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Characters from Jim Butcher's The Cinder Spires Steampunk series.

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Spire Albion


Gwendolyn Margaret Elizabeth Lancaster

The hot-headed heir of House Lancaster, one of the greatest noble houses of Spire Albion. She insists on joining the Spirearch's Guard, as is tradition, despite her mother's protests.

  • Action Girl: In the prologue, her first action is leaving home. By blasting the door open.
  • Badass Adorable: She's described as looking like a porcelain doll... and responds to an encounter with enemy marines by blasting the officer in the face with her gauntlet from 5 feet away.
  • Blue Blood: She comes from one of the politically highest houses with old and noble traditions. That said, she isn't afraid of getting her hands dirty when working on matters.
  • Control Freak: Her critical flaw - Gwen often wants to help and take control of situations, assuming she's the smartest or most qualified to "help". Twice she tries to help Bridget, once making matters worse by her mere presence, the other time almost sabotaging Bridget's attempt to negotiate with the Aurorans. By the end of the book, Gwen shows awareness of this tendency.
  • Cutting the Knot: Shows extreme tendencies towards this as a primary problem-solving method. When detailing the team's various duties, Spirearch Addison explains that Gwen's job will be "to avoid, overcome, or knock down any obstructions that may block [Master Ferrus's] path."
  • The Gunslinger: Gwen has extreme difficulty learning how to use a sword when she joins the Guard... but give her a gauntlet and she'll take your head clean off.
  • Hot-Blooded: See Action Girl and Cutting the Knot. She tends to take the most direct, straightforward solutions out of a problem.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's arrogant, a bit of a Control Freak, not always the best with people in general (by her own admittance), and frequently blunt to the point of rudeness. However, she is also kind (well, she does her best, even if she isn't always very good at it), has a supreme distaste for bullies, loyal to and protective of her friends, and extremely brave. She's also got an increasing degree of self-awareness.
  • Lady of Adventure: She considers herself this, being extremely well mannered and priding herself on it. Others disagree with the 'lady' part (see Cutting the Knot).
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: As her old retainer notes in the prologue, she departed her home in a manner very similar to Gwen's mother: blasting her way out of the place.note  Her mother is also impressed and cries tears of joy at her daughter's devotion to serving, though Gwen mistakes them for normal tears of shock and dismay.
  • Pride: Gwen's greatest flaw. She's from the most noble of Albion's houses, and the heiress of the house. This has left Gwen is a large amount of pride, which motivates her, for good and for ill. Most of the first book's arc for her involves her moving beyond her pride and recognize both her shortcomings and limitations, and that sometimes others really do know better.
    • Her first chapter, with her leaving to join the Spirarch's Guard, is motivated by her pride, convinced that she knows so much about crystals that she'd get nothing more to learn from a classical education. She's not entirely wrong.
    • Upon joining the guard, the narration notes how Gwen's pride is hurt by noticing how her education and general fitness is lacking compared to some of the other members of the guard - that Gwen has trouble with suddenly being "inadequate"
    • Her pride pushes her to interact in Bridgets' behalf when she clashed with Reginald Astor - Gwen's pride already having been wounded by how he gawked at her during training and the aforementioned feeling of inadequacy during training. She inadvertently ended up making things worse, since now Reginald having been humiliated in front of a Lancaster had no choice BUT to demand satisfaction. Through the book, Bridget pushes Gwen to stop assuming she knows whats best for everyone.
    • Getting her pride insulted almost leads her to challenge someone she didn't know to be the Spirearch himself to a duel.
    • She's initially dismissive of Captain Grimm and clashes with him, even refusing to acknowledge he and his crew saved them from the Aurorans by re-interpreting the events as some sort of master plan on her part that he just happened to be a part of. This is partly because she can't accept the idea that she was out of her depth and that she was saved by a man cast out from the navy for cowardice. Benedict and Bridget both disagree with her assessment, the former even accusing Gwen of living in a separate reality from the rest of them. However, the other part of her motive is a more reasonable suspicion that Grimm had something to do with the attack, on the grounds that she'd already run into Auroran agents in disguise as Albion soldiers, has every reason to suspect that there's at least one Auroran traitor in Spire Albion, and that anyone who could figure out the Aurorans' tactical aims in attacking the Lancaster vattery was either in on it, or a tactician on par with the legendary Admirals of the past - which, since he was drummed out of the Fleet for cowardice, seems extremely unlikely. After she gets to know him better and observes him at close quarters, realising a) that he's not a traitor, b) that he really is just that good, she defrosts considerably.
  • Not So Different: While Gwen at first overlooks the cats, vaguely recognizing them as somewhat intelligent, but not on human levels (when in fact, they very much are), before Benedict sets her straight, personality wise she's actually got the most in common with them. The stubborn pride that borders on arrogance, tendency to rewrite history to show her in a better light, hyper-sensitivity to insults, somewhat forceful application of good intentions, a supreme dislike of being "inadequate", and an immediate and violent response to threats (something which stuns and actually impresses Rowl)... all are traits primarily displayed by cat characters.
  • Rebellious Princess: Well, rebellious heiress, but as the very Hot-Blooded scion of a major noble house, she certainly applies.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: When she can't threaten her way through a problem, she uses bribery.
  • Shipper on Deck: Soon after becoming friends with Bridget and seeing the slow budding relationship Bridget has with Benny, Gwen considers it her job to help them become a couple and if need be force her mother to agree to the marriage.
  • Taking You with Me: Threatens this early on when the Aurorans take Bridget hostage, by pointing her gauntlet at their demolition charges to create a Mexican Standoff.
  • Wrench Wench: While she was definitely raised as an elite Blue Blood, her family are also the ones that create the crystals that power the entire society, meaning that she knows her way around them like few others (it reaches the point where she can recognise not merely which make a new crystal is, but which individual crystal it is and which vat it came from, at a glance). And, in a pinch, she isn't afraid to get her hands dirty—or fried.
    Gwen: Which one is that?
    Journeyman: Well, that there is one of the brand-new Mark-IV D power crystals.
    Gwen: Yes, I know. Which one is it?



