Warning that spoilers may be unmarked!
Unless noted, all characters are of Ambiguous Gender due to the Radchaai Cultural Translation - both Radchaai to Earthling readers, and non-Radchaai to Radchaai; gender markers vary significantly from planet to planet, and Breq as narrator usually identifies gender by scrutinizing someone's mode of dress and hoping she doesn't get it wrong.
Ships of the Radch
Justice of Toren / Breq Ghaiad / Fleet Captain Breq MianaaiThe AI of a Justice-class troopship, she controlled thousands of networked ancillary troops to conquered worlds over the course of two thousands years... until the Lord of Radch forced her to execute a lieutenant she'd grown close to. The ensuing chaos lead to the destruction of her ship, leaving only a single ancillary — One Esk 19 — alive.
The lone ancillary takes on the name of Breq Ghaiad, and spends the next twenty years tracking down a lost alien weapon that would let her take revenge on Anaander Mianaai. After finally killing Anaander Mianaai, Anaander Mianaai gives gives her command of Mercy of Kalr and sends her to protect the Athoek system from the ensuing chaos — a mission she reluctantly accepts, since it gives her a chance to help Lieutenant Awn's surviving sister.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Invoked but defied; while the Radchaai around her sometimes believe her near constant singing and humming is strange and her external stoicism could be read as autistic, she isn't human and never thinks of herself as such.
- Bodyguard Crush: Tragically, towards Lieutenant Awn.
- Chaste Hero: An odd case: her being an 'ascetic' is speculated in-character, but the narration denies this, and in a conversation with Seivarden she notes that ancillaries sometimes have physical needs that are easiest to satisfy by invoking Screw Yourself... but we don't see Breq express sexual attraction to anyone either.
- Collector of the Strange: Songs, specifically. She's been doing it for two thousand years.
- Dissonant Serenity: Breq's unemotional facade from her past as an ancillary almost never slips, even in combat or intense emotional moments. Even while crying for over an hour after she loses her leg in her attempted Heroic Sacrifice, she barely acknowledges it, something which unnerves the humans around her greatly.
- Death Seeker: Breq makes it very clear in her narration that she genuinely doesn't expect to survive her self-imposed mission in Ancillary Justice as assassinating Anaander Mianaai to prove a point to Anaander Mianaai and Anaander Mianaai would likely get her killed, as she has little to live for after the destruction of Justice of Toren.
- Later on, she lapses into it again briefly after she believes she has become just like the Radch captains who treated her as a tool towards Mercy of Kalr, imposing her will on the ship rather than letting it determine its own fate as she did, and attempts a Heroic Sacrifice to neutralize the other ships in the area. When she survives, though not without the loss of her leg, she cries passively for an entire hour while conducting business before she reconciles with Ship.
- The Determinator: As Justice of Toren, she was a legion of impassive, implacable 'corpse soldiers.' As Breq, she spent twenty years tirelessly searching for a way to kill at least some of Anaander Mianaai. It's repeatedly stated that she's gotten this far by taking "one step, then another", in good and bad times alike.
- Extreme Doormat: While Justice of Toren, as expected of an AI... though she finds small, creative ways to avert this.Seivarden: [Station] can't make you leave.Breq: But it can express its disapproval. We do it all the time. Mostly nobody notices, except they visit another ship or station and suddenly find things inexplicably more comfortable.Seivarden, who was one of Justice of Toren's lieutenants and also kind of a tit: ...oh.
- But completely averted as Breq.
- Me's a Crowd: As Justice of Toren.
- A Mother to Her Men: This is downplayed during her time as Justice of Toren, since her officers were as likely as not to treat her as nothing but equipment. Played in full when she takes command of Mercy of Kalr, however.
- My Greatest Failure: Being forced to kill Lieutenant Awn. She blames herself for it a lot harder than everyone else does.
- Narrator: She narrates the novels in First-Person Perspective. She's probably a little too matter-of-fact to quality as a First-Person Smartass, but the commentary that she keeps off her face can be... biting.
- As captain of Mercy of Kalr, she approaches Limited Omniscient Narrator territory, by way of Ship using her ancillary implants to show her what's going on with the other crewmembers.
