Includes the novels Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen and Kushiel's Avatar
Phedre no Delaunay
"That which yields is not always weak."
The heroine and narrator of the first three books, her most distinguishing feature is a scarlet mote in her left eye. Phedre is sold into indentured servitude as a child and her bond is eventually purchased by Anafiel Delaunay. Delaunay recognizes what the scarlet mote in her eye means: Phedre is an anguisette, one who is cursed to experience pain and pleasure as one. He teaches her how to listen and observe as well as the "arts of the bedchamber." Phedre frequently uses her skills as both courtesan and spy to save Terre d'Ange from various deadly plots.
Compelling Voice: A few times Kushiel has made his influence known through her. Generally simple things like getting people to stand down and listen. Also taken to the max when she learned the name of God.
I Just Want to Be Normal: Phedre goes through a stage in Avatar when she wishes she were no longer Kushiel's Chosen. There are also other times in the books when she hates the fact that she's an anguisette.
Really Gets Around: Causes Imriel no small amount of angst when he realizes she's slept with quite a few really important people, including a decent chunk of the D'Angeline aristocracy. Curiously, Phedre tends towards monogamy when Kushiel grants her peace.
Phedre's mentor. Delaunay is a nobleman with a mysterious past and an important mission. He adopts Phedre into his household, trains her, and uses her to spy on his enemies. Eventually it is revealed that Delaunay was once the consort of long-dead Prince Rolande. He swore a vow to protect Rolande's daughter Ysandre, the Dauphine. His choice to honor this vow leads to his death on Isidore d'Aiglemort's orders.
Yaoi Guys: He has long-term relationships with Rolande and Alcuin.
Alcuin no Delaunay
Alcuin is Delaunay's other pupil. As with Phedre, he teaches Alcuin to listen and observe and uses him to spy on his enemies. But unlike Phedre, Alcuin hates working as a courtesan and does it all out of love for Delaunay. He and Delaunay become a couple once Alcuin has made his marque.
Joscelin is a member of the Cassiline Brotherhood, a celibate order of warrior-priests, who is hired by Delaunay to protect Phedre on her assignations. At first Joscelin is very prudish and uptight, but he gradually relaxes. He and Phedre dislike each other initially, but they eventually fall in love. He is one of the most skilled and dangerous warriors in the series.
Mercy Kill: He comes to do this for Phedre when Selig is skinning her alive. Fortunately, he doesn't need to go through with it.
My Girl Is a Slut: At first, Joscelin is disgusted by what Phedre's chosen occupation. They nearly break up when she decides to resume working as a courtesan. However, he comes to terms with it eventually.
A Tsingano (Roma) who is Phedre's oldest and dearest friend. Hyacinthe and Phedre meet as children and stay friends well into adulthood. Hyacinthe has the ability to see the future (called the dromonde), which his mother taught him despite it being forbidden to men by Tsingano law. Towards the end of Dart, Hyacinthe takes Phedre's place to become the new Master of the Straits so that the Alban army can reach Terre d'Ange. Phedre spends the next two books searching for a way to free him from his curse, which she eventually does in what is both a Crowning Moment of Awesome and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
"Elua cared naught for mortal politics, nor did Kushiel."
The main villainess of the series. Melisande is ambitious, sadistic, and utterly lacking in any sort of conscience. Her great ambition is to be queen, and so she concocts several Machiavellian plots to help her achieve this. She becomes a patron of Phedre's, and Phedre falls in love with her. Phedre, as an anguisette, is the perfect outlet for her sadistic desires.Imriel is her son.
Evil Plan: Most of her plots can be categorized as this.
For the Evulz: When Phedre asks her why she did it, she replies, "Because I could."
It's a little bit more complicated than that. Melisande describes herself as being incapable of caring about the pieces in her games, while simultaneously loving the games she plays. Why does she play? She's D'Angeline.
Freudian Excuse: Its a minor excuse, but in the second trilogy she appears to have some remorse for her actions and its suggested-that the reason she is the way she is-is because of her father Casimar.
Heel-Face Turn: Debatable, but she does appear to have some remorse for her actions later on in the series. And she does help save Terre d'Ange in Mercy.
In the Blood: Its implied that her father's method of raising her deeply affected her character. As seen above its a minor excuse.
Karma Houdini: Manages to escape all punishment, and gets to live out her days in a villa on a Mediterranean isle. Although it is implied in canon that Imriel's torture at the Mahrkagir's hands is Kushiel's punishment for her.
Jedi Truth: Melisande claims she'd never commit blasphemy personally, but looks the other way when Marie-Celeste corrupts the Serenissiman priestesses. She's also forbidden by Kushieline doctrine to kill the bearer of Kushiel's Dart, but has no problem sending Phedre into dangerous situations where she'd be indirectly responsible for her death.
Moral Event Horizon: She crosses it when she intercepts Phedre and Joscelin at the palace, drugs them, and sells them into slavery. Then she tries to invade and conquer her own country just so she can be queen.
World's Most Beautiful Woman: Not explicitly described as such, but her beauty is constantly commented on in a nation full of beautiful people.
Ysandre de la Courcel
"Steel beneath a fragile bloom."
Queen of Terre d'Ange, daughter of Prince Rolande de la Courcel and Isabel L'Envers. Both of her parents die when she is very young, and she inherits the throne after her grandfather's death. She has to deal with numerous plots to overthrow her (mostly orchestrated by Melisande) and family members who want to take her place. Ysandre is a lot tougher than she appears, which frequently causes people to underestimate her. She marries Drustan mab Necthana, the Cruarch of Alba, and they have two daughters: Sidonie and Alais.
Bodyguard Betrayal: One of her Cassiline guards, David de Rocaille, tries to assassinate her to avenge his sister, who was killed by Ysandre's mother.
Drustan is the Cruarch of Alba and husband of Ysandre. In Kushiel's Dart, his throne is usurped and he fights to regain it. Afterward, he leads an army to Terre d'Ange to fight the Skaldi. His army, along with Isidore d'Aiglemort's, breaks the siege of Troyes-le-Mont and defeats the Skaldi. He typically spends half the year in Alba and half in Terre d'Ange. He and Ysandre have two daughters: Sidonie and Alais.
"Didn't you enjoy my largesse in the Khalif's court? I heard I sent you to Khebbel-im-Akkad after paying you to betray your master."
Duc of the province of Namarre and maternal uncle of Ysandre. He is both a shrewd politician and a feared warrior and general. He and Delaunay were old enemies due to a poem Delaunay wrote implicating his sister Isabel in the death of Edmee de Rocaille. He appears as both antagonist and reluctant ally at different times throughout the series, but he is always loyal to Ysandre.
Enemy Mine: He agrees to make peace with Delaunay for the sake of protecting Ysandre. Also, he and Imriel work together to defeat the Carthaginians in Mercy.
Evil Uncle: Appears to be this, but is actually a subversion.
A Friend in Need: Phedre bids him to hold the City of Elua against the traitors using the password of House L'Envers.
Going Native: He does this during his time as ambassador to Khebbel-im-Akkad. He is frequently seen in a turban or burnouse and is quite fond of Akkadian furnishings.
Hero Antagonist: In the 2nd trilogy. His hatred of Imriel comes from a fear that he is involved in his mother's plots & wants to steal the throne.
Hidden Depths: On the surface he appears to be a coldly ambitious snarky jerkass, but there are moments throughout the series which hint there's more to him than that. This is especially apparent in Mercy, for instance when he squeezes Alais's hand to give her reassurance.
Revenge: Once he finds out who poisoned his sister, he has him assassinated.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Delaunay in Dart and then again with Imriel in Mercy. He comes to respect Imriel during their time working together and realizes he misjudged him.
Nicola L'Envers y Aragon
Cousin of Ysandre and Barquiel. Nicola is married to an Aragonian nobleman, but she frequently visits the court of Terre d'Ange. She becomes a patron of Phedre's, and they have a Friends with Benefits sort of relationship.
A Friend in Need: In Chosen,Nicola gives Phedre the secret password of House L'Envers which compels any member of the house to give aid if it is spoken to them. She does this even though Phedre does not trust her.
You Are Not Alone: She tries to convince Phedre to trust her during Chosen and accept her aid.