Bridget Tagwynn

Heir to House Tagwynn, a lesser house that is little more than an old band of merchants with some history. She sees little value in nobility and tradition, but joins the Spirearch's Guard because her father wished it.

  • Cunning Linguist: She is one of the very few people in the story who can speak Cat, making her invaluable several times.
  • Freaky Is Cool: When Bridget sees the true power of what an etherealist can do, namely Folly changing all her little light crystals into conducting electricity and destroying a horde of young silkweavers, Folly believes Bridget will back away in fear. Bridget is simply amazed and thanks Folly for saving their lives.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Early on, she calmly suggests a plan to the Aurorans that will leave both her friends and the Aurorans alive, but the Aurorans' plan foiled—and her, most likely, dead. Thankfully, the Auroran is willing to wait it out instead, and they're rescued by Grimm.
    • Later, she comes up with a plan to distract the spiders to give Folly a chance to run away at the cost of her own life, dismisses the plan as stupid, and does something else entirely.
  • In-Series Nickname: Her cat name is "Littlemouse," despite the fact that she's probably the biggest person in the book. According to Rowl, she was a very small child, hence the name.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Crosses over with Heroic BSoD. While escaping from the burning Temple of the Way, Bridget beats an Auroran Marine to death with her bare hands. This haunts her at the end of the book.
  • Only Sane Man: Shared with Grimm most of the time. Considering she spends a great deal of the book with Folly, Gwen, or Rowl, this isn't surprising.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Literally. Bridget has no combat training to speak of, but she spends her days hauling around slabs of meat weighing a hundred and fifty pounds each.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Invoked She has this attitude towards Gwen early on, to the point of it almost becoming a running gag. First, she's upset because, as she points out, Gwen's inserting herself into the verbal conflict between her and Reggie basically forced Reggie to escalate and call for a duel. Later on, when Bridget is being held hostage by an Auroran infiltrator, she berates Gwen for her efforts, which are threatening to make the situation worse.


Rowl, Prince of the Silent Paws tribe

Kit of Chief Maul of the Silent Paws, and close friend to Bridget.

