Characters: Safehold

Character page for David Weber's Safehold series. Could use some Wiki Magic Love.

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Operation Ark

Operation Ark was humanity's last effort to hide from Gbaba. As alien slayers found human planets by "listening" to various technological radiation, the decision was made to send far, far away the group of eight million people who will populate planet behind Gbaba radar and stay on low technological level for the next three hundred years. To help this, they all agreed to have their memories of advanced technology deleted. However, megalomaniac administrators of Operation Ark deleted all their memories instead and supplanted ones that convinced colonists that they were created of Safehold by God's "archangels" - that is, the administration.

  • Brain–Computer Interface: Everybody has a brain port, which allows them to interface with machines.
  • Fun with Acronyms: PICA, SNARC. NEAT.
  • Gone Horribly Right: They were supposed to discard advanced technology for some time... and thanks to Langhorne's faction they substituted it with an oppressive, dogmatic church.
  • Last of His Kind: After the Battle of Earth they are the last of humanity.
  • Neural Implanting: Everybody has implants - so-called NEATs to communicate with machines without proxy.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Thanks to antigeriatic drugs, they can live for three centuries almost without aging.
  • The Singularity: Devices like NEATs and PICAs allow them to connect directly to the machines and download all information in matter of seconds. PICAs with uploaded human minds do all the hard and dangerous work. People can work and exist in virtual realities even after they die. Peoples' minds can be copied. Everybody has a brain port injected right after birth.

    Shan-Wei's faction 

Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, TFN

The original Merlin Athrawes, Nimue Alban was an officer of the Terran Federation Navy. She was killed by the Gbaba after transferring away from one of Operation Ark's vessels in order to cover the "loss" of her PICA.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: She transfers off an Operation Ark ship, knowing that to do so will mean that she is killed, to help Pei and Shan-wei rebel against Langhorne and his megalomaniacal friends.
  • Posthumous Character: After one scene she's described only in Merlin's flashbacks.

Pei Shan-wei

The Queen of Sin, the Mistress of Lies, the Dark Mother of Evil, Pei Shan-wei is the embodiment of Darkness and opposition to the will of God. Once an Archangel, Shan-wei betrayed the other Archangels in her overwhelming pride, setting her own will against the will of God, and she was struck down for it by the Rakurai of God Himself.

In fact, Doctor Pei Shan-wei was one of the original administrators of the Safehold Colony, who opposed Eric Langhorne's alterations of Operation Ark's original mission plan. Cast out of the Administrative Council by Langhorne, Shan-wei set up the Alexandria Enclave, which Langhorne destroyed by orbital bombardment. She serves as the Devil in Mother Church's theology, and misleadingly-accurate accusations of "Shan-wei worship" are leveled at the protagonists by the Church throughout the series.

  • Hero with Bad Publicity: See description above
  • Crazy-Prepared: Apart from hiding Nimue, she also educated and send to other domains over two hundred people in order to preserve the knowledge of Earth. She seems to be right: as far as we know, only four of them managed to pass down the knowledge.
  • Properly Paranoid: Prepared herself for possibility that Alexandria will be destroyed. Well... Alexandria was destroyed.
  • Posthumous Character: By the time proper plot unfolds, she's been dead for over eight centuries. In fact, calendar years on Safehold track the number of years since Langhorne's "victory" over her "evil".

Commodore Pei Kau-yung

Husband of Pei Shan-wei, Commodore Kau-yung and his wife staged a public falling-out after the extent of Langhorne's megalomania were revealed. Following the destruction of the Alexandria Enclave, Kau-yung attended a meeting of the Administrative Council wearing a vest-pocket nuke. He managed to kill most of the Archangels, meaning that he is now known as Kau-yung, Father of Destruction and Lord of Treachery.

    Langhorne's faction 

Eric Langhorne

Chief Administrator of the colony, Eric Langhorne was a megalomanical Luddite, convinced that only a complete rejection of technology would save humanity. To that end, he perverted the mission of Operation Ark, conspiring whit Adorée Bédard to alter the colonists' neural programming: instead of just losing their knowledge of technology, the colonists would also be programmed to know that Langhorne and the other administrators were the Archangels of God.

Langhorne clashed with Pei Shan-wei over his handling of the colonists and his anti-technology stance, which resulted in the orbital bombardment and utter destruction of Shan-wei's Alexandria Enclave. In response, Shan-wei's husband Kau-yung killed Langhorne, Bédard and most of the other "Archangels" with a vest-pocket nuke.

In the theology of the Church of God Awaiting, "Holy Langhorne" is the highest of the Archangels, standing on the right hand of God Himself.

Adorée Bédard

Chief Psychiatrist of Operation Ark, Bédard was instrumental in Langhorne's perversion of the Operation's mission. Standing second in the order of Archangels, Bédard was killed by Kau-yung.

Frederic Schueler

According to the Writ, Archangel Schueler was the creator of the office of Inquisition and of the Punishment of Schueler, their how-to on Cold-Blooded Torture. In reality, he belonged to Langhorne's clique and was one of two self-made "archangels" who survived Pei Kau-yung's attack. However, various clues in the series suggest that he might have been largely misinterpreted.

  • A God Am I
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: invokedIs he psychopathic maniac torturer with delusions of grandeur? Or did he understand his mistakes and try to fix what he broke? Is the Book Of Schueler the instruction manual or the warning against heresy? Are the author of the Vision and the Book even the same person? The jury is still out in that matter.
  • Author Existence Failure: invoked Some characters consider it possible that he died in Kau-yung's attack and the Book Of Schueler is actually a Posthumous Collaboration by Chihiro or somebody else.
  • Another Side, Another Story: For most people, he's the author of Punishments, the manual on torture. For Wylsynns, however, he's the caring ancestor who left them a truly moving message.
  • Famous Ancestor: The Wylsynns believe that he is their ancestor. Confirmed in Like a Mighty Army by Owl's DNA test.
  • Posthumous Character: Died centuries before the story began.
    • Although people on WMG and Weber Forums ask: ..or did he?
  • Shrouded in Myth: No character - at least no POV character - has ever met him. For some, he's terrifying, cold-hearted maniac. For others, he's more benign.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Appears to be this for "rightful archangels". While others are either heavenly guardians of various fields (health, animal husbandry, agriculture) or God's loyal servants (Chihiro, Jwo-jeng), Schueler is author of the most nausea-inducing book in The Writ, as well as advocate of Knight Templar attitude and promoter of Cold-Blooded Torture.

