NOTE: Some tropes are Late Arrival Spoilers from Harrow the Ninth, so proceed with caution even if you've finished Gideon the Ninth. Several characters are Walking Spoilers and have spoiler tags removed. All subpages have unmarked spoilers.
The Ninth HouseKeepers of the Locked Tomb, House of the Sewn Tongue, the Black Vestals
- Apocalypse Cult: Ninth religion, practiced in the deepest, darkest hole of the Empire is an Inversion; despite being swathed in black, manipulating skeletons, and even prone to Human Sacrifice, they worship fervently to stop the apocalypse, praying over the grave of God's greatest enemy and treating its inevitable reawakening as the end of everything. Ultimately subverted. It's actually just a very abstracted Cargo Cult, as their entire faith stems from a misconception, never knowing that only God's blood could have ever opened the Tomb.
- Dem Bones: The Ninth is the only house to specialize in bone magic, and makes extensive use of skeletal contructs.
- The Dreaded: The whole "skeleton tomb cult" thing gives them a certain reputation. The other Houses' reactions to being near a member of the Ninth generally ranges from off-put to openly fearful.
- Dying Town: The Ninth is on its last legs at the beginning of Gideon the Ninth: impoverished and decrepit, populated almost entirely by the dead and the elderly soon-to-be-dead, and with their necromantic bloodlines down to a single family with no viable candidates to continue it. The Ninth House could, at any time, request aid from the other Houses... but that would mean publicizing just how bad things things have gotten, and by the end of it they wouldn't be the Ninth House any more. The restoration of her house is part of why Harrow is desperate to become a Lyctor. Of course, the Ninth is dying primarily because Harrow's parents murdered an entire generation of children to ensure Harrow's birth. She does get her wish at the beginning of Harrow the Ninth, when the Emperor donates them several hundred healthy adults and teenagers he'd had in stasis since the Resurrection.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The classic Ninth appearance is this, with dark hair and eyes so dark they're effectively black, which very visibly marks the Dark-Skinned Redhead Gideon Nav as someone not native to the Ninth.
- Elemental Motifs: Darkness, which is both an intentional religious choice and a practical reality of where the House is located and its poverty.
- Tongue-Tied: The Keepers of the Locked Tomb are not known as the House of the Sewn Tongue for nothing. The process entails magically replacing part of a Sewn Tongue's jaw, preventing them from discussing a forbidden topic completely.
Pelleamena Novenarius & Priamhark NoniusvianusHarrows parents, the Reverend Mother and Father of Drearburh.
- Driven to Suicide: Hanged themselves when Harrow was ten years old, along with their cavalier Mortus. Right in front of Harrow, too, and even meant for her to join them in the deed, because she committed the gravest possible sin by unlocking and entering the Locked Tomb containing this universe's equivalent to the The Antichrist.
- Meaningful Name: Priam was the king of the Trojans, who was murdered after watching his city fall to the enemy. "Pelleamena" is a female version of Peleus, the father of Achilles, which is fitting as Pelleamena is the mother of an incredibly talented necromancer who is nevertheless hamstrung by emotional turmoil.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: Harrow used necromancy to preserve their bodies (at least from the shoulders up) and has been puppeteering them ever since. She tells her subjects that her parents have taken a vow of silence, are fasting, and so on. Gideon is appalled no one has caught on.
- My God, What Have I Done?: While they never seem to have been pleasant people, according to Crux, they used to be different before they killed an entire generation of the Ninth. Harrow can only ever recall them as exhausted and distant teachers more than parents, and it's heavily implied the lingering guilt was a factor in their suicides.
- Puppet King: Quite literally: see above. While they're still the rulers of Drearburh in name, Harrow controls them and everything else in practice.
- Would Hurt a Child: They were quite cruel to Gideon when she was young. They also tried to kill her as an infant, and did succeed in killing the other 200 babies and children of the House in a mass Human Sacrifice. Not to mention the fact they expected Harrow to kill herself along with them.
