* SPOILERS ALERT *
Because of the length of the story, the main plot is split between multiple books, so I will omit it here to avoid spoilers for future books. The main plots of the first book, however, are Oliver’s Rise and Fall, and the story of Steven White.
Oliver’s Rise: (Rise - Fall - Rise)
Oliver describes himself in favorable terms when talking about his and Eric’s time during the war. He speaks of them helping each other so they could get through the hardship of working as slaves in a factory. When he meets Violet he does not initially seem to take advantage of her, and gives the impression that he is not like the other men. When speaking of Gutters, he describes them as bad people, thus clarifying that he is the good guy. Subsequently, his choice to pay his workers a fair wage and get the blankets out to people for free or at a reasonable price gives the impression that he is a favorable character in the story.
As the story progresses, more is revealed about Oliver and his troubled past. When he kills Eric and his wife Ana in cold blood, it becomes clear that Oliver is not who we thought he was. Regardless of whether it was self-preservation or paranoia that drove him to it, it is a bad move and not the behavior of a hero. He is also not honest with anyone around him which adds another layer of distrust to his character.
Oliver becomes an anti-hero, but is he? His motivations are selfish, but he does good in the end which elevates his status. His ideas on how to help the poor and people of Riverlea are worthy of praise. With the limited amount of money trickling in from World United, he and Ben find a way to preserve the lives of others who are disadvantaged.
Oliver’s Fall: (Fall - Rise - Fall)
The reader quickly learns that Oliver was not a free man during the war. That was his Fall. He lost his freedom and was forced to do back-breaking work manufacturing ammunition.
In the first chapter, he is finally back on solid ground and feels free. That is his Rise. He knows he can get money and that is exactly what he needs to feel complete. He is capable of making his own decisions and choices which define the freedom he has. He uses his freedom to the fullest, indulging in it.
As the story progresses, Oliver struggles to maintain his freedom. Gutters ask him to do something. He needs to ask White for permission to stay in Covedale and do business. Eventually, as the reader learns of Oliver’s past, it becomes clear that he was never truly free. The money he sees as his ticket to freedom is also a prison. The past and the people he worked with before are holding him in chains and directing his life.
Conclusions about Oliver
Though Oliver seems like a good person in the beginning, we soon see that he is capable of evil. Despite this, he does not seem to be a bad person, deep down. We can see that there are far more amoral people in this world, and that his evil behavior can likely be attributed to other external factors such as bad parenting, allowing the reader to sympathize with the character.
Learning that he had never got his freedom back might also make the reader feel pity for Oliver in the end. He expresses his willingness to be a different man multiple times throughout the book, but he is being steered by people who are forcing him to remain a killer.
What about Steven White?
The story of Steven White is a perfect example of a tragic plot. We meet him when he is at the peak of his glory. He is the protector of Covedale and a respected man. His decisions carry a lot of weight and are final. He has dreams of bringing power to the city. The future seems bright as long as everything stays the same.
The arrival of Oliver in Covedale changes everything. Steven White is exposed. He is no longer a leader, but a puppet. His past decisions are coming back to haunt him. Slowly he loses everything including his daughter through his inaction and inability to stand up to those that control him. He is a failure as a leader and as a father.
When he decides to finally stand up, it’s too late. He treats Oliver as an enemy he must confront, but he is wrong. Oliver is the one who is trying to save his life. White’s actions lead to a deadly fate which could have been avoided, making White a tragic character in Sābanto.
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