‘Shadow and Bone’ Season 2: Who is Sturmhond?


Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Shadow and Bone Season 2.

The second season of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone is full of familiar faces, but there is no shortage of newcomers as well. Yet of all the characters introduced in the new season, Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson) is the most significant, and he seems to know it. Suddenly appearing in Ketterdam is the anonymous buyer who sent Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) and the Crows to capture Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) in the first season, but he doesn’t appear without deception. However, his disguise as a guard cannot fool Kaz, so he is forced to introduce himself. Surprised by the lack of recognition, the cocky man calls himself Sturmhond, a privateer, not a pirate, though not many understand the distinction, much to Sturmhond’s aggravation. Recognizable by his blue coat, Sturmhond takes pride in being the best-dressed privateer around. He may be well-known as the scourge of the True Sea, but in spite of that, and despite his inability to keep his mouth shut, he’s a man of mystery.


The infamous captain of the Volkvolny is a talented sailor, a skilled fighter, and has no hesitation in throwing money around, but most of all, he relies on the loyalty of his crew. The sailors on the Volkvolny consist of Grisha and otkazat’sya working together in a way that the First and Second Armies could never manage. The Grisha aboard his ship seek safety away from war and the brutal treatment Grisha find in other countries, and Sturmhond happily offers them freedom and safety. Many rumors fly around about Sturmhond, but few know his true identity. So few, in fact, that the man behind the legend can change under the right circumstances. But the True Sea needs a Sturmhond to keep things in check.

What is Sturmhond Up To?

In Season 2, Sturmhond is still hunting for the Sun Saint. During their interaction, the perceptive privateer deduces that Kaz and Jesper (Kit Young) know more about Alina’s location than they willingly admit. But he manages to bribe Kaz, then sets off to Novyi Zem to find Alina. Believing it to be their only escape, Alina and Mal (Archie Renaux) board the Volkvolny. But they quickly learn that Sturmhond has tricked them into doing exactly what he wants. Though the sarcastic captain teases about ransoms and the like, he has his own intentions with Alina, to return her to Ravka to destroy the Unsea. After all, he is surprisingly patriotic. Yet onboard the Volkvolny, Alina and Mal are treated as guests, not prisoners. He introduces Alina to his crew, offers her and Mal lodgings, and proves himself a generally agreeable, if somewhat arrogant, person. Sturmhond even obliges to Alina’s request to stop to locate the sea whip and get her a second amplifier. Sturmhond rarely gives straight answers and can be infuriating, but he relishes that fact. This habit only enhances the continual surprises the character offers. Though a privateer by trade, he spends his free time inventing everything from weapons to dangerous, Grisha-powered flying ships. It’s his flying ship that guides the heroes through the Fold and into East Ravka. After their fight with the sea whip, Alina and Mal finally start feeling as if they know him, but it isn’t until they crash-land on the other side of the Fold that they learn his true identity.

RELATED: ‘Shadow and Bone’ Season 2: Biggest Changes from the Grishaverse Books

So Who is He?

Paddy Gibson as Nikolai in Shadow and Bone Season 2
Image via Netflix

When they run into members of the First Army, it looks like things will go bad fast. But Sturmhond sheds his coat to become someone just as famous: Nikolai Lantsov, prince of Ravka. The younger son of the Ravkan king is unlike the rest of his family, which feeds the whispers that Nikolai is truly the queen’s bastard masquerading as a prince. Yet he has the love of the people. The charismatic prince insisted on serving in the military in truth, rather than symbolically like his brother Vasily (George Parker). He trained and fought like any other citizen of the country, creating deep bonds with the First Army. For years, he stayed away from the capital city of Os Alta, roaming the world as Sturmhond, defending Ravka’s coast, and supporting the war effort. Nikolai believed he could do more as a privateer than a prince.

But that doesn’t mean he’s inept at politics. After his return, Nikolai takes charge, proving himself to be a capable leader. After Vasily made enemies of the remaining Grisha, Nikolai reestablishes their alliance with the monarchy by announcing an engagement to the Sun Summoner. Though the engagement was a political move, Nikolai develops feelings for Alina. But even beyond his political maneuvering, he makes a worthy ruler. Nikolai cares deeply for the people of Ravka in a way that the rest of the royal family doesn’t. They focus on the status and riches of their position. Meanwhile, Nikolai’s attention is on protecting Ravka. He’s a good strategist, though unafraid of risks. Still, he’s as snarky a prince as he was a privateer and constantly drops advice and jokes, sometimes simultaneously. Yet when the Darkling (Ben Barnes) kills the rest of his family, Nikolai rises to the occasion, leading Ravka to victory.

The New Sturmhond

Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov in Season 2 of Shadow and Bone
Image via Netflix

As much as the seas need Sturmhond, Ravka also needs a king, and after the war ends, Nikolai is the heir. No longer able to journey around the world as Sturmhond, Nikolai must find a replacement, and there is an obvious answer. After the confrontation with the Darkling, Mal’s life will undoubtedly look different, but he doesn’t know how. Throughout the season, Mal and Nikolai develop a grudging respect for each other, and Mal more than proves his worth in the war. With the Sturmhond position open and Mal unsure of his path, things fall into place easily. Mal lacks experience at sea, but that is remedied with Nikolai’s reliable crew members Tolya (Lewis Tan) and Tamar (Anna Leong Brophy) taking charge while Mal wears the trademark coat and uses the name. The ragtag bunch of sailors promises to roam the seas and keep their eyes on the surrounding countries for Nikolai. In their final moments on screen, the Volkvolny and its crew are seen chasing down a slaver ship. Though it’s unclear if Mal draws the same distinction between privateer and pirate as Nikolai, he assumes the position of Sturmhond and protects the seas as the prince once did.



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