- Action Girl: She's an extremely skilled and eager combatant, and one of the most physically capable main characters. She lives for combat, and tends to feel highly out of place in civilian life. The fact that she was consecrated at birth to the local War God likely plays a role in this.
- Bare Your Midriff: She's often depicted with armor and clothes that expose her belly in the books' cover art.
- Boobs of Steel: Nihal is often noted for being very buxom and is also a very skilled and deadly swordswoman.
- Breast Plate: At first Nihal has troubles because her generous bust can't fit properly in any armor, but in the second book she gets a new, fitted armor made exactly for her figure.
- The Determinator: When the Supreme General Raven refuses to let Nihal join the Academy, she climbs on a statue in the Academy's main hall and waits there until he's forced to at least offer her the chance of joining.
- Happily Ever After: She settles down with Sennar and has a family after the end of the war, alhough the sequels put a brutal end to that.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the third book, she sacrifices herself to save Sennar by using the amulet to cast a spell to carry them to safety, knowing that the effort will kill her. She gets better thanks to Phos' last magic.
- The Lad-ette: She's regularly noted to have little in the way of traditional feminine habits and to behave much more like a stereotypical man than a stereotypical woman.
- Last of His Kind: Nihal is the last half-elf left alive anywhere in the Eight Lands after her people's genocide at the hands of the Tyrant, and this weighs heavily on her. It turns out later that one other half-elf did survive. Given that he is in fact the Tyrant himself, this is less of a consolation than it might otherwise have been.
- Magic Knight: Although she's a warrior first and foremost, she has enough training in magic to be able to use it for healing herself and enhancing her combat abilities.
- Precocious Crush: She has one on Fen while still a teenager in Nihal of the Land of the Wind. Things get awful when he's killed in battle.
- Purple Eyes: Like all half-elves. This is a source of great confusion for her at first, as she was raised thinking she was human.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Her bright blue hair is the most visible sign of her half-elven heritage, and she often needs to hide it to avoid being recognized.
- Chick Magnet: He has a fair degree of Ship Tease with numerous female characters throughout the series, including Aires, Ondine and Nihal.
- Distressed Dude: After he and Nihal have to part ways in the Land of Stone, Sennar is captured by the Tyrant's men and taken to the Tower.
- Happily Ever After: He settles down with Nihal and has a family after the end of the war, alhough the sequels put a brutal end to that.
- Mind Rape: In the last book, Aster brutally invades his mind to gain knowledge about Nihal and her intentions.
- Calling the Old Man Out: In the second book, he manages to confront his despotic, abusive father, tell him off and finally free himself of his attempts to control his life.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He came from the Land of the Night, shrouded in eternal darkness, but he's one of the nicest guys around.
- Distressed Dude: He's taken prisoner twice, first by bandits and then by fammin. Nihal has to rescue him the first time.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: He'd rather be Nihal's squire than a knight himself.
- The Atoner: He used to fight and kill for the Tyrant, and participated in the genocide of the half-elves. He now dedicates his life to making up for what he did, fighting for freedom and peace to atone for a life spent in the service of vengeance and evil.
- Cain and Abel: The Adam to his brother's evil and vicious Cain.
- Dragon Rider: He's a veteran member of the Dragon Knights, and rides a red dragon named Vesa.
- Eye Scream: He loses an eye in his first clash with Deinoforo, and comes close to getting the other one gouged out in the second. Unlike other examples, he has to train for a long time in order to learn how to fight properly now that half his field of vision is gone.
- HeelFace Turn: In the past, he was one of the Tyrant's top warriors. He abandoned his old side after being made complicit in the slaughter of the half-elves, joining the war against the Tyrant to make amends for the evil he did.
People of the Eight Lands
Land of the Days
- Mercy Kill: In the end, Nihal has to kill him by his own request to prevent the Tyrant's forces from magically forcing him to harm his new friends.
- Odd Friendship: With Laio, a helpless prisoner he was ordered to betray.
- Tragic Monster: A Wrong One who develops an Odd Friendship with Laio, helps him escape to find Nihal and Sennar and eventually has to beg to be killed to keep himself from being turned against his friends.
Land of the Sea
- Male Gaze: The first thing Sennar sees after awakening from a days-long magic-induced coma is Aires' generous cleavage.
- Pirate: She's a mixture of the Roguish and Brutish archetypes: while she's generally a likeable character and presented in a positive light, she's also a brigand and a killer who habitually steals and kills for a living.
- Pirate: Like his daughter, he's a mixture of the Roguish and Brutish archetypes, with a greater leaning towards Brutish. Largely an ally to the heroes though he is, he's also a raider and a killer in charge of a band of dangerous cutthroats.
Land of the Sun
- A Child Shall Lead Them: She's still a child, but became queen of the Land of the Sun after the death of her father.
Land of the Water
- Break the Cutie: He starts out as a very optimistic, kindly and benevolent king, and is put through the emotional wringer by seeing the Tyrant's armies kill his wife and overrun and despoil his lands, turning him into a depressed shell of his former self.
- Interspecies Romance: He's married to Astrea, a nymph. Notably, this is the first such mixed pairing in the history of the two species' coexistence in the Land of the Water.
- Interspecies Romance: She's married to Galla, a human man. Notably, this is the first such mixed pairing in the history of the two species' coexistence in the Land of the Water.
