Spoilers for books 1-7 are UNMARKED
- Amazon Chaser: The two girls he showed romantic interest in were Alyss and Cassandra, so this is a fair bet.
- The Apprentice: In the first few books, until he earns his silver oakleaf. Then inverted in Book 12.
- Blank Slate: Briefly, when addicted to warmweed.
- Brought Down to Normal: For a fair chunk of book three.
- Childhood Friend Romance: With Alyss.
- Combat Pragmatist: Necessary in close combat when his only weapons are a bow, a saxe knife and a small throwing knife.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rarely can he have a conversation without snarking.
- Determinator/Undying Loyalty: If his friends are in trouble, come hell or high water, no matter how long and far he has to ride, he will do whatever it takes to protect them.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Horace after the boar hunt.
- Happily Married: To Alyss.
- Height Angst: He was too small to fulfill his dream of becoming a knight, or even working with the warhorses that they ride into combat.
- The Hero: The protagonist of almost every book, with the exception of Books 11-13 and some of 3, 4, and 11.
- Heroic BSoD: Gets into a bad one for the beginning of Book 12, and a brief one in Book 2 after what he perceived as cowardice.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: In Book 2, he understandably freezes when charged by Wargals, and thinks of himself as a coward. Gilan and Halt talk him out of it.
- Humble Hero: Will doesn't think of himself as anything particularly special, just a Ranger doing his job to the best of his ability.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: He's described as better archer than Gilan, Halt's former apprentice and a Ranger of considerably more experience, to add to any Ranger's already almost inhuman accuracy with a bow.
- Meaningful Name: Baron Arald notices his determination and willpower in the first book, and how it relates to his name. His last name was given to him when he graduated from his apprenticeship, referring to the important role he played in securing the treaty with Skandia.
- The Mentor: Briefly to several young Rangers, and eventually to Maddie
- The Pollyanna: In the first couple of books, and to a lesser extent afterwards, he's famous among his friends for his cheerfulness.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Does this occasionally to scare people into talking.
- Terror Hero: He does this in Book 12, using the full force of his reputation as a Ranger.
A veteran Ranger and Will's mentor for most of the books.
- Badass Teacher: Punished a group of bullies, who were attacking Horace and Will, ruthlessly.
- Berserk Button: Do not insult Lady Pauline. If you're lucky, you'll get thrown out of a window.
- Character Development: Becomes less grim as Will cheers him up over time.
- Cool Old Guy: As an aging man somewhere between his 40's and 50's, he seems to be one of the oldest Rangers in the order. He's still very dangerous, however.
- Cowboy Cop: To Be Lawful or Good? For Halt, that's not even a choice: He'll choose Good every time.
- Deadpan Snarker: Boy, is he ever.
- Destination Defenestration: Pulls this a couple of times in Book 2.
- Expecting Someone Taller: This is generally the reaction people have to meeting Halt the first time around, which annoys him to no end.
- Happily Married: To Lady Pauline, starting in Book 7.
- The Last DJ: He uses a copy of Duncan's seal to get his way, which would be a capital crime for anyone else. Duncan chooses to look the other way.
- Mentor in Sour Armor: To Will.
- Must Have Caffeine: And passes this on to Horace and Will.
- Papa Wolf: Towards Will.
- Parental Substitute: To Will, even calling him "son" at one point.
- Prank Punishment: One of his favourite teaching methods is to let the over-eager Will try a task on his own before telling him the correct way to do it. Most notably, he allows Will to mount a "ranger's horse" before telling him how.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Halt is actually the rightful king of the Hibernian kingdom of Clonmel, his twin brother more or less having run him out of the kingdom in secret. note
- Scarily Competent Tracker: As a master Ranger, this is a given.
- Shrouded in Myth: He's an in-universe Memetic Badass. This causes his apprentices some grief, as they at first feel that they have to live up to his reputation.
- Single-Target Sexuality: He never seems to display any interest in women other than Pauline, though admittedly, he may have been interested in others before we met him.
