WARNING! All spoilers are unmarked on this page!
Tavi of Calderon, a.k.a. Rufus Scipio, a.k.a.Gaius Octavian , a.k.a. Gaius Tavarus Magnus
Tavi, raised by his Aunt Isana and Uncle Bernard in the Calderon Valley, is apparently the only Aleran in the world to not possess the power of Furycraft. While this is often a major disadvantage, in order to compensate he's learned to rely on something else his brain. After the events of the first book, he begins studying at Alera Imperia to join the imperial spy network known as the Cursors, and joins the newly-formed First Aleran Legion under the name Rufus Scipio.
Tavi is really Gaius Octavian, son of the slain Princeps Septimus. Isana, actually his mother, accidentally suppressed his Furycraft when trying to make him look younger so he wouldn't be obviously the right age to be a son of Septimus and therefore a target for assassins. Eventually he does develop some Crafting, though to a lesser extent than most Lords. In the final book, the full potential of his powers emerges.
Tropes that apply to Tavi:
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Mostly done offscreen. The one time we see this in action, it's both awesome and terrifying as Tavi decides how to kill High Lady Antillus and Crassus with a stick.
- Badass Bookworm: While not as much as Ehren, he's really clever.
- Badass Normal: By Aleran standards, this actually makes him a Handicapped Badass. Although he becomes less normal as the series progresses.
- Brought Down to Badass: Isana's well-intentioned spell may have made him the butt of jokes everywhere, but we can't deny he was able to compensate.
- Batman Gambit: He grows skilled in using his enemies' tendencies and tactics to bring them down.
- In Academ's Fury he, by means of Ehren and Aria, gets the Aquitaines to help protect Gaius and the crown from falling because it would ruin their own plans in the making.
- in Princeps' Fury he uses Demos' desire for wealth and repayment for destroying Demos' slave chains to stop Demos from ever being in the slave trade again by making him swear to use only these chains to bind a slave. The chains are solid gold. A lifetime of wealth and earns Tavi Demos' loyalty and opinion.
- Battle Couple: With Kitai.
- Becoming the Mask: He starts Cursor's Fury as a civilian Cursor who joins the First Aleran undercover as a junior officer, despite having zero time in the Legions. When the book ends, he's become The Captain, so much so that he spends the next years serving primarily as a legionare instead of a Cursor. This is foreshadowed when Magnus outright tells him that this will happen, with regard to his military career: "When you start, it'll be an act. At the end, it won't be an act anymore."
- Beware the Nice Ones: In his rage and fury Tavi is absolutely merciless, as Fidelias almost found out.
- The Call Put Me on Hold: Thanks to Isana stunting his growth, he doesn't get his furycrafting until about age 20. In contrast, his father obtained his powers around age 5.
- The Captain: He is given a field promotion to Captain in Cursor's Fury by virtue of being the senior-most officer left standing after a surprise attack. He keeps the promotion and the fourth book is called Captain's Fury for a reason.
- The Chessmaster: Metaphorically as well as literally. Even the First Lord takes a couple of lessons from him.
- Combat Pragmatist: Well, when everybody can rip you to shreds with their bare hands, playing fair doesn't seem very important. He says once that he never wants to be in a "fair" fight ever again. Even after his crafting powers awaken, he's still a pragmatist in battle.
- Consummate Liar: He was raised by one of the greatest Living Lie Detectors alive. He needed to develop this skill in order to get away with anything as Isana is a very good truth-seeker.
- Crazy Enough to Work: The majority of Tavi's plans are this. So much so that Kitai can correctly surmise where Tavi chose to have the Final Battle by thinking of the one place only a lunatic would go willingly. It's pretty much his motto. One of his plans gives an ally heart palpitations.
Ehren: "This plan is insane... you are insane..." *looks around* "I'm going to need some pants."
- You want more examples, because you think just THAT won't work for you? Of course you do! Take, for instance, his role in the defense of the Elinarch. Due to a lot of things going wrong at once, he ends up in command of a single, inexperienced legion (about 7,000 soldiers) who have to hold a bridge against an army of more than 50,000 Canim: centuries-old, enormous, and incredibly dangerous wolfmen. First, to stop them from crossing the river anywhere else, he has all the butchers in the camp and the towns at either end of the Elinarch throw buckets of blood into the river to attract sharks. Any Canim trying to swim across quickly learns the error of their ways. He also goes out to try to negotiate with the leaders. By himself. He proceeds to use his knowledge of their culture to laugh in the face of an Evil Sorcerer and exploit a division in their leadership. Then he sits for an hour and plays ludus with Nasaug during a truce to let them remove their dead from the fieldnote , in order to buy time for his men to set up his next tactic: sawdust and fire furies planted in every building on the Canim side of the bridge, which he then has his only Knight Ignus blow up while the Canim are trying to move through them. He'd makes sure they are all in the buildings by having everyone in the legion hold tiny firecraftings over the main square so the stones are superheated and anyone trying to step on them would get fried. And the battle ends when he has his Knights Aeris bend the air to form a quarter-mile-wide magnifying glass, concentrating the sunlight into a Death Ray. The general consensus among the characters seems to be that Tavi is completely insane.
- And that thing mentioned above about going into the most suicidal place he could think of? His plan is to piss off the Eldritch Abomination-like Great Furies Garados and Thana and use them against the Vord Queen. It only really works when she tries to claim the furies and he has the even crazier idea of cutting her connection and letting them go free to wreak random destruction. They are very pissed about the attempt to control them, and Thana—an enormous, sentient thunderstorm—pretty much literally chews the Vord Queen up and spits her out.
- This is the man who made ships out of icebergs and attached runners to sailing ships to make them work over ice.
- The Dreaded: He becomes this to the Canim. He earns the nickname "Tavar" (after a wolverine-like creature from the Canim's homeland, that is small, very vicious, and routinely takes down things bigger than itself,) and the repeated efforts of the ritualists to sabotage relations between Tavi and Varg suggest that, despite all their bluster about their superiority, they are a lot more scared of him than he is of them. In First Lord's Fury, Varg reminds Nasaug of the time he "fed Sarl to the Tavar" (in Cursor's Fury) and says it completely without irony, showing he was aware it wasn't even a fair fight.
- The Awakened Vord Queen also becomes terrified of him, to the point where she wastes her remaining enslaved Citizens as part of an attempt to assassinate him and the leadership of the First Aleran simply because she's so desperate to find any way to kill him and prevent him from stopping her.
- Empowered Badass Normal: For most of his life, Tavi had to learn how to get by without Furies in a world where everyone takes having them at their beck and call for granted, which has largely meant a life of constantly figuring out solutions to problems most of his peers don't have. The feats he's able to accomplish with that alone are impressive; once he does come into furycrafting skills of his own, applying that same sort of lateral thinking to their use has the same effect as giving Batman a Green Lantern Ring.
- Exact Words: Tavi proposes to Gaius amnesty for the freed slaves who acted in concert with the Canim using the words, "to those in this region who have broken laws in acting to protect their lives and those of their families due to the Canim invasion and Kalarus's rebellion." This just so happens to include Tavi himself, as he was acting to protect his mother and others when he broke Varg out of prison.
- A Father to His Men: Unlike Sextus, Tavi has personally led men into battle, risked his life to save them and cares about them personally. And for this, his men, even Fidelias, come to love him right back. Fidelias lampshades this by thinking if Tavi asked his men to march into a leviathan's mouth, they would do so willingly - because he figures they would end up going out of the other side and loaded with treasure.
- Guile Hero: To make up for his lack of furycrafting, Tavi relies on his intelligence.
- Heroic Bastard: Tavi always assumed he was just the the son of a commoner and some legionnaire having a fling. This isn't correct. His father left Isana with legal proof of their courtship and wedding to prove Tavi wasn't born a bastard.
- The Hero: Saves the country from numerous threats.
- Idiot Ball:
- In Captain's Fury he fails to think Arnos would have him watched for any wrongful action when he races to trade a prisoner back for Ehren. It causes him to be brought up on charges of treason and removed from command.
- In Cursor's Fury he realizes the Canim are able to destroy the command tent because of the standardized layout of all Legion camps. Later, he berates himself for not thinking up a new system because the Vord Queen uses the same idea, but this time attacking the healers.
- Kitai says he is holding it if he senselessly kills Fidelias for his traitorous actions. She reasons that if the man wants to die to attain some redemption, some order in his life, then Tavi should put that use helping take down a greater villain.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Although less and less so as the books go on. However, compared to the rest of society, it's I Just Want to Be Normal in this world.
- In Harm's Way: In later books, Tavi shows himself willing to put himself in the thickest and most dangerous part of the fighting, where his skills are the most necessary and crucial. This is in contrast to the rest of Alera's leadership, including his grandfather Gaius Sextus, who would try to maneuver a political rival into that spot instead on the off-chance that it might end up being a convenient way to get rid of them.
- I Shall Taunt You: Preferred manner of keeping his opponents off balance. He wins a duel against one of the most dangerous swordspeople in Alera with just six words.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Desperately trying to think of a way to kill the ridiculously-lethal Vord Queen, Tavi leads her to the mountain Garados to try to wake it and Thana up. Unfortunately, the Vord Queen manages to get along to trying to control these two great furies - thankfully, Kitai manages to stop her from completing doing so rather than the other possible situation of "The Vord Queen is now has two great furies at her command and is literally unstoppable".
- It's Personal: Kitai gets him to openly admit his inner rage at Fidelias's actions during Second Calderon, and how this rage is blinding him to other matters.
- Like Father, Like Son: Lots of comparisons are made to Septimus, though Tavi is smarter than his dad thanks to a good twenty years of Badass Normality. Both are courageous on the battlefield, a natural leader. Both think about the plight of those who are less fortunate. Both fall for a woman who was considered taboo and scandalous, Isana being a commoner and Kitai being not even Aleran, and both women would stand up to their loves, challenging them and their choices when they felt they were wrong but never make an argument about it. They also both get seasick really easily. It's to the point that most of the characters who realize who Tavi really is pre-The Reveal do so because Tavi ends up acting exactly as Septimus would in the given situation.
- Magnetic Hero: Tavi has a way of attracting former enemies to his side, usually due to a combination of his intelligence, the way he cares for his subordinates and how he fights right in the thick of it with his troops.
- Meaningful Name: Four of them:
- Gaius Octavian, meaning both the son of Septimus, and is the proper name of Emperor Augustus.
- His Canim nickname, "Tavar", is the name of a wolverine-like predator native to Canea, which even professional Canim warriors avoid because it fearlessly and ferociously fights to defeat its enemies and protect its territory despite its small size (relative to a Cane). Exactly like Tavi.
- 'Scipio' is probably a reference to Scipio Africanus, the genius Roman general who defeated Hannibal. Rufus may refer to several people - the general Lucius Verginius Rufus seems plausible. "Here lies Rufus, who after defeating Vindex, did not take power, but gave it to the fatherland."
- Mindlink Mates: With Kitai thanks to her bonding with him. They can sense the other one's presence and general moods. And when he gains furycrafting, she gains it too, while Tavi gains enhanced senses and endurance from her.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He eventually gains the title Gaius Tavarus Magnus; "Tavarus Magnus" is roughly equivalent to "Lord Wolverine the Great."
- Nice Guy: Tavi has more than once shown compassion and understanding to an incredible degree. To the point that he's sometimes considered to be a bit too nice to the people who should be his mortal enemies.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He has no way of knowing that cutting himself in the Wax Forest would wake up the Vord Queen, but it did. Or that it would absorb his and Kitai's blood and inherit their traits.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In Cursor's Fury he has this revelation after a self-examination. He is missing Kitai deeply and their strong bond makes being apart for long distances painful. However, he realizes that for the past few days, that pain has been gone and he has stopped talking about her in a forlorn manner. It takes him little time to realize Kitai has moved into the Legion camp he is stationed at, under the guise of a blind beggar.
- Inferred Holocaust that will come over the Alerans once her form has finished "dissolving" back into the countryside. He first desperately tries to come up with a Crazy Enough to Work plan to solve this issue... but he realizes that even he can't possibly solve that issue and breaks down into tears out of both guilt and grief. In First Lord's Fury, the Great Fury Alera grimly warns him of the
- Older Than They Look: In the first couple of books in particular; Amara assumes he's about 12 when she first sees him, to which he grouchily replies that he's fifteen. The reason he looks so young is that his mother intentionally stunted his growth when he was a child via watercrafting to make him seem younger than he was, in order to keep people from guessing that he might be the son of Gaius Septimus, who died 15 years before the first book.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Considering how much damage the guy can cause with no powers, is it any surprise that giving him access to the full crafting abilities of the First Lord caused an insane amount of badassitude to ensue?
- The Plan: Several in the last three books.
- Rags to Royalty: Starts as a poor, powerless shepherd. The series finishes with Tavi as the First Lord.
- Really Royalty Reveal: Happens to him in Captain's Fury.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Tavi's way to stop the Icemen from destroying the Shieldwall in the future? Give it to them. With plans to have them lease it back to the Alerans, no less. Fidelias practically collapses from shock when he hears this.
- And, say, every other thing he does, leading to hilarious moments that go something like "Oh God, he's doing something crazy... Meh. It's Tavi, go with it." Which overlaps nicely with his Crazy Awesomeness, and the entry for Crazy Enough to Work above.
- Everything he does is awesome and/or inventive. Some of it fits this trope, some doesn't. In addition to how he handles the Icemen, though, another example quite clearly fits this trope: In Captain's Fury, he breaks half a dozen laws, and in ways that clearly could not be covered up or ignored. How does he handle it? He suggests to the First Lord a general amnesty for Alerans who cooperated with the Canim in conquered territory, but phrased in such a way that covers Tavi himself as well.
- Secret Legacy: Tavi grows up being told that his father (a nameless legionare) and mother died at the First Battle of Calderon, killed by Marat. Turns out that his father was actually Gaius Septimus, legitimate heir to the First Lord; his mother, Isana, survived and went underground as his aunt to continue to raise him; and Septimus was assassinated during the battle by a cabal of Citizens.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Though he starts off with a childish crush on a steadholt girl, he falls hard for Kitai not long afterwards and stays that way for the rest of the series, much to Max's frustration while trying to get him to loosen up.
- Smart People Play Chess: Or the local equivalent, ludus.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He's a bit of a late bloomer (what with Isana slowing his growth and all), but even in Furies of Calderon Amara notes that he's a good-looking boy. By Captain's Fury, he's repeatedly mentioned to be quite tall and rather attractive. It runs in the family.
- Tranquil Fury: When he discovers that Fidelias had been masquerading as Valiar Marcus. He's very calm even as he makes it clear that he's absolutely furious at Fidelias.
- Warrior Therapist: Against Navaris. He attacks her mental problems to make her sloppy in actual combat. It's actually genuinely unsettling to see since the weakness he exploits in her is something he shares, so to see him dredging up someone else's worst memories to get the advantage of them in a fight, especially considering that he can only do so because he has the same problem, is jarring."I never knew my father either."
- Worthy Opponent: The Canim word "gadara" (respected and trusted enemy) is used a lot around him.
- Xanatos Gambit: While he is young and not always good at these, he was taught the art of them in his Cursor training. His old master often told him that, "Every problem was an opportunity, from a certain point of view." Take the Idiot Ball example: he was able to move things about to avoid summary execution, be in a spot to escape from jail, go on a mission to gain a key ally, and defeat Arnos summarily. None of which would have happened if Arnos hadn't arrested him.
- You Are in Command Now: In Cursor's Fury he is placed in the the army under the guise of Rufus Scipio. He is given the rank of third subtribune to the Tribune Logistica (aka lowest rank Quartermaster Officer). And then he's delayed on the way to the officers' meeting and misses getting hit by an enormous lightning attack sent from the Canim that rendered all the other officers either dead or unable to work, and gets a surprise promotion to Captain.
Isana is Tavi's aunt (well, actually, mother). Born in the Calderon Valley, she is an incredibly powerful watercrafter but lacks access to other Furies. Isana distrusts Sextus because he allowed her husband, his son Septimus, to die, but becomes increasingly entangled in Aleran politics as the series goes on.
Tropes that apply to Isana:
- Action Mom: From an aunt's perspective, she is very protective of her nephew. She once flooded a river to keep him safe. Turns out, though, that she is his mother.
- A-Cup Angst: She was always a little peeved that her body looked more like that of a young woman barely on this side of adulthood than that of someone who has silver in her hair by the time of the second book. This, in fact, made her think that she'd never attract another man after Septimus.
- Ambadassador: She and Lady Placida serve as ambassadors to the Icemen. She even shields them from an Aleran attack.
- Badass Longcoat: Begins wearing one in Princep's Fury, on the urging of Araris. It's thick leather with interwoven steel plates; not quite as good as legion armor, but better than nothing, and easier for her to fight and move in.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She's one of the nicest people in the world. She can also fight a High Lord in a Duel to the Death and make him admit defeat by psychoanalyzing him mid-fight, absolutely destroys six monsters that could kill experienced soldiers with water and manipulates both what amounts to a Physical God and her Dragon to put them in a vulnerable position while they knew she was jerking them around.
- Deadpan Snarker: As part of her taking a certain level in cynicism as the series goes on, with her gaining a rather dry opinion concerning her being repeatedly dragged into political intrigue against her will.
- Distressed Damsel: If there's a situation where she can be kidnapped and/or swoon, she'll be taken full advantage of. She even lampshades it later on:Isana: At some point I would like a few weeks to go by in which I do not faint during a crisis.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Isana is an incredibly powerful watercrafter one of the strongest in all of Alera. She never really grasped how powerful she was, assuming that her great strength came from familiarity with the Calderon Valley's furies. It isn't until later on that she begins to understand her true strength, and suspects that Septimus passed on many of his furies to her when he died.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Finds herself... distracted when a shirtless Araris is fencing with Tavi aboard the Slive.
- The Empath: A result of her powerful Watercrafting ability.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: The reason she hates Gaius Sextus and didn't trust him with Tavi's safety.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: She claims to be Tavi's aunt with a sister that died in childbirth. In actuality, she is Tavi's mother while her sister did die due to Tavi's birth.
- Femme Fatalons: One of her less-used tricks.
- Hope Bringer:
- She is this to the Icemen when they sense she is truly honest about wanting peace, that peace might finally be achieved between their peoples.
- She becomes increasingly beloved by the common folk of Alera as the series goes on, with many in the Dianic League seeing her as one of the main reasons to actually hope for the end of slavery in everyone's current lifetime.
- Isana weaponizes this by giving Invidia hope of escape from the creature on her chest as a means of getting her to betray the Vord Queen.
- Healing Hands: Give her enough reason, and she doesn't even need a tub of water to help her. She even becomes one of the best healers in all of Alera, with her giving back the eyes of a blinded First Aleran legionare in Captain's Fury.
- An Ice Person: Once she figures out that yes, snow counts as water.Doroga: If I ever invade Calderon again, it will be in summer.
- Living Lie Detector: She sees through Gaius Sextus at one point. To put it into perspective, High Lady Placidus Aria misses the same opening in Gaius' facade.
- Mama Bear: Everything she does, she does because she wants to protect Tavi.
- Making a Splash: Quite possibly the most powerful watercrafter in all of Alera, High Lords included.
- Master of One Magic: As a single-element Crafter, Isana wouldn't normally be considered very impressive as Alerans rank their powers but as mentioned above, she can do a lot with what she's got.
- Nice Girl: Isana is quite possibly the kindest and most considerate person in all of Alera, being both selfless and altruistic while always looking out those for less fortunate than her. Notably, her reaction to seeing the collared Alerans the Awakened Vord Queen has roped into serving as her Praetorian Guard is not one of fear, but pity.
- Older Than They Look: She's probably in her mid-forties, but could pass for eighteen if it wasn't for some grey in her hair.
- Rags to Royalty: She is the Cinderella-type, with the bonus of meeting Septimus when hired by him to be their personal help.
- Took a Level in Badass: She gets a lot more powerful after a little swim in the Leviathans' Run. It's not entirely clear, though, exactly why that is: maybe she got them from the swim in the ocean in a stressful situation, but then again maybe she had that power all along or Septimus left her some furies of his own when he died and she didn't realize it. In either case, any extraordinary use of her power in her homeland is more normal where she is familiar with the place, and because she's a nobody from the hinterlands, she just assumed she couldn't possibly be that powerful otherwise.
- Unhappy Medium: She's as good or better at watercrafting as some of the High Lords, but doesn't share their ability to block out emotions with metalcrafting. This leaves her curled up into a little ball from emotional overload a couple of times.
- Warrior Therapist:
- When she fights Antillus Raucus in Princeps' Fury, explaining to him as she's about to die that the real reason he doesn't want to listen to her is jealousy at Septimus for defying his parents and marrying the commoner he loved and regret that he didn't do the same with Max's mother. He later acknowledges he was mistrusting of her because she could have been in league with those who killed his friend Septimus but her willingness to sacrifice herself as such proved him wrong.
- Her above actions were also present before the Icemen, who are powerful empaths. As they felt her words and emotions, they knew that she truly was there to make peace for them and the Alerans, even at the cost of her own life. Her willingness to die pushed them to agree to a ceasefire with the Alerans so they could fight the Vord and not fear a surprise attack.
Bernard, Count Calderon
Bernard is Tavi's uncle and Isana's brother, possessing the power of both earth and woodcrafting. He begins the series as a steadholder (wealthy farmer/town mayor), but ultimately takes on a noble title as Count of Calderon and passes his steadholt to Isana. He is in love with Amara, and the two are married (at first in secret, but later openly).
Tropes that apply to Bernard:
- Almighty Janitor: Formerly. He was only a rank-and-file soldier during his time in the Legions, despite his crafting skill being evident enough that Gaius pegs him as a former Knight Flora without a second thought (Bernard always thought the Knights were too uppity for his tastes). By the end of the first book, he's now the Count of Calderon and Alera's chief ambassador to the Marat, a station and title far more worthy of his abilities.
- Archer Archetype: One of the best archers in the kingdom capable of taking down High Lords with his arrows.
- Battle Couple: With Amara.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: Being both a powerful earthcrafter and woodcrafter, he's just as capable shooting targets at long range as he is at smashing them to a pulp with the biggest blunt object available.
- Canis Major: Brutus, his earth fury, takes the form of a massive wolf made of stone when manifested.
- Carry a Big Stick: Favors a bow, but when melee is necessitated he prefers a large club like most earthcrafters, to better take advantage of his Super Strength.
- Dishing Out Dirt: He's a powerful earthcrafter.
- Gentle Giant: Bernard towers over pretty much everyone around him, family and loved ones included, and his fury-derived Super Strength makes him a terror on the battlefield, but he's still a bonafide Nice Guy who shows respect to all, and a genuine hero for the Realm.
- Green Thumb: He is also a powerful woodcrafter.
- Happily Married:
- It is implied he was very much this to his late wife. He tenderly cared for her things long after she was gone, including her shoes he gives to Amara when they met.
- To Amara as well. Unfortunately, her own insecurities often leave her feeling more worried about their relationship than there is.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's pretty blunt and demanding to Tavi in the first book, but largely out of Tough Love so the latter can learn to handle himself. He becomes a lot nicer in later books, the implication being that pursuing a relationship with Amara brought some joy back into his life.
- Locked Out of the Loop: He has no idea of Tavi's true parentage for much of the series. He likely learns the truth sometime between the end of Cursor's Fury, after Fade displayed his impressive skills and saved their lives, and Tavi's open declaration.
