari: No, all links are only here. I gave some info in my own words in the other thread, buy this article sums it all up way better.
And what do you think about my post about Baghra's name in con..."

Well, the similarity between the two words is striking. What does it mean then, something in which you can write?

I feel in my bones this is all important, and it's in front of my face and I can't see it.

message 14: by Maryanne (new)

Maryanne | 245 comments She is an amazing mother, and great instructor. Even at times she can be a little bit strict but hey she's the best. She saved Alina in way. :D

message 15: by Dreams At Dusk (last edited May 05, 2014 09:13PM) (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments I am thrilled at all of the responses! My only regret is that I generally don't have two seconds to rub together during the work day to think about a reply, but ah well, at least I can play catch up in the evening;)

Natalia, thank you very much for the link on Baga Yaga and the information on birches. And also that interesting note about the word 'bhurga'! I'd only done a cursory search on the name 'Baghra' and found it is the name of a town in India. So that does relate to a Sanskrit. It also brings up a point that fits into another theory I've been writing up which I will post in this thread when done, as it's speculation on Baghra's origins.

In respect to other possible ties between birch, Baba Yaga, and Baghra, there at at least one or two tales that involve a birch tree near Baba Yaga's hut nearly putting someone's eyes out. But being forewarned, the heroine ties back the branches with a ribbon. In S&S, Baghra has lost her sight. A more tenuous connection, but there it is.

WinterRose, you mentioned something in the Predictions thread: "I could have sworn I asked Leigh once via Twitter about the Darkling's bedroom, with the trees he had in there and she said it was relevant. I think there is definitely a connection to his home".

I don't know about Twitter, but that did remind me of this article: Look at item #4 where Leigh refers to a difference between the Siege and Storm ARC and final copy. The change? To add the description of the trees in the Darkling's bedroom! "carved into the illusion of a forest crowded with slender trees". And some further description of that change: "It was a lost opportunity, a moment to offer a bit more insight into a character and to give the reader a deeper experience of the world. I spent quite a bit of time deciding what the Darkling would choose for the walls of his chamber, the first thing he'd see when he woke in the morning and the last he'd look at when he went to bed at night."

Marinaserina - I agree, I do think the Darkling still cares for his mother in his own way. I think it is suggested in some of the reactions he has to what Alina says in the first two books. And also, I've felt it was at least a strong part of the reason why he didn't outright kill her. Who else does he have, but his mother, at that point? I don't think he truly likes being alone.

Cari, I have some additional thoughts on Baghra's motivations in what she told Alina. Taking a break at the moment, back with more later. I do very much agree that I think her first thought was for her son, in all that she did.

message 16: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments I am very much intrigued and will be impatiently awaiting your theories!

message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Jordan | 103 comments This stuff is fascinating!!

message 18: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments One of the doubts Baghra sows in Shadow and Bone leads Alina to wonder if every interaction she has had with the Darkling was with the sole aim of him manipulating her. I think there are many hints that there is more to it than that (thought there is manipulation there as well). But it is absolutely the sort of thing to imply if one is trying to spook Alina into making a run for it. There is no overt reason to doubt the words at first - what happens at the end of Shadow and Bone is what Baghra alluded to being the plan all along.

The 'all along' is questioned by the Darkling's own words, in Shadow and Bone and the excerpt released for Ruin and Rising where he and Alina converse. He could certainly be lying, but let's say that he isn't. That he originally intended to have her kill the stag herself, not use the amplifier to take control of her. It was after what he viewed as her betrayal that he changed his mind.

If that were the case, it means Baghra lied. Why? To do what she thought she needed to to save her son.

There are quite a few hints that Baghra was privy to at least some portion of the Darkling's plans. They were yelling at one another at one point when Alina went to the hut; given Alina didn't overhear any of it, we can only speculate it was about amplifiers, since Baghra raises the topic during the ensuing conversation. They clash several more times (and those are just the occasions Alina is aware of). Later, Baghra even claims she tried to convince the Darkling Morozova's stag was a peasant tale, in hopes he would give up on searching for it. It seems fairly clear that Baghra didn't agree with whatever the plan was that she knew of.