- The Stoic: Though this gets somewhat downplayed in later books.
- Terror Hero: Halt has absolutely zero compunctions about scaring people into doing what he needs them do.
- Trickster Mentor: To an extent with both Will and Horace (and presumably towards Gilan as well, back in the day).
- The Unfavorite: While talking to Will and Horace in book eight, he implies that his younger twin brother was their parent's favorite child.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Crowley can never exchange more than a few sentences without snarking at each other.
A friend of Will and Alyss' from the Ward, he starts out as a Jerk Jock but takes some levels in humility and becomes Vitriolic Best Buds with Will. Eventually, he, Will, and Halt form a Special Task Group and deal with many problems together, snarking all the way. He eventually marries Cassandra and becomes the Prince Consort.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Asks one in Book 7 to defuse Selethen's distrust of the Araulens and Svengal, as a subtle but marked piece of Character Development.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Horace is what happens when Nice Guy meets Master Swordsman.
- Big Eater: His "mighty prowess at the dinner table" is actually how he earns his nickname of "Kurokuma" (Black Bear) while they're in Nihon-Ja.
- Book Dumb: Halt wonders if they teach any geography in Battleschool. He starts to grow out of this some in later books.
- Bully Turned Buddy: Horace bullied Will throughout childhood, but after Horace experiences bullying himself at Battleschool and the two get through a few dangerous situations together they become Heterosexual Life-Partners.
- Character Development: Possibly the most marked in the series-goes from a Jerk Jock to Will's closest friend and almost a second son to Halt.
- Combat Pragmatist: To a certain extent. While he does fight clean and above-board (he is a knight, after all), he'll only give an enemy one or two chances to surrender at most, and once he decides to get serious, it's rare that anyone can stand against him.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With Will.
- Good Is Not Soft: He may be kind, gentle, and funny, but he is also a trained fighter who's killed his fair share of opponents. Also, what he does to the Genovesan in Book 9 definitely counts, as recognizing they don't have time to get the info on which flower the Genovesan used to make the poison (as the antidote for the wrong one would be just as fatal as letting the poison take its course) nor can they risk him lying, he outright grabs a poisoned arrow and stabs the Genovesan with it, making sure to dig it around in the wound so it's fully infected, and bluntly tells him to tell the truth or he'll die much faster than Halt is going to. Noticeably, even Will was surprised at the ruthlessness and he was the one even more openly angry at the Genovesan.
- Humble Hero: After some Character Development, he matures into this.
- Hunk: He's very well built, something which is noted by several female characters.
- Knight in Shining Armor: As well as being a literal case, he really is gentle, polite, humble, and friendly.
- Master Swordsman: One of the best, if not the best, in the series.
- Rags to Riches: Goes from a ward (a social nobody in that society), to the First Knight of the realm.
- Simple-Minded Wisdom: Horace isn't as cunning or quick-witted as Will or many of the other protagonists (although he's far from stupid) but occasionally he'll point out a key bit of information the others miss because they are looking at a problem too complexly. (Notably Horace becomes more devious in later installments and cheerfully blames Will and Halt for corrupting him).
- Tranquil Fury: When dealing with the Genovesan who shot Halt, he doesn't raise his voice or even look particularly angry-and then he shows his Good Is Not Soft side. A marked contrast with Will.
- Undying Loyalty: To Will and Halt.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: But eventually wises up a little, even causing Halt and Will to wonder if he's stringing them along at certain points in books eight and nine.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Again with Will, with whom they are the Straight Man and Wise Guy (Horace being the straight man).
Halt's former apprentice. He's the only Ranger to fight with a sword, which is most definitely not there for decoration. He also appears in Books 4 and 5 of Brotherband Chronicles.
- The Ace: As mentioned below, Gilan's just about the stealthiest Ranger in the Corps, a Master Swordsman, and a more than competent hand-to-hand fighter and archer. Fitting, since he was trained by Halt. He still gets surprisingly little time in the limelight, though.