  • Cats Are Mean: Quite unbelievably arrogant, self-centered and condescending, Rowl is a perfect example of this. On the other hand, he's loyal, brave, and obviously deeply cares for Bridget.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: An interesting variant. Cats in this universe fight with special spurs created for them by humans. He gets a set toward the end of Windlass and proceeds to show just how lethal they can be.
  • Cats Are Superior: He certainly thinks so. His internal monologue reveals that he has claimed not only most of the main cast as 'his', but also the entirety of the Predator.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Part of being a cat. His first solution to his human getting caught in a duel is to suggest killing her opponent in his sleep.
  • Fragile Speedster: Like all cats, he's not particularly tough. But he is viciously skilled in a fight, and incredibly fast and agile.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Cat diplomacy revolves around two cats feigning disinterest in one another in a contest for who can keep it up longest. When he does engages in this contest with a Habble Landing cat, it takes hours for them to get done with it. However, after rescuing the humans from a swarm of silkweavers, Rowl chafes at how long it takes Grimm and the rest of the humans to get organized and get on with the fight, even though it was a matter of a few minutes at most.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: He considers Mirl, one of his clan's "whiskers," aka spy and scout, to be insubordinate. She regularly chides him. He is thinking about composing a song for her.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: He makes a point of being decidedly unimpressed by any human (though it is hinted that Longthinker a.k.a. Lord Albion, has his respect), and it is notable when in Windlass when he is genuinely impressed: specifically, when Gwen responds to being informed that the party is being tailed by a Mook of one of the major gangs in the habble (and of how powerful said gangs are) by spinning around, firing a gauntlet blast just past the guy's ear, and informing him in icy cold tones to let his masters know that they are not prey. He can't find anything to fault in it, unlike most of the party's actions, and is actually stunned by that.
    • He also, after only a few days acquaintance, gives Grimm the cat name of 'Grim Ship-Trees'. This is deeply rare, usually the result of years of acquaintance, and very Serious Business among cats, with Bridget being genuinely astonished.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Definitely, even if most of the cast don't get to hear him talk about it.
  • This Is My Human: As far as he's concerned, Bridget belongs to him. Well, as far as he's concerned everything belongs to him, but she's the one who he puts effort into keeping safe.
  • Warrior Prince: Even for a cat, he's a vicious fighter. The complicated politics of cat tribes makes this an inevitability.


Captain Francis Madison Grimm of the Albion Merchant Fleet

A disgraced captain of the Albion Fleet, now in command of the Albion privateer vessel Predator. He is withdrawn and cautious, but still has strong feelings about his dismissal.

