Characters: Chronicles of the Kencyrath
This is a page on the tropes for each major character in P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series. It doubtless contains some spoilers, so be warned.Currently a work in progress, I'll be moving the less important character tropes to here where there's less worry on overdosing the main page.
KencyrThe Kencyr peoples have been fighting the Big Bad, Perimal Darkling, for 30,000 years of endless war and a very long string of defeats and withdrawals. They turned up on their current world, Rathillien, after the loss of two-thirds of their people, much of their knowledge, and their ancient artifacts of power. That was three thousand years ago, and things have been pretty much quiet since, especially away from the magical Barrier that holds the chaotic forces mostly at bay. Such long peace, even for the long-lived Kencyr, has left them divided and forgetting that their ancient enemy still lurks. Their warriors are now used mostly as mercenary soldiers, working in the employ of human rulers and fighting in their wars, the coin they earn a vital part of survival for a small people living in an impoverished land.The catlike, telepathic Arrin-ken, the judges of Kencyr society, have withdrawn, their numbers severely depleted, to the mountains and isolation.The Highborn people are greatly diminished in numbers as well, though the nine Major Houses still survive, some better than others; the legacy of ancient breeding programs for Shanir (god-touched, magical) powers has left their fertility poor, their women prone to death in childbirth, and the bloodlines of many Houses filled with nasty genetic traits for illness or madness.The stolid Kendar people are cursed with the need to have a Highborn master, and are thus abused cruelly by many, even though their efforts, and their swords, keep the Kencyrath alive.
KnorthThe house of Knorth has primacy over the others; its Lord is also Highlord of the entire Kencyrath, making them the effective royal house of the Kencyr. They're certainly Royally Screwed Up. There are only three full-blooded Knorth Highborn left, which makes it the least populous House. Only one is female ?
JameJame is the twin sister of Torisen, Highlord of the Kencyrath, and is the only full-blooded Knorth female. They're both the children of Ganth, the exiled last Highlord, and Jamethiel Dream-Weaver, consort of the arch-traitor Gerridon. Gerridon's plans involved training Jame to be the replacement for the aging Dream-Weaver, but Jame proved less than tractable. The story starts just after Jame's escape from him, with her memory of recent years gone.
- A-Cup Angst — a fact that Jame bemoans frequently. She's so flat that she gets mistaken for a boy all the time, and her master in the Thieves' Guild wasn't convinced otherwise by her stripping naked to the waist in front of him.
- Action Girl — Jame is seriously badass and has a bias towards action, toward doing things rather than holding back, to meeting challenges head-on.
- Anti-Hero — of the type II "Disney Anti Hero" type, mostly. Jame has an intensely strong sense of right and honor. On the other hand, she can be shockingly cold and careless of others at times, and very self-centered; furthermore, she constantly knows how easy it would be to Fall, to give into the temptations of the Darkness that raised her, to do evil things without restraint.
- Arranged Marriage — to Gerridon, or so he plans, and very creepily. Instead of joining him in the marriage bed, she cuts his hand off, steals the Book Bound in Pale Leather, sets fire to his house, and flees back to the outside world. He tries again, but she's rescued. While incest is common among the Kencyr Highborn, that Gerridon is Jame's uncle adds some extra creepiness.
- Asexuality — for the first three books.
- Author Avatar — in a way. Hodgell has described Jame as her 'alter ego' several times, including in the 'About The Author' paragraph in God Stalk. However, Jame is quite different from Hodgell herself; in many ways, she is the dark mirror to her, the Hyde to her Jekyll, the Shadow Archetype. In fact, at first, Hodgell couldn't write from Jame's point-of-view at all, and had to create other viewpoint characters for the short stories Child of Darkness and Stranger Blood, observing her from outside. In the hands of a lesser writer, Jame could have been such a Canon Sue, the cool, scary person the author wished she could be herself.
- Berserk Button — don't question Jame's honor or stand in its way, and don't threaten her friends and especially those she feels responsible for.
- Bifauxnen — always being mistaken for a boy, and Even the Girls Want Her.
- Blessed with Suck — Shanir (magical) abilities got her cast out of her home at age seven, she could accidentally reap others' souls, and she has to stop others from contact with her blood lest they be bound to her mind, body and soul until death and perhaps beyond.
- Bond Creature — At least two, possibly three, by the end of Bound In Blood:
- Jorin, the blind ounce; bond established in Godstalk
- Death's Head, the rathorn colt; blood bond, established in To Ride A Rathorn
- (possible): the Darkling wyrm. If (it's a big "if") there is a bond, it's a blood bond and is established in Bound In Blood
- Cat Girl — while she has neither ears nor tail, Jame has retractile claws as well as her race's amazing night-sight. She also has the balance and daring of a cat, making light of running across rooftops, standing on the backs of kitchen chairs, crossing tightropes, and much else.
