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Character page for David Weber's Safehold series.

Please be aware that there will be unmarked spoilers for later books in the series.

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Operation Ark

    In General 
Operation Ark was humanity's last effort to hide from the Gbaba. As the alien slayers found human planets by "listening" to various technological radiations, the decision was made to send a group of eight million people far, far away to populate a planet behind Gbaba radar and stay on a low technological level for the next three hundred years. To help this, they all agreed to have their memories of advanced technology deleted. However, megalomaniac administrators of Operation Ark deleted all their memories instead and supplanted ones that convinced colonists that they were created on Safehold by God's "archangels" — that is, the administration.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: Everybody has a brain port, which allows them to interface with machines.
  • Fake Memories: The colonists were supposed to get ones that allowed them to easily live in a low-tech society. What their brains were uploaded with wasn't what they signed up for.
  • Fun with Acronyms: PICA, SNARC. NEaT.
  • Gone Horribly Right: They were supposed to discard advanced technology for some time... and thanks to Langhorne's faction they substituted it with an oppressive, dogmatic church.
  • Last of His Kind: After the Battle of Earth, they are the last of humanity.
  • Neural Implanting: Everybody has implants with which to communicate with machines without proxy. They also enable them to learn extremely quickly, thanks to devices like NEATs.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Thanks to antigerone drugs, they can live for almost three centuries while aging more slowly.
  • The Singularity: Devices like NEATs and PICAs allow them to connect directly to the machines and download all information in matter of seconds. PICAs with uploaded human minds do all the hard and dangerous work. People can work and exist in virtual realities even after they die. People's minds can be copied. Everybody has a brain port injected right after birth.

    Shan-wei's faction 

Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, TFN

The original Merlin Athrawes, Nimue Alban was an officer of the Terran Federation Navy. She was killed by the Gbaba after transferring away from one of Operation Ark's vessels in order to cover the "loss" of her PICA.

  • All Girls Like Ponies: Averted, Nimue preferred sailing to riding ... which confused her father (a noted equestrian) no end.
  • The Beautiful Elite: She was called beautiful and she was an avid sailor, climber and kendo fighter; she had her own, last-generation PICA; her father, Dafydd, was one of the richest Terrans.
  • Daddy's Girl: She seems to have had a much better relationship with her father than her mother — while we know quite a lot about Dafydd Alban, the only thing we know about Mrs. Alban is that she was Swedish and divorced him after Nimue's birth. Likewise, Mr. Alban quite clearly adored his only daughter and didn't spare expenses on her.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: She transfers off an Operation Ark ship, knowing that to do so will mean that she will be killed, to help Kau-yung and Shan-wei rebel against Langhorne and his megalomaniacal friends.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother apparently left her to her father after her parents divorced.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: There's no hint in the text about how to pronounce either her name or Dafydd's (her father), something that is especially noticeable in the audiobooks, since the pronunciations keep changing without ever getting it right. Incidentally, Nimue is either NIM-oo-aa or NIM-way, while Dafydd is DAV-ith (th like in 'the').
  • Parental Substitute: While she's fond of her father, she clearly thinks of the Peis as of her second set of parents.
  • Posthumous Character: After one scene, she's described only in Merlin's flashbacks.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Taller than most women in TFN, which makes her a giant by Safehold standards.

Dr. Pei Shan-wei

The Queen of Sin, the Mistress of Lies, the Dark Mother of Evil, Pei Shan-wei is the embodiment of Darkness and opposition to the will of God. Once an Archangel, Shan-wei betrayed the other Archangels in her overwhelming pride, setting her own will against the will of God, and she was struck down for it by the Rakurai of God Himself.

In fact, Dr. Pei Shan-wei was one of the original administrators of the Safehold Colony, who opposed Eric Langhorne's alterations of Operation Ark's original mission plan. Cast out of the Administrative Council by Langhorne, Shan-wei set up the Alexandria Enclave, which Langhorne destroyed by orbital bombardment. She serves as the Devil in Mother Church's theology, and misleadingly-accurate accusations of "Shan-wei worship" are leveled at the protagonists by the Church throughout the series.

  • Crazy-Prepared: Apart from hiding Nimue, she also educated and sent to other enclaves over two hundred people in order to preserve the knowledge of Earth. She seems to be right: as far as we know, only four of them managed to pass down the knowledge.
  • Fallen Hero: In the Holy Writ, she's one of God's greatest angels until she rebels.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: See description above.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The rebels in the War Against the Fallen used her as their figurehead.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: In Safeholdian myth, she was the "brightest" of the archangels, the most compassionate among them and the creator of Safehold, and then she set herself against God.
  • Parental Substitute: A second mother to Nimue.
  • Posthumous Character: By the time the proper plot unfolds, she's been dead for over eight centuries. In fact, calendar years on Safehold track the number of years since Langhorne's "victory" over her "evil".
  • Properly Paranoid: Prepared herself for the possibility that Alexandria would be destroyed. Well... Alexandria was destroyed.
  • Satanic Archetype: In modern Safeholdian faith, she's a pretty straightforward Satan expy, down to her imprisonment in hell, her rebellion against God and her temptation of mortals.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Before her rebellion, she was revered as the "creator" of Safehold. Given her opinion on the whole God Guise plot, it's not surprising she hated this with a passion.
  • Terraform: Her scientific discipline.

Commodore Pei Kau-yung

Husband of Pei Shan-wei, Commodore Kau-yung and his wife staged a public falling-out after the extent of Langhorne's megalomania was revealed. Following the destruction of the Alexandria Enclave, Kau-yung attended a meeting of the Administrative Council wearing a vest-pocket nuke. He managed to kill most of the Archangels, meaning that he is now known as Kau-yung, Father of Destruction and Lord of Treachery.

  • Defector from Decadence: Seems to be one of the few members of the Administrative Council who didn't want to take part in the "we are archangels" plot.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: In myth, he is referred to as "the Destroyer", and his name has come to represent all sorts of violence and Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Four-Star Badass: One of the best Terran naval officers.
  • Herald: He and his wife hid Nimue's PICA on Safehold, and before he died he left Nimue a recording explaining her mission, enabling the plot to happen.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Feels like this towards Nimue.
  • The Lost Lenore: For the short time between Shan-wei's death and his own demise, Shan-wei is this for him, motivating his eventual suicide.
  • Nuke 'em: Delivered to the Administrative Council, no less.
  • Posthumous Character: Dies before the actual plot begins, but is referred to many times.
  • The Mole: For Shan-wei's faction on the Administrative Council. He and his wife staged a public disagreement and estrangement for this purpose.
  • Satanic Archetype: In the Safeholdian mythos — rebels against God, takes part of His host with him, is ultimately punished and put in Hell.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Effectively the patron arch-devil of this. His name gets attached to the concept of claymore mines, among other things.
  • Taking You with Me: He blows up the entire Archangel council along with himself.

Other members of Shan-wei's faction:

  • Dr. Elias Proctor, cybernetics expert who reprogrammed Nimue's PICA. Remembered as the fallen Archangel of temptation and forbidden knowledge.
  • Sullivan, remembered as the fallen Archangel of gluttony.
  • Ascher, remembered as the fallen Archangel of lies.
  • Grimaldi, remembered as the fallen Archangel of pestilence.
  • Stavraki, remembered as the fallen Archangel of avarice.

    Langhorne's faction 

Eric Langhorne

Chief Administrator of the colony, Eric Langhorne was a megalomanical Luddite, convinced that only a complete rejection of technology would save humanity. To that end, he perverted the mission of Operation Ark, conspiring with Adorée Bédard to alter the colonists' neural programming: instead of just losing their knowledge of technology, the colonists would also be programmed to know that Langhorne and the other administrators were the Archangels of God.

Langhorne clashed with Pei Shan-wei over his handling of the colonists and his anti-technology stance, which resulted in the orbital bombardment and utter destruction of Shan-wei's Alexandria Enclave. In response, Shan-wei's husband Kau-yung killed Langhorne, Bédard and most of the other "Archangels" with a vest-pocket nuke.

In the theology of the Church of God Awaiting, "Holy Langhorne" is the highest of the Archangels, standing on the right hand of God Himself.

  • Even Evil Has Standards: He is loathe to do so, but Merlin acknowledges in Hell's Foundations Quiver that the atrocities and bloodshed Clyntahn embraces so readily are things Langhorne would never have accepted except as an absolute last resort.
  • A God Am I: He apparently came to believe that he was, indeed, saviour of mankind.
  • God Guise: Like all Archangels.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Langhorne went behind Shan-wei's and others' backs to alter the colonists' neural programming. When those people then prevented him from getting the council majority he needed to make his actions legal, they were removed from the council altogether.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Archangel Michael of the Safeholdian church.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He apparently did what he did because he was sure it would protect humanity from extinction, and getting to be revered as a god was a bonus.

Dr. Adorée Bédard

Chief Psychiatrist of Operation Ark, Bédard was instrumental in Langhorne's perversion of the Operation's mission. Standing second in the order of Archangels, Bédard was killed by Kau-yung.

  • A God Am I: She joined Langhorne in his beliefs.
  • God Guise: Like all Archangels.
  • Irony: A majority of those who question the current church are Bédardists. Their urge for reform is driven by the lessons The Book of Bédard teaches.
  • Number Two: Along with Chihiro for Langhorne, but while Chihiro was into administration, Bédard's was responsible for the colonists' "reprogramming".
  • Villain with Good Publicity: One of the most respected Archangels.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As with Langhorne.

Frederic Androcles Schueler

According to the Writ, Archangel Schueler was the creator of the office of the Inquisition and of the Punishment of Schueler, their how-to on Cold-Blooded Torture. In reality, he belonged to Langhorne's clique and was one of two self-made "archangels" who survived Pei Kau-yung's attack. However, various clues in the series suggest that he might have been largely misinterpreted.

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: invokedWas he a psychopathic maniac torturer with delusions of grandeur? Or did he understand his mistakes and try to fix what he broke? Is the Book of Schueler the instruction manual, or the warning against heresy? Are the author of the Vision and the Book even the same person? The jury is still out on that matter.
  • Author Existence Failure: invoked Some characters consider it possible that he died in Kau-yung's attack and the Book of Schueler is actually a Posthumous Collaboration by Chihiro or somebody else.
  • Another Side, Another Story: For most people, he's the author of the Punishment, the manual on torture. For the Wylsynns, however, he's the caring ancestor who left them a truly moving message.
  • Famous Ancestor: The Wylsynns believe that he is their ancestor. Confirmed in Like a Mighty Army by Owl's DNA test.
  • A God Am I: Oddly enough, he seems to adopt this less than his fellow Archangels.
  • God Guise: Like all Archangels.
  • Posthumous Character: Died centuries before the story began. Although people on WMG and the Weber Forums ask: ...or did he?
  • Shrouded in Myth: No character — at least, no POV character — has ever met him. For some, he's a terrifying, cold-hearted maniac. For others, he's more benign.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Appears to be this for the "rightful archangels". While others are either heavenly guardians of various fields (health, animal husbandry, agriculture) or God's loyal servants (Chihiro, Jwo-jeng), Schueler is the author of the most nausea-inducing book in the Holy Writ, as well as an advocate of Knight Templar attitude and promoter of Cold-Blooded Torture.

Maruyama Chihiro

Known by common Safeholdians as a patron of protection and recorder of Safehold's history, Chihiro was Langhorne's right-hand man and author of large parts — if not the entirety — of the Holy Writ. He was also the other "Archangel" to survive Pei Kau-yung's nuclear strike and formed the basis of the Church of God Awaiting as it is today.

  • Badass Bookworm: He was the Administration's scribe, for a lack of better term, but after Kau-yung's strike wiped out most of the administrative staff, he's said to have been the commander of Langhornite forces during the War Against the Fallen.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Took charge of the Safeholdian mission after Langhorne's death, and led the remaining "angels" during the War Against the Fallen.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: He set up the revised Church of God Awaiting after Langhorne's death.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: He used a lot of Japanese terms in his writings, such as kyousei hi or rakurai, adapting them to describe the Church's concepts. It's quite probable that he was the origin of the word seijin. Justified, as he is Japanese.
  • The Man Behind the Man: It's hinted in later books that it was he who manipulated events and orchestrated the deaths of Dr. Pei and Eric Langhorne. At the end of Through Fiery Trials, an image of Schueler appears and flat-out tells the assembled congregants that Chihiro lied.
  • Number Two: For Langhorne. After Eric's death, it seems that Chihiro and Schueler shared command.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: It's implied that he wrote the Book of Schueler after Schueler himself died. He also finished the Holy Writ for all other Archangels.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: One of the Big Four of the best-known and respected Archangels.

Other "Archangels":

  • Hastings — mapmaker-in-chief.
  • Tsen Jwo-jeng — creator of the Proscriptions of Jwo-jeng, the source of the series' Medieval Stasis.
  • Pasquale — patron of sanitation, hygiene, diet and healthcare.
  • Sondheim — patron of agriculture.
  • Truscott — patron of animal husbandry.
  • Andropov — patron of gambling.

Cody Cortazar, aka Seijin Kohdy

A popular folk hero from the times of War Against the Fallen, Seijin Kohdy is unrecognized by official Church records, but extremely popular with common folk as a protagonist of dozens of humorous legends and songs, battling demons with irresistible charm, wit and excellent swordsmanship. In Hell's Foundations Quiver, it turns out that he's actually Cody Cortazar, ex-Marine whose wiped-out knowledge was reinstated to turn him into a seijin.

