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The Gentlemen Bastards
- Anti-Hero: The Bastards are thieves, but they're usually up against someone much worse.
- Badass Preacher: They're all either priests (Father Chains & Locke) or initiates of the Crooked Warden, the god of thieves.
- Con Man: Unique in this art amongst the people of Camorr.
- Gentleman Thief: They call themselves the Gentlemen Bastards for a reason.
- Loveable Rogue: All of them, but Locke especially qualifies.
- True Companions: Father Chains went out of his way to instill true bonds of friendship and camaraderie in his gang, believing this loyalty to one another would be a positive thing. Sabetha also suspects that Chains' kindness and philosophy was partly fueled by his desire to make the Bastards his family. Even when they're pit against one another, they keep their enmity professional and go out of their way to ensure their mutual safety.
- Cynical Mentor:
- The Fagin: The good kind
- Genius Bruiser: A former soldier who teaches the other bastards everything there is to know about their art.
- The Leader: He forms the Gentleman Bastards and serves as their garrista until his death.
- The Mentor: He takes great pains to give the Gentleman Bastards the education they need to become perfect conmen. He also dispenses life lessons as needed.
- Posthumous Character: Besides the introductory chapters, he only really appears in flashbacks.
- Retired Badass: He's a former soldier turned con man and thief.
- Sophisticated as Hell: He affects a scholarly way of speaking, but also swears more than most characters. He came up with the name "Gentleman Bastards" after all.
- Wicked Cultured: A thief and conman with a taste for the finer things.
- The Ace: When it comes to crime. Locke is the best bloody thief and liar around (aside from Sabetha), and he and all his compatriots know it. Locke will plan, improvise, act, and manipulate circles around nearly anyone who cares to go toe to toe with him, to the point where he easily gets away with things that lesser thieves wouldn't even dare attempt. That said, he's not invincible; Sabetha is equal to him in nearly every regard, the Gray King manages to outplay him multiple times, and there are several points in the series where the odds against him are so great even he can't play his way out of them unscathed. Not to mention that there are quite a few things Locke is simply shown to be bad at...like winning a fight to save his life.
- "Awesome McCool" Name: Characters comment on how "Locke Lamora" has a nice ring to it.
- Justified in that it's an alias that he made up when he was a child.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Locke is always described as looking a little under-fed, which contrasts to the stout Jean.
- Book Dumb: He's certainly very intelligent, but as a former Satisfied Streetrat, not nearly as well educated.
- The Chessmaster: He mostly relies on Xanatos Speed Chess, but with his more elaborate plans, he's certainly this.
- Combat Pragmatist: By necessity, as he can't really win straight up fights.
- Complexity Addiction: The main way he differs from Sabetha, and the cause of a lot friction between them. Locke simply cannot do simple and subtle, and many of his schemes end up being overly ostentatious and risky seemingly just for the fun of it. It ends up biting him in the ass a few times.
- Consummate Liar: Just see the title of the first book.
- Guile Hero: Locke isn't a great fighter, but his cunning makes him incredibly dangerous.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Unfortunately Sabetha thinks this is the only reason he wants her.
- Knife Nut: His Weapon of Choice, he usually has several of them on his person.
- The Leader: He takes the position of garrista of the Gentleman Bastards after Chains' death.
- Love Makes You Dumb: When Sabetha walks in the door, his good sense goes out the window.
- Loveable Rogue: In spite of being a crook, Locke is a pretty decent, likable and charismatic guy.
- Manipulative Bastard: One of the best.
- Master Actor: His specialty within the team.
- Non-Action Guy: Locke is repeatedly shown as having absolutely no talent for fighting. Sabetha accuses him of not trying because he can rely on Jean to fight for him, but he denies it. It's not uncommon for him to find himself in positions where he has to fight.
- The Protagonist: He's the main character of the series, though their are a number of POV chapters from other characters.
- Red Baron: He's known by reputation as The Thorn Of Camorr.
- Refuge in Audacity: One of his greatest strengths is his sheer brazenness and his willingness to run cons and thefts that any other thief would consider stark madness. His fellow Bastards are in awe of him, but the smart ones don't even think about imitating "Locke Lamora games."
