"I’m a soldier of the Second Army. This is where I belong."
— Zoya Nazyalensky, Siege and Storm

Zoya Nazyalensky is an incredibly powerful Squaller and an excellent fighter. She possesses an amplifier in the form of a heavy silver bracelet. Before the Ravkan Civil War, Zoya was one of the Darkling’s favored Grisha and was frequently assigned to missions around Ravka.

Appearance and CharacterEdit

Zoya is described as a gorgeous girl with long, raven black hair and deep, jewel-like blue eyes. One of the most powerful Grisha in all of Ravka,[1] she is portrayed as ambitious, arrogant, and occasionally extremely disagreeable, although later she becomes a friend to Alina. Like most other Grisha girls, she is initially infatuated with the Darkling. 

Shadow and BoneEdit

Zoya is first seen riding in the Darkling's entourage through Kribirsk, the town where Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev are stationed, and shows interest in Mal when she sees him. Later, when Alina is escorted into the Little Palace, Zoya is envious of Alina and her powers, unable to stand the fact that she herself is no longer the Darkling's favorite. When she greets Alina in the dining hall of the Little Palace, the two girls hug, while Zoya quietly threatens Alina so that only the two of them hear. Soon Botkin pairs Zoya and Alina together in combat classes, hoping that Zoya, a star pupil, can assist Alina in training. When Alina astonishingly succeeds in besting Zoya, Zoya cannot stand the damage to her ego and uses Squaller wind to slam Alina against a wall and break her ribs. Botkin is furious and scolds Zoya for using Grisha powers within the sparring ring. Zoya is barred from the training rooms and sent to speak with the Darkling.

After an unknown punishment from the Darkling, Zoya emerges from his room in tears[2] but no longer bothers Alina, although there remains tension between the two.

Siege and Storm Edit

Unbeknownst to Alina at first, Zoya is among the Grisha who stayed at the Little Palace after it was abandoned by the Darkling and his Second Army troops. Upon Alina's return, Zoya openly announces her support of the Sun Summoner on behalf of the Etherealki. Although several Etherealki object to this statement, Alina is shocked at Zoya's proclamation.

Later, Alina calls for a meeting of the remaining Grisha with two representatives per order. Zoya is voted as one representative for the Etherealki, and she plans with Alina and the other Grisha.

As Alina is evacuating the Grisha schools to send Grisha children too young to fight to Keramzin, she questions Zoya about her motives in staying, saying that Zoya had once been among the Darkling's favorites and would have stood by him no matter what. [3]

Zoya responds with tears in her eyes and tells Alina of her aunt and niece who lived in Novokribirsk before the city was demolished by the Darkling's power. She believes that the Darkling could have warned her about the attack before her family was killed in the surge of the Shadow Fold. Afterwards, although Alina remains somewhat suspicious, her doubts of Zoya diminish significantly. In the events that follow, Zoya becomes an integral part of Alina's forces.

Ruin and Rising Edit

Being one of the twelve surviving Grisha from the attack on the Little Palace, Zoya stays with Alina and the other surviving Grisha at the White

Zoya n by phantom rin

Zoya by phantomrin on Tumblr

Cathedral until they manage to escape. Together with the others she travels through Ravka until they find Nikolai and are brought to the Spinning Wheel. She survives the Darkling's surprise attack on the hideout and escapes together with Alina and the remaning Grisha aboard the Bittern. After the Grisha decide to split up after creating plans to find the third amplifier, Zoya, along with Mal, Alina, Harshaw and Tolya, searches for the firebird near Dva Stolba. When the group decides to stage a surprise attack against the Darkling, Zoya and the other Summoners become a vanguard to attack the Darkling's sandskiff.

In the final battle within the Shadow Fold, Zoya fights volcra and nichevo'ya along with the remainder of Alina's forces. When Alina is forced to kill Mal, Zoya is seen with a burn on her cheek running towards Alina along with Tamar and Tolya. At the end of the battle, Zoya saves Nikolai from almost certain death by falling, after he regains control of his human body, by cushioning his drop with an updraft.[4] Later, Zoya commandeers one of the Darkling’s skiffs to take the survivors of the battle, including Alina and Mal, away from the Fold and keeps the curious Soldat Sol distracted when Alina’s and Mal’s bodies are taken aboard the ship.

Upon Alina’s resignation from her position as leader of the Second Army, Zoya, along with David and Genya, is appointed to lead the Grisha by Alina and Nikolai. Genya, Zoya, and David become the Grisha Triumvirate, representing the Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki respectively.

Six of Crows Edit

In Six of Crows, Zoya is mentioned several times by Nina Zenik as someone whom the younger Grisha admired, and, at times, idolized. Nina recounts an earlier experience with Zoya, during which the two were attempting to recruit rogue Grisha to the Second Army.[5]

Crooked Kingdom Edit

Zoya makes several appearances in Crooked Kingdom: first as a Grisha refugee, when she defends her hideout from Nina Zenik and Matthias Helvar, pinning them and several other men to a wall with Squaller wind. She and Genya Safin reunite with Nina after a full year of separation and Zoya expresses clear contempt towards Matthias for being a former drüskelle.