Other Archangels

Other Archangels include:

  • Andropov - patron of... gambling?
  • Chihiro - Wrote the Book of Chihiro after the deaths of Langhorne and the other Archangels, creating the current image of Shan-wei and Kau-yung as the Devil and her Consort.
  • Hastings - mapmaker-in-chief.
  • Jwo-jeng - creator of the Proscriptions of Jwo-jeng, the source of the series' Medieval Stasis
  • Pasquale - patron of sanitation, hygiene, diet and healthcare.
  • Sondheim - patron of agriculture.
  • Truscott - patron of animal husbandry.


Safehold was planet terraformed for the purpose of settling with low-level technology after most of humanity was wiped out by Gbaba. However, due to colony's chief administrator's Knight Templar attitude, the colonists memories were wiped and artificial faith in "The Church of God Awaiting" was installed in them. Nine hundred years later, COGA is still the greatest political and moral power of Safehold.

  • Blue Blood: With no memory of Terran Federation, society reverted to nobles and peasants system.
  • Cargo Cult: Skimmers (recon machines used commonly in Terran Federation) were worshiped as angelic vessels after the Creation, and "relics" (that is, Federal equipment any sci-fi geek would recognize) such as lie detector or door pilots are treated as holy objects. And then there's Temple, with it's heating and air conditioning, electric lights and doors that open when someone approaches them, all of which are considered "divine miracles".
    • Also, the symbol of Church, Langhorne's Scepter, appears to be some kind of fancily shaped laser gun.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Church of God Awaiting. It has some elements of Islam and Cargo Cult, but it's mostly Christianity IN SPACE!, without a Jesus figure, but with its own Satan and whole lot of Archangels.
  • Heir Club for Men: It's not official rule everywhere (it is in Corisande, but not in Charis), but there are very few ruling queens implied and fate of Queen Ysbell of Chisholm shows that those who did rule didn't always die a natural death.
  • Honor Before Reason: Often, especially among nobles.
  • Medieval Stasis: It's a bit more complicated than that, but basically, technology is almost unchanged since the "Creation"
  • My Nayme Is: Everybody. Weber wanted to show how language changed for nine hundred years between the prologue and "current time", so every name is written in a Safeholdian way. For example, Kaleb John Harold Brian Sarmac turns into Cayleb Zhan Haarahld Bryahn Ahrmahk. Good luck figuring out how to read it.

     The Empire of Charis 

Charisians in general

Charis starts as an island kingdom, located on the Charis, Margaret and Silverlode islands. It is (in)famous for their merchants, innovation (as far as is possible on pre-Merlin Safehold) and naval force. As the series continues, it merges with Kingdom of Chisholm, incorporates Princedoms of Emerald and Tarot, and conquers Corisande.

Major Merlin Athrawes, Imperial Charisian Guard

The Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar of Nimue Alban. Took up the male identity of Merlin Athrawes in order to integrate himself into the male-dominated Safeholdian society. Has also made use of the identity of Ahbraim Zhevons. Merlin has allied himself with Charis, feeling it holds the best chance for getting Safehold to throw off the chains of the Church of God Awaiting and get itself back into space. While initially viewing himself as Nimue using the identity of Merlin, Merlin eventually begins to carve out his own identity. The narration will thus refer to him as the man who once was Nimue Alban.

  • Beard of Evil: Averted. As described, Merlin has the traditional evil goatee. Played with in that by the Church of God Awaiting's standards, he IS a demon.
  • Becoming the Mask: Merlin hasn't thought of himself as Nimue in a long time. Early in the series, the narration refers to him as the PICA who used to be Nimue Alban.
  • Bi the Way: While in the guise of Ahbraim Zhevons and partaking in the services of Madame Ahnzhelyk, Merlin idly wonders if it counts as Zhevons interested in the opposite sex or Nimue interested in other women. He certainly hasn't stopped assessing the very attractive men around him with an appreciative eye, even if the Raging Stiffie problem has been taken care of.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Merlin pulls these more often than he probably should.
  • The Big Guy: Given his abilities, Merlin comes closest to this in the Five-Man Band of Cayleb's "Inner Circle."
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Merlin just can't stand by and leave an innocent or someone he cares about in danger. Even if doing so would drastically hurt his agenda.
  • Cold Sniper: Once breech-loading rifles make an appearance Merlin has a habit of playing sniper to take care of Inquisitors and their lackeys who piss him off enough.
  • The Dreaded: The Church actually classifies him as Cayleb's demon familiar. When he shows up his enemies always have an Oh, Crap moment.
  • Dual Wielding: Merlin is known for this, wielding a katana and a wakizashi. He also dual wields pistols when they're introduced to the Royal Guard.
  • Gender Bender: Nimue becomes Merlin in order to fit into the male-dominated Safeholdian society.
  • Guns Akimbo: With Safehold's first revolvers, no less.
  • Implacable Man: Definitely. He's made of battlesteel, has inhuman reflexes thanks to optic fibers replacing his nerves, and doesn't have to eat, sleep or drink. It's stated that while cannonball might behead him, only Federation tech or nuclear bomb could possibly kill him.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Justified; Nimue's choice of the katana and wakizashi is based largely on the fact that she already knows kendo, and while Nimue/Merlin's blades are shown being able to cut through damn near anything, this because they are made of super-advanced composite materials and wielded with the superhuman strength of a cybernetic android chassis. The fact that there isn't a katana analogue on Safehold helps with his mystique.
  • Lies to Children: Merlin's comparison of his abilities to those attributed to seijin.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Nimue, a name from Arthurian Legend, changes her name to Merlin, and names Cayleb's sword Excalibur.
    • Athrawes is Welsh for "Teacher"
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Though he's the only one who blames himself on those occasions when his SNARC surveillance proves less than perfect. In particular, he can't safely penetrate the Temple, which is where Allayn Magwair does most of his planning.
  • One-Man Industrial Revolution: Merlin starts the ball rolling, but it's Baron Seamount who keeps it going. So much so that it's cited by one character as a reason not to induct him into the Inner Circle.
  • Ramscoop: He's powered by miniature fusion reactor.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Merlin's body is entirely robotic but his consciousness is that of Nimue Alban.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Merlin, in the Charis upper leadership under Haarahld.
  • Survivor Guilt: Called out on it in book six.
  • Swashbuckler: From the waxed mustache and goatee down to the impossible swordsmanship and derring-do.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Merlin is, for all intents and purposes, helping along war that will kill tens or hundreds of thousands in order to bring humanity back to its old technological level as quickly as possible to hopefully wipe out the Gbaba.
    • Although to be fair, if he hadn't done anything, the Church would have destroyed Charis.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: He is torn by the idea that he might actually have a soul and is unique individual in his own right, as Archbishop Maikel says, or if he is just a Terminator Expy with the memories of a dead woman.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: While not above half-truths or explaining his abilities in terms Safeholdians would understand, Merlin is very careful not to tell any outright lies because how honest (or not) he has been will be a vital factor when the time comes to tell Safehold about its true past.