- The Reliable One: Capa Barsavi thinks he's this. While he doesn't bring in the largest hauls, he will without fail fence his loot in the proper place, personally brings tribute to the Capa every week instead of sending a messenger, and is scrupulously honest about his take and not ashamed to apologize if it's been a lean week. The fact that Barsavi thinks this is, of course, one of Locke's biggest cons yet.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Sabetha is the only person for him. Period.
- Smug Smiler: Locke often can't help but smirk to himself when a plan comes together or he feels he's outmanoeuvred an opponent.
- Too Clever by Half: Has a tendency to think himself straight into worse trouble.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: His other specialty.
- An Axe to Grind: His weapons of choice are a pair of hatchets he calls "The Wicked Sisters".
- The Big Guy: His role within the team.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center / Emotional Bruiser: He's a total badass, and the single most dangerous fighter in the series. He's also a big softie.
- Combat Pragmatist: As his teacher put it, he was taught to kill people with sharp objects.
- Cultured Badass: He reads poetry for fun during his downtime.
- Dual Wielding: Wields twin hatchets.
- Genius Bruiser: Jean looks like a hulking badass, but he's also a bookworm who is Good with Numbers as well as a skilled conman.
- I Call It "Vera": His hatchets, the Wicked Sisters.
- The Lancer: Jean is Locke's best friend and generally plays second fiddle to his schemes. After the other Bastards are slaughtered by the Grey King, Jean is Locke's only consistent companion.
- Stout Strength: Jean was a fat kid, but he started packing on a lot of muscle when he started his combat training. As an adult, he's still got some flab, but most of his bulk is muscle.
The Sanza Twins
- Card Sharp: They're rightly feared for their skill with cards
- Hidden Depths: You wouldn't expect a pair of Trickster Twins to also serve as The Heart of the Gentleman Bastards, but they were the first to comfort Jean when he broke down at the dinner table, continue to defend Sabetha long after her estrangement, and are fiercely protective of Locke. It seems when set against Sabetha and Locke's melodrama, Jean's tragic backstory, and Bug being a lunatic, the Twins somehow manage to be the most level headed in the group. It's notable that Locke's mental stability gradually decreases over the course of the series in their absence.
- Character Death: Killed in the first book by the Berengias Sisters.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: Father Chains describes them as "silver in all trades."
- Loveable Rogue: They're quick with a quip and are also consummate conmen.
- Plucky Comic Relief: They love playing pranks, joke around a lot, and in general, don't take things very seriously.
- Posthumous Character: They appear in flashbacks after dying in the first book.
- Single-Minded Twins: They often speak in unison and are basically interchangeable.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: When they get killed, things turn very dark indeed.
- Trickster Twins: They're con artist twins.
- The Apprentice: the youngest member of the bastards.
- Character Death: Killed by the Grey King's assassin.
- Stealth Expert: As he's the smallest and lightest of foot, he gets to be the sneak-thief.
- Running Gag: The adult Bastards foist grunt work onto him, saying that it's good for his moral education.
- Too Clever by Half: Much like Locke.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: How she sees her attraction to Locke. She's worked her womanly charms into scams and comfortable living in the past, but claims Locke is so far removed from the classical "gentleman" she's used to conning as to be irresistible.
- Always Second Best: She's very upset by the fact that Locke's grand, daring, risky schemes always overshadow her simpler, more practical and more reliable cons, which result in him becoming the de facto leader of the Gentleman Bastards.
- The Chessmaster: Fancies herself one to match Locke.
- Fiery Redhead: Although she sometimes dyes it brown.
- Femme Fatale: To Locke, especially in Republic of Thieves
- Love Is a Weakness: How she regards her feelings for Locke
- Tsundere: More tsun than dere.
Capa Barsavi's organization
Capa Vencarlo Barsavi
- Affably Evil: He's ruthless and merciless, but he's always civil to Locke and genuinely loves his family.
- The Chessmaster: In his backstory. He became The Capa of Camorr by ruthlessly outplaying all the others.
- Character Death: He suffers Body Guard Betrayal, and is then murdered by his own shark.
- Cultured Badass: He's an intellectual and cultured mob boss.
- The Don: Of Camorr.
