Hello readers! I wanted to write this post ever since I read Pages Unbound’s post on “when true love doesn’t conquer all in YA” which made me write a big comment expressing “why I didn’t like Mal in the Grisha trilogy”.
I recommend you read Krysta’s post first as her post inspired me to write my own post with my thoughts. In her post, Krysta fantastically writes how Mal and Alina’s relationship in the Grisha trilogy was very realistic, how it wasn’t all lovey-dovey and didn’t have the usual ‘love conquers all’ philosophy. While I agreed to most of the things Krysta said, I commented (and I still think) ‘no matter how realistic the portrayal of the relationship was, I wouldn’t like Mal’.
Now, that I have read all books in Grishaverse, I can see I liked every main character in each series except Mal in the Grisha trilogy.
So here are my reasons “Why I didn’t like Mal in the Grisha Trilogy”
(There might be spoilers so if you still haven’t read Grisha trilogy and plan to read, return to this post when you have read the series)
My first thought about Mal was, insufferable, egoistic, and selfish. Yes, I wasn’t surprised he was related to Darkling! Give him Darkling’s power and let’s see how it turns out. I wouldn’t say he was all bad but at the same time I wouldn’t say he was all good, a hero with a pure heart, sacrificing everything for the person he loves. Okay, he did just that at the end of the trilogy but until then he made many mistakes and what made me dislike him the most was his actions, reactions, and expectations.
Mal’s hesitation and insecurity are well-founded. Social class differences and Alina’s steady rise in position among Grishas and Ravka court is no small thing for both Mal and Alina who came from nothing, who didn’t know the shine and comfort of the court, nor they knew anything about power play until they got quite tangled in Ravka politics and Darkling’s scheme. It’s not easy to see the person you love rise and enjoy the position. Sooner or later it, of course, was going to affect the relationship and Mal wasn’t wrong feeling insecure and also jealous. Very few men can handle their ego and seeing their lovers keep rising the power ladder. I wouldn’t say he was wrong feeling the same but where he was wrong he reacted and behaved.
Let’s start with the first book- I hated it when he kept frolicking with other girls before Alina got her powers. He literally ignored Alina, and flirted with others in her presence thinking ‘we are just friends, there is nothing between us, Alina is there to stay no matter what’. As soon as Alina got her power and starts walking on her own path, he suddenly found he loved her! okay, maybe I’m being harsh and it wasn’t sudden and he realized his feelings when he was on the mission, all alone, when Alina wasn’t around all the time, her realized what he was missing and why.
When he returns and finally gets a chance to meet her, he didn’t approach her, yes maybe because what he witnessed freaked him out but when Alina approached him and tried to talk to him, how he reacts? Like a jealous prick, he accuses her of enjoying her Grisha power and Darkling’s company, not responding to his letters, when Alina said she never received his letters and he also didn’t reply her letters he just ignores her like she was lying. He couldn’t handle her power and popularity and his reaction was terrible. It proved he just thought about himself and not Alina. He didn’t care to ask her if she is fine and if she is okay with this new power… not as a friend, not as a courtesy, not as thanks for saving his life on the ship.
He just assumed she was good and enjoying everything because she looked good and felt powerful and not just that but he made her feel bad about it, never thinking he truly was making her feel alone when she thought he is the only family she ever had.
In the second book, he tells her to go off the grid not to return Ravka (until they were forced to), and never use her power even though he knew using powers made her healthy. So he loved her, her safety was important to him but not her health! He was okay if she felt ill and looked grey for not using her power but was attracted to Zoya who looked radiant for being a powerful Grisha! Why should she leave her magic and position when she could make difference in Ravka, when she was given a chance and why for him?
Alina never showed she was above him nor gave any reason to make him feel she would lose interest in him. Sure, Alina and Darkling’s relationships were complicated, Alina and Nikolai were getting close but why wouldn’t they, both powerful men were offering the world to her and Alina was just human, it was natural she felt attracted to them when Mal was hell-bent on ignoring her, pushing her away making himself look all noble saying he is giving her chance to have everything in life and wouldn’t want to get in a way!! He didn’t want to know why she felt off or what is happening to her but instead, he again assumes things and goes on and kissed Zoya! Who does that!!
On the one hand, he claims to love her. On the other hand, he ignores, pushes her away and humiliates her by kissing Zoya in front of everyone and then making it look like it was because of Alina, ugh!!
And now that I have finished all books in this series I feel Mal and Alian’s relationship survived everything because they both lost their power. If Alina still had her power, I very much doubt they would have had their happily ever after, so that says a lot about Mal.
Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,
What do you think about this post?
Did you like Mal? Do you agree with my reasons? Why and why not?
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