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Tavi of Calderon, a.k.a. Rufus Scipio, a.k.a. Gaius Octavian , a.k.a. Gaius Tavarus MagnusTavi, raised by his Aunt Isana and Uncle Bernard in the Calderon Valley, is apparently the only Aleran in the world to not possess the power of Furycraft. While this is often a major disadvantage, in order to compensate he's learned to rely on something else – his brain. After the events of the first book, he begins studying at Alera Imperia to join the imperial spy network known as the Cursors, and joins the newly-formed First Aleran Legion under the name Rufus Scipio.
Tavi is really Gaius Octavian, son of the slain Princeps Septimus. Isana, actually his mother, deliberately suppressed his Furycraft so he wouldn't be obviously High Blood and therefore a target for assassins. Eventually he does develop some Crafting, though to a lesser extent than most Lords. In the final book, the full potential of his powers emerges.
Tropes that apply to Tavi:
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Mostly done offscreen. The one time we see this in action, it's both awesome and terrifying as Tavi decides how to kill High Lady Antillus and Crassus with a stick.
- Bad Ass: Oh yes, he is:
- Badass Bookworm: While not as much as Ehren, he's really clever.
- Badass Normal: By Aleran standards, this actually makes him a Handicapped Badass. Although he becomes less normal as the series progresses.
- Brought Down to Badass: Isana's well-intentioned spell may have made him the butt of jokes everywhere, but we can't deny he was able to compensate.
- Battle Couple: With Kitai.
- Becoming the Mask: He starts Cursor's Fury as a civilian Cursor who joins the First Aleran undercover as a junior officer, despite having zero time in the Legions. When the book ends, he's become The Captain, so much so that he spends the next years serving primarily as a legionare instead of a Cursor.
- Foreshadowing: Magnus outright tells him that this will happen, with regard to his military career: "When you start, it'll be an act. At the end, it won't be an act anymore."
- Beware the Nice Ones: In his rage and fury Tavi is absolutely merciless, as Fidelias almost found out
- The Call Put Me On Hold: Thanks to Isana stunting his growth, he doesn't get his furycrafting until about age 20. In contrast, his father obtained his powers around age 5.
- The Captain: He is given a field promotion to Captain in Cursor's Fury by virtue of being the senior-most officer left standing after a surprise attack. He keeps the promotion and the fourth book is called Captain's Fury for a reason.
- The Chessmaster: Metaphorically as well as literally. Even the First Lord takes a couple of lessons from him.
- Combat Pragmatist: Well, when everybody can rip you to shreds with their bare hands, playing fair doesn't seem very important. He says once that he never wants to be in a "fair" fight ever again. Even after his crafting powers awaken, he's still a pragmatist in battle.
- Consummate Liar: He was raised by one of the greatest Living Lie Detectors alive. He needed to develop this skill in order to get away with anything as Isana is a very good truth-seeker.
- Crazy Enough to Work: The majority of Tavi's plans are this. So much so that Kitai can correctly surmise where Tavi chose to have the Final Battle by thinking of the one place only a lunatic would go willingly. It's pretty much his motto. One of his plans gives an ally heart palpitations.
Ehren: "This plan is insane... you are insane..." *looks around* "I'm going to need some pants."
- You want more examples, because you think just THAT won't work for you? Of course you do! Take, for instance, his role in the defense of the Elinarch. Due to a lot of things going wrong at once, he ended up in command of a single, inexperienced legion (about 7,000 soldiers) who had to hold a bridge against an army of more than 50,000 Canim: centuries-old, enormous, and incredibly dangerous wolfmen. First, to stop them from crossing the river anywhere else, he had all the butchers in the camp and the towns at either end of the Elinarch throw buckets of blood into the river to attract sharks. Any Canim trying to swim across quickly learned the error of their ways. He also went out to try to negotiate with the leaders. By himself. He proceeded to use his knowledge of their culture to laugh in the face of an Evil Sorcerer and exploit a division in their leadership. Then he sat for an hour and played chess with Nasaug during a truce to let them remove their dead from the fieldnote , in order to buy time for his men to set up his next tactic: sawdust and fire furies planted in every building on the Canim side of the bridge, which he then had his only Knight Ignus blow up while the Canim were trying to move through them. He'd made sure they were all in the buildings by having everyone in the legion hold tiny firecraftings over the main square so the stones were superheated and anyone trying to step on them would get fried. And the battle ended when he had his Knights Aeris bend the air to form a quarter-mile-wide magnifying glass, concentrating the sunlight into a Death Ray. The general consensus among the characters seems to be that Tavi is completely insane.
- And that thing mentioned above about going into the most suicidal place he could think of? His plan was to piss off the Eldritch Abomination-like Great Furies Garados and Thana and use them against the Vord Queen. It only really works when she tries to claim the furies and he has the even crazier idea of cutting her connection and letting them go free to wreak random destruction. They are very pissed about the attempt to control them, and Thana—an enormous, sentient thunderstorm—pretty much literally chews the Vord Queen up and spits her out.
- This is the man who made ships out of icebergs and attached runners to sailing ships to make them work over ice.
- The Dreaded: He becomes this to the Canim. He earns the nickname "Tavar" (after a wolverine-like creature from the Canim's homeland, that is small, very vicious, and routinely takes down things bigger than itself,) and the repeated efforts of the ritualists to sabotage relations between Tavi and Varg suggest that, despite all their bluster about their superiority, they are a lot more scared of him than he is of them. In First Lord's Fury, Varg reminds Nasaug of the time he "fed Sarl to the Tavar" (in Cursor's Fury) and says it completely without irony, showing he was aware it wasn't even a fair fight.
- Empowered Badass Normal: For most of his life, Tavi had to learn how to get by without Furies in a world where everyone takes having them at their beck and call for granted, which has largely meant a life of constantly figuring out solutions to problems most of his peers don't have. The feats he's able to accomplish with that alone are impressive; once he does come into furycrafting skills of his own, applying that same sort of lateral thinking to their use has the same effect as giving Batman a Green Lantern Ring.
- Exact Words: Tavi proposes to Gaius amnesty for the freed slaves who acted in concert with the Canim using the words, "to those in this region who have broken laws in acting to protect their lives and those of their families due to the Canim invavion and Kalarus' rebellion." This just so happens to include Tavi himself, as he was acting to protect his mother and others when he broke Varg out of prison.
- A Father to His Men: Unlike Sextus, Tavi has personally led men into battle, risked his life to save them and cares about them personally. And for this, his men, even Fidelias, come to love him right back. Fidelias lampshades this by thinking if Tavi asked his men to march into a leviathan's mouth, they would do so willingly.
- Guile Hero: To make up for his lack of furycrafting, Tavi relies on his intelligence.
- Heroic Bastard: Tavi always assumed he was just the the son of a commoner and some legionnaire having a fling. This isn't correct. His father left with Isana legal proof of their courtship and wedding to prove Tavi wasn't born a bastard.
- The Hero: Saves the country from numerous threats.
- Idiot Ball:
- In Captain's Fury he fails to think Arnos would have him watched for any wrongful action when he raced to trade a prisoner back for Ehren. It caused him to be brought up on charges of treason and removed from command.
- In Cursor's Fury he saw the Canim be able to destroy the command tent because of the standardized layout of all Legion camps. Later, he berates himself for not thinking up a new system because the Vord Queen uses the same idea, but this time attacking the healers.
- Kitai says he is holding it if he senselessly kills Fidelias for his traitorous actions. If the man wants to die to attain some redemption, some order in his life, then put that to Tavi's use helping take down a greater villain.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Although less and less so as the books go on. However, compared to the rest of society, it's I Just Want to Be Normal in this world.
- In Harm's Way: In later books, Tavi shows himself willing to put himself in the thickest and most dangerous part of the fighting, where his skills are the most necessary and crucial. This is in contrast to the rest of Alera's leadership, including his grandfather Gaius Sextus, who would try to maneuver a political rival into that spot instead on the off-chance that it might end up being a convenient way to get rid of them.
- I Shall Taunt You: Preferred manner of keeping his opponents off balance. He wins a duel against one of the most dangerous swordsmen in Alera with just six words.
- It's Personal: Kitai gets him to openly admit his inner rage at Fidelias' actions during Second Calderon, and how this rage is blinding him to other matters.
- Like Father, Like Son: Lots of comparisons are made to Septimus, though Tavi is smarter than his dad thanks to a good twenty years of Badass Normality. Both are courageous on the battlefield, a natural leader. Both think about the plight of those who are less fortunate. Both fell for a woman who was considered taboo and scandalous, Isana being a commoner and Kitai isn't even Aleran, and both women would stand up to their loves, challenging them and their choices when they felt they were wrong but never make an argument about it. They also both got sea sick really easily.
- Magnetic Hero: Tavi has a way of attracting former enemies to his side, usually due to a combination of his intelligence, the way he cares for his subordinates and how he fights right in the thick of it with his troops.
- Meaningful Name: Four of them:
- Gaius Octavian, meaning both the son of Septimus, and is the proper name of Emperor Augustus.
- His Canim nickname, "Tavar", is the name of a wolverine-like predator native to Canea, which even Canim warriors avoid because it fearlessly and ferociously fights to defeat its enemies and protect its territory despite its small size (relative to a Cane). Exactly like Tavi.
- 'Scipio' is probably a reference to Scipio Africanus, the genius Roman general who defeated Hannibal. Rufus may refer to several people - the general Lucius Verginius Rufus seems plausible. "Here lies Rufus, who after defeating Vindex, did not take power, but gave it to the fatherland."
- Mindlink Mates: With Kitai thanks to her bonding with him. They can sense the other one's presence and general moods. And when he gains furycrafting, she gains it too.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He eventually gains the title Gaius Tavarus Magnus; "Tavarus Magnus" is roughly equivalent to "Lord Wolverine the Great."
- Nice Guy: Tavi has more than once shown compassion and understanding to an incredible degree. To the point that he's sometimes considered to be a bit too nice
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: He has no way of knowing that cutting himself in the Wax Forest would wake up the Vord Queen, but it did. Or that it would absorb his and Kitai's blood and inherit their traits.
- OOC Is Serious Business: In Cursor's Fury he has this revelation after a self-examination. He is missing Kitai deeply and their strong bond makes being apart for long distances painful. However, the past few days, that pain was gone and he stopped talking about her in a forlorn manner. It takes him little time to realize Kitai has moved into the Legion camp he is stationed at, under the guise of a blind beggar.
- Older Than They Look: In the first couple of books in particular; Amara assumes he's about 12 when she first sees him, to which he grouchily replies that he's fifteen. The reason he looks so young is that his mother intentionally stunted his growth when he was a child via watercrafting to make him seem younger than he was, in order to keep people from guessing that he might be the son of Gaius Septimus, who died 15 years before the first book.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Considering how much damage the guy can cause with no powers, is it any surprise that giving him access to the full crafting abilities of the First Lord caused an insane amount of badassitude to ensue?
- The Plan: Several in the last three books.
- Rags to Royalty: Starts as a poor, powerless shepard. The series finishes with Tavi as the First Lord.
- Really Royalty Reveal: Happens to him in Captain's Fury.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Tavi's way to stop the Icemen destroying the Shieldwall? Give it to them. With plans to have them lease it back to the Alerans, no less.
- And, say, every other thing he does, leading to hilarious moments that go something like "Oh God, he's doing something crazy... reh. It's Tavi, go with it." Which overlaps nicely with his Crazy Awesomeness, and the entry for Crazy Enough to Work above.
- Everything he does is awesome and/or inventive. Some of it fits this trope, some doesn't. In addition to how he handles the Icemen, though, another example quite clearly fits this trope: In Captain's Fury, he breaks half a dozen laws, and in ways that clearly could not be covered up or ignored. How does he handle it? He suggests to the First Lord a general amnesty for Alerans who cooperated with the Canim in conquered territory, but phrased in such a way that covers Tavi himself as well.
- Secret Legacy: Tavi grows up being told that his father (a nameless legionare) and mother died at the First Battle of Calderon, killed by Marat. Turns out that his father was actually Gaius Septimus, legitimate heir to the First Lord; his mother, Isana, survived and went underground as his aunt to continue to raise him; and Septimus was assassinated during the battle by a cabal of Citizens.
- Smart People Play Chess: Or the local equivalent, ludus.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: He's a bit of a late bloomer (what with Isana slowing his growth and all), but even in Furies of Calderon Amara notes that he's a good-looking boy. By Captain's Fury, he's repeatedly mentioned to be quite tall and rather attractive. It runs in the family.
- Warrior Therapist: Against Navaris. He attacks her mental problems to make her sloppy in actual combat."I never knew my father either."
- Worthy Opponent: The Canim word "gadara" (respected and trusted enemy) is used a lot around him.
- Xanatos Gambit: While he is young and not always good at these, he was taught the art of them in his cursor training. His old master often told him that, "Every problem was an opportunity, from a certain point of view." Take the Idiot Ball example, he was able to move things about to avoid summary execution, be in a spot to escape from jail, go on a mission to gain a key ally, and defeat Arnos summarily. None of which would have happened if Arnos hadn't arrested him.
- You Are in Command Now: In Cursor's Fury he is placed in the the army under the guise of Rufus Scipio. He is given the rank of third subtribune to the Tribune Logistica (aka lowest rank Quartermaster Officer). After most of the senior officers were taken out in a lightning attack by the Canim, with the captain surviving but couldn't fight, Tavi must rally his men.
IsanaIsana is Tavi's aunt (well, actually, mother). Born in the Calderon Valley, she is an incredibly powerful watercrafter but lacks access to other Furies. Isana distrusts Sextus because he allowed her husband, his son Septimus, to die, but becomes increasingly entangled in Aleran politics as the series goes on.
Tropes that apply to Isana:
- Action Mom: From an aunt's perspective, she is very protective of her nephew. She once flooded a river to keep him safe. Turns out, though she is his mother.
- A-Cup Angst: She was always a little peeved that her body looked more like that of a young girl than that of a full-grown woman. This, in fact, made her think that she'd never attract another man.
- Ambadassador: She and Lady Placida serve as ambassadors to the Icemen. She even shields them from an Aleran attack.
- Badass Longcoat: Begins wearing one in Princep's Fury, on the urging of Araris. It's thick leather with interwoven steel plates; not quite as good as legion armor, but better than nothing, and easier for her to fight and move in.
- The Empath: A result of her powerful Watercrafting ability.
- Distressed Damsel: If there's a situation where she can be kidnapped and/or swoon, she'll take full advantage of it. Lampshaded:"At some point I would like a few weeks to go by in which I do not faint during a crisis."
- Failure-to-Save Murder: The reason she hates Gaius Sextus and didn't trust him with Tavi's safety.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: She claims to be Tavi's aunt with a sister that died in childbirth. In actuality, she is Tavi's mother while her sister did die due to Tavi's birth.
- Femme Fatalons: One of her less-used tricks.
- Hope Bringer:
- She is this to the Ice Men when they sense she is truly honest about wanting peace, that peace might finally be achieved between their peoples.
- Isana weaponizes this by giving Invidia hope of escape from the creature on her chest as a means of getting her to betray the Vord Queen.
- Healing Hands: Give her enough reason, and she doesn't even need a tub of water to help her.
- An Ice Person: Once she figures out that yes, snow counts as water.Doroga: "If I ever invade Calderon again, it will be in summer."
- Living Lie Detector: She sees through Gaius Sextus at one point. To the point, High Lady Aria misses the same opening in Gaius' facade.
- Mama Bear: Everything she does, she does because she wants to protect Tavi.
- Making a Splash: Very possibly the most powerful watercrafter in all of Alera, High Lords included.
- Master of One Magic: As a single-element Crafter, Isana wouldn't normally be considered very impressive as Alerans rank their powers – but as mentioned above, she can do a lot with what she's got.
- Older Than They Look: She's probably in her mid-forties, but could pass for eighteen if it wasn't for some grey in her hair.
- Rags to Royalty: She is the Cinderella-type, with the bonus of meeting Septimus when hired by him to be their personal help.
- Took a Level in Badass: She gets a lot more powerful after a little swim in the Leviathans' Run. However, it's unclear exactly why that is: maybe she got them from the swim in the ocean in a stressful situation, but then again maybe she had that power all along or Septimus left her some furies of his own when he died and she didn't realize it. In either case, any extraordinary use of her power in her homeland is more normal where she is familiar with the place, and because she's a nobody from the hinterlands, she just assumed she couldn't possibly be that powerful otherwise.
- Unhappy Medium: She's as good or better at watercrafting as some of the High Lords, but doesn't share their ability to block out emotions with metalcrafting. This leaves her curled up in a little ball from emotional overload a couple of times.
- Warrior Therapist:
- When she fights Antillus Raucus in Princeps' Fury, explaining to him as she's about to die that the real reason he doesn't want to listen to her is jealousy at Septimus for defying his parents and marrying the commoner he loved and regret that he didn't do the same with Max's mother. He later acknowledges he was mistrusting of her because she could have been in league with those who killed his friend Septimus but her willingness to sacrifice herself as such proved him wrong.
- Her above actions were present before the Ice Men, who are powerful empaths. As they felt her words and emotions, they knew that she truly was there to make peace for them and the Alerans, even at the cost of her own life. Her willingness to die pushed them to agree to a ceasefire with the Alerans so they could fight the vord and not fear of a surprise attack.
Bernard, Count CalderonBernard is Tavi's uncle and Isana's brother, possessing the power of earth and woodcrafting. He begins the series as a steadholder (wealthy farmer), but ultimately takes on a noble title as Count of Calderon and passes his steadholt to Isana. He is in love with Amara, and the two are married (at first in secret, but later openly).
Tropes that apply to Bernard:
- Archer Archetype: One of the best archers in the kingdom capable of taking down High Lords with his arrows.
- Battle Couple: With Amara.
- Dishing Out Dirt: He's a powerful earthcrafter.
- Green Thumb: He is also a powerful woodcrafter
- Happily Married:
- It is implied he was very much this to his late wife. He tenderly cared for her things long after she was gone, including her shoes he gives to Amara when they met.
- To Amara. Now if only she'd stop having doubts every five chapters...
- The Lost Lenore: His first wife's death left him not taking up with anyone for years until Amara came into his life.
- Not Now, Kiddo:
- Bernard to Frederic, regarding the vord parasite he's captured in a cup.
- On the other hand, the other Citizens pretty much ignore him when he tries to warn them about the Vord. After trying in vain for a while, he decides "screw it" and starts covertly building up Calderon's defenses instead.
- Papa Wolf: He is fiercely protective of Tavi, especially before his crafting came in.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: When he learns Doroga is a reasonable and honorable man, he is more than willing to listen to the needs of the Marat, honoring their agreements and later helping him fight the first incursion of the Vord. Later, he tries to convince others of the seriousness of the Vord threat. When that fails, he prepares his domain for the inevitable incursion and develops some serious weapons and defenses (thanks to some of Tavi's ideas).
- Retired Badass: Ex-military, in fact.
KordA Steadholder like Bernard, who runs his Steadholt along with his two sons Aric and Bittan. Unlike Bernard, he is a brutal thug and his Steadholt is a Wretched Hive that runs on slavery.
Tropes that apply to Kord
- Abusive Parents: Kord is a horrible father who mistreats Aric for being a decent person.
- Dishing Out Dirt: An earthcrafter, though not of Bernard's level.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Particularly brutal to female slaves.
- Parental Favoritism: Spoils Bittan, his thuggish son.
- Slave Collar: Fond of discipline collars that make people take pleasure in obeying the orders of the person who put on the collar.
- Scary Scorpions: His Earth Fury manifests as one.
Amara, Countess CalderonAmara is a windcrafter and a Cursor, one of the First Lord's elite messengers, spies, and general agents. She comes to the Calderon Valley while trying to return to the capital and warn Sextus of Aquitaine's plotting, thereby setting off much of the books' action. She is married to Bernard, but sometimes angsts about her fears of infertility (Alerans place great value on having children who will inherit their powers, to the point that a man of Bernard's rank is legally obliged to have children).
Tropes that apply to Amara:
- Action Girl: Serves as a spy and personal agent for Gaius Sextus.
- Babies Ever After: Thanks to Isana saving her with the Blessing of Night, a cure-all mushroom, the Blight-induced damage to her reproductive system years ago is healed, and during Tavi and Kitai's wedding, she is heavily pregnant. This doesn't include her adopted children, Masha and two boys.
- Badass Normal: By this series' standards, Amara is fairly average. She only has one of the six crafting types but is capable of going toe-to-toe with or outwitting High Lords.
- Battle Couple: With Bernard.
- Blow You Away: An Air Crafter.
- Broken Pedestal:
- Fidelias' betrayal really cut her deeply, as the man wasn't just her pedestal but one for pretty much every cursor.
- Her opinion of Gaius drops dramatically after his Shoot the Dog moment.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: During the final assault to get Gaius to Mt. Kalare, she draws her fury so deeply into her, it allows her to move at Flash-like speeds. However, she lacks the secondary powers to do this without serious harm to her body as a result.
- Deuteragonist: She has the second-largest POV sections in the novels (Right after Tavi's).
- Flight: She is one of the most talented flyers in the series. Invidia, a very powerful High Lord, defers to her in aerial tactics. The First Lord himself comments on how she is the first person he's flown with since Septimus' death who is able to keep up with him.
- Fragile Speedster: Might very well be the fastest flier in the Realm, but without Earth or Metalcrafting, she's not the most durable.
- Guile Hero: Shown to be adept at political maneuvering and coming up with plans on the spot.
- Happily Married: To Bernard.
- Heroic R.R.O.D.: After the Dangerous Forbidden Technique mentioned above, she fell into this, unable to move, barely conscious, and probably dying until Gaius heals her.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: As mentioned, she's afraid she's infertile, and Citizens are required to have kids. She avoids marrying him for a while on I Want My Beloved to Be Happy logic and even after that remains insecure. Bernard eventually gets exasperated and points out that they could just adopt. This gets fixed after she's dosed with the Blessing of Night to recover from fatal poisoning.
Ehren ex CursoriAnother of Tavi's classmates, and a Cursor. Like Tavi, tends to rely more on his wits than his furies.
Tropes that apply to Ehren:
- Badass Bookworm: One of the smartest characters in the series, which is saying something given the amount of MagnificentBastards in the series.
- Badass Normal: The in-universe equivalent, since Tavi is practically a Handicapped Badass by their standards. Ehren isn't particularly powerful compared to all the Citizens he hangs around, but he still manages to kick a decent amount of ass. It helps that some security measures are more designed to stop Knight-tier crafting and above. His weaker attacks bypass them easily.
- Beneath Notice: See that small guy with lots of papers in his hands? See him just walk around the rooms and hand out papers? Look at how weak his furies are, He cannot do anything with them one must think. What you don't see is a man carrying a large number of knives and a mind that manipulated a powerful High Lord to commit suicide.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Has some very funny moments like this. In one instance, hearing a commotion on deck, he opens his door to ask what's going on. When an arrow drives through the door close enough to touch his hand, he just goes, "Oh," and shuts the door. Later in the same book, after he wakes up naked, in a healing tub, staring at what he thought was an enemy about to kill him, his response is, "Oh. Well, I see some things have happened while I was lying down."
- The Chessmaster: Very good at thinking of contingency plans. And, it turns out, at manipulating people – in First Lord's Fury, he plays Aquitainus Attis like a harp, resulting in the latter's death before he can become a threat to Tavi.
- Disney Death: Briefly in order to deflect suspicion that he was behind the assassination of Aquitanius.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first few moments in Academ's Fury show a young man who calls Tavi out on his foolishness but will still stick with Tavi despite knowing they are walking into trouble.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the last book. It is part of a plan to fake his death for a time until Attis dies, after Ehren manipulated him to commit tactical suicide.
- Knife Nut: At one point someone identifies him as a Cursor based solely on "the number of knives he had hidden on him."
- Manipulative Bastard: See The Chessmaster.
- Older and Wiser: Revealed at Eastercon 2015, in a future class of cursors with Canim and Marat now joining in, this will be Ehren's role.
- The Quiet One: Doesn't usually talk much, which is rather handy in a spy.
- The Smart Guy: Not quite in Tavi's league – to be fair, the only people who come close are Varg, Sextus, Aquitaine, and Fidelias – but he is very clever.
- Weak, but Skilled: In terms of furycrafting power, he is pathetic and weak. However, he is a skilled fighter, his furies allow him some skills but won't regularly set off the wards meant to detect furycrafting, and he can obfuscate with the best of them.
Astorius MagnusA senior Cursor, under whom Tavi trains. He believes their ancestors lacked furycrafting but several of the teachers at the Academy laugh at him for this.
Tropes that apply to Magnus:
- Beneath Notice: A specialty of the Cursors. He keeps his place in the wilderness well stocked in wines and sweet breads to give to passing traders because one may not know what they could let slip when drunk. Tavi studies under him for six months and never picked up the fact he is a cursor too.
- Cool Old Guy: He's fairly eccentric, but gives good advise to Tavi on how to survive in the Legion.
- Crouching Scholar Hidden Badass: He first appears as a professor who's semi-voluntarily exiled himself to an archeological dig. And then it turns out he's also a senior cursor, and served in the Legions, and Fidelias notes that if he wants someone dead, they'll die.
- Deadpan Snarker: He likes to point out when Tavi is acting a little ridiculous. One of these lines in Princeps' Fury provides a Crowning Moment of Funny: "More mash, please, Your Highness."
- If I Wanted You Dead...: There is a training skill all Cursors must learn. It is to sneak up upon an unsuspecting victim completely unnoticed and within distance to plunge one's blade into the back of the neck, severing major arteries and the trachea. He does this to Fidelias when he begins to suspect something is not quite right with "Marcus". Fidelias realizes if Marcus wants him dead, he wouldn't have announced himself first.
- The Mentor: One of Tavi's mentors; he helps Tavi acclimate to Legion life, and later openly advises him.
- Older Sidekick: Who's also a valet.
- Servile Snarker: "And Your Highness expected me to listen?"
- They Called Me Mad!: Magnus invokes this when celebrating the success of his and Tavi's furycraft-free catapult at the beginning of Cursor's Fury. (Magnus isn't exactly a Mad Historian, but to be fair, the fools at the Academy did call him mad.)
Lords and other Nobles
Gaius Sextus, First Lord of AleraGaius is the ruler of Alera, the most powerful Crafter alive, and essentially Albus Dumbledore without the facade of eccentric senility. While often ruthless, he is both intelligent and wise and everything he does is for the greater good of Alera. All respect Gaius's abilities, but some (like Isana) think he's lost touch with the common people and is therefore dangerous. Others (like Aquitaine or Kalarus) want to take his throne themselves.
Tropes applying to Sextus:
- Anti-Hero: Pragmatic type. He destroys Kalarus and most of his subjects because it ends the war faster as well as saving lives in the long run.
- Badass Grandpa: By the start of the books, he is said to be in his eighties. He still commands enough power that no one dares openly challenge him for the throne and the one High Lord who does make civil war, Gaius makes a three-month journey on foot without aide of his furies, suffering a broken leg and blistered feet, to get beyond the man's defenses, to destroy the man with his own weapon. And to top it all off, he is Tavi's grandfather by Septimus.
- Batman Gambit: He specializes in them. One of his more benign ones was making Tavi and Max roommates to help them become friends. Another is putting Amara's life on the line to test Fidelius' loyalty in the first book.
- Beautiful Dreamer: A non-romantic version. According to Alera, he would visit Tavi's dorm when he was in the Academy and watch him sleep. It gave him comfort and pleasure.
- Best Served Cold: Gaius waits about twenty-five years before killing the first of two men responsible for Septimus' death (see Moral Event Horizon). The second he convinces to fly out against an insurmountable number of vord with little backup.
- Big Good: Zigzagged. On the one hand, he's definitely much more benevolent and reasonable than half the other High Lords of the Realm. On the other hand, his cynical and manipulative nature is at least partially responsible for the sorry state of the Realm at the beginning of the story, and by the end of the story and his untimely demise almost none of the "good-aligned" characters are loyal to him any longer.
- The Chessmaster: Very adept at maneuvering other Lords politically. In the fifteen years after his son and soon after his first wife died, likely after some period of mourning, he started over a decade's worth of selecting a new wife from the daughters or nieces of the High Lords or their families. His eventual choice was just a political stratagem to prevent neighboring High Lords from becoming allies as Gaius would literally have the one High Lord's daughter at his side.
- Chrome Champion: The first one to do it. It's part of his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Determinator: Best seen in Captain's Fury when he takes a third option to the powerful wards Kalarus set up to detect him and walks without aide of his furies to Kalare's main city. How far? Just over 300 miles and Gaius is well into his eighties. He won't let anything stop him, whether blisters on his feet or a broken leg.
- Didn't See That Coming: His above plan to get into Kalare got off to a bad foot because Gaius discounted an unknown known: blisters. He assumed his months of increased walking without being augmented by his furies would suffice in giving him the strength and endurance to handle the trip. If not for Bernard and Amara's quick actions, the plan would have failed before they got very far at all.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: Several characters resent or hate Sextus because of his apparent failure to protect Septimus.
- Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Deliberately invokes this in Captain's Fury. He says that the High Lords of the realm, Kalarus in particular, see him only as a scheming old man, and that image is part of what makes Kalarus think he can just take over the realm. So during that book, he sets out to forcibly remind Kalarus and the rest of the High Lords that in a realm where Authority Equals Asskicking, there is a very good reason why the House of Gaius is in charge.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In Princeps Fury, he sinks Alera Imperia and the surrounding countryside into a massive volcano, destroying a majority of the Vord army and slowing them down enough to let the Alerans regroup.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- Gives it to High Lord Rhodes when he convinces the man to lead a direct assault on the Vord as they attack Ceres. The High Lord is destroyed and consumed by the Vord, not unlike how Rhodes' efforts allowed for Septimus to suffer a similar fate against the Marat.
- He receives this, in his own view, from Caria. He knew she was a naive child who didn't understand the political nature of the game he plays when they wed. He stays married to her for about ten years, and considers her poisoning him and taking that much from his life a fair trade. He doesn't have her punished for her actions.
- Manipulative Bastard:
- Takes advantage of Amara's loyalty to help him destroy Kalarus. She quits on the spot once she learns what he did. For his part, he is sad but accepts it aas the price of beating Kalarus.
- Later Amara loathes him even more when in the face of the Vord threat he told Rook he would personally place her daughter anywhere she chose to be safe from the vord, if she helped spy on them to learn how they are using furycrafting. If not, her current life may not be enough to save them both.
- Moral Event Horizon: In-universe example: Amara is unwilling to trust him ever again after he manipulates her into helping him get into position to turn one of the Great Furies against Kalarus, destroying the entire province with a volcanic eruption. However, it was that or let Kalarus use it to destroy most of Alera's Legions when they finally killed him, so...
- Older Than They Look: Like all powerful watercrafters – in this case, he looks like he's in his forties, when he's about 80 at the start of the series and likely could be in his 90s by First Lord's Fury.
- Person of Mass Destruction: When he isn't about to collapse due to his age and overwork catching up to him. Witness Captain's Fury, when he kills off two whole legions of Kalarus's Super Soldiers, or Princeps' Fury, where he takes down millions of the Vord military forces with him in a Heroic Sacrifice, sinking Alera's capital city into lava and turning the whole region into a wasteland that the Vord can't use.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Has no problem with either Bernard and Amara's relationship (which is illegal under Aleran Law) or Tavi and Kitai (which is an Interspecies Romance).
- Shipper on Deck: It's subtle, but throughout the series he seems to do everything in his power to put Bernard and Amara and Tavi and Kitai together – first, having Amara serve as his personal envoy to Bernard as the new Count of Calderon (thereby ensuring that she'll see him regularly), and then when Tavi bullshits his way into having Kitai made an ambassador, makes it his only duty to be her teacher and guide for the following several weeks. The irony here is that Amara thinks she has to hide her marriage to Bernard because of her duty to Gaius and Tavi wants to hide his relationship so Gaius can't exploit it, but he seems to know about and approve of both cases, though in the latter he advises Tavi to at least avoid getting her pregnant.
- Shoot the Dog:
- Better than the alternative as the invading men would be killed by Kalarus' volcano. So he makes sure the volcano can only kill Kalarus' side.
- When his character is introduced, he takes a potshot: he admits he is willing to sacrifice a loyal retainer to test the fidelity of another one. He assumes the loyal one would lose the fight.
First Lady Gaius CariaSecond wife of Gaius Sextus, Caria is fifty years younger than her husband. This, combined with being used as a political pawn and neglected by her husband, makes her easy prey for Attis's manipulations.
Tropes that apply to Caria:
- Arranged Marriage: To Gaius.
- Awful Wedded Life: How she sees her marriage. Instead of living out a great romance, she found herself married to a much older man who ignores her.
- Master Poisoner: She is poisoning Gaius for years and was only discovered just before the Vord attacked Alera Imperia. She used her medical knowledge from the Academy to do it.
- May-December Romance: Her marriage to Gaius, though there's no actual romance involved.
- Old Man Marrying a Child: While not as young as most examples of this trope, she's closer in age to Gaius's grandson than to Gaius himself. He even refers to her as a child a couple of times.
- Sexless Marriage: Gaius is old, and as disinterested in that part of their marriage as the rest of it. Tellingly, when Max disguises himself as Gaius and promises her some nookie time, she seems quite genuinely touched.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Gaius forgives her for poisoning him because while she may have taken a few years of his life away, he's taken far more than that from her by sticking her into a loveless arranged marriage.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Has been poisoning Gaius for years by slipping small amounts of a medicine into his tonic.
- Your Cheating Heart: Is having an affair with Attis.
Gaius SeptimusSeptimus is the son of Gaius Sextus. He dies fifteen years before the series begins, in battle against the Marat. His death sets off the main conflict of the series by starting a succession crisis. What few people know is that Septimus married Isana in secret and they had a son, Tavi.
Tropes that apply to Septimus:
- Arranged Marriage: Was supposed to marry Invidia, but he turned her down. She didn't take it well.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Everyone thinks he'd have been an excellent First Lord. He was so well-loved that his death, particularly Gaius's failure to protect him, is the reason why Isana, Attis, and Raucus all hate and distrust Gaius.
- King Incognito: Had a habit of traveling around in disguise. This is how he met Isana.
- The Lost Lenore: A male version for Isana.
- Marry for Love: He married Isana, a commoner and non-Citizen, for love despite the controversy it would cause.
- Posthumous Character: Dies fifteen years before the series begins. What we know of him comes from flashbacks and the recollections of other characters.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: It's said that Tavi looks a lot like his father in the later books.
- True Companions: With Attis and Raucus. He mentions in his letter that he'd have gone mad after the Battle of Seven Hills without them. His singulares count as well.
- Unfriendly Fire: It is widely believed that Septimus was killed by the Marat. He was actually assassinated during the battle by a cabal of Citizens, who were put up to it by Invidia.
High Lord Aquitainus Attis
High Lord Aquitainus AttisMostly off-screen in the early books, Attis is one of the two high Lords in serious contention for the position of the next First Lord. Sleeping with the First Lord's wife may give him some advantage at this...
Tropes applying to Aquitaine:
- Anti-Villain: His rebellion is because he wants to strengthen Alera, not out of personal greed or envy of Sextus' position. When he does temporarily become First Lord in First Lord's Fury, he genuinely does his best for Alera, and continues leading even when he's dying from the wound Invidia gave him.
- Badass: Very much so. Special mention goes to his actions during the Battle of Ceres, when he leads a group of Knights and Citizens against the Vord, buying time for the Legions to retreat safely.
- Big Bad: Subverted. He's built up as this in the first half of the series, but is upstaged in the second by the real Big Bad, the Vord Queen.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With his wife. Technically, most of her schemes are aimed at getting him the throne, but that's only because as a woman that's the closest she'll ever get to true power. In many ways, Invidia was the Big Bad more than he ever was, since she was more actively involved in the plot and unknown to him, was behind the murder of his best friend, Septimus. Attis is, in fact, motivated largely by vengeance on the men he holds responsible for that.
- The Chessmaster: One of the best in the series. Though not as good as Ehren or Tavi.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has a dry wit about him. When he sees Indivia burned to a blackened crisp, but still alive, he only comments that he likes her new hair style.
- Deathbed Confession: He openly confirms his role in manipulating Atsurak into attacking Calderon years ago after Doroga tells him when the Vord war was over, they would have words about his role in getting a good many Marat killed.
- Enemy Mine:
- In Academ's Fury Tavi sends Ehren to apprise him and Invidia of the matter with the Vord, by using Aria to get into the house, to help deal with this serious matter.
- With Gaius and the Vord. He's the first High Lord to stand with Gaius, and calls out Riva for being an obstructive idiot, because he knows that the priority is for Alera to survive – and at the same time, he can give a boost to his position.
- Establishing Character Moment: Aquitane is first presented as a short-tempered hedonist being entertained by a dancing slave, but quickly shows himself to be much cleverer than his first comments dictate by deconstructing an Argumentum Ad Hominem and then deferring to a low-born minion with more experience. The scene is also one for his wife Invidia; she was the dancing slave in disguise without him noticing.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: The reason why he hates Gaius. He blames him for failing to protect Septimus and not taking action against the overly ambitious High Lords who were plotting against him.
- Graceful Loser: When he realises that Ehren manipulated him into making himself vulnerable, leading to a mortal injury and thereby securing Tavi's position, his only comment is a thoughtful and faintly admiring, "I think the little man assassinated me."
- Happy Marriage Charade: He and Invidia will show affection toward each other when others are present. The reality is their marriage is loveless and purely for political reasons. They eventually turn on each other without the slightest hesitation.
- He Who Fights Monsters: He wanted to take down Lord Rhodes and Lord Kalarus, power hungry manipulators who were behind his friend's death. He ended up becoming just like them.
- The Hedonist: Has shades of this. He does like his wine and dancing girls.
- Idiot Ball: He holds it once and pays for it. He assumes his gambit to lure his traitorous wife out worked and he vanquished her with a powerful firecrafting that left nothing, not even ash or dust, where part of a building and , supposedly Invidia, was works. He spends the next few minutes, gloating to Amara and Bernard, whom had been fighting her. Invidia reveals she did survive by launching herself from beneath where Attis stood and dealt a slow killing blow to the man.
- Irony: The woman he marries is the woman who was behind getting Rhodes and Kalarus's attack on Septimus, which was the driving cause for Attis to usurp Gaius.
- Meaningful Name: Attis. In Phyrgian mythology, Attis is castrated by Cybele and dies. Invidia deals Attis a death blow by piercing him in the loins with a red hot sword. Cauterizing the wound prevents it from healing.
- Out-Gambitted: Shown in the last book. Gaius adopts him as Tavi's younger brother and leaves Ehren at his disposal. That way, Alera has a competent protector until the real heir gets back and one of Tavi's closest friends is close enough to Attis to arrange his death if and when he seems disinclined to get out of Tavi's way.
- Person of Mass Destruction: He's one of the most powerful crafters in Alera, nearly on par with the First Lord himself.
- Redemption Equals Death: Amara actually cries when he dies, since he'd been trying so hard to save everyone during his last few weeks.
- True Companions: With Septimus and Raucus, though he decided to sever ties with Raucus after Septimus's death.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: No, really! Far from being behind Septimus's death, he was angry at Sextus's Failure-to-Save Murder and decided that since he couldn't even protect his own son, someone else had to take over protecting the country.
- In the last book he points out that had the heroes not foiled his plans in the first book, the country would have been unified to face the threat instead of delaying so long bickering and backbiting. Even more ironic in that said foiling is what woke the Vord up in the first place.
- Conversely, if it hadn't been for his plans in the first book, it would have been much less likely that Tavi and Kitai would have been in position to break it in the first place.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Plots within plots within plots!
- Your Cheating Heart: Has an affair with Caria. Invidia also buys him dancing girls to keep him "amused."
High Lady Aquitainus Invidia
High Lady Aquitainus InvidiaAt least as ambitious as her husband, Invidia is cynical, manipulative and lethal. She'll keep her word, in public at least, but only because her reputation for fair dealing is more important than anything else she'd gain – and in private she'll do whatever is most expedient. As a High Lady, she's utterly lethal on the battlefield when she needs to be.
Tends to use watercrafting disguises a lot. In Captain's Fury, she is shot and poisoned by her sometime lover and spy Fidelias. She is now on a Vord life-support as her liver is non-functional.
Tropes applying to Invidia:
- Asshole Victim: Completely deserves her fate.
- Bald Woman: See Beauty Is Never Tarnished below.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted after Attis sets her on fire, leaving her bald and heavily scarred. The echoes of her beauty remain, but it's a far cry from how she used to look. She's constantly referred to as the "burned woman" afterwards in narration.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: More or less with her husband—it was a marriage of political advantage for both of them, and they both know it. In fact Invidia is probably more of a Big Bad than he ever was, since she is much more involved in the story and in actually manipulating people or dealing with their underlings—for instance, he was as annoyed with Senator Arnos as anyone else in the military, but Invidia was actually pulling Arnos' strings the whole time.
- Body Horror: The Vord life-support creature has its head buried in Invidia's flesh, and its claws have dug into her back. And that's before she's burned to a crisp.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Every character with significant dealings with her has attempted to take her sudden but inevitable betrayal into account, with levels of success ranging from "filleted for their trouble" to "left Invidia naked in the middle of the woods." The Vord Queen can't be angry at her for treachery because it's just what Invidia does.
- Dark Action Girl: Only when she needs to in the first few books, but pretty much solidly after joining the Vord Queen.
- Dark Lord on Life Support: See below.
- Death by Irony:
- Stabbed in the back by someone invisible, using a weapon she couldn't see coming.
- Twice, if you count Fidelias's attempt (she lived, but only because of Vord life support). A traitorous underling shot her in the back with a poisoned bolt. To add insult to injury, the weapon used was the very one that she had given to Fidelias to use to assassinate either Tavi (a loyal servant of the Realm) or Arnos (one of her lackeys). Invidia only survived because of Vord life-support.
- Demoted to Dragon: After she joins the Vord Queen.
- Enemy Mine:
- Is manipulated into helping Gaius a couple of times, since she can't take over if someone else does first.
- Offered the chance for this in the last book to join the Alerans against the Vord Queen. When she refuses, she gets killed.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: She's a bit better at this than a Vord, but not by much—she's just too cynical to really get altruism.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Not many, but she dislikes pointless deaths and would rather rule the country through manipulation of the government than all-out war. After siding with the Vord due to desperation, she's shown small signs of regretting her choice.
- Faux Affably Evil: While she'll be polite and make a number of necessary deals in public, even managing to form a bond of sorts with the Vord Queen because of how useful she is, make no mistake—the woman is a ruthless monster.
- Green-Eyed Monster: She was jealous because Septimus rejected her marriage proposal and had him killed as revenge. And, well... look at her name.
- Happy Marriage Charade: She and Attis will show affection toward each other when others are present. The reality is their marriage is loveless and purely for political reasons. They eventually turn on each other without the slightest hesitation.
- Healing Factor: As a powerful watercrafter, she can heal from most injuries quickly. To take her down, sudden and blunt trauma is best. So a surprise spear to the chest and slashed throat cannot be countered. Cauterized wounds cannot be healed either.
- The Heavy: Though she's not the ultimate villain of the series (she's always working for someone else, technically speaking), as a major antagonist in every book she's definitely the most visible in the narrative, setting in motion a wide variety of threats in the present time and the backstory. Basically, if bad things are happening in Alera, Invidia either had a hand in causing it, or will be on hand to help step on the competition.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Her near-death at the end of Captain's Fury came from Fidelias shooting her with a Cane bolt weapon. She gives him that weapon to assassinate either Arnos or Tavi.
- It's All About Me: Look above and below for examples.
- Lady Macbeth: She manipulates Attis into starting the war. She is also the one who lands the killing blow.
- Living on Borrowed Time: If her Vord life support is damaged or removed, she has hours to live in complete and utter agony.
- Meaningful Name: "Invidia" means "envy".
- Meaningful Rename: Isana names her Nihilus Invidia for her Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
- More Deadly Than the Male: She is much more of a villain than her husband.
- Oh Crap!: Suffers a small one at the end of Academ's Fury when Fidelias shows her his cloak to protect against wet weather which he left in the care of Gaius Sextus before his final mission and betrayal. He finds it in his room in the Aquitaine manor. This means not only does Gaius know where he is, but for Invidia, Gaius knows who he is working for.
- The Plan: Has nothing on her husband, though.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Although, considering that she's directly or indirectly responsible for literally every problem that comes up in the novels, this may not be entirely true. It is, however, her view of herself:Invidia: "I'm willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of a greater goal. That's not the same as condoning the rape and murder of entire steadholts. There was no profit to those actions. No purpose. It's unprofessional. Idiotic. And I have difficulty tolerating idiots."
- The Quisling: She sides with the Vord queen in return for keeping her alive and letting her rule the Alerans who accepted the queen's deal.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Has dark hair and pale skin. She's considered strikingly beautiful.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Averted. Her husband had no plans for killing her until she betrayed him and Alera to the vord. Then when she served the Vord Queen, the Queen never has any intention of killing Invidia after her betraying the Alerans. Even after she brought in a hit squad made up of High Lords and Ladies to kill the Queen, the Queen simply anticipated her possible betrayal and made plans, but still was willing to offer her another chance to stand by her side after the Queen dispatched the would-be assassins.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Aquiataine's colors are black and red.
- The Starscream: To pretty much everyone she's ever worked with. She doesn't seem to be happy unless she's plotting against someone, even if that someone is on her same side.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Standard for a powerful watercrafter. Her most notable use of it is to disguise herself as a legion laundrywoman in Captain's Fury to keep an eye on Arnos and Fidelias.
- Villainous Friendship: Develops into a type IV relationship with the Vord Queen, with the Queen being somewhat depressed by her sudden death and admitting they had formed something of a bond.
- Woman Scorned: See Green-Eyed Monster.
- You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Fidelias tries to get her to see she could reveal herself in Captain's Fury, save the trapped legions from the Canim forces, and become a hero of the Realm once more. Instead, Invidia plans to sacrifice the legions and depart with Fidelias, to make sure he is taken care of as well. Later, in First Lord's Fury, Isana almost convinces her to help her fellow Lords defeat the Vord Queen and save the nation... but she decides to try killing them too to win the day as the last woman standing, and the whole plan blows up in her face.
- Your Cheating Heart: Has an affair with Fidelias. Attis knows about it, but doesn't care.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Fidelias suspects, and is probably right, that Invidia will kill him after he finishes his duties to her in Captain's Fury.
- Discussed in First Lord's Fury, wherein Invidia (worrying about having been replaced), thinks to herself that she must appear calm, confident, and above all useful, because the Vord's only concept of retirement is becoming food for the croach.
High Lord Kalarus Brencis
High Lord Kalarus BrencisThe other main candidate (besides Aquitainus) as the First Lord's successor. The province of Kalare is one of the few where slavery is still rampant, and Kalarus has taken the twisted furycrafting of slave collars and weaponised it.
Tropes that apply to Kalarus:
- Ax-Crazy: The First Lord thinks that Kalarus would be a bit easier to deal with if he weren't quite so mad.
- Bad Ass: One can't deny his ballsiness, he pulls a Night of the Long Knives and turns the stars red.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He tries very hard to be the Big Bad, but ultimately he's just not quite up to snuff.
- The Caligula: Equally, one can't deny that this guy is a few legionares short of an army.
- The Chessmaster: Half-succeeded. His "masterful plot" fails thanks to Sextus being a better player. Gaius saw only one way to defeat him, and though Kalarus never thought of it, Gaius was pissed that it came to that – namely, annihilating the enitire province before Kalarus did.
- Compensating for Something: Lady Placida mentions he had a little problem bedding women back at the academy. Either he was impotent or he just was a bastard.
- Evil Is Petty: The entire Gaius subplot of Captain's Fury only exists to try and mitigate the damage caused by Kalarus' pettiness. For all intents and purposes he'd been defeated in the previous book. He no longer had a chance of actually becoming the First Lord. He was being beaten back by the forces of Alera and eventually his city would fall to a siege and he would be captured. Kalarus decides SCREW IT and slaves a volcano-dwelling fury to his very life. When the time finally came that armies would besiege his city (which itself would be packed to the brim with refugees), he would die and trigger a massive eruption with the intent of killing as many people as he could along the way. All to give one final middle-finger shaped farewell to Gaius after losing to him.
- The Ghost: In Captain's Fury. He is alluded to in Furies Of Calderon, since Kord got his slave collars from his province.
- I Have Your Wife: Kidnaps Lady Placida and another noble's daughter to prevent their armies from actively opposing him, and holds Rook's daughter hostage to ensure her continued good behavior. To add to his malevolence Rook's daughter is his granddaughter.
- Kick the Dog: As far as he's concerned, the day is wasted if he hasn't found at least three small furry animals to kick before lunchtime.
- Kill It with Fire: His mastery of firecrafting is on par with Gaius. It is said he personally snuffed out a raging wildfire that threatened his precious hardwood forests he exported.
- The Long Game: He and his ancestors have been planning a coup for years, heavily taxing the commoners into slavery, to build up enough money to support his secret legions.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Set himself up as this on purpose as insurance when it looked like he was going to be defeated.
- Orcus on His Throne: In Captain's Fury. Justified because Bernard and Amara crippled him at the end of Cursor's Fury – he was quite an active villain before that.
- Out-Gambitted: So, you set up a volcano to explode when you're killed and cover a few hundred square miles around it with a surveillance network set to detect the furies of the one guy who can stop you? Too bad he takes a cue from his grandson and just ''walks'' in, not using any furies until he's too close for you to prevent him from taking control of the volcano away from you.
- Shoot the Dog: Forces Gaius to do this.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- The man had child slaves fitted with obedience collars so their wills would be broken and they would become his berserkers.
- He holds his own granddaughter in a death trap to secure a High Lady and make Rook loyal to him.
Kalarus Brencis MinorisSon of Lord Kalarus and classmate of Tavi's at the Academy – where he was a vicious bully. Hasn't improved since.
Tropes that apply to Brencis:
- Captain Ersatz: There's a fair bit of Draco Malfoy in him (Brencis is nastier, though, by virtue of having inherited a bit of his dad's instability), though it's unknown if that was deliberate.
- Even funnier when you consider that Tavi is a skinny kid with black hair and green eyes...
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He may be a coward and a jerk, but when the going gets tough, he responds in kind. Like the time he disobeyed the Vord Queen despite having a discipline collar on. Also, he creates slaver collars more powerful then Invidia's, though that's at least in part because of tricks he learned from his father.
- Cuckold: In his introductory scene in Academ's Fury, it is seen Max has slept with his arranged fiance (and her identical twin sister the same night in the same room). When they are next seen together, the fiance is in a powerful cage while Brencis is putting slave collars on Citizens to make them serve the Vord Queen.
- Dark Chick: Male variant, to the Vord. Completely selfish, he has no higher motives than having a good time.
- Despair Event Horizon: Seems to have passed it after Gaius obliterates Kalare, turning him into The Hedonist who doesn't care if the Vord win.
- Dirty Coward: When he ends up facing Amara, Bernard, and, most importantly, Gaius, he Screams Like a Little Girl and runs. Understandable, though, given that Gaius is a Person of Mass Destruction.
- The Hedonist: After his dad dies and Kalare collapses under volcanic ash, he spends his time having threesomes and taking drugs.
- Mind Rape: One of the best at it.
- The Rival: In Academ's Fury, he is this to Tavi, seeing him as a freak and should be squashed. When he shows up next, he's kind of outclassed.
- Smug Snake: He likes to rub his high born status in the face of his classmates.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Kalarus doesn't think very much of him.
- Yuri Fan: After his father loses, he spends the rest of his time forcing women wearing his SlaveCollars to have sex with one another for his ammusement.
High Lord Antillus Raucus
High Lord Antillus RaucusHigh Lord of Antillus and father of Max and Crassus. Raucus spends most of his time fighting the Icemen on the Shieldwall and is a very skilled battlecrafter. He is loyal to the House of Gaius, but hates Gaius Sextus for personal reasons.
Tropes applying to Raucus:
- Arranged Marriage: To Kalarus Dorotea. He hates her and would've preferred to marry Max's mother instead.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Even more than the other High Lords. To be High Lord of one of the shield cities, you have to be adept at asskicking.
- Badass: Is one of the most experienced and skilled battlecrafters in Alera.
- The Big Guy: Of Septimus's circle of friends.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's a big guy with a large personality and no reservations about getting into fights.
- Captain Obvious: Has a tendency to point out the obvious. This is lampshaded by Lord Phrygia.
- A Father to His Men: He personally attends the funerals of his men who die fighting on the Shieldwall.
- Parental Obliviousness: He never intervened to stop Dorotea's abuse of Max, though this is likely due to his frequent absences fighting the Icemen. Things got so bad that Max ran off to join the Legions at 14.
- Person of Mass Destruction: He's one of the most powerful High Lords and is a very skilled battlecrafer.
- Playing with Fire: Though Raucus is skilled in all 6 forms of crafting, he is especially skilled at firecrafting. Lady Placida speculates this is due to his passionate nature.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: He and Max's mom. Raucus wanted to marry her, but was forced to marry Dorotea instead.
- True Companions: With Septimus and Attis, though he and Septimus didn't get along at first.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Lord Phrygia.
High Lady Antillus Dorotea
High Lady Antillus DoroteaSister of High Lord Kalarus and wife of Antillus Raucus. They have one son, Crassus. She's tried to kill Max numerous times, viewing him as a threat to Crassus's inheritance.
Tropes applying to Dorotea:
- Abusive Parents: To Max.
- Arranged Marriage: To Raucus.
- Combat Medic: Before her collaring, she could be this. Averted, however, the orders of Sarl make it so she cannot harm another person, so fighting, even justified fighting, is impossible for her.
- Good Feels Good: The collared Dorotea gives off a deep sense of fulfillment quite unlike the buried misery Isana senses in other collared slaves. Collar or no Dorotea is finding healing people and experiencing their gratitude and liking very rewarding.
- Healing Hands: She served as the Tribune Medica to the First Aleran before turning traitor. She resumes working as Tribune Medica after being collared.
- Heel–Face Brainwashing: An understated case. Her personality is still her own, even after being collared, but it becomes much more benevolent afterward.
- Made a Slave: Sarl puts a slave collar on her.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Her preferred method of removing her enemies.
- The Medic: She is an able healer, first joining the Legion as the top medical official.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Had Max's mother killed.
- Offing the Offspring: He's not her biological offspring, but Max is her stepson and she's been trying to kill him for years.
- That Man Is Dead: After being collared, she says that High Lady Antillus Dorotea no longer exists and she is simply Dorotea now.
- Wicked Stepmother: She beat Max repeatedly until he came into his furies and could stand up to her. After that she started arranging "accidents" for him.
High Lady Placidus Aria
High Lady Placidus AriaWife of High Lord Placida and one of the strongest crafters in Alera. She and her husband prefer to stay out of politics, though she eventually becomes a close friend and ally of Isana.
Tropes applying to Aria:
- Ambadassador: Serves as ambassador to the Icemen along with Isana during Princeps' Fury.
- Damsel in Distress: Kalarus captures her so he can use her as a hostage against her husband. Downplayed in that she could've escaped from him on her own, but he rigged things so that a child would die if she tried anything.
- Foil: She can be seen as the good counterpart to Invidia. Both are powerful and skilled crafters who hold a great deal of influence in Alera.
- Happily Married: To Placidus Sandos. While most High Lords marry for politics, they married for love.
- Lady of War: She's regal, elegant, and the first woman to become a Citizen by winning a juris macto duel. Later she becomes one of the top Aleran commanders during the Vord War.
- Redhead In Green: She's a redhead and frequently wears green, as it's the color of Placida.
- Silk Hiding Steel: See Lady of War.
- Team Mom: Takes this position when the other High Lords (particularly Antillus, Phrygia and her husband) are picking on each other like school kids.
Senator ArnosThe politician in charge of military spending, who dismisses any report of military threats that don't fit his preconceptions. Politically, not a supporter of the First Lord, but in a position too sensitive to ignore.
Tropes applying to Arnos:
- Bad Boss: Seen hitting and insulting a secretary who gives him bad news. Also willing to sacrifice his army just for his personal political gain.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He views himself as Invidia's equal. She views him as a pawn that, despite his stupidity, happens to be convenient for getting her husband into power. In the end, she orders Fidelias to kill him after he has outlived his usefulness by taking care of Tavi for her.
- Commander Contrarian: Depsite Tavi's innovations being highly effective, he ignores them simply because they aren't traditional.
- Dirty Coward: He has no stomach for fighting. When Bernard challenges him to a duel, he squeals in fear.
- General Ripper: Has no problem sending his troops to their deaths - or sending them to cause massive civilian casualties - just for his political career and ego.
- Hope Spot: There is a brief moment in Captain's Fury when he gives a heartfelt thanks to Tavi for sending his men in at the right time to save his own. It looks like Tavi might be able to work with him and control him, but then he gives Tavi orders. See Kick the Dog.
