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Royal family

    King Alexander III 
The king of Ravka.

    The queen 
The queen of Ravka.
  • No Name Given: Her name is never said in the books.
  • Your Cheating Heart: She had an affair with Fjerdan ambassador Magnus Opjer while being married to the king. Her second son Nikolai was actually born from this affair.

    Vasily Lantsov 

The eldest son of king Alexander III and the heir to the Ravkan throne.

  • Sibling Rivalry: He and his younger brother Nikolai do not get along. Vasily accuses his brother of being a bastard and trying to steal his throne and Nikolai thinks his brother is lazy, unintelligent and that he would make a terrible king.
  • Spanner in the Works: Prince Vasily is normally just useless, but then he announces that he arranged a treaty with Fjerda by allowing them free access to the roads in Ravka without interference from the First Army. While the Darkling and his army are looking for a way to invade Os Alta. On the night the most important people in Ravka would all be in one place celebrating Nikolai's birthday.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Vasily is a prince and he is very unintelligent, arrogant and lazy. He is also way more interested in drinking and horses than in actually ruling a country. Luckily he dies before he can become king.

    Nikolai Lantsov/Sturmhond 

The younger Ravkan prince. He's probably prettier than you.

  • Animal Motifs: He's often associated with dogs and foxes.
  • Arranged Marriage: After the failure of a Shu-Hanese plot to assassinate Nikolai the end of ''King of Scars, he gives princess Ehri-Kir Taban (second in line to the Shu-Hanese throne) two choices: marry him or get executed.
  • Badass Longcoat: He wears a teal frock coat, extremely gaudy, but extremely dramatic.
  • Black Sheep: The people at the Ravkan court call him the black sheep of the family, because he chose to serve in the infantry as an ordinary Ravkan, earning his ranks himself instead of starting out as a officer like most royals.
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: When someone mentions that the prince isn't bad looking, he's compelled to put in that he's 'damnably handsome', among a long litany of other inflated qualities.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Arguably more than Alina.
  • Demonic Possession: it is revealed in King of Scars that the darkness inside of him has its own mind.
  • The Charmer: Clearly knows his way around others, is beloved by the court and his people. Constantly flirts with Alina, and uses his charms to manipulate his way through social situations.
  • Consummate Liar: about almost anything. He lies to Alina about his true intentions, then his true identity, and continues to lie in various small ways throughout the books. Most of the time, no one suspects a thing.
  • The Engineer: Helped to invent the world's first flying craft, machine guns, and several other devices.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Played with in Ruin and Rising, when his body becomes merged with one of the Darkling's shadow soldiers.
  • Forceful Kiss: Kisses Alina against her will in order to convince his people she is his 'Sun Queen'.
  • Commanding Coolness: Sturmhond's official title on board the Volkvolny.
  • Guile Hero: While Nikolai is a good fighter, he mostly uses his silver tongue, manipulation skills and his talent for scheming and politics to win the day.
  • Heroic Bastard: Nikolai is officially the son of the former king Alexander III and his wife, the queen, but there are some rumours that he was actualy born from one of the queen's affairs. This later turns out to be true when the queen tells him that his father is Magnus Opjer, a Fjerdan diplomat.
  • Insistent Terminology: He is quite insistent that he is a privateer, not a pirate.
  • It's All About Me: Has a very carefree attitude, and tends to make things about himself as a joke. He's playing off his own arrogance.
  • Loveable Rogue: You want to hate him, but you just can't.
    Nikolai: I have several ships. The Darkling wanted a whaler, so I got him one.
    Alina: You mean you stole it.
    Nikolai: Acquired it.
  • Meaningful Name: An in-universe example. His childhood nickname was Sobachka (Ravkan for puppy), which he plays on to create his later alias, Sturmhond.
  • The Mutiny: He and his crew overthrow the Darkling and his men from their ship, thereby mutinying against a superior officer.
  • Non-Answer: Notorious for this.
    Alina: Do you ever answer a question directly?
    Nikolai: Hard to say. Ah, there, I've done it again.
  • Polyglot: Albeit not a very good one. He knows Zemnian, Ravkan, Kerch, and some Shu, though he's not perfect.
  • Privateer: Operated as one under the name Sturmhond for several years.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: After the Hummingbird crashes, Sturmhond is revealed to be Nikolai.
  • Resist the Beast: Nikolai attempts to prevent himself from changing, and warns others of it in King of Scars.
  • Royal Brat: Was this when he was much younger, before the castle decided to enforce discipline by punishing one of his friends rather than Nikolai himself.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Nikolai left court as soon as he could, insisted on doing his military service in the infantry, apprenticed to a gunsmith, and then later went to study shipbuilding. This turns out to be useful when he becomes a pirate, er, privateer.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!!:He's not above bribery, and he's very willing to disregard rules.
    Nikolai: Pauper or Prince, every man can be bought.
  • Sibling Rivalry: He and his older brother Vasily do not get along. Vasily accuses his brother of being a bastard and trying to steal his throne and Nikolai thinks his brother is lazy, unintelligent and that he would make a terrible king.
  • Spare to the Throne: He is next in line to the Ravkan throne after his brother, Vasily and he becomes the new king after his brother died and his father abdicated.
  • Too Clever by Half: He screams it. He's extremely intelligent, and he knows it, and is thus unafraid to remind others of it.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: his body morphs and changes significantly with the darkness in control.