- Loophole Abuse: He plans on using a small loophole to both keep Amara as his wife and fulfill his duties to have children. He will adopt a few of the bastard children other Aleran nobles created and cast aside because one parent wasn't of proper rank or station.
- The Lost Lenore: His first wife's death left him not taking up with anyone for years until Amara came into his life.
- Love at First Sight: He admits to have fallen for Amara when he tended her shoes after rescuing her and Tavi from the wilderness.
- MayDecember Romance: He's old enough to have already married and have two children when he meets Amara.
- Mighty Glacier: Especially compared to Amara. His Earth fury Brutus gives him Super Strength, but he doesn't have the Super Speed that wind furies grant.
- Mr. Fanservice: Many of Amara's chapters make note of his attractive Heroic Build and handsome features.
- Not Now, Kiddo:
- Bernard to Frederic the Younger, regarding the Vord parasite he's captured in a cup.
- On the other hand, the other Citizens pretty much ignore him when he tries to warn them about the Vord. After trying in vain for a while, he decides "screw it" and starts covertly building up Calderon's defenses instead.
- Papa Wolf: He is fiercely protective of Tavi, especially before his crafting came in.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- When he learns Doroga is a reasonable and honorable man, he is more than willing to listen to the needs of the Marat, honoring their agreements and later helping him fight the first incursion of the Vord.
- Later, he tries to convince others of the seriousness of the Vord threat. When that fails, he prepares his domain for the inevitable incursion and develops some serious weapons and defenses (thanks to some of Tavi's ideas).
- Retired Badass: Ex-military, in fact.
A Steadholder like Bernard, who runs his Steadholt along with his two sons Aric and Bittan. Unlike Bernard, he is a brutal thug and his Steadholt is a Wretched Hive that runs on slavery.
Tropes that apply to Kord
- Abusive Parents: Kord is a horrible father who mistreats Aric for being a decent person.
- Dishing Out Dirt: An earthcrafter, though not of Bernard's level.
- Hate Sink: Basically the main purpose of his existence in the first book is to give readers a villain they could hate wholeheartedly (Atsurak doesn't even interact with the main cast in his brief appearances, while Team Fidelias operates on Evil Is Cool basis and has some redeeming traits).
- He-Man Woman Hater: Particularly brutal to female slaves.
- Parental Favoritism: Spoils Bittan, his thuggish son.
- Slave Collar: Fond of discipline collars that make people take pleasure in obeying the orders of the person who put on the collar.
- Scary Scorpions: His Earth Fury manifests as one.
Amara, Countess Calderon
Amara is a windcrafter and a Cursor, one of the First Lord's elite messengers, spies, and general agents. She comes to the Calderon Valley while trying to return to the capital and warn Sextus of Aquitaine's plotting, thereby setting off much of the books' action. She is married to Bernard, but sometimes angsts about her fears of infertility (Alerans place great value on having children who will inherit their powers, to the point that a man of Bernard's rank is legally obliged to have children).
Tropes that apply to Amara:
- Action Girl: Serves as both a spy and personal agent for Gaius Sextus.
- Babies Ever After: Thanks to Isana saving her with the Blessing of Night, a cure-all mushroom, the Blight-induced damage to her reproductive system years ago is healed, and during Tavi and Kitai's wedding, she is heavily pregnant. This doesn't include her adopted children, Masha and two boys.
- Battle Couple: With Bernard.
- Blow You Away: One of the most skilled windcrafters in all of Alera.
- Broken Pedestal:
- Fidelias' betrayal really cut her deeply, as the man wasn't just her pedestal but one for pretty much every Cursor.
- Her opinion of Gaius Sextus drops dramatically after his Shoot the Dog moment.
- Cool Horse: Her air fury, Cirrus, appears as a translucent horse made of air when it's manifested physically.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: During the final assault to get Gaius to Mt. Kalare, she draws her fury so deeply into her, it allows her to move at Flash-like speeds. However, she lacks the secondary powers to do this without serious harm to her body as a result.
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: She's described as having dark skin and honey-brown hair.
- Deadpan Snarker: Shows herself to be quite sarcastic across the novels, such as her only responding with a Fascinating Eyebrow when Tavi comes up with a terrible excuse for why he went to go get flowers for Beritte instead of getting the sheep like he was supposed to.
- Deuteragonist: She has the second-largest number of POV sections in the novels (right after Tavi's).
- Eating the Eye Candy: Played for Laughs, with many of the chapters from her point of view having her getting lost in fantasies about or distracted by her husband's attractive physique.
- Fatal Flaw: For all of her heroism and selflessness, Amara is an incredibly insecure person, often thinking incredibly lowly of herself and viewing herself as far less important than she is.
- Flight: She is one of the most talented flyers in the series. Invidia, a very powerful High Lord, defers to her in aerial tactics. The First Lord himself comments on how she is the first person he's flown with since Septimus' death who is able to keep up with him.
- Fragile Speedster: Might very well be the fastest flier in the Realm, but without Earth or Metalcrafting, she's not the most durable.
- Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Downplayed in Cursor's Fury. After hearing Rook allude to the horrific techniques utilized in the training of Kalarus' female Bloodcrows, Amara can intellectually understand it but still finds herself unable to fully comprehend the sheer dehumanization and callousness practiced by Kalarus.
- Guile Hero: Shown to be adept at political maneuvering and coming up with plans on the spot. Her preemptive double-cross of Invidia in Captain's Fury, planned and carried out during a high-speed aerial chase with Kalare's minions, is probably the highlight.
- Happily Married: To Bernard.
- Heroic RRoD: After the Dangerous Forbidden Technique mentioned above, she fell into this, unable to move, barely conscious, and probably dying until Gaius heals her.
- Irony: Her selflessness in terms of performing a Heroic Sacrifice in Academ's Fury so as to ensure the death of the Calderon Vord Queen confuses the Queen so much that it actually helps make it so that Amara survives her "Hail Mary" attack. In essence, Amara's willingness in terms of sacrificing her life actually ensured that she would survive.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Amara might be quite sarcastic at times and downright ruthless in combat, but she has repeatedly shown herself to be an incredibly selfless and kind person, willingly putting her own life on the line multiple times for what she thinks is right along with actively trying to make the world she lives in a better place.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: As mentioned, she's afraid she's infertile, and Citizens are required to have kids. She avoids marrying him for a while on I Want My Beloved to Be Happy logic and even after that remains insecure. Bernard eventually gets exasperated and points out that they could just adopt. This gets fixed after she's dosed with the Blessing of Night to recover from fatal poisoning.
- Master Swordsman: A gender-inverted case. While still not on the skill of a Knights Ferrous, Amara is an incredibly talented swordswoman, often using her windcrafting to accentuate her attacks.
- Minored in Ass-Kicking: Cursors are spies and messengers first and foremost, and generally intended to fight only when necessary. Amara still finds herself in many of the battles in the books, and holds her own in just about all of them.
- Troll: A more subtle case than most. For instance, as Tavi notes with quiet amusement in Captain's Fury, she mocks High Lord Aquitaine's "lazy and confident" pose in the military planning session at the Elinarch by mimicking it near perfectly while on the other side of the room.
- Weak, but Skilled: Amara is no slouch when it comes to windcrafting, but she lacks the raw power that the High Lords and other strong Citizens might have. That doesn't stop her from being one of the best fliers in the world, compensating her lower power by sheer talent and dedication.
Ehren ex Cursori
Another of Tavi's classmates, and a Cursor. Like Tavi, tends to rely more on his wits than his furies.
Tropes that apply to Ehren:
- Ascended Extra: In a sense, with him getting first a brief portion of the introduction to Cursor's Fury narrated from his perspective before he's promoted to a regular viewpoint character in the last two books so that the readers can see more of how the Vord War is progressing in Alera.
- Badass Bookworm: One of the smartest characters in the series, which is saying something given the amount of Magnificent Bastards in the series.
- Badass Normal: By Aleran standards, anyway. He has some talent for wood and windcrafting, but rarely relies on them over his talents with blades and spycraft.
- Beneath Notice: See that small guy with lots of papers in his hands? See him just walk around the rooms and hand out papers? Look at how weak his furies are, He cannot do anything with them one must think. What you don't see is a man carrying a large number of knives and a mind that manipulated a powerful High Lord to commit suicide.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Has some very funny moments like this. In one instance during Captain's Fury, hearing a commotion on deck while aboard The Slive, he opens his door to ask what's going on. When an arrow drives through the door close enough to touch his hand, he just goes, "Oh," and shuts the door. Later in the same book, after he wakes up naked, in a healing tub, staring at what he thought was an enemy about to kill him, his response is, "Oh. Well, I see some things have happened while I was lying down."
- The Chessmaster: Very good at thinking of contingency plans. And, it turns out, at manipulating people in First Lord's Fury, he plays Aquitainus Attis like a harp, resulting in the latter's death before he can become a threat to Tavi.
- Disney Death: Briefly in order to deflect suspicion that he was behind the assassination of Aquitanius.
- Establishing Character Moment: His first few moments in Academ's Fury show a young man who calls Tavi out on his foolishness but will still stick with Tavi despite knowing they are walking into trouble.
- Guile Hero: He's a capable fighter after taking a couple levels in badass, but is still horribly outclassed by the vast majority of the villains in the series, Aleran and otherwise. He gets by with cunning, manipulation, and being one of the most capable Rules Lawyers in the land.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the last book. It is part of a plan to fake his death for a time until Attis dies, after Ehren manipulates him to commit tactical suicide. He later admits that the faked death was a little more authentic than he intended, as he hadn't planned on actually being skewered.
- Knife Nut: Daggers are his favored weapon, and he carries so many it's a small wonder metalcrafting senses don't go haywire whenever he's within a mile radius. At one point someone identifies him as a Cursor based solely on "the number of knives he had hidden on him."
- Manipulative Bastard: See The Chessmaster.
- Nerd Glasses: One of a very small handful of characters mentioned to wear glasses, which serves to emphasize his studious personality.
- Older and Wiser: Revealed at Eastercon 2015, in a future class of cursors with Canim and Marat now joining in, this will be Ehren's role.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: He's very accurate with a throwing knife, at one point scoring a headshot on a vordknight as it's trying to impale him through the side of a high-speed wind coach, on reflex.
- The Smart Guy: Not quite in Tavi's league though, to be fair, the only people who come close are Varg, Sextus, Aquitaine (at least before Ehren himself "kills" him), and Fidelias but he is very clever.
- The Quiet One: Doesn't usually talk much, which is rather handy in a spy.
- Took a Level in Badass: He's gained a lot of levels by the time of Cursor's Fury and his promotion to a full Cursor alongside Tavi. While in the previous book he's mostly a noncombatant and a bit of a Cowardly Lion, he's now a trained warrior and spy with a level of ruthlessness that even Tavi finds unnerving - slicing Ullus' throat after he's outlived his usefulness without a moment of hesitation is only the first example.
- Weak, but Skilled: In terms of furycrafting power, he is pathetic and weak. However, he is a skilled fighter, his furies allow him some skills but won't regularly set off the wards meant to detect furycrafting, and he can obfuscate with the best of them.
A senior Cursor, under whom Tavi trains. He believes their ancestors lacked furycrafting but several of the teachers at the Academy laugh at him for this.
Tropes that apply to Magnus:
- Beneath Notice: A specialty of the Cursors. He keeps his place in the wilderness well stocked in wines and sweet breads to give to passing traders because one may not know what they could let slip when drunk. Tavi studies under him for six months and never picked up the fact he is a cursor too.
- Becoming the Mask: Originally, his archaeological work was a cover, but he admits that it's really grown on him.
- Cassandra Truth: At first, Tavi just doesn't want to believe that his trusted First Spear Valiar Marcus was really Fidelias.
- Cool Old Guy: He's fairly eccentric, but gives good advise to Tavi on how to survive in the Legion.
- Crouching Scholar Hidden Badass: He first appears as a professor who's semi-voluntarily exiled himself to an archeological dig. And then it turns out he's also a senior cursor, and served in the Legions, and Fidelias notes that if he wants someone dead, they'll die.
- Deadpan Snarker: He likes to point out when Tavi is acting a little ridiculous. One of these lines in Princeps' Fury provides a Funny Moment: "More mash, please, Your Highness."
- Early-Bird Cameo: Tavi cites his work at the Academy in Academ's Fury, the book before he was actually introduced.
- If I Wanted You Dead...: There is a training skill all Cursors must learn. It is to sneak up upon an unsuspecting victim completely unnoticed and within distance to plunge one's blade into the back of the neck, severing major arteries and the trachea. He does this to Fidelias when he begins to suspect something is not quite right with "Marcus". Fidelias realizes if Magnus wants him dead, he wouldn't have announced himself first.
- The Mentor: One of Tavi's mentors; he helps Tavi acclimate to Legion life, and later openly advises him.
- Older Sidekick: Who's also a valet.
- Servile Snarker: He rebuffs Tavi when, in Princeps' Fury Tavi ordered him and the cursors to not gather information on the Cane during the boat trip, with the line, "And Your Highness expected me to listen?"
- Spot the Thread: His exposure of Fidelius starts when he notices a few inconsistencies in Valiar Marcus's backstory, such as having seemingly vanished off the face of the earth after serving his term.
- They Called Me Mad!: Magnus invokes this when celebrating the success of his and Tavi's furycraft-free catapult at the beginning of Cursor's Fury. (Magnus isn't exactly a Mad Historian, but to be fair, the fools at the Academy did call him mad.)
Lords and other Nobles
Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera
Gaius Sextus is the ruler of Alera, the most powerful Crafter alive, and essentially Albus Dumbledore without the facade of eccentric senility. While often ruthless and manipulative, he is both intelligent and wise and everything he does is for the greater good of Alera. All respect Gaius's abilities, but some (like Isana) think he's lost touch with the common people and is therefore dangerous. Others (like Aquitaine or Kalarus) want to take his throne for themselves.
Tropes applying to Sextus:
- Accomplice by Inaction: Characters who were close to Septimus such as Isana, Attis, and Raucus consider Gaius to be this. His failure to do anything to protect Septimus is the root of their dislike and distrust of him.
- Anti-Hero: Pragmatic type. He destroys High Lord Kalarus, the city of Kalare, the valley the city's in, and thousands of Kalarus's innocent subjects... because it ends the war faster as well as saving more lives in the long run. He's also a ruthlessly practical man who literally tells Amara to her face that, while he personally wouldn't like it since he enjoys her company and finds her to be an excellent servant to the Crown, he would sacrifice her life in a heartbeat if it was necessary for the stability of the Realm.
- Batman Gambit: He specializes in them. One of his more benign ones was making Tavi and Max roommates to help them become friends. Another is putting Amara's life on the line to test Fidelias's loyalty in the first book.
- Beautiful Dreamer: A non-romantic version. According to Alera, he would visit Tavi's dorm when he was in the Academy and watch him sleep. It gave him comfort and pleasure.
- Best Served Cold: Gaius waits about twenty-five years before killing the first of two men responsible for Septimus's death (see Moral Event Horizon). Then he convinces the second man to fly out against an insurmountable number of Vord with little backup.
- Big Good: Zigzagged. On the one hand, he's definitely much more benevolent and reasonable than half the other High Lords of the Realm. On the other hand, his cynical and manipulative nature is at least partially responsible for the sorry state of the Realm at the beginning of the story, and by the end of the story and his untimely demise almost none of the "good-aligned" characters are loyal to him any longer.
- Brandishment Bluff: While he is an incredibly powerful and dangerous crafter, he knows he is by no means a young man. Against a young crafter of suitable strength, such as Brencis Minoris, he would much rather not have to fight the person. This is especially true in his mission to blow up a volcano. Time is of the essence and delaying to fight a relatively well rested Brencis Minoris while Gaius is recovering still from his prolonged injuries in the swamp would likely lead to a failed mission.
- Creative Sterility: One of his main character flaws is that of his simple lack of creativity. Sextus, while intelligent and excellent at manipulating others from behind the scenes, is not one to directly challenge the cultural institutions of Alera even if he supports certain reforms. Really, Fidelias puts it best in the last book, describing Sextus as a man who "never looked past the wisdom of his forefathers."
- The Chessmaster: Very adept at maneuvering other Lords politically. In the fifteen years after his son and soon after his first wife died, likely after some period of mourning, he started over a decade's worth of selecting a new wife from the daughters or nieces of the High Lords or their families. His eventual choice was just a political stratagem to prevent neighboring High Lords from becoming allies as Gaius would literally have the one High Lord's daughter at his side.
- Chrome Champion: The first one to do it. It's part of his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Determinator: Best seen in Captain's Fury when he takes a third option to the powerful wards Kalarus set up to detect him and walks without aide of his furies to Kalare's main city. How far? Just over 300 miles and Gaius is well into his eighties. He won't let anything stop him, whether blisters on his feet or a broken leg.
- Didn't See That Coming: His above plan to get into Kalare got off to a bad foot because Gaius discounted an unknown known: blisters. He assumed his months of increased walking without being augmented by his furies would suffice in giving him the strength and endurance to handle the trip. If not for Bernard and Amara's quick actions, the plan would have failed before they got very far at all.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Dying of old age, weak lungs, having walked several hundred miles in unpleasant environments, and having been secretly poisoned, Gaius Sextus does not run from the Vord but takes them on alone. He unleashes the long dormant volcano under his city and takes a huge number of Vord with him.
- Don't Make Me Destroy You: He poses this point against Brencis Minoris in order to make the young man run away rather than face Gaius in a fight. He later reveals it was in part a Brandishment Bluff.
- Exact Words: When telling Amara and Bernard about Kalarus's plan with the volcano, he says that he will not let Kalare's citizens die at the hands of "that madman" (High Lord Kalarus). Notice he never said anything about preventing the volcano from erupting...
- Failure-to-Save Murder: Several characters resent or hate Sextus because of his apparent failure to protect Septimus.
- Fatal Flaw: His lack of charisma and inflexibility. While he's a brilliant schemer and manipulator, and a very good judge of human nature (unlike his son), he doesn't have the charm to balance it out that Octavian does.
- Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Deliberately invokes this in Captain's Fury. He says that the High Lords of the realm, Kalarus in particular, see him only as a scheming old man, and that image is part of what makes Kalarus think he can just take over the realm. So during that book, he sets out to forcibly remind Kalarus and the rest of the High Lords that in a realm where Authority Equals Asskicking, there is a very good reason why the House of Gaius is in charge.
- Heroic Sacrifice: In Princeps Fury, he sinks Alera Imperia and the surrounding countryside into a massive volcano, destroying the vast majority of the Vord army and slowing them down enough to let the Alerans regroup over the next several months.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- Gives it to High Lord Rhodes when he convinces the man to lead a direct assault on the Vord as they attack Ceres. The High Lord is destroyed and consumed by the Vord, not unlike how Rhodes' efforts allowed for Septimus to suffer a similar fate against the Marat.
- He receives this, in his own view, from Caria. He knew she was a naive child who didn't understand the political nature of the game he plays when they wed. He stays married to her for about ten years, and considers her poisoning him and taking that much from his life a fair trade. Heck, he doesn't have her punished for her actions.
- Manipulative Bastard:
- Takes advantage of Amara's loyalty to help him destroy Kalarus. She quits on the spot once she learns what he did. For his part, he's saddened but accepts it as the price of beating Kalarus.
- Later, Amara loathes him even more when in the face of the Vord threat he told Rook he would personally place her daughter anywhere she chose to be safe from the Vord, if she helped spy on them to learn how they are using furycrafting. If not, her current life may not be enough to save them both.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Death by Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Princeps' Fury.
- Moral Event Horizon: In-universe example: Amara is unwilling to trust him ever again after he manipulates her into helping him get into position to turn one of the Great Furies against Kalarus, destroying the entire province with a volcanic eruption. Admittedly, it was that or let Kalarus use it to destroy most of Alera's Legions when they finally killed him, but as Amara bitterly points out, he still killed several hundred thousand innocent people no matter his excuse.
- Older Than They Look: Like all powerful watercrafters in this case, he looks like he's in his forties, when he's about 80 at the start of the series and likely could be in his 90s by First Lord's Fury.
- Old Soldier: By the start of the books, he is said to nearly be eighty (in Academ's Fury, he states that he's 'nearly four-score years'). He still commands enough power that no one dares openly challenge him for the throne. When one High Lord does declare open civil war, Gaius makes a three-month journey on foot without the aid of his furies, suffering a broken leg and blistered feet, to get beyond the man's defenses and destroy the man with his own superweapon.
- Papa Wolf: It takes him a couple of decades, but he calmly and methodically disposes of almost all the people responsible for his son's death, or tricks them into disposing of themselves, with the sole exception of Invidia, who dies shortly after he does.
- He also spends most of the series protecting Tavi (his grandson) to the best of his ability.
- Person of Mass Destruction: When he isn't about to collapse due to his age and overwork catching up to him. Witness Captain's Fury, when he kills off two whole legions of Kalarus's Super Soldiers, or Princeps' Fury, where he takes down millions of the Vord military forces with him in a Heroic Sacrifice, sinking Alera's capital city into lava and turning the whole region into a wasteland that the Vord can't possibly use.
- Pet the Dog: He's quietly fond of Tavi, and tends to be at his most gentle and grandfatherly around him - which, considering that he's actually Tavi's grandfather, is not entirely surprising.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- He's not bothered by Isana allying with the Aquitaines in Academ's Fury, despite both him and her knowing that they're looking to depose him, pointing out to Tavi that she came for his help, which it was his responsibility to give, and though there were extenuating circumstances, the fact was that she didn't get it, so she had to turn elsewhere.
- Interspecies Romance within an empire fraught with Fantastic Racism), and in the latter case just advises him to try not to get her pregnant. Has no problem with either Bernard and Amara's relationship (which is illegal under Aleran Law) or Tavi and Kitai (which is an
- He will make use of Doroga and Bernard's friendship and seek peace with ancient enemies for greater goods.
- Is willing to listen and even says if he had the power, he would give Tavi permission to test his ideas with the Cane invasion force, but he must respect the decisions of the Senate, which have put Arnos in charge of Tavi.
- Shipper on Deck: It's subtle, but throughout the series he seems to do everything in his power to put Bernard and Amara and Tavi and Kitai together first, having Amara serve as his personal envoy to Bernard as the new Count of Calderon (thereby ensuring that she'll see him regularly), and then when Tavi bullshits his way into having Kitai made an ambassador, makes it his only duty to be her teacher and guide for the following several weeks. The irony here is that Amara thinks she has to hide her marriage to Bernard because of her duty to Gaius and Tavi wants to hide his relationship so Gaius can't exploit it, but he seems to know about and approve of both cases, though in the latter he advises Tavi to at least avoid getting her pregnant.
- Shoot the Dog:
- Better than the alternative as the invading men would be killed by Kalarus' volcano. So he makes sure the volcano can only kill Kalarus' side. Similarly, he destroys the mosaic at Alera Imperia that the Great Fury of Alera's personality is based around since he couldn't afford it possibly falling into the hands of the Vord.
- When his character is introduced, he takes a potshot at Amara: he admits he is willing to sacrifice a loyal retainer to test the fidelity of another one. He assumes the loyal one would lose the fight.
- Taking You with Me: He faces down a majority of the Vord forces from the spire on his castle. Using the ancient volcano beneath the lands with his own furies, he reduces the Vord forces down to a small tithe of what they once were.