- The Dreaded: Quite feared for his stranglehold on the underworld of Camorr.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: His family.
- Evil Mentor: Serves this role to many of younger thieves of Camorr, and as we discover in Red Seas Under Red Skies also helped get Jaffrim Rodanov started on the road to infamy.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Barsavi was a simple professor of rhetoric who apparently decided to leave academia and outsmart the criminal underworld of Camorr.
- Genius Bruiser: He's a hulking crimelord who is also a former professor of rhetoric.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He negotiated the creation of the Secret Peace with the aristocracy so that the thieves and the elites can co-exist.
- Villainous Legacy: Barsavi's long gone, but the criminals he mentored both as Capa, and back in his days as rhetoric professor, continue to bedevil the world.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: She is killed almost immediately by the poison of the scorpion hawk and is returned to her father in a barrel of horse urine.
- Childhood Friends: With Locke.
- Good with Numbers: Her role in his organization.
- Little Girls Kick Shins: With steel-toed boots.
- Number Two: To Barsavi, as he's grooming her to be his successor.
- Photographic Memory: She keeps all the city gangs taxes in her head, and remembers conversations perfectly a decade later.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: The Gray King brutally kills her to draw out Barsavi.
The Berengias Sisters
- Badass Family: They're part of one. With the Gray King.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: They are key in the Gray King's coup, and turn on Barsavi at the exact right moment.
- Character Death: At the hands of Jean.
- Co-Dragons: To the Capa. And later to the Gray King
- Dark Action Girls
- Gladiator Games: They're the gladiators. Against sharks.
The Gray King's organization
The Gray King/Capa Raza
- Ax-Crazy: He hides it well, but he's absolutely unhinged.
- Badass Family: The Berengias twins are his younger sisters.
- Big Bad: Of the first book.
- Character Death: Killed by Locke at the end of the book, after his plans have failed and fallen in ruin.
- The Chessmaster: He outplays absolutely everyone, right until the end.
- The Don: Usurps Barsavi's position as Capa of Camorr, though it's just another step in his plan.
- The Dreaded: Before he reveals himself, he's got most of the city running scared. After he reveals himself he's got the entire city in thrall.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He loves his family - it's in fact what started his quest for Revenge.
- Familial Foe: The driving plot of The Lies of Locke Lamora is eventually revealed to be a scheme by the Gray King to wipe out Capa Barsavi entire family and estate in retribution for Barsavi killing his parents.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: An orphaned urchin turned city boss bent on killing the entire ruling caste of Camorr.
- Genius Bruiser: An excellent swordsman and a brilliant schemer.
- The Ghost: At first, nobody knows who he is.
- Half-Identical Twins: His sisters are identical twins; when the three of them stand beside one another they could pass for triplets.
- Master Swordsman: A deadly fencer and master of multiple styles, he duels rings around Locke.
- Meaningful Name: Raza means "revenge," which Locke feels is a bit on the nose.
- Revenge: His driving motive.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Inflicts this on Capa Barsavi. And tries to do the same to the entire nobility of Camorr.
- Royal Rapier: As befits his "king" motif.
- Siblings in Crime: With his sisters, Raiza and Cheryn.
- And I Must Scream: His fate after crossing Locke.
- Animal Motifs: Birds.
- Antagonistic Offspring: To his mother, Archedama Patience of Karthain. The whole reason he became a leader of the magical supremacist faction was to tick her off.
- Badass Bookworm: He's a bondsmage of Khartain.
- The Beastmaster: Besides his Familiar, he employs flocks of birds as spies, and can control other animals as well.
- The Dragon: To the Gray King.
- Dragon Ascendant: Returns at the end of Republic of Thieves, long after the Grey King is dead, with plans to become a major villain in his own right.
- The Dreaded: He's a bondsmage of Karthain.
- Evil Cripple: Locke cut off his fingers and removed his tongue. It hasn't made Falconer any less evil.
- Evil Sorcerer: He's an utter prick and a leader of the more aggressive faction of bondsmages.
- Familiar: A scorpion-hawk.
- Fate Worse than Death: As killing a bondsmage is a bad idea, Locke instead cuts off all his fingers, and his tongue, which drives the man insane.