- Knight Templar: She sees herself as fully justified in doing some rather questionable things — like plaguing Nihal with recurring nightmares to force her to be a living weapon for her crusade — for the sake of striking down the Tyrant.
- Mad Oracle: An insane sorceress hoarding prophetic knowledge and seeking to manipulate the fate of the world.
Land of the Wind
- Ultimate Blacksmith: He's one of the most skilled weaponsmiths in the Eight Lands, and certainly the best in the Land of the Wind. His craft is noted to be in high demand, and he forged Nihal's near-indestructible black crystal sword.
- Hot Witch: She's regularly described as an extremely beautiful woman, in addition to being a skilled mage.
Unbeknownst to the other characters, he's also the guardian of Mawas, the last stone that Nihal needs to complete the Amulet.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He's introduced as largely a side character of limited importance and his continuous reappearances are limited to illustrating the world's suffering during the war, but he turns out to be no less than the guardian of Mawas, and saves Nihal's life at the end of the first trilogy.
- Last of His Kind: By the end of the first trilogy, he's the last member of the Forest's pixies left.
Order of the Dragon Knights
- Authority Equals Asskicking: At a first glance, he looks like a self-righteous, pompous snob with gaudy clothes and a ridiculous little dog. It's later revealed in the third book that, asshole or not, there is a reason why he's the High Commander.
- Jerkass: He's consistently shown as extremely petty and needlessly antagonistic towards both Nihal and Ido.
- Taking the Bullet: He dies in the final battle by intercepting an arrow meant for Nihal.
- The Grotesque: The tortures the Tyrant's servants subjected him to left him a deformed and mentally broken shell of his former self.
The Submerged World
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She has feelings for Sennar, but chooses to let him return to Nihal when she realizes that he will only be happy with her.
The forces of the Tyrant
- Big Bad: He's the most powerful force of evil in the setting, and his conquest of the free world and the atrocities he and his armies commit in pursuit of this goal are the driving force behind the first trilogy's story.
- Creepy Child: He was cursed to have the body of a twelve-years-old boy until his death, making him a particularly unsettling figure to find leading an empire of suffering and destruction.
- Curse: He was put under a Sigil, an unbreakable curse, that causes him to be a young child in perpetuity, in order to deny him the chance to be desried by anyone he would himself love.
- Death Seeker: Deep down, the Tyrant truly wants to die. The problem is that he also wants to take the whole world down with him.
- Enfant Terrible: He was cursed into the shape of a child by a Council wizard, and will remain as such until the day he dies.
- Evil Sorcerer: A powerful, evil wizard who uses his dark arts to breed monsters and enslave the free world.
- Half-Human Hybrid: He's the child of a half-elf mother and a human father.
- Load-Bearing Boss: The Fortress starts falling to pieces the moment he dies, quickly crumbling into a gigantic pile of rubble.
- Mind Rape: He invades Sennar's mind in order to learn about Nihal, an experience described as profoundly violating and terrifying on his victim's end.
- Sorcerous Overlord: The Tyrant is often noted to be the most powerful wizard alive, and he uses his magic to rule his empire with an iron fist and to devise ever more horrifying monsters for his armies.
- Stellar Name: His real name, Aster, is the Latin word for "star".
- Straw Nihilist: He believes that the world is doomed to be torn apart by hatred, violence, selfishness and stupidity no matter what anybody does to save it — inevitably, even the most perfect peace will be torn to pieces by greedy, petty people seeking to benefit themselves or vent their hatred for someone else. As such, he seeks to save the world in the only way he believes will achieve lasting results — by destroying it and everyone in it.
- Cain and Abel: The murderous, evil Cain to his brother Ido's benevolent and repentant Adam.
- The Dragon: He serves as the Tyrant's main lieutenant, general and public face in the first phases of the war.
- Dragon Rider: Like many of the Tyrant's top lieutenants, he rides a powerful black dragon in battle.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dola is derived from the Italian word for "pain".
- Patricide: He murdered his own father on the Tyrant's orders.
- Co-Dragons: They come to serve as this for the Tyrant once most of the other Black Dragon Knights are killed off or pulled to the war front.
- Curse: After being captured by the nymphs, he was cursed to become a stone at every sunrise and only regain his human shape at night. No matter where he is when it's dawn, he's instantly returned to the rock in the wood.
- Taken for Granite: He was cursed to turn into a rock every day and to only return to being a man at night.
Gods and their servants
- War God: He's the setting's primary god of war and combat, and Nihal having been consecrated to him in infancy likely explains why she grew to be as skilled in and focused on combat as she is.
Guardians of the Stones
- Prongs of Poseidon: As the guardian spirit of the Sea Sanctuary, Sareph naturally wields a trident in battle.
- Light Is Not Good: Glael's guardian wants to end its eternal solitude by taking over Laio's body. Fortunately, the heroes manage to persuade it to leave.
- Time Master: Due to Thoolan embodying the essence of time, its guardian's control over time is absolute — she can slow it and speed it, alter people's perception of it and effectively freeze someone in an eternal, unchanging present.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The guardian spirit of Goriar is very kind and gentle, the kind of darkness that brings rest and peace rather than nightmares.
- Wreathed in Flames: Flar is constantly shrouded in fire.
- Golem: Two golems ward the Sanctuary of Tarephen.