  • A Father to His Men: Emotionally attached to them like a father, too. Deliberately cultivates an air of being calm and in control, so as to keep his men's morale up. And he will see to it that his crew gets fed if he has to put on an chef's apron and cook dinner himself... but only one that's more or less nourishing, thus attending to his crew's needs, while offering an unspoken rebuke to the senior crewmember who allowed it to happen and not encouraging the crew to want him to cook again.
  • The Captain: As mentioned, he captains Predator, and fits the archetype like a glove.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Hates being called by either his first or middle name. His Friend on the Force (or rather in the Admiralty) Alex calls him "Mad". So does his ex-wife on the single occasion in book one when she's being sincere.
  • Hidden Depths: Everyone thinks Grimm's clever and brave; but over the course of book 1 he's revealed to possess even more guile, savviness (especially when reading people), and intelligence than he lets on. With a set of brass ones to match.
  • Honour Before Reason: Accused of being/observed that he's prone to this by a number of characters. He responds to the offer of the plum position of flag-captain by his old friend Alex Bayard (who's an Admiral) - a position that would mean he'd be commander of the squadron's flagship, on the fast-track to an Admiralty - that he'd only accept it if the Fleet officially restored his commission and absolved him for the Perilous incident, which he is all but stated to have been a scapegoat for.
    • The Perilous incident is also indicated to have been this, with it being remarked that he could have fought his dishonourable discharge - apparently on very reasonable grounds - but didn't for the sake of the Fleet.
  • Lethal Chef: The captain is not the cook, thank goodness. It's partly deliberate, so no one asks him to cook unless it's serious.
  • Never Live It Down: invoked Even the villains know he was kicked out of the Fleet for cowardice thanks to the Noodle Incident aboard the Perilous. Grimm himself even remarks on it. Of course, as events prove, he is a very long way from being a coward, and it's hinted that he was pressured into taking the fall for the Perilous incident, when the real culprit was the scion of a very politically powerful family.
  • Nice Hat: He wears a well-maintained captain's hat and is rarely without it when is not in his cabin.note 
  • Politeness Judo: He uses this to great effect when confronting Cavendish. It saves his life the first time, and likely the second time as well.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: He was cashiered from the Fleet as a scapegoat, yet continues to act the part. It saves his life when dealing with Cavendish.
  • Overly Long Name: His ex-wife likes to taunt him with it.
  • Pirate: Sort of. He's a privateer, but he remains staunchly loyal to the Spire - though he does threaten to leave for Spire Olympia if backed into a corner, it was likely a fairly meaningless threat.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Has no problems at all accepting help from such odd sources as Ferus and the cats, and the respect he shows makes the latter willing to give him far more help than they would other humans.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Early on he is given a lucrative offer to sell what is left of the crippled Predator to a well-connected commodore (and old enemy) who clearly wants to break her down for parts. Grimm refuses. When the commodore threatens to use his connections to take the ship anyway, Grimm slaps him (repeatedly) and threatens to publicly denounce the man, kill him in a duel, and throw his body off the Spire. Not necessarily in that order.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: He maintains this in his role of captain, seeming always in control and calm, even when he's inwardly panicking. He later confesses to Gwen after the events of the book, give him a week or so and he will be a gibbering mess as he deals with all the guilt of the men dying under his command and the horrors he saw this time. For now, he has his duties to do.
  • The Strategist: He's an exceptionally talented commander, with his figuring out the true aim of the Auroran attack in a matter of moments in the midst of a firefight being described as putting him on a par with the legendary fleet admirals of the past. However, the person inwardly noting this, Gwen, initially considers it a reason to mistrust him, on the grounds that the alternative is that he was in on the attack and that she's been given very good reason to believe that there's an Albion mole in place working for the Aurorans - a profile that Grimm's reputation as a privateer captain of a scruffy ship who was cashiered by the Fleet for cowardice fits better than the tactical genius one. Once she gets to know him and sees him in action, she realises that he's not a mole and really is that good (his discharge having been politically motivated).


Commander Byron Creedy

Grimm's new XO, busted down from the Fleet as punishment for an unspecified minor offence.

  • Commander Contrarian: Part of an XO's job in the Fleet is to provide a sounding board for the captain, to (privately) disagree with his plans in an effort to find any flaws and correct them. It's a good policy, but it's annoying if you're not used to it.
  • Culture Clash: Privateer vessels work differently from Fleet, so there's some friction as he expects the crew to act in strict accordance to regulations, and they... don't. As the book goes on, he steadily adjusts.
  • Ensign Newbie: Serves as this in the first few chapters, until he gets some character development and starts fitting in more.
  • Number Two: Being the second in command on Predator, he's this to Grimm.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He is described as being extremely tall and dark-haired. When seen from Bridget's perspective he is described as handsome.


Benedict Michael Sorellin-Lancaster

Gwen's cousin, a warriorborn of House Lancaster. He's a few years older, and helps her fit into the Spirearch's Guard. He mostly does this by training her, then laughing at her.