Much later, she meets Kaz Brekker and several of the Dregs as a Ravkan delegate and a member of the Grisha Triumvirate, along with Genya and Sturmhond. She is outraged at Kaz when he orders everyone but Sturmhond to wait in the outer room while the two discuss. Afterwards, in conversation with Wylan Van Eck and Jesper Fahey, Genya comments that the Kerch are strangely attached to money and Zoya storms away when Jesper mutters in response, "Says the woman with a bankrupt country."[1]

Near the very end of the book Zoya joins the Dregs, once again with Genya and Sturmhond, to take Kuwei Yul-Bo to Ravka after the ploy that was conducted at his auction. Zoya summons lighting, an action that could cost her her own life, in order to restart Kuwei's heart. Before departing, she informs Nina Zenik that she should "remember where [her] loyalties lie" and that Ravka would be fortunate if Nina were to rejoin the Second Army.[1]


Marie and NadiaEdit

In the beginning of Shadow and Bone, Marie and Nadia act as Zoya's friends but badmouth her in her absence, calling her stuck-up to Alina. Later, however, Zoya and Nadia work together several times in battle, seeming to have developed a genuine friendship.   

The DarklingEdit

Zoya is, at first, deeply infatuated with the Darkling, like most other Grisha girls. Upon Alina's arrival at the Little Palace, Zoya instantly hates her for becoming the Darkling's new favorite, and expresses her jealousy by cheating during a duel and injuring Alina. After an unknown punishment or scolding from the Darkling for her behavior, Zoya is seen leaving his office in tears, further revealing how much she respects and desires him.

Zoya ph

Zoya sketch by phantomrin on Tumblr

After the events of Shadow and Bone, Zoya is no longer loyal to him after she learns that her family in Novokribirsk were killed in an attack commanded by the Darkling. She is among the Grisha who remain in the Little Palace and those who join Alina Starkov's resistance.

Alina StarkovEdit

In Shadow and Bone, Zoya seems to hold a grudge toward Alina and does not miss a chance of taunting her. After unfairly injuring Alina in combat, Zoya is punished and does not confront Alina, but evidently still dislikes her.

While the story goes on, Zoya supports Alina and stays at her side, even giving her advice about Alina's relationship with Mal. As she is one of very few Grisha who stands behind Alina until the end of the war, Zoya exhibits genuine loyalty and friendship towards Alina. In the epilogue of Ruin and Rising, Zoya gifts Alina a blue kefta with the note You'll always be one of us even after Alina loses her power.

Genya Safin Edit

When the two characters are first introduced, they have a mutual dislike of each other: Zoya resents Genya because of her status as a servant, while Genya loathes Zoya for her arrogance. Genya and Alina even barge into Zoya's room before the Winter Fete in Shadow and Bone, forcing Zoya to wait in the hallway while Genya uses Zoya's cosmetics to style Alina. Genya admits that she only wanted to see the look on Zoya’s face when the Squaller saw Alina dressed in the Darkling's colors.[2]

Throughout the series, as Zoya and Genya share many experiences in the war, their animosity fades. Eventually, their bickering becomes of a playful nature: in Ruin and Rising, Genya insists that Zoya has "weird incisors", and when Zoya protests that her teeth are perfectly fine, Genya soothes her, "You're the prettiest walrus I know."[3] As the two browse through kefta and dresses in Alina's room later in the book, Zoya declares that she would make an excellent queen, only for Genya to respond, "The day I curtsy to you is the day David performs an opera naked in the Shadow Fold." Zoya retorts, "Like I'd have you in my court," to which Genya says, "You should be so lucky," before helping Zoya to straighten her headpiece.[4]

By the end of the third book, Zoya and Genya have both accepted roles in leading the Second Army as heads of the Etherealki and Corporalki respectively. Although Genya initally complains that Alina must be punishing her by forcing her to work with Zoya, the two Grisha are shown bickering good-naturedly and cooperating in Crooked Kingdom.

Memorable Quotes Edit

Siege and Storm Edit

  • "I'm a soldier of the Second Army. This is where I belong." – p. ??
  • ”I don’t want to live in darkness.” – p. ??

Ruin and Rising Edit

  • "This is my home. I won't be chased out of it." – p. ??
  • "Toss him over. Break his heart cruelly. I will gladly give our poor prince comfort, and I would make a magnificent queen." – p. 192
  • "I am horrible. All these people dead, and I miss pretty things." – p. 192
  • "I miss knowing what happens next." – p. 193

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
  2. 2.0 2.1 Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
  3. 3.0 3.1 Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo
  5. Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo