Tavi, 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.
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 Captain: 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.
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.
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 Tavi won, 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 Ignusblow 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 Aerisbend the air to form a quarter-mile-wide magnifying glass, concentrating the sunlight into aDeath Ray. The general consensus among the characters seems to be that Tavi is completely insane.
Ehren: "This plan is insane... you are insane..." *looks around* "I'm going to need some pants."
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.
Actually three. 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.
Four. '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."
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 had no way of knowing that cutting himself in the Wax Forest would wake up the Vord Queen, but it did.
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?
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.
Tall, Dark and Handsome: He's a bit of a late bloomer (what with Isana slowing his growth and all), but by Captain's Fury, he's repeatedly mentioned to be quite tall and rather attractive. It runs in the family.
Worthy Opponent: The Canim word "gadara" (respected and trusted enemy) is used a lot around him.
Isana 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: In Princeps' Fury and First Lord's Fury.
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.
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."
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.
Bernard, Count Calderon
Bernard 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).
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.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: The biggest recurring obstacle impeding Amara, Tavi and Bernard from warning Garrison of the Marat threat in Furies of Calderon was Kord and his sons, who kept interfering at crucial junctures in the hopes of derailing the trial of Bittan for rape. It turns out Bittan really was innocent; simply letting the trial go through would have made the story easier not only for the "good guys", but would have saved Kord and Bittan's lives as well.
Amara 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).
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 Cursori
Another of Tavi's classmates, and a Cursor. Like Tavi, tends to rely more on his wits than his furies.
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.
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.
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.
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 Alera
Gaius 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.
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.
Older than They Look: Like all powerful watercrafters in this case, he looks like he's in his forties, when he's about 80.
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.
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.
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 assumed the loyal one would lose the fight.
Lord Aquitainus Attis
Mostly 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...
Big Bad: Subverted. He's built up as this in the first half of the series, but is upstaged in the second by the realBig 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.
Enemy Mine: With Gaius and the Vord. He's the first High Lord to stand with Gaius, and calls out Rhodes 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.
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."
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.
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.
Redemption Equals Death: Amara actually cries when he dies, since he'd been trying so hard to save everyone during his last few weeks.
Meaningful Name: Attis. In Babylonian 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.
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.
At 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
The Caligula: Equally, one can't deny that this guy is a few legionares short of an army.
The Chessmaster: Averted. His "masterful plot" fails thanks to Sextus being a better player.
Well, it half-succeeded; 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.
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.
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.
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.
Son 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. 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.
Dark Chick: Male variant, to the Vord. Completely selfish, he has no higher motives than having a good time.
The 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.
Kick the Dog: 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.
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.
Fidelias 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:
Badass: 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.
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.
Fallen Hero: Amara viewed 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 was 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.
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.
Non-Indicative Name: "Fidelias" means "faithful". Which he... um, isn't. Except to the Realm itself.
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.
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.
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.
Aldrick ex Gladius
Probably 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:
Catch Phrase: "Only Araris Valerian has ever beaten me, and you're not Araris," and variants thereof.
Captain 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 Ehren does it first 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. And yet he's somehow very likable. Like a Darker and EdgierCaptain 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 him. It's just that, he's a pirate he has a reputation.
Dropped a Bridge on Her: 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.
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.
One 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:
Because I'm Jonesy: 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Swordmaster: 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."
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" Maximus
Illegitimate 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.
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.
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.
The Rival: To Max, in a more friendly way as the story progresses.
Bash Brothers: Literally. Max and Crassus together are nigh-on unstoppable.
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.
Kitai 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.
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.
Doroga 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.
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.
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.
Varg 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.
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 thisseries, that's saying something.
Large Ham: When given a reason, he can be quite the melodramatic guy.
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.
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.
A Canim ritualist, who is Varg's political rival. Undermines Varg by seeking alliances behind his back including with the Vord.
Leader 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.
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.
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.
Dragon Ascendant: Takes over complete command of the Canim forces after Sarl dies.
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 Cane trying to use their deaths as an excuse to attack the Alerans.
Evil Evolves: The queen 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. Face them with defensive fortifications? You get giant vordbulks that can plow through them.
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.
Bishojo 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.
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.
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.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: One 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.
Hollywood Tactics: Frighteningly 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 devestating series of ambushes before moving in to crush her weakened enemies.
Lethal Chef: The Vord Queen doesn't really get cooking.
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: Swords barely scratch her, she's as fast as a Windcrafter, and as strong as an Earthcrafter. And that's before she learns how to furycraft.
Made of Iron: Balest bolts bounce off her skin. Balest bolts can, for reference, go all the way through two heavily armored legionares.
Mama Bear: Pretty much everything she does in the entire series is purely because she has an overwhelming need to make sure her "children" are safe.
Pet the Dog: When she 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.
Rapunzel Hair: Her "green Kitai" form has waist-length white hair.
Waif-Fu: She 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.
Probably 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:
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.