  • Animal Eyes: Comes with being a Warriorborn.
  • Beast Man: A mild example, but Benedict's Animal Eyes and other lion-like traits seem to suggest he and the rest of Warriorborn are likely either these or Half-Human Hybrids.
  • Big Brother Instinct: While remaining quite calm when Gwen is hurt by the silkweaver venom, he also takes time to point out to another character that he now has a personal and upgraded interest in finding the persons behind it.
  • Big Eater: Comes up repeatedly because of his increased metabolism, though he's somewhat ashamed of it. Gwen, naturally, has none of it and more or less bullies/manipulates him into eating what he requires. Unlike most examples it actually turns dangerous toward the end of the first book, when he's recovering from a near-lethal poisoning. Bridget is warned not to interrupt him until he's eaten, as he might actually attack her.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: His feelings towards his gifts are unclear, but he dislikes the distance it causes with his peers. So he often pretends to be normal when he knows he isn't, pretending to be weak and not eating enough for his accelerated metabolism.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: He passes off an injury from a previous mission as a Guard with this to Gwen. It's not.
  • Nice Guy: He's courteous, polite, and helpful, and very protective of his friends and family.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: After Benny notes the full political ramifications of Reggie and Bridget's duel, including how the Cat Clans would respond, a group Gwen hadn't included into her calculations, she notes she has never seen this side of Benny before. Most of their house sees him as a "distant and disinterested observer — not a political asset."
    Benedict: And I shall remain so in their eyes, if you please. Politics is the purview of scoundrels, tyrants, and fools. I only observe because I prefer not to become their victim."
  • Religious Bruiser: He's a follower of the Ways and a veteran Spirearch Guard.
  • Super Soldier: As a warriorborn, he has enhanced strength, reflexes, and senses. Even the cats are impressed with him. (Though it might be more accurate to say they are less unimpressed with him than most.)
  • Think Nothing of It: His attitude when the Spirearch talks about some of his previous missions in service to the Guard, including one when he was badly injured.


     Master Ferus 

Master Efferus Effrenus Ferus

An old Etherealist. His compulsion makes him unable to cope with doorknobs, and he has a large collection of objects he required to retain his sanity.
  • Badass Bookworm: His knowledge of the ether is what makes him dangerous, though he's implied to be a more than capable hand to hand fighter, having once been a marine.
  • Badass Grandpa: He's an old man who used to be a Fleet marine and is a powerful and highly intelligent Etherealist.
  • Badass Teacher: To Folly. And formerly, Madame Cavendish.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Ferus is an almost stereotypical Etherealist—can't figure out doorknobs, sends his assistant on obviously ridiculous fetch quests, et cetera. However, if you invade his home... There Is No Kill Like Overkill. And if you threaten his apprentice and her friend, all the silliness will vanish in an instant.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Like every etherealist. He can't deal with doorknobs, and has a large collection of Noodle Implements he needs to keep his mind from getting lost.
  • Cool Old Guy: Not too old to get drunk and lead a parade around the bar, singing a Bawdy Song.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Not so much moron, but decidedly loony, what with etherealists getting stranger with age. As for the badass part, he is an etherealist, uses ether to take down several Aurorans in horrifying ways, and past service in the Albion Marines means he is no slouch in a physical fight either.
  • Drunken Master: Gets very drunk as part of his attempt to locate Madame Cavendish. The idea is that by getting sufficiently drunk he can change the way his mind works, thus simultaneously bypassing mental shields she might have raised specifically against him and making it harder for her to recognize him.
  • Energy Absorption: Can absorb the energy from etheric weapons, then send it back at the attackers.
  • Heroic Willpower: The price any etherealist pays for their abilities is to lose parts of their mind. They fill it with other things, such as Ferus' odd bits and bobs. However, given time, the loss becomes too great and most etherealists die in bed, trapped in their own body. Ferus, despite the vastness of his loss, retains himself by sheer willpower.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Auroran marines should have known better than to threaten an etherealist with etheric weapons. He superheated the copper cages of their gauntlet weapons. The less said about what came next, the better.
  • Multiple-Choice Future: Claims to have the ability to see the various futures before him. Folly fully believes he does. Some of the actions he takes imply he really can do that note - though he does admit sometimes being surprised by futures he didn't see coming.
  • Old Master: He has shades of Yoda, what with being an eccentric old teacher, who's much more dangerous than he appears at first glance.
  • Power at a Price: For all his power over etheric energies, Ferus is compelled to have various, random bits and bobs, like some string or a ball of wax. If they are taken from him, he curls up into a ball, muttering and crying to himself.
  • Retired Badass: He's a former aeronaut and marine.
  • The Smart Guy: He's the most knowledgeable of the protagonists, by far.



An etherealist, and Master Ferus's apprentice. Her primary compulsion seems to be an inability to talk directly to anything other than the jars of lumen crystals she carries at all times.