- Compelling Voice — Jame develops the ability to command even the powerful, if sufficiently angered.
- Conspicuous Gloves — Jame has retractable claws instead of nails, and always wears slitted gloves to hide the claws while making them available without shredding the gloves again.
- Cute Bruiser — Small, slim, and frequently covered in debris from the fights.
- Dark and Troubled Past — Ax-Crazy father, exile at age seven, being raised by the Big Bad.
- Dark Is Not Evil
- Ensign Newbie — in To Ride a Rathorn. Despite being the randon (officer) cadet with probably the least military knowledge in the whole school, she's appointed Master Ten of her house's cadets (approx 90 cadets) due to her social rank (she's the sister of the High Lord), and has absolutely no idea what to do.
- Extraordinarily Empowered Girl — Jame never remembers to eat, and is skinny as a rail with ribs showing. Justified in that the mutant vegetables she had to eat growing up would put anyone off food.
- Forgets to Eat — Jame rarely remembers to eat or pack food. Growing up in the Haunted Lands with only haunted vegetables to eat did the damage. Rue tries her best to keep Jame eating.
- Forceful Kiss — receives them from both Dally and Bane in God Stalk, and more disturbingly there's a flashback in To Ride a Rathorn of her father kissing her like that when she was seven years old.
- Hard Head
- The Heroine — of course.
- I Have Many Names — Jame is given so many names. Her real name is Jamethiel, but that's an ill-fated name to give anyone because of the infamy of its last bearer, so she's Jame — but many people try and back-form the nickname to Jameth, since it's the only name in her culture except for the bad one that would have that abbreviation. She is called Talisman in the thieves' guild, the B'Tyrr (which also means Talisman) as a tavern dancer, and Jamie by her old tutor. Her epithets include Priest's Bane and Lordan of Ivory.
- I Just Want to Be Normal — Jame is very ashamed and shy about her claws — understandable since they (as incontrovertible evidence of her Shanir weirdness) were what got her thrown out by her father at age 7. Her brother Tori, meanwhile, is trying very, very hard not to have to admit to himself that he has most of the same Shanir weirdnesses and more — just no claws. He wants to be normal so badly, but it's not going to happen.
- In To Ride a Rathorn though, she starts to accept her claws at Tentir, thanks to a combination of kendar practicality regarding weapons and her new teacher, Bear.
- Last of Her Kind — the last pure-blooded female of the Knorth house.
- Modest Royalty — in fact, she's quite frequently in little more than rags. The Knorth are very, very poor, for one thing, but also Jame is bad at taking care of herself. Rue spends a lot of time trying to get Jame to dress and look better, for the sake of the pride of the Knorth cadets.
- Monumental Theft
- No Periods, Period — Though it is possible that she simply haven't started menstruating yet. Or the Highborn have weird biology.
- Person of Mass Destruction
- Power Trio — the Id portion, basically; Destruction
- Rags to Royalty — Jame has no real idea, at first, of how highly born she is. She thinks she's the ragtag, outcast daughter of some minor Lord. She realizes it in pieces during the first two books. The role doesn't fit well.
- Rapunzel Hair — she normally keeps it under a cap, but without that it's "well below her waist", heavy, and "like a rain of blue-shot silk". A bit of Compressed Hair, too, unless those caps are big. The hair partially justifies the fact that a Tap on the Head rarely results in more than temporary unconsciousness.
- In the fourth and fifth books, Jame is pressured to cut it, but she refuses because she considers it her "only good feature".
- Rebellious Princess — Jame is the Highlord's sister, and fits poorly into the role expected. However, this is more of a side-effect of Rags to Royalty; the role chafes, even though she tries to make it work.
- Roof Hopping
- Royal Blood — Jame's father, having renounced his titles, never told Jame that she was of the Kencyr "royal" house, the Knorth, so she was quite surprised to find this out.
- Scars Are Forever — Jame's left cheek is permanently scarred after Seeker's Mask.
- Screaming Warrior — Jame uses the Knorth battle-cry, a rathorn's scream, frequently as she leaps into the fray.
- Slasher Smile — a sign of Jame's darkest side. Pat says, "In a way, everything about Jame grew out of that chilling smile."
- Superpowered Evil Side — to an extent, with some overlap with Dangerous Forbidden Technique when it comes to the Senetha
- There Was a Door — Jame has a preference for non-traditional ways of getting around, encouraged by her time in the Thieves' Guild in Tai-tastigon and her time with the Cloudies. Lampshaded by Sheth Sharp-Tongue, Commandant of Tentir: "Most people use the door."Jame:"Where there's a window, there's always a way."
- Time Dilation Field — Time passes more slowly in the Master's House, where Jame was raised between age seven and seventeen. Ten years spent there has twenty passed in the outside world, and thus Jame is physically twenty or so by now while her twin brother is about thirty.
- True Love's Kiss — with her brother Torisen in the latter third of To Ride a Rathorn, before his issues make him freak out and run away. Damn, but that was intense.
- The Vamp — what Jame is capable of becoming if she gave in to her dark side; a seductress who can arouse the lusts of men (and women) to feed from, prior to sucking their souls out of their bodies.
- Willfully Weak — in God Stalk, she deliberately shifts her knife to her left hand when Scramp challenges her, wanting to give him a chance.
- Will Not Tell a Lie
- Walking Disaster Area
TorisenTorisen is Jame's twin brother. He ran away from their crazy father at about age fifteen and was taken in by Parental Substitute Lord Ardeth, who passed him off as one of Ardeth's many sons for Tori's protection. He spent most of his young life with the Southern Host, the large Kencyr mercenary force employed by King Krothen of Kothifir far to the south, safe from the prying eyes of those who might guess who he was. Captured in the debacle of the Battle of Urakarn, he was tortured extensively and still bears many scars on his hands from it.He subsequently rose through the ranks to command the Host, and retains a lot of respect from military men. At his legal majority at 27 he declared his true identity and became Highlord. When we first meet him he's been in the position for three years and is still uncertain in it; many Lords don't respect him.
- Asexuality — although Torisen has an official consort, sex has apparently been not a pleasant experience for him and he shows very little interest, until he starts thinking about his sister in book four.
- Blessed with Suck — Torisen has the blood-binding ability, which although it saves his life is overall a pretty awful thing to have.
- I Just Want to Be Normal — Torisen's absolute denial that he might have the hated Shanir abilities, a fear of which was placed in him by his father
- In the Blood — Torisen is terrified of inheriting the Knorth madness, to which both his father and grandfather succumbed.
- Modest Royalty — Torisen eschews pomp and circumstance most of the time, and prefers to wear plain black clothes just like his sister does; the black, in fact, becomes something of a trademark to the degree that he's not recognized at one point when he wears a red shirt. Burr, his manservant, tries to get Torisen to dress the part more often and occasionally succeeds.
- Only the Worthy May Pass — the Kenthiar is a silver collar which, legend has it, only the true Highlord can wear. If it doesn't like you, it decapitates you. Torisen's willingness to put it on is a good part of why he's accepted as Highlord despite having little proof otherwise of his claim.
- Power Trio — the Ego, Creation
- Rightful King Returns — in Torisen's backstory; he's definitely a bit of an Aragorn figure. Twenty or so years after his father renounced his titles and went into exile, Torisen arrived among his people, but passed as a relative of Lord Ardeth until he reached his majority at age twenty-seven, when he declared himself and took up his hereditary position. He's been Highlord for about three years or so when we first meet him.
- Ring of Power — Ganth's ring, required to make the Knorth heirloom sword, Kin-Slayer, do its magic (always striking true in battle and cutting effortlessly through opponents)
- Royals Who Actually Do Something — the Knorth are very few in number, both Highborn and Kendar, and being Lord Knorth involves leading in battle and helping with the harvest.
- Scars Are Forever — Torisen's hands are covered with a fine tracery of scars left by Karnid torturers after he was captured at Urakarn (see Brier, below). Apparently they placed his hands in gloves of red-hot wire.
- True Love's Kiss — with his sister in Mother Ragga's house in To Ride a Rathorn, but the emotions and his issues (his fear of and jealousy of Jame, among others) get in the way, and he runs away.
- Twincest — hinted at, so far.
Kindrie (Jame and Torisen's double first cousin)
- Asexuality — Kindrie is so far completely asexual and Word of God says this continues.
- Healing Hands — Shanir healing is done by repairing damage in the person's soul image, which magically corresponds with their physical body and mind. This generally requires physical as well as psychic touch. Kindrie is phenomenally good at it; it's mentioned that at one point he nearly brought a sheepskin coat back to life.
- Heroic Bastard — well, everyone thinks he's an illegitimate child, which is a big deal in Highborn Kencyr society.
- Parental Abandonment — although since Kindrie's father is Gerridon, the Big Bad, this is probably preferable. Kindrie's mother died bearing him.
- Power Trio — the Superego, Preservation
- The Medic — as a healing Shanir, this is generally the reason Kindrie is brought along.
- Mysterious Parent — nobody knows who Kindrie's father was, although the astute reader can work it out way before Jame finds the proof in Bound In Blood. He takes the news remarkably well, considering.
- Mystical White Hair — Kindrie has the white hair of many powerful Shanir.
BaneBane is Jame and Tori's half-brother by Ganth's Kendar mistress, who escaped the Keep with Ishtier and became Abbotir's wife in Tai-tastigon. Abbotir is the Lord of the Jewel Court, one of the four top officials of the Thieves' Guild under the Sirdan.
- And I Must Scream / Fate Worse Than Death — as a combination of being blood-bound to Jame and giving his soul to Ishtier, being flayed alive on the Mercy Seat wasn't enough to kill him. For most of Seeker's Mask, his spirit was still following Jame around.
- Forceful Kiss — of Jame, just before he makes his Last Stand.
- Last Stand — against the mob wanting him dead for the death of Dally, whose murder was set up to look like Bane's work.
- Psycho for Hire
- Shadow Archetype — to Jame
- The Soulless — having entrusted his soul to Ishtier.
- The Unfettered — since his soul cannot be affected by his actions, he considers himself free of the demands of Kencyr honor.
Marc (Jame's companion in books 1 and 2)Marc (Marcarn) is a giant Kendar in late middle age, still strong enough to fight but definitely getting on a bit in years to continue with that as a career. He's the only survivor of Kithorn, which was wiped out by Merikit tribesmen while he was out hunting. His revenge was long and bloody, killing one tribesman for every Kencyr they slaughtered.After that, as a homeless Kendar, he took service with several different Kencyr lords, none of whom took him permanently into their House, but all of whom hired him out as a mercenary to earn them money with his giant war-axe. His last Lord cast him and several other elderly Kendar out for speaking out; only Marc survived to make it to Tai-tastigon, where Jame ran into him (literally).He becomes Jame's companion throughout the rest of God Stalk and all the way through Dark of the Moon, in which he serves as her foil (the pairing is a deliberate Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser homage) as well as The Conscience. On the surface, they're a Brains and Brawn pairing, though subverted in that he's actually clever and she's actually tough. In fact, Marc never did want to be a warrior; it was just the role that fate placed him into. As a Gentle Giant, he'd rather scare people off than actually have to fight them, and indeed feigns berserker fits to that end.Marc wants to retire from soldiering to be the craftsman he always wanted to be, and Torisen gives him the job of reconstructing the big stained-glass window depicting a map of Rathillien in the Great Hall of Gothregor that Jame destroyed while fighting the Shadow Guild assassins.
- The Big Guy
- Gentle Giant — though he pretends to suffer from Unstoppable Rage to scare enemies off
- Older Sidekick
Brier Iron-thorn (Jame's Five-commander at Tentir, her second-in-command)Brier Iron-thorn is a Knorth randon (officer) cadet who is an experienced soldier. She becomes Jame's second-in-command in her ten-command at Tentir. She becomes a harder, tougher Conscience for Jame, taking over that role from Marc. She gives the splash of cold water to take the edge off Jame's rashness, and is unsympathetic enough to Jame's moments of Wangst to make her snap out of them.She's The Big Girl, as well — as big as many male Kendar, and an excellent, real-world fighter. As much as a Kencyr can be, she's a Combat Pragmatist; results are what matters, and while the rules of honor must be obeyed, she won't feel bound by the merely traditional. She bests Jame in single combat in To Ride a Rathorn, but is disqualified for using Kothifir street-fighting techniques to do so. The encounter scares both of them a bit — Jame because she's not used to fighting someone so simultaneously strong, fast and skilled, and Brier because, used to sparring with stout Kendar, she thinks she could have killed the smaller, gracile Highborn girl.Born in Kothifir and raised among the Southern Host by her randon officer mother, Brier is shockingly dark "like polished wood" among the normally pale-skinned Kencyr, with "sullen red" hair, making her a Dark-Skinned Redhead. She's handsome in a physically impressive kind of way.Brier was raised as a Caineron, but the abuses of the current Lord Caineron, Caldane, and his sons broke her loyalty. Idiot ambition by Caldane's son Genjar caused the military debacle at Uracarn in which her mother was captured alongside Torisen; she died during their escape. Caldane's demand for sexual submission as his price for attending the randon school broke the loyalty, and Brier swore to Torisen after the Battle of the Cataracts. The Caineron consider her a Turncoat and traitor.
Burr (Torisen's manservant)
- The Jeeves — trying to be the practical foil to Torisen's forgetting to look after himself (very similar to the relationship between Jame and Rue)
- The Mole — Burr is assigned to Torisen as his manservant by Lord Ardeth, but his secret mission is to report on Torisen to his master. Stops when Torisen declares himself and Burr swears to him.
- Turncoat — breaks with his former master, Lord Ardeth, when Torisen announces his identity and birthright, and is the first to swear to Torisen.
Niall (cadet in Jame's ten-command)
- Shell-Shocked Veteran — Niall stowed away in a supply wagon to fight in the Battle of the Cataracts even though he was too young to go, and now has constant nightmares about his experiences, including fits of screaming so loud they wake the whole barracks. It's a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when Jame, comforting him, tells him that both she and Brier were there as well, she too has nightmares from it, and she doesn't think him a coward for it.
Min-drear (A minor house, allied with the Knorth)
- The Heart — prone to expressing her emotions and feelings about what should be done.
- Important Haircut — Rue hacked off her hair to leave behind with her Lord, to be burnt in place of her body should she die far from home.
- The Jeeves — at least, this is what she wants to be for Jame; she appoints herself as Jame's personal servant or valet, a role which Jame is desperately in need of, since she's quite poor at looking after herself outside of combat. Rue tries to get Jame to dress better, to eat better, and remember practical considerations in general, and is fanatically loyal to Jame.
- The Chick — although Rue is tough and scrappy, she ends up being The Chick in Jame's ten-command, partly through being The Heart, being the shortest (shorter even than Jame, although stockier), and being the most domestic.
Caldane, Lord Caineron
- Large Ham — although unaware of how ridiculous and bombastic he can be.
- Mind Rape — accompanied by real rape, for that matter.
- Parental Favoritism — he treats most of his children as more or less useful tools, but is openly contemptuous of Nusair and adored Genjar to the point where he keeps his death banner in a shrine in his quarters.
- The Caligula — in oh so many ways. Not quite, in his prime, quite that crazy, but he's getting there.
- Villainous Glutton — physically and metaphorically; Caldane lives for excess.
- Revenge — at one point, he claims to have engineered Ganth's exile in revenge for his father's death in the White Hills. He also wants Tori dead for his part in the death of Genjar, the only one of Caldane's offspring that he actually cared about.
- Smug Snake — he thinks he's an evil mastermind. Jame thinks he's an idiot, albeit a very dangerous one.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? — or rather, heights. Caldane is terrified of heights, so he reacts very badly when Jame slips him what proves to be a levitation potion.
Kallystine (Caldane's older daughter)
- Bullying a Dragon — her treatment of Jame. She didn't have any idea how dangerous Jame herself was, but she knew that she was the Highlord's sister. It still didn't occur to her that mistreating Jame might have even political repercussions.
- Vain Sorceress — she clearly wants to be this, as she dabbles in magic and hopes to use it to enhance her looks. However, she isn't very good at it.
- The Vamp — Kallystine uses her beauty and feminine wiles to get what she wants, and she's as lacking in morals as her father.
- Smug Snake — like her father, Kallystine is not nearly as smart or competent as she thinks she is.
Lyra (Caldane's youngest daughter)Lyra "Lack-wit" is the youngest daughter of Lord Caineron and the attendant of the Caineron Matriarch. She's The Ditz and the The Klutz, harmless but useless — or is it Obfuscating Stupidity? Caldane fobs her off to Prince Odalian of Karkinor, a non-Kencyr ally, in Arranged Marriage. She's lonely and unhappy in a foreign land (taking out that unhappiness on her personal Butt Monkey, Graykin), but seems to have some affection for the Prince.And then Jame shows up and changes Lyra's life forever. She's never known anyone like this, a Highborn lady yet free as a boy, an Action Girl adventurer. Odalian dies, leaving Lyra a widow, and she escapes the collapsing palace with Jame, Marc and Jorin. She becomes Jame's Hero-Worshipper, in awe, and begins to develop and grow up out of her Royal Bratness through her desire to follow in Jame's footsteps. She adopts Jame as her awesome big sister, the "sister of her choice".A notorious Sweet Tooth, as shown in To Ride a Rathorn, where "all my favorite foods" are sweets.
Donkerri (Caldane's teenaged grandson)
- Honor Before Reason - After telling a lie (for an excellent reason), he ride into battle against the Waster Horde, knowing that only an honorable death will redeem his honor.
- Maternal Death? Blame the Child - At a societal level. Because Donkerri's mother died in childbirth, he and his father Nusair are both blacklisted for reproductive contracts. As a result, Caldane considers them both useless.
Rawneth, Randir Matriarch
- Ambition Is Evil — Rawneth's ambition is her defining characteristic. In her earliest chronological appearance, she wants to blood-bind the Knorth heir Greshan Greed-heart to her, or failing that to marry him. Since then, she's hired assassins to kill her kinsman Randiroc, almost certainly ordered the massacre of the Knorth ladies, and engaged in Black Magic to advance her interests. It's paid off, too: as Randir Matriarch, mother and close ally of Lord Randir, a powerful sorceress, and the patroness of the Priests' College, she's currently the most powerful woman in the Kencyrath.
- The Chessmaster
- The Exile: Kinzi exiled her from the Women's World for trying to blood-bind Greshan. It hasn't prevented her from becoming the Randir Matriarch, but she still seems to be banished from Gothregor, as she is the one member of the Council of Matriarchs who never visits that keep.
- Evil Sorceress — complete with Deal with the Devil, Evil Tower of Ominousness and everything.
- Human Mom, Non-Human Dad — Played straight with the son of Rawneth and the changer Keral, Kenan.
- Mind Control — Rawneth takes over the bodies of her followers on a regular basis to look through their eyes or speak with their mouths; too much of this, though, and it kills the follower. That part doesn't bother her, though.
- Mother Makes You King — She had Randiroc exiled and her own son Kenan installed as Lord Randir.
- Arrow Catch — as demonstrated in To Ride a Rathorn; Randiroc is a Shanir weapons-master and one of the best living practitioners of the Senethar, the Kencyr martial arts. He's in fact considered one of the few that better Jame in that.
- Inadequate Inheritor — Rawneth managed to disinherit Randiroc in favor of her son Kenan partly by convincing everyone that Randiroc was too strange, too Shanir. The assassins she set on his trail didn't hurt, either.
- Our Vampires Are Different — Randiroc picked up a particularly Blessed with Suck version of Shanir powers, involving slowly becoming only able to consume blood, milk and honey (and honey hurts his teeth), being intolerant of sunlight, and being followed around by a cloud of Jewel-jaws (carrion-eating butterflies) as his familiars.
Nightshade (aka Shade)
- Body Double — takes Randiroc's form to draw attention away from him during an assassination attempt. This is what finally convinces his loyalists among the Randir cadets that she's actually on their side.
- Bond Creature — her gilded swamp adder, Addy.
- Defeat Means Friendship — the relationship between Jame and Shade is made closer by Jame's defeat of her and then Jame's efforts to protect her and keep her at Tentir.
- Heel-Face Turn — after meeting Randiroc, she switches loyalties from her father and grandmother to him.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting — during the last part of her training at Tentir, she discovers that she is a darkling changer.
- You Killed My Mother — Simmon's mother, a Randir randon captain, gave her soul to her Mistress, Rawneth, to form a demon to kill Kindrie and Jame. Bane killed the demon, also ending the soul donor's life; as normal, Jame gets blamed.
- Berserk Button — oh my does Brenwyr have these. Bringing up Aerulan, her deceased lover, seems to be a pretty reliable one here. Jame appears to be a Berserk Button for Brenwyr in general.
- Brother-Sister Team — she and her brother Brant are closer allies than any other Lord and Matriarch that we see, except possibly Rawneth and Kenan.
- Crossdresser — Brenwyr used to wear her brother Brant's clothes growing up, much to her mother's distress, and still wears mannish clothes for a Highborn woman.
- Psycho Lesbian — although her iron control, as described by her epithet "Iron Matriarch", has kept it just in check. The death of her sister-kin and lover Aerulan, and Brenwyr's blaming herself for it, has left her very broken at the core of her being, and Jame, being Aerulan's close relative and in some ways very similar to Aerulan yet also very similar to Brenwyr, appears to taunt Brenwyr into a jealous rage.
- Self-Made Orphan — Brenwyr killed her own mother with a curse.
- Words Can Break My Bones — Brenwyr has the ability to curse and kill with words, which is rather dangerous when combined with the Psycho Lesbian part.
- Power Incontinence — Brenwyr can usually control if she curses someone, but not what the curse will be. She loses much of her control around Jame, who both reminds her of her lost lover Aerulan and infuriates her simply by being a Knorth woman alive when Aerulan is dead.
JaranThe Jaran house sponsors the Scrollsmen's and Singers' College at Mount Alban, and consists in large part of a bunch of crazy academics. Alone of the major Houses, the Jaran do not force their Highborn women to enter the Women's Halls at Gothregor; instead, they can pursue academic careers.
KirienThe Jaran lordan (heir).
- Ain't No Rule — There is no rule that prevents a woman from being heir or lord of a Kencyr house. Kirien and her family did some research and found that, while it's become traditional for men to rule after the Fall, this was never codified into law—so Kirien could be made lordan of her house.
- Bifauxnen — like Jame, Kirien is mistaken for a boy a lot: "that cropped hair and profile might as easily belong to a handsome boy."
- Bookworm — while she waits to inherit, she continues her studies at Mount Alban, as a scrollswoman.
- You Never Asked — She doesn't claim to be a boy—people just assume she is because of her appearance and her clothing, and she doesn't bother to correct them.
TrishienThe Jaran matriarch.
- Only Sane Woman — starting in To Ride a Rathorn, most of the Matriarchs become obsessed with getting Torisen to make a contract with a woman of their own House. Antics include pursuing him with parades of women, and slipping him an aphrodisiac. Trishien, who limits her efforts to noting that Kirien is the right age and unattached but might not be happy about such an arrangement, is the only one who manages to avoid alienating him. As a result he trusts and relies on her, as well as seeing her as proof that not all Highborn women are insane. She also recognizes Jame's competence and intelligence when the other Matriarchs are either in denial or trying desperately to control her.
- Reasonable Authority Figure — by far the most reasonable of the Matriarchs, towards both Jame and Torisen.
- Unrequited Love Lasts Forever — her feelings for Ganth.
Adric (Lord Ardeth)
- The Mentor — to Torisen; he takes the fourteen-year-old boy in and raises and trains him to take his rightful place when he comes of age at twenty-seven. Of course, he expects favors in return?
Adiraina (Ardeth Matriarch)
- Blind Seer — of bloodlines, specifically. She lost her sight as a teenager when she developed the blood-sight. By obtaining blood samples, she determines that Jame and Torisen are full twins despite their different ages.
- Blood Sisters — with the murdered Kinzi, last Knorth Matriarch. They were lovers too, it is hinted, like many such sister-kin relationships forged as young girls in the Womens' Halls.
- The Matchmaker — the most obsessed of the Matriarchs about arranging pairings for Jame and Torisen (with eligible Ardeth, naturally).
Essien and Essiar (Lords Edirr)
- Sibling Team — they're both Lord Edirr. This is standard practice in their House, which runs strongly to twins; their heirs are briefly introduced, another set of twin boys.
- Single-Minded Twins
- Theme Twin Naming
- Twin Banter
The Arrin-kenSentient, magical big cats, they were appointed by the Three Faced God to be the judges of the Kencyrath. After Gerridon's fall they withdrew into the wilderness to debate, and have been at it for several milennia now. Jame is one of the few people to have seen one since. It's unknown how many still exist; only two named ones have played roles in the story so far, but there may be more. They appear to have 'territories' where each one pretty much has the final say — Immalai's is the mountains above Tai-Talstigon, and the Dark Judge's is the Riverland.
- Be Careful What You Wish For — Kencyr can formally call on the Arin-ken for "a Judgment" in disputes. It's extremely dangerous to do so, though, because the Arrin-ken will decide strictly the facts and honor, not taking anything else into account. And then they'll carry out their sentence, immediately.
Immalai the SilentArrin-ken who dwells in the mountains above Tai-Tastigon. Jame met him early on in Dark of the Moon, and he proved to be a great help to her.
- Badass — defeating a changer by himself with minimal effort pretty much automatically solidifies you here.
- Reasonable Authority Figure — though he does not approve of all of Jame's actions, he proves willing to give her the chance to redeem herself completely and is willing to help her while she is in his territory.
- The Obi-Wan — to Jorin, actually, having taught him to hunt and otherwise provide for himself when Jame isn't around to do it for him.
The Dark JudgeArrin-ken who was tortured into madness by Gerridon's minions, and now burns with hate for just about everyone he can get within his claws, but especially the creatures of Perimal Darkling- and, by extension, Jame as well.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil
- Revenge by Proxy — wants to kill Jame largely because she reminds him of Gerridon and the changers.
- The Faceless — literally, as Keral's handiwork left him with something that isn't really a face by any but the most technical definition of the term.
- Knight Templar — seems to favor the "kill them and let the Three-Faced God sort them out'' brand of justice.
Perimal DarklingThe Kencyr that followed Gerridon in The Fall technically come from one of the above houses, but are easier considered separately. Perimal Darkling itself, while the Big Bad, is less a character than a combination of The Corruption, The Dark Side, and Eldritch Abomination on a cosmic scale, though it seems intelligent enough to have made a fairly involved Deal with the Devil with Gerridon.
Gerridon (The Master)
- Authority Equals Asskicking — hasn't been seen in action yet, but in Dark of the Moon Jame really didn't want to have to fight him, which says a lot about his abilities.
- Deal with the Devil
- The Dragon — he's not the ultimate evil, but Perimal Darkling itself is more of a primal force of chaos than a character. Gerridon's the human-scale bad guy, with many aspects of the Big Bad.
- Dragon with an Agenda — He serves Perimal Darkling's goals, but rather than having any real desire to turn the universe into a chaotic, shadow-infested wasteland, he does so only because of the Deal with the Devil he made to secure his immortality. Arguably, this makes him worse than Perimal Darkling, as it's to all appearances an Eldritch Abomination that's just following its nature, while he chose to be evil.
- The Faceless — he conceals his face behind a mask of shadows during his rare on-page appearances
- Immortality Immorality — Gerridon's betrayal of his people for the promise of eternal life is a classic version of this trope.
- Red Right Hand — Gerridon's right hand is artificial and made of silver; this is because Jame cut it off with a knife during Attempted Rape of the "forced marriage" variety.
- Wife Husbandry — taking Jame in at age seven and bringing her up and training her so he can make her his replacement bride and immortality conduit.
- Alas, Poor Villain / Redemption Equals Death — When she faces Jame in the mountains, she is faced with a choice: keep dancing the Senetha and maintain her balance over the chasm, but also reap Jame's soul, or stop dancing and fall to her death, but let Jame go safely. She chooses to end the dance rather than destroy her daughter.
- I Have Many Names — some of which she passes on to Jame
- Luke, I Am Your Father — or 'Jame, I am your Mother', as the case may be
- My Brother-Consort Right Or Wrong
- Obliviously Evil
- Power Incontinence — Once she started reaping souls, she literally couldn't stop.