Duc of the province of Camlach and a skilled warrior. He plots with Melisande to betray Terre d'Ange to the Skaldi by letting them in the mountain passes of Camlach. He learns that Melisande double crossed him, and joins up with the Alban army to defeat the Skaldi and get back at Melisande. He slays Waldemar Selig in battle, but dies shortly afterward, thereby redeeming himself.
A Skaldi warlord who is able to unite all of the various Skaldi tribes under him. In addition to being a fearsome warrior, he is also a cunning leader. He tries to invade Terre d'Ange. It doesn't go well.
The ruler of Drujan, the Mahrkagir is extremely sadistic and completely evil. Imriel is sold to him, and he subjects the boy to horrific abuse. Phedre comes to save him, and the Mahrkagir ends up falling in love with her (although his definition of love is rather different from most people's). She kills him with a hairpin.
Odd Friendship: She becomes one of Phedre's closest allies after the events of Dart.
Plain Jane: One of the very few examples in the whole of Terre d'Ange. Phedre notes that her voice however makes up for her lack of beauty.
Includes the novels Kushiel's Scion, Kushiel's Justice and Kushiel's Mercy
Imriel de la Courcel
"I will try to be good."
The hero and narrator of the second trilogy. Son of Prince Benedicte de la Courcel and Melisande Shahrizai, the realm's most infamous traitors. Imriel spends his childhood innocent and unaware of his parentage until he is kidnapped by slave traders and sold to the Mahrkagir. Imriel suffers all sorts of horrific abuse until he is rescued by Phedre and Joscelin. They take him back to Terre d'Ange and adopt him into their household. Imriel's trilogy focuses on his struggles to accept his own nature, his attempts to find a place for himself, and his forbidden romance with Sidonie de la Courcel, Ysandre's daughter and heir.
The Evil Prince: Subversion. Some people think he is this and that his relationship with Sidonie is a plot to get the throne. It's not true.
Family Relationship Switcheroo: Imriel actually meets his mother once as a child without knowing she's his mother. Phedre tells him the truth later on.
Grey and Gray Morality: After his experiences during the siege in Lucca and the things Galladus did to protect that city, Imriel eventually decides that nobody is entirely good or entirely evil. This finally convinces him to set aside his anger for his mother and read her letters.
Wedding Day: The trilogy ends with his and Sidonie's wedding.
Sidonie de la Courcel
Daughter of Queen Ysandre and Drustan mab Necthana, Dauphine of Terre d'Ange. Sidonie first appears to be very haughty and unlikable. However, she gradually becomes more likable and less haughty as Imriel starts to fall for her. Once they are no longer able to hold back their feelings for each other, she and Imriel begin a relationship. Together they struggle to win her parents' approval.
Fighting from the Inside: She struggles against both spells the Carthaginians put on her, eventually throwing off the love spell (with Imriel's help). She does succumb to the other one after a long struggle, until she manages to break through just enough to say the word that breaks the spell.
Hope Bringer: Fills this function along with Imriel in Mercy.
Younger daughter of Queen Ysandre and Drustan mab Necthana. Alais and Imriel become close as children and remain so as they get older. She feels more of a connection to her Alban heritage than her D'Angeline heritage. At the end of series, she announces that she wants to stay in Alba and become an ollamh.
Arranged Marriage: Is supposed to marry her first cousin Talorcan, but decides against it because she's not in love with him.
Bastard son of Isidore d'Aiglemort, who dies before he can acknowledge him. Maslin serves as a sort of foil to Imriel, since they are both sons of traitors but they are treated very differently. Because of this, Maslin holds a lot of resentment toward Imriel. They eventually do become friends when he shows up in Vralia to rescue Imriel during Kushiel's Justice.
Bastard Bastard: Starts off as this due to his resentment/jealousy of Imriel.
Imriel's other foil, Mavros is a Shahrizai, and is utterly unapologetic of this fact, and the ramifications and desires that come with it. While Imriel's past experiences initially cause difficulties with their relationship, as he becomes more comfortable with his sexuality, they bond. Mavros eventually fills a roll somewhere between Imriel's at-home Lancer, and a big brother figure, providing advice and support about both politics and relations. He has a rather one-sided infatuation with Sidonie's lady-in-waiting.
Token Depraved Teammate: Is, easily, the kinkiest member of Imriel's immediate circle of friends at court. He rather delights in this.
Includes the books Naamah's Kiss, Naamah's Curse, Naamah's BlessingThis trilogy takes place 100 years after the events of the first two trilogies.
Moirin mac Fainche
The protagonist of the third trilogy. She begins the story as something of a Wild Child, living with her Alban mother in the wilderness. She discovers that she is half Alban and half d'Angeline and that her heritage has given her access to powers outside of the Maghuin Donn. In the first book she travels to Terre d'Ange to find her father and as a result finds herself torn between her desires and her duty.
Na´ve Newcomer: When she leaves Alba for Terre d'Ange to find her father in Kiss, she's bewildered by d'Angeline customs and almost makes a fool of herself at court.
Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Her looks are commented on as "exotic" by the d'Angelines and supernatural by the Albans, due to her mixed blood status.
Really Gets Around: And how. Lets put it this way. Phedre and Imriel from the first two trilogies were either a magically induced to enjoy pain courtesan or an issue-ridden, angsty prince. Both encountered problems directly related to their attitudes about sex (more on Imriel's side). Moirin has no such hang ups. She may possibly be the protagonist that has the most sex of the three. Judging by the theme of Moirin's trilogy this is probably because her gifts come from Naamah rather than Kushiel.
Super Power Lottery: Her mother's line is descended from Princess Alais of the second trilogy, giving her the powers of an ollamh a type of combined seer and priestess. On that note, she also has descent from fallen angels Elua and Naamah through Princess Alais' own combined Courcel/L'Envers heritage. Her father's line is descended from Anael, the fallen angel who gave d'Angelines their farming skills. This gives Moirin the power to turn herself invisible, talk to plants, incite lust in other characters and access the powers of the Maghuin Donn or "bear-witch" in the Alban language.
The apprentice to Master Lo Feng and a former slave. He and Moirin do not get along at first and he spends the first book being a Jerk Ass. Later on readers learn his tragic backstory and he becomes more sympathetic. Serves as Moirin's protector and later her lover throughout the Naamah trilogy.
King Daniel's considerably younger second wife and step mother to Prince Thierry. She was once a famed courtesan in Cereus House before giving up her profession to become queen. At first at odds with Moirin due to a shared rivalry over Raphael de Mereliot, she later becomes a friend and trusted confidante as well as lover to Moirin.
Love You And Every Body: She even states that she follows the Elua's precept to the letter, in that she loves as she wilt but cannot continue to do so after getting pregnant for Daniel, as per their arrangement.
Manipulative Bitch: Less of a bitch than the trope suggests, but she is skilled at using manipulation to get what she wants.
I Just Want to Be Special: Implied by Moirin to be the reason behind his actions. Always second best to his sister who would become the next Lady of Marsilikos and not being especially important in Marsilikos due to being male, his plan to summon fallen angels was so he could give himself power and be able to take over the kingdom
Driven to Suicide He was devastated by Jehanne's death and hearing a (false) rumour that his son had died drove him to commit suicide.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Supports his wife's extra-marital affairs by way of an agreement made before they married; that she could keep her lovers for the first few years of marriage until they both agree to have a child. He even comments that her relationship with Moirin made her a better ruler.
Second Love: Its stated that Jehanne is this for him after the death of his first wife and Thierry's mother. However he is still deeply in love with her and Thierry even notes that courting Jehanne helped bring him out of his depression in the years after his first wife died.
Thierry de la Courcel.
Son of Daniel de la Courcel and his first wife; he is the Dauphin to the throne of Terre d'Ange during Moirin's trilogy.
Yaoi Guys: With Moirin's father when they both were younger.
The daughter of the Ch'in Emperor who is believed to have been possessed by a supernatural creature. If she sees her reflection in anything she goes on a killing spree. On the day of her wedding to a Ch'in nobleman she went on a rampage and killed her betrothed and most of his party. Since then she has been locked away in a tower by her father in the hope of keeping her violent sprees under control.
Minor characters and organizations appearing throughout the various trilogies
Persia and Marmion Shahrizai
Brother and sister pair who help to bring Melisande to trial for treason at the end of Dart.
