Kaz Brekker - “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

A Comprehensive Analysis of Literary Protagonists - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Kaz Brekker - “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker - Unveiling the Layers of a Complex Antihero in "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo

"Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo introduces readers to a dark and intricate world of crime, heists, and morally ambiguous characters. At the heart of this narrative is Kaz Brekker, a character who embodies the complexities of an antihero. Kaz's journey throughout the story is riddled with challenges, betrayals, and self-discovery, making him a fascinating subject for character analysis.

Identify the Character Type

Kaz Brekker is a dynamic character, experiencing significant development throughout the narrative. While his core motivations and personality remain consistent, the events he faces force him to confront his own vulnerabilities and reshape his understanding of trust, love, and morality.

Analyze the Character's Role in the Story

Kaz serves as the central character and leader of the Dregs, a group of skilled misfits tasked with executing an impossible heist. His role as the mastermind behind the operation establishes him as the protagonist, though his methods and moral ambiguity challenge traditional hero archetypes.

Examine the Character's Background

Kaz's background is marked by tragedy and hardship. Born into poverty, he faced the trauma of losing his family at a young age. His experiences as a member of the criminal underworld in the city of Ketterdam shaped his cunning and ruthless demeanor. The trauma of his past becomes a driving force behind his actions and decisions.

Analyze the Character's Personality Traits

Kaz Brekker is a multifaceted character with a blend of positive and negative traits. On one hand, he is exceptionally intelligent, strategic, and resourceful. On the other hand, he is cold, calculating, and often ruthless, willing to sacrifice others for the sake of his goals. His meticulous nature and aversion to physical touch due to a traumatic past contribute to his enigmatic persona.

Kaz's intelligence is evident in his ability to plan and execute complex heists. His strategic thinking allows him to stay several steps ahead of his adversaries, making him a formidable force in the criminal underworld. However, this intelligence is often coupled with a ruthless pragmatism that can lead to morally questionable decisions.

His aversion to physical touch, a result of his traumatic past, adds depth to his character. It is a vulnerability that contrasts with his otherwise tough exterior, emphasizing the internal struggles he faces.

Motivations and Goals

Kaz's primary motivation is rooted in a desire for power and control, driven by the trauma of his past. The death of his brother and the betrayal of those he trusted fueled his ambition to rise to the top of Ketterdam's criminal hierarchy. His overarching goal is to secure a position of influence, enabling him to control the city that once left him orphaned and broken.

His motivations also extend to seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. The heist at the center of the narrative is not just an opportunity for wealth; it's a means for Kaz to settle scores and establish dominance in a world that values strength and cunning.

Conflict and Challenges

Kaz faces a myriad of internal and external conflicts throughout the story. Externally, he contends with rival gangs, powerful adversaries, and the ever-present danger of the heist. Internally, he grapples with the trauma of his past, his inability to trust others, and the unexpected emotions that surface as he forms connections with the members of his crew.

One of the primary challenges he faces is reconciling his ruthless nature with the genuine connections he forms with others. The internal conflict between his desire for power and control and the emergence of empathy and camaraderie creates a compelling tension within the character.


Kaz's relationships are complex and play a pivotal role in his development. His dynamic with Inej, a skilled acrobat and member of his crew, adds a layer of emotional depth to his character. Despite his initial reluctance to trust, the bond that develops between them challenges Kaz's stoic facade, revealing a capacity for genuine connection.

His relationship with Jesper and Wylan, other members of the crew, showcases different facets of his leadership style. The balance between manipulation and camaraderie highlights Kaz's ability to inspire loyalty while maintaining a sense of authority.

The tension between Kaz and Nina, another member of the crew with conflicting loyalties, adds further complexity. These relationships force Kaz to confront his own vulnerabilities and question the emotional walls he has built around himself.

Symbolism and Archetypes

Kaz Brekker can be seen as an archetype of the antihero. He embodies qualities traditionally associated with villains, such as ruthlessness and a disregard for conventional morality. However, his traumatic past and the underlying motivations for his actions add nuance to his character, challenging traditional notions of heroism and villainy.

Symbolically, Kaz's cane becomes a representation of both his physical vulnerability and his cunning intellect. The cane, a result of a childhood injury, is both a weakness and a tool of empowerment. It serves as a reminder of his past while also symbolizing his adaptability and resourcefulness.

Character Arc

Kaz undergoes a significant character arc as he grapples with his past, navigates the challenges of the heist, and forms connections with his crew. One of the key turning points is his confrontation with Pekka Rollins, a powerful crime lord who represents Kaz's traumatic history. This confrontation forces Kaz to confront his fears and take a decisive step toward reclaiming control of his life.

Another crucial moment in Kaz's arc is the resolution of the heist. The success of the mission, coupled with the unexpected emotional toll it takes on him, marks a profound transformation. The journey not only reshapes his external circumstances but also challenges and redefines his internal landscape.

Language and Dialogue

Kaz's language is sharp, calculated, and reflects his strategic mindset. His dialogue is often characterized by a lack of sentimentality, emphasizing his pragmatic approach to the harsh realities of the world he inhabits. This language choice reinforces his role as a cunning and ruthless leader.

However, subtle shifts in his language occur during moments of vulnerability or emotional connection. The juxtaposition of his usual stoicism with moments of raw emotion adds depth to his character, highlighting the internal conflicts he grapples with.

Cultural and Historical Context

The cultural and historical context of Ketterdam, a city driven by commerce and crime, significantly influences Kaz's beliefs and actions. The cutthroat nature of the criminal underworld, shaped by a history of conflict and inequality, provides a backdrop against which Kaz's ambitions and methods are both contextualized and challenged.

The city's diverse population and complex power dynamics contribute to the intricacies of Kaz's relationships and interactions. The cultural and historical context serves as a crucible in which Kaz's character is forged, his choices influenced by the harsh realities of the world around him.

Critical Perspectives

Various critical perspectives can enrich the understanding of Kaz Brekker as a character. Some may view him through the lens of existentialism, exploring how his actions reflect a search for meaning and control in a seemingly indifferent world. Others may analyze Kaz's character in the context of trauma and resilience, delving into the psychological aspects of his development.

Considering the varied interpretations of Kaz's character can provide a more holistic understanding, acknowledging that his complexity invites diverse perspectives that contribute to the richness of the narrative.

Organize Your Analysis

To organize the analysis

, it is beneficial to follow the steps outlined above in a coherent structure. Begin with an introduction that sets the stage for discussing Kaz Brekker, then progress through each aspect of the character analysis, providing evidence and examples from the text to support each point.

Organizing the analysis in a chronological or thematic order can help create a logical flow, allowing readers to follow the progression of Kaz's character development and the impact on the overall narrative.

Provide Evidence

Throughout the analysis, it is crucial to support observations and interpretations with direct quotes or scenes from the text. These pieces of evidence serve as anchors for the analysis, grounding the discussion in the source material and validating the claims made about Kaz Brekker's traits, motivations, and actions.


In conclusion, Kaz Brekker emerges as a complex and captivating character in Leigh Bardugo's "Six of Crows." His journey from a hardened, enigmatic leader to a person grappling with vulnerability and unexpected connections adds depth to the narrative. Through an exploration of his background, personality traits, relationships, and symbolic elements, it becomes evident that Kaz Brekker defies traditional character archetypes, embodying the essence of an antihero. The cultural and historical context of Ketterdam further enriches the understanding of Kaz's choices and motivations. As readers delve into the layers of Kaz Brekker, they encounter a character who challenges preconceived notions of morality, resilience, and the pursuit of power.