The First Army

    Malyen Oretsev 

Alina's childhood best friend, a former soldier of the First Army and a gifted tracker.

  • The Ace: Mal is handsome, an unbelievably good tracker, and makes friends very easily. Alina muses that you could drop him anywhere in the world and before long he'd fit in perfectly.
  • Betty and Veronica: There's a subversion here. While the Darkling is definitely the Veronica, being a handsome and seductive stranger in contrast to Malyen's status as Alina's childhood friend, Malyen isn't much of a Betty besides being a childhood friend given how much sleeping around he does.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the climactic confrontation of Ruin and Rising, Mal, having realized that he's the third amplifier, guides a badly-wounded and utterly broken Alina into driving a knife to his chest, taking her power to its logical conclusion.
  • Hypocrite: He flirts and sleeps with women as much as he wants while in the First Army, but when he sees Alina wearing signs of the Darkling's favor, he gets furious and accuses her of being a whore.
  • It's All About Me: He complains to Alina about how she doesn't have time for him anymore...while she's trying to keep the Second Army afloat, trying to help Nikolai's political game, and trying to keep a civil war from breaking out. Yeah...
  • Like Brother and Sister: Mal sees Alina as his sister instead of a potential girlfriend, much to her silent torment. He comes around.
  • Love Epiphany: Mal comes to realize just how much he loves Alina back while they are in hiding from The Darkling.
  • Love Triangle: Stuck in one for the bulk of the series, with Alina and the Darkling, and later, Alina and Nikolai.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Mal is described as a very handsome man, turning heads wherever he goes, much to Alina's annoyance.
  • Really Gets Around: Implied hook up with many women during his time in the First Army.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: It's said of Mal that he can "turn rocks into rabbits." He's so good he can even track a sea-serpent on the open ocean.

    Isaak Andreyev 
A soldier in the First Army who became a member of the royal guard.
  • Assassination Attempt: He gets murdered by a Shu-Hanese agent, while he is disguised as king Nikolai.
  • Fish out of Water: Isaak is a normal, rather shy guy from a poor family, so he is rather out of his comfort zone when he has to pretend to be king Nikolai and has to navigate complicated diplomatic situations, because the real king is missing.
  • King Incognito: Inverted, Isaak is a normal guard pretending to be the king to prevent chaos after the real king went missing.
  • Polyglot: Aside from his native Ravkan he is fluent in Shu, Zemeni, Kerch, and Suli languages.
  • Praetorian Guard: He is a member of the royal guard, tasked with protecting the king and his family.
  • Undying Loyalty: He is completely loyal to king Nikolai, who got him a job as a royal guard, which allowed him and family to escape from poverty.


The Second Army

Shadow/Sun Summoners

    The Darkling/Aleksander Morozova 
"Fine, make me your villain."

The mysterious force that leads the Grisha.