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: His sword, Helm Cleaver, can cut through stone. Jusified, as it's made of battle steel, like Merlin's katana.
  • Ambiguous Ending: It's unclear what exactly happened to him in Zion, only that his body was returned dead.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: He's mentioned in passing multiple times simply as a part of Safeholdian mythos and culture before suddenly becoming an important character.
  • Crisis of Faith: Had one after he discovers that his closest friend is actually a "demon" and a Shan-wei supporter.
  • Dashing Hispanic: He was Hispanic, and known as quite a ladies' man.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Before Safehold, he used to be a Marine instructor of moritae subita, the fictional fighting style of the Terran Federation.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: For the Sisters of Saint Kohdy, and, by extension, Helm Cleaver/Hand of God.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: When his memories of Spanish, his first language, started to come back, he began writing the more sensitive parts of his journal in it.
  • Guile Hero: The stories paint him as one that outtricks demons in creative ways rather than face them head-on.
  • Heroic BSoD: His discovery that his best friend was a "demon" causes him to question what he fights for and have a Crisis of Faith.
  • Large Ham: In the crowd of serious, ascetic acknowledged seijins, he stands out as cheerful, witty and intriguing.
  • Posthumous Character: He's long dead in the main storyline.
  • Secret Diary: He wrote a journal in which he recorded both his struggles in the War and his returning memories and mounting doubts.
  • Shrouded in Myth: He's not an acknowledged seijin and doesn't fit in with the rest of the crowd, yet he's as popular and well-known on Safehold as James Bond is here.
  • Space Marine: Before Safehold, he was a sergeant major in the Terran Federation Marine Corps.
  • Spotting the Thread: He starts to realize that not all is how it seems when his knowledge of Spanish starts to come back.
  • Super Soldier: As a seijin, he's basically one.
  • Unperson: How he ended up as a mythological character. Because of something that happened during his last visit to Zion, he was killed and the order set up to care for his tomb was later razed by the last Rakurai strike. All accounts of him were edited to delete him and the story of a folk character is introduced to further muddy the waters. The Archangels are nothing if not thorough.
  • Walking Spoiler: He's well-known as Kohdy, but as Cody Cortazar, it's quite a different matter.


    In General 
Safehold was a planet terraformed for the purpose of settling with low-level technology after most of humanity was wiped out by the Gbaba. However, due to the colony's chief administrator's Knight Templar attitude, the colonists' memories were wiped and an artificial faith in "The Church of God Awaiting" was installed in them. Nine hundred years later, COGA is still the greatest political and moral power on Safehold.
  • Blue Blood: With no memory of the Terran Federation, society reverted to a nobles and peasants system.
  • Cargo Cult: Skimmers (recon vehicles used commonly in the Terran Federation) were worshiped as angelic vessels after the Creation, and "relics" (that is, Federation equipment any sci-fi geek would recognize) such as lie detectors or door pilots are treated as holy objects. And then there's the Temple, with its heating and air conditioning, electric lights and doors that open when someone approaches them, all of which are considered "divine miracles".
    • Also, the symbol of the Church, Langhorne's Scepter, appears to be some kind of fancily shaped laser gun.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Church of God Awaiting. It has some elements of Islam and a Cargo Cult, but it's mostly Christianity IN SPACE!, without a Jesus figure, but with its own Satan and a whole lot of Archangels.
  • Heir Club for Men: It's not an official rule everywhere (it is in Corisande, but not in Charis), but there are very few ruling queens implied and the fate of Queen Ysbell of Chisholm shows that those who did rule didn't always die a natural death.
  • Honor Before Reason: Often, especially among nobles.
  • Medieval Stasis: It's a bit more complicated than that, but basically, technology is almost unchanged since the "Creation" at the beginning of the series.
  • My Nayme Is: Everybody. Weber wanted to show how language changed for nine hundred years between the prologue and "current time", so every name is written in a Safeholdian way. For example, Caleb John Harold Brian Sarmac turns into Cayleb Zhan Haarahld Bryahn Ahrmahk. Good luck figuring out how to read it.

    The many faces of Nimue Alban 

Major Merlin Athrawes, Imperial Charisian Guard

The Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar of Nimue Alban. Took up the male identity of Merlin Athrawes in order to integrate himself into the male-dominated Safeholdian society. Has also made use of the identity of Ahbraim Zhevons. Merlin has allied himself with Charis, feeling it holds the best chance for getting Safehold to throw off the chains of the Church of God Awaiting and get itself back into space. While initially viewing himself as Nimue using the identity of Merlin, Merlin eventually begins to carve out his own identity. The narration will thus refer to him as the man who once was Nimue Alban.

  • Badass Beard and Badass Mustache
  • Beard of Evil: Averted. As described, Merlin has the traditional evil goatee. Played with in that by the Church of God Awaiting's standards, he IS a demon.
  • Becoming the Mask: Merlin hasn't thought of himself as Nimue in a long time. Early in the series, the narration refers to him as the PICA who used to be Nimue Alban.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Merlin pulls these more often than he probably should.
  • The Big Guy: Given his abilities, Merlin comes closest to this in the Five-Man Band of Cayleb's "Inner Circle".
  • Catchphrase: Merlin often accepts compliments with "One tries".
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Merlin just can't stand by and leave an innocent or someone he cares about in danger. Even if doing so would drastically hurt his agenda.
  • Cold Sniper: Once breech-loading rifles make an appearance, Merlin has a habit of playing sniper to take care of Inquisitors and their lackeys who piss him off enough.
  • The Dreaded: The Church actually classifies him as Cayleb's demon familiar. When he shows up, his enemies always have an Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Dual Wielding: Merlin is known for this, wielding a katana and a wakizashi. He also dual-wields pistols when they're introduced to the Royal Guard.
  • Gender Bender: Nimue becomes Merlin in order to fit into the male-dominated Safeholdian society.
  • Guns Akimbo: With Safehold's first revolvers, no less.
  • Implacable Man: Definitely. He's made of battlesteel, has inhuman reflexes thanks to optic fibers replacing his nerves, and doesn't have to eat, sleep or drink. It's stated that while a cannonball might behead him, only Federation tech or a nuclear bomb could possibly kill him.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Justified; Nimue's choice of the katana and wakizashi is based largely on the fact that she already knows kendo, and while Nimue/Merlin's blades are shown being able to cut through damn near anything, this is because they are made of super-advanced composite materials and wielded with the superhuman strength of a cybernetic android chassis. The fact that there isn't a katana analogue on Safehold helps with his mystique.
  • Lies to Children: Merlin's comparison of his abilities to those attributed to seijin.
  • Majorly Awesome: As of Hell's Foundations Quiver, his rank is Major.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Nimue, a name from Arthurian Legend, changes her name to Merlin, and names Cayleb's sword Excalibur.
    • Athrawes is Welsh for "Teacher". Specifically, it's the feminine form.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Though he's the only one who blames himself on those occasions when his SNARC surveillance proves less than perfect. In particular, he can't safely penetrate the Temple, which is where the Group of Four does most of their planning.
  • One-Man Industrial Revolution: Merlin starts the ball rolling, but it's Baron Seamount who keeps it going. So much so that it's cited by one character as a reason not to induct him into the Inner Circle.
  • Ramscoop: He's powered by a miniature fusion reactor.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Merlin really doesn't like killing good people, and being a PICA, he usually has other options, but not always. In the climax of Hell's Foundations Quiver, he takes some time to mentally commend the bravery of the Temple Guards he's fighting, and thinks that they really deserve a lot better than he's giving them.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Merlin's body is entirely robotic, but his consciousness is that of Nimue Alban.
  • The Sixth Ranger: In the Charisian upper leadership under Haarahld.
  • Super Soldier: In a Safeholdian environment, he's pretty much unstoppable.
  • Survivor Guilt: Called out on it in book six.
  • Swashbuckler: From the waxed mustache and goatee down to the impossible swordsmanship and derring-do.
  • Transgender: Originally, Nimue Alban was just using Merlin as a mask because women on Safehold have the devil's own time being taken seriously. However, she soon comes to identify herself permanently as Merlin, and not as Nimue. Nimue Chwaeriau notes the change in Through Fiery Trials, stating that whatever he was before, Merlin is a man now.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Merlin is, for all intents and purposes, helping along a war that will kill tens or hundreds of thousands in order to bring humanity back to its old technological level as quickly as possible to hopefully wipe out the Gbaba. Abandoned in At the Sign of Triumph, where Merlin accepts Rhobair Duchairn's olive branch and allows the war to end, even though this means that he has to allow Duchairn to reform the Church of God Awaiting, instead of destroying it in fire and blood at the cost of a million lives.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • He is torn by the idea that he might actually have a soul and is unique individual in his own right, as Archbishop Maikel says, or if he is just a Terminator Expy with the memories of a dead woman.
    • Through Fiery Trials shows us Nimue Chwaeriau's issues on the subject when speaking to Koryn Gahrvai early in the book. She points out that she is a machine, not a human, and even goes so far as to rip her own face off to make the point. Gahrvai is undeterred, however, not responding to her display as he confesses his love for her. Even when that's settled, Nimue is insistent on avoiding the topic of marriage because she can't provide Gahrvai with heirs. It takes Nynian, who's already dealt with this with Merlin, to set things right and convince her to go through with it.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: While not above half-truths or explaining his abilities in terms Safeholdians would understand, Merlin is very careful not to tell any outright lies because how honest (or not) he has been will be a vital factor when the time comes to tell Safehold about its true past.

Ahbraim Zhevons

Would you keep that in mind, when I uncover your mouth so that we could talk like civilized people? That is, that I can take your life before anybody blinks an eye.

Merlin's most often used alternative identity. Ahbraim Zhevons began his "life" as a merchant from Silkiah in order to enter the city of Zion without suspicion. He later morphs into a mysterious messenger from Charis and a ranger for armies operating in Siddarmark, bringing SNARC information to those who don't know about the Inner Circle.

  • Army Scout: Aids the Alliance's armies in Siddarmark like this. It helps that he simply downloads the data from Owl.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Just look at the scene where he wakes King Gorjah up in the middle of the night. Or when he does the same with the Earl of Coris. This is a man who's having way too much fun.
  • Flawed Prototype: Being Merlin's first secret identity, he inherits a lot of Merlin's tics and characteristics, which several characters notice. On the other hand, only Aivah/Ahnzhelyk has managed to connect the dots.
  • Herald: His visit to Ahnzhelyk turned her from a High-Class Call Girl to The Chessmaster, basically giving a good kick into motion. His arrival in Talkyra was the beginning of the escape of Irys, Earl Coris, and Daivyn from Delferhak.
  • Invented Individual: Many, many people are convinced that he's somebody other than Merlin.
  • Meaningful Name: Averted. Ahbraim doesn't fit the pattern of seijins having names that Safeholdians remark on as being weird. This could be because he was Merlin's first alternate form, or it could be so he can blend in better.
  • Mysterious Informant: For the King of Tarot, the Earl of Coris and, most recently, allies in Siddarmark.
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: Managed on board a skimmer on the way between Merlin's place and Ahbraim's place.
  • Second Super-Identity: Nimue's second identity after Merlin.

Dialydd Mab

Whatever He may hold in store for your souls, your lives are already forfeit and we will claim them where, as, how and when we choose.

Merlin's most recent secret identity, created for operations that shouldn't be connected with Charis. He's also something of a safety valve for Merlin, enabling him to have his revenge without endangering his cause.

  • Badass Boast: The above quote, part of his letter to Clyntahn.
  • Cold Sniper: Very, very cold.
  • The Dreaded: After his first two shows of power, Inquisitors in concentration camps start to fear him more than they do Clyntahn and his enforcers. The condition of the camps' prisoners improves, if only slightly, because the Inquisitors are afraid to judge heretics for fear that Mab will judge them.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: His MO after he starts to support the Fist of Kau-yung.
  • Implacable Man: Even more so than Merlin, as he doesn't really care about witnessesnote . A Mook Horror Show ensues when he attacks an Inquisition barge.
  • Leave No Survivors: Nobody survives his attack on an Inquisitor's barge.
  • Meaningful Name: Dialydd Mab is Welsh for "avenging son".
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Avenging Son. Surely not a nice guy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He writes a letter to "Zhaspahr Clyntahn, Grand Fornicator" and goes into exquisite detail about just how much of a sorry son of a bitch Clyntahn is. It actually gets delivered to Clyntahn, who promptly blows a gasket.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mab's primary purpose. Merlin uses him to unleash bloody vengeance on those of the Army of God who are excessively cruel to prisoners. He eliminates every single officer of the Sarkyn garrison and even some enlisted men who distinguished themselves. In Hell's Foundations Quiver, he explicitly leaves the only decent officers in a prisoner convoy alive so they can take over; but not without a warning to make sure Mab doesn't regret doing so.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Has shades of this. He's pretty much merciless, has little pity for his enemies and doesn't shy away from terrifying them in their final moments.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Dialydd is much more brutal than Merlin and has no qualms against using all of his PICA abilities.
  • The Unfettered: All those inhibitors and moral rules Merlin has adopted to stop himself from being a monster? Mab discards them all.

Zhapeth Slaytyr

Another member of Merlin's herd of alter egos. He looks like a once-powerful man whom old age has rendered stooped and arthritic.
  • Meaningful Name: Averted. Because he's meant to blend in with native Safeholdians, Merlin didn't break out the Welsh dictionary when thinking up a name.

Cennady Frenhines

An alter ego of Merlin introduced in At the Sign of Triumph.
  • Meaningful Name: Cennad y Frenhines means "Queen's Messenger", with the added bonus of Cennady actually sounding like the name Kennedy.

Captain Nimue Chwaeriau, Imperial Charisian Guard

Oh, no! You very carefully didn't give me all your memories, Merlin. So don't try to maneuver me into giving you a pass by hiding behind 'we're all in this together'!

A Walking Spoiler introduced in Like a Mighty Armynote . A Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar created by Owl in Like a Mighty Army. She, like Merlin, has all of Nimue Alban's memories, though she does not have most of Merlin's. Since she was built with the 10-day limit removed from the start, her high-speed data port is not damaged, so she can rapidly upload information from Owl, which Merlin cannot. She is presently assigned as a bodyguard to Irys Daykyn and her husband, Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk.

  • Asskicking Equals Authority: She makes sure that she's in charge by beating up the one bigot who said that a woman can't be a captain.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She's usually very calm, polite and friendly, but when someone presses her buttons, she can deliver insane amounts of pounding.
  • Cute Bruiser: She's short and described as cute, and she can cripple or kill you in more ways that you could possibly imagine.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: She's expert at moritae subita, a martial art synthesized by the Terran Federation from several others for use by their Marine corps.
  • Instant Expert: Unlike Merlin, her high-speed data port works, so she can download all the theoretical knowledge for a skillset and then go through virtual months worth of training to acquire the practical knowledge needed to apply it in a matter of seconds.
  • Meaningful Name: Her surname is Welsh for little sister.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Since a PICA's strength is directly proportional to its size, she's significantly weaker than Merlin and his various alter egos, as they're nearly a foot taller than her, with the mass to go along with that. But that only means that she's weak by PICA standards. Compared to everyone else in the world, she has Super Strength far greater than her build would suggest.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: She's quite short, but has all the strenth of a PICA, meaning that if she wanted to, she could fling people through the air.
  • The Sixth Ranger: A better fit than Ohlyvya once she's actively involved in events.
  • Smurfette Principle: The only woman in the Charisian Imperial Guard, and Charisian armed forces in general.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: She was built much shorter than Merlin, to the average height of a Safeholdian, allowing her to have both male and female alter egos.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Many people managed to guess who she is by looking on the cover of the first book she appears in.
  • Walking Spoiler: A second PICA not revealed until the seventh book in the series.