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Like every etherealist, the power she taps has torn holes in her mind, which she must fill with various compulsions.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder: Despite her own oddness, she functions as one for her master, collecting the Noodle Implements he needs to satisfy his compulsions and handling the arcane technology of the doorknob.
  • Companion Cube: Has a vast number of nearly-depleted lumen crystals she keeps as pets. She cannot directly address anyone other than these crystals. The only exceptions to this seem to be other etherealists, the Enemy, and Captain Grimm on the deck of Predator, which itself has some extenuating circumstances - she's mentally linked to the Sapient Ship in question.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Okay, more odd than 'moron', but Folly is still the apprentice of one of the most powerful etheralists in the business, and it shows. Such as when she talks 987 lumen crystals into electrifying a nest of silkweaver larvae. Or when she not only manages to keep the evil being that has seemingly ensnared Madame Cavendish from binding her to its will, but also manages to escape from it with her mind intact, by reshaping the dreamscape she's in.
  • Cute Witch: Between her youth, her appearance, and her friendly and well meaning oddity she definitely qualifies.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: She has a few over the book. One includes the Spire crumbling to dust and being destroyed, but the kicker is this isn't just a symbolic dream, it is a vision of a possible future.
  • Freakiness Shame: Not over her appearance, but the raw and dangerous power she truly possesses. When she displays her power in Shock and Awe, she fears Bridget will be scared of her, and she will lose a friend. Bridget subverts her expectations and thinks Folly is awesome.
  • Multiple-Choice Future: Like he master, she can predict possible futures, but she is far less skilled at it.
  • Nice Girl: Her viewpoint chapters show her to be a very caring and sensitive person, if a bit fragile because of the effect of aether on her mind.
  • Power at a Price: For her power over etheric energy, Folly is compelled to collect hundreds of lumen crystals. She treats them with motherly affection, and like they have their own personalities. Which, given what we learn about airship cores, may not be entirely unjustified.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Whether she has this ability because of training or simply because she's an etherealist is unclear, but she can multitask well enough to give 987 crystals complex etheric instruction, simultaneously and individually, in a high stress situation. This also helps her handle seeing the future.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Attention is given to her way of dressing - apart from the mismatched socks and candy-cane hair, Folly spends much of the first book wearing a yellow dress and way too many handkerchiefs tied on her arms.
  • Shock and Awe: Tells 987 lumen crystals how to emit electricity instead of light, frying hundreds of larval silkweavers.

    AMS Predator 

AMS Predator

Captain Grimm's airship, and one of Spire Albion's most legendary crafts.
  • Cool Airship: Naturally. By the start of the ship, Predator has such a reputation as a privateer vessel, the Aurorans deployed their best battlecruiser to take her out.
  • Deflector Shields: Like all airships, it can generate protective shrouds to dissipate etheric attacks.
  • The Dreaded: Well-known amongst the enemy's fleet for hunting and capturing its merchant vessels. To the point where the Aurorans deployed their best battlecruiser to sink her at the beginning of the book.
    • Espira recognizes Predator by name and curses it when he sees it's chasing them, as Predator is responsible for 1/4 of the Auroran merchant Navy's losses in the last 2 years.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: As ship names go, Predator brings the message across pretty clearly.
  • Sapient Ship: Grimm has vaguely suspected that Predator is alive for a long time, but it's finally proven when Folly has a conversation with the ship, and tells it how to sense her master's collection.
  • Stronger with Age: Predator may well have the oldest core crystal in existence, and unlike most kinds of etheric crystal, core crystals get more and more efficient as they are used. When Gwen finally sees the core crystal, she nearly Face Faults; this crystal has a nearly raw shape, and every other crystal she knows of has been shaped with facets... for centuries.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After the damage from the Itasca fight, the Spirearch gives Predator brand-new trim crystals and a fresh lift crystal designed for a ship many times bigger.
  • Warrior Poet: Every ship makes different noises when it dives into battle. Some shriek or boom, some sound like drums or trumpets. And when Predator dives into battle, she sings.