  • The Ageless: The Darkling states that he is 120 years old, but it's implied that he's much older.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The Darkling has this appeal for Alina, encouraged by her belief that Mal has forgotten about her. She comes to despise him after the events of the first book, but a very strong attraction is still clearly there.
  • Ambition Is Evil: He wants to make the world a safer place for Grisha, so he'll just conquer the world. The Shadow Fold was also brought about by him experimenting too much and too darkly with magic.
  • Betty and Veronica: There's a subversion here. While the Darkling is definitely the Veronica, being a handsome and seductive stranger in contrast to Malyen's status as Alina's childhood friend, Malyen isn't much of a Betty besides being a childhood friend.
  • Big Bad: Revealed to be the Black Heretic, the one who created the Shadow Fold, halfway through the first book. His goals are further revealed to be expanding the Fold to consume Ravka, and he even declared Alina can make him the villain if she wants.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: For the majority of Shadow and Bone he seems like a good and even kind man who only wants the best for his country and encourages Alina in her training. By the end of the book, he sheds this mask to reveal his true persona.
  • Casting a Shadow: His main ability; he wouldn't be called the Darkling if he didn't manipulate shadows.
  • The Chessmaster: He is a master at manipulating people and events to serve his purposes.
  • Diagonal Cut: Possesses the rare ability called "The Cut", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The Dreaded: Even the Grisha feel uneasy around him in Siege and Storm.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: He's pale-skinned and dark-haired and very creepy. Even before he's revealed as evil, people are scared and unnerved by virtue of his powers.
  • Eternal Love: He believes eventually as Alina comes to accept her immortality, they will share this.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Played with. Darkling sees his mother as someone who can share his immortal life, but blinds her when she helps Alina. But then later when she commits suicide, he not only tries to stop her, but Alina feels him grieving through their link.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Despite all the terrible things he's done, his mother still loves him and Alina still feels something for him, to the point she cries when she kills him. This helps the narrative humanize the Darkling.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": He's addressed as "the Darkling", and apparently has been for centuries. We don't find out his real name until the end.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He is very suave and seductive in nearly all his scenes, which only serves to increase his cold and manipulative aura.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: His face is faintly scarred by a volcra attack.
  • Hates Being Alone: Seems genuinely troubled by the prospect of spending the rest of his long life by himself.
    The Darkling: Don't let me be alone.
  • Hobbes Was Right: He certainly seems to believe that without him as its sole ruler, Ravka will never be a great power again.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: When he captures Alina after she attempts to escape with Mal in Shadow and Bone.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: In Ruin and Rising Alina concludes: "For all his crimes, the Darkling had loved Ravka, and he'd wanted its love in return."
  • If I Can't Have You...: Towards Alina and Ravka both, preferring to destroy them rather than see anyone else have them.
  • It's All About Me: He claims his actions are for the good of Ravka, but as Alina points out only as long he is the ruler.
  • Lack of Empathy: One of his most prominent qualities. The Demon in the Woods and Ruin and Rising seem to imply this developed as survival and coping mechanism.
    The Darkling: If I still felt as you do, if I ached as you do, I could not have borne this eternity.
  • Life Isn't Fair: He exasperatedly espouses this philosophy to Alina in Shadow and Bone.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Given his level of obsession with Alina and the more irrational he becomes at her rejection, she seems to become this to him.
  • Love Is a Weakness:
    The Darkling: The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: He certainly seems to act more irrationally when it comes to Alina.
  • Love Makes You Evil: All his wicked deeds are rooted in his love for Ravka. And if his claims to love Alina are true, a few can be attributed to his feelings for her.
  • Love Triangle: In one with Mal and Alina.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He plays with Alina's emotions to get what he wants.
  • Mindlink Mates: At the end of Siege and Storm he and Alina become a romantically one-sided version of this.
  • Morality Chain: He tells Alina she could become this for him eventually. She counters that he would corrupt her.
    The Darkling: You might make me a better man.
    Alina: And you might make me a monster.
  • Moral Sociopathy: The Darkling seems to have a kind of moral structure, but it is incomprehensible to all but himself.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Repeatedly threatens to kill or attempts to kill Mal in order to have Alina all to himself.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Cannot take being turned down by Alina.
  • Not So Different: One of the main things he uses to try to convince Alina they belong together is pointing out how similar they are.
  • Not So Stoic: His usual demeanor is cool and distant, but he's highly selective of what emotions he shows and who he shows them to. How much of it is genuine is up for interpretation.
  • Power Is Sexy: This combined with his looks makes the Darkling a much-desired man among women. He himself has this for Alina to the point of obsession.
  • Say My Name: Asks this of Alina as he's dying.
    The Darkling: Once more. Speak my name.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Almost exactly how Alina describes the expression in his eyes when she comes to him at Keramzin.
  • Visionary Villain: His goal is to make Ravka a great nation and a haven for other Grisha.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: His grey-colored eyes are frequently described in loving detail by Alina's narration.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Certainly comes off as this in The Demon in the Woods. This however is debatable by the time of Shadow and Bone.
  • Yandere: Very much so towards Alina. By the time of Ruin and Rising, he's so far gone he declares that he'll destroy everything she loves so she has no shelter but him.