Ganieda Cysgodol

An alter ego of Nimue Chwaeriau.
  • Meaningful Name: Welsh for "Shadow Witch" or "Shadow Sister". Ganieda was also the name of the Arthurian Merlin's half-sister.

Dagyr Cudd

Merch O Obaith

An alter ego of Nimue Chwaeriau introduced in At the Sign of Triumph.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Or, in this case, saddlebags so full of gold she shouldn't be able to lift them.
  • Meaningful Name: It means "Daughter of Hope" in — take a wild guess which languagesurprise! .
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Like any of Nimue's alter egos, and the average height of a Safeholdian woman, but with only a little less of the raw power Merlin can tap into.


    The Empire of Charis 

Kingdom of Old Charis

Head of State: King Cayleb II Full name 

Consort: Queen Sharleyan

Capital: Tellesberg

Other major locations: Hanth, Lock Island

Empire of Charis

Heads of State: Emperor Cayleb and Empress Sharleyan

Consorts: Emperor Cayleb and Empress Sharleyan

Capitals: Tellesberg and Cherayth

Charisians in general

Charis starts as an island kingdom, located on the islands of Charis and Silverlode. It is (in)famous for its merchants, innovation (as far as is possible on pre-Merlin Safehold), and badass navy. As the series continues, it merges with the Kingdom of Chisholm, incorporates the Princedom of Emerald and the Kingdom of Tarot, and conquers Corisande.

Cayleb Zhan Haarahld Bryahn Ahrmahk; Emperor Cayleb II

Here I stand. I can do no other.

Introduced as Crown Prince of Charis during Haarahld's reign as king, Cayleb ascended to the throne upon his father's death in Off Armageddon Reef. Equally adept at political maneuvers and military command, Cayleb is an effective ruler using all his resources, including Merlin's abilities, to the fullest advantage he can to preserve his growing Empire's safety against its enemies.

  • The Ace: Some of it is thanks to the advantages Merlin offers, but Cayleb's reputation among his men is well-earned nonetheless.
  • Altar Diplomacy: He proposes to Sharleyan out of cold-blooded political calculation — which goes right out the window the moment they meet.
  • Badass Beard: Cayleb grows one in By Heresies Distressed. There's some argument between him and Sharleyan about letting him keep it, but it manages to stick around.
  • Book Dumb: He's not much of a scholar and admits it, but he's definitely not an idiot. He's politically and militarily adept, and wise enough to defer to others when they have more expertise then he does.
  • Dreadful Musician: Cayleb "couldn't have carried a tune in a purse seine", but tries anyway. Early in Off Armageddon Reef, one of his bodyguards is thankful Cayleb is only whistling (off-key), instead of singing.
  • Famous Ancestor: He turns out to be the descendant of Kayleb Sarmac, one of Shan-wei's reeducated Adams.
  • Happily Married: With Sharleyan. They find themselves smitten with Love at First Sight in spite of themselves, having gone into this expecting just another political marriage.
  • The Hero: In Five-Man Band terms. He and Sharleyan are the secular faces of the rebellion against the Church, with Cayleb in particular being the one out in the field helping lead Charisian forces, work with other leaders like Stohnar, and is the primary leading force in the Inner Circle.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Underplayed — he's described as being very handsome, while Sharleyan notes that occasional poems praising her own beauty are way overblown and nothing more than bootlicking. Sharleyan is quite pretty, and Cayleb finds her extraordinarily beautiful, but she's more 'girl-next-door' pretty than a world-class looker.
  • Humble Hero: In At the Sign of Triumph, Sharleyan tells Stohnar that one of the secrets of Cayleb's success is that he honestly does not view himself as anything special. He doesn't see himself as doing anything that anyone else in his position would not also be doing.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: He's the second person on Safehold to use a katana, and has been trained by Merlin. He takes his inability to penetrate Merlin's defence as a challenge to improve rather than proof of inferiority.
  • Love at First Sight: With Sharleyan. Played for laughs heavily, as they both try their hardest not to act like lovestruck teenagers and fail miserably.
  • Obliviously Beautiful: He seems confident that he looks awful, despite both Sharleyan's and Nahrmahn's claims to the contrary.
  • Out of Focus: As the story goes on, he's forced to sit out most of the more action-y events, as he's too important to risk.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Cayleb and Sharleyan. Made as a cold-blooded strategic political decision, but turns out to be love at first sight.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: A trait he learned from his father.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Cayleb loves to use this to maximum effect, to the occasional consternation of Merlin.
  • Ruling Couple: He and Sharleyan are genuinely partners in ruling the Empire of Charis.
  • Warrior Prince: Starts off as one, as he leads Charis' galleon fleet to victory in Off Armageddon Reef. Upgrades to a Warrior King after his father dies in battle, though once Charis and Siddarmark become allies he's flat-out told he is not going to continue leading his troops in battle.

King Haarahld VII Ahrmahk

The King of Charis throughout Off Armageddon Reef, Haarahld Ahrmahk is a respected and righteous noble who encourages innovation and freedom of speech. His wife died some years before the story started. He has three children: Cayleb, Zhanayt and Zhan.

Archbishop Maikel Staynair

We will not dictate anybody what is he supposed to believe in and what should he do. We will not torture and kill those who disagree with us. But we're not going to give way to them either.

Starting out as Bishop of Tellesberg, once Charis' rebellion against the Church of God Awaiting is in full swing, he's elevated to the position of Archbishop of the Church of Charis. He bears the exalted position with the same humility he carried from his days as a simple priest, and his flock love him for it.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: While he doesn't really get to do much with his anger, the rare times he's shown genuinely angry are still rather intimidating.
    • At one point it's stated outright that "gentle" does not mean "weak" by a long shot.
    • Maikel rips Merlin a new one when he realizes Merlin's remotes let him eavesdrop on a sacramental confession. Merlin begs forgiveness and sets up safety blocks to keep this from ever happening again.
  • The Chick: Has this role in both the Old Charis leadership and the Inner Circle.
  • Good Shepherd: One of the best.
  • Honor Before Reason: Refuses to have armed guards in his cathedral as a matter of principle. He sticks to this stance even after the Rakurai attacks, requiring Cayleb to lay down a What the Hell, Hero? on him to make him realize the lives other than his own that stance endangers.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Averts this by giving his congregation a speech on forgiveness moments after an assassination attempt on him failed.
  • Secret Keeper: Of the Brotherhood of Saint Zherneau. He was the only major character, other than Haraahld, who knew of it before he took Merlin to visit them.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Knows about the true history of mankind and suspects who Merlin is, while Merlin tries to hide it from him.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With his younger brother. Maikel is a Friend to All Living Things and a calm, kind preacher, while Domynyk is a hot-blooded, aggressive admiral.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Not really, but his adamant refusal to take the kinds of security precautions Merlin would prefer tends to frustrate Merlin himself.
  • Turbulent Priest: Both before and after becoming Archbishop of Charis. In this position, he has begun slowly phasing out reverence of the "Archangels" in favour of promoting worshippers' individual relationships with God in preparation for the day the truth about the Holy Writ is revealed.

Rayjhis Yowance, Earl Gray Harbor

One of the Empire's highest ranking nobles and First Councillor (prime minister) for both Haarahld and Cayleb.

  • The Good Chancellor: Unfailingly loyal, intelligent, and dedicated.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: He kills the traitorous Duke of Tirian, his daughter's loving husband.
  • The Lancer: For King Haarahld and, later, for Cayleb and Sharleyan for political matters outside the Inner Circle.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Gray Harbor's deep faith means telling him the truth could potentially destroy him.

Sir Ahlfryd Hyndryk, Baron Seamount

Charisian Navy chief engineer and inventor. Theoretically, he is an admiral, but practically he hasn't commanded any water unit for over two decades. Nobody, and definitely not him, is sad about it, as he feels best in his laboratory.

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Has some shades of it, as his clothes are always covered in chalk and he sometimes has to be reminded on the topic of discussion when he gets an idea.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He is able to follow Merlin's clues faster than anyone could have expected and works out complicated ideas by sheer power of his mind.
  • The Engineer: Designs an perfects most of Charis' weapons.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: A designer rather than constructor, but still counts.
  • Killed Offscreen: He dies due to a fault in a musket breech, but the first we hear about it is at an airship launch, where the other main characters reminisce about him.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: It's debated several times whether to induct him into the Inner Circle. It's eventually decided to keep him out because, despite all the good he could do with access to Owl, his status as a One-Man Industrial Revolution means he's doing exactly what Merlin's trying to get Safeholdians to do already. High Admiral Lock Island adds that he thinks Seamount, if he knew the truth, would be so furious about the deception that he wouldn't be able to conceal his knowledge of it, making him a security risk. Early in Through Fiery Trials, it's revealed he was finally inducted into the Inner Circle shortly after Clyntahn's execution.
  • One-Man Industrial Revolution: Arguably moreso than Merlin. It's even argued as a point for keeping him Locked Out of the Loop, since he acts as this without direct access to Owl.
  • The Smart Guy: For the entirety of Charis.

Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk, Duke of Darcos

A mere midshipman during the initial battles with the Church, now a Lieutenant in the Imperial Charisian Navy. He served on King Haarahld's flagship during the battle of Darcos Sound, and it was his life that was saved by the king's Heroic Sacrifice.

In commemoration for this act, Hektor Aplyn's adopted into the House of Ahrmahk and elevated to the Duke of Darcos. He retains commission in the Imperial Charisian Navy and serves aboard the Destiny. He is later married to Princess Irys of Corisande as part of Corisande's formal integration into the Empire.

  • Affectionate Nickname: Navy seamen refer to him as "The Duke", as if he were the only one in all of Charis.
  • Child Soldiers: He's a naval officer and kills people at the age of eleven. On the other hand, it's not unusual at all on Safehold.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: He's probably the starkest example in the series. Safeholdians don't consider it strange for eleven-year-olds to be officers in the Navy and kill people. It's also not unusual to get married at the age of sixteen. Given the difference in Safeholdian years to Terran ones, Hektor's even younger than this by Earth terms (about fourteen).
  • Happily Adopted: Is formally adopted into the House of Ahrmahk as a stepson following Off Armageddon Reef. He's made the most of it by using his rank and privilege to provide for his biological parents and siblings.
  • Handicapped Badass: Loses the use of his left arm following injuries sustained in Like a Mighty Army. In Hell's Foundations Quiver, he continues to serve as a naval officer when Dunkyn Yairley is dispatched.
  • Improbable Age: He appears to be really a good fighter in Off Armageddon Reef... at the age of eleven. Which is about ten by Earth's calendar. He also commands twice and thrice as old people at the age of thirteen and gets married at the age of sixteen... which is about fourteen and a half by our counting.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: He has seven or nine siblings. His mother wanted to have only four kids, but his father forgot to mention that twins run in the family.
  • Rescue Romance: With Irys. A fact that's played up in Corisande, much to his annoyance.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Was prepared to do this for King Haarahld. Haarahld did it for him instead.
    • Does it again for Irys in Like a Mighty Army to protect her from a Rakurai bomber. Very nearly dies as a result.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the end of How Firm a Foundation, when he's left in charge of the mission to rescue Irys and Daivyn after an attack and pulls it off flawlessly.
  • Unfortunate Names: He shares his first name with the man who is Charis' oldest enemy at the beginning of the series.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Gets this frequently in Midst Toil and Tribulation.

Father Paityr Wylsynn

The Church of God Awaiting's intendant in Charis. This essentially makes Father Paityr the representative of the Inquisition in Charis. Initially, his job as intendant had him making sure that Charis' sudden technological advancements did not violate the Proscriptions of Jwo-jeng. Following the outbreak of the war and death of Archbishop Erayk Dynnys he agreed to head Charis' patent office, in which he performs a similar role. He was inducted into the Inner Circle in How Firm a Foundation and now uses his position to, rather than prevent violations of the Proscriptions, make sure advancements go through while utilizing whatever Loophole Abuse he needs to.

  • Famous Ancestor: Family tradition holds that the Wylsynn family is descended from the Archangel Schueler. DNA testing done by Owl has confirmed this theory, though nobody has actually told Paityr this. It's also pointed out that after a thousand years, there's a good chance that roughly a third of the population of Safehold is distantly related to the Wylsynns, and through them Schueler, by now.
  • Good Shepherd: He's right up there with Maikel Staynair.
  • Heroic BSoD: The events of the war, and the deaths of his father and uncle, cause him to have a crisis of faith. This is only exacerbated once he's brought into the Inner Circle. He eventually comes out of it on the side of Charis.
  • Loophole Abuse: His job as intendant and, later, in the patent office, was to make sure these were avoided. Following his being inducted into the Inner Circle, he happily helps exploit it instead.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In Off Aramgeddon Reef, his ecclesiastical superiors routinely note that he pays little attention to Temple politics, which makes him hard to manipulate or force into dishonesty. This is at least in part an act Paityr uses to avoid exactly that.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: One of the few Schuelerites who can make this claim.
  • Secret Keeper: Of the Stone and Key of Schueler. Later, of the Inner Circle.

    The Kingdom of Chisholm 

Head of State: Queen Sharleyan IFull name of the House of Tayt

Consort: King Cayleb II Ahrmahk of Charis

Capital: Cherayth

Other major locations: Maikelberg, Port Royal

Chisholmians in general

One of the so-called "Out Islands", Chisholm is actually connected to Raven's Land, but its admiration for the Church is almost as low as Charis'. For generations, the country was a playground for nobles who ran it as they pleased until King Sailys staged a quick but decisive takeover. His death has seen his daughter Sharleyan become the ruler and by her marriage to Cayleb of Charis, Chisholm becomes one of the founding members of the Empire of Charis.

