"Face like the moon, pale and somehow wavering. I could get the gist of his features, but none of it stuck in my mind beyond an impression of astonishing beauty. His long, long hair wafted around him like black smoke, its tendrils curling and moving of their own volition."
"When heavy, thick warmth pushed into me, I had no idea whether this was a penis or some entirely different phallus that only gods possessed. I suspect the latter, since no mere penis can fill a woman’s body the way he filled mine. Size had nothing to do with it."
"And then the face shifted again into something that in no way resembled human, something tentacled and toothed and hideous, and I screamed. Then there was only darkness where his face should have been, and that was most frightening of all."
Parental Favoritism: Sieh notes that he's prone to playing favorites, as it's against his nature to treat them, or anything else, as equal. That's Itempas' schtick. Sieh tends to be his most favorite of all.
Papa Wolf / Knight Templar Parent: Comes out strong in book two when godlings start dying, and in the backstory of Nahadoth going on a mad genocidal killing spree to take out the demons.
“I am all knowledge and purpose defined. I strengthen what exists and cull that which should not.”
Our Whackjob, one of the three creator deities, who killed his sister to have sex with his brother forever, and spends the second book facing the consequences.note In truth, he is a bit more nuanced than that. Itempas is a god of light, order, and stability.
He killed Enefah to be with Nahadoth, not because of simple jealousy, but because of a sort of powerful psychic backlash he was struck with when the two literally cut their connections with him temporarily while being with each other. The trauma from that sent him down to Earth to seek comfort, and his mortal wife happened to be completely batshit insane. She kindled his pain into jealousy and manipulated him into killing Enefah, killing her own demigod son (whose blood would be poisonous to Gods) and forcing Itempas to use his blood.
Itempas maintains that he knew what he did was wrong immediately afterwards, but having brought upon everyone a Crapsack World, he let things continue as they did out of fear that doing otherwise would destroy the world. Most of the other Gods believed that he did not think himself in the wrong, when he did.
This is implied to be the reason that his redemption took only a solid ten years of honest life rather than the millenia of suffering Yeine and Nahadoth assumed it would take.
Death Is Cheap: His human form regenerates whenever he dies. He commits suicide routinely.
Death Seeker: Played with. While he never actively attempts to kill himself, or intentionally seeks it out, while trapped in mortal form he rarely takes the most basic of precautions. Most people, when thinking "I should stab myself with this knife." would reject the thought. Itempas doesn't because he sees no reason not to.
God Is Flawed: Edges into God Is Evil territory on occasion, but mostly it's just a matter of him being completely incapable of compromising, and given the choice between change and violence, he would most frequently resort to violence.
Love Redeems: The condition of his enforced mortality was to stay there until he "learned to love truly", Neither Yeine or Nahadoth expected him to find it after only ten years, and forced him to leave because he hadn't suffered enough.
Mysterious Past: The reader knows it, but Oree is in the dark about it for a large chunk of the book.
New Child Left Behind: Slightly messed with in that Tempa and Oree's daughter, Glee, chases her dad down and stays with him.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Book one plays up the drama that the Stone of Earth kills the sacrificial Arameri who picks it up. But Itempas kills Yeine before she can pick it up, and the Stone, and because it embodies the power of a goddess of the cycle of life and death, it actually revives her.
Papa Wolf: Like Nahadoth, Itempas shows this most strongly when godlings start dying.
"You will serve, not a single family, but all the world. You will wander among mortals as one of them, unknown, commanding only what wealth and respect you can earn with your deeds and words. You may call upon your power only in great need, and only to aid these mortals for whom you hold such contempt. You will right all the wrongs inflicted in your name."
Reformed but Rejected: Nahadoth and Yeine initially bound Itempas to wander as a human until he corrected all the wrongs done in his name or found love. But when he found love in ten years, they decided he hadn't suffered enough and sent him back on the road.
Even after Tempa cries for Sieh's death and is given his powers back, Yeine and Nahadoth still don't like him...well, Yeine is a tiny bit more sympathetic, but she still sides with Nahadoth in order to keep the peace.
Resurrective Immortality: Functionally this throughout book two and three (with an exception for death-by-demon-blood). Being put in a mortal body stops him from healing when he's hurt, like his siblings and godlings do, but if he dies, he'll heal and come back.
Single-Target Sexuality: In contrast to Nahadoth and Enefa, who took loads of human lovers, Itempas is so content with the OT 3 that he only takes two human lovers in all of history, and those only when Nahadoth and Enefa (or Nahadoth and Yeine) abandon him.
Sunk Cost Fallacy: Having killed Enefa, he imprisoned Nahadoth and the Enefadeh because it was a choice between that a losing them for good, which would defeat the purpose of killing Enefa in the first place.
Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Subverted. As shown by the quote above, Enefa may have been much loved, and she may have been unjustly killed but she wasn't all good all the time. She had her negative traits just like Itempas and Nahadoth do, and is accused more than once of being partly responsible for Itempas' breakdown and the second Gods' War.
I had not met many godlings at that point, but anyone who dwelled for long in Shadow learned this much: they drew their strength from a particular thing—a concept, a state of being, an emotion. The priests and scriveners called it affinity, though I had never heard any godling use the term. When they encountered their affinity, it drew them like a beacon, and some of them could not quite help responding to it.
Madding sighed. “Mortal languages don’t have words for this. He… lives true. He is what he is. You’ve heard that saying, haven’t you? It’s more than just words for us.” I had no idea what he was talking about. He saw that in my face and tried again. “Imagine you’re older than this planet, yet you have to act like a child. Could you do it?”
Impossible to even imagine. “I… don’t know. I don’t think so.”
Madding nodded. “Sieh does it. He does it every day, all day; he never stops. That makes him strong.”
Our Trickster, a lesser deity imprisoned alongside Nahadoth. Sieh is the god of childhood.
Calling the Old Man Out: He criticizes Nahadoth's tendency to play favorites with the godlings, while also noting that it's unfair because he can't help but play favorites; it's against his nature to treat things equally when they are clearly not.
Sieh is The Chessmaster of the Enefadeh. Kurue was their leader, but it was Sieh’s strategies which drove much of the plot. He’s the one who conceived the plan to hide Enefa’s soul in Yeine’s body. When that plan went horribly awry, he’s the one who chose to befriend her, and in his own unique way seduce her, in hopes of convincing her to die for them.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It turns out that Sieh played his own unwitting part in starting the Gods' War by lying to bring Itempas home to Nahadoth and Enefa, never considering what his abandonment would do to Shahar Arameri's none too stable mind.
I focused on depicting the quintessential creepiness of him — the ancient soul that is always visible through his child’s eyes, the calculating adult mind which uses the wiles of a child to conceal its true complexity. But it’s hard to keep “creepy” from edging into “repulsive”. Sieh exists in a perpetual Uncanny Valley state; he looks and acts like something that he isn’t. Something we’re supposed to feel affection toward, not fear.
“Once upon a time, there was a god imprisoned here. He was a terrible, beautiful, angry god, and by night when he roamed these white halls, everyone feared him. But by day, the god slept. And the body, the living mortal flesh that was his ball and chain, got to have a life of its own. It wasn’t much of a life, mind you. All the people who feared the god did not fear the man. They quickly learned they could do things to the man that the god would not tolerate. So the man lived his life in increments, born with every dawn, dying with every sunset. Hating every moment of it. For two. Thousand. Years. Until suddenly, one day, the man became free.”
Our Sort-Of-Clone, a human body with its own personality that comes to life by day and keeps Nahadoth’s godly power imprisoned. Spends book two confusing the hell out of Oree, and book three taking not a little pleasure in both tormenting Sieh and sending him on errands.
Ambition Is Evil: In book two, Hado tells Oree that he infiltrated the New Lights in order to become an Arameri full-blood so he could eventually become the family head and rule the world. Oree is horrified.
Defector from Decadence: Of a sort. He grew fed up with living in Sky due to its continued corruption...so after having an affair with T'Vril's wife and collecting his reward for doing so, he now runs an elaborate brothel. And lounges around smoking cheroots.
Generation Xerox: Sort of! Nahadoth's strange child and Itempas's daughter seem like their Opposites Attract romance will play out better than Naha and Tempa's did. (And hey, Ahad is a doppelganger of Nahadoth's Sky form while Sieh calls Glee "Itempas made over with breasts.")
I will not be a slave to fate. I will embrace it, control it. I will be what I wish to be.
Our Long Lost Relative and Big Bad all in one; spends book three gearing up to take his revenge on the parents who abandoned him. And since he's a Godling of Vengeance, that's a very big revenge indeed.
“Like our ancestress Shahar, we Arameri are first and foremost the servants of Itempas Skyfather. It is in His name that we have imposed the age of the Bright upon the world. Peace, order, enlightenment. Itempas’s servants do not use, or need, weapons. Tools, though…”
Our Ruling Clan, which unofficially controls the world from the city of Sky.
“Not only has my cousin forgotten that Bright Itempas no longer rules the gods, but she has also forgotten that we Arameri now answer to several masters rather than one. The world changes; we must change with it or die.
Our Recurring Side Character, a high-ranking Arameri servant in book one who is running the world by book two.
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose father murdered her mother. Then she set all her mind and heart and formidable will on vengeance… because that is what a daughter does when her mother has been murdered.
Our Heroine's Dead Mom, who actually kicks off the plot.
The child was mad, of course. Later events proved this. But it makes sense to me that this madness, not mere religious devotion, would appeal most to the Bright Lord. Her love was unconditional, her purpose undiluted by such paltry considerations as conscience or doubt. It seems like Him, I think, to value that kind of purity of purpose—even though, like warmth and light, too much love is never a good thing.
Our Crazy Priestess, a fanatical follower of Itempas who is at least partially responsible for everything bad in the series, and imposed the Itempan Church on the world two-thousand years before The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
First of Our Messianic Twins, who manage to form a friendship with Sieh despite the fact that they're the heirs of the family who tortured him for two thousand years. They both also love him passionately - yes, like that - which both creates a OT 3 and causes a whole lot of joy and grief.
"But I will not be nothing to you, Sieh. And if I must change the universe to have you, then so be it." He smiled again, tight, vicious, beautiful. Terrifying.
Second of Our Messianic Twins, who manage to form a friendship with Sieh despite the fact that they're the heirs of the family who tortured him for two thousand years. They both also love him passionately - yes, like that - which both creates a OT 3 and causes a whole lot of joy and grief.
December-December Romance: Mixed with Mayfly-December Romance. By the time Itempas comes back to her she's well over a hundred even if she doesn't quite look it. This doesn't matter to Itempas, but he does alter his visible form to look substantially older in order to match.
For just an instant, her eyes seemed to flare red-gold like a struck match. "I have spent nearly the past century trying to keep this world from falling apart," she snapped. "I'm not a god. I have no choice but to live in this realm, unlike you. I will do whatever I must to save it — including working with godlings like you who claim to despise Itempas, though in reality you're just as selfish and arrogant as him at his worst!"
Our Daddy's Girl, the daughter of Oree and Itempas. The mediator between her father and her lover Ahad (who don't really like each other, for some reason) and one of the leading figures in the attempts to find out just who is causing unrest in the kingdoms.
Action Girl: When the going gets tough, she won't hesitate to fight to the death.
“We demons are the gods’ children, too, are we not? Yet they have hunted us nearly to extinction. How is that right? I say that if they fear us so, we should give them something to fear: their despised, persecuted children, coming to take their place.”
Our Villain, or one of the closest things we’ll have to a straight-up unsympathetic villainous character, who spends book two trying to off stupid sexy Nahadoth.