AiglameneThe Ninths captain of the (nonexistent) guard, and Gideons sword-master.
- Handicapped Badass: She's an incredible swordswoman, but refuses to serve as Harrow's cavalier primary because she's also old as balls and has a not-quite-functional necromantic prosthesis replacing one of her legs.
- Master Swordsman: She's an extremely talented swordswoman and despite her age, she is capable enough with weapons as different as the rapier and zweihander to make Gideon into one of the best fighters in the history of the Ninth.
- Meaningful Name: "Aigla" comes from French for "eagle", befitting a sharp eyed and dangerous woman with a harsh appearance.
- Old Soldier: She's in her 80s, wizened and scarred, and still the most (and just about only) capable soldier Drearburh has, and fully capable of knocking Gideon to the floor in only a few moves.
- Parental Substitute: Though she would laugh her ass off at the suggestion, she's effectively the closest thing to a parent that Gideon has, as the only person who cares about her at all. Gideon, for her part, respects Aiglamene in a way she doesnt for anyone else in the Ninth House.
- Rugged Scar: Her whole head is comprised of "melty scars."
- Tough Love: She's the only adult in the Ninth House who cares about Gideon to any degree, but she's no softer for it. She treats her so gruffly that Gideon can't even conceive that Aiglamene could love her. Still, it's clear she's invested in Gideon's wellbeing despite everything, and even stands up to Harrow on her behalf.
- Undying Loyalty: To Harrowhark. As much as she cares about Gideon, she won't stand for her disrespecting her Lady.
- With Due Respect: Aiglamene does, however, stand up to Harrow — and even puts her own honor on the line — to ensure Harrow will abide by her promise to set Gideon free after the Lyctor trials.
CruxThe marshal of the Ninth House.
- Jerkass: He's rude to everyone but Harrow and absolutely delights in anything that makes Gideon suffer.
- Number Two: To Harrow. He's left in charge when Harrow and Gideon leave Drearburh.
- Old Retainer: He is ancient and certainly gives off these vibes in regards to Harrow's family.
- Parental Substitute: Harrow has some fond memories of him taking care of her after the death of her parents and the hallucination riddled fugue that she was in afterwards. In turn, Harrow used her magic to help prolong his life.
- Punny Name: "Crux" literally means "Cross", and he's always angry.
- Undying Loyalty: To Harrowhark, and the Ninth House in general. Harrow says he can't stand disloyalty, to the point that he blows up the shuttle stolen by Ortus and Glaurica for their audacity to abandon their duty.
Matthias NoniusThe greatest cavalier in the history of the Ninth, famous in death and immortalized, however badly, in Ortus Nigenad's The Noniad.
- Badass Boast: Prone to these in The Noniad. The real Nonius has some of his own.Abigail: I speak your name, Matthias Nonius, cavalier of the Ninth House. I charge you to protect the Reverend Daughter of Drearburh, and to slay her enemies.
Nonius: Waste not your breath. Such was my task when I lived; why now in my death would I need a reminder?
Harrow: Oh, God.
- Expecting Someone Taller: Harrow's surprised that Nonius is actually fairly short after 18 books of Ortus constantly praising him. He's every bit as capable as The Noniad makes him out to be though.
- Famed in Story: Even the other Houses recognize how legendary of a cavalier he was, and he's been literally worshiped within the Ninth in the past.
- Got Me Doing It: Speaks mostly in Ortus's meter when he's resummoned, as The Noniad warps the conditions of Harrow's Dream Land. He repeatedly asks why he's speaking in verse.
- Honor Before Reason: Part of the reason Harrow hates The Noniad is that Nonius is so tediously devoted to honor. The actual Nonius is as well, to a point. When the Sleeper's constant dirty fighting leads to his sword being knocked out of his hand, he stops trying to be honorable and quickly dismantles her.