    Spirearch Albion 

Spirearch Addison Orson Magnus Jeremiah Albion

The hereditary ruler of Spire Albion. His position is mostly ceremonial, with the houses running the show. Officially. He has the final command of the Spirearch's Guard.
  • Big Good:
    • For the citizens of Spire Albion. He will do most anything to protect them.
    • He shows a direct interest in House Tagwynn's continued existence, acting behind the scene to make sure Rowl can legally be Bridget's second, and indirectly remarks to Gwen his desire that the duel doesn't go badly for the Tagwynns. Gwen immediately realises the remark is intended to be an order.
  • The Chessmaster: An excellent judge of character, he will use whoever and whatever is available to protect his Spire from destruction. He does not think less of warrior-born, men who have been dishonorably discharged from service, a young lady who has a hot temper, a young lady who talks with cats, cats, and etheralists. He further respects the criminal elements and knew ahead to bribe the guilds to make sure Habble Landing's citizens were safely evacuated should some attack happen there. Each one of these players or actions play a key role in the end to mitigate the damage from fire bombing in Landing and taking down one of the enemy's oldest and most powerful ships.
  • Crazy-Prepared: He has Rowl declared a citizen by a judge, and a copy of the judgement given to the master-at-arms, in anticipation of Reginald raising an objection to his being Bridget's second in their duel (Only Citizens in good standing can be Seconds).
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": He dislikes being called "Sir" or by titles. He repeatedly tries to get Gwen to call him "Addison" with mixed results.
  • Good Is Not Soft: It is at one pointed noted, by Grimm when he works out just how dangerous Addison is, that a book titled 'A History of Execution' is carefully placed in plain view on his desk.
  • In-Series Nickname: He is called "Addy" by the restaurant owners he frequents in his civilian guise.
  • King Incognito: He regularly dons civilian's clothes to wander around parts of his spire. He frequents one restaurant whose owners have regularly refused to move working on his kitchen staff because he loves their cooking. They refer to him simply as "Addy." He encounters Gwen in such a form and she doesn't recognize him at all.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Called such by Grimm.
    Grimm: I say that you are are a manipulative son of a bitch, sire.
    Addison: Each and every day of the week.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He hides his intellect and ruthlessness behind a friendly, harmless appearance of a dotty old man who mostly just fills ceremonial functions.


Spire Aurora

    Madame Cavendish 

Madame Sycorax Cavendish

A very dangerous and utterly insane etherealist in league with "the Enemy", and principal antagonist of the first book.
  • A Pupil of Mine, Until He Turned to Evil: She's a former student of Master Ferus, and they're now clearly enemies.
  • Ax-Crazy: She hides it under a very rigid demeanour of old-school courtesy, but everyone can tell she's violently insane within seconds of meeting her. Compare, for example, Folly's endaringly weird way of dress with her immaculate lavender grey gown.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Averted. This is a very bad sign, since there are only two kinds of etherealists: Cloudcuckoolander and Ax-Crazy.
  • Demonic Possession: A minion of some kind for the Enemy, though it's unclear just how much free will she retains.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Always courteous and polite, and insists on other behaving the same way. Even while she's torturing or mind raping someone.
  • Gray Eyes: Used to symbolize her cold, relentless, and inhuman nature.
  • The Man in Front of the Man: It's revealed that, beyond being an Auroran agent, she is working for an unknown but incredibly powerful being.
  • Mind Rape: Her weapon of choice seems to be a psychic attack so severe that its victims claw out their own eyes.
  • Mundane Solution: She is as vulnerable to high-velocity bits of metal as anyone else. In fact, shooting or some other physical attack is needed when she can manipulate ether energy, like a gauntlet's volley.
  • Photographic Memory: As revealed in her final scene, her having lost the MacGuffin book only sets her back by the few days it takes her to write out hundreds of pages.
  • Politeness Judo: Whether you're an enemy or ally, your best chance of surviving a meeting with her is to be pretty good at this. It's theorised that her particular etherealist's compulsion centres around this, so it's possible she actually finds it difficult to directly harm those who practise it, and difficult to not harm those who fail.
  • Power at a Price: For her power over etheric energy, she is compelled to follow the rules of polite society. If one keeps in form with them, and she maintains herself, even if she wants to hurt the person. Failure means any number of unpleasant responses.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Normally she's extremely calm, soft-spoken and obsessively polite, but when given an excuse to unleash her power on someone who's been rude to her, her expression is described as "absolute pleasure".
  • Squishy Wizard: She has immense power and is immune to the energy of ordinary gauntlets, but she's as vulnerable to being stunned or injured by other means as any other human.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl: Grimm's skin starts to crawl the second he sees her, and most people who talk to her don't even notice that she's actually quite physically attractive, as they get pre-occupied by how wrong everything about her feels.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As her plans go wrong, she becomes somewhat more testy and has to visibly force herself back into bland politeness. Given how rigid her self-control is normally, her little slips tend to produce an Oh, Crap! moment in those around her.