    Alina Starkov 
"I'm the Sun Summoner. It gets dark when I say it does."

The protagonist of the series and The Chosen One, one of the most powerful Grishas who has ever lived and the only one capable of destroying the volcra and the Shadow Fold.

  • Brought Down to Normal: Ultimately Alina's fate at the end of Ruin and Rising is to lose all of her powers.
  • The Chosen One: Happens when you're the world's only Sun Summoner and the only Grisha with the power to destroy The Shadow Fold.
  • Character Development: She's a sickly and naive girl when we first meet her but soon proves to be a lot more competent over the course of the trilogy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of Alina's most defining traits is her dry wit.
    The Darkling: What are you smiling at?
    Alina: Myself.
    The Darkling: Are you that funny?
    Alina: I'm hilarious.
  • Differently Powered Individual: She's a Sun Summoner, an exceptionally rare Grisha who manipulates light. She's the only one in existence, and furthermore the only one born in centuries.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Alina starts out as an orphan working as a cartographer in the First Army, and not only saves her best friend's life, but also saving the world from the Darkling.
  • Ill Girl: She's introduced as a frail, sickly being. It's revealed this is because neglect of one's Grisha powers taxes one's health; once Alina starts using her Sun Summoner powers more, she becomes haler.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Her belief. She feels alone during her Grisha training because she's one of a kind and can't relate to anyone but the Darkling.
  • Light 'em Up: The gist of her abilities is light manipulation.
  • Love Triangle: Between Mal, Alina, and The Darkling. In the second book, this becomes a love square between Mal, Alina, the Darkling, with the addition of Nikolai.
  • The Marvelous Deer: Alina's first amplifier is taken from the horns of a great stag.
  • Messianic Archetype: She's the Chosen One, has a group of loyal followers, gets betrayed by someone she trusted, defeats a great evil, figuratively dies and is resurrected.
  • Pent-Up Power Peril: She was constantly sickly growing up due to subconsciously suppressing her powers. Once she starts using them regularly, her health improves greatly.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Threatens to fight against The Darkling for the rest of her life if he harms Mal. But if he spares him, she promises to spend it "proving [her] gratitude."
  • The Power of the Sun: Her abilities derive from sunlight, which means it's more difficult for her to use her powers at nighttime or underground.
  • Reluctant Warrior: She honestly doesn't want to be The Chosen One.
  • Secret Keeper: Becomes one for the Darkling regarding his name. Worth mentioning that it was never explicitly stated that she wasn't allowed to tell anyone, but she never does.
  • Slave Collar: The first amplifier goes around her neck and can't be removed; Baghra tells her it was created with the intention of chaining her to the Darkling.


    Fedyor Kaminsky 

    Genya Safin 
The queen's tailor who befriends Alina Starkov. After the war she becomes a member of the Grisha Triumvate.
  • Badass Boast: Delivers one to the king after explaining the effects of her poison and how she used it to poison him. Doubles as Appropriated Appellation after being called "Razrusha'ya" (the ruined) after her disfigurement.
    Genya: I am not ruined. I am ruination.
  • Beauty to Beast: She receives horrible disfiguring scars in Siege and Storm.
  • Best Served Cold: Her revenge on the king was designed to be as slow and painful as possible.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: It's hard to keep track of who's side she's really on.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Her beauty was the reason why the King takes such an interest in her and raped her.
  • The Makeover: Her main superpower is Tailoring, altering someone's appearance. While this can be used for disguises, at court Genya is mostly called upon for making people prettier.