  • The Alliance: With Charis. They are Charis' primary partner within the Empire, being the only nation not conquered or surrendered into it and with their queen marrying Charis' ruler.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: While Charisian aristocracy is supportive of Cayleb, many Chisholmian nobles still resent king Sailys stealing their privileges and conspire against Sharleyan. This comes to a head in At the Sign of Triumph, when their plans to depose Sharleyan are finally ready to execute.
  • Badass Army: The Chisholmian Army, which has bloodied itself in the civil war that made the king the ruler of his country again and ended the Chisholmian version of the Game of Thrones, is universally admitted as being one of the best on Safehold, a trait that remains true when it becomes the Imperial Army.
  • Color Motif: Sky blue is their color.
  • Defector from Decadence: Chisholm jumps the fence as soon as they can, as they feel more kinship with Charis than the Church.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The aristocracy voted for letting Sailys have his army to give him a "toy" to play with and not concern himself with matters of state. Only later did they realize that he'd built one of the world's best armies and now had the means to subdue the nobility.
  • Expy: It's possible that Chisholm's Color Motif being identical to Scotland's flag is a coincidence. That Chisholmians are also well-known for their reddish auburn hair, "exotic accent", and inability to tan isn't. Also, like Scotland, Chisholm is noted for their whiskey.
  • Got Volunteered: One of the countries gently nudged by the Church into attacking Charis, and perhaps the one least happy about it, as Sharleyan is quick to grasp the implications of what could one day happen to Chisholm if the Church decides it can destroy nations that upset it.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After being forced by the Church to attack Charis, their forces are quick to surrender to Charisians and in the end, Chisholm becomes one of Empire's founding members.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The nobles of Chisholm are aggressively protective of their privileges and see the common men as largely inferior to them. In turn, the commoners are largely disdainful of them.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: One-sided with Corisande. They've hated Corisandians ever since the League's pirates murdered King Sailys, and they are forced to cooperate with them during the attack on Charis. This his largely died away by the time Corisande becomes a part of the Empire, thanks to Sharleyan's diplomatic efforts.

Sharleyan Alahnah Zhenyfyr Ahlyssa Tayt Ahrmahk

Queen of the Kingdom of Chisholm, which she inherited at a young age following the assassination of her father. She kept the throne despite a resentful and treacherous nobility thanks to her mother and top advisers. Forced against her will to participate in the invasion of Charis in Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder had Cayleb offer her not just alliance, but marriage. Upon accepting, she is now Empress and co-ruler of the Empire of Charis. She is also one of Cayleb's most trusted confidants and advisers herself.

  • Action Girl: Provides cover fire for her own armsmen during the defense of St. Agtha's, with the armsmen themselves noting she's a better shot than some of them.
  • Affectionate Nickname: She's known to her family and closest friends as "Sharley". One child she's close to even calls her "Empress Sharley".
  • Altar Diplomacy: She says "yes", sight unseen, to Cayleb's marriage proposal out of sheer, cold-blooded political pragmatism. When she finally meets him in person, though, they come down with a mutual case of Love at First Sight.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Inherited the Chisholmian throne at age twelve, and had to prove herself worthy and capable of it almost immediately. Despite doing so, many of her nobles still view her as the little girl who took the throne, which proves to be a mistake as it means they also underestimate her considerably.
  • The Gadfly: When she can get away with it, at least. Especially in book 5, when she times the announcement of the next Grand Duke Zebediah right when the man himself is opening the door to her carriage for her just so she can see his face when the news hits him.
  • Happily Married: Though she accepted his proposal out of duty and cold-blooded political calculation, Sharleyan falls in mutual Love at First Sight with Cayleb, and they're deliriously happy together.
  • Heir Club for Men: Took some cold-blooded decisions on her part to get the nobility to take her seriously.
  • The High Queen: Fits the trope to a tee. She has ruled her country from the age of twelve, which is closer to ten or eleven in Old Earth terms, and has grown up understanding how to use that power. However, she's also very good about using that power benevolently while keeping more malicious forces, like the more arrogant among her nobles, from taking advantage of her. When she breaks out the Royal "We", everyone pays attention.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Downplayed. Cayleb is extremely handsome by anyone's standards, and though he thinks Sharleyan is the most beautiful woman on the planet, she herself notes with some amusement that while she's certainly pretty enough, she's not a world-class looker.
  • The Lancer: For Cayleb, moreso than Merlin. It's noted that she and Cayleb were able to work almost in tandem even before she gained access to SNARCs and comms.
  • Love at First Sight: Tries very hard to not act like a giddy schoolgirl upon first meeting Cayleb and fails miserably. Fortunately for her, it's very, very mutual.
  • Overly Long Name: Her middle names from from various past relatives, while her maiden name, included before Ahrmahk, is the Chisholmian province she was born in and rules separate from the Chisholmian and Charisian crowns.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: With Cayleb. Neither of them expected the marriage to become a genuine love match, but they're smitten from the moment they meet and their bond serves them extremely well over the books.
  • Royal "We": When she uses it, it's a clear sign she's serious and will not tolerate any opposition.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Her sentencing of the Northern Conspiracy, which included pardoning the relatively innocent involved.
  • Shipper on Deck: Strongly supports the budding relationship between Princess Irys and Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk and, using the above trope, makes their marriage a condition of Corisande's formal integration into the Empire. Neither of the two particularly minds, as they were already smitten with each other.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She's a great diplomat, but also an excellent shot.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: She had to maintain an image of The High Queen from childhood. One of her oft-mentioned memories of this time is when she had to sign her first execution warrant for a traitorous noble. She managed to get the job done and sentence the man, then vomited as soon as she was out of sight. One thing she's grateful for when it comes to her marriage with Cayleb is that it brings her the closest she's likely to get to a normal life as a wife and mother.

Mahrak Sandyrs, Baron Green Mountain

Sharleyan's top political advisor and strong supporter since her ascension to the throne, Sandyrs was one of two pillars on which she based her reignnote . He was her father's best friend.

  • Demoted to Extra: After being severely injured in a Rakurai bombing, he must resign from his position. Even before, he was losing "screen time" with every book.
  • The Good Chancellor: Serves Sharleyan very well and, beyond one of Sharleyan's childhood mentors, is devoted to both her and Chisholm. She trusts him enough to make him a regent while she goes to Charis.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Can't be told the truth for the same reason Grey Harbor can't. The strength of his faith means learning it was all a lie would potentially break him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sometimes acts as a voice of reason for Sharleyan. She tends to heed his words, as he's one of her oldest and most trusted mentors and advisers.
  • Romancing the Widow: From How Firm a Foundation on he romances Sharleyan's mother, Queen Mother Alannah. Sharleyan herself doesn't mind, is quite happy for them, and not worried about potential scandal since they're both largely out of the public eye at that point, so remaining discreet shouldn't be an issue.

Byrtrym Waistyn, Duke of Halbrook Hollow

Sharleyan's uncle and one of her strongest supporters pre-Schism. After Chisholm joins Charis to form the Charisian Empire, he starts to disagree with her, becoming a Temple Loyalist.

  • Cincinnatus: He commanded Chisholm's field armies and helped Sharleyan keep her throne, when he might have taken it for himself, being the previous king's brother-in-law.
  • The Consigliere: Pre-Schism, anyway. As Sharleyan's uncle, his words held weight with the queen as she grew up. As the Schism developed, however, Halbrook Hollow went unheeded as his pro-Temple stance was too at odds the corruption within it Sharleyan saw. She brings him with her to Charis not because she trusts his advice, but for precisely the opposite reason. She knows she can't leave him behind to stir up things while she's gone.
  • Face–Heel Turn: He joins the Charisian Temple Loyalists, convinced that this is the only way to save the Temple.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: He's torn apart between his loyalty to Sharleyan and Mother Church. He ultimately chooses the Church, but still tries to make sure Sharleyan is spared, naively believing promises that she'll be kidnapped and not killed.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He's horrified by Chisholm and Charis' union, because he believes that the Schism will tear Safehold apart. This drives him to eventually side with Charis' Temple Loyalists and take part in what he believes is a plan to kidnap Sharleyan to force Chisholm out of the alliance.

Ruhsyl Thairis, Duke of Eastshare

Commander of the Royal Chisholmian — and, after formation of the Empire, Imperial Charisian — Army, and a supporter of the royal family of Chisholm. While being described as a traditional smug aristocrat, he cares deeply for men under his command.

  • Blue Blood: And proud of it. He's said to dislike peasants and commoners, however this only applies to peasants or commoners outside of the military. A soldier is a soldier to him, regardless of origin.
  • A Father to His Men: He might dislike peasants, but he cares about his army and almost considers them extended family.
  • Four-Star Badass: He is the commander-in-chief of the Badass Army, after all. His knack for leading his forces and for making bold, strong moves on his own initiative serves him well enough that Cayleb and Sharleyan, who can watch him via the SNARCs are usually disinclined to override him, even if they're able to.
  • Gambit Roulette: His plan to get the Imperial Army to Siddarmark is this. First, he hopes that Their Majesties actually approve of his plan. Then, he's going to pass through Raven's Land, unsure if the Raven Lords will let him pass. And after that he really, really hopes that Tellesberg will send him ships to transport him over the sea to Siddarmark. It all works out in the end, thanks to the fact that Cayleb and Sharleyan do approve of his actions and are well aware of them ahead of time thanks to SNARC surveillance.
  • Human Popsicle: In Through Fiery Trials, when the Inner Circle decides to recruit him, he takes the truth very poorly and refuses to accept it. Merlin places him into cryogenic sleep in Nimue's Cave until such time as he can be awakened without posing a threat to them.
  • Informed Flaw: He's said to consider non-nobles inferior, and yet we actually never see him act like this. Probably justified, as when we see him, he interacts either with soldiers, whom he admires regardless of origin, or seijins Merlin/Ahbraim, who are not your ordinary peasants.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: He has no access to SNARCs, which his second-in-command, himself a member of the Inner Circle, deeply regrets.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: It's said that he dislikes non-nobles and considers them inferior to Blue Blood.

    The League of Corisande 

Head of State: Prince Hektor I Daykyn of the House of Daykyn. Eventually succeeded by his minor son Daivyn in A Mighty Fortress.

Consort: Princess Raichynda (deceased)

Capital: Manchyr

Other major locations: Carmyn (Capital of Zebediah)

Corisandians in general

While it may be called a "League", Corisande is in fact a single country, ruled with an iron hand by Prince Hektor. It consists of several islands, the biggest of which are Corisande, Wind Daughter and Zebediah, an oft-rebelling conquered territory. They are taken over by Charis and remain under occupation for several years before joining as an equal member.

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: A good chunk of the Corisandian aristocracy is firmly in the Temple Loyalist camp. This is especially true of the nobles in the northern part of the princedom. They're at the head of a rebellion to Charis' occupation and the Inner Circle nicknames them "the Northern Conspiracy" as a result.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Their reactions to many Charisian tactics and weaponry. Specifically, that the advancements they've made in sea combat have translated to land combat, and having a few innovations of their own on top of that, despite Charis being mainly a sea power.
    • Everyone's surprised how inclined towards reformism Corisande is. An Inquisitor who had a rebellious priest murdered during Charis' occupation is shocked to realize that he was so hated for the act that the abuse he was experiencing from his guards was from genuine hatred for him, not part of his interrogation, meaning they were mistreating him despite their orders.
  • Heel–Face Turn: It takes several years, but in the end, they become one of the Empire's member states under Prince Daivyn.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Despite being a tyrant, Hektor is very much beloved in Corisande and his murder strains the relationship between Corisande and Charis for years.
  • Non-Indicative Name: While theoretically an alliance between various minor nations, in practice the League is just an extension of the Princedom of Corisande.
  • La Résistance: One of very few places in the Empire where there's organized opposition, even several, to Charis' rule. This is thanks largely tot heir being blamed for Hektor's assassination. Once the Church's complicity is widely suspected and later proven, much of the wind is taken out of their sails.
  • The Rival: To Charis, as they want to be as big a naval and merchant power as them.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Everyone is aware that while there may be laws, the only law that applies is Hektor's word.
  • Spotting the Thread: Not one single thing, but over time many Corisandians start noticing that the Church's claim that Cayleb murdered Hektor is full of holes you could sail a galleon through.

Hektor Daykyn

Ruler of the League of Corisande. He has long sought to expand his territory as much as he could, and has developed an antagonistic relationship with many of his neighbors, including Charis and especially Chisholm, in the pursuit of that goal.

  • Adaptational Heroism: In-universe example — while he wasn't a black-hearted cartoon villain, La Résistance paints him as much more benign than he actually was.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Assassinated along with his son just as he was planning to surrender to Cayleb. His final thoughts were of how much he did love the son he had generally dismissed.
  • Arch-Enemy: For Charis and Chisholm alike until By Heresies Distressed, as Corisande was the single biggest enemy both nations had prior to the Church's attack on Charis.
  • The Chessmaster: Managed to put an agent inside the Inquisition years, decades even, before any of the current crises developed.
  • Enemy Mine: Cayleb asserts that any surrender of Hektor's would be this instead of a Heel–Face Turn. Hektor's own statements confirm this assessment.
  • Parental Favoritism: Disdains Hektor the Younger, favors Irys, and is ambivalent towards Daivyn.
  • Posthumous Character: Despite dying in book three, he still has great impact on Corisande as the rallying point of La Résistance.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: He's said to be bribing the vicars heavily so that the Church will be on his side in nearly any given affair.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: In Corisande, his word is the law, even if it contradicts the laws written down earlier.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: His own people love and admire Hektor, while everyone else sees him as the power monger he is.

Irys Daykyn

Hektor's eldest child and only daughter. Princess Irys is quick to blame Cayleb and Sharleyan for anything that happens, including her father and brother's deaths, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

  • Broken Pedestal: Irys eventually has to come to terms with the fact that her father was a tyrant outside his own kingdom.
  • Happily Married: To Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk. The relationship's foundation develops shortly after her and Daivyn's rescue from Delfarahk. Sharleyan, in a mix of Altar Diplomacy and Shipper on Deck, insists on finalizing it as part of Corisande's integration into the Empire.
  • Heir Club for Men: Cannot lawfully inherit the throne, despite Hektor's preferences, given Young Hektor's ineptitude and Daivyn's youth. Once she and Daivyn are back in Corisande, there's talk of revising the laws to change that. In the meantime, Corisande's Archbishop uses his power in such a way that Irys has equal standing with the members of the Regency Council.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • Coris makes sure she continues to hate Cayleb and Sharleyan as a means of keeping her politically useful to the Group of Four and, thus, alive.
    • Subverted when an assassination attempt at her wedding forces her to be inducted into the Inner Circle far sooner than intended. We don't see it, but she apparently takes it the best out of perhaps anyone so far. It helps that Hektor's life was saved in the process.
  • Noble Fugitive: From the end of By Heresies Distressed until partway through Like a Mighty Army, when she, Daivyn, and Earl Coris return to Corisande.
  • Not So Different: Sharleyan notes this between the two of them. Hektor was aware of it, too. Coris tells Irys that one reason Hektor didn't change the inheritance laws to give Irys the throne was because he didn't think Safehold could handle Sharleyan and Irys on opposite sides.