- Beware the Nice Ones: You really don't want to anger him.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Will, Horace, and the Herons.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: The only Ranger in the group to use a sword.
- A Day in the Limelight: He gets two short stories in Book 11, and joins the Herons in Books 4 and 5 of the Brotherband Chronicles.
- Deadpan Snarker: Seems to be standard for the Ranger Corps.
- Good Is Not Dumb: He constantly shows strategic aptitude, such as outwitting one of Morgarath's lieutenants and getting a Spot the Thread moment even while absolutely exhausted.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Downplayed. While consoling Will, who's worried about moving out from under Halt's shadow, Will asks about what would happen if he made a mistake. Gilan's response is to roar with laughter and say that Will ought to consider himself lucky if he makes a mistake—he made a few on his first day alone!
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Played With. He is a Master Swordsman with his right hand, but only "very good" with his left. Occasionally, he will start out with his right hand, then switch to his left hand and use the moment of surprise to defeat an opponent.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Played for Laughs. He starts out Mildly Military, enjoying snarking at his Commandant. Then he is bemused when he becomes the Commandant and other Rangers show him just as much respect.
- Master Swordsman: Gives Thorn a pretty good fight in a sparring match.
- The Mentor: While he never trained an apprentice (that we know of), he teaches Horace some of the finer points of swordsmanship, and helps Will both with a few Ranger skills and also with dealing with the legacy of being Halt's apprentice.
- Mildly Military: Like all Rangers, he is this by nature. As Halt's apprentice, he has absolutely no problems snarking at senior Rangers, even when they outrank him."Halt teaches us to respect authority. We just ignore it from time to time."
- Must Have Coffee: He's picked this up from Halt.
- Nice Guy: Is glad to work with the Heron brotherband, and helps Will with his nervousness about leaving Halt's tutelage.
- Pair the Spares: He and Jenny are close, but not yet married as of Book 12.
- Passing the Torch: He replaces Crowley as the Corps Commandant when the latter retires.
- Sixth Ranger: Puns aside, he joins the Brotherband crew for a couple of books.
- Stealth Expert: Considered to be the best Ranger in the Corps at moving invisibly, high praise for an organisation that places so much emphasis on stealth as a skill.
- Underestimating Badassery: Is sometimes the recipient of this, due to his youth and cheerful nature. He warns Horace against doing this, noting that while Horace may one day be able to beat all but a handful of warriors, he needs to know who those handful are.
Will's oldest friend, a Courier and apprentice to Lady Pauline, and his eventual wife.
- Action Girl: Downplayed because she's not a fighter, but in book five, she draws a knife on John Buttle to distract him, and in book ten she is shown to have some skill with a light sword.
- Ambadassador: Being a Courier seems to require this.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Thanks to Sir Keren, she tries to kill Will.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Neither she nor Will can. It takes Keren hypnotizing her into trying to kill Will (and almost succeeding) to get him to do so. Fortunately, this snaps her out of it.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Running into a burning building to save a girl definitely counts.
- Courier: Literally one.
- Damsel in Distress: Imprisoned for the last part of Book 5 and almost all of Book 6.
- Everyone Can See It: Literally no one is surprised when she and Will fall for each other.
- First Girl Wins: Will's earliest friend and eventual wife.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Gets pretty obnoxious to Cassandra when she thinks the latter is into Will.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Downplayed; she can certainly be sweet and kind, but also very obnoxious to Cassandra.
- Hypnotize the Captive: Falls prey to this in Books 5 and 6, effectively becoming a Damsel in Distress.
- Official Couple: With Will. She doesn't live through the series.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: She runs into a burning building to save a girl. Unfortunately, it kills her.
- Parental Substitute: Has one in Pauline, mirroring Will's relationship with Halt.
Princess Cassandra, aka Evanlyn
Duncan's daughter and Princess of the Realm. First appears as a simple serving girl, but is far more than that. She has significant Ship Tease with both Will and Horace, but eventually chooses the latter.
