A kitchen scullion in the Hayholt under the watchful gaze of Rachel the Dragon, Simon comes under the tutelage of Doctor Morgenes, who seems to plan great things for him, only to have his idyllic life shattered by the coming of evil to the castle in the form of the priest Pryrates. His subsequent journey leads him headlong into the conflict surrounding the Three Swords.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: As any teenage boy, he spends a lot of time trying to get laid, without much success.
Berserker Tears: After Amerasu's death, Simon goes into a berserker rage against Ingen Jegger, unknowingly crying the whole time.
Conveniently an Orphan: His mother came to the Hayholt in a rainstorm and died giving birth to him. His father is unknown. Morgenes is the only one who knows the secret of his heritage.
Declaration of Protection: Frustrated by Miriamele's refusal to reciprocate his affections, Simon instead declares that he will be her knight-protector, and abandons his duties to Josua in order to accompany her on her journey back to the Hayholt.
The Hero's Journey: A deliberate and methodical use of this by Williams; it can be seen throughout the story.
Heroic BSOD: After Amerasu's death in Jao-ť-Tinukai'i, Simon first goes into a berserker rage and then falls into a stupor, fueled partly by grief and partly by shame at his savage behavior in front of the Sithi.
Hitchhiker Heroes: Simon starts out alone, penniless, and starving in his journey across Osten Ard, but on the way acquires a host of friends and allies, some by chance and some by design.
Little Hero, Big War: While the war comes into major focus at times, Simon's role in it and around it is given the most attention; he manages to miss all but one of the major battles.
Locked into Strangeness: A lock of his hair is permanently turned white due to being splashed by a dragon's blood; it comes to be symbolic of his journey into otherworldliness. Jiriki tells him, "You have been marked, for good or ill."
Moses in the Bullrushes: He is revealed to be the direct descendant of Saint Eahlstan Fiskerne, and therefore the rightful heir to the throne.
Rage Against the Heavens: He suffers a crisis of faith after seeing his friends die on the quest for Thorn, and cries out against God in his anguish. His traveling companions are shocked.
Red-Headed Hero: Simon fits the hot-headed image, but his hair is also a clue to his parentage.
Took a Level in Badass: He begins the series as a kitchen scullion, and becomes first a capable soldier, then a leader among the forces of good, and finally the king of Erkynland. Atypical of the traditional badass, his strength is reflected more in his mind and spirit than in his body.
King Elias' daughter, she chafes under her father's heavy handed yet distant manner and secretly ventures out of the castle in the guise of a serving boy. When her father tries to marry her off to Earl Fengbald, she flees with her handmaiden Leleth, and is eventually rescued by Simon and Binabik. Simon falls in love with her but her self-doubts and rebellious nature keep them apart for most of the story.
Action Girl: She fights quite capably with the bow, first seen against Ingen Jegger's hunting dogs. While traveling to Erkynland with Simon, she hunts to supplement their supplies, and kills a Norn in the ruins of Asu'a.
Archer Archetype: Her preferred weapon is a bow, fitting both her independent spirit and the fact that, as a girl, she'd never be permitted to train with a sword.
Love Interest: Her relationship with Simon is first foreshadowed when he sees her silhouetted in a window at the Hayholt.
My Girl Is Not a Slut: Simon is quite upset when he finds out about her sexual encounter with Aspitis, despite the fact that she was coerced. She doesn't help, either, throwing it in his face as a way to keep them apart.
Rebellious Princess: Ever since her mother died, her father Elias has been distant from her, keeping her at arms' length and treating her more like property than a person. Unable to find acceptance from him, she becomes increasingly independent, sneaking around the castle in disguise and learning to shoot.
Runaway Fiancťe: When she learns that her father has arranged her marriage to Earl Fengbald, a despicable and brutal man, she flees the Hayholt with her handmaiden, Leleth. The pair are rescued from a huntsman by Simon and Binabik.
Samus Is a Girl: She initially introduces herself as "Malachias," a Hayholt servant, and Simon doesn't figure it out for quite some time.
Self-Made Orphan: She's the one who delivers the killing blow to Elias, defeating the Storm King in the process.
Inheritor of the throne of Erkynland after Prester John's death, Elias distinguishes himself with his violent temper and his love of carouse. The tale takes a blacker turn as his reliance on the dark priest Pryrates grows deeper, until he is coerced into making a bargain with the Storm King. Once he takes possession of the evil blade Sorrow, he begins a descent into madness and damnation.