Ahbraim Zhevons

Would you keep that in mind, when I uncover your mouth so that we could talk like civilized people? That is, that I can take your life before anybody blinks an eye.

Merlin's most often used alternative identity. Ahbraim Zhevons began his "life" as a merchant from Silkiah in order to enter the city of Zion without suspicion. He later morphs into a mysterious messenger from Charis and a ranger for armies operating in Siddarmark, bringing SNARC information to those who don't know about the Inner Circle.

  • Army Scout: Aids the Alliance's armies in Siddarmark like this. It helps that he simply downloads the data from Owl.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Just look at the scene where he wakes king Gorjah up in the middle of the night. Or when he does the same with Earl of Coris. This is a man who's having way too much fun.
  • Flawed Prototype: Being the first secret identity for Merlin, he inherits a lot of Merlin's tics and characteristics, which several characters notice. On the other hand, only Aivah/Ahnzhelyk has managed to connect the dots.
  • Herald: His visit to Ahnzhelyk turned her from High-Class Call Girl to The Chessmaster, basically giving a good kick into motion. His arrival in Talkyra was the beginning of the escape of Irys, Earl Coris, and Daivyn from Delferhak.
  • Invented Individual: Many, many people are convinced that he's somebody other than Merlin.
  • Mysterious Informant: For the king of Tarot, the Earl of Coris and, most recently, allies in Siddarmark.
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: Managed to board a skimmer on the way between Merlin's place and Ahbraim's place.
  • Second Super-Identity: Nimue's second identity after Merlin.

Dialydd Mab

Merlin's most recent secret identity, created for operations that shouldn't be connected with Charis. He's also something of a safety valve for Merlin, enabling him to have his revenge without endangering his cause.

Captain Nimue Chwaeriau, Imperial Charisian Guard

A Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar created by Owl in Like A Mighty Army. She, like Merlin, has all of Nimue Alban's memories, though she does not have most of Merlin's. Since she was built with the 10-day limit removed from the start, her high-speed data port isn't damaged, so she can rapidly upload information from Owl, which Merlin cannot. She is presently assigned as bodyguard to Irys Daikyn and her husband, Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk.

  • Instant Expert: Unlike Merlin's, her high-speed data port works, so she can download all the theoretical knowledge for a skillset and then go through virtual months worth of training to acquire the practical knowledge needed to apply it in a matter of seconds.
  • Meaningful Name: Her surname is Welsh for little sister.
  • The Sixth Ranger: A better fit than Ohlyvya once she's actively involved in events.
  • Walking Spoiler

Cayleb Zhan Haarahld Bryahn Ahrmahk; Emperor Cayleb II

Here I stand. I can do no other.

Introduced as Crown Prince of Charis during Haarahld's reign as king, Cayleb ascended to the throne upon his father's death in Off Armageddon Reef. Equally adept at political maneuvers and military command, Cayleb is an effective ruler using all his resources, including Merlin's abilities, to the fullest advantage he can to preserve his growing Empire's safety against its enemies.

  • The Ace: Some of it is thanks to the advantages Merlin offers, but Cayleb's reputation among his men is well-earned nonetheless.
  • Badass Beard: Cayleb grows one in By Heresies Distressed.
  • Book Dumb: He's not much of a scholar and admits it, but he's definitely not an idiot.
  • Famous Ancestor: He turns out to be descendant of Kayleb Sarmac, one of reeducated Adams.
  • Happily Married: With Sharleyan.
  • The Hero: In Five-Man Band terms.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: He's the second person on Safehold to use a Katana and has been trained by Merlin. He takes his inability to penetrate Merlin's defence as a challenge to improve rather than proof of inferiority.
  • Love at First Sight: With Sharleyan
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Cayleb and Sharleyan. Made as a cold-blooded strategic political decision, but turns out to be love at first sight.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Refuge in Audacity: Cayleb loves to use this to maximum effect, to the occasional consternation of Merlin.