First Lady Gaius Caria
Second wife of Gaius Sextus, Caria is fifty years younger than her husband. This, combined with being used as a political pawn and neglected by her husband, makes her easy prey for Attis's manipulations.
Tropes that apply to Caria:
- Arranged Marriage: To Gaius. He held off wedding another woman after his first wife's death and then picked her simply to drive a wedge between her father and Kalare, as her father would never rebel against Gaius if Gaius was holding his daughter hostage, in a fashion.
- Awful Wedded Life: How both her and Gaius see their marriage. Instead of living out a great epic romance, she found herself married to a much older man who ignores her.
- Karma Houdini: Gets completely off for having been poisoning her husband over the last few decades (although she might have died soon afterwards during the evacuation of Alera Imperia, just before Gaius destroyed it). Interestingly, it's actually enforced by Sextus, as he acknowledges that this was actually some karmic rebalancing directed back at him.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Delivers some towards Gaius. See Master Poisoner and Tampering with Food and Drink.
- Mal Mariée: "Badly married" Caria is fifty years younger than her husband Gaius Sextus. They have a sexless marriage. Her old husband doesn't treat her well and ignores her, so this trope lacks the jealousy part. In the spirit of the trope, she ends up having an affair with a charismatic and handsome man Attis who is manipulating her. It's later revealed she has been poisoning her husband for years.
- Master Poisoner: She is poisoning Gaius for years and was only discovered just before the Vord attacked Alera Imperia. She used her medical knowledge from the Academy to do it.
- Old Man Marrying a Child: While not as young as most examples of this trope, she's closer in age to Gaius's grandson than to Gaius himself. He even refers to her as a child a couple of times.
- Sexless Marriage: Gaius is old, and as disinterested in that part of their marriage as the rest of it. Tellingly, when Max disguises himself as Gaius and promises her some nookie time, she seems quite genuinely touched.
- Spot the Thread: Averted. Max is aware of this concept and when he is disguised as Gaius, needs to keep his conversation with Caria short and flusters her to avoid this fact.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: She is married off to an old man who ignores her most of the time. It's easy to see how she would end up having an affair with a charismatic and handsome man like Attis.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Gaius forgives her for poisoning him because while she may have taken a few years of his life away, he's taken far more than that from her by sticking her into a loveless arranged marriage.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Has been poisoning Gaius for years by slipping small amounts of a medicine into his tonic.
- Your Cheating Heart: She's having an affair with Attis.
Septimus is the son of Gaius Sextus. He dies fifteen years before the series begins, in battle against the Marat in Calderon Valley. His death sets off the main conflict of the series by starting a succession crisis. What few people know is that Septimus married Isana in secret and they had a son, Tavi.
Tropes that apply to Septimus:
- Arranged Marriage: He was supposed to marry Invidia, but he turned her down. She didn't take it well.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In his pursuit of protecting the common man from the abuses of nobility, he had many scuffles and insults levied against said nobility, particularly Rhodes and Kalare. He never paid these insults much mind after the matters were settled, not realizing these insults festered and turned these men to working to kill him.
- Child Marriage Veto: Gaius wanted Septimus to marry Invidia, but Septimus rejected her proposal and married Isana in secret instead.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Septimus married Isana despite knowing it would enrage Gaius that he'd chosen a commoner over a powerful Citizen and crafter like Invidia.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In Captain's Fury, Araris mentions how he had a way of facing down his rivals without breaking their pride, and getting them to follow him, and brings up how Septimus and Raucus used to fight a lot when they were in the Academy.
- Disappeared Dad: To Tavi, as Septimus died the night he was born.
- Fatal Flaw: His (metaphorical) nearsightedness. It's noted that he tended to disregard the consequences of protecting the commoners from the nobility, the grudges that would cause and how they would fester, thinking that people would be as forgiving as he was.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Every good or neutral person thinks he'd have been an excellent First Lord. He was so well-loved that his death, particularly Gaius's failure to protect him, is the reason why Isana, Attis, Neddus, and Raucus all hate and/or distrust Gaius.
- King Incognito: Had a habit of traveling around in disguise. He met Isana incognito and offered her a job elsewhere in the camp.
- Living Is More Than Surviving: A major point of difference between Gaius & Septimus. Gaius was focused only on surviving, while Septimus wanted more out of life than just survival.
- The Lost Lenore: A male version for Isana.
- Master Swordsman: Sir Miles states in Academ's Fury that he was the very best, better even than Araris - though he also suspected that Araris held back so as not to embarrass him.
- Marry for Love: He marries Isana, a commoner and non-Citizen, for love despite the controversy it would cause.
- Nice Guy: All scenes of him in the series paint him as a kind, generous, and loyal noble who would've been a perfect ruler of Alera. Admittedly, it's worth noting that there's a pretty clear factor of Unreliable Narrator in play here since the people often talking about how great Septimus was are his family members, widow, and friends.
- Plot-Triggering Death: His death sets off the main conflict of the series by causing a Succession Crisis in Alera.
- Posthumous Character: Dies fifteen years before the series begins. What we know of him comes from flashbacks and the recollections of other characters.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- He is one of the first nobles in recent history to speak out against the slave trade.
- He realizes his best friend Araris is in love with his wife. Instead of being jealous, fearful, or smug, he warmly accepts this because Araris fell in love with the same qualities he himself did. He even uses this love to make sure Rari would stay with a heavily pregnant Isana and protect her instead of staying at Septimus's side.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: It's said that Tavi looks a lot like his father in the later books.
- True Companions: With Attis and Raucus. He mentions in his letter that he'd have gone mad after the Battle of Seven Hills without them. His singulares count as well.
- Unfriendly Fire: It is widely believed that Septimus was killed by the Marat. He was actually assassinated during the battle by a cabal of Citizens, who were put up to it by Invidia.
- Warrior Prince: He spent time serving in the Crown Legion and fought in several battles before he was ultimately killed.
- The Wise Prince: Was shaping up to be a good and thoughtful ruler who cared about the common people, and whose only real flaw was a habit of believing the best of people.
High Lord Aquitainus Attis
Mostly off-screen in the early books, Attis is one of the two high Lords in serious contention for the position of the next First Lord. Sleeping with the First Lord's wife may give him some advantage at this...
Tropes applying to Aquitaine:
- Alas, Poor Villain: It's hard not to feel at least some pity for him when he dies in First Lord's Fury.
- Anti-Villain: His rebellion is because he wants to strengthen Alera, not out of personal greed or envy of Sextus' position. When he does temporarily become First Lord in First Lord's Fury, he genuinely does his best for Alera, and continues leading even when he's dying from the wound Invidia gave him.
- Awful Wedded Life: How he and Invidia see their marriage. Though they put up a Happy Marriage Charade in public, the reality is their marriage is loveless and they can't stand each other. Once they end up on opposite sides of the Vord War, they have no reservations about taking up arms against each other.
- Batman Gambit: Is stuck in one by Tavi in Academ's Fury when Tavi has it revealed to him and his wife of the Vord-Cane threat against Gaius and knowing Kalare would use this opportunity to take the throne, they must work to protect Gaius and his seat on the throne. Neither particularly like this fact.
- Big Bad: Subverted. He's built up as this in the first half of the series, but is upstaged in the second by the real Big Bad, the Awakened Vord Queen.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With his wife. Technically, most of her schemes are aimed at getting him the throne, but that's only because as a woman that's the closest she'll ever get to true power in the misogynistic culture of Alera. In many ways, Invidia was the Big Bad more than he ever was, since she was more actively involved in the plot and unknown to him, was behind the murder of his best friend, Septimus. Attis is, in fact, motivated largely by vengeance on the men he holds responsible for that.
- Characterization Marches On: Played with and discussed. Furies of Calderon introduces him as a seemingly unsubtle drunkard who needs to be guided by his wife and more capable subordinates down the avenues to take the throne. Later books establish that he is a clever and insightful manipulator, skilled in both legion strategy and politics, and disinclined to pointless violence - not that he won't kill people if they get in his way, of course, but he's not cavalier about it. A letter from Attis to Raucus shows that in his youth, Aquitaine was a much nobler and kinder man, but had developed a burning hatred for the corruption and treachery among the Aleran nobility after Septimus died. This, coupled with his ambition to replace Gaius Sextus for what he felt were his manipulations and deceptions, gradually turned Attis into a ruthless, scheming traitor. Shades of his more noble side start to come back out as the Vord close in on Alera and he rises to help lead the Realm. Isana and Aria suspect that the death of Septimus pushed him into becoming what he hates the most.
- The Chessmaster: One of the best in the series, though still not as good as Ehren or Tavi.
- Come Back to Bed, Honey: He uses this on Caria when she starts to leave after they've just had sex, assuring her that Gaius won't be back for a while yet.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has a dry wit about him. When he sees Invidia burned to a blackened crisp, but still alive, he only comments that he likes her new hair style. He also delivers her their divorce papers after she essentially disembowels him.
- Deathbed Confession: He openly confirms his role in manipulating Atsurak into attacking Calderon years ago after Doroga tells him when the Vord War was over, they would have words about his role in getting a good many Marat killed.
- Dramatic Irony: He hates Sextus because he failed to save Septimus, Attis's best friend. Attis is apparently unaware that he's married to the woman who masterminded Septimus's murder.
- Enemy Mine:
- In Academ's Fury Tavi sends Ehren to apprise him and Invidia of the matter with the Vord, by using Aria to get into the house, to help deal with this serious matter. Neither like helping Sextus, but prefer him over the civil war the Vord (and Kalare's own attempt on the throne) want to bring about.
- With Sextus and the Vord. He's the first High Lord to stand with Gaius, and calls out Riva for being an obstructive idiot, because he knows that the priority is for Alera to survive and at the same time, he can give a boost to his position.
- Establishing Character Moment: Aquitane is first presented as a short-tempered hedonist being entertained by a dancing slave, but quickly shows himself to be much cleverer than his first comments dictate by deconstructing an Argumentum Ad Hominem and then deferring to a low-born minion with more experience. The scene is also one for his wife Invidia; she was the dancing slave in disguise without him noticing.
- Face Death with Dignity: He accepts his fate after Invidia stabs him and spends his remaining time calmly leading and doing everything he can to hold Alera together.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: The reason why he hates Gaius. He blames him for failing to protect Septimus and not taking action against the overly ambitious High Lords who were plotting against him.
- Graceful Loser: When he realizes that Ehren manipulated him into making himself vulnerable, leading to a mortal injury and thereby securing Tavi's position as the future First Lord, his only comment is a thoughtful and faintly admiring, "I think the little man assassinated me."
- Happy Marriage Charade: He and Invidia will show affection toward each other when others are present. The reality is their marriage is loveless and purely for political reasons. They eventually turn on each other without the slightest hesitation.Aquitaine: We shared a goal, an occasional bed, and name. Little else.
- He Who Fights Monsters: He wanted to take down Lord Rhodes and Lord Kalarus, power hungry manipulators who were behind his friend's death. He ended up becoming just like them.
- The Hedonist: Has shades of this. He does like his wine and dancing girls.
- Idiot Ball: He holds it once and pays for it. He assumes his gambit to lure his traitorous wife out worked and he vanquished her with a powerful firecrafting that left nothing, not even ash or dust, where part of a building and, supposedly Invidia, had worked. He spends the next few minutes, gloating to Amara and Bernard, whom had been fighting her. Invidia reveals she did survive by launching herself from beneath where Attis stood and dealt a slow-killing blow to the man.
- Irony: The woman he marries is the same woman who was behind getting Rhodes and Kalarus's attack on Septimus, which was the driving cause for Attis to usurp Gaius.
- Meaningful Name: Attis. In Phyrgian mythology, Attis is castrated by Cybele and dies. Invidia deals Attis a death blow by piercing him in the loins with a red hot sword. Cauterizing the wound prevents it from healing.
- Out-Gambitted: Shown in the last book. Gaius adopts him as Tavi's younger brother and leaves Ehren at his disposal. That way, Alera has a competent protector until the real heir gets back and one of Tavi's closest friends is close enough to Attis to arrange his death if and when he seems disinclined to get out of Tavi's way.
- Person of Mass Destruction: He's one of the most powerful crafters in Alera, nearly on par with the First Lord himself.
- Redemption Equals Death: Amara actually cries when he dies, since he'd been trying so hard to save everyone during his last few weeks.
- Revenge: One of his main motivations is revenge on those responsible for Septimus's death. While he took no part in Kalarus's death, he did conspire with Gaius to send Rhodes out to face the Vord alone.
- Spare to the Throne: In one of Gaius' final acts, he adopts Attis into House Gaius as Tavi's "younger" brother to ensure when Tavi returns his primary claim on the position of First Lord isn't stopped by Attis on the ground of being older and more experienced in leadership than Tavi.
- Start of Darkness: Septimus's death, specifically Gaius's inability to protect him, led Attis to turn against Gaius and begin plotting to take the throne himself.
- Til Murder Do Us Part: He and Invidia plan to kill each other once they are on opposite sides of the Vord War. She succeeds.
- Tragic Bromance: He and Septimus. They were best friends and he was never the same after Septimus's death.
- True Companions: With Septimus and Raucus, though he decided to sever ties with Raucus after Septimus's death as Attis knew the path of revenge against Gaius and those responsible would lead him to dark places and actions. He also knew Raucus wouldn't follow him down this path but held nothing against him.
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: He has a tendency to gloat after a victory. He ends up paying for it after making the mistake of gloating during his fight with Invidia rather than making sure he'd finished her off.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: No, really! Far from being behind Septimus's death, he was angry at Sextus's Failure-to-Save Murder and decided that since he couldn't even protect his own son, someone else had to take over protecting the country.
- In the last book, he points out that had the heroes not foiled his plans in the first book, the country would have been unified to face the threat instead of delaying so long bickering and backbiting. Even more ironic in that said foiling is what woke the Vord up in the first place.
- Though conversely, if it hadn't been for his plans in the first book, it would have been much less likely that Tavi and Kitai would have been in position to break it in the first place.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The man has plots within plots within plots.
- You Are Too Late: Arrived in the Calderon Valley too late to save Septimus, but he was there when they found his remains and knew furycrafting had been used against him.
- Your Cheating Heart: Has an affair with Caria. Invidia also buys him dancing girls to keep him "amused."
High Lady Aquitainus Invidia
At least as ambitious as her husband, Invidia is cynical, manipulative and lethal. She'll keep her word, in public at least, but only because her reputation for fair dealing is more important than anything else she'd gain and in private she'll do whatever is most expedient. As a High Lady, she's utterly lethal on the battlefield when she needs to be.
Tends to use watercrafting disguises a lot. In Captain's Fury, she is shot and poisoned by her spy Fidelias. She was saved by the Awakened Vord Queen and put on life support in Princeps' Fury. If the life-support Vord is removed or killed, she will die horribly in a matter of hours.
Tropes applying to Invidia:
- Ascended Extra: A downplayed case. She is briefly promoted to a viewpoint character for the prologue and a few chapters of First Lord's Fury so that the readers can see how both she and the Awakened Vord Queen are reacting to events. This ends after Isana and Araris are kidnapped by the Queen and Isana's viewpoint is then used in lieu of Invidia's.
- Asshole Victim: She aides in killing Princeps Septimus years ago for dumping her for a commoner, kills many more who are a threat to her power and rise in the ranks, blackmails Isana into being her political puppet as the price to save Tavi and Bernard, betrays every ally she makes when it can secure her more power or insure her own survival, which leads to her becoming the lead human and aide to the Vord when she is found dying from her own failed machinations, then she betrays the Vord Queen in hopes to secure her freedom from the Vord, only to turn back to the Queen when she outclasses the High Lords who Invidia lead in to kill her and offers her a cure to her poisoning so she will no longer need the vord-life-support creature on her chest. The only person to be saddened for her is the Vord Queen who, with Invidia's death, now understands what it is to lose a precious person.
- Awful Wedded Life: How she and Attis see their marriage. Though they put up a Happy Marriage Charade in public, the reality is their marriage is loveless and they can't stand each other. Once they end up on opposite sides of the Vord War, they have no reservations about taking up arms against each other.
- Bald Woman: See Beauty Is Never Tarnished below.
- Batman Gambit: Is stuck in one by Tavi in Academ's Fury when Tavi has it revealed to her and her husband of the Vord-Cane threat against Gaius and knowing Kalare would use this opportunity to take the throne, they must work to protect Gaius and his seat on the throne. Neither particularly like this fact.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted after Attis sets her on fire, leaving her bald and heavily scarred. The echoes of her beauty remain, but it's a far cry from how she used to look. She's constantly referred to as the "burned woman" afterwards in narration.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: More or less with her husband—it was a marriage of political advantage for both of them, and they both know it. In fact Invidia is probably more of a Big Bad than he ever was, since she is much more involved in the story and in actually manipulating people or dealing with their underlings—for instance, he was as annoyed with Senator Arnos as anyone else in the military, but Invidia was actually pulling Arnos' strings the whole time.
- Body Horror: The Vord life-support creature has its head buried in Invidia's flesh, and its claws have dug into her back. And that's before she's burned to a crisp.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Every character with significant dealings with her has attempted to take her sudden but inevitable betrayal into account, with levels of success ranging from "filleted for their trouble" to "left Invidia naked in the middle of the woods." The Awakened Vord Queen even admits that they can't be angry at her for treachery because it's just what Invidia does.
- Dark Action Girl: Only when she needs to in the first few books, but pretty much solidly after joining the Vord Queen.
- Dark Lord on Life Support: After getting shot by a poisoned bolt from Fidelias, she needs the constant help of a Vord creature attached to her chest as life support, or she'll die painfully.
- Death by Irony:
- Stabbed in the back by someone invisible, using a weapon she couldn't see coming.
- Twice, if you count Fidelias's attempt (she lived, but only because of Vord life support). A traitorous underling shot her in the back with a poisoned bolt. To add insult to injury, the weapon used was the very one that she had given to Fidelias to use to assassinate either Tavi (a loyal servant of the Realm) or Arnos (one of her lackeys).
- Demoted to Dragon: After she joins the Awakened Vord Queen.
- Enemy Mine:
- Is manipulated into helping Gaius Sextus a couple of times, since she can't take over if someone else does first.
- Offered the chance for this in the last book to join the Alerans against the Vord Queen. When she refuses, she gets killed.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Downplayed, but comments by her in First Lord's Fury allude to how both she and her mother deeply loved each other before the latter passed away from illness.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Not many, but she dislikes pointless deaths and would rather rule the country through manipulation of the government than all-out war. After siding with the Vord due to desperation, she's also shown small signs of regretting her choice.Invidia: I'm willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of a greater goal. That's not the same as condoning the rape and murder of entire steadholts. There was no profit to those actions. No purpose. It's unprofessional. Idiotic. And I have difficulty tolerating idiots.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: She's a bit better at this than a Vord, but not by much—she's just too cynical to really get altruism.
- Fatal Flaw: Envy, appropriately enough. Invidia is an incredibly spiteful and cruel person who can't stand the power and success enjoyed by others, and is willing to tear those people down even if it means that she won't get anything out of it except for her own twisted sense of satisfaction.
- Faux Affably Evil: While she'll be polite and make a number of necessary deals in public, even managing to form a bond of sorts with the Awakened Vord Queen because of how useful she is, make no mistake - the woman is ultimately a ruthless monster.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Downplayed, since there's lots of other extenuating factors involved, but the point still stands that her assassination of Septimus ultimately kicked off the series' entire plot.
- Green-Eyed Monster: She was jealous because Septimus rejected her marriage proposal and had him killed as revenge. And, well... look at her name.
- Happy Marriage Charade: She and Attis will show affection toward each other when others are present. The reality is their marriage is loveless and purely for political reasons. They eventually turn on each other without the slightest hesitation.
- Healing Factor: As a powerful watercrafter, she can heal from most injuries quickly. To take her down, sudden and blunt trauma is best. So a surprise spear to the chest and slashed throat cannot be countered. Cauterized wounds cannot be healed either.
- The Heavy: Though she's not the ultimate villain of the series (she's always working for someone else, technically speaking), as a major antagonist in every book she's definitely the most visible in the narrative, setting in motion a wide variety of threats in the present time and the backstory. Basically, if bad things are happening in Alera, Invidia either had a hand in causing it, or will be on hand to help step on the competition.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Her near-death at the end of Captain's Fury came from Fidelias shooting her with a Cane bolt weapon. She gave him that weapon to assassinate either Arnos or Tavi.
- On a larger scale, her assassination of Septimus (which set the whole plot in motion) is what put her into the position she's in at the end of the series - a broken woman living on time borrowed from the Vord.
- If I Can't Have You...: She couldn't accept that Septimus rejected her, so she had him assassinated.
- It's All About Me: Look above and below for examples.
- Karmic Death: Invidia, the woman whose main character trait is Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, is literally stabbed in the back.
- Kick the Dog: She comes across as far too smug when she tells Isana that she was the one who helped arrange Septimus' assassination.
- Lady Macbeth: She manipulates Attis into essentially starting an undeclared war between the Marat and Alerans of the Calderon Valley. She is also the one who lands the killing blow on Attis.
- Les Collaborateurs: Joins up with the Vord after the Awakened Vordd Queen gives her a form of biological life support.
- Living on Borrowed Time: If her Vord life support is damaged or removed, she has hours to live in complete and utter agony.
- Meaningful Name: "Invidia" means "envy".
- Meaningful Rename: Isana renames her Nihilus Invidia for her Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
- More Deadly Than the Male: She is much more of a villain than her husband.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Who names their kid "envy"?
- Oh, Crap!: Suffers a small one at the end of Academ's Fury when Fidelias shows her his cloak to protect against wet weather which he left in the care of Gaius Sextus before his final mission and betrayal. He finds it in his room in the Aquitaine manor. This means not only does Gaius know where he is, but for Invidia, Gaius knows who he is working for.
- The Plan: Has nothing on her husband, though.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: It's mostly shown in First Lord's Fury, but Invidia is ultimately revealed to have an incredibly classist view of Aleran society, derisively referring to Isana as both a "glorified peasant" and "camp whore" while she and Araris are imprisoned by the Vord.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Although, considering that she's directly or indirectly responsible for literally every problem that comes up in the novels, this may not be entirely true. It is, however, her view of herself:Invidia: I'm willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of a greater goal. That's not the same as condoning the rape and murder of entire steadholts. There was no profit to those actions. No purpose. It's unprofessional. Idiotic. And I have difficulty tolerating idiots.
- The Quisling: She sides with the Awakened Vord Queen in return for keeping her alive and letting her rule the Alerans who accepted the queen's deal.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Has dark hair and pale skin, which has her considered strikingly beautiful.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Arnos after he begs her to save him from the consequences of his actions throughout Captain's Fury.Invidia: I believe I made a mistake in you, Arnos. I knew you were a pompous egotist with delusions of grandeur, but I did believe you were at least competent.
Arnos: We had a deal.
Invidia: We had an understanding. But you've broken faith with me. You told me you hadn't aquired any of your troops as mercenaries. But your extremely well-supplied and well-armed and well-paid cavalry seem to have taken it upon themselves to loot and pillage every human habitation they come across.
Arnos: Their Tribunes are acting independently of my orders.
Invidia: You're the commander of these Legions, dear. You're responsible for what they do. That's rather why one is able to attain glory and respect after a victory. Or don't they teach that at the Collegia.