- Freudian Excuse: Hates his mother for knowing his true name and has fashioned his entire life around making her miserable.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: If he had stuck to his original plan (invoking Jean's true name and forcing him to kill Locke), then the Grey King's plan would have gone off without a hitch. Instead, he decides it's more poetic to force Locke to kill Jean, as Locke has shown a willingness to sacrifice himself to save his brothers. He says that while he knows Locke's surname isn't really "Lamora", that at least he has "your birth name, the name your parents gave you", and that will be enough. It doesn't work.Locke: What the fuck made you think Locke was the name my parents gave me?
- Psycho for Hire: He enjoys his work a little too much, especially when it involves hurting people.
- Red Baron: Goes by Falconer, as all bondsmages protect their true name, which can be used against them.
- Self-Made Orphan: Kills Patience at the end of Republic of Thieves, sending a murder of crows to tear her apart.
- Smug Snake: Convinced that being a Bondsmagi gives him the right to lord it over everyone else.
Nobles of Camorr
Don Lorenzo and Dona Sofia Salvara
- Alchemy Is Magic: Dona Sofia is a gifted alchemist.
- Blue Blood
- Dark-Skinned Blond: Dona Sofia.
- Happily Married: Sofia describes her husband as perfectly acceptable in all regards. They're never shown to have any conflicts between them.
- The Mark
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Nobles, at any rate. Lorenzo and Sofia have business and alchemical interests. Lorenzo also steps up to defend a stranger (Locke) from apparent street thugs.
- Took a Level in Badass: They end up as the new Spider at the end of the book.
- Blue Blood
- Carrying the Antidote: Which gets her smacked in the face by Locke, who promptly steals it.
- Cool Old Lady: She's in her eighties, but still a very cool lady. Being the Spider and all, this makes sense.
- Grande Dame: Of the aged Proper Lady variety.
- Nerves of Steel
- Secret Police: She leads it.
- The Spymaster: She's the Duke's Spider
People of Tal Verrar
- Big Bad Ensemble: He, Rodanov, and Stragos share the role in Red Seas Under Red Skies.
- The Don: In Camorr, he'd be a capa. In Tal Verrar he rules all the thieves of the city using only his real name.
- The Mark: The original target of Locke and Jean's game in Red Seas Under Red Skies.
- Torture Technician: Renowned as a truly artistic torturer.
- Unholy Matrimony: With his right-hand woman, Selendri.
- Big Bad Ensemble: He, Requin, and Rodanov share the role in Red Seas Under Red Skies.
- Bling of War: His gold-bedecked uniform.
- Evil Old Folks: Somewhere in his sixties.
- Fate Worse than Death: His confinement to the Poison Orchid's bilges is treated as this.
- The Generalissimo: In theory the Archon is subordinate to the Priori councils. Stragos' army and navy "afford him a dissenting opinion," and he's the real ruler of Tal Verrar, though his position is precarious.
- Hate Sink: He's not the cruellest person in Red Seas Under Red Skies (that's Requin), and doesn't cause the most damage to Locke and Jean (that's Rodanov). He does, however, wind up as a focus of character and narrative hatred in an effort to give the audience a villain whose downfall they'll pull for. It helps that he's a pompous ass who doesn't have the 'cool' factor other villains have.
- Jerkass: Stragos' main trait is that he's a petty jackass.
Pirates of the Brass Sea
- Action Mom: Her children are aboard her ship with her.
- Berserk Button: At one point, she and Locke are having a conversation, and he asks if she doesn't find being a pirate exceptionally risky, especially with children along. She asks if he has children, and when he says no, she tells him that if he ever presumes to lecture her on her children's behalf, she'll throw him overboard.
- The Captain: Of the Poison Orchid.
- Dual Wielding: Two sabres.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: She was once a humble member of the Syrune Navy. After some kind of betrayal by the navy in question that isn't elaborated on, she abandoned the military and became a notorious pirate.
- Reasonable Authority Figure. She runs her ship with an iron hand and deals out some harsh punishments, but she treats her crew well and fairly and lets everyone have a say.
- The Smart Guy: She spots holes in Locke's cover story before long, and while she comes to the wrong conclusion, she's not wrong that the story was a lie.