- Humiliation Conga: He gets fucked over from page 55 of Captain's Fury onwards.
- Jerkass: Nobody really likes him. Even Invidia finds him annoying, and merely puts up with him because he's on her side and in a useful position.
- Kick the Dog: He has an entire town ordered killed for "conspiring with the enemy" (read: not fighting to the death against an unbeatable opponent that doesn't want to kill you) just so he can get Tavi removed from his post when he inevitably refuses. Then he decides to kill them anyway as an "example" to the other towns.
- Lack of Empathy: Doesn't even bat an eye when ordering the executions of a town of innocent people. He views everyone else as pawns in a game, and truly doesn't get how war hurts others.
- A Million Is a Statistic: Indifferent to the casualties in his campaign. It's commented that he just views it as a game.
- Noodle Incident: A non-comic version. When Invidia is blackmailing him into doing what she wants, she mentions several things, including what seems to have been an assassination.
- Obstructive Zealot: He wants nothing more than his own political advantage, and does stupid and destructive things that get thousands of people, both soldiers and civilians, killed for it.
- Save the Villain: When he lays badly injured from a poisoned bolt in his chest, he thinks this is happening when Tavi calls for a healer. Tavi subverts his expectations by saying the healer is for the hostage he took not him.
- Smug Snake: Convinced he his a brilliant tactician who uses the powers the Senate gave him to kill. Everyone else is convinced that he's an idiot who somehow managed to weasel his way into a high position.
- We Have Reserves: See General Ripper and A Million Is a Statistic.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Invidia decides that Fidelias should kill him if he doesn't die during Tavi's Juris Macto against him.
Fidelias ex Cursori, a.k.a. Valiar MarcusFidelias was a Cursor and Amara's mentor, until he betrayed the First Lord for Aquitaine. A master spy and manipulator, he has greatly helped Aquitaine's bids for power until deciding Tavi would make a better ruler. He is now Tavi's advisor, in a Secret Identity. In any event, Fidelias is absolutely loyal to only one thing – his country – and will do whatever he thinks is best for it, no matter how terrible others might think it.Fidelias is absent throughout Cursor's Fury, and it's only after a moment of Fridge Logic from Amara that the narration reveals where he is: throughout the book he's been serving in the First Aleran Legion as First Spear Valiar Marcus, an old cover identity of his. Marcus later has some inner struggles with Heel–Face Revolving Door and Becoming the Mask, but ultimately abandons Lady Aquitane and sides with Tavi.
Tropes that apply to Fidelias:
- At one point in Captain's Fury, he takes a javelin in the gut. What does he do? Try to pry it out; when that doesn't work, he cuts down the shaft to make himself more comfortable, and continues giving orders and fighting until he passes out. This is after he got a spear to the thigh, had it pulled out, and cleaned and dressed the wound himself because the healers were busy with more dire cases.
- While serving as a grunt on the Shieldwall, he was raised to the House of Valiar for exceptional bravery, making a raid deep into Icemen territory to save children. Alone.
- Becoming the Mask: After taking on the guise of Valiar Marcus, Tavi successfully earns his loyalty up until the point that he comes to value his role as Valiar Marcus over his role as Fidelias, even to the point of turning against Invidia.
- Being Evil Sucks: Despite doing any number of dirty deeds for the Aquitanes, from the questionable to the deplorable, Fidelias feels rotten and empty about all of them.
- Big Bad Friend: To Amara at the beginning of the first book.
- Consummate Liar: As he said to Odiana: "Yes, I do. No, I don't. The sky is green. I am seventeen years old. My real name is Gundred."
- Death Seeker: Has shades of this.
- Death Equals Redemption: Feels that he has to die in order to find some sort of redemption. Which happens. Sort of.
- Evil Counterpart: To Bernard, same crafting, both straightforward, mentors, and a little gruff at times. Too bad Fidelias is evil(ish).
- Fallen Hero: Amara views him as this. Tavi, Max, and the First Aleran's leadership see him as this after they learn Valiar Marcus, their dependable First Spear, is also the greatest traitor to the realm.
- Famed In-Story:
- Fidelias has a reputation as one of the best Cursors, which makes his defection a Mass "Oh, Crap!" moment for his former colleagues.
- Marcus is given the name Valiar in recognition of his bravery after the aforementioned raid, one of only five men so honored. When Max learns that Valiar Marcus is the First Spear of the First Aleran, he becomes a lot more hopeful of the Legion's chances.
- Good Feels Good: Even after he turns his coat, Fidelias always likes the rare occasions when he work lets him help the ordinary people of Alera. This is part of why he ends up Becoming the Mask; it's plainly obvious that Valiar Marcus, First Spear of the First Aleran, is a lot happier than Fidelias ex Cursori.
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: Started out on the side of the Big Bad, then switched to the First Aleran, then almost to the Big Bad's Dragon, before finally sticking to Tavi.
- I Fight for the Strongest Side: ...Because they're most likely to be able to preserve the Realm. But his true loyalty is to the country itself.
- Mercy Kill: In Furies of Calderon he kills a steadhold girl who is captured by the Marat and being eaten alive by them.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Fidelias never gloats. He never does anything he hasn't thought out and planned ahead for, and he never offers his enemies any second chances or a dramatic showdown. Best demonstrated when he decides to deliver his resignation to Lady Aquitaine—with a balest bolt, from several hundred metres away, laced with two of the most lethal poisons in the Realm. One which quickens the heart rate and the other becomes more deadly the further it spreads in the body.
- Non-Indicative Name: "Fidelias" means "faithful". Which he... um, isn't. Except to the Realm itself.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Ends up on the receiving end of this - a lot - during Captain's Fury.
- Old Master: Revealed at Eastercon 2015 after the series, this will be his role among the next generation of Cursors, which would include Canim and Marat. Ehren will their "Obi-wan" them directly and Fidelias will be "Yodaing" in the shadows.
- Old Soldier: The most experienced legionare in the First Aleran. At one point, Tavi is about to give him orders, and changes his mind.
- Tavi paused, took a breath, and shook his head. "He'll know what to do."
- Only a Flesh Wound: See the first entry under Badass. Things like spears inside of him, or javelins scaled for nine-foot-tall Canim are only a mild inconvenience.
- Reliable Traitor: After turning on Gaius, he serves the Aquitaines fairly faithfully despite not liking them much personally. Until he decided Tavi would be a better leader than Attis, at least.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In Cursor's Fury, as the First Spear with years of experience, he has every right to remove Tavi from command when he knows Tavi is not a real officer, but listens to Tavi's arguments and ideas about how he knows much of the Cane. He eventually agrees to follow him.
- Retired Badass: Valiar Marcus came out of retirement to join the First Aleran. This causes Magnus to become suspicious of him, since until he came out of retirement, Marcus had vanished off the face of Alera... around the time Fidelias was known to be operating.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Ultimately averted. It was a close thing, though: when Tavi found out who Marcus really was, he ordered him crucified and had to be talked out of it by Kitai.
- Secret Identity: As Valiar Marcus.
- Secret Secret-Keeper: At the end of Cursor's Fury he has realized Rufus Scipio is Tavi, who is really the child of Septimus, heir to the House Gaius. He is a bit shocked but doesn't even dare hint that it is true when Lady Aquitaine asks.
- Sergeant Rock: Oh yes. There's a reason he's First Spear.
- That Man Is Dead: Forced on him in favor of Valiar Marcus at the end of the series. Not that he minds, though.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Like many watercrafters, though it's much harder for him due to it not being his specialty. It takes almost a month and is apparently quite painful.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He betrays Gaius in favor of the Aquitaines because he thinks Gaius is a dying old fool who won't simply bow out. If he does that, then civil war would likely be averted but he isn't. He later implies he wouldn't have betrayed Gaius if he had known of Tavi's existence, especially seeing the type of young man he became in Cursor's Fury.
- What You Are in the Dark: He finds himself in a quandary in First Lord's Fury. Magnus, he realizes, is close to putting all the pieces together and right now knows "Marcus" isn't what he claims to be. As they are talking, some vord-lizards attack. Fidelias is able to kill two, but the wounded third is close to killing Magnus. Fidelias realizes no one could blame the wounded vet for not being able to save Magnus. Help is on their way and would finish off the last one with ease. He could save himself a lot of trouble if he just lets Magnus die. Magnus realizes this too. But when he looks at his actions, he sees they are the same treacherous, self-serving evil actions that have scoured the nobility, that it is the type of thing Sextus' manipulations led to, and would be something the boy Fedilias used to be would be horrified by. Fidelias screams in fury and saves Magnus' life.
- Wild Card: For much of the series grasping just whose side he is on is the question.
- Worthy Opponent: Gaius Sextus appears to hold him in high regards even after he turns face. Enough to use furycraft to sneak into his room and leave him the swamp-exploring gear he had left behind because they're in an Enemy Mine situation against Kalarus, also serving as an If I Wanted You Dead... reminder.
- You Just Told Me: During a fight with some Vord scouts, Magnus, who has been suspicious of Valiar Marcus for a long time, shouts, "Fidelias! Behind you!" When he whirls around to look and sees nothing there, he realizes he just blew his cover. Tavi is pissed.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Gets this from both sides in Captain's Fury. Lady Aquitaine compliments him for his plan to force Tavi to either be removed from command or execute a town of innocent people, which Fidelias feels extremely guilty about, and meanwhile the other officers compliment Valiar Marcus's loyalty, when he's really a spy.
Aldrick ex GladiusProbably the second greatest swordsman alive, fears only the swordsman who once beat him – the legendary Araris Valerian. Lover of Odiana, and a mercenary in the service of the Aquitaines.
Tropes that apply to Aldrick:
- Awesome McCool Name: His name is literally Aldrick of the Sword.
- Badass: A very skilled warrior and one of the best swordsmen alive, which he likes to tell people.
- Back for the Finale: After several books' worth of non-involvement, he shows up to help the good guys in the final battle.
- Catch Phrase: "Only Araris Valerian has ever beaten me, and you're not Araris," and variants thereof.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Extra Ore Dinary: He's a very skilled metalcrafter on par with Araris.
- Fallen Hero: He was once one of Septimus' closest allies, one of his bodyguards, but sleeping with Odiana, for whom Miles was smitten, to calm her down led to Miles challenging him to Juris Macto, which led to Araris taking up the spot after Miles' "accident" and his defeat. The juris macto led to the public reveal of the incident and Septimus couldn't allow him to be near him again. After that, he became a mercenary.
- Out of Focus: Doesn't do much after the halfway point.
- Pretender Diss: His "you're not Araris" Catch Phrase, as mentioned above. When it turns out his opponent actually is Araris, he nearly wets himself.
- Punch Clock Villain: A mercenary-revolutionary with standards, if not morals.
- The Rival: To Araris.
- Secret Keeper: Based on Invidia's first conversation in Captain's Fury, Aldrick never told her or anyone else Araris is alive and where he has been hiding.
- The Stoic: Since metalcrafters can block out pain and emotion, he can be fairly emotionless.
- Unholy Matrimony: Stoic mercenary + Ax-Crazy Cloudcuckoolander = Adorable couple.
OdianaA powerful watercrafter who was enslaved as a young girl – a mind-warping slave collar combined with her powerful empathy and the trauma of slavery has driven her mad.
Tropes that apply to Odiana:
- Axe Crazy: Years being mindraped as a slave will do that to you.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Suffering from the aftereffects of such.
- Broken Bird: They don't come more broken than her.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: If, again, a lot more violent than usual.
- The Empath: Standard for a watercrafter.
- Living Lie Detector: Also standard for a watercrafter.
- The Mad Hatter: Seems quite self-aware about her own insanity.
- The Ophelia: Years as a slave broke her mind. She spends a lot of time giggling while drowning people,
- Out of Focus: Doesn't do much after the halfway point.
- Pet the Dog: Helps Isana with no real ulterior motives when they're both trapped in Kord's steadhold.
- Rape as Backstory: As a slave. When Kord and his men start raping her infront of Isana, she just grimly accepts it.
- Unhappy Medium: Hoo boy. Being brainwashed and raped just as your empath powers are coming in does nothing good for your sanity.
- Unholy Matrimony: With Aldrick. Stoic mercenary + Ax-Crazy Cloudcuckoolander = Adorable couple.
Captain DemosCaptain of the Slive, a merchant vessel that indulges in smuggling as long as they can afford the bribes. Originally recruited by Ehren to carry word of the Canim in Cursor's Fury, he's later hired to help Tavi transport Varg after their Prison Break in Captain's Fury and remains a part of the team through Princeps' Fury and First Lord's Fury. A powerful woodcrafter, as evidenced by the fact that the Slive itself is one big woodcrafting he can control at will.
Tropes that apply to Demos:
- Anti-Villain: Originally. He was the one who brought Sarl and the Vord Queen back to Canea. In his first appearance he threatens a pawnshop owner with murder, and in his second appearance he nearly follows through and then proceeds to kidnap all the women and children he can find on his way out of town. Sure, he's technically saving them from being murdered by a horde of Canim, but only so he can sell them into slavery. Yet he's somehow very likable, like a Darker and Edgier Captain Jack Sparrow. In the following book Tavi notes that he doesn't have enough chains on his ship to be a full-time slaver; he probably never really sold them as slaves and really was just trying to save them. It's just that, he's a pirate – he has a reputation.
- The Captain: A very talented smuggler.
- Green Thumb: His whole ship is controlled by his powers over wood. So making doors open as surprise attacks are something attackers should be cautious of.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He may be a smuggler who will kill you without hesitation if you can't pay him, but he dislikes slavery and is appalled by what the Canim do to their captives.
- I Gave My Word: Once Tavi purchases his service, he will see it through, even if Tavi destroys his slavery chains during the trip. That is to be a matter they will discuss after this current venture is over.
- The Promise: When Tavi replaces the man's chains he destroyed, he asks Demos if Demos approves of them, to never use any other set of chains for slavery. Demos, cynically suspecting them to be old rusty chains, agrees provided they meet his expectations. Tavi doesn't give him rusty chains, but a long length of solid gold chains. Demos accepts them and becomes Tavi's mount at sea.
- Shoot the Messenger: He almost became the victim of this trope when he delivered the final message from Kalarus to Sarl about the Canim invasion.
- The Stoic: He has two emotions: Blank, and pissed.
- The Unsmile: They are instead described within one book as showing his teeth.
Rook a.k.a. GaelleHead of the Bloodcrows (Kalarus's equivalent of the Cursors), she is Kalarus' chief spy and assassin; a minor but important recurring character.
Tropes that apply to Rook:
- Break the Cutie: What her training seems to have involved. She was raped and broken emotionally to allow her strong intelligence to remain and still be loyal to her lord. She wasn't totally broken, though...
- Dark Action Girl: Not by choice. Kalarus keeps her in line by using her daughter against her.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Heartbreakingly callously murdered by Brencis and the Vord Queen, as Jim Butcher is willing to do.
- Feed the Mole: After they discover she is a mole, she's allowed to remain with the Cursor candidates "undiscovered" because it's easier to keep an eye on her than to try to hunt down whatever replacement Kalarus would install.
- Heel–Face Turn: She defects from Kalarus' service the second she gets a serious chance to remove her daughter away from him.
- I Have Your Wife: How Kalarus keeps her under control.
- The Mole: as Gaelle
- Punch Clock Villain: A good person forced to do bad things because Kalarus has her daughter.
- Take Care of the Kids: After being enslaved by a discipline collar, her last request to Amara is this, as the one place she felt was safest from the Vord was Calderon Valley.
Phrygiar NavarisBodyguard, assassin, or blade-for-hire, Navaris doesn't care – she's in it for money and the reputation as the most dangerous swordswoman alive.
Tropes that apply to Navaris:
- Ax-Crazy: She thinks becoming a famous killer will force her father to acknowledge her.
- Dark Action Girl: A sadistic, Ax-Crazy killer with a bodycount in the hundreds if not thousands.
- Death by Irony: She dies during a duel with Tavi.
- The Dragon: To Arnos
- Duel to the Death: She uses these as an excuse to legally kill lots and lots of people, mostly just for the hell of it.
- Freudian Excuse: She was born out of wedlock and never knew her father, or even who he was; she acts as she does in the hope that if she becomes the best in the country he'll appear and acknowledge her.
- Parental Abandonment: She is the bastard child of a Citizen and commoner. Her father never acknowledged her and she might not even know his true name.
- Psycho for Hire: So very much.
- Sanity Has Advantages: Or perhaps more accurately from her perspective, Insanity Has Disadvantages.
- To Be a Master: To be the greatest swordswoman alive!
- Villainous Breakdown: Tavi talks her into one.
Araris Valerian a.k.a. FadeOne of the greatest swordsman who ever lived and once Septimus' close friend, he is believed dead by most of the world and uses the identity of Bernard's disfigured, brain-damaged slave Fade to watch over and instruct Tavi. He also develops a romance with Isana.
Tropes that apply to Araris:
- Becoming the Mask: A bit of a twist on the actual description: he isn't a con man, and he only clings to his alternate identity out of guilt. But he clings hard.
- Berserk Button: Threaten Isana in front of him. Go ahead. I dare ya.
- Big Damn Heroes: A lot. Nearly every book has him appear and perform some awesome swordsmanship, and generally defeating the enemy, or at least stalling them for other heroes to arrive.
- Cain and Abel: Averted. He loves his brother so much, he lamed him to stop him from fighting Aldrick in juris macto and being killed.
- The Cavalry: Likewise, a lot. Especially in Cursor's Fury, when Bernard, Isana, and Amara are about to be killed by Kalarus's Immortals, and in comes Fade, out of nowhere, in a dirty chef's apron, and slashes their way out.
- Chrome Champion: Does this for the final showdown.
- Confronting Your Imposter: Aldrick ex Gladius's favorite boast is to announce that the only person who's ever beaten him was Araris Valerian, "and you're not Araris." When Aldrick realizes that the scarred, apparently feeble-minded and harmless slave he's just delivered this boast to really is Araris, he all but collapses.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: His cover. He's very good at it. He abandons this after Cursor's Fury, where he openly appears as Tavi, and later Isana's bodyguard, as Araris Valerian.
- Extra Ore Dinary: His metalcrafting ability makes him the deadliest swordsman alive. Also came in handy around Bernardholt's forge.
- Failure Knight: He blames himself for Septimus' death and falling in love with his best friend's wife.
- Faking the Dead: Part of the reason he became Fade is so that everyone would belive the greatest swordsman in the world had died.
- First Episode Spoiler: Some fairly critical details about him are revealed early on, which can make him tricky to talk about without giving plot twists away.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Played with; he disguised himself by burning his face with the Legions' brand for cowardice. He's no coward, but he ''thinks'' he is.
- Master Swordsman: Widely renowned as the single greatest swordsman in Alera. After a while, the narration simply stops describing most of his fights, summing them up in lines like, "Nine men rushed him. They died."
- Meaningful Name: When your surname means 'all-heal', and you end up with the master healer, and at least metaphorically healing her....
- The Mentor: To Tavi. He's also the first person to realize that Tavi has become capable of furycraft. He specifically trains Tavi in sword-fighting.
- My Greatest Failure: Blames himself for Septimus's death because Septimus had ordered him to leave and protect Isana instead. He failed to protect her sister Alia, and thought his delivery of Tavi caused him to be without furycrafting.
- My Greatest Second Chance: Views Tavi Septimus' son and Isana Septimus' lover/wife as these.
- Not So Stoic: It took one hell of a lot of effort, though.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Again, he's good at this, in his Fade persona. He maintained it in view of anyone for over fifteen years. Even Bernard never caught on to the act.
- OOC Is Serious Business: His brother, Sir Miles, knows him very well. Miles knows Rari would have died standing next to Septimus, however, he didn't. He has been protecting some boy for the past fifteen years. What could have made him abandon his best friend in a time of his greatest need? Cue Oh Crap! to Miles' Fridge Brilliance on the matter.
- The Penance: Part of his branding himself is to pay for his perceived cowardice and his Greatest Failures.
- Percussive Prevention: In order to save his brother, Sir Miles, from an almost certain death in a duel, Araris arranged it so that Miles broke his leg. Then Araris fought the duel in his stead and won.
- Posthumous Character: Died before the start of the series in the Marat war. That's what is commonly believed, anyway. The reality is that he's been living undercover as the slave Fade.
- Scars Are Forever: That brand on his face isn't going away any time soon.
- Second Love: For Isana.
- The Stoic: Not even Isana can pick up on his emotions most of the time. That's right, he's stoic on the outside and the inside.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: His look as Fade as long, unkempt hair, slacked unintelligent face, dulled speech, and the burn mark on his face to hide his distinctive features. It works well enough because people saw the coward's mark and looked no further. Even his brother dismissed the similarities.
- The Worf Effect: Araris alternates between descriptions of his martial prowess and scenes of him getting roundly trounced. For example, when Nevarris nearly guts him in Captain's Fury, or when the Vord stun him by hitting him with a door toward the beginning of First Lord's Fury.
Antillar "Max" MaximusIllegitimate son of one of the most powerful High Lords, Max is Tavi's roommate at the Academy and a close personal friend. Lives life for the moment, as he doesn't expect to outlive his father. Powerful in Earthcrafting (especially the ability to induce lust), with a respectable skill in watercrafting as well. As one of the nobility, is also capable in all six elements. Seems to have fallen into the role of Tavi's primary sidekick.
Tropes that apply to Max:
- Big Brother Instinct: He sometimes took whippings for things Crassus did in order to protect him.
- The Big Guy: Of Tavi's group from the Academy.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Very loud, a ladies man and the most talented furycrafter of Tavi's academy friends.
- The Charmer: Very much so. He spends a night with a pair of twins at one point.
- Dysfunctional Family: His father was largely absent fighting on the Shieldwall, leaving Max at the mercy of his stepmother Dorotea, who killed his mother and regularly had him beaten. After he stood up to her, she began arranging "accidents" for him. It was this that caused Max to run off and join the Legions.
- Flat "What.": His reaction to being told the catapult he just destroyed, and promised to help rebuild, was made with no crafting and the new one will be like that.
- Handsome Lech: Occasionally verging on Chivalrous Pervert.
- Heroic Bastard: A good man who doesn't resent his half-brother for his mistreatment at the hands of his Wicked Stepmother. He even took the blame for a few things to protect his half-brother.
- Healing Hands: He isn't as skilled as other watercrafters, but he has enough skill for minor wounds.
- Ladykiller in Love: He is very interested in Cereus Veradis, who won't give him the time of day.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: In contrast to Tavi, who is set only on Kitai, Max goes through a series of one-night stands. He lampshades it.
- Meaningful Name: Antyllus, son of Marc Antony, who did die young because his father's death stripped him of his protection - because Gaius Octavian murdered him.
- Mood Whiplash: Causes it just by wandering in and out of scenes. Especially when his past comes up, he goes from happy to dark and curt quickly.
- Parental Issues: Well, he is a bastard son of a High Lord. Additionally, his stepmother had his mother killed and has been trying to do the same to Max for years in order to shore up her son Crassus' position as heir.
- Really Gets Around: His first scene in Academ's Fury has him having just enjoyed a night with twins. Whether they did a Twin-Threesome or he just took them in turns is unsaid, but Tavi finding him and dragging him from the bed of some young woman during their schooling wasn't uncommon.
- The Rival: Dorotea sees him as this to Crassus.
- Sad Clown: A lot of his heroic lechery and clowning around is because he knows his stepmother's planning to murder him anyway, so he sees no point in being too serious about life.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Despite his "Sacred Right" to complain, Max would give his life for Tavi.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: He and Crassus. Max is a fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser. Crassus is quieter and more thoughtful. They become an effective team over the course of the series.
Antillus CrassusMax's legitimate half-brother, and their father's heir.
Tropes that apply to Crassus:
- A Father to His Men: Maybe moreso than Tavi; not quite as popular, perhaps, but less willing to put lives in danger. Still generally liked and respected.
- The Atoner: For his mother's treachery.
- Bash Brothers: Literally. Max and Crassus together are nigh-on unstoppable.
- Only Sane Man: Considering his brother is not the most far-thinking person, Ehren is a somewhat cold spy, his boss's plans are all Crazy Enough to Work, and his boss's girl does whatever the hell she wants to, Crassus is pretty much forced into this position.
- The Rival: To Max, in a more friendly way as the story progresses.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: He and Max. Max is a fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser. Crassus is quieter and more thoughtful. They become an effective team over the course of the series.
- The Strategist: His main weakness is that he is too cautious (which nearly costs him dearly), but even that usually serves him well since he is able to sense traps more easily than anyone else. In pretty much every other respect he's an excellent leader and tactician.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When he finds out that his mother is alive and Tavi never told him, he doesn't take it well and calls him out on it.
Marat as a whole
A race of elf like creatures who bond with animals. They are nomadic after their cities were destroyed centuries ago by the Vord.
Tropes that apply to all Marat
- After the End: They once had an Alera-style civilization with large cities, but they were wiped out by the Vord and left with only a handful of "barbarian" survivors.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Marat, who are divided into tribes based on their animal totems and live in the lands east of Alera, forsaking contact except when they invade the bridging valley.
- The Beastmaster: The Marat are a race of these, split into tribes based on their individual chosen animal.
- Berserk Button:
- Marat believe that a person's strength is within the flesh of their bodies, and that by eating their opponents they can gain that strength. Because of that, they view scalping or other mutilation of their fellows to be an attempt to steal their strength, and are more infuriated by that than the very deaths of their allies.
- Marat bond with a totem animal (Their chala), this bond is permanent and unbreakable. To harm their chala is viewed as equivalent to harming themselves or their loved ones, not just a pet.
- The Bet: The Marat like to place bets on several things, including their duels to the death.
- Bond Creatures: The Marat can do this with any animal and call their Bond Creatures "chala"; they gain not just communication with their animal, but actually begin to gain some of their physical attributes.
- Human Aliens:
- The Marat are almost indistinguishable from humans, with the only physical difference being a higher body temperature.
- Marat are also mentioned as being very pale, all of them have silver-white hair, longer canine teeth and canted eyes.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Marat eat their enemies to "partake of their strength," with some clans eating them while they are still alive.
- It Was a Gift: The Marat believe that if given a gift from a friend, it would disrespect that friend if they don't use it. So, Tavi invokes this to the Marat cavalry that comes to help by personally giving each rider armor and clothes.
- Kaleidoscope Eyes: Marat children, called the gendered neutral term whelps, have multi-colored eyes until the time of their bonding. When they bond with their chala, their totem, their eyes change permanently to the eye color of their chala.
- This Is Not My Life to Take: The Marat have strict hunting ethics. The prey of a person is that person's to kill, whether animal or person. If Tavi is after someone, the Marat wouldn't kill the person but would work to contain the person to allow Tavi to kill him. That said, if the person attacks, they will defend themselves.
- Our Elves Are Better: Marat are basically neolithic Wood Elves, though the term is never explicitly used for them.
KitaiKitai is a girl of the humanoid Marat race, and Tavi's frequent partner, foil, and love interest. Tough and athletic, like Tavi she has learned to rely on her wits to beat powerful Crafters. Like all Marat, she has bonded telepathically with a being of another species, but is unique in that her chala is sentient (namely, Tavi). As a result, she often feels isolated from both cultures. As Tavi develops his Furycrafting, she becomes able to share it through their bond.
Tropes that apply to Kitai:
- Action Girl: She fights side-by side with Tavi.
- Ambadassador: Becomes Marat ambassador to Alera after Academ's Fury.
- Battle Couple: With Tavi.
- Cute Little Fangs: Part of being a neolithic elf.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kitai has very little respect for... well, much of anything, really.
- Dual Wielding: Her fighting style of choice.
- Fate Worse Than Death: To her, the lose of Tavi but she lives on would be this. For this reason, she wants to be with Tavi, in life or death.
- Foil: For Tavi. Both lost a parent when they were young because of another clan or noble attacking them. Both sought to be "normal" for their own culture, Tavi wants Furycrafting and Kitai wants a horse. She is basically a princess, as her father is headman of one tribe and representative of many others to the Alerans, and Tavi is, unknown to him, also a prince.
- Humanity Is Insane: Routinely points out the irrationality of human society. Tavi generally agrees.
- Greater Need Than Mine: A variation. After the attack by the Vord Queen to kill their medics, Kitai awakens enough to see a dead Foss, and both Tavi and Crassus dying. Dorotea is also down from her collar. Does she save Tavi first, with her limited energy? She uses it to save Dorotea, knowing the High Lady would have the power to save both Tavi and Crassus and others later in combat.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She wanted a horse.
- In Harm's Way: She joins Tavi in leading from the front many times. She even refuses to sit in the back when he finds out she is pregnant.
- Kaleidoscope Eyes: In the first book, Kitai's eyes are described as "iridescent" – this is apparently a trait of all Marat "whelps" (i.e. those who haven't bonded to a totem yet). They change permanently to green once she bonds to Tavi.
- The Lancer: Again, to Tavi. She will support his crazy plans, but also call him out on his stupidity and when his pride is blinding him.
- Locked into Strangeness: Her bonding with Tavi gave her matching green eyes. It was seeing her eyes matching Tavi's that told her father and aunt what had happened between them.
- Mindlink Mates: With Tavi thanks to her bonding with him. They can sense the other one's presence and general moods. And when he gains furycrafting, she gains it too.
- Non-P.O.V. Protagonist: She shows up in every book, usually fights side-by-side with Tavi, but we never see her thoughts.
- Obfuscating Disability: For much of Cursor's Fury she follows Tavi as a camp follower but pretends to be blind and kind of dumb, just playing her flute outside the brothel. The blindness is to cover her matching green eyes and dirty hair to cover her white Marat hair.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: See the Obfuscating Disability entry.
- Phantom Thief: In Academ's Fury. It's good practice for assisting with a jailbreak, and comes in handy again when they need to smuggle Varg out.
- Pregnant Badass: Through all of the last book.
- Pretend Prejudice: Half her lines are about how much Alerans suck. She still seems to get along with them pretty well.
- Proud Warrior Race Girl: Like her father.
- Samus Is a Girl: Tavi takes an embarrassingly long time to figure out that Kitai's a girl when he first meets her.
- Saying Too Much: When talking with Isana about their bond, Kitai corrects Isana's thought the bond is like watercraft-based empathy as it is much deeper and intimate. Isana realizes the only way Kitai could know what watercraft-based empathy felt like was if she experienced it personally. This leads Isana to realize Kitai, and by extension Tavi, can furycraft.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Doroga is a bit fugly, but still pretty cool.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Does this to Tavi whenever he does something stupid or immoral.
- In Captain's Fury his quiet acceptance of slavery in defending Demos having slavery chains gets some ire from her until he destroys the chains.
- His realizing his just having sex with her and not properly courting her in either of their cultures, could be used against them politically and her personally, being called the Prince's whore by Citizens.
Doroga, Headman of the Gargant TribeDoroga is Kitai's father and one of the most important Marat chieftains. He is blunt and earthy, but anyone who speaks with him for long realizes that he is surprisingly intelligent and canny. Doroga is the first to recognize the menace the Vord pose to the world, remembering them from old Marat legends, and also sends Kitai to learn about the Alerans, bringing her into contact with Tavi again.
Tropes that apply to Doroga:
- Berserk Button: Do not bring up his late wife, her clan, or their destruction in a disparaging way. He came close to killing another clanhead when he did so.
- Big Damn Heroes: On a regular basis.
- The Big Guy: His chala is a giant ground sloth. It goes with the territory.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Doroga is always happy when finding a good fight.
- Bond Creatures: Walker the gargant.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: As Kitai puts it, the problem with Doroga is that he does not seem wise.
- Can Not Spit It Out: Not Doroga himself, but he's fond of mocking Alerans (primarily Amara and Bernard) about their inability to talk candidly about sexual topics.
- Carry a Big Stick: His weapon of choice is a cudgel nearly too big for a High Lady with powerful earthcrafting to even lift.
- Cool Old Guy: Hell yeah.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kitai had to get it from somewhere. Particularly memorable was his editorializing when asked to mediate a juris macto.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Bernard. So much so that Bernard is willing to challenge a Senator who had insulted Doroga.Bernard: Senator. If you call my friend a liar one more time, I will take it badly.
Arnos: Excuse me?
Bernard: I suggest you find an alternate shortsighted, egomaniacally ridiculous reason to blatantly, recklessly ignore an obvious threat to the Realm simply because you don't wish it to exist. If you cannot restrain yourself from base slander, I will be pleased to meet you in a juris macto and personally rip your forked tongue from your head.
- Genius Bruiser: No one ever expects a huge, ugly, Cool Old Guy to be quite as canny as Doroga is. He's a decent tactician, learned to read and write surprisingly quickly, has pulled off at least one pretty good Batman Gambit, and has a tendency to function as all-purpose wisdom dispenser whenever Jim Butcher needs to give a character some advice.
- It Was a Gift: He is regularly seen wearing the tunic Gaius gave him at the end of the first book. That said, the sleeves were too small for his arms, so had to remove them.
- Papa Wolf: When he sees some alien bug attacking his daughter, he immediately grabs the nearest coffin-sized boulder and chucks it at it.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Oh yes. Doesn't mean he's not a realist.
- Shipper on Deck: His closing remarks in Furies of Calderon has him say Tavi is "doomed", and he and his wife were just like Kitai and Tavi, which just involved clear disagreeing.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: He's so heavily muscled that he had to tear the legionare's tunic he wears to make it a vest; otherwise he couldn't get it on.
- Super Strength: As a result of his chala being a gargant. Most clearly demonstrated in the first book, where he picks up a coffin-sized boulder and throws it. And even manages to hit his target.
AtsurakMarat headman of the Herdbane tribe, and also a hordemaster (warleader of several tribes). Serves as one of the primary villains in Furies of Calderon.
Tropes that apply to Atsurak:
- Berserk Button: Harming his chala. The fact Tavi and Bernard killed his really angered him for much of the book.
- Disc One Final Boss: The Aquitaines were pulling his strings.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Standard for the Marat.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Fidelias kills him quickly, to get crucial evidence back, as soon as he is no longer useful.
- Starter Villain: Introduced in the first book to show how skilled the Marat are in combat and how skilled Attis and Fidelias are at manipulating people.
- Unwitting Pawn: See Disc One Final Boss above. The Aquitaines wanted to arrange a Marat invasion as an excuse to swoop in to the rescue and get Gaius deposed for incompetence. Doroga saw through them, but Atsurak was dumb enough to fall for it.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Like all Marat, he has white hair. He also attempts to sacrifice and eat an Aleran.
Canim as a whole
A race of gigantic (seven feet tall is short for them) humanoid wolves
Tropes that apply to the Canim:
- Blood Magic: Their ritualists' specialty. Incidentally, it only works with the blood of sentient beings.
- Enemies Equals Greatness: Inherent in the concept of gadara. Having a strong and cunning opponent declare you gadara is a powerful testament to your own strength and cunning.
- Fantastic Caste System: Canim society is divided into a number of different castes, of which four are known:
- Warriors, the most frequently encountered Canim in the series and the most respected
- Ritualists, called bloodspeakers by the Canim, who use Blood Magic to cast a wide variety of unpleasant spells
- Makers, the common workers and farmers of the Canim
- Hunters, the Canim's spies and assassins
- Friendly Enemy: Combine it with Worthy Opponent and you get a gadara. To the Canim, a gadara is more trustworthy than an ally, as while an ally can betray you, a gadara is still an enemy and thus one can expect violence from them. Generally, to be acknowledged as a gadara, the two who declare themselves as such exchange swords in front of witnesses. Prior to the events of Captain's Fury, no Canim had ever had an Aleran gadara, until Tavi became one of these with both Nasaug and Varg.
- Language Barrier: An interesting example runs between them and the Alerans. Sure, they're capable of learning each others' verbal languages, but among Canim, body language speaks just as loudly, if not moreso. Most Alerans don't realize they have to ensure their posture and body language send the right messages when dealing with Canim.
- Proud Warrior Race: Though interestingly, their warriors exist to serve the Maker caste, instead of the other way around.
- Really 700 Years Old: Canim live for hundreds of years. At one point Tavi gets to know a Cane who's nine hundred years old, who is elderly but certainly not decrepit.
Ambassador VargVarg is the Canim Ambassador to Alera. He's a lot smarter than most Alerans give him and his kind credit for, and recognizes Tavi's capabilities fairly quickly. After getting double-crossed by his advisor, he spends some time in Aleran prison until Tavi breaks him out to get his aid.
Tropes that apply to Varg:
- Ambadassador: Naturally.
- Badass Grandpa: Literally and figuratively. He is several centuries old, by the Aleran calender and only a hundred by the Cane calender, but is one of the strongest and deadliest fighters in the series. He even has grandchildren who survived with their mother (Varg's daughter-in-law).
- Canis Major: Canim are very large.
- The Chessmaster: And teaches some to Tavi.
- Cutting the Knot: He knows Sarl is working with some unknown power to take down Gaius and the Alerans. He cannot abide by such underhanded and deceitful methods being done, especially since it isn't Sarl's place to act against code and ethics of their kind. So, he does the one thing he can do: Try to talk with Gaius about this matter, warning him of the attack. When Tavi gets in the way, so Varg won't see an incapacitated Gaius, Varg later just kidnaps Kitai to make Tavi follow him to the Vord's base.
- Everybody Knew Already: Apparently, Canim have a sense of smell strong enough to identify family relations. This means that he doesn't need to be told who Tavi's mother and grandfather are. In fact, Varg knew two books before Tavi did. This also creates some Fridge Brilliance when one thinks about the scene where they met – Tavi was bluffing, pretending to be what he actually was.
- Genius Bruiser: He's both one of the smartest and physically most powerful characters in the books – and considering this series, that's saying something.
- Large Ham: When given a reason, he can be quite the melodramatic guy."I AM STILL THIRSTY! WHO WILL DRINK WITH ME?"
- The Nicknamer: Gives Tavi the Meaningful Nickname Tavar.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Always seen wearing his armor and he enjoys a good fight. He also hates backstabbing and the trickery Sarl used with the vord.
- Really 700 Years Old: His exact age is never mentioned, but admits to having played ludus for at least 600 years.
- Smart People Play Chess: He taught Tavi to play ludus.
- Spanner in the Works: Topples the Vord plan to assassinate Gaius in Academ's Fury by Cutting the Knot and physically dragging Tavi over to their nest. The Vord knew that he suspected them, but didn't think he'd be listened to because he was widely distrusted in the Capital.
- The Spock: Varg loves combat and will engage in it easily but he, like many wiser Cane, can subvert his own violent tendencies with cold logical reasoning. He will take an insult or jibe from Tavi, his respected enemy, when Tavi has a point. This is best seen when Tavi deliberately kept from him the fact about 10,000 of his countrymen are being held by Shuaran Cane to be bled for the war against the Vord. Tavi needs Varg for the mission on hand to save Alerans, Shuran Cane and his own countrymen, not running off to help his people in the short-run. Despite this, Varg is able to work through his rage and understand Tavi's manipulations and reasons. However, it is pointed out to Tavi, had any of his people been hurt or failed to be saved because of this subterfuge, Varg would have embraced his violent tendencies and attacked Tavi.
- Wolfman: A nine foot tall Chessmaster Wolfman at that.
- Worthy Opponent: To Tavi, and the Alerans in general. The word is gadara. The Canim actually prefer having Worthy Opponents to friends: they're people you can respect and even like, yet will always keep you on your toes. However, Tavi knows this only goes so far. If Varg senses he could get more out of withdrawing his support for Tavi, he will do it. Note that Nausag, Varg's son and protege, addresses him as gadara-sar, meaning "Worthy Opponent-Father."
- You Didn't Ask: When Tavi goes to explain that Isana is actually his mother, Varg's response is basically, "Yes, I know. I can smell it." He then goes on to mention that he knew Tavi was the First Lord's grandson since he'd first met him; he just figured he shouldn't say anything, because who knew what those crazy Alerans were thinking and maybe it was normal.
SarlA Canim ritualist, who is Varg's political rival. Undermines Varg by seeking alliances behind his back including with the Vord.
Tropes that apply to Sarl:
- Blood Magic: Like all ritualists. And like more corrupted ones, he uses the blood of sacrificed people and not his own stock.
- Burning the Ships: The first thing he does upon landing in Alera is burn the ships they arrived in. This way, Nasaug's forces would be commited to the fight, and would have no means of retreat or escape.
- Dirty Coward: Tavi knows it, and uses it to make him look like an idiot.
- Evil Sorcerer: An evil, Smug Snake who uses Blood Magic.
- I Have Your Wife: Sarl manages to force Nasaug and the warrior caste into following him over to Alera by kidnapping several families and holding them hostage.
- General Failure: A downplayed example, but still evident. Strategically, Sarl is relatively solid. His overall plan to defeat the First Aleran in Cursor's Fury failed solely because one of his agents got pickpocketed by pure happenstance for reasons totally unrelated to suspicion or being discovered, and even then he almost totally crippled the army's chain of leadership in a single attack. Tactically, he's a complete mess. Misunderstanding his own race's basic advantages in combat and holding back a brilliant planner like Nasaug are just two examples.
- Gone Horribly Right: He sought power to destroy Varg and the Alerans. He allied himself with the Vord and even helped the Queen escape to his lands in order to recultivate the power. The Vord do have that power and the Queen decided to turn on Sarl after she got there.
- The Nose Knows: Like all Cane, Sarl has an exceptional sense of smell. He was even capable of recalling the scent of a messenger boy he only met once two years prior, now standing before him in the guise of someone else. It almost gets Tavi killed, had he not lucked into the one item that could've possibly saved him from Sarl's magic.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Subverted. Sarl's a Cane and therefore you'd expect him to be one of these, but he's really a coward who only fights after Tavi goads him into it because not going after Tavi when called a coward would make him lose major support.
- Smug Snake: Treats the Makers like trash, insults Nasaug and Tavi and generally belives himself to be powerful.
- The Starscream: To Varg.
- Treacherous Advisor: Though Varg saw through him pretty well except for that bit with the Vord.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Using other people's blood for his casting means that he has access to a lot of power but he tends to be sloppy in his application.
- Arguable. Sarl never actually misses a single one of his attacks. Tavi just always had a method of surviving it.
- Sloppy in terms of effects. While the attacks work, Nasaug gets similar results using much less power. Sarl tends to favor big flashy attacks that use a lot more power than is required.
- Arguable. Sarl never actually misses a single one of his attacks. Tavi just always had a method of surviving it.
- Villain Teamup: Him and High Lord Kalarus. Together, their combined power and ingenuity almost brought Alera itself to its knees. High Lord Kalarus stationed his armies at key positions scattered around the country, and arranged for them to strike multiple fronts at the exact same time. Their signal? Sarl using his ritual magic to turn the entire country's skies red, filling them with acidic tentacle monsters to stop aerial communication, transport, and preventing Gaius from observing anything that happens in the realm. On Sarl's end, Kalarus' sister is stationed within the one Legion standing between him and the country. He calls a lightning strike down upon all the officers of the Legion while they're having a meeting, planning to leave the sister alive using a gem given to her that makes her immune to his magics. She would take command of the Legion as the sole surviving officer and retreat from the area, allowing Sarl's forces a solid defensible foothold in Alera. The scope of this teamup takes the entire cast by surprise.