Arnos: How dare you lecture me on—
Invidia: Don't make me raise my hand, Arnos. When I slap someone, he doesn't scurry away after.
Arnos: You were willing enough to spill Aleran blood six weeks ago.
Invidia: I'm willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of a greater goal. That's not the same as condoning the rape and murder of entire steadholts. There was no profit to those actions. No purpose. It's unprofessional. Idiotic. And I have difficulty tolerating idiots.
Arnos: Then you should agree that this conversation is unprofitable, given the circumstances. We need to focus on the matter at hand.
Arnos: We're probably worried about nothing. Navaris is going to introduce our young captain to the crows, and that will solve the problems at hand.
Invidia: Will it? I've made a decision about the problems at hand, Arnos.
Arnos: What's that?
Invidia: They're your problems. Solve them by yourself. If you manage to survive them, I may be willing to renegotiate our relationship. But until then, you're on your own.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Averted. Her husband had no plans for killing her until she betrayed him and Alera to the Vord. Then when she served the Vord Queen, the Queen never has any intention of killing Invidia after her betraying the Alerans. Even after she brought in a hit squad made up of High Lords and Ladies to kill the Queen, the Queen simply anticipated her possible betrayal and made plans, but still was willing to offer her another chance to stand by her side after the Queen dispatched the majority of the would-be assassins.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Aquitaine's colors are black and red.
- The Sociopath: As the series goes on, it becomes disconcertingly clear that even the Awakened Vord Queen probably has more of a functioning moral compass than Invidia does. At the end of the day, she's only looking out for number one and cares nothing about whatever she has to do as long as it makes her own life more comfortable as consequence.
- The Starscream: To pretty much everyone she's ever worked with. She doesn't seem to be happy unless she's plotting against someone, even if that someone is on her same side.
- Til Murder Do Us Part: She and Attis plan to kill each other once they are on opposite sides of the Vord War. She succeeds.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Standard for a powerful watercrafter. Her most notable use of it is to disguise herself as a legion laundrywoman in Captain's Fury to keep an eye on both Arnos and Fidelias.
- Villainous Friendship: Develops into a type IV relationship with the Awakened Vord Queen, with the Queen being somewhat put out by her sudden death and admitting that they had formed something of a bond.
- Wild Card: At the end of the day, Invidia is ultimately on her own side, not anyone else's.
- Woman Scorned: See Green-Eyed Monster.
- Xanatos Gambit: The way she saw it, either outcome of Tavi's duel with Navaris is good for her - if he loses, then a big obstacle towards getting the throne is dead, and if he wins, then Arnos is pretty much toast, relieving Invidia of a retainer who was becoming too much of a liability. And after it's done, she has an agent with a Canim balest ready to shoot whoever wins, meaning no matter what the outcome is, she's removed two obstacles to her ambition. Of course, she didn't foresee Fidelias switching his loyalty to Tavi (who's saved his life, hasn't gotten him involved in anything horribly unethical, and would probably be a good First Lord) and shooting both Arnos and her.
- You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Fidelias tries to get her to see she could reveal herself in Captain's Fury, save the trapped Legions from the Canim forces, and become a hero of the Realm once more. Instead, Invidia plans to sacrifice the Legions and depart with Fidelias, to make sure he is taken care of as well. Later, in First Lord's Fury, Isana almost convinces her to help her fellow Lords defeat the Vord Queen and save the nation... but she decides to try killing them too to win the day as the last woman standing, and the whole plan blows up in her face.
- Your Cheating Heart: Has an affair with Fidelias. Attis knows about it, but doesn't care.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tends to happen to her retainers. She orders Fidelias to kill Arnos if Navaris wins the duel against Tavi, and Fidelias suspects (with good reason) that she'll order him killed sometime.
- Discussed in First Lord's Fury, wherein Invidia (worrying about having been replaced), thinks to herself that she must appear calm, confident, and above all useful, because the Vord's only concept of retirement is becoming food for the croach.
High Lord Kalarus Brencis
The other main candidate (besides Aquitainus) as the First Lord's successor. The province of Kalare is one of the few where slavery is still rampant, and Kalarus has taken the twisted furycrafting of slave collars and weaponised it. He's also a horrifying mix of both The Hedonist and The Caligula, being a murder-happy maniac obsessed with obtaining power for its own sake.
Tropes that apply to Kalarus:
- Asshole Victim: Literally the only reason Amara is horrified when Gaius kills him is that countless innocent civilans were caught in the crossfire.
- Ax-Crazy: The First Lord thinks that Kalarus would be a bit easier to deal with if he weren't quite so mad, since it makes him unpredictable.
- Beard of Evil: He has a goatee, apparently to hide his weak chin.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He tries very hard to be the Big Bad, but he's ultimately just not quite up to snuff.
- The Caligula: Equally, one can't deny that this guy is a few legionares short of an army.
- The Chessmaster: Half-succeeded. His "masterful plot" fails thanks to Sextus being a better player. Gaius saw only one way to defeat him, and though Kalarus never thought of it, Gaius was pissed that it came to that namely, annihilating the entire province before Kalarus did.
- Compensating for Something: Lady Placida mentions he had a little problem bedding women back at the academy. Either he was impotent or he just was a bastard.
- Despotism Justifies the Means: As alluded to below, he's been playing The Long Game in terms of his coup against the First Lord, and seems to desire power just so he can lord it over others.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Rather than accepting his defeat and probable death, Kalarus ties his life to that of the ancient volcano fury, angering it so much that when he dies, the volcano will erupt. His hope is to unleash the great fury not only on the Crown's forces that lay siege to his last city but the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of civilians and refugees crowded into the city.
- Evil Is Petty: The entire Amara & Gaius Sextus subplot of Captain's Fury only exists to try and mitigate the damage caused by Kalarus' pettiness. For all intents and purposes, he'd been defeated in the previous book. He no longer had a chance of actually becoming the First Lord. He was being beaten back by the forces of Alera and eventually his city would fall to a siege and he would be captured. However, Kalarus decided "Screw it!" and enslaved the volcano-dwelling Great Fury of Kalus to his very life. When the time finally came that armies would besiege his city (which itself would be packed to the brim with refugees), he would die and trigger a massive eruption with the intent of killing as many people as he could along the way. All to give one final middle-finger shaped farewell to Gaius after losing to him.
- Fatal Flaw: Pride. He has an ego larger than the fire-mountain his home province is named after, and it proves to be his downfall multiple times over.
- Faux Affably Evil: He tries to put upon a facade of civility, but he's really a savage maniac.
- The Ghost: In Captain's Fury. He is alluded to in Furies Of Calderon, since Kord got his slave collars from his province.
- Hate Sink: He's ultimately a perfect example of everything fundamentally wrong with the corrupt Might Makes Right-based aristocracy of Alera's Citizenry, being an obnoxious, misogynistic, petty, arrogant, xenophobic, and greedy sociopath who only cares about gaining more power for himself at the expense of everyone around him.
- I Have Your Wife: Kidnaps High Lady Placida Aria and the daughter of High Lord Atticus to prevent their armies from actively opposing him, and holds Rook's daughter hostage to ensure her continued good behavior. To add to his malevolence, Rook's daughter is his own granddaughter.
- Kick the Dog: As far as he's concerned, the day is wasted if he hasn't found at least three small furry animals to kick before lunchtime.
- To put it into perspective, ordering the assassinations of countless abolitionists and brainwashing innocent children into becoming Super Soldiers loyal only to him still aren't the most horrific things he's done.
- Kill It with Fire: His mastery of firecrafting is on par with Gaius Sextus. It is said he personally snuffed out a raging wildfire that threatened his precious hardwood forests he exported.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He is killed when the father of the man he murdered triggers the volcano he personally leashed to his own life erupts prematurely, derailing his Thanatos Gambit and ending his rebellion by several years.
- The Long Game: He and his ancestors have been planning a coup of the Realm for years, heavily taxing the commoners into virtual slavery, to build up enough money to support his secret legions.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Set himself up as this on purpose as insurance when it looked like he was going to be defeated.
- Mask of Sanity: As both Gaius and Amara later realize in Cursor's Fury, he's far more insane than they realized, which makes him significantly more difficult to predict and react to.
- Orcus on His Throne: In Captain's Fury. Justified because Bernard and Amara crippled him at the end of Cursor's Fury he was quite an active villain before that.
- Out-Gambitted: So, you set up a volcano to explode when you're killed and cover a few hundred square miles around it with a surveillance network set to detect the furies of the one guy who can stop you? Too bad he takes a cue from his grandson and just walks in, not using any furies until he's too close for you to prevent him from taking control of the volcano away from you.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Is a virulent misogynist.
- Shoot the Dog: Forces Sextus to do this.
- Sibling Murder: Implied, with it being mentioned that High Lady Antillius Dorotea is the only surviving sibling of Kalarus.
- The Sociopath: Kalarus has no real respect for human life, and isn't even that good at faking empathy in public.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- The man had child slaves fitted with obedience collars so their wills would be broken and they would become his berserker assassins.
- He holds his own granddaughter in a death trap to secure a High Lady and make Rook loyal to him.
- You Killed My Father: Though it's never brought up by Tavi, he is one of the two men who personally murdered Septimus (the other was High Lord Rhodes).
Kalarus Brencis Minoris
Son of Lord Kalarus and classmate of Tavi's at the Academy where he was a vicious bully. Hasn't improved since.
Tropes that apply to Brencis:
- Asshole Victim: Is eventually stabbed through the neck by Amara after he turns to the side of the Vord.
- Captain Ersatz: There's a fair bit of Draco Malfoy in him (Brencis is nastier, though, by virtue of having inherited a bit of his dad's instability), though it's unknown if that was deliberate. Even funnier when you consider that Tavi is a skinny kid with black hair and green eyes...
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Brencis is a talented warrior and crafter, despite being a coward and a jerk. When the going gets tough, he responds in kind, like the time when he fought Max to standstill despite being intoxicated, or when he disobeyed the Vord Queen despite having a discipline collar on. Also, he creates slaver collars more powerful then Invidia's, though that's at least in part because of tricks he learned from his father.
- Cuckold: In his introductory scene in Academ's Fury, it is seen Max has slept with his arranged fiance (and her identical twin sister the same night in the same room simultaneously). When they are next seen together, the fiance is in a powerful cage while Brencis is putting slave collars on Citizens to make them serve the Vord Queen.
- Dark Chick: Male variant, to the Vord. Completely selfish, he has no higher motives than having a good time.
- Despair Event Horizon: Seems to have passed it after Gaius Sextus obliterated Kalare, turning him into The Hedonist who doesn't care if the Vord win.
- Dirty Coward: When he ends up facing Amara, Bernard, and, most importantly, Gaius, he Screams Like a Little Girl and runs. Understandable, though, given that Gaius is a Person of Mass Destruction.
- Fatal Flaw: Sloth. Brencis doesn't want to make the effort to actually support anything and just wants to live his life in luxury. After his province is obliterated by Gaius Sextus and he crosses the Despair Event Horizon, he can't even be arsed to help save humanity, instead collaborating with the Vord in exchange for material pleasures.
- Hazy Feel Turn: In the sense that he was already evil before joining the Vord thanks to Invidia's slave collar.
- The Hedonist: After his father dies and Kalare collapses under volcanic ash, he spends his time having threesomes and taking drugs.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Has difficulty mustering confidence to challenge people in the same league as him and compensates by picking on those obviously weaker.
- Les Collaborateurs: Works with the Vord so they can have collared Citizens to help in their conquest of Alera.
- Mind Rape: One of the best at it.
- The Rival: In Academ's Fury, he is this to Tavi, seeing him as a freak and should be squashed. When he shows up next, he's kind of outclassed.
- Smug Snake: He likes to rub his high born status in the face of his classmates.
- Villainous Valour: He manages to resist the horrific torment visited upon anyone rebelling against a slave collar so as to keep his own skin intact while in service of the Vord Queen.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Kalarus doesn't think very much of him.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: He is aware of this idea and resists giving the Vord Queen and Invidia knowledge of making truly broken and mindless collared slaves because once he does, it is only a matter of time before he would be killed.
- Yuri Fan: Played for Horror - After his father loses, he spends the rest of his time forcing women wearing his Slave Collars to have sex with one another for his amusement.
High Lord Antillus Raucus
High Lord of Antillus and father of Max and Crassus. Raucus spends most of his time fighting the Icemen on the Shieldwall and is a very skilled battlecrafter. He is loyal to the House of Gaius, but hates Gaius Sextus for personal reasons.
Tropes applying to Raucus:
- An Arm and a Leg: The Awakened Vord Queen cuts off his right arm when he, Phrygia, and the Placidias fail to assassinate her.
- Arranged Marriage: To Kalarus Dorotea. He hates her and would've preferred to marry Max's mother instead.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Even more than the other High Lords. To be High Lord of one of the Shield Cities, you have to be adept at asskicking.
- Awful Wedded Life: His marriage to Dorotea. He never wanted to marry her in the first place, wanting instead to marry Max's mother. However, he caved to pressure when his father died, not knowing how strong Max would be, and married Dorotea to secure an alliance with Kalare and their food supplies which would greatly help the frozen lands up north. Dorotea then had Max's mother murdered.
- The Big Guy: Of Septimus's circle of friends.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's a big guy with a large personality and no reservations about getting into fights.
- Captain Obvious: Has a tendency to point out the obvious. This is lampshaded by Lord Phrygia.
- Didn't See That Coming: He's briefly taken aback when Isana - who he had previously assumed to be toadying on behalf of Gaius Sextus, who he personally despises - angrily snarls that she actually hates Sextus for having left her husband (Septimus) to die.
- A Father to His Men: He personally attends the funerals of his men who die fighting on the Shieldwall. One of the reasons why he hates the Icemen so fervently is because of how many of his soldiers and people they've killed in the endless war on the Shieldwall.
- Papa Wolf: When Crassus becomes leader of the First Aleran while Tavi is removed from the position in Captain's Fury it is mentioned if Arnos tries to get Crassus executed on trumped up charges or refusing to kill civilians, Raucus would quickly step in and challenge Arnos to juris macto.
- Parental Neglect: Raucus is a largely absent father due to spending most of his time defending the Shieldwall. He never intervened to stop Dorotea's abuse of Max. Things got so bad that Max ran off to join the Legions at 14.
- Parental Obliviousness: It's unclear how much he knew about Dorotea's abuse of Max, considering he was gone most of the time.
- Person of Mass Destruction: He's one of the most powerful High Lords and is a very skilled battlecrafer.
- Playing with Fire: Though Raucus is skilled in all 6 forms of crafting, he is especially skilled at firecrafting. Lady Placida speculates this is due to his passionate nature.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: He and Max's mom. Raucus wanted to marry her, but was forced to marry Dorotea instead. Then Dorotea had the woman killed.
- True Companions: With Septimus and Attis, though he and Septimus didn't get along at first.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Lord Phrygia.
High Lady Antillus Dorotea
Sister of High Lord Kalarus and wife of Antillus Raucus. They have one son, Crassus. She's tried to kill Max numerous times, viewing him as a threat to Crassus's inheritance. She is introduced in Cursor's Fury, where she serves as the First Aleran's Tribune Medica.
Tropes applying to Dorotea:
- Abusive Parents: To Max - and Crassus as well; some of Max's scars are from protecting his half-brother from his mother's temper. Crassus makes his excuses, but when he sees someone else at risk from his mother's wrath he's quick to try to prevent it, knowing all too well what it's like.
- Ambition Is Evil: Tavi comments that her ambition was a cancer that got amputated by the collar.
- Arranged Marriage: To Raucus.
- Combat Medic: Before her collaring, she could be this. Averted, however, the orders of Sarl make it so she cannot harm another person, so fighting, even justified fighting, is impossible for her.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She always did love her son Crassus.
- Good Feels Good: The collared Dorotea gives off a deep sense of fulfillment quite unlike the buried misery Isana senses in other collared slaves. Collar or no, Dorotea is finding healing people and experiencing their gratitude and liking very rewarding.
- Healing Hands: She served as the Tribune Medica to the First Aleran before turning traitor. She resumes working as Tribune Medica after being collared.
- HeelFace Brainwashing: An understated case. Her personality is still her own, even after being collared, but it becomes much more benevolent afterward. This trope is actually discussed by both Durias and Tavi - both of whom are rather sickened by the concept.
- Made a Slave: Sarl puts a slave collar on her. With his death, she can never be freed from the commands she has been placed under.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Her preferred method of removing her enemies.
- The Medic: She is an able healer, first joining the Legion as the top medical official.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Had Max's mother killed.
- Offing the Offspring:
- He's not her biological offspring, but Max is her stepson and she's been trying to kill him for years.
- Averted with her biological son, Crassus.
- Rage Breaking Point: When the Awakened Vord Queen kills Foss, who saved Dorotea from the blast by pushing her away, she's filled with such righteous fury that she temporarily overcomes her slave commands and launches a powerful attack against the Vord Queen, stunning her enough for Tavi to catch up. That said, her collar quickly punishes her for this violation.
- That Man Is Dead: After being collared, she says that High Lady Antillus Dorotea no longer exists and she is simply Dorotea now.
- Wicked Stepmother: She beat Max repeatedly until he came into his furies and could stand up to her. After that she started arranging "accidents" for him.
High Lady Placidus Aria
Wife of High Lord Placida and one of the strongest crafters in Alera. She and her husband prefer to stay out of politics, though she eventually becomes a close friend and ally of Isana.
Tropes applying to Aria:
- Action Girl: Earned her Citizenship through both merit of her furycrafting and skill in combat.
- Ambadassador: Serves as ambassador to the Icemen along with Isana during Princeps' Fury.
- Damsel in Distress: Kalarus captures her so he can use her as a hostage against her husband. Downplayed in that she could've escaped from him on her own, but he rigged things so that a child would die if she tried anything.
- Foil: She can be seen as the good counterpart to Invidia. Both are powerful and skilled crafters who hold a great deal of influence in Alera. When they both approached Isana in Isana's moments of need, Invidia made the cold calculating practical assessment on how it could help her goals, while Aria offers kindness for nothing asked in return.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Her displaying this served as an alert to Isana that something was making Alerans feel irrationally angry around Icemen.
- Happily Married: To Placidus Sandos. While most High Lords marry for politics, they married for love.
- Lady of Black Magic: She's regal, elegant, and the first woman to become a Citizen by winning a juris macto duel. Later she becomes one of the top Aleran commanders during the Vord War.
- Load-Bearing Boss: If she had been killed in Cursor's Fury, numerous dangerous wild furies leashed under her command would've been released and would've ravaged the countryside of her province.
- Redhead In Green: She's a redhead and frequently wears green, as it's the color of Placida.
- Silk Hiding Steel: See Lady of Black Magic.
- Team Mom: Takes this position when the other High Lords (particularly Antillus, Phrygia and her husband) are picking on each other like school kids.
The politician in charge of military spending, who dismisses any report of military threats that don't fit his preconceptions. Politically, not a supporter of the First Lord, but in a position too sensitive to ignore.
Tropes applying to Arnos:
- Bad Boss: Seen hitting and insulting a secretary who gives him bad news. Also willing to sacrifice his army just for his personal political gain.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He views himself as Invidia's equal. She views him as a pawn that, despite his stupidity, happens to be convenient for getting her husband into power. In the end, she orders Fidelias to kill him after he has outlived his usefulness by taking care of Tavi for her.
- Commander Contrarian: Despite Tavi's innovations being highly effective, he ignores them simply because they aren't traditional.
- Dirty Coward: He has no stomach for fighting. When Bernard challenges him to a duel, he face turns red before he all but runs out of the room in fear.
- General Ripper: Has no problem sending his troops to their deaths - or sending them to cause massive civilian casualties - just for his political career and ego.
- Hope Spot: There is a brief moment in Captain's Fury when he gives a heartfelt thanks to Tavi for sending his men in at the right time to save his own. It looks like Tavi might be able to work with him and control him, but then he gives Tavi orders. See Kick the Dog.
- Humiliation Conga: Arnos's Karma Houdini Warranty has expired by the climax of Captain's Fury. He discovers that his opponent is the legitimate heir to the throne (and so has the right to challenge him over the horrible things he's done), his champion loses the duel, meaning that he's going to have to face justice, and when he takes a hostage in an attempt to escape, he's shot in the back. As he lays dying, Tavi shows him absolutely no respect and only calls a healer for the woman he was trying to use as a human shield.
- I Reject Your Reality: He dismisses anything that doesn't fit his preconceptions. Reports of a new and extraordinarily dangerous enemy, which has already chewed up a Marat force and an Aleran force, and is possibly on the loose? Just lies. Marat can't be trusted, you know. Canim now have ranged weapons? The Canim are just dogs who couldn't possibly innovate that, and the Canim crossbow you captured isn't sufficient evidence to the contrary. The Canim want to build ships and leave? Nope, the Canim only exist to make Alerans miserable, and giving them any quarter towards achieving this goal will just result in sea-going Canim raiders.
- Jerkass: Nobody really likes him. Even Invidia finds him annoying, and merely puts up with him because he's on her side and in a useful position.
- Kick the Dog: He has an entire town ordered killed for "conspiring with the enemy" (read: not fighting to the death against an unbeatable opponent that doesn't want to kill you) just so he can get Tavi removed from his post when he inevitably refuses. Then he decides to kill them anyway as an "example" to the other towns.
- Lack of Empathy: Doesn't even bat an eye when ordering the executions of a town of innocent people. He views everyone else as pawns in a game, and truly doesn't get how war hurts others.
- A Million Is a Statistic: Indifferent to the casualties in his campaign. It's commented that he just views it as a game.
- Noodle Incident: A non-comic version. When Invidia is blackmailing him into doing what she wants, she mentions several things, including what seems to have been an assassination.
- Obstructive Zealot: He wants nothing more than his own political advantage, and does stupid and destructive things that get thousands of people, both soldiers and civilians, killed for it.
- Save the Villain: When he lays badly injured from a poisoned bolt in his chest, he thinks this is happening when Tavi calls for a healer. Tavi subverts his expectations by saying the healer is for the hostage he took, not him.
- Smug Snake: Convinced he his a brilliant tactician who uses the powers the Senate gave him to kill. Everyone else is convinced that he's an idiot who somehow managed to weasel his way into a high position, and that he's just going to make things difficult for everyone before he finally falls.
- Villainous Breakdown: It begins when Tavi reveals himself as Gaius Octavian and challenges him to a duel, but he really loses it when Tavi beats his champion Navaris, meaning that he's finally going to have to face the music for what he did.
- We Have Reserves: See General Ripper and A Million Is a Statistic.
- You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Tavi commented that he could have, though he takes it back when he realizes that Arnos thinks A Million Is a Statistic.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Invidia decides that Fidelias should kill him if he doesn't die during Tavi's juris macto against him.
Fidelias ex Cursori, a.k.a. Valiar Marcus
Fidelias was a Cursor and Amara's mentor, until he betrayed the First Lord for Aquitaine. A master spy and manipulator, he has greatly helped Aquitaine's bids for power until deciding Tavi would make a better ruler. He is now Tavi's advisor, in a Secret Identity. In any event, Fidelias is absolutely loyal to only one thing his country and will do whatever he thinks is best for it, no matter how terrible others might think it.