King Haarahld Ahrmahk VII

The King of Charis throughout Off Armageddon Reef, Haarahld Ahrmahk is a respected and righteous noble who encourages innovation and freedom of speech. His wife died some years before the story started. He has three children: Cayleb, Zhanet and Zhan.

Archbishop Maikel Staynair

We will not dictate anybody what is he supposed to believe in and what should he do. We will not torture and kill those who disagree with us. But we're not going to give way to them either.

Starting out as Bishop of Tellesberg, once Charis rebellion against the Church of God Awaiting is in full swing, he was elevated to the position of Archbishop of the Church of Charis. He bears the exalted position with the same humility he carried from his days as a simple priest, and his flock love him for it.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: While he doesn't really get to do much with his anger, the rare times he's shown genuinely angry are still rather intimidating.
    • At one point it's stated outright that "gentle" does not mean "weak" by a long shot.
  • The Chick: Has this role in both the Old Charis leadership and the Inner Circle.
  • Good Shepherd: One of the best.
  • Honor Before Reason: Refuses to have armed guards in his cathedral as a matter of principle. He sticks to this stance even after the Rakurai attacks, requiring Cayleb to lay down a What the Hell, Hero? on him to make him realize the lives other than his own that stance endangers.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Averts this by giving his congregation a speech on forgiveness moments after an assassination attempt on him failed.
  • Secret Keeper: of the Brotherhood of Saint Zherenau.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Knows about the true history of mankind and suspects who Merlin is, while Merlin tries to hide it from him.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Not really, but his adamant refusal to take the kinds of security precautions Merlin would prefer tends to frustrate Merlin himself.

Rayjhis Yowance, Earl Gray Harbor

One of Empire's highest ranking nobles and First Chancellor (prime minister) for both Haarahld and Cayleb.

  • Badass Grandpa: He is a grandfather and while his badassery is mostly limited to matters political, he can fight rather well when he has to.
  • Killed Off for Real: He dies in the opening Rakurai attack.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: He killed the traitor Duke of Tirian, his daughter's loving husband.
  • The Lancer: For King Haarahld and, later, for Cayleb and Sharleyan for political matters outside the Inner Circle.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Gray Harbor's deep faith means telling him the truth could potentially destroy him.
  • The Good Chancellor: Unfailingly loyal, intelligent, and dedicated.

Sir Ahlfryd Hyndryk, Baron Seamount

Charisian Navy chief engineer and inventor. Theoretically he is an admiral, but practically he hasn't commanded any water unit for over two decades. Nobody, and definitely not him, is sad about it, as he feels best in his laboratory.

Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk, Duke of Darcos

A mere midshipman during the initial battles with the Church, now a Lieutenant in the Imperial Charisian Navy. He served on the ship King Haarahld was on during the battle of Darcos Sound, and it was his life that was saved by the king's Heroic Sacrifice.

In commemoration for this act, Hektor Aplyn was adopted into the House of Ahrmahk and elevated to the Duke of Darcos. He retains commission in the Imperial Charisian Navy and serves aboard the Destiny. He is later married to Princess Irys of Corisande as part of Corisande's formal integration into the Empire.

  • Child Soldiers: He's a naval officer and kills people at the age of eleven. On the other hand, it's not unusual at all on Safehold.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: He's probably the starkest example in the series. Safeholdians don't consider it strange for eleven-year-olds to be officers in the Navy and kill people. It's also not unusual to get married at the age of sixteen. Given the difference in Safeholdian years to Terran ones, Hektor's even younger than this by Earth terms (about fourteen).
  • Happily Adopted: Is formally adopted into the House of Ahrmahk as a stepson following Off Armageddon Reef. He's made the most of it by using his rank and privilege to provide for his biological parents and siblings.
  • Improbable Age: He appears to be really good fighter in Off Armageddon Reef... at the age of eleven. Which is about ten by Earth's calendar. He also commands twice and thrice as old people at the age of thirteen and gets married at the age of sixteen... which is about fourteen and a half by our counting.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: He has seven or nine siblings. His mother wanted to have only four kids, but his father forgot to mention that twins run in the family.
  • Rescue Romance: With Irys. A fact that's played up in Corisande, much to his annoyance.
  • Taking the Bullet: Was prepared to do this for King Haarahld. Haarahld did it for him instead.
    • Does it again for Irys in Like a Mighty Army to protect her from a Rakurai bomber. Very nearly dies as a result.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the end of How Firm a Foundation.
  • Unfortunate Names: He shares his name with the man who is Charis' oldest enemy.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Gets this frequently in Midst Toil & Tribulation.

Father Paityr Wylsynn

The Church of God Awaiting's intendant in Charis. This essentially makes Father Paityr the representative of the Inquisition in Charis. Initially, his job as intendant had him making sure that Charis' sudden technological advancements did not violate the Proscriptions of Jwo-Jeng. Following the outbreak of the war and death of Archbishop Erayk Dynnys he agreed to head Charis' patent office, in which he performs a similar role. He was inducted into the Inner Circle in How Firm a Foundation and now uses his position to, rather than prevent violations of the Proscriptions, make sure advancements go through while utilizing whatever Loophole Abuse he needs to.

  • Famous Ancestor: Family tradition holds that the Wylsynn family is descended from the Archangel Schueler. DNA testing done by Owl has confirmed this theory, though nobody has actually told Paityr this. It's also pointed out that after a thousand years, there's a good chance that roughly a third of Siddarmark is distantly related to the Wylsynns, and through them Schueler, by now.
  • Good Shepherd: He's right up there with Maikel Staynair.
  • Gray Eyes: These, along with his red hair, make him really stand out in Charis. He also fits into the "prophet" type of characters who usually have this eye color.
  • Heroic BSOD: The events of the war, and the deaths of his father and uncle, cause him to have a crisis of faith. This is only exacerbated once he's brought into the Inner Circle. He eventually comes out of it on the side of Charis.
  • Loophole Abuse: His job as intendant and, later, in the patent office, was to make sure these were avoided. Following his being inducted into the Inner Circle, he happily helps exploit it instead.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In Off Aramgeddon Reef his ecclesiastical superiors routinely note that he pays little attention to Temple politics, which makes him hard to manipulate or force into dishonesty. This is at least in part an act Paityr uses to avoid exactly that.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: One of the few Schuelerites who can make this claim.
  • Secret Keeper: Of the Stone of Schueler. Later, of the Inner Circle.

     The Kingdom of Chisholm 

Sharleyan Alahnah Zhenyfyr Ahlyssa Tayt-Ahrmahk

Queen of the Kingdom of Chisholm, which she inherited at a young age following the assassination of her father. She kept the throne despite a resentful and treacherous nobility thanks to her mother and top advisers. Forced against her will to participate in the invasion of Charis in Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder had Cayleb offer her not just alliance, but marriage. Upon accepting, she is now Empress and co-ruler of the Empire of Charis. She is also one of Cayleb's most trusted confidants and advisers herself.

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Inherited the Chisholmian throne at age twelve.
  • Action Girl: Provides cover fire for her own armsmen during the defense of St. Agtha's, with the armsmen themselves noting she's a better shot than some of them.
  • The Gadfly: When she can get away with it, at least. Especially in book 5 when she times the announcement of the next Grand Duke Zebediah right when the man himself is opening the door to her carriage for her just so she can see his face when the news hits him.
  • Heir Club for Men: Took some cold blooded decisions on her part to get the nobility to take her seriously.
  • The High Queen
  • The Lancer: For Cayleb, moreso than Merlin. It's noted that she and Cayleb were able to work almost in tandem even before she gained access to SNARCs and comms.
  • Overly Long Name: Just look at it...
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: With Cayleb.
  • Royal "We": When she uses it, it's clear sign she's serious and will not tolerate any opposition.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Her sentencing of the Northern Conspiracy, which included pardoning the relatively innocent involved.
  • Shipper on Deck: Strongly supports the budding relationship between Princess Irys & Hektor Aplyn Ahrmahk and, using the above trope, makes their marriage a condition of Corisande's formal integration into the Empire. Neither of the two particularly minds, though.
  • Silk Hiding Steel
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask

Mahrak Sandyrs, Baron Green Mountain

Sharleyan's top military advisor and strong supporter since her ascension to the throne, Sandyrs was one of two pillars on which she based her reignnote . He was her father's best friend.

  • Demoted to Extra: After Rakurai blows near him he must resign from his position. Even before, he was losing "screen time" with every book.
  • The Good Chancellor: Serves Sharleyan very well and is devoted to both her and Chisholm. She trusts him enough to make him a regent while she goes to Charis.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Can't be told the truth for the same reason Grey Harbor can't. The strength of his faith means learning it was all a lie would potentially break him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sometimes acts as a voice of reason for Sharleyan.
  • Romancing the Widow: From How Firm A Foundation on he romances Sharleyan's mother, Queen Widow Anahnah.

Byrtrym Waistyn, Duke of Holbrook Hollow

Sharleyan's uncle and one of her strongest supporters pre-schism. After joining the Empire by Chisholm, he starts to disagree with her, being Temple loyalist.

  • Cincinnatus: He commanded Chisholm field armies and helped Sharleyan keep her throne, while he might have take it for himself, being previous king's brother.
  • The Consigliere: Pre-Schism, anyway.
  • Face-Heel Turn: He joins Charisian Temple loyalists, convinced that this is the only way to save the Temple.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: He's torn apart between his loyalty to Sharleyan and Mother Church.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He's horrified by Chisholm's and Charis's union, because he believes that schism will tear Safehold apart.

Ruhsyl Thairis, Duke of Eastshare

Commander of Chisholmian - and, after formation of the Empire, Imperial Charisian - Army, and a supporter of royal family of Chisholm. While being described as traditional smug aristocrat, he cares deeply for men under his command.

  • Blue Blood: And proud of it.
  • A Father to His Men: He might dislike peasants, but he cares about his army and almost considers them extended family.
  • Four-Star Badass: He is commander-in-chief of Badass Army, after all.
  • Gambit Roulette: His plan to get the Imperial Army to Siddarmark is this. First, he hopes that Their Majesties actually approve of his plan. Then, he's going to pass through the Raven Lands, unsure if Raven Lords will let him pass. And after that he really, really hopes that Tellesberg will send him ships to transport him through the sea to Siddarmark. It all works out in the end.
    • The counter-siege of Fort Tairys is fine example as well, despite few difficulties on the way.
  • Informed Flaw: He's said to consider non-nobles inferior, and yet we actually never see him act like this. Probably justified, as when we see him, he interacts either with soldiers (whom he admires) or seijins Merlin/Abraim (who are not your ordinary peasants).
  • Locked Out of the Loop: He has no access to SNARCs, which his second-in-command (himself member of the Inner Circle) deeply regrets.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: It's said that he dislikes non-nobles and considers them inferior to Blue Blood.

     The League of Corisande 

Hektor Daykyn

Ruler of the League of Corisande. He has long sought to expand his territory as much as he could, and has developed an antagonistic relationship with many of his neighbors, including Charis and especially Chisholm, in the pursuit of that goal.

Irys Daykyn

Hektor's eldest child and only daughter. Princess Irys is quick to blame Cayleb and Sharleyan for anything that happens, including her father and brother's deaths, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

  • Broken Pedestal: Irys eventually has to come to terms with the fact that her father was a tyrant outside his own kingdom.
  • Heir Club for Men: Can not lawfully inherit the throne, despite Hektor's preferences, given Young Hektor's ineptitude and Daivyn's youth.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Coris makes sure she continues to hate Cayleb & Sharleyan as a means of keeping her politically useful to the Group of Four and, thus, alive.
    • Subverted when an assassination attempt at her wedding forces her to be inducted into the Inner Circle far sooner than intended. We don't see it, but she apparently takes it the best out of perhaps anyone so far (it helps that Hektor's life was saved in the process).
  • Noble Fugitive: From the end of By Heresies Distressed until partway through Like a Might Army, when she, Daivyn, and Earl Coris return to Corisande.
  • Not So Different: Sharleyan notes this between the two of them.