- Tranquil Fury: When the Sleeper disarms him after he offers leniency to her, Nonius advances with a cold fury and completely destroys her.
- Walking Spoiler: The very fact that he appears in person is a spoiler. He returns as a ghost in Harrow's Dream Land at the climatic moment, fending off the Sleeper along with the other revenants.
The Body / A.L. / "Annabel Lee" / Alecto the First
The Second HouseThe Emperor's Strength, House of the Crimson Shield, the Centurion's House
- Color Motif: Red and white, as a House of warriors.
- Hufflepuff House: The least detailed of the Houses as of yet.
- Proud Warrior Race: Their hat; while most Houses have strong ties to the Cohort, the Second is the Cohort. It's routine for children to join the Home Guard, and many ship out well before puberty, and they don't seem to have a formal heir, instead selecting Judith due to her suitability for the mission.
- Your Soul is Mine!: The Second's necromancers specialty is draining the thalergy of the living, which they can then use to bolster the abilities of a cavalier.
Judith DeuterosThe heir to the Second House, and ranked captain of the Cohort.
- Braids of Action: Tight braids to reflect that shes an uptight, ass-kicking soldier.
- The Captain: Her rank as captain means she's used to taking charge, but her attempts to do so at Canaan House... do not go over well.
- Childhood Friends: Was friends, or at least friendly, with Coronabeth when they were children, though they don't interact directly in front of Gideon.
- Child Soldiers: She entered the Emperor's service when she was six.
- Hidden Depths: The Second doesn't have traditional heirs like the other Houses. Judith was actually chosen to go to Canaan House primarily to gather intelligence on the First and the other Houses and isn't interested in becoming a Lyctor at all
- I Did What I Had to Do: She claims that she and Marta are forced to take action where all the other Houses have failed to. The action being confronting—and ultimately killing—Teacher so they can use the comm to call for backup. They believed from how he fought back that Teacher was the killer. This costs Marta her life, and Harrow bluntly tells Judith that their sacrifice has accomplished nothing.
- Improbable Age: Despite her rank as a Captain of the Cohort, she's only 22. Justified given she's been a soldier since she was 11, and joined the Emperor's service at the age of 6.
- Meaningful Name: "Deuteros" derives from Deuteronomy.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: She's in terrible condition when she appears in Harrow the Ninth, the combination of Marta's death, her severe injuries, and confinement by Corona and Camilla making her a shell of herself.
- Uncertain Doom: The last time Gideon ever sees her, she is bleeding out from a horrific wound (one Palamedes says she'll die from soon without medical attention), alone and grieving, but the First House does not find her corpse along with Marta's. Harrow the Ninth shows her as a captive of Camilla and Coronabeth, now a part of Blood of Eden.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Her approach to the trials makes sense for a military officer, sent primarily to spy on the other Houses, who's used to trying to maintain order and minimize causalities, but is woefully mismatched with the reality of the trials, and the Second are the only House other than the Fourth to seemingly never even attempt a trial. Later, when she attempts to assert her authority as a captain of the Cohort, this approach fails to do anything other than create more chaos, and her final attempt to call for backup ultimately leaves her cavalier dead and fails to save any of the other Houses.
Marta DyasThe cavalier primary to Judith, and ranked first lieutenant of the Cohort.
- Braids of Action: She has the same braids as her captain.
- Flat Character: Marta is a disciplined soldier who follows Judith's every order without question. Her one visible difference seems to be a greater inclination to work with others. Even returning in Harrow's Dream Land, she's still mostly devoted to her duty, though she does get a bit more chance to stand on her own. While she's still out of focus, she is very willing to work with others and put herself in danger and shows signs of a dry sense of humor.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Harrow explicitly says that Marta's death meant nothing, and the realization that this is the case hits Judith very hard. Marta herself finds some more purpose after her death by going to fight the Resurrection Beast with the Saint of Duty.
- Undying Loyalty: To her captain and the Cohort.