Hektor Daykyn the Younger

Hektor's middle child and Crown Prince of Corisande. Though he is Hektor's eldest son and heir, Hektor regards him with disdain for the most part.

  • Inadequate Inheritor: How Hektor sees him. He is whiny and petulant nearly every time he's on screen, despite Hektor's attempts to make him see the importance of what's going on around him.
  • Spoiled Brat: He's mostly dragged along to whatever royal business Hektor wants him to be apart of, and whiny the entire time.
  • The Unfavorite: At least until his and his father's final moments, when Hektor realizes he does, and always did, love his son.

Daivyn Daykyn

At age nine, the younger son of Hektor Daykyn, and following the deaths of his father and brother, Prince of Corisande. Smuggled out of Corisande during the course of By Heresies Distressed, the Church of God Awaiting keeps him alive in the hopes of using him as a diplomatic trump card against Charis.

  • Cheerful Child: Once out of captivity and given something to be cheerful about. Until then he's described as being sullen, given he's confined to one place and has lost his father and brother.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Barely ten Safehold years old when his father and brother are killed. Sharleyan is able to bond with him due to this.
  • Noble Fugitive: With his sister, Irys, following Hektor's assassination and until Merlin's extraction of them in Like a Mighty Army. He's kept in Delfarahk, whose royal family is related to his own. His status as such, and ultimate fate, are a big part of the Church's and Charis' considerations when they make any kind of strategy.
  • Stepford Smiler: As an adult, Daivyn is a friendly and amicable young man with an infectious smile and optimistic attitude. Those close to him realize that this is, at least partially, a façade, and his fiancée theorizes that Daivyn is putting up the front to ever more strongly differetiate himself from Hektor, for whom adjectives like crafty and conniving were often used. The only thing she can't work out for certain is if Daivyn is doing so consciously or not.

Phylyp Ahzgood, Earl of Coris

Maybe [Merlin] is [insane], but, Langhorne, it feels good to hear someone take one of those sanctimonious pricks on in public!

Prince Hektor's spymaster. When the war with Charis begins to turn against Corisande, he puts Irys and Daivyn in his care and sends them away.

  • The Consigliere: For Daivyn and Irys, being the experienced spymaster.
  • Double Agent: Clyntahn believes he's prepared to off Daivyn when they say so. He actually plays this role to help the Daykyns survive.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The Inner Circle takes considerable time to introduce him to the truth once he's an ally. Though they intend to do so not long after inducting Irys and Hektor.
  • The Spymaster: For Prince Hektor, part of the reason he was sent to Delferahk with Irys and Daivyn. Returns to the job upon the return to Corisande.

Rhobair Seablanket

Ahzgood's loyal valet, met on the Earl of Coris's trip to the Temple. Turns out to be more than meets the eye.

    The Kingdom of Dohlar 

Head of State: King Rahnyld III of the House of Bahrns. Succeeded by his son, Rahnyld IV, at the end of At the Sign of Triumph.

Consort: ?

Capital: Gorath

Other major locations:

Dohlarans in general

One of the smallest Safeholdian realms, Dohlar boasts a quite excellent army with a decent supply system and a ruler who's universally agreed to be an absolute idiot. Despite having one of the tiniest navies out there, they really want to have the same international position and power as Charis and so eagerly fight against the Empire.

  • Anti-Villain: Save for their king, they're the most positively portrayed of all the loyalist nations and there's a lot of speculation out-of-universe that they might end up switching sides.
  • Badass Army: Despite their inferior technology, their navy is capable of fighting against the Imperial Charisian Navy and even winning against fleets that are a tech level ahead. Their army is also rock-solid, albeit Overshadowed by Awesome compared to many on the planet.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Despite king Rahnyld being less than a perfect ruler, his naval and army commanders serve him loyally.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: They're tucked between some of the biggest nations on Safehold — Siddarmark, Desnair and the Temple Lands — but stand more chance of weathering the storm that's rolling over the planet than any of them and are on par with Siddarmark and Desnair in terms of their army.
  • The Rival: To Charis. They want to be the merchant and naval power Charis is, but lack the experience and mindset necessary for this.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The Slobs to Desnair's Snobs. They believe that Desnairan nobility is full of hot air, delusional and overly decorative, while Desnairians believe them to be too down-to-earth, uncultured and poor.

Admiral Lywys Gardynyr, Earl of Thirsk

Commander of the Dohlaran Navy, and one of the few real sailors among their highest ranks. Blamed for the failure at Armageddon Reef, he is under the Inquisition's constant suspicion, but prevails at his station because of his talent. He's one of the very few capable Temple commanders, and probably the only one who encourages creativity in his officers.

  • 10-Minute Retirement: He's forced into retirement after the Armageddon Reef failure, but called back two books later, when it turns out he was right.
  • Cassandra Truth: He kept on saying that the galley fleet the Church was building was outdated and redundant against the galleons. Nobody listened to him.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Hits the bottle hard during his Heroic BSoD. After he gets snapped out of it by learning his family is alive and safe, he admits to one of his allies that he was trying to drink himself to death.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Is the single most effective commander the Church has against Charis, but that just makes Clyntahn distrust him more.
  • Heroic BSoD: Suffers from a massive breakdown after his family is believed to be killed. It remains to be seen how this turns out.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Inqusition has his family under... protection. To prevent them from falling victim to Charisian assassins, of course. This blows up directly in the Inquisition's face when Charisian agents rescue his family, and then Charis tells him that they're not pulling this trope. He flips as soon as he can.
  • The Scapegoat: Somebody had to be blamed for Armageddon Reef... at least he kept his life.
  • That Man Is Dead: No name change, but the trope is invoked at the end of Hell's Foundations Quiver after his family dies. As far as he knows.
    (after a paragraph of his desire to redeem the honor he's sacrificed to the service of the Jihad) But he paid no attention to the man he'd once been, because that man was dead. That man was broken beyond repair.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Torn between his duty to his kingdom and Mother Church in the wake of the Church's atrocities and the moral rightness of the Charisan cause.
  • Token Good Teammate: The only commander of the Temple Loyalists who feels any sympathy for his enemies.
  • Wild Card: Following the discovery in At the Sign of Triumph that Charis rescued his family from the Church and are promising not to use them as a bargaining chip or weapon, Thirsk is given the freedom to act as he sees fit. He uses this freedom to essentially stage a coup, throwing the Inquisition out of Dohlar, getting Rahnyld to abdicate, and becoming regent for Rahnyld's son.
  • Worthy Opponent: Frequently noted as the most dangerous commander Charis' enemies have.

General Rainos Ahlverez

Cousin of the infamous Duke of Malikai, he's one of Dohlar's highest ranking nobles. He blames Earl Thirsk for Malikai's death. Upon Dohlar's invasion of Siddarmark, he becomes one of its army's chief military commanders, and appears to be surprisingly good at his job.

  • Aesop Amnesia: Averted; he's noted as one of precious few enemy commanders who actually learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, he spends much of his time early on serving under a commander who doesn't.
  • Anti-Villain: While on the Temple's side and starting out every bit as antagonistic towards Earl Thirsk as the rest of his relatives are, he grows towards this trope as we see him be A Father to His Men and get a taste of what Thirsk went through with Malikai from dealing with the Duke of Harless. He fully comes around in At the Sign of Triumph, allying himself with Thirsk and Staiphan Maik.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: It's mentioned in By Schism Rent Asunder that Duke Malikai's cousin advocates against Thirsk, but Ahlverez is only named and introduced in Midst Toil and Tribulation, four books later.
  • A Father to His Men: Grows into this during the desperate retreat from Kyplynger, his attitude to his men changing from looking down on the plebeians to caring about them and struggling to do his best to save them.
  • Heel Realization: After finding himself in a similar situation to what Thirsk had been in (trapped in a subordinate position to an incompetent superior who won't listen to what he has to say or let him act independently), he realizes that he was wrong to blame the Admiral for his cousin's death at Armageddon Reef.
  • Mounted Combat: Ahlverez is an army commander who specializes in cavalry. Part of his frustration with Duke Harless is Harless' inability to use his cavalry units to their fullest and having to go behind his back to do so.
  • Only Sane Man: As things start going south for the Army of Justice, he turns out to be the only commander who can see that their situation is bad and they're losing, while all the others think that they're just a step from victory.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With his artillery commander, as the man is Thirsk's fan. They get friendlier as the time goes on, though.
  • Worthy Opponent: Much like Thirsk, the protagonists who know of him acknowledge that he is among the enemy's better commanders.

    The Princedom of Emerald 

Head of State: Prince Nahrmahn II Full name  of the House of Baytz. Succeeded by Prince Nahrmahn III (Nahrmahn Gareyt Baytz) in How Firm a Foundation.

Consort: Princess Ohlyvya

Capital: Eraystor

Other major locations:

Emeraldians in general

A small island nation just across a strait from Charis, the Emeraldians are largely ignored by international politics in favor of their bigger neighbor, Corisande. They harbor as much reformist sentiment as Charis and join the Empire of their own accord, becoming one of the member states, with no tensions to speak of.

  • Animal Motifs: Their symbol is a pair of wyverns and they're known as wyvern breeders.
  • The Beastmaster: Emerald is known for their excellent hunting wyverns, making this their hat in the eyes of other countries.
  • Color Motif: They're called Emerald and their flag is emerald green.
  • Easily Forgiven: Apparently, Charisians dislike Emeraldians and of course Emerald is one of the countries attacking Charis, but there's no problem with their integration into the Empire.
  • Expy: Pretty obvious one of Ireland, the Emerald Isle. Also, they're an island that becomes a part of the Great Britain Expy, although they feel much better about it than Real Life Ireland.
  • Hufflepuff House: After book two they have much less "screen presence" than Corisande, Chisholm and Charis, being basically delegated to a background note.
  • Heel–Face Turn: They join the Empire even before Chisholm does.
  • Non-Indicative Name: There's no indication that Emerald has anything to do with emeralds, whether it's mining or making jewelry of them.

Nahrmahn Hanbyl Graim Baytz; Prince Nahrmahn II

The Prince of Emerald. Nahrmahn was originally antagonistic towards Charis, but a combination of self-preservation and disillusionment with Mother Church leads him to join the Empire of Charis. He becomes the Empire's Minister of Imperial Intelligence. Eventually Cayleb, Merlin, and Sharleyan bring him into the Inner Circle. Has a great love for playing the Great Game of politics.

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: A pragmatic variety — he knows that if Charis attacks Emerald, the Princedom has no chance of survival, so he begs (in a diplomatic way) them to allow him a Heel–Face Turn and joining them. He succeeds.
  • Big Eater: He eats a lot, especially sweets, despite his wife's efforts and his own Weight Woe.
  • Brain Uploading: After his death, we learn Merlin used a device to record his brain in his final moments and upload his personality to the Cave computers.
  • Complexity Addiction: His love for "the Great Game". His posting as Imperial Spymaster was done largely to channel this addiction into something constructive.
  • The Chessmaster
  • Easily Forgiven: While initially Cayleb and Sharleyan are properly wary of him, Cayleb later admits his surprise at finding himself liking the man.
  • Fun Size: Ohlyvya considers his small size to be endearing.
  • Happily Married: To Ohlyvya.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Was prepared to bargain with Cayleb and Sharleyan, knowing there was a very legitimate chance that they would demand his execution as part of the process. The only reason Ohlyvya survives the destruction of their coach in How Firm a Foundation is because Nahrmahn shielded her with his body.
  • Height Angst/Weight Woe: He has some complexes regarding the fact that he's small and plump, making him look not unlike a beach ball. At one point, he says in his inner monologue that if he knew how good-looking Cayleb is and how bad he looks in contrast, he'd be too proud to go and pledge loyalty to him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In By Schism Rent Asunder, as he decides it's the best chance his country has.
  • Icon of Rebellion: For a long time the Church sees him as the prime example of a Turncoat.
  • Inside a Computer System: After his death, he lives inside a virtual reality unit.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Quite the schemer. As Merlin says In-Universe, "God help us when he discovers Machiavelli."
    • Narhmahn remarks, after making said discovery, that he'd already figured most of it out and Machiavelli was really cynical.
  • The Man Behind the Man: He was the one who turned the Duke of Tirian.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe, for some time his name becomes synonymous with Face–Heel Turn in the Temple Lands, to the point when Clyntahn is saying that he needs to discourage people from "doing a Nahrmahn".
  • Morality Chain: After his death and Brain Uploading, Nahrmahn plays this role for Merlin, offering reassurance when Merlin fears that what his power to kill with impunity may turn him into and making sure he doesn't shut himself out from his friends and loved ones.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Even people who know Nahrmahn is smarter than he appears underestimate him.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: He was engaged with the previous dynasty's only heir to lend credibility to his family's claim to the throne, but ends up being deeply in love with Ohlyvya.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Cayleb is pretty clear that he wants Nahrmahn's head almost as much as Hektor Daykyn's, but Narhmahn's Heel–Face Turn makes the two become friends, saving Nahrmahn's life at least for a few more years.
  • The Smart Guy: For the Inner Circle. Merlin at one point admits that watching him work is a guilty pleasure.
  • The Spymaster: He has his own for Emerald, but after his Heel–Face Turn his Complexity Addiction is turned towards this by making him the spymaster for the whole of the Empire. He's regarded by all the inner circle as their best analyst.
  • The Strategist: Oh, he is quite the competent schemer and as noted above, Merlin deeply admires his ability to analyze, adapt and plan ahead when confronted with new situations and information.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ugly Guy to Ohlyvya's Hot Wife, he's small and plump while she's more beautiful.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Although his uploaded personality is potentially immortal, Nahrmahn has arranged for himself to be deleted when his beloved Ohlyvya dies. Life, even his artificial one, isn't worth living without her.

Ohlyvya Baytz

Nahrmahn's wife and Princess of Emerald. She is at least as intelligent as Nahrmahn himself, and serves largely as a confidante and mitigating influence for her husband. Is inducted into the Inner Circle alongside her husband in A Mighty Fortress.

