Chapter 4: Inej 

Kaz orders Inej to fire Rojakke, a talented card dealer at The Crow Club because he believes the dealer is skimming off the top. Inej disagrees with the order, but she carries it out anyway. When Rojakke protests and begins to make a scene, Inej hits him with brass knuckles and drives him away.  

Inej spies on Kaz as he meets with Per Haskell, the boss of the Dregs and the owner of her indenture (the money she owes before she can be free). She hears Kaz talking about the big job and is hurt that Kaz hasn’t told her about it. Later, she joins Kaz in his room. He tells her very little about the job but offers her four million kruge to join his crew. As they talk, he undresses and washes himself in front of her, making her feel uncomfortable. Inej doesn’t know whether to be flattered or offended. She notices that he only has two tattoos. One is the crow and cup tattoo that all members of the Dregs have, except for Inej. The other is a letter R on his bicep. Inej wonders what the R stands for but doesn’t ask Kaz. Kaz gives her the ruby tie pin that he stole from Van Eck and tells her to sell it. She leaves, sliding gracefully down the railing in the stairwell.   

Chapter 5: Kaz 

Kaz heads to the gambling district of town. He reflects that the only gambling house aside from The Crow Club that he cares about is The Emerald Palace. It belongs to Pekka Rollins, whom Kaz wants to murder—but he’s in no hurry. First, he plans to give Rollins headaches by cutting into his business. For example, he hires actors to lure potential customers away from The Emerald Palace by having fake conversations about their luck at The Crow Club. He repeats the phrase “brick by brick” to remind himself that Rollins deserves a slow, painful death. 

Kaz goes into a pleasure house named The White Rose to meet Nina, a Grisha who works there. Nina sits with people and uses her Grisha powers to help them feel different emotions, calming their anxiety and making them feel peaceful. She pays a percentage of her earnings to Per Haskell. Kaz tries to persuade Nina to join the crew he is building to free Bo Yul-Bayur. When Nina hears about jurda parem, she wants to kill Bo Yul-Bayur. She considers his experiments with Grisha horrifying. Kaz offers to help her free Matthias Helvar, who is imprisoned. Nina says she’s been begging Kaz to free Matthias for a long time. Kaz says that they now have a mutual interest in helping Matthias escape.  

Chapter 6: Nina 

Nina, Kaz, Inej, and another member of the Dregs named Muzzen disguise themselves in costumes and row to an island near Ketterdam, home of the prison known as Hellgate. Nina dreads the journey, but when they arrive at Hellgate, she feels excited to be in the same building with Matthias. The group attends a weekly battle called Hellshow, where prisoners are pitted against terrible beasts. They gain extra privileges if they win but suffer a painful death if they lose.  

Nina remembers the day that Inej found her and delivered Kaz’s offer for her to join the Dregs. They saved her from The Emerald Palace, and she set up shop as a Heartrender at The White Rose. Nina is happy she decided to join Kaz and Inej, but she is angry to be at Hellshow. They watch as a prisoner battles a gigantic poisonous lizard and is quickly killed.  

Then Matthias enters the ring. Nina hasn’t seen him for a long time. She recalls how beautiful he once looked and reflects on how much he has changed. He now looks like a killer. Three wolves enter the ring and the battle begins. Matthias’s people, the Fjerdans, consider wolves sacred, and Matthias feels as if he’s killing family as he slays the wolves. He is injured in the fight but survives. The group finds Matthias’s cell, where he’s been drugged by a medic to sleep off his injuries.  

Kaz has paid Muzzen to take Matthias’s place in prison. He has Nina “tailor” Muzzen, magically altering his appearance. Nina makes Muzzen look like he has firepox, a disfiguring disease carried by wolves, so that he will be unrecognizable and put in quarantine for a month, buying time so the switch will go unnoticed. When Matthias awakes and recognizes Nina, he tries to strangle her. 


These chapters continue to develop the characters of Kaz and Inej, who both rely on performative violence to compensate for their vulnerabilities. As a woman of small stature with no family except the Dregs, Inej is particularly vulnerable in the violent world of the Barrel. Yet she understands the importance of asserting her own strength. When she fires Rojakke, her natural sympathy for him initially compels her to do it quietly. But when he loudly objects on the floor of the Crow Club, she realizes that she has an audience, at which point she strikes and humiliates him publicly. This display of violence is carefully calculated to develop her reputation as a person not to be trifled with. Likewise, Kaz covers his own vulnerabilities through displays of violence. Having grown up as an orphan on the streets of Ketterdam, he quickly learned to respond swiftly and viciously to any insult or challenge. Through excessive violence, he has cultivated a reputation that dissuades others from challenging him despite his limp, a highly visible disability that would otherwise make him an easy target.  

The scene at Hellshow further explores the theme of self-preservation through violence. Matthias’s battle with the wolves illustrates how violent means of self-preservation often conflict with one’s sense of identity. For the fiercely patriotic Matthias, wolves are sacred animals to be treated as compatriots and companions. To harm or kill a wolf is a violation of his Fjerdan values. Yet if he refuses to fight, the wolves will surely kill and devour him. Forced to choose, Matthias slays the wolves in brutal fashion, earning the praise and admiration of his fellow prisoners. As the first of many scenes that pit Matthias’s patriotism against necessity, this scene foreshadows the inner conflict that will dog Matthias throughout the novel. The ferocity of the wolves’ attacks against Matthias also foreshadows his eventual reckoning with the brutal injustice of the Fjerdan culture he holds so dear.  

These chapters also introduce the motif of tattoos, which are symbols of identity and allegiance. Like all the gangs in Ketterdam, the Dregs have a signature tattoo—the crow and cup—that identifies their members. Kaz has the crow and cup tattoo, symbolizing his allegiance to the Dregs, but he also has the mysterious R tattoo. Not even Inej, his closest confidant, knows what it stands for or what it means to Kaz. The meaning of the R will be revealed in later chapters, but for now it symbolizes that there is much we do not know about Kaz Brekker. Inej’s lack of tattoos symbolizes her uneasy association with Kaz, the Dregs, and other people in general. Although she is loyal to Kaz and has committed many crimes on behalf of the Dregs, her allegiance is not voluntary. She remains acutely aware of her indenture to Per Haskell, which obligates her to work for Kaz and the Dregs. Her refusal to be branded with the crow and cup shows that her true allegiances, whatever they may be, lie elsewhere. Inej also has a scar on her arm from a tattoo she had removed, which was from the Menagerie, the pleasure house where she was forced to work before Per Haskell bought her indenture. The grotesqueness of the scar symbolizes the trauma of Inej’s servitude in the Menagerie. Just as she tries unsuccessfully to hide the scar, her traumatic memories of the Menagerie remain a part of her identity that she can never truly escape.