A powerful heartrender loyal to the Darkling.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ivan follows the Darkling because he believes that the Darkling can end the centuries-long wars that his brothers, uncle and father died fighting in.

    Sergei Beznikov 
A heartrender.


    Adrik Zhabin 
A squallor who is determined to fight in the war even though he is too young. Nadia's younger brother.
  • Handicapped Badass: He loses on of his arms in the war, but he remains a badass.
  • Ship Tease: He admits to Nina that he has a crush on Leoni, but he isnt' doing anything with it, because he is her commanding officer. However Nina points out that after their mission is over he won't be anymore.

An inferni from the Wandering Isle.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": He named his cat 'Oncat', which is Kaelish for cat.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: When he was younger his brother got murdered for being a Grisha. Harshaw then burned down their entire village in revenge.


    Nadia Zhabin 
A shy squaller who becomes friends with Alina.
  • Badass Gay: She is a lesbian and a talented squallor.

     Zoya Nazyalensky 
A powerful squallor in the second army. She later becomes a member of the Grisha Triumvate.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She has black hair and doesn't show her emotions very often.
  • Alpha Bitch: When she first meets Alina, she plays this role.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When first met, she was eager to fall into the Darkling's good graces. However, after discovering that the Shadow Fold killed her aunt and adopted cousin she turns against him.
  • Proud Beauty: She is beautiful and she knows and enjoys it.


    David Kostyk 
A brilliant fabrikator with a talent for inventing things. After the war he becomes a member of the Grisha triumvate.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: David is a brilliant inventor who often gets completely lost in his work.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: David is by no means ugly, but he is described as being rather plain, enough to get people wondering why someone as supposedly drop dead gorgeous Genya would go for him. Well, David is played by Luke Pasqualino in the Netflix adaptation, so it's really not hard to imagine why at all.



A short-tempered woman who teaches Alina how to summon her power.

  • Antagonistic Offspring: She spends the whole trilogy trying to find ways to redeem the Darkling. Lampshaded by Nikolai:
    Baghra: The little Saint, returned to save us all.
    Nikolai: Well, she did almost die trying to rid us of your cursed spawn.
  • Cynical Mentor: Baghra is not impressed with Alina's progress.
  • Darwinist Desire: A particularly cold example.
    Baghra: I wanted a child, so I sought out the most powerful Grisha I could find. He was a Heartrender. I don't even remember his name.

    Dunyasha Lazareva 

Dunyasha Lazareva

A mad assassin hired by Pekka Rollins to eliminate Inej, Dunyasha claims descent from royalty.

  • All There in the Manual: Her last name isn't given in the narrative; it's revealed in the Dramatis Personae at the end of Crooked Kingdom.
  • Axe-Crazy: Insane enough that Fjerda decided she was too unstable to back for the throne.
  • The Chosen One: Subverted. Dunyasha seems like a prototypical YA chosen one. She has royal blood, has been trained as an assassin, and kills as holy work. Of course she's also a delusional lunatic, who hires herself out as a Psycho for Hire.
  • Disney Villain Death: She's tricked by Inej into falling to her death during their fight at the top of a church.
  • Evil Redhead: Auburn hair and no conscience.
  • Expy: A hammy, arrogant assassin who claims royal heritage. Some readers have pointed out that she seems a lot like a villainous version of Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass.
  • Ninja: Complete with shiriken.
  • Not So Different: She and Inej are around the same age, acrobats, Knife Nuts, actively religious, and rely on a very similar style of acrobatics and fighting.
  • Psycho for Hire: She's a lunatic who hires herself out as a killer because she gets off on it.
  • Woman in White: Dresses in ivory.
  • Worthy Opponent: How she refers to Inej, even using the exact phrase, just before subverting the trope.
    Dunyasha: There is no shame in meeting a worthy opponent. It means there is more to learn, a welcome reminder to pursue humility. (beat) I have learned humility. And now you will learn that some are meant to serve. And some are meant to rule.


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