I think she would have been unhappy with any business about Morozova's amplifiers no matter how one sliced it. It's quite interesting that of the things we later learn about that topic, Baghra doesn't really bring them up to Alina. According to David, it's said the Black Heretic was trying to recreate Morozova's experiments with amplifiers when something went wrong. During the Shadow and Bone Q and Q, Leigh said "After the accidental creation of the Fold,". Baghra didn't mention the amplifiers in respect to the Fold though. In fact, she said the Fold wasn't a mistake, that only the creation of the volcra was. Then we have the conversation between Baghra and Alina in Siege and Storm. Baghra certainly seems aware of three amplifiers! Her reaction to finding out about the fetter is very telling. She talks about "Morozova's madness", but still, she doesn't really give Alina any details. She basically says, stop this, but not anymore about WHY.

Hmm, said me to all of this. I really wonder what Baghra knows and why she's holding back on some of it. But as to why she didn't say more after the winter fete? Why she very well may have lied or twisted the truth? I think that was all in service to trying to save her son from what she saw as a terrible pursuit. It wasn't until the very last moment, when Alina pressed her, that she even admitted why she was doing it. I think she feels guilty for something that happened - she said that she was the one to have given the Darkling his pride and ambition. That she should have been the one to stop him (though the way she worded it, it sounded like she was referring to some prior event - perhaps the experiments that lead to the Fold's creation?)

Overall, I don't think she felt she could risk ANY chance of Alina trying to talk to the Darkling, so she said what she had to, to cast him and his plans in the worst light. I expect she probably thought Alina couldn't do anything but make a hash of it in the long run, so best to get the girl gone.

It is difficult to say what Baghra truly thinks of Alina, but from what we do see, she doesn't seem very impressed. I didn't get the feeling that Baghra is known for being cheery around anyone, but at the same time, I wonder what she was thinking upon meeting her son's counterpart. Remember Alina as she was when she first came to the Little Palace - would Baghra have seen that girl as able to match her son in any capacity? In power, in experience, in wits, anything? She was weak and unhealthy looking. She couldn't summon her own power no matter what Baghra did - a feat, we are told, even children could manage. She thinks Alina gives up bothering after hearing the Darkling's looking for the stag for her and she's disgusted. She sees the girl gazing after her son with the same starry eyes she's undoubtedly seen from countless young women over the centuries.

We have more perspective on where Alina is coming from, given the POV of the story. But consider it from Baghra's point of view.

What must she have thought of this Sun Summoner that finally appeared after so long?

Even if the Darkling expressed a plan to his mother about giving the amplifier to Alina, truly giving it to her, I think Baghra would have been too wary of it stopping there. She knew her son and she'd seen too little reason to expect Alina to be able to stand up to him, manage him, what-have-you.

I think that may continue a bit in Siege and Storm, though despair also probably plays a part in Baghra's reactions. In spite of everything, she still doesn't tell Alina what is going on with the amplifiers. She just tells her to drop it and that was after already knowing how well it worked the first time, not to give any details to Alina about why she really needed to run from not just the Darkling, but what the amplifiers meant.

message 19: by Lys (new)

Lys Dreams At Dusk wrote: "One of the doubts Baghra sows in Shadow and Bone leads Alina to wonder if every interaction she has had with the Darkling was with the sole aim of him manipulating her. I think there are many hint..."

Great post :)

she obviously knows something about the amplifiers and it's terrified about them (now, if what she does believe about them is true, that's another story).

At first I thought she was just meant "thanks to what happened in the Fold" when she told Alina, Thanks to you, he is farther from human than he’s ever been. , but re-reading I wonder if she suspects that's the Darkling's connection to the stag amplifier that gave him that power.

message 20: by Natalia (last edited May 06, 2014 10:58AM) (new)

Natalia (natalia_g) | 574 comments Lys wrote: "she told Alina, Thanks to you, he is farther from human than he’s ever been."

Hmm, why everyone is so fixated on being human? What's wrong with being NOT human? There are so many humans that are waaay worse than the Darkling in all his inhuman glory )))

message 21: by Carina (new)

Carina Olsen (carinabooks) | 671 comments Ohh, awesome posts you guys :) I'm not sure yet what to think of Baghra. But I did really like her in the first two books. Hoping I'll still like her by the end of Ruin and Rising. <3

message 22: by WinterRose (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments I know right Natalia? I almost always root for the person who is not fixated on "being normal." In books, I want the person who is a badass and LIKES it. :P

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I love her to bits, but I don't trust her.

message 24: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments @ Natalia and WinterRose- I guess what Bahgra means by being "human" is retaining a basic form of relatable humanity. Clearly, neither Bahgra nor the Darkling are humans in the sense that one would usually define. So I don't think she fears for his normalcy.