Alas, Poor Villain: invoked Miriamele's primary motivation in the fourth book is to redeem her father, precisely because she believes he's doing evil not out of wickedness but rather grief. She's right.
Cain and Abel: He and Josua bicker endlessly because Elias blames Josua for his wife's death. When the Storm King demands a blood sacrifice to seal their pact, Pryrates persuades Elias to use Josua.
Deal with the Devil: At Pryrates' urging, Elias bargains with the Storm King for possession of Sorrow.
Dying as Yourself: He comes to his senses at the very last second, just before Miriamele kills him.
Necromantic: Played for tragedy; his descent into madness begins with his love for his dead wife and his hope to be reunited with her spirit.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He's willing to bring the Storm King back and destroy all mortals because he can't be reunited with his lost wife.
Prince Josua "Lackhand"
Elias' younger brother, called "Lackhand" for the loss of his hand in a skirmish with Thrithings men that also claimed the life of Elias' wife. Known more for his love of lore than of fighting, he is secretly imprisoned by Pryrates for use in an evil ritual, but escapes with the aid of Simon and Doctor Morgenes. He is the tacit leader of the forces opposed to Elias' rule and reluctantly leads them in their struggle.
Modest Royalty: He never dresses in the pomp fitting his station and indeed has to be cajoled into even wearing his crown.
Reluctant Warrior: While he's a capable fighter, he shows a dislike for killing and only enters combat as a last resort.
Supporting Leader: He's aware that his fight with his brother, Elias, is merely a footnote to the larger battle against the Storm King, but he willingly leads his army in siege of the Hayholt in hopes of providing a crucial distraction.
The Wise Prince: He'd far rather be studying than leading, and is among the most learned of all the noblemen in the story. In the end, he gives up his crown and joins the League of the Scroll.
King Prester John
John came to the Hayholt as a wayward islander, but skyrocketed to fame when he emerged victorious from the catacombs beneath it, having slain the great dragon that claimed the life of the former king, Ealhstan Fiskerne. He went on to become the king of Erkynland and the foremost mortal warrior in Osten Ard, reveling in battle as he wielded the fearsome blade Bright-Nail. His only equal was the Nabbanai knight Camaris. At the opening of the story, his passing hands the throne to his son, Elias.
Badass Normal: A legendary king who slew a dragon, despite possessing no magical powers.
Secret Keeper: Knows both John and Camaris' secrets, and faithfully keeps them both into death.
One of the founding members of the League of the Scroll along with Ealhstan Fiskerne, Morgenes devoted his life to the study of the Art and the history of Osten Ard, particularly the myths surrounding Prester John and the human conquest of the Hayholt. He also preserves in secret the legacy of Ealhstan's family. He takes Simon into his tutelage, but is unexpectedly spurred to action by the scullion's discovery of Pryrates' plotting. He sacrifices himself to allow Josua and Simon to escape the castle.
Mistress of the Hayholt's servants, Rachel rules the oft-wayward seamstresses, scullions, maids, and other staff members with an iron fist. When the Hayholt descends into madness, she remains, but is ultimately forced into hiding by an unexpected confrontation with Pryrates. Her Aedonite faith and charity serve her well in the trials that ensue.
Josua's right hand man. He is very loyal to the prince, since Josua gave his rank, but secretly he also wishes that his lord would be a little bit firmer, and less worried and haunted.
Chekhov's Gunman: Being known as the "Prince's Right Hand" ends up playing a part in the prophecy that restores Camaris' memory.
Marshal of Elias' armies at the opening of the story, Guthwulf leads the assault on Naglimund only to be brushed aside by Elias' decision to consummate his bargain with the Norn Queen. He grows increasingly concerned by Elias' erratic behavior, but is driven nearly mad by contact with the sword Sorrow. Subsequently blinded in a confrontation with Pryrates, he eventually finds his way to the tunnels beneath the castle.
Marshal of King Elias' mortal armies after Guthwulf's defection, Fengbald is known for his brutality and his taste for subservient women. Miriamele flees the Hayholt in large part because of Elias' promise of her hand in marriage to this man. He leads the assault on the Stone of Farewell.
Bad Boss: He is brutal to anyone who fails him and mistreats his servants as well.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Those villagers he strikes a deal with at the Stone of Farewell? They're the people whose homes he burned earlier. They have good reason not to trust him.