  • Happily Married: To Nahrmahn.
  • The High Queen: The Princess Mother of Emerald, a stately and beautiful woman.
  • Mundane Utility: Uses her access to OWL to look up information on things like cholesterol, and then uses said information to try and convince her husband to take better care of himself.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Her marriage with Nahrmahn was a political decision forced on her family by his, but they are very much in love.
  • Sixth Ranger: For the Inner Circle, initially. There was no special need to include her, and she doesn't often take an active role in the Empire's politics. Though it's noted her influence with Nahrmahn provided a good reason, nonetheless.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In her first on-page appearance, she and Nahrmahn are playing chess ... and she's pulverizing him.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Beautiful wife of small and plump Nahrmahn.


    The Temple Lands 

Head of State: Grand Vicar Erek XVII. Grand Vicar Rhobair II as of the end of At The Sign of Triumph, followed by Grand Vicar Tymythy Rhobair I partway through Through Fiery Trials.

Consort: Unknown (There are married clergy, but the wives tend to be background characters who rarely get mentioned)

Capital: Zion

Temple Lands in general

Formally, it's an independent country ruled by the Knights of the Temple Lands, but in fact it's simply a personal fiefdom of the Church of God Awaiting. For this reason, it's not just one of the biggest, but also the richest and most influential country in the world.

  • The Clan: Most of the Temple Lands is ruled by several tightly connected families of Churchmen.
  • Corrupt Church: It's a public secret that Church officials are corrupt — for example, gunpowder, illegal under Jwo-jeng's Proscriptions, has been allowed because of a large bribe given to the Inquisitor in charge.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: While shipments made by companies owned by members of the Vicarate are not officially tax exempt, it's been decades since the last time any customs official has dared tried to collect tariffs on a Vicar's goods if he didn't pay up voluntarily. As a direct result of this, most of the senior clergy are technically smugglers, everyone knows it, and nobody tries to punish them for it.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: The Temple Lands are a political entity, not the Church. But since the Knights of the Temple Lands are all Vicars of the Church, and they have used their political power as the Knights to get things they couldn't officially ask for as clergy (and possibly vice versa) for centuries, everyone knows that this is just sophistry.
  • Hereditary Republic: The Grand Vicar is elected by the Vicarate from among the Vicarate, and since Grand Vicars often appoint their kin to the Vicarate, which makes them eligible to become Grand Vicars in turn, there are several families in the Temple Lands who have produced multiple Grand Vicars.
  • Holy Ground: The Temple, the holiest place on all of Safehold. The Temple Lands get a bit of it, too.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Subverted — at first it seems like no matter what Clyntahn does, the people of the Temple Lands are all loyal to him, but later it turns out that vicars can't even go out of the Temple without guards for fear of being knifed.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: They could probably achieve much more if they stopped and listened to each other, not to mention (especially in Clyntahn's case) be honest with each other.
  • The Theocracy: The Knights of the Temple Lands are Vicars of the Church of God Awaiting. The Vicarate used to use the fact that the Temple Lands and the Church are legally separate entities to dabble in politics without officially getting the Church involved, but after a while, people realized that even if they were officially distinct, they were essentially the same thing in practice.
  • Truce Zone: Maintains neutrality in all conflicts — that is, until Charis comes along.

Grand Vicar Erek XVII

The eighty-third Grand Vicar of the Church of God Awakening, and ruler of the Temple Lands, and as such is the most important secular and spiritual leader on Safehold. In theory, anyway.

  • Authority in Name Only: No matter how much power he might wield in theory, in practice he's a total nonentity, with all real authority in the church being wielded by the Group of Four.
  • Out of Focus: Only actually appears once, and doesn't do much even then.
  • Puppet King: Is so much Trynair's creature that it's an open joke that Erek demonstrates his independence from his Chancellor by choosing what shoes to wear in the morning. The only thing he's been shown doing is delivering a speech that Trynair wrote for him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So much of a nonentity that when Duchairn usurps the Grand Vicar's throne, the books don't bother mentioning what happened the the previous holder. Even the following novel just mentions his "retirement" without discussing his actual fate.

Vicar Zahmsyn Trynair

I do believe [Hauwerd and Samyl] conspired against Zhaspyr. That means they also conspired against me and you. Maybe your deep faith lets you take it easy. I can't.

Chancellor of the Church of God Awaiting's Council of Vicars. Member and primary leader of the Group of Four, he loses his importance (and presence in the books) as events progress and turn into all-out war.

  • The Man Behind the Man: De facto ruler of the church, as the Grand Vicar decrees whatever Trynair tells him to decree.
  • Out of Focus: At the start, Trynair and Clyntahn are the driving force behind the events within the church. As the books have progressed, with Clyntahn grabbing more and more power and Duchairn being the only one willing to stand up to him, Trynair's importance has dwindled significantly. Hell's Foundations Quiver makes it official, with Duchairn's narration saying that the Group of Four has for all intents and purposes become the Group of Three, since Trynair is now too afraid of Clyntahn to act against him, and his job has become increasingly irrelevant (He controls Mother Church's diplomats, and Clyntahn's power grab has essentially turned the diplomats into messenger boys relaying the Grand Inquisitor's orders).
  • Scylla and Charybdis: He increasingly finds himself towed in Clyntahn's wake and unable to oppose him. However, he knows that if Duchairn ever gets eliminated, he's the next biggest target in Clyntahn's sights and has to try desperately to play peacekeeper between them.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When it becomes clear to Trynair, Duchairn, and Maigwair that the Church will inevitably lose the war in At the Sign of Triumph and all that they can possibly do is drag out the conclusion, Trynair is the only one stupid enough to suggest they should negotiate a peace with Charis and its allies in front of Clyntahn, and when Clyntahn doesn't fly into a rage but calmly asks him to continue, is the only one in the room not to realize he's signing his own execution order by continuing to press the idea.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Usually he can't tame Clyntahn, but when in By Heresies Distressed he finds out the truth about the Ferayd massacre, he verbally stomps Clyntahn into the ground.

Vicar Zhaspahr Clyntahn

There ought to be a law that villains shouldn't be allowed to look like stereotypical villains.
Earl Coris on Clyntahn

Grand Inquisitor of the Church of God Awaiting. Member of the Group of Four. Instigator of many of the Safehold series' biggest events, using his position to attempt to crush all opposition to the Church and himself.

  • Believing Their Own Lies:
    • Noted as his single creepiest attribute. It's noted as early as By Heresies Distressed, but Hell's Foundations Quiver has Duchairn note that Clyntahn seems completely sincere and without irony when he says, regarding the Fist of Kau-yung, that "men who've sold their souls to [Shan-wei] have every reason to murder true servants of God and then lie about their victims to justify their bloody actions."
    • In the epilogue of At the Sign of Triumph, when Nimue and Merlin visit him while he's in prison awaiting execution and prove to him that the Church Of God Awaiting is an absolute lie, it shatters him.
  • Big Bad: Charis' war with the Temple begins with Clyntahn's paranoia and opportunism, and ends with his arrest and execution.
  • Defiant to the End: Clyntahn tries to be this in the face of his execution, but a visit from Merlin and Nimue, during which they reveal to him the true nature of the archangels, causes him to lose the last defiance he has.
  • The Dreaded: People are terrified of Clyntahn, especially after he purges the Zion Circle, the families of its members, their aides, and their families.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Duchairn specifically describes Clyntahn as being unable to understand things like gentleness, and fully expects it to bite him in the rear eventually. By At the Sign of Triumph, Clyntahn's and the Inquisition's cruelty, in contrast to Ducharin's gentleness and even the heretics' honor, finally spark open revolt within Zion itself.
    • In Hell's Foundations Quiver, it's mentioned that while he can easily see people like his Rakurai dying for him, he doesn't quite grasp people willing to do the same for their own loved ones except on, at best, an intellectual level. This is why he can understand how threatening a person's loved ones will bring them to heel, but doesn't fathom the kind of hatred that generates.
  • General Failure: Every time he takes part in the actual planning of a Church military operation, that operation has a tendency to turn into a bloody fiasco. His insistence that one, dangerously overextended army not be allowed to give ground to the heretics by pulling back and resistance to keeping another army under the command of a loyal zealot who's otherwise lost his nerve result in both armies eventually being overtaken by the Charisians and Siddarmarkians.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Learning Safehold's true history leaves him barely coherent. By the time of his public execution he can only babble, claim everything he did wasn't his fault because he thought the Writ was true.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Partly a pose to scare his rivals, but mostly very dangerously real.
  • Hobbes Was Right: How Firm a Foundation reveals that Clyntahn believes that man has no better nature and only follows God when terrorized into proper behavior.
  • Hypocrite: The reason he publicly claims he wants Charis eliminated? The new tech they are introducing; claiming it is demonically inspired. What does he do to overcome that technical advantage? Replicating that same tech and stamping the Inquisition's seal of approval on it while claiming that the Church replicated the technology using different, non-demonic methods.
  • It's All About Me:
    • One of the observations Duchairn makes regarding Clyntahn is that he equates his own survival with the survival of Mother Church. Clyntahn sincerely believes his own death would mean the end of the world and, whether he acknowledges it or not, knows that this war can only end with his death. As a result, he is fully prepared to do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means dragging Mother Church and the world down with him.
    • Duchairn even speculates that the entire Jihad had nothing to do with orthodoxy or Charis whatsoever, but was just an excuse to bring about the ascendancy of the Inquisition (and by extension, the Grand Inquisitor) over the rest of the Vicarate.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Is convicted of being partially responsible for the Ferayd Massacre, and is sentenced to... one week's kitchen duty.
    • Averted at the end of At the Sign of Triumph, when not only is he arrested and eventually executed because of his crimes, but before that happens Merlin and Nimue visit Clyntahn in his cell and reveal the true nature of the "archangels", forcing him to acknowledge that all his acts were in the name of a lie.
  • Knight Templar: And to make it worse, the scriptures clearly state that this sort of behavior is acceptable.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Tries to rule through fear, but missed the point about the need to not be hated.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Crosses into this in Midst Toil and Tribulation when he actually starts building concentration camps for the "heretics", and Merlin compares the role of his Inquisition to the Army of God to the SS following the Wehrmacht into Russia.
  • Never My Fault: At no point does he ever acknowledge how his decisions made the Church unnecessary enemies or screwed up everyone else's efforts to deal with the ones he'd already created.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Clyntahn does quite a bit of damage in the short term, but in the long term he tends to strengthen his enemies' resolve, turn the wavering against him, and make the weak seek refuge from him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: While Clyntahn genuinely has a Hair-Trigger Temper, Rayno notes that he plays it up for others for the sake of his reputation to make himself more intimidating.
  • Obviously Evil: Earl Coris, upon meeting him, notes all the hallmarks of a Villainous Glutton and thinks to himself that there should be a rule forbidding villains from looking like stereotypical villains.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • As the jihad turns more and more against the Church, Clyntahn starts showing signs of indecisiveness. This greatly concerns Wyllym Rayno, since whatever else one can say about the Grand Inquisitor, hesitating over decisions was never one of his character traits. He's even more shocked when he realizes it's fear driving that attitude.
    • When Trynair suggests actually negotiating with Charis for a peace, Clyntahn, who would normally be raging at such a suggestion, becomes totally calm and politely asks him to continue. Trynair does.
  • Properly Paranoid: Shocking, but true. Staynair notes that one of Clyntahn's justifications for attacking Charis is the belief that Charis has been working for years to undermine Mother Church. He is, in fact, absolutely right, as the Brotherhood of Saint Zherneau knows Safehold's true history and sees breaking the Church's power as its end goal.
  • Psychological Projection: Clyntahn tends to project his own Evil Cannot Comprehend Good mentality on others. His second in command, Wyllym Rayno, even lampshades the act as projection when Clyntahn describes the Church's Captain-General as a weak-spined coward, jumping at shadows and wanting to pull his troops back to safety immediately after Rayno recognizes that Clyntahn, at least subconsciously, fears the Church will lose the war. Church Treasurer Rhobair Duchairn notes much the same when Clyntahn proclaims, without irony, that "men who've sold their souls have every reason to murder true servants of God and then lie about their victims to justify their bloody actions."
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: As the war goes worse and worse, the number of F-bombs he drops in every meeting goes up.
  • Tantrum Throwing:
    • Clyntahn demolishes his office in an epic tantrum after finding out about the destruction of the Desnairian Navy and the defection of its commanding officers.
    • He throws an even bigger one when the letter from Seijin Mab is delivered to him.
  • Tautological Templar: Goes hand-in-hand with Believing Their Own Lies. The Writ actively teaches that extremism in the name of God is never a sin. Clyntahn is thus convinced that anything he does is right and good because he's acting as the guardian of Mother Church's orthodoxy.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • As the Fist of Kau-yung starts to outwit the Inquisition at every turn and his own intendants start to act reasonably rather than according to his orders, he gets more and more unhinged.
    • He gets broken down completely in the finale of At the Sign of Triumph, when Merlin and Nimue visit him in his prison cell and show him archive footage of the "archangels." He breaks down at the fact that all the atrocities he committed were in the name of a lie.
  • Villainous Glutton: Clyntahn is often described as overweight, with food stains on his cassock. He's also well known for his self-indulgence. It reaches such a degree that the Earl of Coris describes him as looking like a "stereotypical villain".

Vicar Rhobair Duchairn

You know, in many ways Zhaspahr is his own worst enemy. That's because he forgot — and so did I for a moment, I must admit — that sometimes kindness and gentleness can be a weapon as powerful as fear and terror.

Minister of the Treasury of the Church of God Awaiting's Council of Vicars, a position which grants him a place in the Group of Four. Events early in the series began to re-awaken his faith, which puts him in the position of opposing some of the Group of Four's policies but being in a position where he can't actually do anything about them.