    Major Espira 

Major Espira

The commander of the Auroran marines infiltrating Spire Albion. The secondary villain of the first book.
  • A Father to His Men: He cares about his marines deeply.
  • Affably Evil: Genuinely polite to Bridget and Folly when they're captured, and regretful when he has to hand them over to Cavendish.
  • Culture Justifies Anything: Like most Aurorans, he justifies his actions as other Spires not deserving the prosperity they enjoy while Aurora suffers - he sees the Albions as thieving rats because they became prosperous by building a new shipping dock for their spire, allowing more easy and plentiful trade.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He dislikes Madame Cavendish, and considers killing her when his mission is done, relenting as the leaders of Spire Aurora find her too valuable - and he's not entirely sure that he could manage it before she retaliated. He also refuses to have a captive fed to the silkweavers while alive.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Grimm, being a skilled commander who's A Father to His Men and an Officer and a Gentleman.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: A villainous variation, who's essentially just doing his job. The associated mannerisms help keep him alive around Cavendish.


Sergeant Ciriaco

A Warriorborn Auroran Sergeant, and Espira's de facto second-in-command, being the most featured villainous character after Cavendish and Espira.

  • Beast Man: As with all other Warriorborn.
  • Due to the Dead: Acknowledges Benedict's request to remember him when it looks like Benedict will have to die in exchange for sparing Gwen and Bridget (on the grounds that he's too dangerous for even Ciriaco to contain while occupied with the other two, let alone carry out his mission).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Quietly all but begs Espira not to ask him to send a living man 'up the ropes' to be Eaten Alive.
    • He also has a very sincere and rooted objection to rape, taking a moment to inform Bridget - who was his prisoner and had assumed that she would be 'raped and murdered' - that he'd gut any man who laid a hand on her, and if that she did have to die, he'd kill her quickly and cleanly.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Benedict, though he's a Punch-Clock Villain at worst.
  • Fantastic Racism: On the receiving end, as indicated by Espira's thoughts when he briefly wishes that he was a Warriorborn like Ciriaco with the associated stamina, before noting that if he were, he wouldn't have reached officer rank.
  • Mercy Kill: To the young verminocitor who had stumbled across the Auroran encampment and was to be sent 'up the ropes.'
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He's just doing his job, freely acknowledging that he's a murderer, and has no particular malice for any of the heroes, even after Gwen blows the head off the young Lieutenant he'd been mentoring, recognising that they're doing their jobs.
  • Sergeant Rock: Functions as this to Espira's smooth officer, and it's indicated that he used to The Mentor to Espira.


    Captain Ransom 

Captain Calliope Ransom

The captain of the Mistshark and Grimm's ex-wife.
  • Advantage Ball: When dealing with Madame Cavendish, she has multiple layers of defense in place, including explosives in the cabin floor and a second-in-command with orders to shoot her if she comes out of the cabin "acting weird."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: For all her flaws, she actually does care about Grimm (and Predator, which was once her home), As she tries to get Grimm to leave on a job so him and Predator are not there when the time will come for her to destroy the docks. She also fires upon the ship last even though the Predator was closest to her position when her attack happened.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Grimm notes that her attack on Landing's port wouldn't including attacking civilians or non-merchant ships and non-Fleet ships. When she does attack, she only targets legitimate targets that can help in Albion's economy or defense.
  • Extended Disarming: She deliberately doesn't leave her weapons behind when boarding Predator... just because it'll annoy Grimm to have to deal with her that much longer.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Grim pays her back for sabotaging the Predator in the wind trials by similarly sabotaging her ship, slowing her to a lesser speed and allowing the Predator to easily catch up.
  • The Rival: To Grim, especially following a race in the past where she won by sabotaging Predator.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Is the only character in the book to successfully tell Madame Cavendish to shut up.

Example of: