Tropes common for a team:
- Combat Pragmatist: To various extents, but Cortes takes the cake. To quote him, "If the enemy doesn't see you, don't be a fool: keep silence and shoot him as fast as possible."
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: As they are the protagonists and high-class human mercenaries in magical world, Cthulhu-punching is basically their job.
- Do You Want to Haggle?: For any sane man who doesn't want do go bankrupt, the only way to buy something from Shas is to haggle like you'll never see money again.
- Private Detective: Sometimes their contracts involve this.
- Training from Hell: Cortes received it well and now what he praises the most is the comfort. And now he is doing it to others. Yana also received a fair share from Navs after her "upgrade".
- Weak, but Skilled: When compared to other characters. Yana, however, was this only initially and Inga is a middle-power mage, but men have no powers and rely on Crazy Preparedness and quick thinking.
CortesA former member of USSR intels and Special Purpose Forces, expert of infiltration and diversions. After trying the most dangerous missions and becoming wanted in six countries, he retired and decided to spend the rest of his life in peace and luxury, only to get overwhelmed with boredom. Learning about the Secret City and magic opened a new horizons for him; he became the mercenary and assembled the team.
- Anti-Hero: Type II.
- Cynical Mentor
- Deadpan Snarker
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: He was the one who killed Cthulhu, though it wasn't that Cthulhu.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: A circular saw gauntlet.
- Older and Wiser: to Artyom. And to the girls as well.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: at least to the citizens of the Secret City. His actual name is Kirill.
- Screw The Money, I'm Doing What's Right: Not only he dares to step in the way of Santiaga when he feels that would be right, but tells it him in the eyes.
- Self-Made Man
- The Smart Guy
- Xanatos Speed Chess: He's quite good at making money from any outcome his missions result in.
Artyom GolovinFormerly an young everyman, one day he got introduced to the Secret City. He appeared strong enough not only to accept the fact that magic existed under his nose, but also to survive some dangerous things he was pulled into, and ended as a new member of Cortes team. He is usually the hero of books.
- Badass Normal: With a slight shade of super-powers provided by his tattoos.
- Badass Boast: "Killing mages is hard, but easier than killing Black Moryanas".
- Break the Cutie: Cortes wanted him to kill the sympathetic villain of the second book, to show him that emotions should be left aside.
- Crazy-Prepared: There are lots of useful things in the glove box of his car... just in case.
- Improbable Weapon User: Prone to bashing things on the head with pieces of furniture and various junk laying around.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: "Break it over their head" variation.
- Made of Iron: Two of his tattoos are high-level magical painkiller and stimulator, allowing him to shrug minor damage off and survive, abeit in comatose condition, would-be-instant-death injury for several minutes.
- One Head Taller: To Inga.
- Power Tattoo: These are, actually, built-in artifacts, since he has no magical powers.
- Spider-Sense: His tattoos grant this. "Watchful Royal Hawk" detects anyone hostile nearby. Dark Court Marking allows him to see through morok and sense magic currents.
Inga VolkovaA 19-year girl from the rich family, whose magical powers were discovered when she was a child. As a result, she had grown up into a very skilled witch, well-adjusted to the magical world. Seeking for some adventure, she became The Dragon for the Big Bad Kara and eventually encountered Cortes' team. After Kara was killed (and Inga saved from her) by Artyom, she fell in love with him and appeared in the next book as his girlfriend and the new, but reliable member of the team. She is notable for switching from air-headed impulsive girl to a cold, collected mercenary in less than second.
- Determinator. Yeah. Once tied to a bed, she struggles out the ropes, despite the skin on her wrist and hand being torn in process.
- Master Actor: Can cry at will and play any role the situation demands.
- Took a Level in Badass: Not as much as her teammates, but she's the only character (on-page) to kill more than one Kadath boss.
Yana Mannerheim / Laz'
A long-term member of Cortes' team and his girlfriend, she worked as a sniper/cover/information seeker of a team and had no magical power... until it was revealed that she was the descendant of Hyperborean Witch Laz', Kadath hierarch and the Concubine of Azag-Toth, who hid his Concubines between ordinary Chels. After an injection of "steam", synthetic Golden Root extract ,which was the source of Kadath power, Laz's powers and memories were reborn in poor girl, and she became the leader of uprising Kadath army. Howewer, she was not going to sacrifice her love to Cortes and found the will to reject Kadath philosophy and stop the invasion. She is still Cortes' fiancee and team member, but now she has become one of the most dangerous combat mages in Secret City.
