Six of Crows, A Wonderful Universe is a weekly mini-series dissecting the world that Leigh Bardugo created in her duology, Six of Crows. Over the past few weeks, I’ve discussed the way trauma has affected Kaz, Inej, and Jesper. Today’s analysis will be about Nina Zenik. This is meant to be read by fans of the series, but spoiler warning for those reading this before enjoying the books.
“If men were ashamed when they should be, they’d have no time for anything else.”
Keep a healthy distance; seeing her can speed up your heartbeat. She is a Grisha Heartrender, which means she can control someone’s heart just by raising her hands. She is strong, flirty, bold, exuberant, independent, and beautiful inside and out. She is loyal to her country and to Grisha regardless of their nationality. Her story focuses on both Matthias, and the hard decisions she had to make and the betrayals she had to commit. Not only that, but she is intelligent, speaks many languages, and is a warrior. And most importantly, she is a waffle lover.
Another character whose trauma is not well remembered is the brave and powerful Nina Zenik. Sure, she’s a badass, but we shouldn’t forget the traumas she’s lived through, as they have defined a part of who she is. As a child, Nina grew up in an orphanage. During her time at the orphanage, she was bullied. Being bullied can be a traumatic factor in someone’s life, but this time we will leave that aside to focus on her life as Grisha.
Growing up Grisha
Growing up as a Grisha, remembering a bit of what was mentioned in Jesper’s trauma, is difficult. In Ravka, although Grisha fight most of Ravka’s wars and inflict the most damage upon enemies, they are considered witches and corrupt sorcerers and regarded with suspicion and distrust by many humans, including those who serve in the First Army.
In Fjerda, they are still considered witches and are hunted by the Drüskelle. They claim that Grisha are demonic, evil, and “an insult to Djel,” and use this belief to justify killing them. Although they say that all Grisha stand a fair trial, it is widely known that Grisha are always declared guilty and executed, since their crime is simply existing. Historically, drüskelle burned Grisha on pyres; in Fjerdan culture, the dead are buried so that they may join Djel, but Grisha are not considered people, and therefore not buried. Grisha are still executed today, but the Ice Court no longer uses pyres. Grisha in Kerch are usually sold as slaves. Grisha in Shu Han are experimented upon. In Novyi Zem, Grisha are referred to as zowa, meaning “blessed”. The latter being safer than the rest to some extent.
The Effect on Nina
Nina has had to go into hiding to avoid being killed just for existing. She has seen friends and acquaintances fall victim and even lived through being kidnapped by the drüskelle herself. Their lives are a constant struggle for survival in a world that wants them dead or exploited.
Also, let’s remember that the jurda parem caused an addiction in her, and the process was painful; she got to the point of not being able to eat or use her powers if she didn’t have drugs in her system first.
Last brief analysis: She knows she screws up. She makes mistakes. She spends all her time trying to prove herself worthy to everyone around her, but she feels like she fails all the time. Also, she wants others to be proud of her, and she wants to protect her loved ones.