- Wolfman: He is a Cane.
NasaugLeader of the Canim warriors who arrive in Alera with Sarl, Nasaug is honorable yet ruthless and above all a highly competent military commander. He is one of Tavi's primary antagonists (albeit a respected one) throughout the middle part of the series.
Tropes that apply to Nasaug:
- Anti-Villain: He's only on Alera because he has to be, but since he's here, he's going to do the best job he can.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Oh, yes.
- Badass Family: Varg is his father.
- The Chessmaster: Carefully manipulates events so that Sarl gets killed and his ritualist cronies are disgraced, leaving him free to pursue his own objectives.
- Dragon Ascendant: Takes over complete command of the Canim forces after Sarl dies.
- Dragon with an Agenda: To Sarl at first. Lampshaded later by Varg, who describes his actions at the beginning of the war as feeding Sarl to the Tavar. When it's put like that, you almost feel sorry for the poor bastard.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Like his father.
- Smart People Play Chess: Including with the enemy commander in the middle of a bloody battle.
- The Starscream: Actively works against Sarl to betray him and seize power. This is good for the Canim, because Nasaug is exponentially more competent than Sarl. This is bad for the Alerans for the same reason.
- The Strategist: A very gifted one who matches Tavi for two years. His first gambit in Cursor's Fury not only aims to allow his warriors reclaim the fallen on the battlefield while playing ludus with Tavi, but show Tavi a means of defeating Sarl and delays the next engagement between the two sides long enough for night to come which would help his forces, who can see far better in low-light situations.
- Submissive Badass: To Varg, who notes that Nasaug is four hundred years old and a skilled Warmaster in his own right, but who nonetheless submits to the authority of his mentor and father.
- Wolfman: Like all Canim.
- Worthy Opponent: To Tavi, and also to Varg, his mentor and father.
- Xanatos Gambit: As Tavi observes, his strategies never serve just a single purpose. He sees to it that he has many paths to a victory.
Master MorakOne of the few decent Canim ritualists, who believes in the following the Old Way of using one's own blood for magic instead of another being's.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Shows the difference between a master ritualist and a novice when he beats a younger ritualist in a quick draw of spells and makes the Cane literally vomit up his guts.
- Badass Boast: "Clouds of acid are for amateurs!"
- To clarify for those not quite as familiar with the series, most ritualists create clouds of acid with their magic. Morak creates clouds of Eldritch Abomination.
- Blood Magic: Like all Canim Ritualists, however he uses his own blood rather than the blood of others.
- Good Old Ways: He uses his own blood to fuel his spells, not the blood of others like Sarl does.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: His arms are covered with self-inflicted scars. For him (and other ritualists) his are a good thing, as it shows that they use their own blood instead of others' for their magic.
- Klingon Promotion: A variation. He didn't kill Khral, the leader of the Ritualists just left on a sacred pilgrimage before Tavi's trialnote . As none of of his lieutenants wanted to step up in fear of Khral's return and displeasure at them taking his spot, the job fell to Morak.
- Self-Harm: Believes in harming only himself for his magic and incidentally carries around a lot of bandages as a consequence of that.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Was willing to listen to Tavi's side of the story involving the deaths of the makers and his solution to the problem and killed the Canim trying to use their deaths as an excuse to attack the Alerans.
- Weak, but Skilled: Since he only uses his own blood for casting spells the amount of power available to him is low compared to ritualists like Sarl but he is incredibly efficient at using the power he has.
- We Have Reserves: A variation. He is more than willing to give the Alerans some aide as it puts their forces more on the front line while protecting his fellow Canim. To his Aleran allies, this is considered a good thing.
- Wolfman: He is a Cane.
- Worthy Opponent: To Varg. They are each other's Garada.
The Vord as a whole
A Horde of Alien Locusts accidentally awakened at the beginning of the series.
Tropes that apply to the Vord:
- Always Chaotic Evil: Inverted. They are a very lawful evil, especially the current Queen who would honor deals struck with her. The others under her rule are also lawful, justified by being part of a Hive Mind.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Vord not controlling an Aleran, Canim, Marat, etc. are usually gigantic bugs. Queens, of course, excepted.
- Captain Ersatz: They are directly inspired by StarCraft's Zerg.
- Evil Evolves: The queens constantly breeds new forms to adapt to changing conditions and correct any weaknesses. Face them with Knights Aeris? You get flying vordknights. Face them with a legion shieldwall? You get mantis warriors that attack over the top of it. Need to take down 9 foot tall wolfmen? You get bigger and bulkier soldiers. Face them with defensive fortifications? You get giant vordbulks that can plow through them.
- Hive Mind: Vord are only intelligent around a Vord queen. Otherwise, they are just animals.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: It's even implied they came from space.
- Malignant Plot Tumor: They're introduced in a Side Quest in the first book and appear to be dealt with as a threat in the second – only to come back with a vengeance later on, now on the verge of world domination.
- Meat Moss: The Croach is the equivalent to the Zerg's creep. It serves as a security measure (if you break its surface the Vord come running), sustenance (digesting organic matter into a nutrient soup for the Vord to feed on), and reproduction (almost all new Vord are spawned from it).
- Outside-Context Villain: The Vord would come straight out of science fiction, if it weren't for the fact that they're overrunning the very high fantasy Alera.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Their Takers crawl into your mouth and take control of your body.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death:
- Once the queen dies, most of the horde simply starves to death in about six months.
- Averted with the vord the Awakened Queen gives to the Alerans who surrendered to her and asked for amnesty. They and their lines are continuing to follow her commands to protect the holders even after her death.
- The Virus: Vord Takers basically turn their victims into zombies.
- Zerg Rush: Although, oddly enough, without Hollywood Tactics.
Vord QueenThe leader(s) of the Vord. There are a few distinct Queens. The Awakened Queen is the one woken up by Tavi and Kitai; she absorbed some of their blood, mutating her and making her a nonstandard Queen. The Calderon Queen tries to attack Calderon Valley in Academ's Fury. The Canea Queens are the ones born in Canea. Each of them are very scary.
Tropes that apply to the Vord Queen:
- And I Must Scream: The Awakened Queen's sanity is pushed hard because she can sense what her minions are doing. This is natural for any Queen, but with her watercrafting-empowered empathic senses she can sense through her minions. As a result, she can sense the emotions of the very Alerans she is sending her forces to kill, including the last emotions they feel upon death or killing her minions.
- Anti-Villain: The Awakened Queen only attacks Alera because that is the only way she believes she will be able to survive the inevitable war with her daughters. She spends most of her time trying to understand Aleran customs. Tavi actually feels sorry for killing her and assures her that he will make it as quick as possible.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Hell yeah! She is a powerful and dangerous force. When her junior Queens sense she is defective, they will aim to kill her immediately and the Elder Queen responds in kind.
- Batman Gambit:
- The Queen that attacks Calderon in Academ's Fury anticipates where the sick and wounded after battle will be put so she could send in her body-snatching worms and claim more of them.
- The Awakened Queen is fully aware Invidia will betray her. It is simply a part of her nature, like a slive has poison, and so allows her to plot behind her back to bring in most of the remaining High Lords and Ladies to kill her knowing she would turn on them to secure herself a better defense against the remaining Citizenry. She just set a trap to benefit her in the end.
- Big Bad: Of the second half of the series.
- Bishonen Line: She starts out very buggy-looking. When we see her next, she looks more human, but still has obvious chitinous plates of armor. Her last form is an Uncanny Valley-tastic Green-Skinned Space Babe copy of Kitai with some of Tavi's features.
- Black Eyes of Evil: One of the things that gives away that she isn't human.
- Creepy Child: The first Queen has extremely creepy childlike aspects to her. As Invidia notes, she's only nine years old. Her 'Doll House' is a steadhold in Vord territory she created to try to comprehend good. It's just as scary as it sounds.
- Cute Monster Girl: She tries, but...
- Dying Race: The prime Vord Queen creates sterile "daughters" deliberately because they inevitably rise up and attempt to destroy her. With her death in the final book, the only queen left, in Canea, does not have the ability to produce more.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- The first Queen does care about the junior queens and horde even if the queens would kill her for having such affections.
- The first Queen genuinely likes Individa and only realizes the bond was present after she was killed.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Calderon Vord Queen doesn't get why Amara would give her own life to kill the queen. Later on, the Prime Queen takes measures to understand humanity more properly. Unfortunately, this tends to make things even worse. For instance, she attempts to serve dinner to people and have small talk, but is willing to brutally murder innocents because they are inconvenient. She doesn't understand why this is wrong.
- Genius Bruiser: One of the scariest things about the Vord Queens in general is how incredibly smart they are. The first Queen is so intelligent she's almost like a Zerg version of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Looks like a green-skinned, black eyes cross between Kitai and Tavi's aunt. Unsurpising since Kitai and Tavi's blood is what awoke her.
- Hive Queen: Well, duh.
- Hollywood Tactics: Averted. The queens are smart, and while they have the numbers to Zerg Rush, they use very intelligent tactics while doing so. In Academ's Fury, before the number of Vord became completely ridiculous, the first queen fought using a devastating series of ambushes before moving in to crush her weakened enemies.
- Humanity Is Infectious / Intrigued by Humanity: The primary Vord Queen. Her daughters want to kill her for that. In fact, are genetically driven to kill her for that.
- I Have Your Wife: To draw Tavi to her quickly and not have him plot some long term revenge, she captures his mother Isana. To keep her prisoner from committing suicide to avert this trope, the Queen took Araris, Isana's second love hostage as a counterweight.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Subversion: the fact that she and her daughter queens tend to go around totally nude except for a cloak just highlights how unsettling they are.
- Lethal Chef: The Vord Queen doesn't really get cooking. It doesn't help that she's trying to cook croach, which is only technically edible.Invidia: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most revolting and one being almost edible, I believe that rating this recipe would require the use of exponents.
- Lightning Bruiser: Each of the Queens are this. Swords barely scratch them. They are as fast as a decent Windcrafter, and as strong as an Earthcrafter. And that's before the Awakened Queen learns how to furycraft.
- Made of Iron: Balest bolts bounce off the Awakened Queen's skin. Balest bolts can, for reference, go all the way through two heavily armored legionares.
- Mama Bear: Pretty much everything the Awakened Queen does in the entire series is purely because she has an overwhelming need to make sure her "children" are safe.
- Overarching Villain:
- She or the threat of her was something brought up in most every book before her major assault on Alera. Her presence in the first book was as a larva creature Tavi just awoke up.
- Tavi plans on using the last Canea Queen as this to help bring together the good races of Alera into a better and stronger union.
- Pet the Dog: When the Awakened Queen is in a position to completely exterminate humanity, she sets aside areas where they can live freely, safely and under their own government, the only condition being they let her sterilise them. Considering her Vord instincts are continuously screaming at her to immediately wipe out every non-Vord, the fact that she's willing to slowly establish Vord dominance by preventing new human life rather than immediately causing death and suffering to those who are already alive says a lot about her. Note that while this does indeed weaken the resistance against her she has the numbers to crush them completely if she wanted to, and this offer is not a trick; she fully keeps her word to them to the point that even after she's killed, the Vord she assigned to protect the surrendered humans continue to do so, even from other Vord.
- Psychic Powers: With mind reading and illusion crafting as her specialties.
- Rapunzel Hair: Her "green Kitai" form has waist-length white hair.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Who gets unsealed accidentally by Tavi towards the end of the first book, thus setting the stage for the rest of the series.
- Villain Ball: The Awakened Queen holds it briefly by not searching Araris carefully, which led to him being able to ward off the numbing effect of her prison: because of his hidden dagger he could use metalcrafting and stay alert.
- Waif-Fu: The Awakened Queen is able to tear through nine-foot tall Canim warriors, shred a Legion shieldwall, and take on the mightiest crafters in Alera with casual ease.
- We Have Reserves: The Queens will throw hundreds if not thousands of forces against a foe because they can create more so quickly. It is even weaponized in Canea when the horde constantly attacking the surviving Canim settlement for so long was a distraction while she had another group slowly dig a tunnel into the settlement.
AleraProbably the greatest and most powerful fury in existence, and effectively the incarnation of the entire continent. She's taken a fondness to the house of Gaius, acting as a Spirit Advisor to them and causing effects on a massive scale when they ask and it suits her. However, she will not directly aid one side over another; using her power effectively relies on setting up situations where some outside influence helps your side more than the other.
Tropes that apply to Alera:
- All-Powerful Bystander: The most powerful fury to have ever existed, but she never gets directly involved or favors one side over the other in the many conflicts of her world. Though she does favor Gaius' house, she only helps them when they ask and doing so suits her.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Technically all furies would be this, but Alera's the most human and comprehensible of them, having interacted with the house of Gaius for centuries.
- Bishonen Line: Of the great furies we see, Kalare is a giant volcano, Garados is a hideous mountain beast, and Thana is a vast, gaunt shape composed of countless windmanes. Alera, on the other hand, is very humanlike until you get to her eyes.
- Kaleidoscope Eyes: They cycle through just about every color imaginable. But then, she's a Physical God...
- Lack of Empathy: The combine factors of being an impossibly old Physical God, and not even a human one at that, mean she does not process thoughts and emotions the same way others do. She understand them well enough, though.
- The Mentor: Her Training from Hell is all that gets Tavi anywhere near normal skill levels at crafting.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Sextus' destruction of Alera Imperia destroyed the mosaic that called her into being as a discrete existence, and she's already fading away when she first meets Tavi.
- In a subversion, she doesn't die until after the epilogue.
- Physical God: Her power is effectively unlimited. However, actually using them can have continent-wide and potentially worldwide repercussions. For example, requesting moderate weather in one part of the realm spins off violent storms elsewhere. Tavi's stunt with the ice-sledding ships will cause a global ice age a few thousand years in the future."Until the Vord came, I and my kin had killed more Alerans than any foe your folk had ever faced."
- Spirit Advisor: To the house Gaius
- Time Abyss: She is billions of years old. Perhaps one of the foremost examples: "Entire species come and go, like the sparks rising from a campfire."