- Action Girl: With her slingshot. She's also pretty good with a sword.
- Babies Ever After: She is pregnant at the end of Book 11, and gives birth to a daughter.
- Beta Couple: With Horace.
- Deadpan Snarker: She does enjoy doing this.
- Determinator: As the narration notes, she will never give up. She will always find a way. This earns her respect from Erak.
- Happily Married: To Horace.
- Only Sane Woman: She sometimes feels this way amongst the Bunny Ears Lawyers who are her husband and the Rangers.
- Out of Focus: Sadly, she disappears for books 5, 6, 8, and 9. This is a Justified Trope, though; her Character Development is mostly done and the author can focus on Will and Alyss, and afterwards the relationship between Will, Horace, and Halt.
- Ship Tease: With Will for the first couple of books, and later with Horace.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Both Will and Horace are genuinely sweet and kind men who bring out the best in her. She ends up with Horace in large part because, while Will is befuddled by her change in rank, Horace always treats her with simple respect and friendship.
- Rebellious Princess: Doesn't have much time for fancy clothes or ceremonial stuff like wine tasting and party planning. This is hinted to be one reason she gets on so well with Will and Halt.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: She's been on numerous adventures with Horace, Halt, Will, and Alyss by the end of book 10. This is actually invoked, because a somewhat sexist society respects an Action Girl much more than a Shrinking Violet.
The Good King of Araulen, respected by all for his fair, but firm, position. Definitely not a weak man, in any sense of the word.
- Action Dad: To Cassandra.
- The Good King: He lives and breathes this trope, enough to make even Halt respect him.
- Master Swordsman: He's described as one of the best knights in his own kingdom. Both prequels show us that this reputation is well-deserved.
- Papa Wolf: He is very protective of his daughter.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Oh so very much. He even looks the other way when Halt uses his (forged) seal, which ought to be an automatic death penalty.
- Take a Third Option: When faced with a choice between either death or banishment for Halt, he chooses banishment...for the period of one year. After all, it's never stated that banishment must be for life.
- To Be Lawful or Good: As a king, he must always be Lawful, even if he would rather be Good.
- With Great Power: As much as Duncan enjoys the privileges that come with his position, he's very well aware of the responsibilities as well, and does his best to uphold them.
The daughter of Cassandra and Horace, Princess Regent, and main character of Book 12. Due to her role, there will be spoilers.
- Action Girl: She's as good as, if not better than, her mom with a sling, and is a Ranger to boot.
- Character Development: Takes several levels in kindness once she is temporarily removed as princess.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Played to the hilt. While Will was a poor ward of the state, Maddie's the daughter of royalty. Will was a decent enough person to start out, if irresponsible, while Maddie is a Royal Brat who becomes much nicer after having been in training for some time. Played for Laughs at one point, when she successfully bypasses a prank Will had fallen for in the first book, much to his chagrin.
- Deadpan Snarker: Comes by it honestly.
- Foil: To her mom. Both are Action Girls in different ways, and both are Rebellious Princesses who share the same behaviors, but whereas Cassandra eventually settles into her position, for Maddie it takes time in the Ranger Corps and getting demoted.
- Like Mother, Like Daughter: Like her mother, she fits the Rebellious Princess trope to a T. Unlike her mother, this isn't necessarily a good thing.
- Rebellious Princess: Deconstructed, as her behavior on top of her parents' other responsibilities leads them to send her into the Ranger Corps.
- Royal Brat: Is quite the Jerkass at first.
- Spoiled Brat: What she starts out as.
- Took Alevel In Kindness: Lampshaded by Will after she's been in training for a while.
The Wakir (local ruler) of Al Shabah, he first appears in Book 7, and again in Book 10 and Book 5 of Brotherband.
- Action Hero: Doesn't shy away from getting his hands dirty, and indeed seems to prefer it to doing paperwork.