Hektor Daykyn the Younger

Hektor's middle child and Crown Prince of Corisande. Though he is Hektor's eldest son and heir, Hektor regards him with disdain for the most part.

Daivyn Daykyn

At age nine, the youngest son of Hektor Daykyn, and following the deaths of his father and brother, Prince of Corisande. Smuggled out of Corisande during the course of By Heresies Distressed, the Church of God Awaiting keeps him alive in the hopes of using him as a diplomatic trump card against Charis.

  • Cheerful Child: Once out of captivity and given something to be cheerful about.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Barely ten Safehold years old when his father and brother are killed. Sharleyan is able to bond with him due to this.
  • Noble Fugitive: With his sister, Irys.

Phylyp Ahzgood, Earl Coris

Prince Hektor's spymaster. When the war with Charis begins to turn against Corisande he puts Irys and Daivyn in his care and sends them away.

  • The Consigliere: For Daivyn and Irys, being the experienced spymaster.
  • Double Agent: Clyntahn believes he's prepared to off Daivyn when they say so. He actually plays his role to help Daykyns survive.
  • The Spymaster: For Hektor, part of the reason he was sent to Delferahk with Irys and Daivyn. Returns to the job upon the return to Corisande.

Rhobair Seablanket

Ahzgood's loyal valet, met on the Earl of Coris's trip to the Temple. Turns out to be more than meets the eye.

     The Kingdom of Dohlar 

Admiral Lywys Gardynyr, the Earl of Thirsk, Royal Dohlaran Navy

Commander of Dohlaran Navy and one of the few real sailors among their highest ranks. Blamed for the failure at Armageddon Reef, he is under Inquisition's constant suspicion, but prevails at his station because of his talent. He's one of the very few capable Temple commanders and probably the only one who encourages creativity in his officers.

General Raynos Alvahrez

Cousin of the infamous Duke of Malikai, he's one of Dohlar's highest ranking nobles. He blames Duke of Thirsk for Malikai's death. Upon Dohlars invasion of Siddarmark he becomes one of its armies chief military commanders and appears to be surprisingly good at his job.

  • Anti-Villain: Seems to be on his way to this.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: It's mentioned in By Schism Rent Assunder that Duke Malikai's cousin advocates against Thirsk, but Alvahrez is only named and introduced in Midst Toil And Tribulation, four books later.
  • Mounted Combat: He's actually cavalry.
  • Worthy Opponent: Much like Thirsk, the protagonists who know of him acknowledge that he is among the enemy's better commanders.

     The Princedom of Emerald 

Nahrmahn Hanbyl Graim Baytz; Prince Nahrmahn II

The Prince of Emerald. Nahrmahn was originally antagonistic towards Charis, but a combination of self-preservation and disillusionment with Mother Church leads him to join the Empire of Charis. He becomes the Empire's Minister of Imperial Intelligence. Eventually Cayleb, Merlin, and Sharleyan bring him into the Inner Circle. Has a great love for playing the Great Game of politics.

  • Brain Uploading: After his death, we learn Merlin used a device to record his brain in his final moments and upload his personality to the Cave computers.
  • Complexity Addiction: His love for "the Great Game." His posting as Imperial Spymaster was done largely to channel this addiction into something constructive.
  • The Chess Master
  • Easily Forgiven: While initially Cayleb and Sharleyan are properly wary of him, Cayleb later admits his surprise at finding himself liking the man.
  • Happily Married: To Ohlyvya
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Was prepared to bargain with Cayleb and Sharleyan, knowing there was a very legitimate chance that they would demand his execution as part of the process. The only reason Ohlyvya survives the destruction of their coach in How Firm a Foundation is because Nahrmahn shielded her with his body.
  • Heel-Face Turn: In By Schism Rent Asunder.
  • Inside a Computer System: After his death he lives inside virtual reality unit.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Quite the schemer. As Merlin says In-Universe, "God help us when he discovers Machiavelli."
    • Narhmahn remarks, after making said discovery, that he'd already figured most of it out and Machiavelli was really cynical.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He was the one who turned the Duke of Tirian.
  • Morality Chain: After his death and Brain Uploading, Nahrmahn plays this role for Merlin, offering reassurance when Merlin fears that what his power to kill with impunity may turn him into and making sure he doesn't shut himself out from his friends and loved ones.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Even people who know Narhman is smarter than he appears underestimate him.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage
  • The Smart Guy: For the Inner Circle. Merlin at one point admits that watching him work is a guilty pleasure.
  • The Spymaster: He has his own for Emerald, but after his Heel-Face Turn his Complexity Addiction is turned towards this by making him the spymaster for the whole of the Empire. He's regarded by all the inner circle as their best analyst.
  • The Strategist: Oh, he is quite the competent schemer and as noted above, Merlin deeply admires his ability to analyze, adapt and plan ahead when confronted with new situations and information.

Ohlyvya Baytz

Nahrmahn's wife and Princess of Emerald. She is at least as intelligent as Nahrmahn himself, and serves largely as a confidante and mitigating influence for her husband. Is included in the Inner Circle alongside her husband in A Mighty Fortress.

  • Happily Married: To Nahrmahn
  • Mundane Utility: Uses her access to OWL to look up information on things like cholesterol, and then uses said information to try and convince her husband to take better care of himself.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage
  • Sixth Ranger: For the Inner Circle, initially. There was no special need to include her, and she doesn't often take an active role in the Empire's politics. Though it's noted her influence with Nahrmahn provided a good reason, nonetheless.

