Panterra QuA seventeen year old Tracker with an almost preternatural gift for finding the tracks of his prey, Panterra and his friend Prue Liss, are the first people after Sider Ament, to discover that the magic that protects the valley is failing. Tasked by Sider with warning the valley, Panterra makes an enemy of Skeal Elie, is captured by Taureq Siq while trying to warn the Elves, and is eventually chosen by Sider Ament to be his successor. Trapped by the events around him, Panterra is in way over his head, and knows it.
- Boom Stick: Inherits the black staff from Sider Ament.
- The Chosen One: Though in this case it was Sider Ament, rather than fate, that did the choosing.
- The Hero
- Like Brother and Sister: With his best friend, Prue.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Prue Liss, who is equal parts friend and little sister.
- The Stoic: Panterra rarely displays any emotion, and never lets them interfere with his decisions, in a sharp contrast with Prue and Phryne.
- Teen Genius
- Their First Time: With Phryne Amarantyne while they are on the run together.
- Took a Level in Badass: In The Measure of the Magic as he grows into his role as the next Bearer of the Black Staff.
Prue LissPanterra Qu's closest friend, fifteen year old Prue is an exceptionally capable Tracker, who can all but vanish at will. Like Panterra, she is tasked with warning the valley and preparing it's people for war, a task that sees her plunged into a great deal of hardship. She eventually meets the King of the Silver River, who grants her the power to help Panterra make a difference.
- Blessed with Suck: The King of the Silver River's blessing gives her far greater abilities at the cost of her ability to see in colour.
- Distressed Damsel: Thrust into this role after she is captured by Taureq Siq and has to be rescued by Deladion Inch. In fairness to her, she pulls her weight after the escape, and doesn't slow down Deladion any.
- Like Brother and Sister: With Panterra
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Panterra, who is her best friend and brother figure.
- Teen Genius: Even more so then Panterra. Prue is an absolute prodigy as a Tracker.
- Took a Level in Badass: After being blessed by the King of the Silver River.
Skeal ElieThe leader of the Children of the Hawk, Skeal Elie brooks no challenges to the power of his sect. Upon discovering that the mist is coming down, he goes out of his way first to obscure the facts, and then to manipulate the situation to his advantage.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Skeal Elie is set up as a major villain, but quickly comes under the ragpicker's control in Book 2.
- Corrupt Politician
- Deal with the Devil: Cuts one with the ragpicker, though his agency in doing so is questionable.
- Expy: As a crooked politician who comes under the influence of a being of dark magic, Skeal Elie bears a passing resemblance to Sen Dunsidan, albeit with the addition of religious trappings.
- The Fundamentalist: Cannot stand anything that goes against his dogma.
- Killed Off for Real: Killed and replaced by the ragpicker partway through The Measure of the Magic.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Sinister Minister: Holds religious and political power.
- Unwitting Pawn: Of the ragpicker
Sider Ament, the Gray Man
- "I'm not for hire and I don't get to choose my path."
The last descendant of the Knights of the Word from the Word and the Void, Sider Ament has made protecting the valley his life's work as the Bearer of the Black Staff. Realising that the magic that isolates the valley from the outside world is failing, and that his own time to find an apprentice is running out, Sider makes it his mission to ready the valley for contact with the rest of the world, and mold Panterra Qu into his successor.
- Boom Stick: Carries the same black staff once wielded by John Ross.
- Killed Off for Real
- Last of His Kind: Last Knight of the Word.
- The Mentor: To Panterra Qu
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Killed off at the end of the first book by one of Arik Siq's blowdarts.
- Take Up My Sword: His mentor did this to him, passing along the black staff and all the responsibility that accompanies it. He does it to Panterra Qu at the end of Bearers of the Black Staff.
Deladion InchA traveller, engineer, and problem solver, Deladion is the first person that Sider Ament meets in the world outside the valley, and informs him of the changes in the world. One of the few people who still knows how to use and maintain firearms, Deladion strikes up a fast friendship with Sider, and assists him in freeing Prue from Tauriq Siq's Trolls.
- Armour Is Useless: Averted. Deladion's bodyarmour stops almost all weapons.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Empties his guns into an approaching Troll army, killing dozens of them, then blows himself up with grenades when they finally get close enough to kill him.
- Foil: To Sider, as the last gunman and last Knight of the Word respectively.
- The Gunslinger
- Killed Off for Real
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dies saving Prue from a whole army
- Hired Guns: Operates as a merc.
- Last of His Kind: Last gunslinger
- Mister Exposition: As a well travelled mercenary, Deladion is in a position to fill in a lot of the blanks for Sider.
- More Dakka: With the spray on his automatic.
- One-Man Army
- Science Hero: His engineering skills make him an Outside Context Hero to the Trolls.
Phryne AmantyreDaughter of the King of the Elves, Phryne is known for her wild disposition and disdain for her stepmother. Among the first Elves to hear of the failing of the mists, Phryne makes it her personal mission to have Panterra and Prue's information accepted by her father and the rest of the Elves.
- Action Girl: Already capable; then she gets the Blue Elfstones.