Kick the Dog: His response to a group of citizens petitioning the King for redress is to burn them out.
The Starscream: He believes that he can parlay his marriage to Miriamele into usurping the throne. He never gets the chance.
Founder of the League of the Scroll and the last in the line of the kings of Erkynland before Prester John took up the throne. "Saint" Ealhstan, as he was known, was a famously beloved leader who saw portents of the return of the Storm King and did everything in his power to prepare Osten Ard for this eventuality. He died fighting a dragon beneath the Hayholt.
A close ally of Prester John, Isgrimnur takes up the leadership of the Rimmersmen in exile after the treacherous Skali betrays his countrymen to Elias. A skilled if elderly warrior, he joins forces with Josua and acts as a voice of reason when all else seems to be going to madness.
Badass Beard: Josua forces Isgrimnur to shave it off when he has to disguise himself as a monk to search for Princess Miriamele. He is not happy about it.
Isgrimnur's son who spends much of his time acting as a message runner between the various groups allied with Josua.
A founding member of the League of the Scroll, Jarnauga lives most of his life in perpetual vigil over Stormspike, the black northern mountain that is the home of the Norns. He emerges from this vigil in an attempt to warn Josua's forces about the looming threat of the Storm King, but loses his life in the battle for Naglimund.
A Rimmersman warrior and chieftain serving Duke Isgrimnur.
Blood Knight: He's not a berserker per se, but is more than happy to kill anyone his Duke commands him to.
"Fight and live, fight and die, God waits for all."
"I have tasted faerie-blood tonight. I would not mind more."
Born in the Wrong Century: At one point Deornoth muses that maybe Einskaldir would have preferred the old pagan Rimmersgard religion, with its warrior's heaven, instead of the (by comparison) more peaceable Aedonite faith.
Heroic Sacrifice: He is mortally wounded while distracting the Norns so Josua's party can flee further into Aldheorte.
A monk and scholar who became a junior member of the League of the Scroll; Cadrach's hunger for knowledge met its match when he unearthed a copy of Du Svardenvyrd, the black tome of Nisses' lore that revealed the impending return of the Storm King. Upon reading the book, he fell into a black pit of despair that broke only when Pryrates discovered his secret and tortured the knowledge out of him. He falls in with Miriamele, who pries away at his veneer of self-loathing in the hopes of eventually reforming him.
Daughter of King Lluth of Hernystir, Maegwin is forced to watch as Skali's forces conquer her people and kill her father and brother. She chafes at the demands of leadership, burns with unrequited love for Count Eolair, and is eventually driven to madness in her desperation to save her people.
A noble of Hernystir driven into exile after its conquest, Eolair spends much of the story abroad, seeking out allies to aid his people in their time of need. He has feelings for Maegwin but believes that she holds him in contempt, which keeps them emotionally separated. When the Sithi liberate Hernystir, he joins Jiriki's force in their assault on Naglimund.
Camaris was the greatest knight of the Benidrivine era, rivaled only by King Prester John. His presence on the battlefield was so immense that enemies would surrender rather than face him, not the least of which because he wielded the great blade Thorn which could mow men down like wheat before a scythe. Not long after the death of John's wife in childbirth, Camaris vanished and was presumed dead, only to be discovered twenty years later as a simpleminded servant in an inn in Kwanitupul. Once restored to his wits, he demonstrates bitter unhappiness and seems to have no will to live for himself, only fighting to save his beloved Osten Ard from destruction.
A Nabbanai nobleman who falls deep in the service of Pryrates, the devilishly handsome Aspitis briefly imprisons Princess Miriamele on his ship and coerces her into sleeping with him with the intent of forcing her into marriage.
A Wranna scholar and student of one of the members of the League of the Scroll, it is Tiamak's ambition to someday be counted among their ranks. His questing for knowledge takes him out of the Wran, where he is widely regarded as a savage no better than the rest of his people. Quiet and unassuming, his wisdom ends up playing an invaluable role in the quest to save Osten Ard.
Non-Action Guy: He's a scholar, not a warrior, especially after his leg is crippled by a crocodile attack.
The Smart Guy: Though due to prejudice he is not always recognized as such.
Apprentice to Ooquequk, one of the original members of the League of the Scroll, the diminutive troll Binibiquegabenik (Binabik for short) wanders the lands far more than most members of his isolationist race. Together with his wolf companion, Qantaqa, they make a formidable pair and form a fast friendship with Simon after Binabik rescues him from starvation in the wilderness.
Strange Syntax Speaker: Among other idiosyncracies, his speech tends to overuse the present progressive tense.
Sisquinanamook is daughter of the King of the Qanuc and is Binabik's betrothed. Along with her parents, she becomes irate when he fails to return for the ceremonies that commemorate the onset of spring among her people, but loves him enough to aid in his rescue when he is condemned to execution for his "crimes". She proceeds to join him in his embassy to the "big folk" to keep a watch on her investment.
Action Girl: Leads a troop of Qanuc in the battle of the Stone of Farewell.
The Ageless: They are hinted to have long ago discovered the secret of immortality, which secret they declined to share with their servants and allies. In fact, they don't live forever. Instead, they merely age very, very slowly.
The Fair Folk: They're immortal, beautiful, graceful ... it's not hard to understand why humans keep wanting them dead ... or worshiping them.
Mystical White Hair: All Sithi have white hair, although most of them dye it a variety of colors.
Old Shame: invoked Amerasu believes their treatment of the Dwarrow (see The Ageless, above) was a crime for which the Sithi are still paying the price.
Space Elves: There are hints that the Sithi may have come from another planet, as their trip to Osten Ard was across the "Dark Ocean", and the journey was long enough that it was implied to be generations (enough that the label of "ship-born" is used to distinguish those born on the journey).
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Being so long-lived, the Sithi and Norns acquire a lot of grudges and sorrow, and it's implied that all of them become afflicted by unbearable ennui as they get older. Amerasu secludes herself in her home rather than face a world that's not as beautiful as her memories, and Utuk'ku is so consumed by rage at the past and by disgust at her own very advanced mortality that she wants to destroy everyone and everything.
One of the youngest Sithi, Jiriki nevertheless has a place of distinction as a descendant of Amerasu and her secret envoy with the humans. On one such trip, he becomes trapped in a woodsman's net and is about to be killed when Simon stumbles onto the scene and rescues him. Fleeing, Jiriki fires his White Arrow toward Simon, which is symbolic of the life-debt he now owes the young human. Despite his relative youth, Jiriki plays a major role in the conflict, as his understanding of and rapport with mortals leads him to drive his people to abandon their isolation and go on the offensive against the Storm King's forces.
Badass: Like all Sithi, Jiriki has had centuries to perfect his combat skills, but sees more combat than his fellows due to his adventurousness and activism. He is fast, strong, and a deadly accurate shot.
I Owe You My Life: He gives the White Arrow to Simon to symbolize the life-debt he owes. This arrow becomes immensely important later.
The Power Of Trust: More than any other character, Jiriki comes to symbolize the chance that mortals and Sithi may some day come to trust one another and cooperate.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Jiriki is among the most activist of all his people, leading hunting parties to defend their borders, pushing for greater intervention against the Norns, and generally refusing to go along with the Sithi's policy of of non-intervention.
Jiriki's younger sister, Aditu is less wise in the ways of mortals than he, but "adopts" Simon after she rescues him from the northern wilderness and brings him to Jao-ť-Tinukai'i. She later acts as the Sithi emissary to Josua's forces.
Innocent Fanservice Girl: She doesn't understand human taboos about nudity, and frequently goes unclothed or nearly so around Simon, much to his confusion.
Moment Killer: She interrupts Simon's would-be tryst atop the Stone of Farewell.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: While she would deny being "royalty", she is Jiriki's sister and, though she doesn't agree with all of his ideas, ventures out on her own regularly.
The eldest living Sithi, second in age only to Utuk'ku of the Norns, Amerasu is named "Ship-Born" because of her birth during the Sithi's voyage to Osten Ard from their lost homeland. As age confers wisdom and power, she is also second only to Utuk'ku in her mastery of the Art and of the Dream Road. She nearly manages to reveal the Evil Plan to the gathered folk of Jao-ť-Tinukai'i, but is silenced by Utuk'ku and killed by her huntsman.
Other or unknown
A mysterious personage of unknown race and history, GeloŽ is held in mingled fear and respect by those few who know of her. Living in the midst of the wilderness in a Baba Yaga-esque hut, she could easily be mistaken for a witch but is in reality more of a Druidic figure with mastery of all sorts of lore including the art of shapeshifting. She aids Simon, Binabik, and Miriamele when they stumble upon her abode, and later joins Josua's party.