I am not sure what she means by loosing his humanity: loosing his bodily reality and becoming pure darkness? Was the Fold a person before being an ever expanding mass of darkness??

I think we all agree we want him with a body and ability to do that crooked smirk. I don't want him "Folded" or as a pure form of energy or any other sort of being that shoots up like a star and we never see again.

I think she's worried about his destruction.

message 25: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments @Dreams- Well, if I start to think about the implications of Bahgra lying to Alina, my head hurts.

I agree that Bahgra has lied before, then. She's lied by omission to the Darkling himself by not revealing what she knows about the amplifiers and she's lied directly when she told him the stag didn't exist.

It's quite possible that some of what she told Alina that night may have been a lie of sorts.

As you say, clearly Bahgra did not approve of the idea of them linked romantically. I wonder now why she was upset when Alina mentioned the Darkling might visit her chambers that night. I always assumed it was just the usual "silly girl falling for him like everyone else." However, in what way would that affect Bahgra, what is it to her that Alina and the Darkling spend the night together or not? Evidently, Bahgra did not care enough about Alina as to be worried for her honor, or honestly, the possibility of a broken heart. It's not as if they were friends. So, now that I think about it, it strikes me as odd. I don't want to vilify Bahgra, but for the first time I'm considering the possibility that she did not want them to form a bond or become close...perhaps because if they had it would have been impossible to convince Alina to leave? If Bahgra was there during their performance, like Mal was, I'm sure she saw something between them that made her decide to act as fast as possible.
In any light, it was a desperate and poorly thought measure on her part. She thought with the girl gone the plans regarding the amplifier would be halted... as if the Darkling would give up that easily.

I believe the biggest irony here will be that her concealing of information to protect him has actually put him in harm's way. I think the Darkling doesn't fully understand Morozova's amplifiers. His lack of understanding, and stubbornness pursuing Alina, are putting him in a position in which he's not able to make the best possible decisions. He's actually unable to make informed decisions because he doesn't have all the information he needs.

It could be that in a way Bahgra is like one of those characters in a Greek tragedy who's desperately trying to change the course of destiny but her attempts only help the tragedy move forward. :(

message 26: by Maryanne (new)


message 27: by WinterRose (last edited May 06, 2014 05:55PM) (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments I think we all agree we want him with a body and ability to do that crooked smirk.

Agreed. ;)

About Baghra, here's what always struck me as odd. So she wants Alina to run--for what, forever? As if the Darkling wouldn't be able to find her eventually? That plan is set to fail. He practically lives forever and has nothing but time. Baghra couldn't have possibly thought Alina could stay hidden, all alone, forever.

Then here's the other odd thing, Baghra also LEAVES. How convenient. If she ever wanted to escape, the time would be when the sun summoner was also missing, because the Darkling would focus all his energy on that.

Secondly, how did the Darkling know Alina would go after the stag? Alina could have been kidnapped--a lot of people from other countries would want the sun summoner. And a winter fete would be a good time to do it. Alina could have ran off to go into hiding, she could have done a lot of things other than go for the stag.

Even if the Darkling put two and two together that Mal was also missing, so they must be together, he couldn't have caught up to them so quickly. How much time passed between when Alina left, and when the Darkling found out?

But it's still a big guess that they went after the stag. The Darkling seemed to catch up to them quickly--how long was he and his crew following them?

I think someone tipped him off--possibly Baghra herself, before disappearing. It's just all strange to me.

message 28: by Maryanne (new)

Maryanne | 245 comments WinterRose wrote: "I think we all agree we want him with a body and ability to do that crooked smirk.

Agreed. ;)

About Baghra, here's what always struck me as odd. So she wants Alina to run--for what, forever? As i..."

They pretty much did it right away, because the Darkling is way over the heels for her...and her power. Also, the guy with him who doesn't like Alina and likes Genya went with him too....remember that...I really don't like him at all.

message 29: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments Thinking over the replies, particularly Cari's and WinterRose's made me think of another thing of interest about amplifiers.