- Nice to the Waiter: Clearly has sympathies for non-Radchaai and other people with little power even as a ship. As Breq she is more fully able to express this. Notably, while she's always acutely conscious of the mildest slights towards her, when these are made by people with very little power she tends to be pleased by their audacity.
- Oblivious to Love: An odd case, where she's certainly not oblivious to sexual interest or affection, but she's not used to thinking of herself as a person people can be romantically attached to.
- Old Soldier: Has been fighting the Radch's wars for at least two thousand years.
- Pronoun Trouble: Suffers from this, when dealing with non-Radchaai.
- Split Personality: Though not to the level of Anaander Mianaai, Justice of Toren had been on its way to developing split personalities; One Esk was known for it's fondness for singing and music, which did not extend to any other ancillaries or the ship itself. This causes problems for Anaander Mianaai, as Lieutenant Awn was not Justice of Toren's favorite, but One Esk's favorite, and the resulting personality conflict being brought into the open is very distressing for Justice of Toren in the short amount of time before it was destroyed. In the modern day, because Breq is the Sole Survivor of both Justice of Toren and Justice of Toren One Esk, it no longer applies.
- The Stoic: As an ancillary, expressing emotion is something she has to do deliberately — and she's supposed to be equipment anyways, so it's typically better not to. Much of the first book is spent describing her hiding anger behind and impassive mask.
- Super Soldier: A mild example: as an ancillary, she's fast and has incredible reflexes, and her Instant Armor is controlled subconsciously via implant rather than needing a vest. However, ancillaries are typically considered expendable: if one is injured, they'd generally be discarded and replaced... and once she's alone, Breq isn't that much sturdier than a regular human.
- Team Dad: The stoic, tough-love dispensing counterpart to Mercy of Kalr herself, once she becomes captain.
- Tranquil Fury: Breq's emotions rarely surface beyond her placid exterior, leading to her deep rage at the injustice of the Radch coming across as this to the Radchaai around her, which those around her learn to notice when she stops humming or singing. But her hatred of Anaander Mianaai is so strong that it breaks even that.
- Troll: Gets this way towards Sphene by the end of the third book.
- Unreliable Narrator: To an extent. Breq's narration very rarely mentions if she's crying. People who know her well can read her moods despite her much-mentioned ability to control her facial expressions. In the first book Breq often insists she doesn't have an opinion on something while clearly acting in a way that shows she does.
- Wild Card: A rare example of it applying to the primary protagonist. As a remnant ancillary from a ship that was killed by Anaander Mianaai, Breq is absolutely outside of the conflict between Anaander Mianaai and Anaander Mianaai, only motivated by her personal sense of justice and a desire to protect citizens and defy any Anaander Mianaai she can find. In the end, she outmaneuvers all factions of Anaander Mianaai by appealing to the Presger to recognize AI as non-human Significants, effectively giving all ships and stations the option to secede from the Radch without repercussions from Anaander Mianaai
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Feels this way about being given Anaander's house name. And about pretty much anything nice Anaander says about her.Basnaaid: You must have mixed feelings about the Lord of Radch adopting you into the Mianaai.Breq: Not mixed at all.
Lieutenant Awn ElmingThe officer in charge of Justice of Toren's Esk Decade. She administrates the city of Ors on the recently annexed planet of Shis'urna, doing her best to balance the local's needs against the demands of her station, and to mediate the tensions within the city.
- Break the Cutie: The result of being forced to massacre the crowd at the Orsian temple. Then Anaander Miaanai sneaks onto her ship.
- Defiant to the End: Spends her last moments chewing several Anaander Mianaais out.
- The Lost Lenore: For Breq, and to a lesser extent Skaaiat Awer.
- Nice to the Waiter: She's fond of the ancillaries under her command, and goes out of the way to treat the Orsian locals well. And she likes One Esk's singing.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite being put in charge of a conquered city, she does her best to work with the locals and make sure their needs are heard, and does a good enough job that the local religious leader requests to have her stay. As an officer of low birth who does this by supporting the lower classes, this draws the 'traditionalist' Anaander Mianaai's ire.
- Token Good Teammate: One of the few Radchaai we see being actively unhappy with their methods of conquest. Best shown when she comforts One Esk 19 during her Unwilling Roboticisation, to the disgust of the medical tech and irritation of the captain.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: A minor case with Lieutenant Skaaiat: they're both military officers, but she's the quieter, sensitive one while Skaaiat is more flippant and gregarious.
- Working-Class Hero: Her mother was a cook, yet hard work and solid Aptitude scores placed Awn enter the military.
- This has drawn some snide (and entirely unwarranted) accusations of Sleeping Their Way to the Top, especially in regards to her relationship with Skaaiat. Suggesting this is a great way to get on Skaaiat, Breq, and Basnaaid's respective bad sides really quickly.
Lieutenant Skaaiat Awer (later Inspector Supervisor)A friend and lover of Lieutenant Awn's, who becomes Security Chief of Omaugh Palace at some point following her death.
- Blue Blood: Comes from a prominent and wealthy Radchaai house.
- Bystander Syndrome: Is critical of the oppressive Radchaai military, but remains an officer and advises Lieutenant Awn to save her defiance for a point when it will do some good.
- Commander Contrarian: Apparently an Awer house trait: they're an old, rich family known for trying to be The Conscience of the empire. We don't don't see much of this from her on Shis'urna, but she does take Breq's side when things go down at Omaugh Palace, and joins her in referring to Anaander Mianaai as 'the tyrant.'
- Punch-Clock Villain: See Bystander Syndrome, above.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: As security chief of Omaugh Palace.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: A minor case with Lieutenant Awn.
Seivarden VendaaiShe was a lieutenant on Justice of Toren a thousand years ago, until she was promoted to captain of her own ship. Unfortunately, that ship was lost and her life pod's tracking beacon malfunctioned, leading her to drift in space for a millennium before finally being rescued.
- Addled Addict: The way Breq found her. Her struggle to stay clean lasts throughout the series.
- Beta Couple: With Lieutenant Ekalu. An odd case, as there's no clear Official Couple to contrast it with.
- Death Seeker: Breq's assessment of her prior to getting straight:Breq's Narration: Not quite willing to die, I suspected, but hoping in the back of her mind to meet with some fatal accident.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: A lot of things have changed in the last thousand years.
- Impoverished Patrician: She belonged to a rich and prestigious family... a thousand years ago, before they suffered a Hostile Takeover by a rival.
- It's All My Fault: Prone to this, though it's arguably more that when she backslides she tends to slip into It's All About Me.Seivarden: Breq, I fucked up!
- Naked First Impression: Breq first finds her naked and unconscious in the snow outside a bar, dying of hypothermia. Not Played for Laughs.
- Old Soldier: Technically a thousand years old, and until the events of Ancillary Mercy she's the only member of Mercy of Kalr's crew besides Breq who's seen combat.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Seivarden has some serious mental issues from having lost her ship and having been frozen in time, added to her inability to seek proper help and councelling for it.
- The Load: For her first few chapters, which involve literally being dragged around by Breq. She gets better once she falls off a bridge.
- Undying Loyalty: To Breq, after the incident with the bridge.
- Upper-Class Twit: Very much until her Character Development kicks in, and even then it's slow to shed. But she's trying.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: A frequent victim of this.Seivarden: I was going to sell the arrack. I knew I'd get more than enough for for what I wanted, but then I thought, no, its Breqs. And then I thought, damn it, I need a drink.Aloek Station Medic: Doubtless you did. Drinking yourself insensible so you dont go back to kef may not be a particularly good idea, but it does show a certain admirable determination.
Mercy of Kalr
- Fragile Speedster: The Mercy class isn't heavily armed, compared to the much beefier Swords... but she's described has having very large engines, which presumably allows her to zip around a bit faster.
- On the Rebound: She lost her ancillaries due to the reforms. When she meets Breq, she immediately identifies her as a Replacement Goldfish and lobbies to have her as captain.
- Team Mom: She's always watching, and does her best to take care of her crew. Best seen when she tries to help mediate Ekalu and Seivarden's relationship troubles.Ekalu: Oh, ship. Did you ask [Seivarden] to say any of that?Ship: I helped a bit with the wording. But it wasn't my idea. She means it.