- Dragon Rider
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dies destroying Taureq Siq's army
- Rebellious Princess
- Their First Time: With Panterra Qu when they're on the run.
- "I do want to be Queen..."
- Ambition Is Evil
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Forms one along with Skeal Elie.
- God Save Us from the Queen!
- Gold Digger
- Neck Snap: How she dies by Tasha's hands.
- Smug Snake
- The Vamp
- Wicked Stepmother: Going so far as to try and frame Phryne for her father's murder.
- Your Cheating Heart: Sleeps with both The Good King and the Evil Chancellor, as well as anybody else who can advance her position.
Taureq SiqMaturen of the Drouj Troll tribe, Taureq Siq believes it is his destiny to rule the known world. Discovering the location of the valley, Taureq immediately makes preparations to invade it.
- Ambition Is Evil
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Leads his tribe and the Troll nations by virtue of being the greatest warrior.
- Big Bad: Contends with the ragpicker for the title of series big bad.
- The Dreaded: Known and feared as a warlord and conqueror in the outside world.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Covered in evil scars from battles for dominance.
- Killed Off for Real: By Phryne's dragon
- Take Over the World
Arik Sarn/Arik SiqA Troll warrior in Grosha Siq's hunting party, Arik Sarn is one of the few Trolls to speak the languages of Men and Elves. Claiming descent from Genesis's Panther, Arik aids Panterra's release from Taureq Siq's army, and later accompanies the boy back to the valley, where he is introduced to the Men and Elves who live there. He is actually Taureq Siq's eldest son, Arik Siq, and is preparing the way for his father's army by scouting out the valley's defenses.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- The Charmer
- Deal with the Devil: Offered one by the ragpicker, who wants him to kill Panterra Qu and bring him the black staff; in exchange, Arik gets his freedom.
- Evil Genius: His father's idea man.
- Genius Bruiser: Arik is a Troll, which means he's at least seven feet tall and built like a pro-wrestler. He's also a storyteller, artist, strategist, and political machinator of the first degree.
- Gentle Giant: Arik's a warrior, like most Trolls, but he also sketches birds, admires flowers, and has no desire to hurt anybody. At least that's what he'd like you to think.
- The Heavy: For most of book one
- Heroic Lineage: Claims to be a descendant of two of the Ghosts from The Genesis of Shannara, almost certainly Panther and Cat, since although they are never mentioned by name, they became an early phase in humanity's evolution into trolls. He uses this as a reason for his hidden loyalty to Pan and Prue. Whether this claim is true or not, it still didn't ever mean anything to him.
- Killed Off for Real: By the ragpicker when he tries to break their deal
- Manipulative Bastard: Manipulate Panterra, Prue, and even Sider, easily.
- The Mole
- Poisoned Weapons: Favours a blowgun loaded with poisoned darts, an odd choice for a Troll.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With his younger brother. Grosha's an Axe-Crazy psycho who gets off on feeding people to his Skaith Hounds. Arik's a calm, cold-blooded schemer who uses his brain to get what he wants.
- Social Darwinist: Informs Panterra that his people's weakness invites their destruction, and that those who cannot defend themselves do not deserve to exist.
- The Strategist: For Taureq's army.
Grosha SiqTaureq Siq's younger son, Grosha is a vicious brute, obsessed with hunting and killing. He frequently runs down his enemies with his Skaith Hounds, before feeding them to them. Only Arik Sarn and his father seem able to exercise any level of control over him.
- The Brute: One of the few Trolls in the series to actually fall into this stereotype.
- Bullying a Dragon: Died bullying, and then lying to, the ragpicker
- Killed Off for Real
- Psychopathic Manchild: Grosha is a spoiled, nasty little daddy's boy at heart.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With his Evil Genius older brother.
- The Un-Favourite: Grosha's knows he is not the favoured son, and deeply resents it.
The RagpickerOne of the small "d" demons first introduced in The Word and the Void, the Ragpicker is one of the few of its kind to survive the Great Wars. Tracking the last Bearer of the Black Staff, the ragpicker arrives in the valley, and succeeds in making a bad situation that much worse.
- Big Bad: Contends with Taureq Siq for the title; he manages to use almost everyone, hero and villain alike for his own ends.
- The Collector: Takes one item of clothing from each person he kills in order to better remember them.
- The Chessmaster: The ragpicker believes in fashioning favourable conditions rather than awaiting them, and plans ahead.
- The Corrupter
- Deal with the Devil: Offers one to Skeal Elie and one to Arik.
- Evil Old Folks: Described as resembling an old, battered man.
- Grand Theft Me: Eventually does it to Skeal Elie
- Hero Killer: Has slain other Knights of the Word in the past, and is looking to finish the job.
- Lean and Mean: Tall and lean, with the build of a stork.
- Manipulative Bastard: Can lie with the best of them when he has to, though normally he just frightens people into cooperating.
- Omnicidal Maniac: All the demons are this, as part of the Void's agenda. With the world essentially ended after the Great Wars, the ragpicker is cleaning up the remnants of humanity who survived.
- The Soulless
- Was Once a Man