Fidelias is absent throughout Cursor's Fury, and it's only after a moment of Fridge Logic from Amara that the narration reveals where he is: throughout the book he's been serving in the First Aleran Legion as First Spear Valiar Marcus, an old cover identity of his. Marcus later has some inner struggles with HeelFace Revolving Door and Becoming the Mask, but ultimately abandons Lady Aquitane and sides with Tavi.
Tropes that apply to Fidelias:
- The Atoner: Kitai believes this of him as he didn't run when he had the chance once outed. He stayed and accepted Tavi's punishment without argument. He feels his death is needed to make amends.
- Becoming the Mask: After taking on the guise of Valiar Marcus, Tavi successfully earns his loyalty up until the point that he comes to value his role as Valiar Marcus over his role as Fidelias, even to the point of turning against Invidia.
- Being Evil Sucks: He defects to the Aquiataine's side because he thinks they're the best hope for the country. He does a lot of horrible things for them, like inciting the Marat to invade Alera, betraying his student Amara, and giving Arnos advice on how best to oust Tavi, who's The Good Captain. He feels utterly horrible about all of this, and it eventually makes it so that he cannot reveal his identity to Tavi after Tavi earned his loyalty, because to Tavi, Fidelias is the one who attempted to murder his family.
- Big Bad Friend: To Amara at the beginning of the first book, although they never interact after she discovers his treachery and escapes.
- Consummate Liar: As he said to Odiana: "Yes, I do. No, I don't. The sky is green. I am seventeen years old. My real name is Gundred."
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Nearly suffered from one in First Lord's Fury after his cover is blown, with him being crucified and left to fend for himself out in the frozen north of Phrygia. Thankfully, however, Kitai convinces Tavi to recant and Fidelias is saved.
- Death Seeker: Has shades of this.
- Death Equals Redemption: Feels that he has to die in order to find some sort of redemption. Which happens. Sort of.
- Evil Counterpart: To Bernard, same crafting, both straightforward, mentors, and a little gruff at times. Too bad Fidelias is evil(ish).
- Fallen Hero:
- Amara and many Cursors view him as this for his betrayal to the Crown.
- Tavi, Max, and the First Aleran's leadership see him as this after they learn Valiar Marcus, their dependable First Spear, is also the greatest traitor to the realm.
- Famed in Story:
- Fidelias has a reputation as one of the best Cursors, which makes his defection a Mass "Oh, Crap!" moment for his former colleagues.
- Marcus is given the name Valiar in recognition of his bravery after the aforementioned raid, one of only five men so honored. When Max learns that Valiar Marcus is the First Spear of the First Aleran, he becomes a lot more hopeful of the Legion's chances.
- Good Feels Good: Even after he turns his coat, Fidelias always likes the rare occasions when he work lets him help the ordinary people of Alera. This is part of why he ends up Becoming the Mask; it's plainly obvious that Valiar Marcus, First Spear of the First Aleran, is a lot happier than Fidelias ex Cursori.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Started out on the side of the Big Bad, then switched to the First Aleran, then almost to the Big Bad's Dragon, before finally sticking to Tavi.
- I Fight for the Strongest Side: ...Because they're most likely to be able to preserve the Realm. But his true loyalty is to the country itself.
- Mercy Kill: In Furies of Calderon he kills a steadhold girl who is captured by the Marat and being eaten alive by them.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Fidelias never gloats. He never does anything he hasn't thought out and planned ahead for, and he never offers his enemies any second chances or a dramatic showdown. Best demonstrated when he decides to deliver his resignation to Lady Aquitaine—with a balest bolt, from several hundred metres away, laced with two of the most lethal poisons in the Realm. One which quickens the heart rate and the other becomes more deadly the further it spreads in the body.
- Non-Indicative Name: "Fidelias" means "faithful". Which he... um, isn't. Well, except to the Realm itself.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Ends up on the receiving end of this - a lot - during Captain's Fury.
- Old Master: Revealed at Eastercon 2015 after the series, this will be his role among the next generation of Cursors, which would include Canim and Marat. Ehren will "Obi-wan" them directly and Fidelias will be "Yodaing" in the shadows.
- Old Soldier: The most experienced legionare in the First Aleran. At one point, Tavi is about to give him orders, and changes his mind.
- Tavi paused, took a breath, and shook his head. "He'll know what to do."
- Only a Flesh Wound: Things like spears inside of him, or javelins scaled for nine-foot-tall Canim are only a mild inconvenience.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In Cursor's Fury, as the First Spear with years of experience, he has every right to remove Tavi from command when he knows Tavi is not a real officer, but listens to Tavi's arguments and ideas about how he knows much of the Cane. He eventually agrees to follow him. It helps in that moment, Fidelias likely realizes Tavi is Septimus' son.
- Retired Badass: Valiar Marcus came out of retirement to join the First Aleran. This causes Magnus to become suspicious of him, since until he came out of retirement, Marcus had vanished off the face of Alera... around the time Fidelias was known to be operating.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Ultimately averted. It was a close thing, though: when Tavi found out who Marcus really was, he ordered him crucified and had to be talked out of it by Kitai.
- Secret Identity: As Valiar Marcus.
- Secret Secret-Keeper: At the end of Cursor's Fury he has realized Rufus Scipio is Tavi, who is really the child of Septimus, heir to the House of Gaius. He is a bit shocked but doesn't even dare hint that it is true when Lady Aquitaine asks.
- Sergeant Rock: Oh yes. There's a reason he's First Spear.
- Sleeping with the Boss's Wife: His affair with Invidia. Fidelias worries about how Attis will react if he finds out.
- That Man Is Dead: Forced on him in favor of Valiar Marcus at the end of the series. Not that he minds, though.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Like many watercrafters, though it's much harder for him due to it not being his specialty. It takes almost a month and is apparently quite painful.
- Walking Spoiler: The revelation that Valiar Marcus is Fidelias ex Cursori is one of the main plot twists at the end of Cursor's Fury.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He betrays Gaius in favor of the Aquitaines because he thinks Gaius is a dying old fool who won't simply bow out gracefully, and the other options for First Lord are petty schemers (and minor characters) and Lord Kalarus, who's a mentally unstable and vicious madman. He later implies he wouldn't have betrayed Gaius if he had known about Tavi, and pretty quickly switches his loyalty to him once he sees that Tavi is both the legitimate heir and a better ruler than the Aquitaines would be.
- What You Are in the Dark: Soon after he realizes Magnus is very close to discovering his true identity (which Tavi would execute him for if he'd known), the pair of them are attacked by three Vord while alone. Marcus realizes he could very easily Make It Look Like an Accident (after all, who would blame him for only being able to kill two and a half Vord?), but also that doing so is the kind of cold, self-serving action that he hated Alera's nobility for. He ends up saving Magnus.
- Wild Card: For much of the series grasping just whose side he is on is the question. He ends up pretty firmly on Tavi's side by the end.
- Worthy Opponent: Gaius Sextus appears to hold him in high regards even after he turns coat. Enough to use furycraft to sneak into his room and leave him the swamp-exploring gear he had left behind because they're in an Enemy Mine situation against Kalarus, also serving as an If I Wanted You Dead... reminder.
- You Just Told Me: During a fight with some Vord scouts, Magnus, who has been suspicious of Valiar Marcus for a long time, shouts, "Fidelias! Behind you!" When he whirls around to look and sees nothing there, he realizes he just blew his cover. Tavi is pissed.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In Captain's Fury, he gets this both coming and going. Lady Aquitaine is highly impressed by the plan he came up with to force Tavi to either execute a town of innocent people or be imprisoned, which he feels very guilty about, and other officers of the First Aleran praise Valiar Marcus's loyalty, when he's actually a spy.
Aldrick ex Gladius
Former singulare to Princeps Septimus. Probably the second greatest swordsman alive, fears only the swordsman who once beat him the legendary Araris Valerian. Lover of Odiana, and a mercenary in the service of the Aquitaines.
Tropes that apply to Aldrick:
- Awesome Mc Coolname: His name is literally Aldrick of the Sword.
- Back for the Finale: After two books' worth of non-involvement, he shows up to help the good guys in the final battle.
- Catchphrase: During the first book he will regularly say "Only Araris Valerian has ever beaten me, and you're not Araris," and variants thereof.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Extra-ore-dinary: He's a very skilled metalcrafter on par with Araris.
- Fallen Hero: He was once one of Septimus' closest allies, one of his bodyguards, but sleeping with Odiana, for whom Miles was smitten, to calm her down led to Miles challenging him to Juris Macto, which led to Araris taking up the spot after Miles' "accident" and his defeat. The juris macto led to the public reveal of the incident and Septimus couldn't allow him to be near him again. After that, he became a mercenary.
- Master Swordsman: He's nearly as good as Araris. Unfortunately for him, "nearly" isn't nearly good enough.
- Out of Focus: Doesn't do much after the halfway point of the series.
- Pretender Diss: His "you're not Araris" Catchphrase, as mentioned above. When it turns out his opponent actually is Araris, he's absolutely terrified.
- Punch-Clock Villain: A mercenary-revolutionary with standards, if not morals.
- The Rival: To Araris.
- Secret Keeper: Based on Invidia's first conversation in Captain's Fury, Aldrick never told her or anyone else Araris is alive and where he has been hiding. Whether this is out of respect, or not wanting to admit Araris beat him again is unknown.
- The Stoic: Since metalcrafters can block out pain and emotion, he can be fairly emotionless.
- Unholy Matrimony: Stoic mercenary + Ax-Crazy Cloudcuckoolander = Adorable couple.
- Villainous Rescue: Just when Amara and Bernard's battle against the Vord in Academ's Fury seems lost, he appears leading the charge with Aquitaine's legionaries, transforming the conflict from an extremely close call into a resounding victory for the good guys.
A powerful watercrafter who was enslaved as a young girl a mind-warping slave collar combined with her powerful empathy and the trauma of slavery has driven her mad. She serves the Aquitaines alongside Aldrick.
Tropes that apply to Odiana:
- Axe-Crazy: Years being mindraped as a slave will do that to you.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Suffering from the aftereffects of such.
- Broken Bird: They don't come more broken than her.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: If, again, a lot more violent than usual.
- The Empath: Standard for a watercrafter.
- Living Lie Detector: Also standard for a watercrafter.
- The Mad Hatter: Seems quite self-aware about her own insanity.
- The Ophelia: Years as a slave broke her mind. She spends a lot of time giggling while drowning people,
- Out of Focus: Doesn't do much after the halfway point.
- Pet the Dog: Helps Isana with no real ulterior motives when they're both trapped in Kord's steadhold.
- Rape as Backstory: As a slave. When Kord and his men start raping her in front of Isana, she just grimly accepts it. In fact, she gives Isana advice on how to be raped in such a way that the rapists won't hurt her too much.
- Unhappy Medium: Hoo boy. Being brainwashed and raped just as your empath powers are coming in does nothing good for your sanity.
- Unholy Matrimony: With Aldrick. Stoic mercenary + Ax-Crazy Cloudcuckoolander = Adorable couple.
Captain of the Slive, a merchant vessel that indulges in smuggling as long as they can afford the bribes. Originally recruited by Ehren to carry word of the Canim in Cursor's Fury, he's later hired to help Tavi transport Varg after their Prison Break in Captain's Fury and remains a part of the team through Princeps' Fury and First Lord's Fury. A powerful woodcrafter, as evidenced by the fact that the Slive itself is one big wood fury that he can control at will.
Tropes that apply to Demos:
- Anti-Villain: Originally. He was the one who brought Sarl and the Vord Queen back to Canea. In his first appearance, he threatens a pawnshop owner with murder, and in his second appearance he nearly follows through—and then proceeds to kidnap all the women and children he can find on his way out of town. Sure, he's technically saving them from being murdered by a horde of Canim, but only so he can sell them into slavery. Yet he's somehow very likable, like a Darker and Edgier Captain Jack Sparrow. In the following book, Tavi notes that he doesn't have enough chains on his ship to be a full-time slaver; he probably never really sold them as slaves and really was just trying to save them. It's just that he's a pirate— and he has a reputation to uphold.
- The Captain: A very talented smuggler. He cares for his men and moves to protect them if he can.
- Combat Pragmatist: He has no problem fighting in any way that gets him an advantage, which includes using his the ship's wooden features against his enemies.
- Green Thumb: His whole ship is controlled by his powers over wood. So making doors open as surprise attacks are something attackers should be cautious of.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He may be a smuggler who will kill you without hesitation if you can't pay him, but he dislikes slavery and is appalled by what the Canim do to their captives.
- Honest Advisor: He is never cruel or mean to Tavi, and gives the title of Princeps little respect, but when it comes to his knowledge of the sea, sailing, and sea combat, he never minces words either. Tavi trusts his opinion on this and other matters.
- I Gave My Word: Once Tavi purchases his service, he will see it through, even if Tavi destroys his slavery chains during the trip. That is to be a matter they will discuss after this current venture is over.
- The Promise: When Tavi replaces the chains that he destroyed, he requests that if Demos approves of the replacements, he will never use any other set of chains for slavery. Demos, cynically suspecting them to be old rusty chains, agrees—provided they meet his expectations. Tavi doesn't give him rusty chains, but a long length of solid gold chains. Demos accepts them and becomes Tavi's mount at sea.
- Obfuscating Disability : The Slive looks "stained, old, and worn." It isn't. It is a very fast and nimble ship on the open sea, and while not a powerhouse in combat, one not to be taken lightly either.
- Out-Gambitted: Tavi stuns him by offering chains of pure gold as replacement ones to the slaving chains Tavi destroyed. Demos wasn't sure exactly how Tavi planned to settle accounts with him, but he never anticipated this. He even notes that with The Promise above, Tavi is making him wear his own chains and put them on freely.
- Shoot the Messenger: He almost became the victim of this trope when he delivered the final message from Kalarus to Sarl about the Canim invasion.
- The Stoic: He has two emotions: Blank, and pissed.
- The Unsmile: They are instead described within one book as "showing his teeth."
Rook a.k.a. Gaelle
Head of the Bloodcrows (Kalarus's equivalent of the Cursors), she is Kalarus' chief spy and assassin; a minor but important recurring character.
Tropes that apply to Rook:
- Break the Cutie: What her training seems to have involved. She was raped and broken emotionally to allow her strong intelligence to remain and still be loyal to her lord. She wasn't totally broken, though...
- Cruel and Unusual Death: She gets part of her throat torn out by the Awakened Vord Queen, with her left to slowly drown in her own blood.
- Dark Action Girl: Not by choice. Kalarus keeps her in line by using her daughter against her.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Heartbreakingly and callously murdered by the Awakened Vord Queen because the Queen senses Rook's approval in Brencis Minoris' not yielding information in making the slave collars even more effective. The Queen sees this flicker of independence as counter to her goals, so she kills her with as much thought as a human would feel for swatting a fly.
- Feed the Mole: After they discover she is a mole, she's allowed to remain with the Cursor candidates "undiscovered" because it's easier to keep an eye on her than to try to hunt down whatever replacement Kalarus would install.
- HeelFace Turn: She defects from Kalarus' service the second she gets a serious chance to remove her daughter away from him.
- I Have Your Wife: Her daughter being kept close to Kalarus is how he keeps her under control.
- Mama Bear: She commits treason against the First Lord for the sake of her daughter.
- The Mole: As Gaelle, who got close to Tavi in Cursor training.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Even when collared and supposedly under Brencis' control, she is able to act and stay loyal to the Crown and protect her daughter. She edges on one fellow slave to kill the Cursors they found to prevent the Cursors from revealing more information and then kills the second slave because he realizes the truth. After this betrayal, she then goes back to her master and gives the truth in such a way that she isn't disobeying his commands.
- Punch-Clock Villain: A good person forced to do bad things because Kalarus has her daughter.
- Take Care of the Kids: After being enslaved by a discipline collar, her last request to Amara is this, as the one place she felt was safest from the Vord was the Calderon Valley.
Bodyguard, assassin, or blade-for-hire, Navaris doesn't care she's in it for money and the reputation as the most dangerous swordswoman alive. Nowadays, though, she serves as the chief singulare to Senator Arnos, enforcing his corrupt will on anyone unlucky enough to get in her path through sword and intimidation.
Tropes that apply to Navaris:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Downplayed. Tavi isn't particularly devastated by her death, but he's not very proud of using her Freudian Excuse to induce a Villainous Breakdown and takes the time to gently close her eyes after she dies.
- Animal Motif: Snakes; both Tavi and Fidelias compare her eyes and general demeanor to a serpent's. It's fitting given that many snakes are quiet and unassuming, but extremely deadly, just like Navaris herself.
- Ax-Crazy: She thinks becoming a famous killer will force her father to acknowledge her.
- Dark Action Girl: A sadistic, Ax-Crazy killer with a bodycount in the hundreds if not thousands.
- Death by Irony: Navaris became famous as a champion-for-hire (basically, she fights duels for rich people so they don't have to risk their lives). She ends up dying in a duel with Tavi.
- The Dragon: To Arnos. She's his main enforcer and his champion in any duels.
- Duel to the Death: She uses these as an excuse to legally kill lots and lots of people, mostly just for the hell of it.
- Evil Virtues: She has an extraordinary amount of willpower, which helps keep the Ax-Crazy in check.
- Freudian Excuse: She was born out of wedlock and never knew her father, or even who he was; she acts as she does in the hope that if she becomes the best in the country he'll appear and acknowledge her.
- Mask of Sanity: Much is made in Tavi and Isana's narration throughout Captain's Fury of how she's actually profoundly mad and is only able to make it seem like she isn't perfectly fine with disemboweling everyone she meets.
- Master Swordsman: Araris is probably the only person on the planet more capable with a blade than she is, and unlike with Aldrick, the margin between them is close enough that Navaris is still a genuine threat to him. Tavi only managed to win their duel by playing on her psychological hang-ups, and even then it was a close deal.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Her response to pretty much any problem is to put a hand on her sword and get ready to start cutting throats. Tavi and Arnos are able to dissuade her a couple times, but eventually she stops accepting excuses and just starts slashing.
- Parental Abandonment: She is the bastard child of a Citizen and commoner. Her father never acknowledged her and she might not even know his true name.
- Psycho for Hire: So very much. Navaris is nowhere near sane.
- Sanity Has Advantages: She's a far better swordsmaster than Tavi is, but Tavi thinks far more clearly than her. He manages to use her deep-seated psychological flaws to talk her into a Villainous Breakdown, meaning that she ends up making the mistakes that allow him to kill her.
- To Be a Master: To be the greatest swordswoman alive! Oh, and to gain the recognition of her father.
- Villainous Breakdown: Tavi talks her into one.
Araris Valerian a.k.a. Fade
One of the greatest swordsman who ever lived and once Septimus' close friend, he is believed dead by most of the world and uses the identity of Bernard's disfigured, brain-damaged slave Fade to watch over and instruct Tavi. He also develops a romance with Isana.
Tropes that apply to Araris:
- Becoming the Mask: A bit of a twist on the actual description: he isn't a con man, and he only clings to his alternate identity out of guilt. But he clings hard.
- Big Damn Heroes: A lot. Nearly every book has him appear and perform some awesome swordsmanship, and generally defeating the enemy, or at least stalling them for other heroes to arrive.
- Bodyguard Crush: He was Isana's personal bodyguard while both were serving alongside Septimus in the Legions, and continues to protect her (and Tavi by extension) in the present day out of a sense of duty - and also because somewhere along the line, he ended up falling in love with Isana himself.
- Cain and Abel: Averted. He loves his brother so much, he lamed him to stop him from fighting Aldrick in juris macto and being killed.
- The Cavalry: Likewise, a lot. Especially in Cursor's Fury, when Bernard, Isana, and Amara are about to be killed by Kalarus's Immortals, and in comes Fade, out of nowhere, in a dirty chef's apron, and slashes their way out.
- Chrome Champion: Does this for the final showdown.
- Confronting Your Imposter: Aldrick ex Gladius's favorite boast is to announce that the only person who's ever beaten him was Araris Valerian, "and you're not Araris." When Aldrick realizes that the scarred, apparently feeble-minded and harmless slave he's just delivered this boast to really is Araris, he all but collapses.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: His cover. He's very good at it. He abandons this after Cursor's Fury, where he openly appears as Tavi, and later Isana's bodyguard, as Araris Valerian.
- Extra-ore-dinary: His metalcrafting ability makes him the deadliest swordsman alive. Also came in handy around Bernardholt's forge.
- Failure Knight: He blames himself for Septimus' death and falling in love with his best friend's wife.
- Faking the Dead: Part of the reason he became Fade is so that everyone would believe the greatest swordsman in the world had died.
- Feel No Pain: All metalcrafters have the ability to block out pain, but Araris is unquestionably one of the best at it: case in point, blocking an assassin's arrow by catching it through his palm barely makes him flinch.
- First-Episode Twist: Some fairly critical details about him are revealed early on, which can make him tricky to talk about without giving plot twists away.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Played with; he disguised himself by burning his face with the Legions' brand for cowardice. He's no coward, but he thinks he is.
- Mark of Shame: The brand on his face marking him as a coward to anyone who sees him at first glance. However, as noted in other tropes, Araris is only a coward in his own mind. His love for a woman who is the wife of his best friend and protecting her and not his Prince left him with guilt that lasts until Isana has a Journey to the Center of the Mind while healing him from a serious wound.
- Master Swordsman: Widely renowned as the single greatest swordsman in Alera. After a while, the narration simply stops describing most of his fights, summing them up in lines like, "Nine men rushed him. They died."
- Meaningful Name: When your surname means 'all-heal', and you end up with the master healer, and at least metaphorically healing her....
- The Mentor: To Tavi. He's also the first person to realize that Tavi has become capable of furycraft. He specifically trains Tavi in sword-fighting.
- My Greatest Failure: Blames himself for Septimus's death because Septimus had ordered him to leave and protect Isana instead. He failed to protect her sister Alia, and thought his delivery of Tavi caused him to be without furycrafting.
- My Greatest Second Chance: Views Tavi (Septimus' son) and Isana (Septimus' lover/wife) as these.
- Not So Stoic: It took one hell of a lot of effort, though.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Again, he's good at this, in his Fade persona. He maintained it in view of anyone for over fifteen years. Even Bernard never caught on to the act. For part of the first book, Isana was worried he was lost in that persona.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: His brother, Sir Miles, knows him very well. Miles knows Rari would have died standing next to Septimus, however, he didn't. He has been protecting some boy for the past fifteen years. What could have made him abandon his best friend in a time of his greatest need? Cue Oh, Crap! to Miles' Fridge Brilliance on the matter.
- Painful Transformation: Araris makes it clear that even with his pain-numbing abilities via metalcrafting, his Chrome Champion transformation is highly painful (and the Vord Queen at one point takes advantage of this by reducing the temperature of the room to make his metal skin frost over), but when you're fighting the Vord Queen in a last-ditch effort to stop her from destroying all of Alera, you'll do it.
- The Penance: Part of his branding himself is to pay for his perceived cowardice and his Greatest Failures.
- Percussive Prevention: In order to save his brother, Sir Miles, from an almost certain death in a duel, Araris arranged it so that Miles broke his leg. Then Araris fought the duel in his stead and won.
- Posthumous Character: Died before the start of the series in the Marat war. That's what is commonly believed, anyway. The reality is that he's been living undercover as the slave Fade.
- Scars Are Forever: That brand on his face isn't going away any time soon.
- Second Love: For Isana.
