Six of Crows, A Wonderful Universe s a weekly mini-series dissecting the world that Leigh Bardugo created in her duology, Six of Crows. I have been dissecting the trauma each character in the series has experienced. This is the last post of the series, so either start at the end or read about Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Nina, or Wylan first. This is meant to be read by fans of the series, but spoiler warning for those reading this before enjoying the books.
“Do not be afraid. Fear is how they control you. There’s so much in the world you don’t have to be afraid of, if you would only open your eyes.”
Matthias Helvar is extremely hated and underrated in the Six of Crows fandom. This is because Matthias is considered a boring character with a different ideology than the rest, but that is a consequence of his childhood trauma.
Matthias grew up in a southern village of Fjerda, near Halmhend, with his mother, father and little sister, who were killed by a group of Inferni soldiers attacking the place. As an orphan, he is taken under the guardianship of the drüskelle commander Jarl Brum, who convinces him to join the drüskelle (Fjerda soldiers) to avenge his family. He grew up in a country surrounded by people who taught him systematic hatred and fear against the Grisha. He was indoctrinated under this feeling of superiority to others, just like hundreds of other teenagers.
They used methods such as emotional manipulation to get people into their cause to persecute, kidnap and murder those who were different from them, the Grisha. In the case of Matthias, Jarl Brum used the murder of his family to convince him.
This generated the following:
- He wasn’t empathetic.
- He had some anger issues.
- Adopted a biased view of reality.
- Saw things as extremely “black and white”
- He learned a destructive pattern that he transmitted to other generations
- Became confrontational with others because he learned an “us vs. them” mentality.
Drüskelle used manipulative propaganda. Their messages emphasized the fact that the group was their salvation against the Grisha enemies. TheDrüskelle managed to convince millions of young people in Fjerda through these messages, where they called the Grisha “monsters”, “demons” and “murderers”. Moreover, they encouraged the sense of unity and brotherhood, which especially appealed to Matthias after he lost his biological family.
The character development he had was quite good. After meeting a Grisha (Nina Zenik) and learning about her, he realized that they were not monsters or witches. He realized that Grishas were people just like him, and he managed to deconstruct these ideas and perspectives of hatred that he was taught since childhood. Not only that, he didn’t simply decide to change sides and start hating the Drüskelle, but he saw in them the potential to change. “If I could do it, so can they.” Even when one of their own killed him for betraying the group, he still believed they deserved a chance to change and improve.
Last brief analysis: All his life he knew exactly what he was supposed to do and where he was headed. Suddenly, everything changed. Everything he thought he knew was wrong and he began to struggle with his own belief system. He tries to figure out who he is with the new information and to balance on the tightrope of what he was raised to believe and what he knows is right.