- The Captain: Although not actually a Captain of anything, he is a senior Wakir (local ruler), and is overall very much this.
- Cultured Badass: Fits this trope to a t.
- Deadpan Snarker: And loves his Snark-to-Snark Combat.
- Master Swordsman: Downplayed a little. He's not a master, exactly, but he is very good with his scimitar.
- The Smart Guy: As well as being an expert swordsman, Selethen, as he's usually known, pulls a Bait-and-Switch gambit on the Araulen delegation, and proves his strategic skills multiple times afterwards.
- Team Dad: He's shown to be this towards his men, taking care of and encouraging them.
- True Companions: With Will, Gilan, Svengal, Umar, and Halt after Book 7.
The Ranger Corps Commandant, he is a close friend of Halt, having known him for a long time. Very much not to be underestimated.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: He wasn't elected just because of his combat skills, but it's undeniable that he's a very dangerous man.
- Beware the Nice Ones: A kind, good-natured man, but one who is also a highly dangerous Ranger.
- Experienced Protagonist: Providing a foil to Halt in the prequels, Crowley is already a fully-trained and qualified Ranger.
- Fiery Redhead: Lampshaded by Crowley himself, who notes that he has a bit of a temper.
- The Gadfly: Occasionally, such as flirting with Lady Pauline just to annoy Halt, or sneaking up on Will to startle the other man.
- The Heart: The true reason why he's elected to be Commandant.
- The Leader: Has a bit of all four types, but is this trope enough that the vast majority of Rangers either automatically defer to him, or else agree to do so after only a little while.
- Life Will Kill You: Dies in his sleep at a ripe old age.
- Married to the Job: Name-drops the trope, stating that it's a combination of this and that he never found the right woman (he's also carried a torch for Lady Pauline for a long time, but knows she's not interested in him).
- Nice Guy: Although a Fiery Redhead, he is fair, a Humble Hero, and puts up with his subordinates snarking at him.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Several, including the case of Arndor of Crewse, a giant and bully whom Crowley chained to a mill wheel as a form of penance.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Anyone who can put up with Halt's antics for a few decades straight certainly deserves this title.
- Shipper on Deck: Despite being at least somewhat interested in Pauline, he encourages Halt to go after her, and is very happy for his old friend when they get married.
- The Stealth Expert: Said to be the Ranger Corps' master of silent movement, which he uses to sneak up on enemies and friends alike. When other Rangers consider you to be the best of the best...
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Exchanges a constant flow of snark with Halt, and gives as good as he gets. However, it's very clear that they care about each other deeply.
MorgarathThe Big Bad of the first two books (and the prequels).
- Bad Boss: He shows very little concern about his underlings.
- Big Bad: His revolt against Duncan is the cataclyst for just about everything in the prequels and through Book 4, save the Temujai invasion, which would have happened anyway.
- Combat Pragmatist: Breaks the rules of his tournaments for the sake of ensuring his win and keeping control of his minions.
- Complexity Addiction: His grand plan for taking down the protagonists' kingdom had way too many moving parts, as the Skandian mercenaries under his employ point out. If just one aspect of it fails, the whole thing falls apart. Which is exactly what happens when Will and "Evanlyn" torch a certain bridge before being captured.
- Deadpan Snarker: Snarks at the Rangers and Duncan in the prequels, and his subordinates in the present.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: It's hinted that part of the reason he rebelled is because, as a senior baron, he wasn't getting the respect he felt he deserved.
- Early Installment Weirdness/Outside-Genre Foe: Has an army of inhuman minions whom he controls with telepathy and is able to hire assassins from a second non-human race in a setting that otherwise has absolutely zero fantastical or paranormal elements.
- Evil Overlord
- Genius Bruiser: A highly intelligent and strategic plotter, who's also an expert warrior.
- Master Swordsman: In the first prequel, it's repeatedly stressed that Morgarath is one of the best knights in the kingdom.