- Replacement Goldfish: Mentioned but defied. She genuinely comes to view Breq as her favorite beyond their shared traumas and admires her, because even if ships have never loved ships before, it's only because a ship has never had a chance to be an officer.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: What she's left as, without her ancillaries. Her crew often help her emote, by identifying themselves as 'Ship' and reading text that she feeds them, when she wants the distance between simply speaking in someone's ear.
Fleet Captain Breq Mianaai
Captain Vel Osck
- Bad Boss: Heavily implied; Breq notes that it's telling how long it took Mercy of Kalr to ask about her well being, and she made her crew act robotic and unemotional to imitate the ancillaries they would have with the Good Old Ways. And when Breq is driving Anaander!Tiswarat hard to force her into the open, there are mutters that she's "just like the last one."
- Smug Snake
- Upper-Class Twit: A bad enough case to get on even Seivarden's nerves.
- The Neidermeyer
Lieutenant SievardenThe (Very) Senior Lieutenant, in charge of Amaat Decade. (Main entry under Justice of Toren.)
Lieutenant TiswaratA seventeen year old officer described by Skaaiat as 'flighty,' who shows up at Mercy of Kalr looking as though she's on sedatives. It turns out that Anaander had installed her with ancillary implants in an attempt at Grand Theft Me; even after they're removed, she retains some of Anaander's knowledge and personality, much to her distress.
She's in charge of Bo Decade.
- Broken Bird: Her brief Anaanderfication leaves her in a constant state of traumatized self-loathing, though she gradually improves with both confidence and medication.
- Chessmaster Sidekick: Left over from her time as an Anaander is a keen sense for politics... which she's deeply ashamed of.
- The Ingenue: What she started as.
- Purple Eyes: They're unlikely to be natural, and Breq speculates that she was frivolous enough to spend her first paycheck on them. It's another sign that something is wrong about her half-dead manner.
- Taking the Bullet: Charges one of Sword of Atagaris's auxiliaries unarmored to distract it from shooting Breq. This results in the Gardens being opened to space.
- That Woman Is Dead: According to Breq, who has some experience in the matter, the 'old' Tiswarat died when her implants were installed. With them taken out, what's left is someone new.Tisarwat: [On her Purple Eyes] It's such a stupid color. And every time I see myself they remind me of her. They don't belong to me.Breq: They do. You were born with them.
Lieutenant EkaluFormerly Amaat One, she was given a Field Promotion to Lieutenant when all the officers were arrested for supporting the wrong Anaander.
She's in charge of Etrepa Decade.
- Beta Couple: With Seivarden. It's a little rocky for a while, but they work it out.
- Loophole Abuse: Invoked, when she doubles back to rescue Breq after the ship runs into some mines.
- Up Through the Ranks
MedicThe medic, and the only one of Mercy of Kalr's officers not to be arrested for treason following the conflict at Omaugh Palace. She has the task of patching Breq up after she injures herself (again), and medicating Tiswarat, and... it's a busy job.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Doctor's Orders: Joins a long list of doctors who struggle to keep Breq from trying to walk around after she's hurt herself. It takes Breq losing a leg and being physically incapable of dragging herself to the door for her to manage it.
- Only Known by Their Nickname
- Only Sane Woman: Her captain's a Determinator who keeps getting injured and refuses to take it easy, two of her three lieutenants are struggling with mental illness, the entire officer corps including the ship is a Love Dodecahedron, and the crew is singing all the time. She does what she can.
- Locked Out of the Loop: For most of two books Seivarden refuses to tell her about her kef addiction, despite frequent urging.
- The Medic: It's in the name!
- Secret Keeper: For Breq and Tiswarat, given that she's had to work on both of their ancillary implants.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Calls Breq out for hiding Tiswarat's medications when she first joins the ship.
The CrewThe human crew who replaced Mercy of Kalr's ancillaries.
They're organized into three ten-person decades (Amaat, Bo, and Etrepa) and one double-strength Captain's Decade (Kalr).
- Adorkable: They're earnest, protective of their officers... and pretend to be People Puppets out of solidarity with the ship.
- Battle Butler: Kalr Five, who's introduced fretting over the ship having nice enough tableware and is frequently seen in the background making tea or serving dinner when Breq is entertaining guests.
- Band of Brothers: Despite not having seen combat before Ancillary Mercy, they served together under a shitty captain in an uncaring universe.