- Baghra told Alina she'd tried to convince the Darkling that Morozova's stag was just a peasant tale.
- The Darkling told Alina that Kings and Darklings (AKA, him) had been searching for Morozova's herd for centuries.
- The implication I get from the brief discussion the Darkling and Alina had about the Istorii Sankt'ya near the start of Siege and Storm is that the Darkling didn't realize there were more of Morozova's amplifiers than the stag alone, until deducing it from that book.
- According to David, the Black Heretic caused the Fold to occur when something went wrong with efforts to recreate Morozova's experiments with amplifiers.

It totally passed me by previously that this seems to mean that Morozova's experiments with amplifiers does not equate to experiments done WITH Morozova's amplifiers. The Darkling didn't have hold of any at that point. And knowing the Bonesmith was said to have created 'his' amplifiers, maybe that's what the experiments that went wrong actually were: an attempt to make more.

message 30: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments What do we know about the Suli? Because here is my theory on Baghra's possible origins. I've been dithering back and forth on it, at moments thinking it's way out there and at other times thinking, hmm, possible.

The points upon which the theory is based:

In Shadow and Bone:
- Alina notes that Baghra's body is "wiry like a Suli acrobat" and that she has "coal-black hair".
- Nadia referred to the "Suli dialect". She and Marie were studying it in case they were sent west.
- Sergei refers to Suli as a "dead language".
- "Suli was best for missions in the northwest."
- Another observation of Baghra: "her eyes glittering black in the firelight".
- Names we know to belong to people born in Ravka seem to pretty much be Russian. But Baghra isn't a Russian name I'm aware of. In fact, a quick search turns up a town in India by the name of Baghra.

In Siege and Storm:
- "She was a Suli girl named Paja whom I'd never met before. She had dark hair and nearly black eyes".
- In reference to Ravka, Baghra says, "What do I care what happens to this wretched country?"
- Chapter 18: Alina, Tamar, and Mal go to the party at the Gritski mansion, garbed as Suli fortune-tellers. We learn such fortune-tellers wear orange silk cloaks and red lacquered masks fashioned after jackals' features. There's also reference to a Suli camp and wagons.

Other References:
- Post from the Leigh Bardugo's Tumblr:
"And it’s worth saying that Grisha have sought refuge in Ravka from all over. (Pavel is described as having dark skin, and Paja, who is Suli, is described as having black eyes sand dark hair.)"
"That said, none of my leads are explicitly POC and I’m aware that I have no business throwing stones."

- "Demon in the Wood" Pinterest Board:
Without the context of the story itself, most anything is a reach. But there is a picture of a girl labeled as Fjerdan. So I shall step out on this nice limb and assume there are some Fjerdans in this tale and that it is perhaps set in Fjerda itself, given the Viking-esque theme of many of the setting pictures. And then there's another picture entitled 'The Banished Minority'. It shows a woman and child, both with black hair.


Are the Suli an itinerant minority with a presence in the northwest, in Fjerda? Is that why Suli was said to be a dead language, even though there are evidently still people that speak it, because it doesn't belong to a culture with its own country? (At the end of Shadow and Bone, Shu, Kerch, and Fjerdan ambassadors were present. No Suli ambassador was named.)

Is Baghra of the Suli people? Perhaps the Darkling's father was Fjerdan (a source for the quartz grey eyes maybe)?

Like I said, I'm iffy on it myself. I may very well be making way too much out of the picture of the woman and child, especially since that title is the title the artist gave it, not a label added specific to Demon in the Wood. There's also this: "none of my leads are explicitly POC" - the use of the word 'explicitly' piqued my interest but again, might be a mountain out of a molehill situation.

And "northwest" could end up meaning somewhere across the True Sea. Though I don't think that's necessary, since northwest from the perspective of Os Alta (where the directional comment was given) could easily mean an area in Fjerda.

Well, whether right, somewhat right, or hilariously wrong, between the Demon in the Wood and Ruin and Rising, hopefully we'll find out the truth.

message 31: by Cari (last edited May 06, 2014 11:15PM) (new)

Cari | 644 comments WinterRose wrote: "I think we all agree we want him with a body and ability to do that crooked smirk.

Agreed. ;)

About Baghra, here's what always struck me as odd. So she wants Alina to run--for what, forever? As i..."

I agree, when one thinks about it cooly, I am not sure what Bahgra hoped Alina would accomplish. I guess she was counting on the unlikely fact that if she went abroad and tried hard to blend in and start a life there, it would be harder for him to find her.

The thing is that Bahgra underestimated the Darkling's interest in the matter, just as she thought that if she told him the stag didn't exist, he would stop looking for it.