- The Worf Effect: Rare take on the trope. Marta is a veteran of the Cohort who has seen actual combat in service of the Emperor, and the Cohort itself considers her one of the best fighters in the Empire. She's fast, reactive, and can push through a lot of pain, but she is quickly and brutally defeated by Camilla, to show how skilled she is when she's not holding back.
- Happens again in Harrow the Ninth, with her being quickly defeated by the Sleeper before Matthias Nonius is summoned.
The Third HouseMouth of the Emperor, the Procession, House of the Shining Dead
- The Beautiful Elite: Their reputation in the Nine Houses.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Their less savory reputation in the Nine Houses is one of constant scheming and plotting.
- Color Motif: Gold and purple, to match their nobility.
- Human Resources: Their necromantic specialty is being able to fully utilize the thanergy of corpses.
Naberius TernThe cavalier primary to Coronabeth and Ianthe, and prince of Ida.
- Achilles' Heel: While even Gideon acknowledges that he's extremely technically skilled at the rapier, he's actually one of the weaker fighters at Canaan House, as he's used to the structured fighting of tournaments and duels, while the serious cavaliers have no compunctions about fighting dirty and breaking any rules along the way. The Second's intelligence dossier explicitly notes this.
- Blood Knight: Basically the only thing he cares about aside from the Third and his ego is fighting, and he constantly tries to rope other cavaliers into debates and discussions about tournaments and fighting styles.
- Butt-Monkey: He's constantly made fun of and humiliated by Gideon's narration, Ianthe, and Coronabeth.
- Child Soldiers: As a cavalier born to the role in a family that has provided cavaliers for millennia, multiple characters note that Naberius was likely handed a rapier the moment he left the cradle.
- Everyone Has Standards: After Silas... acquires Dulcinea's keys Naberius shouts "You callous bastard, you just went and heavied a nearly dead girl for her keys". Then again, Jeannemary then says he's just sorry he didn't think of it first, and he immediately says "Chatur, if you say one more bloody word I'll make sure you never get through puberty-"
- The Fighting Narcissist: He clearly takes great pride in his appearance and his swordsmanship, though because of his personality, nobody pays much attention to the former. As for the latter, in an unusual take on the trope, his skill isn't at all flashy, but comes from incredibly well trained and precise, though his arrogance hampers him greatly.
- In-Series Nickname: Corona and Ianthe call him "Babs."
- In the Back: Ianthe stabs him in the back in order to absorb his soul and become a Lyctor.
- Jerkass: He is snobby, narcissistic, and perfectly willing to yell at the Fourth House kids.
- Meaningful Name: Naberius is a three-headed demon and alter ego of Cerberus from Ars Goetia.
- Royal Brat: Naberius is petulant, and very insistent on his "prince" title.
- Smug Snake: He is supremely overconfident in his skills and his title, and is a jerk to everyone aside from Ianthe and Corona.
- Undying Loyalty: Despite how they treat him, Naberius is unfailingly loyal to Ianthe and Coronabeth, but he becomes conflicted when the twins are quarreling with each other.
- Worthy Opponent: A subversion: while he praised Gideon's skill to Corona in private, he remains condescending to her in public, albeit too intimidated to fight her.
The Fourth HouseHope of the Emperor, the Emperor's Sword
- Action Bomb: The Fourth's necromantic speciality is rapid thanergetic fission, turning corpses into bombs.
- Cannon Fodder: Their reputation among the Nine Houses is of reckless wild acts to establish a front line for the Cohort. It's not unearned, but Isaac notes they try to be smart about it, since a death that doesn't help anything is just stupid.
- Child Soldiers: It's common for the Fourth to attempt to enlist as preteens.
- Color Motif: Navy, a martial color that match their profinity in spirit magic.
- Containment Field: The Fourth takes special care in crafting wards, and even goes so far as to ritually scarify them onto Cohort recruits before they're shipped out.
- Fearless Fool:Strengths: Bravery unfettered by common sense.
Weaknesses: Bravery unfettered by common sense.
- Hufflepuff House: The second-least detailed House after the Second. It's even discussed in-universe, with the other Houses viewing the Fifth's close relationship towards the Fourth as an inevitable prelude to the Fourth becoming part of the Fifth.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: Large families are the norm in the Fourth, to go with their reputation as Cannon Fodder; Isaac is the first of eight children and Jeanne is the second of six.
- Parental Abandonment: Most kids in the Fourth have lost one or both parents to some brave, suicidal deed on the front lines of the Cohort. It's even enforced in the latter case: Isaac's father died years prior to any of his eight children being born.
Isaac TettaresThe heir to the Fourth House, and baron of Tisis.
- Break the Cutie: He and Jeannemary take the death of the Fifth very badly, and spend the next few days on edge and exhausted, stalking the halls and paranoid of everyone but Coronabeth and Gideon, until they're the next to be killed.
- Childhood Friends: He has been paired with Jeannemary since they were very young.
- Child Soldiers: He and Jeannemary would have been enlisted already if Isaac hadn't gotten the mumps during the recruitment period, and they still intend to enlist the next year. He's thirteen. They would have enlisted even earlier, but Abigail forbade them and he had younger siblings to look after.
- Cultural Rebel: The Fourth House is often regarded as reckless cannon fodder, but - possibly due to his close proximity to levelheaded Magnus and Abigail - Isaac is noted to be cautious and careful. He tries, but after several extremely stressful days and a real scare his nerve shatters.
- Due to the Dead: While teaming up with the Sixth and the Ninth he says that the Fourth's first priority is finding out who killed Magnus and Abigail. They also never asked for their facility key because Magnus told them to hold off, and never entered a Lyctoral study because Abigail told them to wait.
- Easily Embarrassed Youngster: He is constantly embarrassed by everything from Magnuss lame jokes and stories, to anything Jeannemary says.
- Emo Teen: Described as such by Gideon, eye makeup and all.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Downplayed example with Jeannemary. Isaac is a sensitive, cautious Squishy Wizard, while Jeannemary is a reckless, violence-loving melee fighter.
- Meaningful Name: Isaac ends up dying early on.
- Phrase Catcher: Gideon's narration almost exclusively refers to him and Jeannemary as "the horrible teens" and other variations.
- Put on a Bus: He and Jeannemary are hurried along by Abigail to whatever afterlife awaits them after she banishes them from Harrow's recreation of Canaan House, as Abigail believes their innocence will make their journey through the River painless. She briefly almost pulls them back before Abigail shuts down that Elseworld hard.
- Satellite Character: Gideon's narration connects with Jeannemary more closely as a fellow cavalier, and Isaac is rarely seen apart from her.
- Technicolor Fire: His unnamed necromantic specialty is conjuring ghostly blue-green fire.
Jeannemary ChaturThe cavalier primary to Isaac, and a knight of Tisis.
- Break the Cutie: She and Isaac take the death of the Fifth very badly, and spend the next few days on edge and exhausted, stalking the halls and paranoid of everyone but Coronabeth and Gideon, until Isaac dies in the labs. Jeannemary absolutely loses it after that in the short time before she is killed as well.
- Childhood Friends: She has been paired with Isaac since they were very young. She notes she hated him at first.
- Child Soldiers: She and Isaac would have been enlisted already if Isaac hadn't gotten the mumps during the recruitment period, and they still intend to enlist the next year. She's fourteen. They would have enlisted even earlier, but Abigail said no.
- Corpsing: In one of Harrow's Elseworlds in Harrow the Ninth, she has difficulty keeping a straight face while saying the provided lines, and has to get Isaac to say some of them for her to get through it without cracking up.
- Easily Embarrassed Youngster: She is constantly embarrassed by everything from Magnuss lame jokes and stories, to anything Isaac says.
- Emo Teen: Described as such by Gideon.
- Foil: Not only is she symbolically a foil for Gideon, being likewise naive and out of her depth at Canaan House, but Gideon herself recognizes the similarities on some level. Her narration always frames her interactions with the Fourth through her relationship with Jeannemary, and Jeannemary's murder is the one that hits Gideon the hardest as she feels the most responsible, and she is the one Gideon mentions most frequently after her death.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Downplayed example with Isaac. Isaac is a sensitive, cautious Squishy Wizard, while Jeannemary is a reckless, violence-loving melee fighter.
- Meaningful Name: Jeannemary derives from Joan of Arc and the Virgin Mary, and like Joan of Arc, Jeannemary dies young.
- Muscle Angst: A very rare female example of wishing her biceps were bigger, after she asks Gideon to flex.
- Phrase Catcher: Gideon's narration almost exclusively refers to her and Isaac as "the horrible teens" and other variations.
- Put on a Bus: She and Isaac are hurried along by Abigail to whatever afterlife awaits them, after she banishes them from Harrow's recreation of Canaan House, as Abigail believes their innocence will make their journey through the River painless. She briefly almost pulls them back before Abigail shuts down that Elseworld hard, though Jeanne tells Magnus to tell Harrow to tell Gideon hi, in case she sees her before any of them do.
- Undying Loyalty: To Isaac. She refuses to leave him alone in any sort of danger, even if it means risking her life.
The Fifth HouseHeart of the Emperor, Watchers over the River
- Color Motif: Brown; they're subdued bureaucrats and academics compared to the other Houses, and have a strong association with family.
- Interrogating the Dead: Their necromantic specialty is in talking to spirits.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Have a reputation for going to great lengths to appear highly civilized, but they have a subdued savagery beneath it, as they routinely deal with the insane hunger of feral ghosts.
Magnus QuinnThe cavalier primary to Abigail, and seneschal of Koniortos Court.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Jeannemary and Isaac are intensely embarrassed by his dad jokes and earnest friendliness. At one point he even begins recounting a story about Jeannemary from when she was five.
- Endearingly Dorky: He is brimming with lame dad jokes and awkward courtesy, and his clumsy attempts to make small talk with the intimidating Ninth solidify him as this.
- Happily Married: To Abigail.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: In the narration for the second book, Harrow describes a group as consisting of "heroes, soldiers, poets, and Magnus".
- Nepotism: He claims that the only reason he gets to be cavalier primary is because he's married to the heir. The Cohort files back this up, and note this is relatively common among the Fifth.
- Nice Guy: He takes pains to make Gideon feel included despite being afraid of her, and is just a pleasant and nice person to everybody around him.
- Non-Action Guy: Easily the weakest fighter of all the cavaliers; in a showmatch with Gideon he's defeated in three moves. He proudly tells the group the story of when five-year-old Jeannemary challenged him to a duel and would have beaten him if she wasn't using tableware. The Cohort's files on him call him a "schoolboy fighter" of no distinction. He looked into joining the Cohort when he was eighteen - much, much older than the minimum enlistment age - but never showed further interest.
- Parental Substitute: To Jeannemary and Isaac, and a bit to Harrow in the second book.
- Pungeon Master: He loves puns, and will make them every chance he gets, even if Coronabeth is the only one who laughs.
- Team Dad: Everyone likes him, and he's a very paternal figure to the Fourth; the one time he is ever shown as anything other than smiling is when Naberius insults Jeannemary's fighting style.
The Sixth HouseThe Emperor's Reason, the Master Wardens
- Color Motif: Grey, befitting their drab exterior yet sharp intellect.
- Dying Town: While not quite as desperate as the Ninth, the Sixth has long had extremely strict compatibility limits as to who within the Sixth can have children with each other, as almost everyone is related to one another. (To give an idea of how strict, there are only six people Camilla is eligible to reproduce with, while Palamedes only has four options. And this is with having an entire division of their military whose primary objective is "get laid by foreigners". )
- Glorified Sperm Donor: The Sixth have something of a reputation for this, which is by design, as the Sixth desperately needs more genetic diversity. All children conceived by a Sixth parent are legally Sixth, and there's an entire division of notably attractive Sixth cavaliers who learn more about erotic poetry than swordfighting so they could go join the Cohort and...diversify the Sixth's gene pool.
- Parents as People: Exaggerated: the Library is a House of academics who have to be bought out to take parental leave and be at least marginally involved in their children's lives. It's also implied that relationships are often purely practical and not necessarily romantic, so they don't really have traditional nuclear families; Sixth reproduction is tightly controlled to prevent inbreeding, so while there is some choice, that choice is usually "these are the only five people on the planet who aren't your cousins, pick one". Palamedes' own mother has a cordial relationship with him, but treats him far more as a peer than a child, only rarely showing motherly affection.
- Psychometry: The House's specialty comes in the form of spirit magic that traces the signs that death and decay leaves on objects.
- Small Town Boredom: The Library isn't exactly a thrilling place for Sixth children to grow up from Camilla's accounts of it. Watching skeletons get covered in orange gunge to do maintainence work on the outside of the station passes for fun simply because there's little else to do.
- Uncertain Doom: Near the very end of Harrow the Ninth, the Emperor is briefly killed, and being tied to Dominicus this might have affected the sun briefly. Since the Sixth House is the closest to the sun, they're the most vulnerable if something goes wrong, and the Emperor wonders if they survived or not.
- Vast Bureaucracy: The Library is described as a vast academic bureaucracy full of infighting between similarily named departments, all covered in a flood of paperwork. There was a protracted interdepartmental battle over the titular room in the "The Mysterious Study of Dr. Sex", and forms (in triplicate) appear at every turn.
Archivist Juno ZetaArchivist in the Sixth House and Palamedes' mother.
- Meaningful Name: Juno is the Roman goddess of childbirth and marriage, while Zeta is the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet.
- Motor Mouth: Rambles at length to Palamedes and Camilla about office gossip before getting to the point when she picks them up for the unsealing of Doctor Sex's study. Palamedes and Camilla can hardly get a word in edgewise, and she doesn't remember to tell them where they're going until she's asked.
- Parents as People: Far more dedicated to her research as an Archivist than being a parental figure to Palamedes, though she still has a polite if distant relationship with him.
- Teen Genius: Formerly; she made Scholar at 15.
The Seventh HouseJoy of the Emperor, the Rose Unblown
- Color Motif: Seafoam green, which connects them both to the living world and the River.
- Victorian Novel Disease: Their necromantic line is prone to a form of blood cancer that the Seventh persists in maintaining throughout the generations because they believe it produces beauty in doing so. The two characters shown actually living with said cancer are not exactly thrilled with this line of thinking.
Dulcinea SeptimusThe heir to the Seventh House, and duchess of Rhodes.
- Ambiguous Situation: Just how Dulcie feels about Palamedes by the time he's twenty goes unsaid. According to Camilla he proposed a year ago and she turned him down "but not on the grounds that she didn't like him" and to some extent because there are rules forbidding necromancers from marrying out-of-House necromancers, and after that the letters became less frequent. She does like him and was looking forwards to meeting him and Camilla in person at Canaan.
- Blood from the Mouth: Frequently coughs blood and worse. She's not expected to live much longer by the time she arrives at Canaan House.
- Christmas Cake: In a letter to Palamedes and Camilla, Dulcinea refers to herself as an "old dog" and an "old hag". She's only seven years older than them and would have been twenty at most when writing the letter, though it may have been a polite rejection of a thirteen-year-old's crush.
- Dead All Along: She was killed by Cytherea before ever reaching Canaan House, and has been impersonated by her ever since.
- Deadpan Snarker: When her ghost appears in Harrow the Ninth, she reveals herself to have quite a dry sense of humor.