Kalr Twelve: ...Ship takes care of us, sir. Sometimes it feels like it's us and Ship against everyone else.
- Androids Are People, Too: When Breq is revealed to be an ancillary they fall firmly and unanimously (as far as we know) into this camp, and they were already protective of Ship.
- Declaration of Protection: Understated, but Bo Nine is frequently seen standing guard by Tisarwat at vulnerable moments, and she's the one to accompany her on her mission to Sword of Gurat.
- Mauve Shirt: A few crewmembers get more screentime than the others, and have developing personalities despite being background characters.
- No Name Given: As a consequence of Captain Vel's insistence that they be as ancillary as possible. Kalr Five apparently expressed distress when Breq tried to call her by her real name. It's Ettan.
Sword of AtagarisA Sword-class ship that guards the Athoek system. Unlike many warships, it still has a full complement of ancillaries.
- No Accounting for Taste: Atagaris is genuinely fond of its captain.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Situations beyond its control force it to cooperate with several different factions during Ancillary Mercy, never with its full consent. Even Breq removing its Restraining Bolt doesn't prevent it from carrying a grudge for the rest of the book.
- The Quiet One: It's by far the quietest ship in the series that makes regular appearances.
Captain HetnysThe captain of Sword of Atagaris.
- Put on a Bus: Spends Ancillary Mercy in a state of suspended animation.
- Too Dumb to Live: Pretty much every time something major goes wrong in Ancillary Sword, it's because of her.
- Unwitting Pawn: She was unwittingly helping Sphene, a long-time enemy of Anaander Mianaai, while believing she was helping Anaander Mianaai.
- Upper-Class Twit: A classist, condescending, racist idiot with more position than sense.
- Artificial Gravity
- Beware the Nice Ones: Is quiet and helpful for most of two books, until Tiswarat takes off her Restraining Bolt and Anaander Mianaai starts threatening her people.
- Genius Loci: It is the station.
- Space Station: It is the station.
Governor GiarodThe governor of Athoek system.
- Upper-Class Twit: A mild example compared to Hetnys, but neither Breq nor Station has a very high opinion of her. Station deposes her when it takes control — notably while keeping most of its other administrative staff intact despite (theoretically) being able to run everything on its own.
Station Administrator Celar
- Big Beautiful Woman: Described as 'broad,' and also as extremely attractive.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Doesn't realize (or as Breq suggests, conveniently ignores) how bad Raughd is.
- Right in Front of Me: Suffers from this when discussing music with Breq, when she muses about how she'd love to have met Justice of Toren. She's embarrassed about it when Breq's identity gets out.
Horticulturist PiatStation Administrator Celar's daughter.
Horticulturist Basnaaid ElmingLieutenant Awn's younger sister, who helps maintain the Gardens on Athoek Station.
- Aloof Big Sister: Feels this way about Awn, who left for military service before she was born and set a standard she struggled to live up to.
- Distressed Damsel: She's held hostage by a panicking Captain Hetnys to lure Breq into a trap. (It ends about as well as you'd expect: the day is saved, Breq is injured, the Gardens are somewhat more well ventilated.)
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: She has this reaction to Skaaiat (and later Breq) offering her help in memory of her sister. She warms up to Breq after learning the whole story.
- Old Shame: Wrote poems when she was a child, and sent them to Awn. Breq has seen them.
- Abusive Parents: Seems more pleasant than her petty daughter, sucking up to the newly arrived Fleet Captain, undeterred by various slights and insults that would send Raughd into a rage, but she's an emotionally abusive parent who dangled the threat "I can always make a new heir" over her all her life.
- Evil Colonialist: She owns a tea plantation, and keeps the workers in Indentured Servitude.
- I Have No Son!: Once protecting Raughd from her actions would cost too much social capital, she immediately disinherits her.
- Narcissist: The fact that her only child is a clone of herself is treated as evidence of this.
- Abhorrent Admirer: To Tisarwat and Breq in turn. Notably, it's not suggested anywhere that she's unattractive: she's just a Jerkass.Tisarwat: Raughd Denche is a horrible human being!
- Alpha Bitch
- Clones Are People, Too: Is a clone of Fosyf. Nobody treats this as at all unusual and the only comments this elicits are aimed more at her mother than on Raughd herself.