He's her son but sometimes it seems either she doesn't know him that well, or her own wishful thinking is deluding her.

Honestly, I think Bahgra did not try to run afterwards. I think she and the Darkling share the kind of bond from which there is no escaping. She's his mother, hundreds of years his companion, confidant, and possibly responsible of much of what's going wrong right now in his life. I think she feels sorry and guilty. Also, she loves him.

I always thought she went back to her hut and waited for him to connect the dots. It never occurred to me until now that you point it out, but it's quite possible that in the "conversation" that preceded her loosing her eyes, she might have confessed her motives. I am sure that must have been something the Darkling wanted to know "Why?" So in a way, to add more irony to this terrible story, perhaps she did give Alina away.

From there to connecting it with Mal's disappearance, it wasn't much. I guess he knew Alina would try to go for the amplifier because it was her only chance.

message 32: by WinterRose (last edited May 06, 2014 11:23PM) (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments I guess he knew Alina would try to go for the amplifier because it was her only chance.

But that's only if he believed she was running away from him to say, fight him/not join him, you know? I feel like his first assumption would be kidnapping, second would be running away with Mal to have a normal life. Remember, he read all those letters. I feel like the only way he'd know she went after the stag was if Baghra told him what she had done.

Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense for the Darkling to assume that was her motive. The scene before, she was making out with him and about to do more for crying out loud. :P

Maybe the Darkling took Baghra's sight the night after the kiss when he found out, in his anger. Someone--maybe Genya--said she went missing after Alina did. I didn't know if she ran, got caught by the Darkling then punished, or if he punished her and she hid for awhile.

message 33: by Cari (new)

Cari | 644 comments Dreams At Dusk wrote: "What do we know about the Suli? Because here is my theory on Baghra's possible origins. I've been dithering back and forth on it, at moments thinking it's way out there and at other times thinkin..."

That's actually a darn good theory. Actually, it's quite possible you are right. There is something about the way the Darkling's black hair is always described, something like a chockful of black hair, that makes it stand out in a way... not only because of attractiveness but also uniqueness. It may be the only feature that could give away that he's not from Ravka.

Suli wasn't even on my radar but what you are saying makes a lot of sense, especially when you link it to Bahgra's name. Wow... could the Darkling's name be in Sanskrit? I'm not even sure how that would go, but I think that being an ancient, dead, language it makes the idea interesting and also it goes well with his character (ancient, mysterious).

I do think he's not from Ravka but he loves Ravka because he somehow managed to make it a "sanctuary" of sorts for grisha. The scene in which he tells Alina how they treat grisha elsewhere and how grisha came to Ravka voluntarily always stood out in my mind as a moment of great pride for him. After the "Demon" pinterest board was released, it's easy to speculate that after a childhood spent in hiding and suffering, he decided to rise and find a place that would provide for people like him.
(I wonder if his father is Ravkan, though. I don't see any possible romantic outcome for Bahgra in Fjerda, and I really want him to be a child conceived out of love not violence. There are just too many sad parts to this story already.)

message 34: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Leigh Miller (kellyleighmiller) I could totally see the Baba Yaga comparison though I didn't connect it initially until I saw this post. All the stories I've read with Baba Yagas portray them as being rather creepy and sometimes gruesome so that might be why I didn't initially link the two. There are parallels though.

message 35: by WinterRose (last edited May 07, 2014 09:03PM) (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments Anyone think it's odd that the Darkling calls Baghra a tidemaker, and there are images of WATER (and drowning) in the Demon in the Wood pinterest?

Also interesting that one of Leigh's inspirations for the Black Heretic is a picture of an archangel in battle.

message 36: by WinterRose (last edited May 07, 2014 09:10PM) (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments Ummm one more thing. So you know that image in the Demon in the Wood pinterest with the guy with the tattoo? Well, the tattoo looks like a bird with a woman's face.

Now, Leigh also has another image in her S&B pinterest of a bird/woman. Under it, it says: Alkonost. From Wiki..

The Alkonost is, according to Russian mythos and folklore, a creature with the body of a bird but the head of a beautiful woman. It makes sounds that are amazingly beautiful, and those who hear these sounds forget everything they know and want nothing more ever again.[Sirins sang beautiful songs to the saints, foretelling future joys. For mortals, however, the birds were dangerous. Men who heard them would forget everything on earth, follow them, and ultimately die] She lives in the underworld with her counterpart the sirin.[2] The alkonost lays her eggs on a beach and then rolls them into the sea. When the alkonost's eggs hatch, a thunderstorm sets in and the sea becomes so rough that it is untravelable.

