Well, this is a spoiler-full discussion obviously so back off if you haven’t read the complete novel yet.
This discussion from my side will be character based. I don’t remember exactly what all happened in each part of the book – hence I’ll be discussing it character wise.
KAZ BREKKER – THE BASTARD OF THE BARREL
This character is probably one of the first characters to be introduced in the book and by far my favourite. Kaz is shown as the clever thief, the master of the dregs and the initiator of the deadly Bo-Yul-Bayur rescue mission. The character beautifully develops and opens up in the book. At first, we get a gothic or I will say dangerously-handsome-criminal vibes which slowly throughout the book changes a bit. We also see various insights to his human side through the revelation of his past- which was very impressive.
At first we are not able to make out much, except his lifestyle, his occupation, his relations with the dregs and a very slight concern for Inej, his wraith. We get to know how he is the best in ketterdam for carrying out dangerous missions and so much more.
I like how later in the book his past is unfolded. It is very important in a book, in my opinion, especially fantasy genre books, to unveil the past in order to understand the way a character acts in a book. I found the excerpts from his past about his lost brother, Jordie, to be very a great outlook towards the actions of Kaz. It is the perfect reason why Kaz becomes what he becomes after he learns his way around the city.
AND LETS TALK ABOUT INEJ AND KAZ. Sweet Jesus, I am totally in love with how this whole finally-admitting-we-care-for-each-other scenario somewhat falls into place in the end of the book. From the very start, when Inej sees Kaz without his shirt and reveals her reactions to it – I KNEW THIS WAS GONNA HAPPEN SOMEHOW. But I also feared that maybe this was one-sided from Inej’s point of view and that is because we didn’t get much from Kaz on this topic at the start. Later, we see Kaz revealing his feelings for her inside his head.
And The point where Kaz becomes weak, and Inej becomes the first one to gain insight on it shows how human he is besides being claimed as the total opposite. How he keeps going when he knew his past’s horrors won’t leave him, when he still saw Jordie’s bodily images, when he knew he was putting every crew member at a risk and thought he was responsible for everything.
The best part so far would be when Inej touches kaz’s cheek for a brief moment. That’s where you know the connection is real. And also, I cannot wait to see him finally kill Pekka Rollins.
INEJ GHAFA – THE WRAITH
Inej, in my opinion, was one of the strongest character. I like how brave and strong she was portrayed throughout the novel. At first, we just see a very dangerous secret keeper of the dregs who loves her knives and is always alert. She is swift, doesn’t make any noise while in motion – thus the title wraith – movements similar to a ghost.
Slowly as the book progresses, we get to know about her past. Through Kaz, we get know her Suli connections with the God and everything. How much she believes in the Suli saints and how much she prays before every expedition. We also get to know about how she gets separated from her parents (WHICH BROKE MY HEART) and how much she wants to return to her parents to tell them that their wraith survived.
The part where she gives insights about Tante Heleen, about how she was treated – sold and bought, had my nerves twitched. That is how we know how much stronger Inej truly became – from the inside as well as the outside. And the part were Kaz recruites her, gave me the much needed ease.
Throughout the mission we see Inej giving her all. When she climbs while her body almost burns was such a great scene that wins our hearts. How she told herself to climb, when everything seemed to be fading around her and when she was totally uncertain about what she will do in the future.
“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.” THIS PART HAD ME GOING CRAZY.
ALSO I WANNA BE A PART OF THE CREW SHE WILL HOPEFULLY MAKE IN THE END OF CROOKED KINGDOM. FINGERS CROSSED.
NINA ZENIK – THE HEARTRENDER
Nina Zenik is again, after Inej, in my opinion, the strongest character here. I feel like this novel gave us so many women-empowerment lessons from the both the women crew characters. But also told us about women like Tante Heleen, the cruel ones.
Nina Zenik at first didn’t catch my concern until she started to give insights on who Matthias was and how much she cared for her Grisha people. At first, I fell in love with their quarrels (Nina’s and Matthias’s) and Jesper’s comments from behind. It was an absolute delight. I remember re-reading those parts. The way she cared and got him out out of the hellgate with the help of Kaz and his crew but then how Matthias reacted when he saw her – HAD ME SO SHOOK AND CONFUSED.
But then, as the story unfolded we get to know why this hatred took birth in the first place. I loved how Nina no matter what, did everything in her power, to save her people – THE PEOPLE OF GRISHA. It showed her patriotic values and also how soft at heart she was despite being claimed otherwise by Matthias- in the start.