- Didn't Think This Through: She blackmails Queter into blowing up Breq while the latter is in the bath house. She's so self-centred and sure of herself, she didn't even imagine that Queter might try to kill her in the explosions as well.
- Domestic Abuse
- For the Evulz: This is the crux of Breq's argument for why she's such a bad person: the things she does have so little/no purpose beyond hurting people, that it's impossible for them to be innocent mistakes.
- Freudian Excuse: Fosyf is a pretty terrible parent, clearly only had Raughd made so that she would have an heir, and constantly holds the threat of disinheritance over her clone's head.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: One of her amusements when she's on her mother's plantation is to take advantage of the staff working there 'totally voluntarily'.
- Sadist: It's not made explicit what she'd been making Piat and Uran do, but it's strongly implied to be humiliating and unpleasant.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: She attempts this, coercing Queter into planting a bomb to blow up Breq, minutes after she'd left the outbuilding; if all went well, Breq would be dead and she'd get sympathy points. It didn't quite work.
Sirix OdelaA horticulturist on Athoek Station. She is Samirend, an ethnic group previously imported to Athoek as tea-pickers.
- Broken Pedestal: The result of Breq's handling of the Queter situation.
- FaceHeel Turn: Rats out Basnaaid to Hetnys. She does regret it and turns herself in.
- Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Suffered 'reeducation' as a consequence of a worker's strike some time ago. It doesn't make her happy in any sense, but she has severe discomfort related to expressing any amount of anger - and she's angry a lot.
- I Have No Son!: Disinherited over her role in organizing worker's strikes; when some family members attempt to get in contact with her she refuses, saying they can't reconcile over what they've already done. This is probably why she sours on Breq; she dislikes Raughd, but sympathizes with her over being disowned more than she sympathizes with Queter, something Breq can't understand.
- Noble Bigot: Considers Valskaayans savages and lazy and has a number of unkind things to say about the Ychana, while still bemoaning that both are being abused by the dominant Xhai ethnic group and especially Rachaai from out of system with any level of power.
- Put on a Bus: Since it's a bad idea to re-educate someone twice and she seems repentant, she's sent to a post off of Athoek Station at the start of Ancillary Mercy.
- Restraining Bolt: As a result of re-education, is physically incapable of conversing about certain topics, since they make her angry.
QueterA Valskaayan worker on Fosyf's plantation, who plants a bomb to blow up their outbuilding at Raughd's insistence... with a slight modification to the intended target.
- Ambiguous Gender: One of the few aversions: She and Uran are referred to as sister and brother (as Valskaayans understand it).
- Big Sister Instinct: For Uran, who's being abused by Raughd.
- The Dog Bites Back: Raughd attempts to coerce her into assassinating Breq. She sets off the bomb a little earlier.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: She is not happy with the situation, and refuses to greet Breq as a magnanimous savior. Breq does ultimately come through for her, but her attitude is treated as pretty reasonable, given what she's been through.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Makes a bomb out of some stolen explosives that had been under Raughd's bed for a few years and whatever she had around the house. Breq is impressed enough to later introduce her to ''Sphene'', who'd been wanting a captain.
- Sadistic Choice: Presented with one by Raughd: refuse to kill Breq and Raughd would do it and frame Uran. Do it and Raughd would support Uran and keep the blame off Queter, though Queter was more than intelligent enough to see that those were Blatant Lies. She attempts to Take a Third Option: kill Raughd. This would still have disastrous consequences for Queter and possibly her whole community, but no matter what happened she would go through Security and Uran's life would be a misery, so for that price, might as well get rid of the daughter of the house.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Despite Queter's cynicism, Breq finds her to be incredibly idealistic when it comes to people in power believing themselves to be just, in the face of evidence to the contrary.
UranQueter's younger brother, subject to Sexual Extortion by Raughd before Queter's actions and Breq's investigation blow the mess wide open.
- Ambiguous Gender: One of the few aversions: He and Queter are referred to as brother and sister (as Valskaayans understand it).
- Nice Guy: Wants to bring food and water to people protesting for his friends, and to people protesting against them.
Gem of SpheneA Notai ship, strongly implied to be the "ghost" in the uninhabited system beyond the Ghost Gate.