I don't know what all this means but it's something.

message 37: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments WinterRose wrote: "Anyone think it's odd that the Darkling calls Baghra a tidemaker, and there are images of WATER (and drowning) in the Demon in the Wood pinterest?

Also, one of the tales of Sankt Ilya's martyrdom was that, after bringing a dead boy back to life, he was clapped in irons and thrown into a river to "sink beneath the weight of his chains".

And in pictures, his chains are shown as a collar and fetters on his wrists. That's also how Morozova's amplifiers are described on Alina. Brings a whole new perspective to the idea of the weight of the chains causing someone to 'drown'.

There was something interesting in the QnA answers - apparently a Grisha with a predilection for a certain element CAN work something else, with a lot of effort. So does that mean in theory, despite the talent we've seen being manipulating darkness, Baghra COULD work with water if she really tried?

message 38: by WinterRose (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments That's interesting! I feel like we're all so close to figuring it out, haha. Any chance the Darkling was that dead boy? I can't remember, but did it say how the boy died? (Drowning by chance?)

I definitely think there's a reason the Darkling called Baghra a tidemaker. I don't think it was a flat out lie.

message 39: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments WinterRose wrote: When the alkonost's eggs hatch, a thunderstorm sets in and the sea becomes so rough that it is untravelable.

Cool find! The the part quoted above reminds me, in a twisted way, of the Shadow Fold - the Unsea.

message 40: by WinterRose (new)

WinterRose | 843 comments That's what I was thinking! Maybe the egg is in the fold.

message 41: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments A plow overturned and the blades tore the boy open, according to the religious texts Alina was looking at.

message 42: by Cari (last edited May 07, 2014 09:44PM) (new)

Cari | 644 comments From the wiki that you posted WinterRose, the alkonost has a counterpart: the sirin. I looked for images and they look very similar but are "opposites,"

I thought it was interesting as another example of balance, as emphasized in grisha philosophy: dark and light. (Also one tells the future -to saints- and the other kills human.)

@Dreams and WR- I love your ideas linking Bahgra with the water in the 'Demon' pinterest.
It feels you guys are on the verge of a breakthough!! :)

message 43: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments Cari wrote: "From the wiki that you posted WinterRose, the alkonost has a counterpart: the sirin. I looked for images and they look very similar but are "opposites,""

Oooh, curiouser and curiouser.

Heheh, I spent far too long poring over the Pinterest boards again last night thanks to this discussion.

message 44: by Dreams At Dusk (new)

Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 79 comments Next round of Baghra-related speculation.

The Apparat, on the Istorii Sankt'ya: "There was a time when all Grisha children were given this book when they came to school at the Little Palace".

Baghra, on the Darkling: "Before he'd ever dreamed of a Second Army, before he gave up his name and became the Darkling (snip)".

We are told the present-day Grisha do not put much stock in religious matters.

The Darkling to Alina in Siege and Storm, on Sturmhond's sheip: '"Redemption," he murmured. "Salvation. Penance. My mother's quaint ideas. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention."' He then produces the Istorii Sankt'ya, asks if she knows what it is, etc.

So I wonder: did the Darkling found the Second Army, but not the school for Grisha children at the Little Palace? He reveals a prior dismissive opinion of the Istorii Sankt'ya, calling it peasant superstition, but the hint is he has more recently discovered the existence of more than one Morozova amplifier by studying it. That suggests to me that he wouldn't have been the one (in the guise of some long ago 'prior Darkling'/the Black Heretic) who was behind handing out the book to Grisha children.

Did Baghra originally start the Grisha school? Was she the one who saw to it that the children were given the book back then? The Darkling did tell Alina that Baghra trained him too. Also, the proximity of "Perhaps I should have paid closer attention" to the implication that he found out about the amplifiers from the book makes me wonder if he was meaning something along the lines of "Damn, had I only read this book Mother wanted me to umpteen hundred years ago, I would have seen this picture of Sankt Ilya and the amplifiers!"