- Twincest — with Gerridon
- Honor Before Reason — Tirandys decided to do his duty and follow his Lord, Gerridon, into damnation despite the evil Gerridon did, because his reading of the Kencyr code of honor said it was the only choice. He regrets this later, and works from within to bring his master down within the letter of obedience.
- Noble Demon — with emphasis on the "noble". His honor compells him to serve Gerridon, but he tries to do the right thing as much as possible with his master's Exact Words.
- The Obi-Wan — mostly in backstory, but as Jame's mentor, sensei and surrogate parent he fits this trope to a T, including dying tragically in an Obi-Wan Moment at the end of book 2, Dark of the Moon.
- The Brute
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Apparently a hobby of his — the Dark Judge is an example of his handiwork, and Jame would have been if Tirandys hadn't protected her.
- Mix-and-Match Critter: as a result of too much exposure to Perimal Darkling's power, he can't hold a single shape for long and generally looks like this.
CleppetyCook and housekeeper of the Res aB'tyrr.
- Parental Substitute — to all the young people at the inn; Jame, Ghillie, Rothan, Taniscent, Kithra. Also to Tubain, in collusion with Abernia.
Tubain/AberniaOwner and innkeeper of the Res aB'tyrr.
TaniscentTavern dancer. Destroys herself to maintain the illusion of youth and beauty.
KithraAmbitious young lady from Skyrr, taken in by the inn after she is beaten and thrown out by the owner of the rival inn, the Skyrrman. Sets her sights on Rothan.
GhillieYoung hostler at the inn.
RothanTubain's nephew and heir.
PenariReputed the greatest thief in Tai-tastigon, but not very motivated by wealth or success. Still an active Master in the Guild, but mostly lives within the Maze, a labyrinth of his own design, and rarely leaves. Takes in Jame as an apprentice, but perceives her as a boy.
- Blind Mistake / Leap of Faith — Penari no longer has very good eyesight, and carries an unshakably firm conviction that Tai-tastigon has not changed one whit since he has been hiding away in the Maze in its heart. Possibly because of the strange mechanics of belief in Tai-tastigon, he is able to walk on buildings that are no longer actually there.
- Monumental Theft — Penari is the greatest thief in the Guild, and this causes Jame all sorts of trouble as everyone else at the Guild tries to get her to betray his secrets (though, ironically, his greatest secret (the Leap of Faith ability) is of no possible use to anyone else). He uses the giant uncut diamond he stole in impossible circumstances, the Eye of Abarraden, as a paperweight.
TheocandiSirdan (ruler) of the Thieves' Guild. Penari's younger brother.
- Cain and Abel — in the Abel role.
- Forceful Kiss — of Jame before she attempts the Tower of Demons in God Stalk.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth — as the trusting, honest, emotional character in a Crapsack World, it's pretty much fated.
Men-DalisLeader of the New Faction in the Thieves' Guild, and thus Theocandi's rival for the Sirdanate. Dally's older brother.
- Blondes Are Evil
- Cain and Abel - as Cain.
- Holy Halo — as a son of the New Pantheon's sun god, Dalis-sar, Men-dalis and his surroundings are bathed in a light golden glow. His mother was a temple prostitute; children conceived in that service are especially blessed by the deity in question.
The MerikitThe Merikit are a tribal people who live to the north of the Riverland. They have a long, fractious history with the Kencyr. The Merikit raid Kencyr livestock, while the Kencyr hunt them in turn — taking grisly trophies in the case of House Caineron. Merikit tribesmen also wiped out the population of the northern keep of Kithorn, for which revenge was taken by the only survivor, Marc. Jame becomes accidentally involved in the Merikit society in Seeker's Mask, culminating in her being accepted as part of the tribe by Bound in Blood.Tropes that apply to the Merikit in general include:
- Barbarian Tribe — Initially, they appear to be the dark version of this, but over time we've learned more about them and they are now, if anything, the nice version of this.
- Noble Savage — there's a little of this in the depiction of the Merikit in Bound in Blood.
- Proud Warrior Race — definitely a lot of this in the Merikit makeup. In fact, it's largely the fact that both they and the Kencyr are this that has caused much bloodshed over the years.
- Dual Wielding — Gran Cyd fights with two long knives.
- Fiery Redhead — she has both the hair color and the temperament.
- The High Queen — although a down-to-earth example, Gran Cyd is very impressive and regal indeed.
- Lady of War — Gran Cyd is a "war-wyf" who leads her people in battle. The men do raiding, but the women are in charge of war.
- Rapunzel Hair — her hair is long enough that the left-hand braided braids rest in a coil on the floor when she is sitting on her throne.
- Requisite Royal Regalia — tunic and mantle of royal purple with silver decoration, lots of gold chains, and gilded sandals.
- Seat Of Power — She sits on a nice golden throne.