- Cultured Badass: She grew up among nobility and read a lot of plays and histories.
- Defector from Decadence: She's actually a member of the Nicoran nobility, albeit the youngest daughter, who had little prospects.
- Dual Wielding: Fights with two sabres.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: She grabs the equivalent of a thermite bomb and throws it onto an attacking ship, leaving her so terribly burned that Jean has to mercy kill her.
- Heroic Sacrifice: To save the Poison Orchid.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The tiny girl to Jean's huge guy.
- Mercy Kill: Jean has to kill her after she's burned alive holding the shipbane sphere.
- The Napoleon: Downplayed. She's got a hot temper and many jokes are made about her diminutive height, but it doesn't go a lot further than that.
- Number Two: To Zamira.
- Affably Evil: Rodanov's a nice enough guy so long as you aren't in his way.
- Anti-Villain: Rodanov does not want to fight Zamira, but he's convinced she's going to give Stragos an excuse to sack Port Prodigal.
- Badass Longcoat: Wears a long, battered leather coat reinforced with chainmail.
- BFS: In a rarer take on outsized weapons, Rodanov arms himself with an almost comically large club, studded with iron and described by Zamira as clocking in at nearly twenty pounds. When he sets it on the ground, it reaches his waist, which, given Rodanov's seven foot height and long legged build makes it around four feet long.
- Big Bad Ensemble: He, Requin, and Stragos share the position in Red Seas Under Red Skies.
- The Captain: Of the Dread Sovereign.
- Carry a Big Stick: Carries a twenty pound club reinforced with iron studs.
- Choice of Two Weapons: Uses a gigantic club to force his way on board the Poison Orchid, then resorts to his gauntleted fists in close-quarters melee combat. The latter are stated to be his preferred weapons, with the club being used only in boarding actions.
- Cool Ship: Dread Sovereign is the largest pirate ship afloat and is feared all along the Brass Sea.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: "Loved" might be too strong a word, but when his first mate, Ydrena, is killed by Zamira, Rodanov flies into a rage and clubs his way through half the Poison Orchid's crew to reach her body.
- Evil Counterpart: A good-humoured giant of a man, widely feared in the criminal fraternity for his combat skills, who nonetheless hails from a middle class background, received a good education, and loves to quote plays? He's an older, eviler Jean Tannen.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He was a middle-class kid who fell in with the wrong crowd at university. When he had to go on the run from the police after Barsavi's gambling ring was exposed he hid at sea, eventually becoming one of the most powerful pirate lords of the Brass Sea.
- Genius Bruiser: A devious strategist and erudite playgoer as well as a seven foot giant.
- Hero Killer: Rodanov comes with a serious reputation as a pirate and a fighter, and his ship, Dread Sovereign, is the most feared on the Brass Sea. He's able to bludgeon his way through Zamira's crew with ease, facing six on one odds at one point and coming out victorious, and knocking Master Swordsman and professional duelist Dantierre into the sea.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: He and his second-in-command, Ydrena, form a platonic version.
- Husky Russkie: Vadrans fill the role of fantasy northern Europeans in the setting, and Rodanov's last name is explicitly Russian. He's also the most physically imposing foe Locke and Jean have yet encountered.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: His ship, Dread Sovereign.
- One-Handed Zweihänder: He's able to swing his monstrous club with only one hand.
- Power Fist: Wears a pair of blackened steel gauntlets for close up fighting, using them to parry blades and crack skulls alike.
- Stout Strength: Rodanov's broad through gut and shoulders alike and is one of the most physically powerful characters in the story.
- Uncertain Doom: Was last seen headed for the wheel of the Dread Sovereign as the ship went up in flames. Zamira assumes he was killed, but his death, if it took place, was entirely offscreen.
- The Unfought: Despite being set up as a truly formidable combatant, and bashing his way through much of Zamira's crew during the climactic battle, Rodanov is never fought by a major character.
- We Used to Be Friends: He and Zamira were quite close until the events of Red Seas Under Red Skies.
- Wicked Cultured: Learned rhetoric and linguistics at the Therin Collegium—from Capa Barsavi no less.