- Arch-Enemy: It's a toss-up whether Breq or Sphene hates Anaander more.
- Deadpan Snarker: Even by the standards of this series.
- The Lost Lenore: Is revealed to have lost its captain.
- Noble Bigot: Views people outside the Dyson Sphere proper as inferior and impure due to not being true Radchaai. Still willing to help, and even spends a lot of time hanging out with Zeiat, who may not even be human.
- The Remnant: Three thousand years ago, the Notai opposed Anaander Mianaai's assumption of power, and plan to expand the Radch empire outside their Dyson Sphere. They lost, and Sphene has been lurking in an empty system without a gate drive since.
- Those Two Guys: With Translator Zeiat, once they're both on Mercy of Kalr
Tropes common to Anaander Mianaai:
- Badass Baritone: Apparently has a rather nice singing voice.
- The Emperor: It's not clear how much authority she has inside the Radch, but her rule is absolute outside of it. As an example, the legal system has two levels: local magistrates, and her.
- Hive Mind: Anaander Mianaai is one, with all her bodies in constant contact and communication with each other, sharing thoughts and memories. The entire plot is basically set in motion by what happens when a hive mind has a disagreement, exacerbated by the fact that she's spread out across so many star systems that her selves can't all efficiently communicate with each other.
- Gambit Pileup: Each faction of Anaander Mianaai has been secretly maneuvering behind Anaander Mianaai's back, and once Breq makes their internal feud public all of those plots get put into motion at once.
- Me's a Crowd: Has a great many networked clones who've worn ancillary implants since birth, allowing her to administrate the Radch's entire territory herself.
- The Usurper: Apparently; it happened three thousand years ago, but the faction that opposed her commanding the expansion refers to her this way. She won that conflict, however, and has been the recognized Lord of Radch for the three thousand years since.
- Evil Gloating: Spends a while explaining things to a scared and defiant Lieutenant Awn.
- Foil: To the last Anaander to visit Justice of Toren. Both deliver a speech over their disagreement, but the last Anaander refers to it as self-doubt while this one calls it infiltration by an enemy.
- Kick the Dog: Does nothing but dog-kicking from the moment she appears on screen.
- Properly Paranoid: To a degree. She sees enemies and conspiracies everywhere... but Anaander Mianaai really is out to get her.
- Shoot the Dog: She claims to be doing this, eliminating pawns of the 'reformist' faction of Anaander to protect the Radch from Presger infiltration. Breq disagrees.
- Taking You with Me: Detonates Justice of Toren's engines when it becomes clear that it'd been suborned by a rival Anaander.
- Oh, Crap!: When Breq manages to reveal her inner rift to her face, making it impossible for Anaander to hide herself any longer and causing civil war to break out immediately.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Breq during the uprising at Omaugh Palace. Neither seem to enjoy working with the other.
- Trigger Phrase: Uses an old song she learned from Justice of Toren to control Breq to obey.
- Batman Gambit: Is attempting some sort of this by sending Breq to Athoek, gambling that she'll cause more trouble for her enemies than for her.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: This particular one is a very young clone. Usually very few would see or interact with her, but at this point there are rather fewer clones left at Omaugh Palace.
- Heel Realization: Suffered this after ordering the destruction of Garseddai. It's what's been driving her to implement reforms, over Anaander Mianaai's objections.
- Kick the Dog: In the beginning of Ancillary Sword she treats Breq with reasonableness and respect, giving her a ship and a mission despite Breq's dogged hostility. Then we find out what what she did to Tiswarat.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She has shades of this, being in favor of halting expansion and phasing out the use of ancillaries. But she's still Anaander Miaanai: see Kick the Dog, above.
- Bad Boss: Shoots a security chief within hours of arriving at Athoek Station. This backfires immediately, since everybody becomes too afraid to give her vital information.
- Villainous Breakdown: She's already in the midst of one when she arrives at the station, and things only get worse from there.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: It's becoming increasingly obvious that the traditionalists and reformists aren't the only factions of Anaander Mianaai, but what the third is intending — and why it's stockpiling AI cores — is anyone's guess.
Tropes for the Presger as a whole:
- Bizarre Alien Psychology: It's mentioned a time or two that they don't think in words, and while the Translators can roughly, theoretically grasp that there are different kinds of human, it's apparently an impossible concept to convey.