- Berserk Button: Never. Ever. Hurt. Cortes. For the God's sake.
- Blessed with Suck: Golden Root gives her an awesome power, but she is now an addict and will die without a regular shots of it. Good thing she has enough of it for all her life...
- The Chick / The Smart Girl: also formerly.
- Character Death: She and Inga were caught in self-destructing Yarga's facility, which erased whole island from existence. Though Galla promised her she will be present at the Yarga's and Santiaga's last fight, so it's unclear.
- Hammerspace: The Eaglepole is seven feet long when compacted. Where else is she supposed to keep it?
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Eaglepole of Laz', a large double-ended multi-bladed polearm/halberd.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Among the Concubines
- The Power of Hate: Kadath philosophy.
- The Power of Love: Vs The Power of Hate. Love wins.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: versus Kitano warrior, who is immune to any magic. Cue her hospitalisation.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: when she thinks Cortes is killed.
- Took a Level in Badass: and how. Several levels, perhaps.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: To Cortes. When she thinks he's killed, she mows down his supposed Lyud killers, including the most experienced Priestess.
Kara was the Keeper, the Chel's strongest mage whose task is to keep The Black Book, a book which contains the most powerful secrets of Chel magic, from the Great Houses. She, however, mostly (ab)uses the Book for her own benefit, and will use anything, from starting crime wars to bringing The Unmasqued World to SC, to further her goal - eternal youth.
- Big Bad: Second and third books.
- The Chessmaster: Even Santiaga falls (almost) the victim of her gambits.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Averted. Despite being the Keeper, she doesn't give a damn about anyone but herself. Santiaga explains this when he ponders that she will not break The Masquerade:Santiaga: She'll have to share the book with all Chels.Ortega: It's her duty, she's the Keeper.Santiaga: Yes, the Keeper... except that real Keeper would never, under any circumstances, risk the Black Book, especially for their own presonal gain. Kara won't share her power with anyone, she thinks she can use the book as she wishes.Ortega: Can't she?Santiaga: She's the Keeper, not "the Owner". I guess I don't need to explain the difference.
- However, her abuse of the Black Book bites her in the ass. Cortes, cynical and mercantile as he is, targets her and leaves her to die mostly because her actions could lead Great Houses to the Book (possibly ending human domination). The Book itself changes the Keeper as soon as the successor proves to be ready.
- Eternal Youth Seeker
- Genius Bruiser: One of the strongest mages, and an accomplished genetist and chessmaster.
- Karmic Transformation: She was able to fool the time over years, preserving her beauty, but once she is devoid of Black Book and mana, the time gets its revenge.
- MacGuffin: Three of them: Mara's bracelet, the Black Book and the Bath of Turning.
- The Man Behind the Man: Behind Bohdan le Sta, Anti-Villain of the second book.
- Manipulative Bitch: Great Houses, Muggles, mobsters, idealictic human mages, she plays them all.
- Mind Control: Through Mara's bracelet, she is able to control Black Moryanas, who are in And I Must Scream state at that time. She enjoys it.
- Moral Event Horizon: To start a war between Secret City and two clans of local mobsters, she smuggles a mind-controlled Moryana into the club belonging to one of clans, and carnage ensues. Depending upon how do you count resulting Ludicrous Gibs, there were from 50 to 80 victims, mostly innocent bystanders.
- Older Than She Looks: She appears to be in her early forties, but really is 108.
- Rapid Aging: see Karmic Transformation above.
- Vain Sorceress: a textbook example.
- Villainous Breakdown: After she lost the Black Book.
- Worthy Opponent: Santiaga initially sees her like that.
Agent Bulder & Agent Gully
Navs in general
- Alien Blood: Black, viscous like tar and poisonous to vampires.
- Berserk Button: They possess some innate and mutual hatred to Asura and Tats.
