Malyen Oretsev Hate: A Measured Response (I won’t even mention The Darkling).
I tend to get a lot of posts popping upon my dash that really lay on thick the hate for Mal. Which has always baffled me. The complaints that I keep seeing are that he’s a dick, or emotionally abusive, or a dick, or not emotionally abusive enough, or a dick, and that time he was kind of a dick.
But here’s the thing:
What Grishaverse male isn’t a dick?
But other than that. Seriously. It’s like everyone else got this free pass. Kaz Brekker uses an incredible amount of leverage to get Inej into many dangerous positions, because don’t forget; Inej’s primary motivation is paying off her debt and seeking justice, not pleasing Kaz. Also Kaz goes into an unholy rage and rips out a guy’s eyeball over him harming Inej. None of this I have any issue with, but Kaz can be a massive dick to Inej. But he gets away with it because he’s charming and has a tragic backstory. Once again, I love Kaz, love Mal, ship Kaz and Inej, ship Malina. We’re introduced to Matthias through his nightmares of strangling Nina, but Nina’s charm tends to smooth over that rough patch and their ship is viewed pretty favorably.
I sincerely think this is how much charisma tides people over. Nikolai was pretty shitty about manipulating Alina, once again, all for rational reasons that I don’t hate him over, and he also gets total support from the fandom. Sure, he’s fun. Kaz Brekker is brutal but at least he’s honest about it. And funny. And charming. But Mal and Alina have fun. Mal just isn’t flashy. He’s honest and straightforward. He doesn’t like all these complications seperating him from the simple life he once knew. And yes, he is a dick about it. But he is self-sacrificing, self-deprecating, physically fights his battles in a world of silver-tongued politicians, and solid. At least he grows to be. It took three books to get there, and I am satisfied with how much he had grown. Mal and Alina aren’t about masks and pretenses and power manipulation. Mal and Alina are about how two people who love each other don’t need epic stories and empires; they have enough magic in the ordinary and beautiful just between them. That’s the ending that really spoke to me. Their quiet, happy life was all that Alina needed.
So in conclusion: You don’t hate Mal because he’s a dick, you hate him because he’s not a flamboyant, charming dick.