- Blue and Orange Morality: They have a concept of "Significance" that's ethically similar to our concept of sentience, but they're confused enough by our concepts of personhood and identity that they must be something very different. Zeiat also stresses that while she doesn't quite grasp the concept of what makes someone a "person", Significance is not related.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: What they inflicted upon any humans they caught, before they decided to recognize humanity's Significance, signed a treaty, and stopped. It's implied that this is part of their sense of humor.
- Higher-Tech Species: Much; their technology seems to treat the laws of physics as mild suggestions.
- If I Wanted You Dead...: Zeiat makes it very clear that the Presger have no particular interest in destroying humanity or openly harming them (or, indeed, much interest in human affairs at all): If they did, humanity would know.
- Inscrutable Aliens: Very nearly, even after the signing of the treaty, but definitely beforehand. The Translators they make attempt to explain Presger motivations now and then, but don't make much sense.
- Starfish Aliens: Implied, since Presger (or their ships, or indeed anything they use personally) are never described by the narration. Their alien mind-set and how they assemble their translators (and having a need of artificial humans as translators in the first place) indicate they're probably something far from human.
- Technologically Advanced Foe: Before the treaty, they would occasionally wander by to 'disassemble' ships, stations, and their inhabitants, and there was no way for humans to stop them.
- More to the point, the Ambiguous Syntax makes it unclear if the Presger a) were doing this collectively or whether this was merely the work of singular Presger, and b) whether or not Presger technology was at all involved. The latter views would make The Presger more like Eldritch Abominations lite ('lite' because they are at least willing to entertain the notion of "other things exist which should not be killed")
- Ultimate Evil: We never get to see a Presger. We only get to see two pieces of Presger-made technology, both of whom are way way beyond anything humanity (Raadch or not) can produce, and also two nearly-humans grown by the Presger to act as intermediaries — who are also way beyond anything humanity can produce.
"Imagine a very small child appears to have her heart set on doing something dangerous. Setting the city she lives in on fire, say. You can be constantly on guard, constantly keeping her out of trouble. Or you can persuade her to put her hand into a very small fire. She might lose a finger or two, or even an arm, and of course it would be quite painful, but that would be the point, wouldn't it? She'd never do it again. In fact, you'd think she'd be likely to never go near any fires, ever, not after that."
- These intermediaries were also apparently grown from the people they unstoppably tore apart before the signing of the treaty.
- The Presger seem to see themselves as more of an ultimate good. When asked why the Presger, who couldn't see the difference between colonizing Rachaai humans and defending Garseddai humans, sold guns that could destroy Radchaai ships to the Garseddai, Zeiat came up with an analogy.
- Allergic to Routine: Complains of being bored of the various social conventions that come with being in the Radch and especially bored with breathing. When she visits Breq, has to relieve herself, and is told Breq's household doesn't have facilities up for that and must resort to a bucket, she's delighted."I'm not bored with buckets yet!"
- Noodle Incident: Ate people before adulthood, though no one she wasn't supposed to. And apparently, this one time she dismembered her sister. She was unhappy about it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Easily underestimated. She became bored of being confined to a suite on Athoek and went wandering without anyone being the wiser - which is conventionally impossible.
- Split Personality: Potentially; she seems confused about whether she's Dlique or Zeiat, but is willing to be convinced either way.
- Cloudcuckoolander: But not quite as much as Dlique.Zeiat: I'm so glad I'm not Dlique.
- Hive Mind: Another possibility. She once tells Breq the last thing Breq told Dlique, that blood belongs inside of veins.
- Humanoid Abomination: She's been grown to resemble a human being, but she can unhinge her jaw, vomit up a live fish a week after eating it, and get up after being shot several times without being worried about all the bleeding.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: Confides in Breq a time or two that humans really are weird, she's not sure she'll ever understand them, and it's disturbing to her that she's related to humanity.
- Split Personality: Potentially; she seems initially confused about whether she's Dlique or Zeiat. Once assured that she's definitely Zeiat (because they already had a Dlique), she seems to treat it like a different identity.
- Those Two Guys: With Sphene once they're both on Mercy of Kalr.