The Forces of the Storm King
Ineluki/The Storm King
Ineluki was said to be the brightest flame that the Sithi had ever known, and had the depredations of humanity not come to Osten Ard, he might well have led them out of their exile to a new golden age. Unfortunately, his power and ambition turned to defending his people against the onslaught of the Black Rimmersmen, and he went down dark paths in search of forbidden knowledge, which eventually led him to forge in secret the dread sword Sorrow, devourer of light and hope. He sought to destroy the armies invading his home of Asu'a with a mighty spell, but instead cast himself and his servants into the realms beyond death, where his spirit burned for five centuries in search of a way back. He is the Devil of Osten Ard, a being of fire and ice who seeks nothing less than the total destruction of all mortals and the consumption of the world by Unbeing.
Badass: Even among immortals, Ineluki was terrifyingly powerful. In his backstory, he slew a dragon, and almost single-handedly held off the army of humans invading Asu'a.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The forging of Sorrow and the dark magics he wielded in the defense of Asu'a both count. He was warned against both but did so anyway.
Eldritch Abomination: His mere existence is such a wrongness that simple exposure to it can drive mortal minds insane.
Evil Is Deathly Cold: Paralyzing cold is how he freezes Simon's will and forces him to obey the call of Bright-Nail.
Expy/Homage: As Ineluki, he bears a striking resemblance to FŽanor of The Silmarillion. After becoming the Storm King, he's essentially a more sympathetic Sauron.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: His backstory is a quintessential example of what happens when you go too far in pursuit of an idealistic vision of the world.
Knight Templar: With respect to mortals. He has no sympathy for them and wishes them all utterly destroyed.
Self-Made Orphan: After Ineluki made Sorrow, his father called it an abomination and ordered him to destroy it. This broke the last vestiges of his sanity and he murdered the king on the spot, taking his antlered crown.
The Undead: He's never embodied except at the very end, but he is described variously as "undead" and "beyond death".
Nobody knows the origins of the black priest Pryrates, and he never reveals them. Introduced to the League of the Scroll around the same time as Cadrach, his love of dark knowledge had already begun to reveal itself. Displaying a visible disdain for such things as morality and restraint, he delved into the deepest secrets of the Art and of Unbeing and eventually made contact with the darkest being of all, the Storm King. He acts as the architect of all the evil that befalls the mortal lands of Osten Ard, gleefully sacrificing souls and even entire nations to feed his hunger for domination.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: He learns these right from the source — Utuk'ku and Ineluki themselves. Specifically, the Words of Changing and the Words of Unmaking.
The Dragon: The heroes believe that he is Elias' henchman. They are wrong; Elias is Pryrates' pawn. It then appears that he will be this for the Storm King, but he ends up being more of a Starscream, and the heroes are not the ones who kill him.
Karmic Death: His plan to betray the Storm King results in his annihilation by same.
The Man Behind the Man: The audience knows this, but for a long time the heroes don't realize that he's the one driving Elias, not vice versa.
Misanthrope Supreme: He cares nothing for people; they are instruments to him, to be discarded as easily as a pair of old shoes when they are no longer useful.
Sinister Minister: Although Pryrates is notionally an ordained Aedonite priest, he does absolutely nothing that resembles the worship of that religion, and is even excommunicated by Lector Ranessin in The Stone of Farewell, not that it does any good.
The Starscream: He intended all along to betray his master. It doesn't work out well for him.
The Unfettered: He states that he is "what a person who accepts no limits can become."
Queen of the Norns and the oldest thinking creature in Osten Ard, Utuk'ku rests in the dark mountain of Stormspike like a spider in her web, manipulating events with her indomitable will. She is Ineluki's closest ally and the author of his schemes, and it is her magics that bind the dark forces that allow him to attempt to reenter Osten Ard. She is the last of the Gardenborn, the only being left alive who remembers the lost home of the Sithi and Norns. She is a being of unknowable age, wisdom, and power.
The Faceless: She wearss beautiful silver mask, an image of her own face. Because underneath it she looks like an old woman.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: She's played with a certain degree of sympathy; her desire to destroy the world comes from the dreadful ennui of eternal life coupled with a hatred of humanity stemming from the death of her son.