     The Temple Lands 

Vicar Zahmsyn Trynair

I do believe [Hauwerd and Samyl] conspired against Zhaspyr. That means they also conspired against me and you. Maybe your deep faith lets you take it easy. I can't.

Chancellor of the Church of God Awaiting's Council of Vicars. Member and primary leader of the Group of Four, he loses his importance (and presence in the books) as events progress and turn into all-out war.

  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: He increasingly finds himself towed in Clyntahn's wake and unable to oppose him. However, he knows that if Duchairn ever gets eliminated, he's the next biggest target in Clyntahn's sights and has to try desperately to play peacekeeper between them.
  • The Man Behind the Man: De facto ruler of the church, as the Grand Vicar decrees whatever Trynair tells him to decree.
  • Out of Focus: At the start, Trynair and Clyntahn were the driving force behind the events within the church. As the books have progressed, with Clyntahn grabbing more and more power and Ducharin being the only one willing to stand up to him, Trynair's importance has dwindled significantly.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Usually he can't tame Clyntahn, but when in By Heresy Distressed he finds out the truth about Feyrad, he verbally stomps Clyntahn into the ground.

Vicar Zhaspahr Clyntahn

There ought to be a law that villains shouldn't be allowed to look like stereotypical villains.
Earl Coris on Clyntahn

Grand Inquisitor of the Church of God Awaiting. Member of the Group of Four. Instigator of many of the Safehold series biggest events, using his position to attempt to crush all opposition to the Church and himself.

  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Crosses into this in Midst Toil and Tribulation when he actually starts building concentration camps for the 'heretics' and Merlin compares the role of his Inquisition to the Army of God to the SS following the Whermacht into Russia.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Noted as his single creepiest attribute.
  • Complete Monster: He's the Grand Inquisitor of a Corrupt Church. What more need be said?
    • That said Corrupt Church is a Path of Inspiration whose holy book explicitly allows — indeed, encourages and provides instructions for — torture, and fairly horrific torture, at that.
      • Also that he had all the vicars that disagreed with him politically tortured and killed, as well as their families, including children as young as 12.
  • Big Bad: Seems to be this for the series, in absence of Gbaba.
  • Evil Can Not Comprehend Good: Ducharin specifically describes Clyntahn as being unable to understand things like gentleness, and fully expects it to bite him in the rear eventually.
  • General Failure: Every time he takes part in the actual planning of a Church military operation that operation has a tendency to turn into a bloody fiasco.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Partly a pose to scare his rivals but mostly very dangerously real.
  • Hobbes Was Right: How Firm A Foundation reveals that Clyntahn believes that man has no better nature and only follows God when terrorized into proper behavior.
  • Hypocrite: The reason he publicly claims he wants Charis eliminated? The new tech they are introducing; claiming it is demonically inspired. What does he do to overcome that technical advantage? Replicating that same tech and stamping the Inquisition's seal of approval on it while claiming that the Church replicated the technology using different,non-demonic methods.
  • Karma Houdini: Is convicted of being partially responsible for the Ferayd Massacre, and is sentenced to... one week's kitchen duty.
  • Knight Templar: And to make it worse, the scriptures clearly state that this sort of behavior is acceptable.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Clyntahn does quite a bit of damage in the short term, but in the long term he tends to strengthen his enemies' resolve, turn the wavering against him, and make the weak seek refuge from him.
  • Obviously Evil: Earl Coris, upon meeting him, thinks to himself that there should be a rule forbidding villains from looking like stereotypical villains.
  • Properly Paranoid: Shocking, but true.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Clyntahn demolishes his office in an epic tantrum after finding out about the destruction of theDesnairian Navy and the defection of its commanding officers.
    • He throws an even bigger one when the letter from Seijin Mab is delivered to him.
  • Tautological Templar: Goes hand-in-hand with Believing Their Own Lies.

Vicar Rhobair Duchairn

You know, in many ways Zhaspyr is his own worst enemy. That's because he forgot - and so did I for a moment, I must admit - that sometimes kindness and gentleness can be weapon as powerful as fear and terror.

Minister of the Treasury of the Church of God Awaiting's Council of Vicars. A position which grants him a place in the Group of Four. Events early in the series began to re-awaken his faith, which puts him in the position of opposing some of the Group of Four's policies but being in a position where he can't actually do anything about them.

  • Anti-Villain: Becomes this by the second book, the only reason he is still with the Group of Four is because he knows staying with them is the only way he can mitigate some of Clyntahn's bullshit.
  • The Atoner
  • Good Shepherd: Becomes one to counter-balance some of the evil he's been complicit in.
  • Heel Realization: it starts somewhere around book two and is sure as of book four. Seeing Clyntahn everyday helped.
  • Only Sane Man: A role he is starting to share Allayn Maigwair as he seems to be one of the few members of the upper Church hierarchy that has a level head on his shoulders.

Vicar Allayn Maigwair

Captain General of the Church of God Awaiting, making him leader of its military forces. A position which also grants him a place within the Group of Four. Not particularly renowned for his intellect and tends to just go along with Clyntahn. However, once the war heats up he shows that he isn't exactly the idiot every one thought him to be and becomes an ally of Duchairn.

