Chapter 19: Matthias 

The ship finally arrives in Fjerda. On Kaz’s orders, Nina uses her Grisha powers to “tailor” Matthias, changing his appearance to prevent anyone at the Ice Court from recognizing him. Matthias resents being tailored but has no choice in the matter. As Nina works on him, the two of them have an awkward yet intimate conversation. Matthias feels uncomfortable being so close to Nina.  

The crew travels through the frigid landscape of Fjerda on foot for several days. Kaz explains the basics of the plan for the heist. They will smuggle themselves into the Ice Court disguised as prisoners and then escape their cells and meet up in the basement. Inej will climb to the roof through the incinerator shaft and throw down a rope for the others to follow. Once outside the prison, they will find Bo Yul-Bayur, get access to the glass bridge, steal clothes from the embassy, and cross the bridge with Bo Yul-Bayur before blowing it up so they can’t be followed back to their ship. The crew has many questions about the plan, but Kaz withholds much of his scheme as the others have come to expect. Matthias complains about the destruction the heist will wreak on the Ice Court and his people. Privately, he ponders ways he could sabotage the heist.  

The crew’s trek across Fjerda reminds Matthias of his past with Nina. The ship carrying him and Nina had capsized in a storm and he had been thrown overboard. He regained consciousness in icy waters, clinging to floating debris, with Nina yelling at him to wake up. Nina used her Grisha powers to warm Matthias’s body, allowing him to swim many miles to a desolate Fjerdan shore. Once on land, the two remained wary of each other but realized they needed each other to survive. After finding an abandoned whaling camp, they stayed there for the night, removing their wet clothes and huddling together to survive the cold. 

As the Dregs continue their trek through Fjerda, they come upon three Grisha who have been burned at the stake by drüskelle. One of the Grisha is still alive but badly burned. Jasper shoots the person to put them out of their misery. Nina is brought to tears by the scene and begins berating Matthias for the hateful ideology of the drüskelle. Matthias says that all Grisha are given a fair trial before being executed, but Nina points out that Grisha are never found innocent because their crime is their existence. Furious, Nina says she hopes that a Grisha army will one day wipe out Fjerda and punish Matthias for his crimes. Matthias replies that his own family has already been killed by a Grisha army who burned his entire village to the ground.  

Chapter 20: Nina 

Nina remains traumatized by the burned Grisha and furious with Matthias. She remembers the weeks they spent together after the shipwreck, traveling together across the desolate landscape back to civilization. They goaded each other often, but their antagonism slowly gave way to fondness. Once, Nina fell through the ice and was about to fall into a chasm, but Matthias grabbed her hand. In a moment of panic, she realized that he might let her go. But Matthias decided to save her. After that, they finally told each other their names.  

Back in the present, Matthias and Nina begin to argue as the group presses on. Nina accuses him of being a murderer. Matthias forces Nina to tell the whole group that she falsely accused him of being a slaver, which landed him in Hellgate. The group argues and Kaz tells Nina and Matthias that they need to make their peace.  

Suddenly, the earth begins to shake and the group realizes they are being attacked by a small group of Grisha drugged with jurda parem. They fight back, managing to defeat the Grisha with guns and explosives. After the skirmish, Nina recognizes one of Grisha, named Nestor. He is dying of a bullet wound, but he begs her for more jurda parem. After Nestor dies, Nina and Matthias stay behind to bury him while the rest of the group presses on. After seeing firsthand the powers that jurda parem endows the Grisha, Nina and Matthias agree together that Bo Yul-Bayur cannot leave the Ice Court alive.


These chapters juxtapose the conflicting perspectives of Mattias and Nina and reveal more about the shared history that explains their complicated feelings for each other. Although the two characters spend most of these chapters arguing, they both feel torn by the conflict between duty and love. In the present as well as in his flashbacks to the past, Matthias feels tortured by Nina’s presence. As a drüskelle, he feels duty-bound to hate Nina and condemn her powers as an abomination. Consequently, he loathes himself for allowing her to use her powers to warm his heart and help him survive the icy seas. Over the course of their journey, he begrudgingly admits that he enjoys her company, but he remains suspicious that she may be using her powers to manipulate his emotions. When she accuses him of being a slaver at the end of their journey, he views this betrayal as a confirmation of his fears and a vindication of his drüskelle prejudices against Grisha. In spite of this, he cannot deny that he still has feelings for Nina, and he wrestles mightily to reconcile his intense feelings of love and hate toward her. 

Although Nina desperately longs for Mattias’s forgiveness, she also struggles to reconcile her prejudices against the drüskelle with her feelings for Matthias. When the group encounters the burned corpses of the Grisha, she chastises herself for allowing Matthias’s charm to make her forget the atrocity of his crimes against her people. Matthias’s attempts to rationalize the persecution of Grisha only infuriate Nina more, confirming for her that he is undeserving of her love as well as the sacrifice that she has promised to obtain his pardon. Her hatred for Fjerda bubbles to the surface when she hopes out loud that a Grisha army will someday decimate Fjerda and hold Matthias accountable for his crimes. However, Matthias’s shocking revelation about his family illustrates that not all Grisha are the innocent victims that Nina portrays them to be. The slaughter of Matthias’s family by a Grisha army suggests that his hatred for Grisha is borne not only of nationalist prejudices, but of a deeply personal injury for which he seeks revenge.  

Although the fracture between Matthias and Nina seems irreparable, we can also surmise that they have both learned to understand each other’s perspective, suggesting that their love may yet counterbalance their mutual animosity. When the crew first encounters the Grisha, Matthias tries to protect Nina from seeing the carnage inflicted on her people, but he cannot. Although he tries to rationalize the persecution of the Grisha, he also acknowledges the brutal reality of the violence and death wrought by the hateful ideology of the drüskelle. And although the scene rekindles Nina’s rage toward Matthias, it also makes her reflect on his decision to save her life when he had the opportunity, proving his ability to rise above the drüskelle doctrine of hatred for Grisha.   

Ultimately, Matthias and Nina find common ground in their opposition to jurda parem, which they both agree must never be allowed to proliferate. Matthias’s opposition to the drug seems unsurprising given his belief that any form of Grisha power is unnatural. The earth-shaking power of the Grisha attackers makes the powers of unmedicated Grisha like Nina seem harmless by comparison. Nina’s opposition to the drug seems slightly more surprising, especially given her recently expressed wish for a Grisha army powerful enough to overrun Fjerda. Jurda parem would clearly amplify Grisha powers enough to make any Grisha army an unstoppable force—if not for the ravaging effects of the drug. When Nina witnesses the dying Nestor desperately begging for another hit of jurda parem, she recognizes that the drug’s addictive properties pose a threat to all Grisha. Although it might empower them momentarily, it would make Grisha even more vulnerable to anyone who might wish to exploit their power without any regard for their wellbeing. At the end of these chapters, as they bury the Grisha victims together, Matthias and Nina forge a new alliance, resolving to prevent further production of jurda parem by killing Bo Yul-Bayur, even if it means sabotaging the heist.