These 10 Six of Crows quotes from the duology by Leigh Bardugo transcend the boundaries of the Grishaverse, bringing real social issues into a fantasy world.
There is something stunningly captivating about the Six of Crows duology that resonates with me years after its finished. Not only does it have one of the most diverse cast of characters to date, but the realistic interpersonal relationships are what help make the series memorable.
The Grishaverse that Bardugo has expanded into not only two separate series and a book of fairy tales set in the same world, but she’s about to release another duology within the Grishaverse. King of Scars comes out January 29, 2019 and is the first book in the Nikolai duology, who showed up in both of the other Grishaverse series.
Though it takes place in a fantasy world where a group of six teenagers have to pull of a seemingly impossible heist and get wrapped into a plot bigger than they intended, there are a lot of relatable quotes that transfer really well to the real world outside of the pages of these books.
Because of the relatability and meaning behind each quote, the context heightens not only the emotions elicited while reading, but makes each line more realistic as we pull in our own experiences, essentially cementing the believability of the world that Leigh Bardugo has created.
These Six of Crows quotes are heavy with meaning not only within the text itself, but outside of it. The Grishaverse may be a made up fantasy world, but it has a lot of real world prejudices and issues that the characters come head to head against, especially when it comes to their relationships within the crew.
Within every friend group not everyone gets along perfectly, and these Six of Crows quotes highlight that fact by placing very real, deep issues within a YA fantasy world. It makes the story richer, and the emotional pay off worth more in the end.
10 Six of Crows quotes that are Too Real™
1. “They fear as I once feared you,” he said. “As you once feared me. We are all someone’s monster, Nina.”
– Matthias Helvar to Nina Zenik, pg 453, ‘Six of Crows’
Both Matthias and Nina grew up with their countries at war, with prejudices against each other with Nina being a Grisha, someone with power, and Matthias, a Druskelle, a Fjerdan soldier meant to search out and kill people like Nina.
This quote is significant because it holds the truth that many people don’t like to think about: that no matter what you do, someone will believe you to be in the wrong. During this discussion a lot is happening, plot wise, but just beforehand Matthias said “Nina, you taught me to be something better,” which is significant because Matthias went from thinking that Nina was evil to the eye opening realization that perception is skewed based on stories told and biases that are often manufactured in order to get a result, like he and the other Druskelle capturing Grisha because they were brainwashed into thinking they were all evil.
2. “She’d shown him in a thousand ways that she was honorable and strong and generous and very human, maybe even more vividly human than anyone he’d ever known. And if she was, then Grisha weren’t inherently evil. They were like anyone else—full of the potential to do great good, and also great harm. To ignore that would make Matthias the monster.”
– Nina Zenik about Matthias Helvar, pg 382, ‘Six of Crows’
To further expound upon the first quote, this one highlights the importance of bigotry and how it poisons the mind. The level of hate that Matthias puts towards not only Nina, but of that of all Grisha thanks to his upbringing, he didn’t believe Grisha to be like himself.
That false sense of otherness runs rampant in the real world, just as much as it does in Six of Crows, wherein someone doesn’t believe that people from other countries or different races live the same, full lives that they do. Not being able to look past differences and seeing that all in all, we are all the same, makes the person who can’t see past their own prejudices the monster.
3. “She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.”
– Nina Zenik about Inej Ghafa and Kaz Brekker, pg 175, ‘Six of Crows’
After Inej is injured and Nina heals her, Nina can’t help but notice how their leader, Kaz, who is cold and impossibly distant had looked at Inej as she lay unconscious. With Nina’s past and feelings towards Matthias as complicated as they are, her thoughts about not wishing love on anyone tugs as the heartstrings as easily as taking a breath.
To care about someone deeply opens up oneself to vulnerability and reading that one line can elicit such a reaction because who hasn’t felt that incessant onslaught of emotions that overtake us so completely.
4. “If it were a trick, I’d promise you safety. I’d offer you happiness. I don’t know if that exists in the Barrel, but you’ll find none of it with me.” For some reason, those words had comforted her. Better terrible truths than kind lies.”
– Kaz Brekker to Inej Ghafa, pg 308, ‘Six of Crows’
Kaz is nothing if not straight forward when it comes to laying out the rules and when helping Inej escape her life at Tante Heleen’s brothel by getting her into a contract with Per Haskell, having her be indentured to their gang instead of in a brothel. Inej, a ghost of who she once was, believes Kaz’s offer to be a trick.