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE CHEMISTRY BETWEEN NINA AND MATTHIAS. No doubt the best. I liked how their wrong misconceptions about each other changed and they discovered how much they truly cared for each other deep inside – Despite being political rivals.
We see how much she really cares for everyone when she voluntarily takes Jurda Parem to save her crew. How much strong she really is and how much willing she is to sacrifice anything and everything for the mission to be successful and for her to save the secret of the Jurda Parem from the wrong hands.
Also, Nina and Inej give us some serious friendship or BFF goals.
MATTHIAS HELVAR – THE CONVICT
Matthias Helvar was a very hard to understand character in the between of the novel. Also, the shocker we get when he joins his hands with Jarl Brum towards the end of the novel. At that point, the confusion kicked in. At that part I was not able to understand his true motives. But then, boom, false alarm. I was like wow, I just witnessed another awesome scare by Bardugo.
Matthias, in my opinion, was a character filled of emotions like, what-the-hell-is-going-on, do-I-like-Nina-or-not, I-wanna-kill-her-but-I-wanna-kiss-her-too, Should-I-betray-Fjerda-or-stay-loyal. That pretty much sums up everything.
Apart from that, I liked how he acted around the characters on the crew at first. Totally confused as to why they all were so strange to be around, how he had hate-love feelings for Nina and also how he was looking for a way to give Kaz a hard time.
Slowly, we gain insight to his side of Nina’s betrayal story. We learn how much he also was or is patriotic and would do anything to prevent Grisha people from ruining Fjerda. But we also see a very rational and understanding side of Matthias towards the end of the novel.
How he sees that Grisha people are also human and the part where he says “He is one of us” totally wins my heart all over again. It’s like he finally sees Jarl Brum as the evil he is and unleashes his rational side upon him.
I like how he supports and starts to openly show concerns for Nina by the end of the novel. How he stands by her, as she takes Jurda Parem to save their crew.
JESPER FAHEY – THE ZEMENI BORN SHARPSHOOTER
Jesper Fahey is the best character here when it comes to excellent sarcasm and wittiness. Throughout the book, he doesn’t seem to bore us anywhere. He always has something funny to deliver. Also, how he occasionally flirts with Wylan – I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT.
Jesper is shown as a fun guy who has a loose mouth. Throughout the novel, we see how concerned he was for the fellow dregs and how he always mentally debated his relations with Kaz. We get to know how much he loves his guns, just the sound, aim and power not the killing, as he told Wylan.
We see his other side, where he shows concerns for his parents and his native land. AND THE WAY HE REVEALS HE IS A FABRIKATOR, ANOTHER BARDUGO SHOCKER. We then see the parts of him which shows mixed feelings about his people of Grisha. How he wants to become more skilled at being a fabrikator and how he wishes to learn it from the Grisha homeland which he wanted to visit atleast once.
I TOTALLY SHIP JESPER AND WYLAN TOGETHER. The point where Ja Van Eck reveals his hate or true thoughts towards his so-called-failed-son, where Jesper stands up for Wylan – one beautiful scene. We see that he truly feels something about him.
WYLAN VAN ECK – THE DEMOLITIONS EXPERT
We don’t have his POVs in this novel- which is disappointing as I wanted to learn more about his thoughts and feelings about everything. But anyway, we gain a few important details about him throughout the novel. At first, we see a decent homeschooled and intelligent boy who gets mocked by Jesper on his various acquired skills in his rich household by his tutors. Later, we see a boy who is determined to help the crew members and actively takes part in the missions.
We learn that he has a disturbed relationship with his father, Jan Van Eck. And that he is a demolitions expert, good at equations and a lot of other things.
I LOVED HIS BLUSHING REACTIONS TOWARDS JESPER’S COMMENTS. I liked how he stood next to Jesper every night on the return trip to Ketterdam, without him realising because he had changed his look to Kuwei Yul-Bo.
One of the funniest scenes was when he started to act as a drunk Fjerdan singing their national anthem to save Jesper from getting attacked by three Fjerdan soldiers.
I was extremely hurt to know his father’s truest thoughts and intentions about him. It was a very sad scene in the book. But everything brightened up when Jesper stood up for him.
I CANNOT WAIT TO FINISH CROOKED KINGDOM AND START WRITING ABOUT IT ALREADY.