I also wonder if the idea of penance plays into Baghra's current lifestyle: living in a small hut, with worn out clothes, and apparently not utilizing her powers as much as she must once have.

message 45: by Cari (last edited May 08, 2014 11:05PM) (new)

Cari | 644 comments @Dream- Ahhhh, I love your close readings. <33333333

Ok, enthusiasm aside, when I started reading you post and came across the Darkling's quote on Bahgra's "quaint ideas" also penance stood out.

At first, I thought her lifestyle was that of one jaded by the unnatural longevity (ie. "Been there, done that, material possessions and people are stupid.") I sure there's some of that. However, after Leigh hinted at the fact that Bahgra's not using her powers and thus is not in optimal health, two thoughts came to mind: someone/something is preventing her from doing so OR she's atoning.

Something happened that changed both their lives in such a way that she's vowed to not use her powers again and he's devoted his existence to the cause of the Fold. Also, she feels profoundly guilty/responsible for whatever happened. I'm assuming the two things are connected.

On the Istorii Sankt'ya: I wonder not only who used to give it to the kids but WHY? This book mostly would teach Grisha kids that regular people will never understand or accept them. Even worse, if they tried their best to do good, their fellow Ravkans will thank them with the gift of a violent death. Seems like a very political and controversial reading. I mean, it would surely make good soldiers but it would not do a good job to integrate Grisha to the general population... or was it merely intended as a warning for kids, so they would always be on their guard?

I could speculate such problems were the reason the book stopped being distributed. Alina explained how the Darkling has put a lot of effort into trying to get Grisha to look and even eat like common people, to gain the people's trust. (This has been highly unsuccessful but he doesn't seem to notice. Hence the continuation of the herring.)

Although it is interesting to notice the Darkling doesn't mention any of this, but rather the religious aspect, which is still very unclear to me. Why are these people considered saints: good deeds and martyrdom? Is it celebrated to be powerful and yet allow people to kill you unjustly?

Another thought that I've always had on the Istorii Sankt'ya is that by "fictionalizing" the life of actual grisha, it "discourages" Ravkan from trying to find out more about the saints. They are myth and as such people take the words of the book at face value and do no dig any further.
(ie. Can someone as smart and powerful as Morozova would allow himself to be drowned? Seems unlikely. What really happened to him and all the "First Grisha"?)

If Bahgra was the one giving out this book, I wonder what message did she intend to convey to the children.

message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe, towards the beginning, it was handed out to show them that there was nothing else for them except a terrible death? I could see its being propaganda. It could have been a way of keeping the children there.

Also, the attitude of religion's being for peasants is just an attitude of the rich. They said that it was a peasant preoccupation, according to the rich, one time Alina is thinking about Keramzin.

message 47: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Leigh Miller (kellyleighmiller) In reference to Morozova and the "First Grisha," that also strikes my curiosity as to how long Grisha can live if they use their power. We already know Baghra and the Darkling are a few hundred years.

Also since Grisha can live longer when they use their powers, why is everyone so surprised the Darkling is the same heretic? Do some Grisha not live as long as others or are we to assume they are killed in battle of some kind so we never truly know how old they can be?

I would assume someones Grisha grandpa would recognize Baghra and the Darkling from when he was younger.

message 48: by Sofs (last edited May 09, 2014 06:26AM) (new)

“Using our power makes us stronger. It feeds us instead of consuming us. Most Grisha live long lives.”
“But not one hundred and twenty years.”
“No,” he admitted. “The length of a Grisha’s life is proportional
to his or her power. The greater the power, the longer the life. And when that power is amplified …” He trailed off with a shrug.

I assume no grandpa can remember because they are dead and since Darkling says he is 120 years old, no one thinks is strange.

message 49: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Leigh Miller (kellyleighmiller) Ahh! I forgot that quote. So I assume are Darklings, human amplifiers, and Sun Summoners are the strongest.

Also Cari wrote: "(ie. Can someone as smart and powerful as Morozova would allow himself to be drowned? Seems unlikely. What really happened to him and all the "First Grisha"?)"

Somewhere on this thread someone mentioned how the Darkling called Baghra a tidemaker. Anyone think Baghra killed Morozova?

message 50: by Sofs (new)

Sofs “I sought Morozova’s amplifiers for you, Alina, that we might rule as equals.”

I think Darkling and Baghra are strong because they are human amplifiers. Alina is strong because of Morozova amplifiers.

Baghra killed Morozova... never thought about it. Can because of it she gave up her powers and thinks Darkling is like this because of her ambitions?

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