  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The first few books had the Group of Four focus mainly on political scheming and letting proxies fight Charis in their stead. Maigwair is a career soldier, not a politician and has no talent for political maneuvering so he looks like a man who is a bit slow and more than a little out of his depth. Come A Mighty Fortress and Magwair starts taking a direct hand in planning the Church's military offensive; he comes up with a battle plan for the Navy of God that comes within a hair's breadth of crushing Charis. Midst Toil and Tribulation his armies inflict massive defeats on the Siddmarkian Army, widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, on Safehold. Like a Mighty Army he turns the hopelessly out-dated and incompetent Harchong Army into a powerful, modern military force that is threatening to drive Charis off the mainland. Merlin, Nahrmahn and Cayleb have all admitted they seriously underestimated him.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The subterfuge regarding where the Navy of God was sent in A Mighty Fortress was his idea. It is perhaps the single most successful move the Group of Four has managed against Charis, catching the Charisian leadership completely flat-footed. The rest of the Group of Four were rather shocked when he came up with it.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Near-useless in political maneuvering, a terror to behold once active military operations begin.
  • The Load: Pretty much how the rest of the Group of Four views him, since he's not as bright as the other three. However, once the Church becomes directly involved in the military campaigns he stops being the Load.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: For most of the books, he's acted like an idiot who can't be trusted to tie his own shoes, and indeed, he's almost completely useless in politics. But when given a hand in the Church's military operations, he proves to be one of the greatest commanders in Safeholdian history.
    • In Like a Mighty Army he keeps getting more impressive. He ramrods a new breech-loading rifle design through the Inquisition's approval and acceptance process, is copying and supporting Thirsk in the research and development field and actually, with Duchairn's help, reforms the Harchong Army from a sorry joke into a very formidable fighting force, something Merlin didn't think was possible.
  • The Strategist: He might not be very good with political scheming but in military matters it turns out that he is one of the most capable generals in the world.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In Midst Toil and Tribulation, he proves frighteningly competent in creating the new Army of God and successfully leads one of the greatest military campaigns in Safehold's history. Not only that he actually delivers a Shut Up, Hannibal! speech to Clyntahn!

Madame Ahnzhelyk Phonda born Nynian Rychtair, aka Aivah Pahrsahn

A madame at one of the city of Zion's more renowned "houses of ill repute." Madame Ahnzhelyk's provides company for many, including members of the Council of Vicars. From this position Ahnzhelyk has created a truly awesome spy network through which to subvert the church's corruption.

  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Somehow managed to figure out not only that Merlin and Abrhaim Zhevons are the same person but that they have a means of travelling vast distances in extremely short periods of time.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the "Sword of Schueler" attack on Siddarmark.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Madame Ahnzhelyk plans ahead with a vengeance.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Older than most examples and doesn't "work" herself by the time of the books, but she charms everyone she meets.
  • Genre Savvy: She figured out that Merlin and Ahbraim were one and the same.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Among the highest class, at that.
  • Meaningful Name: Provides shelter for the poor in Zion and genuinely works to do good.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Has left Cayleb "almost reverent." Her solution to get potential Inquisition victims out of Zion before a vengeful Clyntahn can get his hands on them? Hide them in a boat shipping goods in Clyntahn's name.
    • Furthermore, her idea of going into "hiding" is to publicly enter high society in Siddarmark under an alias and become a fixture in the Reformist community. Gutsy!
  • Sleeping With The Fishes: Has caused this to happen to other people at least eleven times.
  • The Spymaster: Easily the best in the series. Within her specific area of operation, she's even better than Owl, and has occasionally evaded the SNARCs' observations without even being aware of them.
  • Wham Line: Author of what's probably the most surprising cliffhanger in the entire series.



Owl - short for Ordoñes-Westinghouse-Lytton RAPIER-class tactical computer - is an AI that begun its existence as weapon assistant. It was then transferred by Pei Shan-Wei into Nimue's cave and became Merlin's assistant, weapon maker and data analyst. As a ex-weaponry program, it started as largely unintuitive and annoying creature, but gets better at its job following Nahrmahn's Brain Uploading.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. All RAPIER-class computers were programmed so that idea of taking over the world would never occur to them.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Before MTaT nobody really wondered about it, but in Like A Mighty Army it's mentioned that Owl still has not decided on its gender.note 
  • Artificial Intelligence: Of course.
  • Artificial Stupidity: As a weapon operator, Owl was not programmed to guess its creators intentions, understand rhetorical questions, or provide additional information without being specifically asked for it. Merlin, being used to AIs that are highly intuitive and actually helpful, finds it annoying.
  • Captain Obvious: In the first few books, mainly due to its tendency to give Mathematician's Answer. It grows out of it, though.
  • Computer Equals Monitor: Averted. It's mentioned that Owl's main "body" is size and shape of a tennis ball.
  • Digital Avatar: Inside a VR unit. It has ambiguous gender and looks strangely similar to Merlin.
  • Mathematician's Answer: For the first three books or so this is Owl's default mode of answering questions.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: Owl can operate various tools it was definitely not created to be compatible with (clothing machines, medical equipment, production modules, library...) Justified, as Terran Federation spanned the entirety of humanity so everybody built machines according to the same standards.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Using SNARCs, Owl can observe virtually anything on Safehold apart from Temple, but its poor understanding of priorities and sheer amount of data to process turn it sometimes into this trope.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: In virtual reality module Owl looks suspiciously similar to Merlin.

Greyghor Stohnar, Lord Protector of Siddarmark

Elected ruler of the Republic of Siddarmark in the times of the series, Stohnar is strong supported of Reformist movement, but hides it, fearing Mother Church's reaction. After the Sword of Schueler he openly supports Charis and forges alliance with Cayleb.

  • The Clan: Stohnar clan is said to be very influential in Siddarmarkian politics.
  • A Father to His Men: He cares deeply about his subjects and tries to do as much as possible. The fact that he can't do enough hurts him visibly.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: President Iron variation.
  • Rags to Royalty: Well, not exactly rags, but Stohnar came through all the officer ranks of Army up to regimental commander and then jumped to politics before being chosen a Lord Protector.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Retired Badass: Before going into politics, he was commander of regiment in Siddarmark army (which is generally considered Badass Army by other nations).
  • Younger Than They Look: Underplayed, but Merlin notices that following Sword of Schueler, Stohnar looks like he aged a decades in a day.