- The Stoic: Not even Isana can pick up on his emotions most of the time. That's right, he's stoic on the outside and the inside.
- Survivor Guilt: Araris feels guilt over not being at Septimus's side during First Calderon, though the reason he wasn't there is because he was following Septimus's direct orders to protect Isana.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: His look as Fade has long, unkempt hair, a slack and unintelligent expression, dulled speech, and the burn mark on his face to hide his distinctive features. It works well enough because people saw the coward's mark and looked no further. Even his brother dismissed the similarities.
- The Worf Effect: Araris alternates between descriptions of his martial prowess and scenes of him getting roundly trounced. For example, Navaris nearly guts him in Captain's Fury, and the Vord stun him by hitting him with a door toward the beginning of First Lord's Fury.
Antillar "Max" Maximus
Illegitimate son of one of the most powerful High Lords, Max is Tavi's roommate at the Academy and a close personal friend. Lives life for the moment, as he doesn't expect to outlive his father. Powerful in Earthcrafting (especially the ability to induce lust), with a respectable skill in watercrafting as well. As one of the nobility, is also capable in all six elements. Seems to have fallen into the role of Tavi's primary sidekick.
Tropes that apply to Max:
- Bastard Angst: Max is regularly abused by his stepmother Dorotea due to his bastard status. She sees him as a threat to Crassus's inheritance and arranges "accidents" for him as a result. She also had his mother murdered.
- Big Brother Instinct: He sometimes took whippings for things Crassus did in order to protect him. Additionally, Tavi notes in Captain's Fury if Arnos tries removing Crassus by trumped up charges and threatens to kill him, if their father didn't beat him to it, Max would surely call Juris Macto against Arnos and then "scatter Arnos' residual pieces over a quarter-mile of farmland."
- The Big Guy: Of Tavi's group from the Academy.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Very loud, a ladies man and the most talented furycrafter of Tavi's academy friends.
- The Charmer: Very much so. He spends a night with a pair of twins at one point.
- Cerebus Retcon: His status as The Hedonist comes across in a far darker light in Cursor's Fury once it's revealed that it's a side effect of him being fully aware of how his Wicked Stepmother will ensure he has a short and tragic life.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: His outwardly lecherous behavior belies a surprisingly intelligent and tactically-minded nature.
- Dysfunctional Family: His father was largely absent fighting on the Shieldwall, leaving Max at the mercy of his stepmother Dorotea, who killed his mother and regularly had him beaten. After he stood up to her, she began arranging "accidents" for him. It was this that caused Max to run off and join the Legions.
- Flat "What": His reaction to being told the catapult he just destroyed, and promised to help rebuild, was made with no crafting and the new one will be like that.
- Handsome Lech: Occasionally verging on Chivalrous Pervert.
- Heroic Bastard: A good man who doesn't resent his half-brother for his mistreatment at the hands of his Wicked Stepmother. He even took the blame for a few things to protect his half-brother in their youths.
- Healing Hands: He isn't as skilled as other watercrafters, but he has enough skill for minor wounds.
- Hidden Depths: Despite his goofy demeanor, he often shows a surprisingly clever mind in terms of politics, furycrafting, and insight into one's character. For instance, he bluntly but honestly informs Tavi in First Lord's Fury that he's a better man than Gaius Sextus ever was, since Tavi wouldn't have simply condemned the civilians of Alera Imperia that couldn't be evacuated in time to death like Sextus did with his Heroic Sacrifice. He also read up on advanced furycrafting theory in preparation for Tavi's expedition to Canea so as to make sure he and his friends were Crazy-Prepared. Furthermore, he critiques Tavi during First Lord's Fury by noting how he hasn't been properly taking Kitai's opinions into account within their romance.
- In a Single Bound: His talent for windcrafting isn't quite enough to enable Flight like true Knights Aeris, but he can still jump very high and really far, to the point that Tavi genuinely mistakes it for crafted flight the first time he witnesses it.
- Ladykiller in Love: He is very interested in Cereus Veradis, who won't give him the time of day. It's implied that she's started to warm up to him after the end of the Vord War, though.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: In contrast to Tavi, who is set only on Kitai, Max goes through a series of one-night stands. He lampshades it.
- Meaningful Name: Antyllus, son of Marc Antony, who did die young because his father's death stripped him of his protection - because Gaius Octavian murdered him.
- Mr. Fanservice: It's often mentioned that He Cleans Up Nicely and that his attractive & boisterous Heroic Build often got him into bed with any woman he smiled at in the Academy.
- Mood Whiplash: Causes it just by wandering in and out of scenes. Especially when his past comes up, he goes from happy to dark and curt quickly.
- Parental Issues: Well, he is a bastard son of a High Lord. Additionally, his stepmother had his mother killed and has been trying to do the same to Max for years in order to shore up her son Crassus' position as heir.
- The Pornomancer: His most-used application of earthcraft is to induce lust in women.
- Really Gets Around: His first scene in Academ's Fury has him having just enjoyed a night with twins. Whether they did a Twin-Threesome or he just took them in turns is unsaid, but Tavi finding him and dragging him from the bed of some young woman during their schooling wasn't uncommon.
- The Rival: Dorotea sees him as this to Crassus. In reality, he forms a friendlier rivalry with his step-brother as the series goes on.
- Sad Clown: A lot of his heroic lechery and clowning around is because he knows his stepmother's planning to murder him anyway, so he sees no point in being too serious about life.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Despite his "Sacred Right" to complain, Max would give his life for Tavi.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: He and Crassus. Max is a fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser. Crassus is quieter and more thoughtful. They become an effective team over the course of the series.
- Spare to the Throne: While Max has no ambitions to take his father's position of High Lord, Dorotea is aware that should something happen to her Crassus, or if Max gets enough support from Antillus' Legions and the other High Lords, he could challenge Crassus for the position. She views his actions, growing prominent in the legions, becoming friends with the page of the First Lord, as a plot to get around his illegitimacy. So she seeks to kill him.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Max has this relationship with virtually everyone he meets, most notably Crassus, Tavi, Ehren, and even Kitai.
Max's younger and legitimate half-brother, and their father's heir.
Tropes that apply to Crassus:
- The Atoner: For both his mother's treachery and both his and his mother's abuse of his step-brother.
- Bash Brothers: Literally. Max and Crassus together are nigh-on unstoppable.
- Big Brother Instinct: An age-inverted case. In part out of guilt for having previously been cruel to him in childhood when he didn't know any better, Crassus is very defensive of him, to the point where he point-blank obliterates the Canim charge on the First Aleran's position so as to make sure a critically injured Max can be sent back to the healers.
- Brought Down to Badass: The Awakened Vord Queen badly cripples him in First Lord's Fury, to the point where it's unknown if he'll ever be able to actually walk again without extensive physical therapy. However, he's still an incredibly deadly furycrafter, and both he & a nearly-unconscious Max successfully erect a stone barrier during a furystorm to help the First Aleran in the Battle of Third Calderon.
- A Father to His Men: Maybe moreso than Tavi; not quite as popular, perhaps, but less willing to put lives in danger. Still generally liked and respected.
- In the Blood: Averted. Fidelias observes that he has inherited the best parts of the Kalarus bloodline (patience, intelligence, long-term planning), but not their infamous mental instability.
- Locked Out of the Loop: He was just as shocked as Tavi, Kitai, and Max were by his mother's treachery (Crassus only came along with the First Aleran since he was hoping he could try and bury the hatchet with Max).
- Only Sane Man: Considering his step-brother is not the most far-thinking person, Ehren is a somewhat cold spy, his boss's plans are all Crazy Enough to Work, and his boss's lover does whatever the hell she wants to, Crassus is pretty much forced into this position.
- The Rival: To Max, in a more friendly way as the story progresses.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: He and Max. Max is a fun-loving Boisterous Bruiser. Crassus is quieter and more thoughtful. They become an effective team over the course of the series.
- Spare to the Throne: After his uncle starts his war and his cousin joined in, Crassus ends up becoming a potential heir to the lands of Kalare. He is of high birth, his mother is Kalarus' sister, making him first in line to take over the lands once the war is over. It left him in a nice political situation where he couldn't be killed if Arnos tried to make him commit an legal but morally bankrupt order and Crassus refuses.
- The Strategist: His main weakness is that he is too cautious (which nearly costs him dearly), but even that usually serves him well since he is able to sense traps more easily than anyone else. In pretty much every other respect he's an excellent leader and tactician.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When he finds out that his mother is alive and Tavi never told him, he doesn't take it well and calls him out on it. By the epilogue, he is still refusing to speak to Tavi while undergoing physical therapy in Antillus, and it's unclear if their friendship will ever be mended.
A race of "barbarian" elf-like humanoids who bond with animals. They are nomadic after their cities were destroyed centuries ago by the Vord. They live in a series of tribes found in the eastern continent of Maratea, linked to Alera by the Calderon Valley.
Tropes that apply to all Marat
- After the End: They once had an advanced Alera-style civilization with large cities, but they were wiped out by the Vord and left with only a handful of "barbarian" survivors.
- Badass Normal: In comparison to the other sentient races of Carna, as their connection to their chala is not the exact same game changer as, say, the Telepathy and An Ice Person powers of the Icemen, the Blood Magic of the Canim, and the Elemental Powers of the Alerans, but they're still incredibly dangerous and probably the second-most recurring threat to Alera in the present day before the series begins.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Marat, who are divided into tribes based on their animal totems and live in the lands east of Alera, forsaking contact except when they invade the bridging valley.
- The Beastmaster: The Marat are a race of these, split into tribes based on their individual chosen animal.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Subverted. While a common stereotype of the Marat from the Alerans is that they "lay with their beasts," it quickly becomes pretty clear that this doesn't happen and the relationship between chala and Marat is far more complex than that.Isana: (to Kitai) What you have with Tavi... it's like your people's other totems, yes? The way your father is close to his gargant, Walker.
Kitai: (raises her eyebrows) Doroga was not mating with Walker when last I knew. Walker would not stand for it.
- Best Her to Bed Her: The Marat, as a culture, have this in terms of their courting rituals. The man must win over the woman he wants in some competition of her choosing. So, if a male of the Wolf tribe seeks to court a lady of the Horse tribe, she can challenge him to a horse race, knowing full well she has the clear advantage and will likely easily win, thus ending his pursuit of her.
- The Bet: The Marat like to place bets on several things, including their duels to the death.
- Bond Creatures: The Marat can do this with any animal and call their Bond Creatures "chala"; they gain not just telepathic communication with their animal, but actually begin to gain some of their physical attributes.
- Brutal Honesty: Since the Marat didn't even have a concept of telling falsehoods until Tavi explained the concept to Doroga, most Marat are incredibly blunt and matter-of-fact. Sometimes this is Played for Drama (like with Doroga's cold assessment about the "Field of Fools," a.k.a. the Battle of First Calderon, when he's talking to an angry Placidus Aria in Princeps' Fury), but more often than not it's Played for Laughs (such as Doroga and Kitai always finding it hilarious to embarrass their Aleran friends/allies with the frankness with which they talk about sex).
- Cue the Sun: The Marat hordes hold off attacking Aleran positions like Garrison until the sun rises, timing their first charge to right when the sun comes over the eastern horizon of Maratea. Apart from the religious symbolism the Marat ascribe to the sun, they do this because the rising sun will also be shining right in the eyes of the Garrison defenders and hamper their ability to see.
- Due to the Dead: Their tradition of eating the flesh of their enemies to gain their strength may be this for some. When Hashat killed some of Princeps Septimus' singulares in the Battle of First Calderon, she took their possessions and ate their hearts to honor them and take of their strength.
- Duel to the Death: These are often used to settle disputes between the Marat.
- Everyone Has Standards: The Marat might practice cannibalism, but even they find the Aleran practice of slavery to be horrifying.
- Eye Color Change: Bonding with a chala makes their eyes become the eye color of the chala.
- Gender Equals Breed: Well, in a sense. Though background Marat characters are of both genders, all named characters of any tribe are the same gender. All named members of the Gargant, Wolf, and Herdbane tribes are male, while all named members of the Horse tribe are female.
- Gender Is No Object: Kind of. Unlike Alera and (arguably) the ranges of Canea, which are both No Woman's Land, the Marat are shown to live in a society where gender isn't viewed with that much importance and strength & honor are seen as the most significant aspects of a person's worth.
- Human Aliens:
- The Marat are almost indistinguishable from humans, with the only physical differences being a higher body temperature, pale skin, silver-white hair, longer canine teeth and canted eyes.
- The Marat are so human, in fact, that they and Alerans can interbreed and have viable offspring.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Marat eat their enemies to "partake of their strength," with some clans eating them while they are still alive.
- Innate Night Vision: Like the Canim, they can see in the dark infinitely better than Alerans can.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: For the most part, adult Marat barely bother with clothes beyond a loincloth and a belt to hold weapons and tools in. When first brought to a Marat camp, the narration notes that Tavi sees a lot of things a young Aleran boy isn't supposed to see — but really wants to. This causes some difficulty when Tavi recruits a bunch of female Marat riders as cavalry.
- It Was a Gift: The Marat believe that if given a gift from a friend, it would disrespect that friend if they don't use it. So, Tavi invokes this with the Marat cavalry that comes to help by personally giving each rider armor and clothes, mostly so they will actually cover up to Aleran standards.
- Language Equals Thought: The Marat do not have a word for "lying", and the closest they can come is to say that somebody is making an 'intentional mistake'. In their culture, when one person accuses another of being mistaken the result is a Duel to the Death between parties to determine who is correct. Thus, they find the concept of somebody deliberately telling a falsehood confusing and pointless.
- The Power of the Sun: The Marat worship the sun, calling it "the One" and often swear by it when making oaths.
- Proud Warrior Race: They have to be to survive on Carna, after all.
- Super Strength: Marat are significantly stronger than most Alerans, even when they don't have a bond with animals that further enhances that strength. Kitai is able to break apart a chair she is tied to with a couple of violent jerks, and Doroga can lift a massive boulder and throw it as a weapon.
- Technicolor Eyes: Marat children, called by the gender-neutral term whelps, have multi-colored eyes until the time of their bonding. When they bond with their chala, their totem, their eye color changes permanently to the eye color of their chala.
- This Is Not My Life to Take: The Marat have strict hunting ethics. The prey of a person is that person's to kill, whether animal or person. If Tavi is after someone, the Marat wouldn't kill the person but would work to contain the person to allow Tavi to kill him. That said, if the person attacks, they will defend themselves.
- Our Elves Are Better: Marat are basically neolithic Wood Elves, though the term is never explicitly used for them.
- Psychic Link: How the link between a Marat and their chala seems to work, with them taking on aspects of their respective Bond Creatures. For instance, Doroga gains Super Strength even for a Marat from his Gargant Walker, and Kitai eventually gains access to furycrafting from Tavi.
Kitai is a woman of the Marat, and Tavi's frequent partner, foil, and love interest. Tough and athletic, like Tavi she has learned to rely on her wits to beat powerful Crafters. Like all Marat, she has bonded telepathically with a being of another species, but is unique in that her chala is sapient (namely, Tavi). As a result, she often feels isolated from both cultures. As Tavi develops his Furycrafting, she becomes able to share it through their bond.
Tropes that apply to Kitai:
- Acquired Poison Immunity: After her and Tavi's struggle against the Wax Forest in Furies of Calderon, she's shown to have gotten over the Wax Spiders' poison in Academ's Fury incredibly fast.
- Action Girl: She fights side-by side with Tavi, and is actually the more capable of the two at most physical activities.
- Action Girlfriend: Frankly, Kitai's even more comfortable with the prospects of a fight than the trained spy, soldier and military officer she's in a romantic relationship with.
- Ambadassador: Becomes the Marat Ambassador to Alera after Academ's Fury.
- Badass Normal: Like Tavi, she has no superhuman abilities to speak of for the first three books, but still manages to hold her own against Vord and Canim without much difficulty.
- Battle Couple: With Tavi.
- Bifauxnen: To the point that Tavi actually mistakes her for a man a couple of times before getting to know her better. By Cursor's Fury, she's developed a more feminine figure, but still favors masculine clothes and stylings.
- Cerebus Callback: Inverted. Her breaking down crying in Academ's Fury and bitterly noting that she wanted a horse instead of Tavi as her chala followed by him comforting her is one of the most emotional moments out of the entire series. However, as the series goes on and she becomes more comfortable with Tavi and accepts him as essentially her soulmate, her wanting a horse becomes a comedic Running Gag culminating in a particularly hilarious Brick Joke in Princeps' Fury.
- Cute Little Fangs: Part of being a neolithic wood elf.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kitai has very little respect for... well, much of anything, really.
- Don't Think, Feel: It's implied that her ability to grasp furycrafting just as quickly as Tavi despite her lack of Academy training is due to this trope. Kitai chides him for letting his wishes and emotions blind him from just letting his powers develop naturally.
- Dual Wielding: Her fighting style of choice.
- Empowered Badass Normal: As Tavi is her chala, just as he becomes capable of First Lord-tier fury-crafting, so does she.
- Fate Worse than Death: To her, losing Tavi but living herself would be this. For this reason, she wants to be with Tavi, in life or death. He feels the same way in regards to her.
- Foil: For Tavi. Both lost a parent when they were young because of another clan or noble attacking them. Both sought to be "normal" for their own culture, Tavi wants Furycrafting and Kitai wants a horse. She is basically a princess, as her father is headman of one tribe and representative of many others to the Alerans, and Tavi is, unknown to him, also a prince. They differ in that while both sport a dry wit, Kitai is relatively level-headed and Tavi is often treated like a lunatic for his very outside-the-box ideas.
- Humanity Is Insane: Routinely points out the irrationality of human society. Tavi generally agrees.
- Greater Need Than Mine: A variation. After the attack by the Awakened Vord Queen to kill their medics, Kitai awakens enough to see a dead Foss, and both Tavi and Crassus dying. Dorotea is also down from her collar. Does she save Tavi first, with her limited energy? No, she instead uses it to save Dorotea, knowing that the High Lady would have the power to save both Tavi and Crassus and others later in combat.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: She wanted a horse.
- In Harm's Way: She joins Tavi in leading from the front many times. She even refuses to sit in the back when he finds out she is pregnant.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kitai spends most of her time as a snarky Troll with little to no respect for anyone she meets, but has also shown herself to be a surprisingly selfless and thoughtful person with strong moral standards (such as her unmitigated disgust towards slavery).
- The Lancer: Again, to Tavi. She will support his crazy plans, but also call him out on both his stupidity/arrogance and when his pride is blinding him.
- Le Parkour: Uses this a lot under her guise as "the Black Cat" in Academ's Fury.
- Lightning Bruiser: Kitai not only has the natural Super Strength of being a Marat, but is incredibly agile and showcases incredible reflexes in battle, to the point where she essentially dances around enemy Canim during the Battle of the Elinarch.
- Like Mother Like Daughter: According to Doroga, her Tsundere actions towards a terrified Tavi is exactly how he and her mother first started out.
- Locked into Strangeness: Her bonding with Tavi gave her matching green eyes. It was seeing her eyes matching Tavi's that told her father and aunt what had happened between them.
- Mindlink Mates: With Tavi thanks to her bonding with him. They can sense the other one's presence and general moods. And when he gains furycrafting, she gains it too, while Tavi gains enhanced senses and endurance from her.
- Non-P.O.V. Protagonist: She shows up in every book, usually fights side-by-side with Tavi and gets tons of characterization, but we never see her thoughts aside from part of the introduction to Academ's Fury.
- Obfuscating Disability: For much of Cursor's Fury she follows Tavi as a camp follower but pretends to be blind and kind of dumb, just playing her flute outside the brothel. The blindness is to cover her matching green eyes and dirty hair to cover her white Marat hair.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: See the Obfuscating Disability entry. It's also implied that she intentionally exaggerates the stereotypes typically associated with the Marat just to Troll those around her.
- Only Sane Man: Despite (or, perhaps in part because of) being a "barbarian princess," she's actually one of the sanest and most level-headed people in the series.
- Phantom Thief: In Academ's Fury. It's good practice for assisting with a jailbreak, and comes in handy again when they need to smuggle Varg out.
- Pregnant Badass: Through all of the last book.
- Pretend Prejudice: Half her lines are about how much Alerans suck. She still seems to get along with them pretty well.
- Proud Warrior Race Girl: Like her father.
- Samus Is a Girl: Tavi takes an embarrassingly long time to figure out that Kitai's a girl when he first meets her. He does it again upon first encountering her "Black Hood" persona in Academ's Fury.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Kitai is unflinchingly loyal to Tavi at all times, after they grow closer. This in no way prevents her from snarking at his insecurities and failings, or questioning the sanity of some of his ideas.
- Saying Too Much: When talking with Isana about their bond, Kitai corrects Isana's thought the bond is like watercraft-based empathy as it is much deeper and intimate. Isana realizes the only way Kitai could know what watercraft-based empathy felt like was if she experienced it personally. This leads Isana to realize Kitai, and by extension Tavi, can furycraft.
- Strong and Skilled: She's much quicker and more coordinated in a fight than Tavi, and physically stronger than him too thanks to her Marat physiology. Gaining access to furycrafting enhances these attributes further, though Tavi still has the edge on her in intelligence.
- Super Strength: When tied to a chair in Academ's Fury, she breaks the chair on her own with barely any effort. She's also one of the few characters in the series that is accomplished in Dual Wielding, and repeatedly shows off incredible strength whenever pressed into a fight.
- Technicolor Eyes: In the first book, Kitai's eyes are described as "iridescent" this is apparently a trait of all Marat "whelps" (i.e. those who haven't bonded to a totem yet). They change permanently to green once she bonds to Tavi.
- Took a Level in Badass: As the series goes on, she becomes a more intelligent and skilled opponent even without gaining access to Tavi's potent furycrafting.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Doroga is a bit fugly, but still pretty cool. Kitai is often described in the later books as being exotically beautiful.
- Tsundere: Towards Tavi at first. Most notably, when she thanks him for having saved her life near the end of Furies of Calderon and how she won't forget it, the narration phrases it like she's giving him a threat. Tavi, on his part, is utterly terrified and (more or less) cowering in his bed at the moment of her "thanking him."
- Troll: As alluded to above, she often exaggerates the stereotypes associated with the Marat just because she thinks everyone else's reaction to her is hilarious.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: A non-sexual example. Tavi is very put-off when he discovers that she's a girl during their trial in the Wax Forest, while she's only first confused and then irritated by his awkwardness.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Max and Ehren.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Does this to Tavi whenever he does something stupid or immoral.
- In Captain's Fury his quiet acceptance of slavery in defending Demos having slavery chains gets some ire from her until he destroys the chains.
- His realizing his just having sex with her and not properly courting her in either of their cultures, could be used against them politically and her personally, being called the Prince's whore by Citizens.
Doroga, Headman of the Gargant Tribe
Doroga is Kitai's father and one of the most important Marat chieftains. He is blunt and earthy, but anyone who speaks with him for long realizes that he is surprisingly intelligent and canny. Doroga is the first to recognize the menace the Vord pose to the world, remembering them from old Marat legends, and also sends Kitai to learn about the Alerans, bringing her into contact with Tavi again.
Tropes that apply to Doroga:
- Big Damn Heroes: On a regular basis.
- The Big Guy: His chala is a giant ground sloth. It goes with the territory.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Doroga is always happy when finding a good fight.