- Black Swords Are Better: Wield (and sell) bladed weapons forged of their trademark "Navish steel", a pitch-black, mana-draining, nigh-undestructible alloy.
- Big Eater: also implying Hyperactive Metabolism.
- Kryptonite Factor: Obsidian negates their healing, Golden Root extract kills them outright. They are also vulnerable to Black Moryana's poison, a bite from one kills then whithin nine minutes.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Though tall, they are thin as rakes, yet one of physically strongest races, if not the strongest.
- Theme Naming: All Navish names end in "-ga", probably short for "garka".
SantiagaA Commissar (military leader and Prince's right hand) of the Great House Nav', responcible for it's defence (and offence), intelligence and security, who uses any opportunity to increase the power of Nav. He is an Avatar, the vessel where the Prince placed all those his traits and qualities which, as he thought, could prevent him from being a perfect ruler. As a result, Santiaga's personality drastically differs from those of other Navs, but despite - or because of - this, he is the most competent Commissar in Nav's history. Cunning, creative, charismatic and efficient, he is a legendary figure of Secret City.
- Boisterous Bruiser: often plays this to annoy his opponents.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Is a constant annoyance and irritation for the Prince? Check. Had countless affairs with female Lyuds and Chels? Check. Wears luxurant white suits, collects art pieces, has a ridiculously expencive car? Check, check, check. Resisted Unpersoning when promoted? Check. Is the most competent Commissar ever? Check.
- Character Death: Apparently didn't survive his latest fight with Yarga, since both latter and Prince refer to him as dead. Though Galla promised Yana she will be present at their final fight, and she did not attend this one.
- Combat Pragmatist: Surprisingly, subverted by his refusal to use any other weapon than his stiletto, otherwise played stright. More like Tactical Pragmatist.
- Dating Catwoman / Interspecies Romance / MayflyDecember Romance: Multiple times, each time leading to a minor Tear Jerker.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Prefers to not kill but domesticate defeated enemies.
- Four-Star Badass: his title is somewhat equal to a Field Marshal.
- Gambit Roulette: Justified: not only is one of his analysts a professional seer, but Santiaga himself can somewhat foresee the future. Oh, and he is just that experienced.
- Graceful Loser: in rare cases when he's Out-Gambitted.
- Hammerspace: His stiletto appears in hand whenever needed. Not sure whether he has it "packed" or just materializes it on the fly.
- Jerkass: All Navs are jerkasses. Santiaga was "born" as a pure distillated Jerkass, but, after several centuries, got bored and grew out of it.
- Leave Him to Me: When it comes to fight, he takes on the most dangerous enemy.
- Literal Split Personality: Is the vessel for all qualities the Prince deemed unworthy for the ruler. They still have a magic link and can transform into one another when really needed.
- Magnificent Bastard: A rather heroic example for the reader, but to most people in-universe he embodies this trope.
- Martial Pacifist: Despite being such a powerhouse, he dislikes violence and tends to avoid it.
- Marty Stu: Started to slide here in the middle of the series, but was somewhat fixed later.
- Mind Rape: When other ways of interrogation fail...
- One-Man Army: Ierarchs of Kadath are huge Nigh-Invulnerable monsters. In a climatic battle, 98 Nav warriors took down three of them. Santiaga took down the fourth singlehandedly. With a stiletto. Not even losing his breath in the process.
- The Plan: His job consists mostly of planning for the benefit of Nav'
- Really At Least Ten Thousand Years Old
- Turns Red: As an Avatar, he can switch places with the Prince and uses it in a battle at least once.
- Weapon of Choice: the Nav Steel stiletto.
- A Father to His Men: Enforces the execution of anyone who murders a single Nav. Along with all his relatives up to the seventh degree.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Very much so, having all the energy of the Source at his disposal.
- The Faceless: Of the Black Cloak plus In the Hood variety. First time he reveals himself, a witness has a heart attack.
- Grumpy Old Man: Constantly chews on Santiaga for using modern Chel speech and habits.
- Orcus on His Throne: Has Santiaga to run errands. When he gets somewhere himself, it is a hint that something VERY important is going to happen.
- Really Over Nine Thousand Years Old
- That Man Is Dead: Upon taking the position, a Prince must abandon his personality.