It is, of course, not one, but Kaz’s words, though harsh, remind not only Inej but us all that the truth is always better than lies, in the end. It’s better to be blunt and honest rather than telling someone white lies that will come back and haunt us later.
5.“Suffering is like anything else. Live with it long enough, you learn to like the taste.”
– Kaz Brekker to Pekka Rollins, pg 413, ‘Crooked Kingdom’
The reason that Kaz is who he is is Pekka Rollins. Rollins is to blame for almost the entirety of Kaz’s heart wrenching backstory and it is no wonder that Kaz wants revenge for everything that he lost. In a whirlwind, Kaz ends up with Rollins on his knees before him in Crooked Kingdom. Pekka says that Kaz will pay, and there will be no end to his suffering, to which Kaz states the above quote.
Kaz would know about suffering and living with it, since he’d dragged himself out of the water, half dead, he’d lived through nothing but agony. He’d grown used to the suffering, keeping everyone at arm’s length as he continued to climb out of the proverbial hole that he’d been thrown in, and wasn’t entirely sure he’d be able to get out.
6.“If you don’t care about money, Nina dear, call it by its other names.”
“Kruge? Scrub? Kaz’s one true love?”
“Freedom, security, retribution.”
– Kaz Brekker and Nina Zenik, pg 40, ‘Crooked Kingdom’
It’s like the age old adage: money can’t buy happiness, only the people who say that are those who don’t need it most. In the book, Kaz points out that if Jesper’s dad had money, he could pay off the lien on his house, that Wylan could leave Ketterdam and his emotional abusive father for good. With money Nina and Matthias could escape together and live safely.
Money gives those without it a sense of security when they usually have none, the ability to leave when they’re used to being stuck. It’s easy to say that money can’t buy happiness, but it certain doesn’t hurt to have it when you aren’t spending most of your time worrying about it in the first place.
7. “Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”
– Nina Zenik to Inej Ghafa, pg 165, ‘Crooked Kingdom’
After Inej is rescued, she tells Nina that fear was the worst part about being captured. After the events in Six of Crows, Inej thought that she couldn’t be any more scared than she already had been. As we all know, though, just because you are faced with a fear time and time again doesn’t mean that fear will ever disappear fully. It’s an endless cycle of healing, gathering strength, and going through hard ordeal after ordeal and each time having to overcome it all over again.
8. “You’ve cheated death too many times.Greed may do your bidding, but death serves no man.”
– Kaz Brekker’s subconscious via his brother, Jordie, pg 402, ‘Six of Crows’
Having to face another one of his fears, Kaz has to swim through waters. He has to be stronger than his demons. Reliving his most traumatic moments, Kaz tries to think about Inej, of saving her, before he drowns. Throughout the book Kaz says that greed is his god, that money is all that matters, but saying something and meaning it are two different things.
He survived through the plague, from almost drowning in the river, from being naive and trusting of Pekka Rollins, but no one ever knows when their end will come. While Kaz drowns he attempts to think about revenge for his brother, but all he could think about was Inej. While dying it wasn’t his greed or need for revenge that he thought about, but the only person he’d ever loved. Heavy and poignant, I’m glad that Kaz cheated death once more.
9. “And that was what destroyed you in the end: the longing for something you could never have.”
– Kaz Brekker, pg 362, ‘Crooked Kingdom’
While thinking about his brother and his younger self, being two naive boys who missed their father, it wasn’t money that young Kaz had wanted. It was a warm home, family, and and a sense of security that Pekka Rollins promised him and then ripped it away from him, leaving him alone and penniless that had completely undone Kaz. Kaz was a shell of a man because he could never have what he truly wanted: his brother back, a life not lived.
This quote is simple, but no less poignant and harsh. Envy for something you can never have will eat you up from the inside out, and Kaz has little left to be consumed. At least, he didn’t think he did.
10. “Do you have a different name for killing when you wear a uniform to do it?”
– Nina Zenik to Matthias Helvar, pg 231, ‘Six of Crows’
Once more we find ourselves at a quote between Nina and Matthias, who I believe have the most compelling dynamic because of the animosity they both feel for each other’s people. Nina says this just after the crew stumbles upon three charred bodies on pikes. Fjerdans did it to Grisha, and Matthias immediately gets defensive, but Nina turns around and throws it in his face once more that his people don’t believe Grisha to be human.
She likens the slaughter of her people to that of dogs being put down mercilessly, and it’s no wonder she has these feelings when the world she’s grown up in has this much death and suffering of her people in it.
It parallels well into the real world, though it is no less bleak to be reminded that even though this is happening in a fantasy world, the same or similar has happened in our own.