- Bond Creatures: His is with Walker the gargant.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: As Kitai puts it, the problem with Doroga is that he does not seem wise.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Not Doroga himself, but he's fond of mocking Alerans (primarily Amara and Bernard) about their inability to talk candidly about sexual topics.
- Carry a Big Stick: His weapon of choice is a cudgel nearly too big for a High Lady with powerful earthcrafting to even lift.
- Cool Old Guy: Hell yeah.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kitai had to get it from somewhere. Particularly memorable was his editorializing when asked to mediate a juris macto.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Bernard. So much so that Bernard is willing to challenge a Senator who had insulted Doroga.Bernard: Senator. If you call my friend a liar one more time, I will take it badly.
Arnos: Excuse me?
Bernard: I suggest you find an alternate shortsighted, egomaniacally ridiculous reason to blatantly, recklessly ignore an obvious threat to the Realm simply because you don't wish it to exist. If you cannot restrain yourself from base slander, I will be pleased to meet you in a juris macto and personally rip your forked tongue from your head.
- Genius Bruiser: No one ever expects a huge, ugly, Cool Old Guy to be quite as canny as Doroga is. He's a decent tactician, learned to read and write surprisingly quickly, has pulled off at least one pretty good Batman Gambit, and has a tendency to function as all-purpose wisdom dispenser whenever Jim Butcher needs to give a character some advice.
- It Was a Gift: He is regularly seen wearing the tunic Gaius gave him at the end of the first book. That said, the sleeves were too small for his arms, so he had to remove them.
- Papa Wolf: When he sees some alien bug attacking his daughter, he immediately grabs the nearest coffin-sized boulder and chucks it at it.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Oh yes. Doesn't mean he's not a realist.
- Shipper on Deck: His closing remarks in Furies of Calderon has him say Tavi is "doomed", and he and his wife were just like Kitai and Tavi, which just involved clear disagreeing.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: He's so heavily muscled that he had to tear the legionare's tunic he wears to make it a vest; otherwise he couldn't get it on.
- Super Strength: As a result of his chala being a Gargant. Most clearly demonstrated in the first book, where he picks up a coffin-sized boulder and throws it. And even manages to hit his target.
Marat headman of the Herdbane tribe, and also a hordemaster (warleader of several tribes). Serves as one of the primary villains in Furies of Calderon.
Tropes that apply to Atsurak:
- Disc-One Final Boss: The Aquitaines were pulling his strings.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Standard for the Marat.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Fidelias kills him quickly, to get crucial evidence back, as soon as he is no longer useful.
- Starter Villain: Introduced in the first book to both show how skilled the Marat are in combat and how skilled Attis and Fidelias are at manipulating people.
- Unwitting Pawn: See Disc-One Final Boss above. The Aquitaines wanted to arrange a Marat invasion as an excuse to swoop in to the rescue and get Gaius deposed for incompetence. Doroga saw through them, but Atsurak was dumb enough to fall for it.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Like all Marat, he has white hair. He also attempts to sacrifice and eat an Aleran.
A race of gigantic (seven feet tall is short for them) humanoid wolves. They have access to Blood Magic and live in a series of advanced nation-states called "ranges" from the far-off western continent of Canea, though the range of Narash is the only one to have open diplomatic relations with Alera. The range of Shuar is also encountered in Princeps' Fury.
Tropes that apply to the Canim:
- Blood Magic: Their Ritualists' specialty. Incidentally, it only works with the blood of sentient beings.
- Boring Yet Practical: Being that they don't have access to Aleran witchmen (specialized watercrafters that allow Aleran ships to traverse through the dangerous stretches of sea inhabited by leviathans), the Canim just have very good nautical charts of the oceans pointing out where the leviathans' ranges are so they can stay far away.
- This is how Canim technology in general seems to work, as the Blood Magic practiced by the Ritualists does not have the same flexibility to it as Aleran furycrafting. Most of what they build is intended to be used by someone without any magic, and most often they're all the more useful for it (ranging from terrifyingly dangerous weapons like their massive "balest" crossbows to the simple pulley system used to water the rooftop gardens found in their steadholt-analogues).
- Canis Major: Canim are, on average, very large.
- ConLang: "Canish," the Canim language. It is often described as sounding like something barely above a wolf's growl, to the point where Isana briefly thinks Tavi has lost his mind when talking to Varg at one point in Captain's Fury. Admittedly, we don't see enough of it being used at once to see how it functions as an actual language, but from what can be inferred, body language plays a significantly more important role in it than it does with Aleran (English). Additionally, a good indicator of how much of a Proud Warrior Race the Canim are is that they have eleven different words to mean "enemy" (gadara is the only term we learn among them).
- Ditto Aliens: Subverted. The Narashan Canim are the only Canim to have diplomatic relations with the Alerans and look like seven-foot-tall Wolfmen with midnight-black fur, leading to most Alerans assuming that all Canim look like them. Later on, however, Tavi and company are introduced to the Shuaran Canim, another Canim subspecies who have tawny golden fur and less stocky bodies than the Narashans do along with comparatively slender snouts.
- Due to the Dead: The Canim sing a "Blood Song" for fallen warriors. Notably, Warriors who become Hunters have their Blood Songs sung when they make the transition, as it is meant to represent that their old life is over and their only duty now is to serve their Warmaster.
- Everyone Has Standards: The Canim are a brutal and downright ruthless Proud Warrior Race that see most other races on Carna as inferior, but they abhor the slaughter of non-combatants in wartime and view the Aleran practice of slavery as utterly abominable.
- Enemy Civil War: In a sense. As Tavi and Maestro Magnus later realize in Princeps' Fury, one of the only reasons why the Alerans have been able to survive on Carna is because the many ranges of the Canim have been constantly bickering amongst themselves for most of history, and the Alerans would've been stomped into mulch if the Canim had ever banded together and tried to wipe out the "demons."
- Enemies Equals Greatness: Inherent in the concept of gadara. Having a strong and cunning opponent declare you gadara is a powerful testament to your own strength and cunning.
- Expressive Ears: Canim primarily show emotion with their ears, and one of the tells that a Canim has been Taken is that their ears "don't look right."
- Fantastic Caste System: Canim society is divided into a number of different castes, of which four are known:
- Warriors, who are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. They're the leaders of the Canim, and as such are the most commonly encountered in the series. Varg and Nasuag are Warriors.
- Ritualists (also called Bloodspeakers), who use Blood Magic to cast a wide variety of spells. For most of Canim history, they used their own blood. Recently, they've made a breakthrough by utilizing the blood of others. This has left them with more power, time for politics, and an itch to usurp the warriors as the leaders of the Canim. Sarl, Khral, and Morak are Ritualists.
- Makers, the 'civilian' caste, composed of anyone who's not a Warrior, Ritualist, or Hunter. In theory, the other Castes exist to serve them, but power corrupts with Canim as much as it does with humans.
- Hunters, the Canim's spies and assassins. Sha, Nef, and Koh are Hunters.
- Fantastic Slur: The Canim often refer to the Alerans as "demons" for their deadly Elemental Powers. Relatedly, if the young Canim rear guard Sarsh in Captain's Fury is anything to go by, calling an Aleran "monkey-boy" is also an appropriate insult.
- Flight: Explicitly stated to be something that they cannot achieve with their magic (which sometimes trips them up when dealing with Alerans, for whom flight is a rather common power).
- Friendly Enemy: Combine it with Worthy Opponent and you get a gadara. To the Canim, a gadara is more trustworthy than an ally, as while an ally can betray you, a gadara is still an enemy and thus one can expect violence from them. Generally, to be acknowledged as a gadara, the two who declare themselves as such exchange swords in front of witnesses. Prior to the events of Captain's Fury, no Canim had ever had an Aleran gadara, until Tavi became one of these with both Nasaug and Varg.
- Gang of Hats: A cultural example. Aside from the common Fantastic Caste System, it's frequently mentioned that the various ranges of the Canim had certain trades that they liked to "specialize" in. For instance, the Narashan Canim are incredible sailors and expert engineers (according to Tavi, the Narashan Canim have forgotten more about sailing than the Alerans have ever learned), while the Shuaran Canim are masters at both siege warfare and mining.
- Genuine Human Hide: When facing opponents not of Canim make, the Ritualists seem to like wearing clothing made from the skins of their enemies. A good indicator of how Stupid Evil a particular Ritualist is can be seen if they're still wearing the "pale leather cloaks" made of human skin around the Alerans even after an Enemy Mine is formed between the two races. Meanwhile, the more heroic Ritualists, like Master Morak, wear makeshift armor formed out of scavenged Vord chitin.
- Human Sacrifice: Though it's not necessarily just Alerans, with Varg describing their Blood Magic with "The ritualists are not choosy about which blood they take, so long as it is from a reasoning being." Technically, they don't need to necessarily kill someone to use their blood in the spell, but part of the problem with Canim Blood Magic is that they essentially need to kill a sentient being to perform the really massive spells, especially if the spellcaster in question isn't that experienced. For reference, it's mentioned that the massive armada the Narashan Canim used to escape to Alera cost millions of Ritualists their lives.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Both the narration and Alerans regularly refer to them as "it," as Alerans often view Canim as little more than beasts. It's not until the ending of Cursor's Fury, when Tavi is among the first Alerans to see a female Cane, that the narration starts using "he" and "she."
- Innate Night Vision: Like the Marat, the Canim can see in the dark far better than any human can.
- Killer Rabbit: Their young cubs look like adorable puppies with opposable thumbs. They can also tear someone's hand off with their fangs at just a few weeks old.
- Language Barrier: An interesting example runs between them and the Alerans. Sure, they're capable of learning each others' verbal languages, but among Canim, body language speaks just as loudly, if not moreso. Most Alerans don't realize they have to ensure their posture and body language send the right messages when dealing with Canim. For instance, while to an Aleran a nod is a polite, civil greeting, to a Canim, lowering your chin means you're covering your throat and ready for a fight. Tavi manages to even earn the respect and acknowledgement of Varg at one point by biting his throat - the fact that he couldn't do anything because of his comparatively weak teeth and jaw muscles being irrelevant, as the physical gesture was all it took.
- Lightning Bruiser: Canim are as strong as earthcrafters, have incredibly high pain tolerance, and can move deceptively fast for their enormous size. Even their untrained civilian conscripts can be as dangerous as an Aleran legionnaire or three as a result, and Cane Warriors can tear through entire squads of opponents like a scythe through grain if a Knight isn't present to counter them.
- Logical Weakness:
- As powerful as their Blood Magic can be, it's limited by the available quantity of blood to be used in their spells. That being said, sufficiently skilled Ritualists like Morak minimize this issue to the point where it's virtually irrelevant.
- The Canim's sheer size and the reach of their arms and weapons also makes them surprisingly vulnerable to the Alerans when they can get close. A tactic that the First Aleran develops is "shields high, swords low," in which the legionares raise their shields over their heads, advance in very close, and strike at the Canim's legs with the gladius.
- Mundane Utility: Downplayed. This is mostly averted on its face as, unlike furycrafting, Canim Blood Magic seems to be primarily designed for use in combat. However, according to Varg, it also has its uses elsewhere, such as blessing bloodlines, increasing fertility in Canim women, increasing the bounty of crops, and lessening the ravages of storms, droughts, and plagues. The last aspect in particular is implied to be the reason why, despite furies existing in Canea, no furystorms or wild furies are observed there by Tavi and other Alerans in Princeps' Fury.
- National Weapon: The Narashan Canim seem to be associated with swords while the Shuarans use axes.
- Natural Weapon: While they're not stupid enough to go into battle without being armed, even an unarmed Cane is a formidable challenge thanks to their sharp claws and fangs, superior senses, and Super Strength.
- No Woman's Land: Implied, with it not being until the Narashan Canim Invasion of the Amaranth Vale in Cursor's Fury that the first female Cane is ever seen.
- The Nose Knows: The Canim's sense of smell is incredibly sensitive, to the point where one of the tells of their kind being Taken by the Vord or not is their scent. Varg was also able to figure out that Tavi was related to both Gaius Sextus and Isana simply based on how his scent was similar to both of theirs.
- Not So Different: Though the Canim often remark on the strangeness and complexity of Aleran culture, Canim culture itself has numerous faux pas and convoluted loopholes to navigate, which is acknowledged as the books progress.
- Proud Warrior Race: Though their philosophy is that the Warriors exist to serve the Makers, not the other way around. The view of the Warriors that everyone else is an enemy results in bizarre interactions, such as Varg being forced to use his Hunters as an intermediary to pass a warning to the Alerans, simply because as a Warrior he can't directly help his enemies, even if they are gadara. In Academ's Fury, Varg frames helping Tavi find out about the Vord plot as an attempt to ensure that the Canim's eventual victory over Alera will be an honorable one on the field of battle rather than a victory through duplicity.
- Really 700 Years Old: Canim live for hundreds of years. At one point Tavi gets to know a Cane who's nine hundred years old, who is elderly but certainly not decrepit.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Downplayed. One of their policies is to assign overly aggressive young warriors to low-priority rear-area duties, in the hopes of them getting tempered and loosing their Hot-Blooded natures. Its success is pretty variable, since most young Canim are smart enough to realize that it's a humiliating punishment but still too boneheaded to realize why they're being punished in the first place.
- Super Strength: An average Cane's strength is many magnitudes greater than that of both the average Aleran and even Marat, to the point where only the Knights Terra when calling upon their earthcrafting for strength are shown to be able to match them. Perhaps the most notable example of this is in Captain's Fury, where after Tavi is only able to make a tiny bend in a heavy iron gate that has been furycrafted into the surrounding stone after calling upon all of his earthcrafting, Varg tears the gate out like the stone around it is made of wet clay and then tosses the gate overhead with only some effort.
- Weird Weather: Lots of their spells seem to revolve around clouds and the weather, being able to cause vicious storms and summon even a mighty gale-force wind to propel an entire armada of ships.
- Wolfman: An entire species of them.
- Worthy Opponent: The concept of gadara. The Canim view it with more significance than that of "friends" and even "allies" - A friend can disappoint you, and an ally can betray you. But a gadara? Not only can they be counted on to always try and kill you, but they also have damn well earned being your enemy in the first place.
Varg is the Canim Ambassador to Alera. He's a lot smarter than most Alerans give him and his kind credit for, and recognizes Tavi's capabilities fairly quickly. After getting double-crossed by his advisor, he spends some time in Aleran prison until Tavi breaks him out to get his aid.
Tropes that apply to Varg:
- Ambadassador: Naturally, with him having taken on a Taken Canim Warrior offscreen in Academ's Fury while unarmed and still won in an utter Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Seeing Varg drop the Warmaster act and be "grandpa" to his grandchildren is cute beyond belief.
- The Chessmaster: And teaches some to Tavi.
- Cutting the Knot: He knows Sarl is working with some unknown power to take down Gaius Sextus and the Alerans. He cannot abide by such underhanded and deceitful methods being done, especially since it isn't Sarl's place to act against code and ethics of their kind. So, he does the one thing he can do: Try to talk with Gaius about this matter, warning him of the attack. When Tavi gets in the way, so Varg won't see an incapacitated Gaius, Varg later just kidnaps Kitai to make Tavi follow him to the Vord's base.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has a rather dry sense of humor. For instance, he jokingly describes The Slive as "smelling like wet human" (which makes Tavi burst into laughter) in Captain's Fury, and his reaction to eating one of the biscuits used as rations by Aleran sailors earlier in the same book is to give the Canim equivalent of a wince and tell Tavi that "Alerans must be hardier than I thought."
- Everybody Knew Already: Apparently, Canim have a sense of smell strong enough to identify family relations. This means that he doesn't need to be told who Tavi's mother and grandfather are. In fact, Varg knew two books before Tavi did. This also creates some Fridge Brilliance when one thinks about the scene where they met Tavi was bluffing only from his own perspective and not Varg's, pretending to be what he actually was.
- Genius Bruiser: He's both one of the smartest and physically most powerful characters in the books and considering this series, that's saying something.
- Large Ham: When given a reason, he can be quite the melodramatic guy."I AM STILL THIRSTY! WHO WILL DRINK WITH ME?"
- The Nicknamer: Gives Tavi the Meaningful Nickname Tavar.
- Old Soldier: He is several centuries old by the Aleran calendar and only a hundred by the Cane calendar, but is one of the strongest and deadliest fighters in the series.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Always seen wearing his armor and he enjoys a good fight. He also hates backstabbing and the trickery Sarl used with the Vord.
- Really 700 Years Old: His exact age is never mentioned, but admits to having played ludus for at least 600 years.
- Smart People Play Chess: He taught Tavi to play ludus.
- Spanner in the Works: Topples the Vord plan to assassinate Gaius Sextus in Academ's Fury by Cutting the Knot and physically dragging Tavi over to their nest. The Vord knew that he suspected them, but didn't think he'd be listened to because he was widely distrusted in the Capital.
- The Spock: Varg loves combat and will engage in it easily but he, like many wiser Cane, can subvert his own violent tendencies with cold logical reasoning. He will take an insult or jibe from Tavi, his respected enemy, when Tavi has a point. This is best seen when Tavi deliberately kept from him the fact about 10,000 of his countrymen are being held by Shuaran Cane to be bled for the war against the Vord. Tavi needs Varg for the mission on hand to save Alerans, Shuran Cane and his own countrymen, not running off to help his people in the short-run. Despite this, Varg is able to work through his rage and understand Tavi's manipulations and reasons. However, it is pointed out to Tavi, had any of his people been hurt or failed to be saved because of this subterfuge, Varg would have embraced his violent tendencies and killed his Aleran gadara.
- Worthy Opponent: To Tavi, and the Alerans in general. The word is gadara, which Varg starts using for Tavi after hearing that his son has recognized Tavi as such. The Canim actually prefer having Worthy Opponents to friends: they're people you can respect and even like, yet will always keep you on your toes. However, Tavi knows this only goes so far. If Varg senses he could get more out of withdrawing his support for Tavi, he will do it. Note that Nausag, Varg's son and protege, addresses him as gadara-sar, meaning "Worthy Opponent-Father."
- You Didn't Ask: When Tavi goes to explain that Isana is actually his mother, Varg's response is basically, "Yes, I know. I can smell it." He then goes on to mention that he knew Tavi was the First Lord's grandson since he'd first met him; he just figured he shouldn't say anything, because who knew what those crazy Alerans were thinking and maybe it was normal.
A Canim ritualist, who is Varg's political rival. Undermines Varg by seeking alliances behind his back including with the Vord.
Tropes that apply to Sarl:
- Big Bad Wannabe: He wanted to be the Big Bad Of Another Story for the Canim. His plan was the Ritualists to take over the Canim lands and overthrow the Warrior caste. A solid Evil Plan overall... and then he just had to accept help from the Vord Queen, who got him what he wanted and then quickly turned on him, driving him out of the Canim continent. By the time he becomes the main story's Big Bad in Cursor's Fury, he's desperately fleeing from her with what amounts to a refugee fleet. He's also no match for the Warrior Canim leader Nasuag or Tavi, and dies after getting Out-Gambitted.
- Blood Magic: Like all ritualists. And like more corrupted ones, he uses the blood of sacrificed people and not his own stock.
- Burning the Ships: The first thing he does upon landing in Alera is burn the ships they arrived in. This way, Nasaug's forces would be commited to the fight, and would have no means of retreat or escape.
- Dirty Coward: Tavi knows it, and uses it to make him look like an idiot.
- Evil Sorcerer: An evil, Smug Snake who uses Blood Magic.
- I Have Your Wife: Sarl manages to force Nasaug and the warrior caste into following him over to Alera by kidnapping several families and holding them hostage.
- General Failure: A downplayed example, but still evident. Strategically, Sarl is relatively solid. His overall plan to defeat the First Aleran in Cursor's Fury failed solely because one of his agents got pickpocketed by pure happenstance for reasons totally unrelated to suspicion or being discovered, and even then he almost totally crippled the army's chain of leadership in a single attack. Tactically, he's a complete mess. Misunderstanding his own race's basic advantages in combat and holding back a brilliant planner like Nasaug are just two examples.
- Gone Horribly Right: He sought power to destroy Varg and the Alerans. He allied himself with the Vord and even helped the Queen escape to his lands in order to recultivate the power. The Vord helped him take over- and then started doing what Vord do.
- The Nose Knows: Like all Cane, Sarl has an exceptional sense of smell. He was even capable of recalling the scent of a messenger boy he only met once two years prior, now standing before him in the guise of someone else. It almost gets Tavi killed, had he not lucked into the one item that could've possibly saved him from Sarl's magic.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Subverted. Sarl's a Cane and therefore you'd expect him to be one of these, but he's really a coward who only fights after Tavi goads him into it because not going after Tavi when called a coward would make him lose major support.
- Smug Snake: Treats the Makers like trash, insults Nasaug and Tavi and generally belies himself to be far more powerful than he really is.
- The Starscream: To Varg.
- Treacherous Advisor: Though Varg saw through him pretty well except for that bit with the Vord.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Using other people's blood for his casting means that he has access to a lot of power but he tends to be sloppy in his application. While the attacks work (except for the fact that Tavi usually has a way of surviving the ones directed at him), Morak gets similar results using much less power. Sarl tends to favor big flashy attacks that use a lot more power than is required.
- Villain Teamup: Him and High Lord Kalarus. Together, their combined power and ingenuity almost brought Alera itself to its knees. High Lord Kalarus stationed his armies at key positions scattered around the country, and arranged for them to strike multiple fronts at the exact same time. Their signal? Sarl using his ritual magic to turn the entire country's skies red, filling them with acidic tentacle monsters to stop aerial communication, transport, and preventing Gaius from observing anything that happens in the realm. On Sarl's end, Kalarus' sister is stationed within the one Legion standing between him and the country. He calls a lightning strike down upon all the officers of the Legion while they're having a meeting, planning to leave the sister alive using a gem given to her that makes her immune to his magics. She would take command of the Legion as the sole surviving officer and retreat from the area, allowing Sarl's forces a solid defensible foothold in Alera. Presumably, Kalarus would then take most of Alera for himself while leaving Sarl to have his colony in the Amaranth Vale. The scope of this teamup takes the entire cast by surprise.
Leader of the Canim warriors who arrive in Alera with Sarl, Nasaug is honorable yet ruthless and above all a highly competent military commander. He is one of Tavi's primary antagonists (albeit a respected one) throughout the middle part of the series.
Tropes that apply to Nasaug:
- Anti-Villain: He's only on Alera because he has to be, but since he's here, he's going to do the best job he can.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Oh, yes.
- Badass Family: Varg is his father.
- The Chessmaster: Carefully manipulates events so that Sarl gets killed and his ritualist cronies are disgraced, leaving him free to pursue his own objectives.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Gains a newfound respect for Tavi after he surrenders to the Aleran in Captain's Fury.
- Dragon Ascendant: Takes over complete command of the Canim forces in the Amaranth Vale after Sarl dies.
- Dragon with an Agenda: To Sarl at first. Lampshaded later by Varg, who describes his actions at the beginning of the war as "feeding Sarl to the Tavar." When it's put like that, you almost feel sorry for the poor bastard.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Gains this viewpoint after being exposed to the Aleran practice of slavery in the Amaranth Vale.