OrtegaA Garka commander, Santiaga's operative, second-in-command and right hand, Ortega seems to be quite young (for a Nav), but competent and reliable. He has been working with Santiaga for several millenia, studying his methods, but yet feels more comfortable at battlefield or among analysts than at diplomatic missions.
- BFS: Can materialize a sword large enough to split a massive table in half along. It shrinks and disappears when not needed.
- Idiot Ball: When he trips over a tripmine. At least he improves the situation on the fly.
- Major Injury Underreaction: After being nearly consumed by Sphere of Destruction and sent crashing through a server by an emergency portal, Ortega mildly complains about half of his foot being disintegrated. Santiaga decides that he will recieve a compensation for his destroyed shoes, but has to regenerate his heel himself. Ortega still seems to be more concerned about the shoe.
- Not Quite Dead: It wasn't him that was killed in the first book, it was just his "doll".
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Doesn't deny himself a pleasure to Mind Rape a child molester/killer/eater. Santiaga, in turn, is reluctant to stop him.
An uybooy (tenner commander) Red Hat. Stupid, suspisious, greedy and generally covardly (though he has many Badass moments), Hoof is always seeking for profit, but said motivation often leads him (and his men) in trouble. Hovever, he really is one of the most competent uybooys; this, combined with his loyality to current Great Fuhrer Sledgehammer, bought him the place of The Dragon.
- Disability Immunity: He's so dumb, he's unaffected by Yarga's "Word of the Prince" spell, which can enslave any member of every other sentient race, bypassing all wards and resistances.
- Drunken Master: Justified, as his brain literally runs on alcohol.
- Karma Houdini: He starts (unintentionally) several Red Hat crime waves, sometimes does Bullying the Dragon and is prone to endanger The Masquerade, but manages to escape unscratched. While someone else may get hanged.
Prior to the events of the first book, one-eyed Sledgehammer was a Fuhrer (as Red Hats call their chief) of Shibzichs, the smallest Red Hats' clan, didn't have much of power and was the weakest among the fuhrers. But when the Messenger was defeated and one of fuhrers killed, Sledgehammer took his chance. He challenged the other fuhrer to a duel and killed him, thus taking all the power and becoming Great Fuhrer. Immediately after he proclaimed his loyalty to the Green House and the Queen, saving his people (and himself) from genocide.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: He is one of the badassest Red Hats.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Sort of. His place provides him with an endless supply of an alcohol, which helps keep his brains fit and outsmart potential rebels.
- Bad Boss: He rules Red Hats with the iron hand, mistreats them, frequently hangs rebels and most noisy criminals, forbids robberies... but it's justified, as else all the family will be punished. Demonstrative executions? The Only Way They Will Learn.
- Drunken Master: Justified, as his brain literally runs on alcohol. He even falls into "alcoholless coma" at one point
- The Smart Guy: not by human measures, but he still is the smartest Red Hat (a quality which brought him to the throne).
Lyubomir the Messenger
Franz de Gir
Leonard de Saint-Care
Bohdan le Sta
A member of four-armed Hvan race who lives in Moscow and is one of the most effective (and expencive) professional killers and Cortes's friend.
- And Then What?: After he won the absolute championship in Five Swords Tournament, basically becoming Secret City's best fighter. Then Santiaga (who also had won the championship in the very first tournament centuries ago) pulled him out of it by providing him a Worthy Opponent.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Mooba is a friendly, cheerful, kind-hearted guy who knows 50 ways (of varying brutality) to kill you right here and now.
- Broken Masquerade: His unusual anatomy was exposed and filmed as part of Kara's scheme. Since he managed to find the responsibes, death penalty for him was replaced with temporary deportation to Altai.
- Dual Wielding: Takes this to a new level with Quadruple wielding. Or dual wielding two-handed weapons, as well.
- Epic Flail: On Five Swords Tournament he uses a... er, hybrid of meteor hammer and morning star.
- Lie to the Beholder: He's always under disguise spell to conseal the extra set of arms.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: He spent a year in Altai Hvan village fending sucking butterflies off the Golden Root plantation after getting his four arms exposed to public.