Rolande de la Courcel
Crown prince or dauphin to the throne of Terre d'Ange in Phedre's trilogy. He was killed during the war between Terre d'Ange and Skaldia. He was married to Isabel L'Envers and was the father of Ysandre. He was in a love triangle between Anafiel Delaunay and Isabel L'Envers.
A widow and former adept of Cereus House and friend of Anafiel Delaunay. Anafiel hires her to teach Phedre and Alcuin how to be courtesans in the first trilogy.
Elua and his Companions
Favrielle no Eglantine
Dressmaker and designer. She fashions most of Phedre's clothes during Avatar and Imriel's trilogy. By the time of Moirin's trilogy her business Atelier Favrielle is the most popular dress maker in Terre d'Ange.
A kinsman of House Shahrizai, albeit a few generations removed. He is living with the rest of his family in Cythera with Melisande as her retainers. Imriel meets him in Kushiel's Justice.
Wild Mass Guessing : Fans theorised that Melisande used a shapeshifting magic to use his form to go to Terre d'Ange and see Imriel (her son) get married, as she is in exile. Jacqueline Carey has flat out denied this on her blog, saying that it was "a good idea", but that " Melisande is the sort to see her games to the end and that she would rather show her face than hide in the shadows".
Liliane de Souverain and Pierre Cantrel
The biological parents of Phedre no Delaunay. Liliane de Souverain was part of a long line of women who served Naamah as adepts of the Night Court, namely Jasmine House. Due to the exotic tenets of Jasmine House, she is honey skinned, dark haired and black eyed. Pierre was the third son of a merchant of blond hair and blue eyed persuasion. Liliane ran away to elope with Pierre Cantrel because the Dowayne of the House forbade her marriage to Pierre on the basis that a child from their union would not fit the standards for Jasmine House and because Pierre could not afford to buy her marque. Phedre was born as a result of their union, but was "too pale for Jasmine House and too dark haired and dark eyed for Cereus House". Before the discovery of Kushiel's Dart, the mote in her eye is seen as a blemish and thus made Phedre unfit for any of the Houses in the Night Court. When the two are too poor to settle their debts, they sell Phedre as an indentured servant to the Dowayne of Cereus House.
Hot Gypsy Woman: Liliane. One of the reasons Phedre as a child noticed Hyacinthe was because he resembled her mother complexion wise. Most adepts of Jasmine House are rumoured to have Bhodistani (analogous to Indian) ancestry in their heritage.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hot tempered Grainne is the red oni while the calmer more rational Eamonn is the blue oni.
Dorelei mab Bredaia
Drustan's niece and Imriel's later wife.
Sister of the former Cruarch and the mother of Drustan and his sisters.
Court of Night-Blooming Flowers
An elite cadre of prostitutes known as Servants of Naamah that are the highest ranked courtesans in Terre d'Ange. Prostitution is considered a religious act for adepts of the Court, as it is elsewhere in Terre d'Ange, and adepts make offerings to Naamah during their service. All thirteen houses are based in the City of Elua, the d'Angeline capital in the district known as Mont Nuit. Each house has its own motto which both serves to provide their unique theory as to why Naamah offered herself to the King of Persis in d'Angeline folklore and to describe the tenets conveyed by each house.
The Unseen Guild
The Guild does not directly appear in the novels, but references to them and members of the Guild turn up throughout the first two trilogies. They are based in Caerdicca Unitas and were the ones who taught both Anafiel Delaunay and Melisande Shahrizai their skills. Imriel encounters them in Kushiels Mercy and Kushiels Justice.
Ugly Guy Hot Consort Cytheran opinion of his relationship with Melisande, to the extent that they compare it with that of the [in-universe] Greek god Vulcan and his wife the Greek goddess Venus.
Hyacinthe's mother, a former Tsingani princess who was cast out of the nation when her cousin Csavin gambled away her virginity to a D'Angeline nobleman when gambling in the Night Court. Hyacinthe was born as a result.
Leba Rostov - Pyotr's wife
Valentina Rostov - Pyotr's sister, mother of Aleksei
Aleksei Rostov - Son of Valentina, nephew of Pyotr