- Too Clever by Half: If not the trope namer, then certainly heavily lampshaded by his Skandian mercenaries when they're undertaking his warplan against the protagonists' home kingdom.
Sir KerenThe nephew of Lord Syon and knight who wants to take control of Macindaw to allow the Scotti passage into Araluen. To this end, he poisons both his uncle and his cousin Orman to try and claim the title of Lord.
- Abhorrent Admirer: He asks Alyss to be his wife.
- Affably Evil: Enough to (at first) fool Will and Alyss. He uses his affability to sway many of Macindaw's warriors and people to his side over his much more dour and visually sinister (but good-hearted) cousin Orman, to the point he was able to convince them Orman was the one to poison Syon.
- Apologetic Attacker: He doesn't really want to be the bad guy, and feels bad (at first) about imprisoning Alyss. As things start going against him, however, that apologetic nature starts to crack and culminating with him trying to use a brainwashed Alyss to kill Will.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He comes off as a warm and friendly man with good looks, able to convince nearly everyone he's a good guy and he's working against his shady cousin Orman. The reality is he's a man who was willing to poison both his uncle and cousin in order to become a Lord and was willing to collaborate with an enemy kingdom to betray his own. He does express some regret about it, but he doesn't change his course and tries to kill the heroes when it becomes clear he's going to lose.
- Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: He's Affably Evil, markedly different from Morgarath and the Temujai. In fact, he's the only villain in the whole series who actually seems to have any respect for his followers.
- Disney Death: Falling out a window after getting splashed with acid? Yeesh.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: The reason for his FaceHeel Turn, believing he was far more worthy of being the lord of Castle Macindaw over Orman.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: His cover persona is like this. See Affably Evil above.
- I've Come Too Far: When Alyss pleads with him to stop this and not betray Araluen, he admits she might have swayed him had his uncle not died from his poisoning.
- Villainous Breakdown: As Macindaw is falling.
YusalThe leader of the Tualaghi, who holds Erak hostage in Book 7.
- Bad Boss: Even his Tualaghi don't like him too much.
- Combat Pragmatist: He has no regard for the flag of truce, and when his first assault fails, he lets dehydration take its toll.
- Fate Worse than Death: He gets a concussion from Cassandra's sling, and will probably spend the rest of his life "as a mindless, babbling idiot." No one (except his brother) minds too much.
- For the Evulz: He doesn't seem to have much of a motivation beyond gaining as much power as he can, and hurting others.
TennysonThe leader of the Outsiders cult, offering happiness in exchange for gold.
- Badass Normal: Averted, unlike just about every other villain in the series. Tennyson's only weapons are his money and his charm.
- Batman Gambit: The way the Outsiders work. To summarize: he comes into a country along with a cult of friendly-seeming individuals singing the praises of Alseiass, "The Great Golden God", and make nice with the people while there. Some time later, a group of bandits claiming to serve Balsennis, Alseiass's longtime enemy, and start tearing through the country. Tennyson's group then offers to push away the bandits using Alseiass's power... which, of course, is derived from gold. No points for guessing what happens next...
- Big Bad: He's the villain of Books 8 and 9.
- Disney Death: A classic.
- Fat Bastard: He's described as being overweight, which initially contributes to a friendly persona, but in reality, he's this trope.
- Faux Affably Evil: He presents himself as a kind man. Hes not.
- Kick the Dog: His murder of Ferris was unnecessary, and seems to have been out of spite more than anything else.
- Villain with Good Publicity: It's necessary to the whole charade.
Jory RuhlAn Araulen criminal, Alyss's murderer, and the leader of a slaving trade.
- Bad Boss: A standard for RA villains; he shows no respect for his subordinates.
- Karmic Death: He gets killed the way he planned for Will to die, which was itself a cruel reference to Alyss' death.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He doesn't show up until over halfway through the book, and unlike other antagonists leads only a criminal gang rather than a whole army, but he's indirectly the reason pretty much everything happens.