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed: His invasion of Alera, status as a strategic genius, and matching wits with Tavi under the guise of "Rufus Scipio" paints him as being the Canim equivalent of Hannibal Barca.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Downplayed since his pragmatism is also in part motivated by the fact that Nasaug still has actual moral standards. As noted by Tavi, his strategy of leaving columns of Aleran refugees alone as they flee from the warzone is actually brilliant since it means that the Alerans have to use more resources caring for the refugees that they could instead use to crush Nasaug's forces, giving him more time to consolidate and ready for battle.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Like his father.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a vicious one to Tavi in Captain's Fury when the latter is trying to arrange a peace between the Canim and Alerans near the beginning of the novel. Notably, Tavi is briefly taken aback and even silently admits that Nasaug isn't exactly wrong From a Certain Point of View.Nasaug: Captain. You are gadara. But not all Alerans are.
Tavi: "Gadara"? Enemy?
Nasaug: Not the same. You have my respect. But you do not lead them. You do not speak in the voice of Gaius Sextus. And your people have proven to us, many times, that they are not worthy of respect.
Tavi: (confused) How so?
Nasaug: (stares at Tavi like he's an idiot) Because you are monsters. You are worse than starving beasts. You slaughter one another by the thousands over matters of leadership. Your people crush those without power and take whatsoever they wish from them for the simple reason that they can. (glares at Tavi with utter contempt) You betray, enslave, and brutalize your own kind, Aleran. Your own. If you treat your own folk this way, what fool could possibly believe you would act any differently toward mine?
- Smart People Play Chess: Including with the enemy commander in the middle of a bloody battle. According to Tavi, he won because Nasaug's game on the skyboard isn't as strong as it could be, and he also initially underestimated Tavi.
- The Starscream: Actively works against Sarl to betray him and seize power. This is good for the Canim, because Nasaug is exponentially more competent than Sarl. This is bad for the Alerans for the exact same reason, although it's somewhat negated since Nasuag is also a Reasonable Authority Figure and can be negotiated with.
- The Strategist: A very gifted one who matches Tavi for two years. His first gambit in Cursor's Fury not only aims to allow his warriors reclaim the fallen on the battlefield while playing ludus with Tavi, but show Tavi a means of defeating Sarl and delays the next engagement between the two sides long enough for night to come which would help his forces, who can see far better in low-light situations than the Alerans can.
- Worthy Opponent: To Tavi, and also to Varg, his mentor and father.
- Xanatos Gambit: As Tavi observes, his strategies never serve just a single purpose. He sees to it that he has many paths to a victory.
One of the few decent Canim ritualists, who believes in the following the Old Way of using one's own blood for magic instead of another being's.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Shows the difference between a master ritualist and a novice when he beats a younger ritualist in a quick draw of spells and makes the Cane literally vomit up his guts.
- Badass Boast: "Clouds of acid are for amateurs!"
- To clarify for those not quite as familiar with the series, clouds of acid are a common Ritualist combat spell, which has seen ubiquitous use throughout the series. Morak, on the other hand, creates clouds of Eldritch Abominations.
- Blood Magic: Like all Canim Ritualists. Morak, however, only uses his own blood.
- Good Old Ways: He uses his own blood to fuel his spells, not the blood of others like Sarl does. This is the original way the Bloodspeakers worked, before they discovered that they could use others' blood.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: His arms are covered with self-inflicted scars. For him (and other ritualists) his are a good thing, as it shows that they use their own blood instead of others' for their magic.
- Grumpy Old Man: Gives off this vibe.
- Klingon Promotion: A variation. He didn't kill Khral, the leader of the Ritualists just left on a sacred pilgrimage before Tavi's trialnote . As none of of his lieutenants wanted to step up in fear of Khral's return and displeasure at them taking his spot, the job fell to Morak.
- Self-Harm: Believes in harming only himself for his magic and incidentally carries around a lot of bandages as a consequence of that.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Was willing to listen to Tavi's side of the story involving the deaths of the makers and his solution to the problem and killed the Canim trying to use their deaths as an excuse to attack the Alerans.
- Weak, but Skilled: He only uses his own blood for his casting, so he has a very low pool of energy. However, he's very efficient at using what he has compared to, say, Sarl, who just throws around power wildly. At one point, he's capable of causing another Cane to puke up his guts using only a couple drops of blood.
- We Have Reserves: A variation. He is more than willing to give the Alerans some aide as it puts their forces more on the front line while protecting his fellow Canim. To his Aleran allies, this is considered a good thing.
- Worthy Opponent: To Varg. They are each other's gadara.
A Horde of Alien Locusts accidentally awakened from the Wax Forest at the beginning of the series.
Tropes that apply to the Vord:
- Aliens Are Bastards: They're extraterrestrial in origin according to the author.
- Alien Invasion: As per Word of God, they're actually aliens and the Alerans & Marat just don't have the proper words for "impact crater" in their vocabulary to describe the Wax Forest when referring to it as their origin.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Inverted. They are a very lawful evil, especially the current Queen who would honor deals struck with her. The others under her rule are also lawful, justified by being part of a Hive Mind.
- Arch-Enemy: The Marat hold a special level of hatred towards them since the Vord originally caused the collapse of the Marat's ancient Alera-esque advanced civilization (the Barbarian Tribes encountered in the present are The Remnant of that civilization's few survivors).
- Big Bad: Of the whole series.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Vord not controlling an Aleran, Canim, Marat, etc. are usually gigantic bugs. Queens, of course, excepted.
- Captain Ersatz: They are directly inspired by StarCraft's Zerg.
- Civilization Destroyer: Basically the Vord's entire hat as a species. They destroyed the original Marat civilization prior to the series, reducing the survivors to a barbarian existence. They also wipe out all but two of the Canim's ranges - namely, Shuar and the few surviving refugees of Narash - and would've done the same to the Alerans if not for the protagonists.
- Evil Evolves: The queens constantly breeds new forms to adapt to changing conditions and correct any weaknesses. Face them with Knights Aeris? You get flying vordknights. Face them with a legion shieldwall? You get mantis warriors that attack over the top of it. Need to take down 9 foot tall wolfmen? You get bigger and bulkier soldiers. Face them with defensive fortifications? You get giant vordbulks that can plow through them.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: As the rebellious Canim ritualists learned to the detriment of their whole continent and nearly everyone on it, the Vord are single-mindedly focused on being the only living things alive. The queens are smart enough to play nice in order to establish a power base, but the instant they judge themselves capable of reliably taking you out, they will.
- Hive Mind: Vord are only intelligent around a Vord Queen. Otherwise, they are just like animals.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: A very downplayed case, but their Adaptive Ability bites them in the rear in both Princeps' Fury and First Lord's Fury. For the former, the fact that the Vord made themselves look like the Canim they were fighting made it so that the croach had to grow in a thicker variation to support their weight without breaking... making it remarkably easy for the lighter Alerans to sneak across it when they go to assassinate one of the Canea Queens near the end of the novel. And for the latter, the Aleran Vord who have specialized themselves to fight against Aleran shieldwalls find themselves completely out of their depth and subjected to multiple Curb Stomp Battles when they're forced to face Canim cavalry charges.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: It's even implied that they came from space (unlike the other residents of Carna, who are "lost travelers" that came through wormholes by accident and were deposited here).
- Keystone Army: Get rid of the Queen and you get rid of their threat. This normally wouldn't be too much of a problem since the Queens can reproduce quickly, but of the three non-sterile Queens, the two Calderon Queens are dealt with in Academ's Fury and the Awakened Queen can't produce children whenever she wishes because they inevitably try to kill her, and she eventually dies in the last book without any more heirs. Both Canea Queens are sterile, and one gets killed off in Princeps' Fury, meaning that the Vord are now permanently this.
- Knight of Cerebus: Virtually nothing is funny about them, and the story always takes a darker turn whenever the Vord appear.
- Malignant Plot Tumor: They're introduced in a Side Quest in the first book and appear to be dealt with as a threat in the second only to come back with a vengeance later on, now on the verge of world domination.
- Meat Moss: The Croach is the equivalent to the Zerg's creep. It serves as a security measure (if you break its surface, the Vord come running), sustenance (digesting organic matter into a nutrient soup for the Vord to feed on), and reproduction (almost all new Vord are spawned from it).
- Outside-Genre Foe: The Vord would come straight out of science fiction — almost literally, as the Wax Forest is an impact crater from the spaceship that they crash-landed on Carna according to Word of God — but find themselves overrunning the very high fantasy Carna.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Their Takers crawl into your mouth and take control of your body.
- Rogue Drone: An interesting variant. Because Tavi and Kitai first "awoke" the Awakened Vord Queen in Furies of Calderon, the non-Queen Vord treat the two of them as other members of The Horde and ignore them unless they directly attack them. Additionally, the Awakened Queen becoming Intrigued With Humanity causes her to be viewed as a Rogue Drone by her own Daughter Queens, all of whom try to kill her.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death:
- Once the Queen dies, most of the horde simply starves to death in about six months.
- Averted with the Vord the Awakened Queen gave to the Alerans who surrendered to her and asked for amnesty. They are mentioned as continuing to follow her commands to protect the holders even after her death, to the point where they're seen defending the surrendered Alerans from "wild" Vord.
- The Virus: Vord Takers basically turn their victims into zombies.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Big on this. It actually bites them in the rear with Brencis Minoris, since he keeps the secret of making powerful slave collars for the Vord because he knows that he's dead if he's not indispensable. Thus, when Amara kills him, the Vord are out a powerful asset that they can't possibly replace.
- Zerg Rush: Although, oddly enough, without Hollywood Tactics.
The leader(s) of the Vord. There are a few distinct Queens: The Awakened Queen is the one woken up by Tavi and Kitai; she absorbed some of their blood, mutating her and making her into a nonstandard Queen. The Calderon Queen tries to attack Calderon Valley in Academ's Fury, with a previous Queen in Maratea having been already wiped out by an alliance of Marat tribes just prior to the novel's events. The three Canea Queens are the ones born in Canea, with one previously killed by the Canim before the events of Princeps' Fury. The Junior Queen is born in Alera during the events of First Lord's Fury. Every single one of them is absolutely terrifying.
Tropes that apply to the Vord Queen:
- Absurdly Sharp Claws: Their claws are sharp enough to carve cleanly through Legion steel and Canim hide alike.
- Alas, Poor Villain: The death of the Awakened Vord Queen is surprisingly tragic, with her bitterly admitting that the emotional bonds humanity forms with each other makes them superior to the Vord before she quietly tries to Face Death with Dignity.
- Alien Blood: It's greenish.
- Anti-Villain: The Awakened Queen only attacks Alera because that is the only way she believes she will be able to survive the inevitable war with her daughters. She spends most of her time trying to understand Aleran customs. Tavi actually feels sorry for killing her and assures her that he will make it as quick as possible.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: She is the leader of the Vord and the most powerful of them. The Awakened Queen is also far more powerful than the Junior Queens.
- Bare-Handed Blade Block: Fast and durable enough to pull this off, though they tend to favor deflecting metalcrafter swords rather than blocking them outright. At one point in Princeps' Fury, the Awakened Queen blocks a knife thrust from Amara this way, then proceeds to stab the Cursor with her own dagger a moment later.
- Batman Gambit:
- The Queen that attacks the Calderon Valley in Academ's Fury anticipates where the sick and wounded after battle will be put so she could send in her body-snatching Takers and claim more of them.
- The Awakened Queen is fully aware Invidia will betray her. It is simply a part of her nature, like a slive has poison, and so allows her to plot behind her back to bring in most of the remaining High Lords and Ladies to kill her knowing she would turn on them to secure herself a better defense against the remaining Citizenry. She just set a trap to benefit her in the end.
- Big Bad: Of the series as a whole, though they're only really that prominent in the second half of the series.
- Bishōnen Line: When we first see the Awakened Queen, she's buggy and "unfinished" looking. When we meet the Calderon Queen, she looks like an Aleran girl with fangs, chitinous skin, and glowing eyes. The Canea Queen looks like a green version of Kitai with some of Tavi's features. The final form of the Awakened Queen looks almost human - except for her Black Eyes of Evil.
- Black Eyes of Evil: One of the things that gives away the Awakened Queen as nonhuman.
- Creepy Child: The Awakened Queen has extremely creepy childlike aspects to her. As Invidia notes, she's only nine years old. Her "Doll House" is a steadhold in Vord territory she created to try to comprehend good. It's just as scary as it sounds.
- Cute Monster Girl: She tries, but...
- Dying Race: The prime Vord Queen creates sterile "daughters" deliberately because they inevitably rise up and attempt to destroy her. With her death in the final book, the only queen left, in Canea, does not have the ability to produce more.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- The first Queen does care about Invidia, the Junior Queens, and her horde, even if the other Queens would kill her for having such affections.
- The Canea Queen loves and is loyal the first Queen as a mother, even if she will attempt to kill her.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: All the Vord Queens, to greater or lesser degrees.
- The Calderon Queen dies because while she can technically understand the concept of sacrifice, she can't understand why anyone would actually do it. This means she leaves herself completely open to a suicide attack from Amara (who has decided that her death would be worth it to save Alera from the Queen's threat).
- The Awakened Queen is pretty self-aware about her troubles with comprehending good, and tries to understand it (like by observing human daily life and performing social rituals like a communal dinner), but she doesn't succeed too much.
- The Junior Queen from First Lord's Fury fits this to a T. When she's told that the dinner they're participating in is for the purpose of creating bonds between them, she wonders why they need restraints.
- Explosive Breeder: A single Queen can apparently produce hundreds of thousands of offspring in a matter of months—and not just generic "worker" creatures, but whole strains of specialized minions that incorporate different physical traits and tactics to battle specific threats.
- Famous Last Words: The Awakened Vord Queen has this surprisingly poignant statement - "I know how a Vord Queen dies. I am ready."
- Fan Disservice: The Vord Queens go naked except for cloaks, but their Humanoid Abomination nature means that their nakedness just serves to make them seem even more alien.
- Flying Brick: The Awakened Queen takes all the inherent physical power of the other queens and adds in the ability to fly via windcrafting. Her first fight scene sees her completely annihilate High Lord Rhodes in a midair battle, though she might've also had some help from Invidia.
- Genius Bruiser: One of the scariest things about the Vord Queens in general is how incredibly smart they are. The first Queen is so intelligent she's almost like a Zerg version of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
- The Ghost: Both the Maratea Queen and the second Canea Queen are never seen.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Calderon Queen.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Both the Awakened and Canea Queens look like a green-skinned, black-eyed cross between Kitai and Tavi's aunt. Unsurprising since Kitai and Tavi's blood is what awoke the former. However, the attractiveness is lost due to their alien nature.
- Hive Queen: Well, duh.
- Hollywood Tactics: Averted. The Queens are smart, and while they have the numbers to Zerg Rush, they use very intelligent tactics while doing so. In Academ's Fury, before the number of Vord became completely ridiculous, the Calderon Queen fought using a devastating series of ambushes before moving in to crush her weakened enemies.
- Humanity Is Infectious/Intrigued by Humanity: The primary/Awakened Vord Queen. This makes her defective in the eyes of her daughters, who are genetically programmed to kill her for deviating from the Vord standard.
- I Have Your Wife: To draw Tavi to her quickly and not have him plot some long term revenge, the Awakened Queen captures his mother Isana. To keep her prisoner from committing suicide to avert this trope, the Queen took Araris, Isana's second love, hostage as a counterweight.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Subverted - The fact that she and her Daughter Queens tend to go around totally nude except for a cloak just highlights how unsettling they are.
- Intrigued by Humanity: The Awakened Queen is quite interested in the bonds humans form between each other and spends most of First Lord's Fury trying to study them.
- Ironic Death: The Vord Queens believe that individuality is a weakness. The first Canea Queen is killed by a gambit that only works because of individuality (namely, using Tavi as a stalking horse).
- Last of Her Kind: By the end of First Lord's Fury, the only Vord Queen left in Carna is the second Canea Queen. She's sterile, so there will never be any more.
- Jabba Table Manners: The Junior Queen. This is meant to emphasize how different the Awakened Queen is from standard Queens — while the Awakened Queen eats daintily, the Junior Queen just grabs portions of food and stuffs them in her mouth.
- Lethal Chef: The Awakened Queen doesn't really get cooking. It doesn't help that she's trying to cook croach, which is only technically edible.Invidia: On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most revolting and one being almost edible, I believe that rating this recipe would require the use of exponents.
- Lightning Bruiser: Each of the Queens are this. Swords barely scratch them. They are as fast as a decent Windcrafter, and as strong as an Earthcrafter. And that's before the Awakened Queen learns how to furycraft.
- Literal-Minded: The Junior Queen, partially because she Really Was Born Yesterday, and partially because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
- Made of Iron: Balest bolts bounce off the Awakened Queen's skin. Balest bolts can, for reference, go all the way through two heavily armored legionares. It ultimately takes the raging furystorm of two Great Furies - Garados and Thana - to wear her down to the point where Tavi can kill her.
- Mama Bear: Pretty much everything the Awakened Queen does in the entire series is purely because she has an overwhelming need to make sure her "children" are safe.
- Offing the Offspring: The Awakened Queen kills the Junior Queen. Of course, the Junior Queen attacked first.
- Overarching Villain:
- She or the threat of her was something brought up in most every book before her major assault on Alera. Her presence in the first book was as a larva creature Tavi just woken up.
- Tavi plans on using the last Canea Queen as this to help bring together the good races of Alera into a better and stronger union.
- Pet the Dog: When the Awakened Queen is in a position to completely exterminate humanity, she sets aside areas where they can live freely, safely and under their own government, the only condition being they let her sterilise them. Considering her Vord instincts are continuously screaming at her to immediately wipe out every non-Vord, the fact that she's willing to slowly establish Vord dominance by preventing new human life rather than immediately causing death and suffering to those who are already alive says a lot about her. Note that while this does indeed weaken the resistance against her she has the numbers to crush them completely if she wanted to, and this offer is not a trick; she fully keeps her word to them to the point that even after she's killed, the Vord she assigned to protect the surrendered humans continue to do so, even from other Vord.
- Pragmatic Villainy: The Awakened Queen spares many cities and settlements in Alera rather than destroy them outright, but only because she knows she'll waste time and resources fighting those people. Instead she allows them to live, with the only price being that they are not allowed to bear children.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The Awakened Vord Queen calmly muses aloud that "Individuality is counter-productive" before tearing open Rook's throat once it becomes clear that the former bloodcrow is of no more use to the Vord.
- Psychic Powers: All Vord Queens have them, with mind reading and illusion crafting as specialties.
- Quizzical Tilt: Whenever the Queens encounter examples of heroism in the face of their alien ruthlessness, they're often described as tilting their heads in confusion "like a hawk fascinated with the lunacy of their prey."
- Rapunzel Hair: The "Green Kitai"-form Canea Queen has waist-length white hair.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Who gets unsealed accidentally by Tavi towards the end of the first book, thus setting the stage for the rest of the series.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Part of what makes the Vord Queens so creepy is the chillingly clinical and Literal-Minded tone they use when talking to not-Vord, as if it's meant to serve as yet another reminder of what an Outside-Genre Foe they are. For instance, the Awakened Queen seems to be only able to refer to her nightly meals with Isana and Invidia as "the dinner ritual," she calls parents "progenitors," and love is "emotional non-material bonds."
- Self-Made Orphan: All of the junior Vord Queens will try to kill the original, their mother, because she isn't pure Vord.
- Villain Ball: The Awakened Queen holds it briefly by not searching Araris carefully enough, which led to him being able to ward off the numbing effect of her prison: because of his hidden dagger, he could use metalcrafting and stay alert while stuck in the croach.
- Waif-Fu: The Awakened Queen is able to tear through nine-foot tall Canim warriors, shred a Legion shieldwall, and take on the mightiest crafters in Alera with casual ease. She's also only about as tall as Tavi and Kitai.
- We Have Reserves: The Queens will throw hundreds if not thousands of forces against a foe because they can create more so quickly. It is even weaponized in Canea when the horde constantly attacking the last surviving Canim range of Shuar for so long was a distraction while she had another group slowly dig a tunnel into the settlement.
Probably the greatest and most powerful fury in existence, and effectively the incarnation of the entire continent. She's taken a fondness to the House of Gaius, acting as a Spirit Advisor to them and causing effects on a massive scale when they ask and it suits her. However, she will not directly aid one side over another; using her power effectively relies on setting up situations where some outside influence helps your side more than the other.
Tropes that apply to Alera:
- Actually Pretty Funny: She's clearly trying not to laugh when she learns of an angry Kitai's Lysistrata Gambit towards Tavi in the prologue of First Lord's Fury.
- Alas, Poor Villain: A variant. While they were never actually "villains," she expresses sorrow to Tavi for his ancestors having wiped out the other sapient races on the continent before the present day, referring to them as having been just "lost travelers" like the Romans/Alerans/humans, Marat, Canim, Icemen, and Vord all are.
- All-Powerful Bystander: The most powerful fury to have ever existed, but she never gets directly involved or favors one side over the other in the many conflicts of her world. Though she does favor the House of Gaius, she only helps them when they politely ask her and doing so suits her.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Technically all furies would be this for the elements of nature, but Alera's the most human and comprehensible of them, having interacted with the House of Gaius for centuries and is essentially the embodiment of the entire continent of Alera.
- Bishōnen Line: Of the Great Furies we see, Kalus is a giant volcano, Garados is a hideous mountain beast, and Thana is a vast, gaunt shape composed of countless windmanes. Alera, on the other hand, is very humanlike until you get to her eyes.
- Death of Personality: As noted below, the destruction of her mosaic in Alera Imperia causes her personality that was formed by the ancient Alerans to slowly disintegrate over the course of the last novel.
- Kaleidoscope Eyes: They cycle through just about every color imaginable. But then, she's a Physical God...
- Lack of Empathy: The combined factors of being an impossibly old Physical God, and not even a human one at that, mean she does not process thoughts and emotions the same way others do. She understands them well enough, though.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In a particularly twisted sense. As she muses below, her Death of Personality is partly justified since she (in the form of furystorms and the like) had killed more of humanity than anything else in the history of Carna before the Vord came.
- The Mentor: Her Training from Hell is all that gets Tavi anywhere near normal skill levels at crafting.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Sextus' destruction of Alera Imperia destroyed the mosaic that called her into being as a discrete existence, and she's already fading away when she first meets Tavi. Despite this, she continues helping Tavi and Kitai throughout the book and she doesn't die until after the epilogue.
- Mr. Exposition: A variant, with her helping inform Tavi of some details related to the Romans who would go on to eventually found Alera along with various facets of furycrafting.
- Physical God: Her power is effectively unlimited. However, actually using them can have continent-wide and potentially worldwide repercussions. For example, requesting moderate weather in one part of the realm spins off violent storms elsewhere. Tavi's stunt with the ice-sledding ships will cause a global ice age a few thousand years in the future.Until the Vord came, I and my kin had killed more Alerans than any foe your folk had ever faced.
- Spirit Advisor: To the House of Gaius. She usually limits herself to just the ruling First Lord, but because of Tavi's bond with Kitai and him telling Kitai before being told not to, she extends her advice to Kitai.
- Technicolor Eyes: Her eyes are described as resembling constantly-changing mineral veins rather than anything else.
- Time Abyss: She is billions of years old, although she's only existed as herself for as long as the mosaic in Gaius Sextus' meditation chamber has. Really, she might be one of the foremost examples of this trope: "Entire species come and go, like the sparks rising from a campfire."