  • Anti-Villain: Becomes this by the second book, the only reason he is still with the Group of Four is because he knows staying with them is the only way he can mitigate some of Clyntahn's bullshit.
  • The Atoner: Upon his Heel Realization, he tries to atone for all he's done by helping Zion's poor and trying to shield everyone from Clyntahn's worst ideas.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: His greatest strength is his mathematical and financial genius, and he's pretty much the only reason the Church isn't bankrupted by the jihad.
  • Badass Bureaucrat:
    • He protects the Church's inventors from Clyntahn, he stands up to the Grand Inquisitor, he keeps the Church away from bankruptcy and still finds time to help the poor. For all the grandiose of his title, he's the chief accountant.
    • It's revealed in book 9 that as a regular priest he'd been a forensic accountant, and those skills allow him to uncover a secret Clyntahn is desperate to keep.
  • Fearless Fool: Clyntahn considers him to be one, as he opposes him despite this putting him straight in the line of fire.
  • Good Shepherd: Becomes one to counter-balance some of the evil he's been complicit in. In At the Sign of Triumph, the narration shows this has become an actual nickname given to him by the people of Zion.
  • Heel Realization: It starts somewhere around book two, and is sure as of book four. Seeing Clyntahn every day helped.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: As he and Allayn Maigwair draw closer together as allies, they also draw closer together as friends, and by the time of At the Sign of Triumph, they're probably each other's closest friend in the world.
  • Only Sane Man: A role he is starting to share with Allayn Maigwair, as he seems to be one of the few members of the upper Church hierarchy that has a level head on his shoulders.
  • Morality Chain: For the Group of Four, although he can't do much.
  • Rank Up: Eventually usurps Erek XVII and his puppet masters to become Rhobair II, eighty-fourth Grand Vicar of the Church of God Awaiting.
  • Spotting the Thread: Figures out that something dramatic happened at a notorious Inquisition prison that Clyntahn is covering up when an expense report is delivered promptly when requested instead of the normal complaining and delays and he recognizes that the signature of the Inquisitor in charge had been forged.

Vicar Allayn Maigwair

Captain General of the Church of God Awaiting, making him leader of its military forces, a position which also grants him a place within the Group of Four. Not particularly renowned for his intellect, and tends to just go along with Clyntahn. However, once the war heats up he shows that he isn't exactly the idiot everyone thought him to be and becomes an ally of Duchairn.

  • Beware the Silly Ones: He may be an idiot most of the times, but just give him an army and he'll turn into...
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The first few books had the Group of Four focus mainly on political scheming and letting proxies fight Charis in their stead. Maigwair is a career soldier, not a politician, and has no talent for political maneuvering, so he looks like a man who is a bit slow and more than a little out of his depth. Come A Mighty Fortress, and Magwair starts taking a direct hand in planning the Church's military offensive; he comes up with a battle plan for the Navy of God that comes within a hair's breadth of crushing Charis. In Midst Toil and Tribulation, his armies inflict massive defeats on the Siddmarkian Army, widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, on Safehold. In Like a Mighty Army, he turns the hopelessly outdated and incompetent Harchong Army into a powerful, modern military force that is threatening to drive Charis off the mainland. Merlin, Nahrmahn and Cayleb have all admitted they seriously underestimated him.
  • Foreshadowing: Several characters note that the overly-complicated naval attack he organizes in Off Armageddon Reef would be a pretty good idea on land.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Near-useless in political maneuvering, a terror to behold once active military operations begin.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In a way — in the first book, he's terrified into siding with Clyntahn, but as he gains more self-esteem with his successful military operations, he manages to man up and jumps into Rhobair's camp.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: His alliance with Duchairn evolves into a genuine friendship, and by At the Sign of Triumph it can fairly be said that they're each other's closest friend in the world.
  • The Load: Pretty much how the rest of the Group of Four views him, since he's not as bright as the other three. However, once the Church becomes directly involved in the military campaigns he stops being the Load.
  • Nepotism: A literal case, he was raised to the Vicarate by his uncle the then-Grand Vicar.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain:
    • For most of the books, he acts like an idiot who can't be trusted to tie his own shoes, and indeed, he's almost completely useless in politics. But when given a hand in the Church's military operations, he proves to be one of the greatest commanders in Safeholdian history.
    • In Like a Mighty Army, he keeps getting more impressive. He ramrods a new breech-loading rifle design through the Inquisition's approval and acceptance process, is copying and supporting Thirsk in the research and development field and actually, with Duchairn's help, reforms the Harchong Army from a sorry joke into a very formidable fighting force, something Merlin didn't think was possible.
  • Out of Focus: For the first six books he's pretty much a one-man Hufflepuff House for the Group of Four, but from book six on he becomes a much more prominent character.
  • The Strategist: He might not be very good with political scheming, but in military matters it turns out that he is one of the most capable generals in the world.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In Midst Toil and Tribulation, he proves frighteningly competent in creating the new Army of God and successfully leads one of the greatest military campaigns in Safehold's history. Not only that, he actually delivers a Shut Up, Hannibal! speech to Clyntahn!

Madame Ahnzhelyk Phonda, born Nynian Rychtair, aka Aivah Pahrsahn

The madame of one of the city of Zion's more renowned "houses of ill repute". Madame Ahnzhelyk's provides company for many, including members of the Council of Vicars. From this position, Ahnzhelyk has created a truly awesome spy network through which to subvert the church's corruption.

  • Amazon Brigade: She leads one, the Sisterhood of Saint Kohdy, known to the Temple better as the Hand (or Fist) of Kau-yung.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Manages to figure out not only that Merlin and Ahbraim Zhevons are the same person, but that they have a means of travelling vast distances in extremely short periods of time through careful observation and good memory for details.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the "Sword of Schueler" attack on Siddarmark, thanks to the rifles she was having quietly manufactured.
  • Cement Shoes: Has caused this to happen to other people at least eleven times.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Madame Ahnzhelyk plans ahead with a vengeance, often utilizing plans and preparations made long before Clyntahn was Grand Inquisitor to hamper him and the Inquisition.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Older than most examples, and doesn't "work" herself by the time of the books, but she charms everyone she meets and is regarded as a master in the field by everyone who knows of her.
  • Good Is Not Soft: She doesn't shy away from assassinations and blackmail to advance her cause.
  • Happily Adopted: Ahnzhelyk was raised by her aunt and uncle until her father forced them to send her to a convent. She regards them as her true mother and father, her cousin as a beloved older sister, and credits them for teaching her there truly is love in the world.
  • Heroic Bastard: She's the illegitimate daughter of a high-ranking Church official, and fights against corruption in the Temple.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Among the highest class, at that, as Archbishops and Vicars rank among her clientele.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: She's an ex-courtesan and not only is she an avid Reformist, she spends a lot of her money to provide food, warmth and shelter for the homeless of Zion, saving dozens of lives.
  • I Have Many Names: Over her life, she's used several. Merlin only semi-jokingly states that she has more identities than he does.
  • Master of Disguise: When she takes to the field, she often uses disguises to pass Beneath Notice.
  • Meaningful Name: Provides shelter for the poor in Zion and genuinely works to do good.
  • Naughty Nuns: The highest-class call girl of Zion is also Mother Superior of the Sisters of Saint Kohdy.
  • Nun Too Holy: Spymistress, call girl, guerilla commander and assassin mistress is also Mother Superior of a religious order.
  • Photographic Memory: She has eidetic memory, enabling her to remember people and codes with no need for notes. Justified: in pre-Safeholdian times, there used to be a fad of genetically modifying children to give them this particular skill and while the fashion died out, the ability remained in the human genome and resurfaces sometimes.
  • Preacher's Kid: Her father was a Grand Vicar. She's a High-Class Call Girl and mistress of her own spy network, here to wreck the Church's day.
  • Red Baron: For lack of her identity, the Inquisition calls her the "Hand of Kau-yung".
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Has left Cayleb "almost reverent". Her solution to get potential Inquisition victims out of Zion before a vengeful Clyntahn can get his hands on them? Hide them in sleighs shipping goods in Clyntahn's name.
    • Furthermore, her idea of going into "hiding" is to publicly enter high society in Siddarmark under an alias and become a fixture in the Reformist community. Gutsy!
  • The Spymaster: Easily the best in the series. Within her specific area of operation, she's even better than Owl, and has occasionally evaded the SNARCs' observations without even being aware of them.
  • Walking Spoiler: Has a fair share of revelations in Hell's Foundations Quiver.
  • Wham Line: Author of what's probably the most surprising cliffhanger in the entire series when she refers to Merlin as "Ahbraim".

    Other countries in general 

Republic of Siddarmark

Head of State: Lord Protector Greyghor Stohnarnote 

Consort: N/A. Country is a republic

Capital: Siddar City

Other major locations: Glacierheart Province

One of the so-called "Mainland Countries", and the second-biggest nation on the planet after the Harchong Empire. Unusual in that it's the only place on entire Safehold where there's no nobility — the country is ruled by a Lord Protector chosen by election (with property qualifications). Unusually secular for a mainland country, Siddarmark is a thorn in Clyntahn's side and the only country to keep positive relations with the Empire of Charis.

  • The Alliance: From Midst Toil and Tribulation on, with Charis.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The Temple's biggest nightmare is that Siddarmark will join Charis in heresy. Not only are they unpredictable because the rulers are chosen, they practically share a border with Temple Lands and have what's considered the world's most Badass Army. This is why the Group of Four cuts them a lot of slack, despite knowing that Republic harbors many reformists. Clyntahn breaks the stalemate by attacking it and while the Sword of Schueler cripples Siddarmark, they do side with Charis and the RSA is about to come back with a vengeance.
  • Badass Army: For many years, Siddarmarkian pikemen were the best army in the world and by the beginning of the series, they still are. It's generally agreed that no army has a chance of survival against them. Breech-loading guns are something of a game changer, but the new RSA is working hard to catch up.
  • Civil War: In the aftermath of Sword of Schueler, they explode in a war between the Lord Protector's loyalists (reformists) and Temple Loyalists.
  • Drums of War: The Siddarmark army is specifically noted as using drum beats, rather than bugle calls, to pass commands in battle.
  • Expy: To an extent of the early United States, as they are the only Republic in their region, are one of the biggest countries in the world and promote freedom of trade and speech.
  • The Federation: They have some shades of this, and Word of God is that the Republic came into being as a federation of countries which became Siddarmark's core provinces.
  • Foil: To Desnair, as elaborated on in their section below.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In Midst Toil and Tribulation, they jump ship and join Charis.
  • Hereditary Republic: Underplayed, but there are several clans which have held the office of Lord Protector multiple times.
  • He's Back: After the Sword of Schueler devastates them, they barely hold, but by Like a Mighty Army, they're back and stronger.
  • Icon of Rebellion: Clyntahn sees them as an icon of the reformist movement way too close to loyalists' native soil.
  • Intrepid Merchant: They continue trading with Charis even after the ban is put in place. The Church turns a blind eye to this, as (1), they don't want Siddarmark to change sides and (2), the tithes it pays are among the highest and most of them come from this trade.
  • Loophole Abuse: They figure out how to get around the ban on shipping with Charis: buy Charisian ships and call them Siddarmarkian, but retain Charisian crews.
  • President for Life: The Lord Protector rules from the day he's elected 'till the day he dies. Then book 10 changes it so that the Lord Protector has to be re-elected every five years, albeit with no term limits.
  • The Republic: The only one on Safehold, at that. This very fact, combined with the existence of the Brotherhood in Charis, spawned countless conspiracy theories among fans.
  • The Rival: To Desnair. They've been at war countless times, and the Church had to set up a buffer country to stop them from fighting again.
  • Sour Supporter: They would much prefer to aid Charis, but they're too close to the Temple Lands for that. After the Church betrays them, they do so anyway.
  • Token Good Teammate: The only "good guy" among nations subscribed to the Jihad.
  • Truce Zone: In Siddarmark, all the mainlanders with reformist tendencies can preach their agenda semi-openly and the Church can't do anything about it.

Desnairian Empire

Head of State: Emperor Mahrys IVFull name  of the House of Ahldarm


Capital: Desnairnote 

Other major cities: Mahrosa, Iythria, Khairman Keep, Khreos, and Geyra.

Cavalry conquers, infantry occupies.

Known shortly as Desnair, the Empire is ruled by a high caste of Blue Bloods. They are among the most religious countries and are rather rich, due to huge deposits of gold in their possession. Their army, however, is woefully inadequate to the times and their supply chain is a mess, despite their best attempts to fix it.

  • Aesop Amnesia: It's said that nine times out of ten, when they went to war with Siddarmark, they lost because their cavalry just can't break Siddarmarkian infantry. Nevertheless, they continue to attack in exactly the same way.
  • The Beautiful Elite: They believe that their aristocracy is the most beautiful and the most fashionable, especially compared to the Dohlarans. Obviously, others have quite different opinions.
  • Born in the Saddle: The self-perception of Desnair (or rather, of the Desnairan nobility — it is implied Desnairan commoners have a different perspective on things). Suggested to be one of the reasons for their repeated defeats against Siddarmark: because the leading caste feel the need to define themselves as the best horse riders in the world, they neglect the infantry arm of the Desnairan army and have issues admitting that maybe their usual riding tactics need changing if they're to break through Siddarmarkian pikes.
  • The Empire: Firmly on the Heel side.
  • Foil: To Siddarmark in many ways.
    • Desnair has a strict class system with aristocracy proud of their Blue Blood, while Siddarmark is The Republic where every family can have their Lord Protector in a few generations.
    • Desnair is a great believer in cavalry and disdains infantry, while Siddarmark's Badass Army is infantry and they have almost no cavalry.
    • Desnair is zealously religious, while Siddarmark is aggressively reformist.
    • Desnair extracts its riches from land, while Siddarmark relies heavily on trade.
    • Desnair suffers from Aesop Amnesia, while Siddarmark adapts constantly.
    • Desnair refuses to adopt Charisian-inspired practices by calling them heretical, while Siddarmark takes all they can.
  • Horseback Heroism: Their favorite national stereotype is that of brave aristocratic cavalryman racing to save the day and make beautiful ladies swoon. Obviously, it hardly works in the age of explosive shells, breech-loaded rifles and landmines.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: They are very, very rich, but their organization and way of spending money is dead wrong. Their supply chain is an absolute mess, their soldiers have no appropriate cold weather clothing and while the common men are starving in the cold, the commanders drink wine in their enormous pavilions.
  • The Rival:
    • To Dohlar. They dislike each other greatly (see below) and bicker with each other as to who should command the Army of Justice.
    • To Siddarmark. In many ways, the two countries are polar opposites and they went to war so many times, a buffer country had to be set up between them to stop it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Harless' army is crushed and corsairs reign on their shores, they make up dozens of reasons as to why they're sorry, but they can't participate in the Jihad any more. The Church's position is so precarious at the time that Clyntahn — to his fury — can't do much about it.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Snobs to Dohlar's Slobs. They believe themselves to be The Beautiful Elite and Dohlarans to be poor and lacking in terms of social mannerisms.
  • Upper-Class Twit: What Dohlarans think of them. Given some examples we've seen, it's not far from the truth.

