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Written by Nancy C
“’I’m a businessman,’ he’d told her. ‘No more, no less.’”
Kaz succinctly explains himself as a character with this line, and also sets the tone for the entire book. While he may make controversial decisions, and while he may act violent and cold, he views his work as a thief as a business- he makes decisions to increase the success of his gang, and he keeps emotions out of his work. This attitude is one that’s seen clearly throughout the rest of the novel: Kaz is practical, if hard, and will prioritize his work over everything else. He does not view the questionable decisions he’s often forced to make as questionable.
“The easiest way to steal a man’s wallet is to tell him you’re going to steal his watch.”
The Dregs are a small group of teenagers attempting to infiltrate the most notorious prison in the known world and retrieve the most highly-guarded captive in that prison. While they’re a group of highly-skilled individuals, brute force alone isn’t enough to get them into the prison- they need to use every trick and scam available to them, and even those who are physically strong must learn how to use their brains. All of them are very aware of this; the harsh conditions under which they live have taught them how to trick their way out of every uncomfortable situation.
“Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.”
Each of the Dregs comes from depravity, and each of them was completely alone prior to the founding of the crew. Inej’s father’s words hold true not just for romantic love, but for friendship as well- while the various members of the crew may be different, they learn the complex facets of each other’s personalities, the best and worst parts of who they are, and they learn to love each other like a family. They earn each other’s hearts because they learn the things about each other that no one had bothered to learn.
“The water hears and understands. The ice does not forgive.”
Matthias is the most reluctant member of the Dregs, and is cold and harsh to the entire crew. At the beginning of the novel he is unwilling to interact with any of them, but especially Nina, and views her as something unhuman. This attitude is a direct result of the conditions under which he was raised. As a soldier in the Fjerdan army Matthias was taught to suppress all emotion and to view anyone different from him as a monstrosity, resulting in an ice-like demeanor that bends to nothing. While his attitude changes as he spends more time with the crew, this line is very representative of the Matthias that first comes to the Dregs.
“’I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.’”
This line forces both Kaz to consider the consequences of his actions- years of shutting people away and refusing to emotionally connect to anyone has left him unable to confide in a single human. As a result, the one person that he cares about more than anyone else turns her back on him. Inej’s words show the necessity of confiding in other people, but they also reveal important information about her as a character: she has had a difficult life and has been hurt by countless people, making her unwilling to compromise her happiness.
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