Harchong Empire

Head of State: Emperor Waisu VI Hantai succeeded by his son Zhyou-zhwo in Through Fiery Trials

Consort: ?

Capital: Shang-mi

Other major cities: Yu-kwau

The biggest and most populated country in the world, but also one of the least advanced and poorest. The only Safeholdian country to utilize slavery, it possesses an endless army of peasants. While the country is ruled by the Emperor, the true power is in the hands of a vast caste of bureaucrats. Nothing can be accomplished without a bribe, but as the most zealous country among the jihadists, they have a friend in the Group of Four in person of Clyntahn.

  • Balkanize Me: A peasant rebellion early in Through Fiery Trials leaves the Empire split into four areas, with only the southern part being a continuation of the original government.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Their national hat. There's nothing you can do in Harchong without spending impossible amounts of money on bribing all the right people.
  • Droit du Seigneur: Harchongese noblemen have the right to sex with any peasant/serf woman they want. A minor character reveals in How Firm A Foundation that his mother fled Harchong at age 13 after being raped by the local lord, who then beat her father to death on the church steps (with the local priest's full approval) for daring to protest against his daughter's rape.
  • The Empire: Powerful and autocratic, monolithic state.
  • Expy: A mix of Imperial China and Tsarist Russia.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Played with. Slaves in general are taught that the God wanted them to be aristocrats' servants, and many seem to accept this, but there have been several uprisings in the past.
  • Hufflepuff House: For the first few books, it's just kind of there, with no characters coming from there and nothing important to give the world. From A Mighty Fortress, however, their importance has been steadily rising.
  • Magikarp Power: Once their army is improved, they turn from an unorganized rabble to a very dangerous fighting force.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The country is theoretically controlled by the Emperor, but everyone knows that it's the aristocracy who's in power.
  • Mighty Glacier: Their army is enormous, but this makes them move very, very slowly.
  • Protection from Editors: invoked They are woefully underdeveloped and unprepared for war, and they swallow a lot of money while giving very little and of very poor quality in return. However, they are the most zealous country in the world and support Clyntahn wholeheartedly, so Rhobair's hands are pretty much tied.
  • Puppet King: The Emperor of Harchong is said to have the authority to tie his own shoes and choose whether he wants rice or noodles with his dinner, but nothing more.
    • The Emperor starts reclaiming his authority in Through Fiery Trials, helped by the fact that many of the ruling bureaucrats died in Shang-mi when the peasant rebellion sacked the city. Their replacements were chosen for loyalty to the Emperor first, other factors a distant second.
  • Slave Liberation: There were several slave uprisings in Harchong over the last several centuries, and they were all very bloody affairs. The main characters predict that the current war will result in another. Indeed, one does erupt in Through Fiery Trials, and sets off a chain reaction that sees North Harchong collapse into total anarchy. It is referred to in-universe as "The Rebellion".
  • Stone Wall: The Mighty Host of God and the Archangels is a Mighty Glacier with far more manpower than they have the ability to actually move into combat. Their Magwair-trained generals make a virtue of this by entrenching in the north and daring Charis to come fight a war of attrition with them. Charis' generals are manifestly unhappy with this situation.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Their Mighty Host of God and the Archangels goes from a horde of Medieval Morons to professional army which is about to become the greatest danger the Empire of Charis has to face.
  • Warrior Poet: Their military terminology is very poetic: among their ranks are Captain of Winds (ship commander) and Admiral of Broad Oceans (fleet commander), and their new and improved army is called the Mighty Host of God and the Archangels.
  • Zerg Rush: Their army's tactic is to throw a vast army of expendable slaves and serfs against the enemy to weaken him so that better armed and more glamorous aristocracy can ride in and administer the finishing strike.

Raven's Land

Head of State: N/A (not a unified country)

Capital: N/A

Other major cities: It doesn't really have cities, never mind major ones

While bigger than many other countries, Raven's Land is sparsely populated, and that's for a simple reason: the cold climate. This has put a curb on their numbers, but also turned them into one of the hardest people in the world. The Raven Lords support themselves on ren and snow lizard export, fishing and piracy and are usually one of the overlooked countries.

  • Animal Motifs: They're called Raven's Land and their ruling caste are Raven Lords. A most curious thing, as there are no ravens on Safehold.
  • Clever Crows: Named after ravens and excellent hagglers.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Most of the time, they aren't very notable, but they have a few moments to shine in Midst Toil and Tribulation when the Duke of Eastshare needs to get his army through their lands.
  • Expy: Pretty heavily of Viking-era Scandinavia, as well as Scotland.
  • The Great Wall: Chisholm has put a wall of fortresses, the Fence, between themselves and the Raven Lands. The raiders still come in winter, as the seas around the isthmus freeze enough for them to be able to walk around the wall.
  • Grim Up North: They live in a very harsh, northern climate and are harsh people themselves.
  • Hufflepuff House: Before Midst Toil And Tribulation, they're barely ever mentioned.
  • Merchant Prince: With piracy being somewhat off the table, the Raven Lords turned into merchants and hagglers.
  • Neutral No Longer: For a long time they pretty much keep neutrality in the conflict between Church and Charis — understandable, as they're only an isthmus away from Chisholm — but finally they have enough of the Church's inhuman actions and decide to aid Charis.
  • Pirate: One of their professions of choice. One lord who attempted to style himself a corsair attracted King Haahrald VII's displeasure, resulting in the destruction of his port.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: They used to do that to Charisian shipping, but Charis' answer was so decisive, today they're mostly Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. They also raid Chisholm once in a while, but usually without the Rape part.

Kingdom of Tarot

Head of State: King Gorjah III Nyou

Consort: Queen Maiyl

Capital: Tranjyr

Other major cities:

An island nation with the misfortune of sitting right in the middle of the way between the Empire of Charis and Temple Loyalists. For many years, Tarot was a client country of then-Kingdom of Charis, so they eagerly agree to help the Church overthrow them. However, after the failure of this attempt, their position is rather precarious.

  • Easily Forgiven: Technically speaking, they betray Charis, but after they rejoin them, nobody's really angry.
  • Fall Guy: Cayleb arranges it so that Tarot is accused of leaking the information of Church's attack plan to Charis, while in truth it's been Merlin's "visions".
  • Got Volunteered: Abraim's nightly visit to king Gorjah somewhat forces him to join the Empire.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: They start at Charis' side, then decide they're better off with the Church, then switch sides again.
  • Jumped at the Call: Eagerly jump at the chance of freeing themselves from Charis' care.
  • Make an Example of Them: The Church wants to attack them and take them back into the Temple's fold to prove that jihadist countries are not allowed to "do a Nahrmahn".
  • Out of Focus: After the Battle of the Markovian Sea, they're relegated to a background note.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: Stuck between Temple Loyalists and the Empire of Charis, with both countries pulling in their directions.

Kingdom of Delfarahk

Head of State: King Zhames II Rayno of the House of Rayno

Consort: Queen Hailyn

Capital: Talkyra

Other major cities: Ferayd

A tiny nation with the misfortune of sitting right underneath the Desnairian Empire, which is their only neighbor. Their small size prevents them from being much of an aid to the Jihad. However, Queen Consort Hailyn was a cousin of Hektor of Corisande, so the Kingdom became a safe harbor for Irys and Daivyn.

  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: For Irys and Daivyn, Delfarahk becomes this after the Church sends its assassins to kill them.
  • Gilded Cage: For Irys and Daivyn the Kingdom is this — while they're safe there and don't have to worry about money or food, they can't leave and are pretty much locked inside the royal castle.
  • Honor Before Reason: Taking in the family of a man who was quite likely murdered by the country with the world's currently most powerful navy, not to mention all the problems it throws Delfarahk into, is a bad idea. The king does so anyway, because he has a duty to his family: Irys and Daivyn are cousins to his wife.
  • Neutral Good: invoked In the end, this is the pose they decide to adopt.
  • Out of Focus: After Irys and Daivyn escape, they pretty much stop appearing on pages other than the world map.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: The king of Delfarahk must perform a tough balancing act between his honor-bound duty of keeping his family safe and equally honor-bound duty of serving Mother Church which could mean permitting the assassins to kill said family.
  • Thicker Than Water: After Irys and Daivyn escape, the king and queen aren't very concerned, as they believe that Charis is safer for them.

Border States

A group of tiny nations the Church has set up and maintains to defend themselves from hypothetical Siddarmarkian aggression. They're a patchwork of duchies, earldoms and other small states. The quality of their army varies — some of them are small, but professional, while others aren't of much use beyond keeping peace within their own borders.

  • Balkanize Me: It's implied that the Church is doing this preemptively, as otherwise many would've long been taken in by Siddarmark as new provinces.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Jhurlahnk and Faralas manage to hold on to their guns by saying that they'll need to defend themselves from Siddarmarkian invasion. All is fine and dandy, until a Church commander says that since they have the guns and sit on the Siddarmarkian border, they may just as well join the party and attack Siddarmark.
  • Expy: In a way, of tiny German states pre-unification.
  • The Neutral Zone: Their explicit purpose is to keep Siddarmark away from the Temple Lands.
  • Shout-Out: One of them is called the Kingdom of Hoth. It remains to be seen whether it hides any rebel base.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: They have produced enough guns to arm their entire force... and then, of course, Harchong turns out to have screwed up arming their army, and the Border States' weapons are all taken for the Harchongese.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Some of their armies are very tiny, but on par with Siddarmark in terms of professionalism and equipment.

Grand Duchy of Silkiah

Head of State: Grand Duke Kahnrad

Capital: Silk Town

Sitting square between Siddarmark and Desnair, Silkiah has been cut out of both of those countries' lands as a buffer state to stop the two from going to war. Culturally, they're more akin to Siddarmark and it's said that if they could, they'd probably join in as yet another province.

  • Expy: In-universe, they're like a small Siddarmark.
  • Hufflepuff House: Abraim's claim of being a merchant from there works partly because it's just "one of the countries" in everyone's mind.
  • Intrepid Merchant: The only country apart from Siddarmark which continues to trade with Charis, albeit in greater secret.
  • Merchant Prince: It's implied that the only nobility is the Grand Duke and it's a merchant-heavy country, enough so that claiming to be a "Silkiahan merchant" is enough to be considered a high-class client.
  • The Neutral Zone: They exist so that Desnair and Siddarmark would stop going to war, which is why both nations are forbidden from annexing them and why they don't have a standing army.
  • Sour Supporter: Would much rather join Siddarmark, thank you very much.

Trellheim and the Kingdom of Sodar

Finishing the country roster of Safehold, two countries which share a lot elements, despite being very far apart from each other. They are both very poor, underdeveloped and pretty much irrelevant when it comes to the plot.

  • Hufflepuff House: Their main purpose seems to be to take up space on the world map.
  • Pirate: Trellheim's main export product are its pirates.
  • Ruritania: Sodar is a mostly rural country.

    Other characters 


Owl — short for Ordoñes-Westinghouse-Lytton RAPIER-class tactical computer — is an AI that began its existence as a weapons assistant. It was then transferred by Pei Shan-wei into Nimue's cave and became Merlin's assistant, weapon maker and data analyst. As a ex-weaponry program, it started as a largely unintuitive and annoying creature, but gets better at its job following Nahrmahn's Brain Uploading.

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted. All RAPIER-class computers were programmed so that the idea of taking over the world would never occur to them.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • Before MTaT nobody really wondered about it, but in Like a Mighty Army it's mentioned that Owl still has not decided on its gender. In At the Sign of Triumph, it's noted that Owl has finally decided on the masculine pronoun.
    • Made interesting in the Polish translation, as the Polish language puts much importance on gender. First, it was referred to as "she" ("Owl" is female in Polish), but after the creation of the VR unit, it started to be referred to as "he".
  • Artificial Intelligence: Its entire schtick.
  • Artificial Stupidity: As a weapons operator, Owl was not programmed to guess its creators intentions, understand rhetorical questions, or provide additional information without being specifically asked for it. Merlin, being used to AIs that are highly intuitive and actually helpful, finds it annoying.
  • Captain Obvious: In the first few books, mainly due to its tendency to give Mathematicians' Answers. It grows out of it, though.
  • Computer Equals Monitor: Averted. It's mentioned that Owl's main "body" is the size and shape of a tennis ball.
  • Digital Avatar: Inside a VR unit. It has an ambiguous gender, and looks strangely similar to Merlin.
  • Mathematician's Answer: For the first three books or so, this is Owl's default mode of answering questions.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: Owl can operate various tools it was definitely not created to be compatible with (clothing machines, medical equipment, production modules, library...). Justified, as the Terran Federation spanned the entirety of humanity, so everybody built machines according to the same standards.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Using SNARCs, Owl can observe virtually anything on Safehold apart from Temple, but its poor understanding of priorities and sheer amount of data to process turn it sometimes into this trope.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: In the virtual reality module, Owl looks suspiciously similar to Merlin.

Greyghor Stohnar, Lord Protector of Siddarmark

Elected ruler of the Republic of Siddarmark at the time of the series, Stohnar is a strong supporter of the Reformist movement, but hides it, fearing Mother Church's reaction. After the Sword of Schueler, he openly supports Charis and forges an alliance with Cayleb.

  • The Clan: The Stohnar clan is said to be very influential in Siddarmarkian politics.
  • A Father to His Men: He cares deeply about his subjects and tries to do as much as possible. The fact that he can't do enough hurts him visibly.
  • Icon of Rebellion: The Church sees him as the main symbol of Siddarmark's rebellious tendencies.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: President Iron variation.
  • Manly Tears: When the first shipments of Charisian humanitarian aid arrive, he locks himself in his chapel and cries tears of joy while thanking God for the heretics.
  • Rabble Rouser: What the Church believes him to be.
  • Rags to Royalty: Well, not exactly rags, but Stohnar came through all the officer ranks of Army up to regimental commander and then jumped to politics before being elected Lord Protector.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's intelligent, caring and, as this trope indicates, reasonable and brings much of the wisdom of his age with him when interacting with Cayleb.
  • Retired Badass: Before going into politics, he was a regimental commander in the Army of the Republic (which is generally considered a Badass Army by other nations).
  • Younger Than They Look: Underplayed, but Merlin notices that following the Sword of Schueler, Stohnar looks like he aged a decades in a day.


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