- Disability Alibi: Dulcinea Septimus is not seen as a viable suspect for the murders considering her advanced blood cancer barely allows her to walk two paces on her own without collapsing in coughs.
- The Dulcinea Effect: The Duchess of Rhodes is aptly named, thanks to her terminal illness. Gideon is compelled to protect her the second they meet, something deliberately invoked by Cytherea. And it turns out Palamedes Sextus has devoted his life to trying to rescue the real Dulcie from her illness ever since he began trading letters with her twelve years ago. He never even needed to meet her in person to fall in love with her.
- Grin of Audacity: When planning to trap the Sleeper in Harrow's Dream Land, Dulcie grins almost ferally at the chance for revenge.
- Ill Girl: Seventh House nobility deliberately breed to keep terminal blood cancer in the family, because it lets their necromancers fuel their magic with their own dying bodies instead of siphoning ambient thanergy. The ideal is to live to about fifty and to be mostly tumors by that point. However, Dulcineas case left her too frail to use necromancy at all, and she wasn't expected to live past 25, an age she's two years past. She ended up not getting the chance to die of her disease, as Cytherea killed her on the way to the First. The second book reveals that she can do necromancy, but it's almost entirely limited to managing her condition.
- Impersonation-Exclusive Character: In Gideon the Ninth, courtesy of Cytherea having killed and replaced her before her arrival at Canaan house. Zig-zagged in Harrow the Ninth when Harrowhark meets her ghost and observes that the ruse wouldn't have worked on anyone who'd met her before.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Terminally ill Dulcinea is prone to coughing blood and worse. The actual Dulcie becomes increasingly less visibly ill over time, thanks to already being dead. Cytherea says they have the same illness and Dulcie's is as advanced as Cytherea was.
- Meaningful Name: An idealized woman who doesn't really exist. The real Dulcinea goes instead by "Dulcie".
- The Nicknamer: Refers to everyone with nicknames, including herself as "Dulcie". Palamedes seems to have picked up "Cam" from her.
- Something About a Rose: Defied. While Cytherea used the motif as her, the real Dulcie is sick of roses.
- Throwing Off the Disability: Cytherea-as-Dulcinea, for all her helpless affect, is extremely physically capable. (Although she is sick, and vulnerable because of it, it doesn't impede her as much as she pretends.)
- When the real Dulcie appears in the second book she seems to be in better and better health as the book progresses, leaving her wheelchair and nasal shunt behind. However, she is still sick and does still sometimes have coughing fits and very little physical ability. As a ghost she, like the others, has all the limitations that came with their bodies — it seems her image of herself was ill, just not in as bad of a shape as she was when she was murdered.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Played straight but lampshaded. Dulcie was genuinely an extremely nice woman who treated everyone well. Palamades notes that when he first wrote to her he was eight and she was fifteen, but she showed endless tact and sympathy towards him, a child who wanted to save her. On the other hand:Dulcie: The only thing that ever stopped me being exactly who I wanted was the worry I would soon be dead ... and now I am dead, Reverend Daughter, and I am sick of roses, and I am horny for revenge.
- Walking Spoiler: The fact that she was Dead All Along and then still returns in Harrow the Ninth spoils major twists in both books.
Protesilaus EbdomaThe cavalier primary to Dulcinea, and a knight of Rhodes.
- Chain Pain: His offhand is a chain, something which is considered an extremely difficult offhand to master. Dulcinea even notes that he was indeed a very skilled cavalier before his untimely death; when he uses it to fight the Sleeper, he's able to deflect bullets.
- Dead All Along: He died before ever reaching Canaan House, and has been puppeted by Cytherea ever since.
- Empty Shell: He's noted as being often dead-eyed, compared to a sleep-walker, and rarely responds to much, though he is quick to help Dulcinea and defend her physically. Which makes sense, given he's dead, and his defense of Dulcinea was really just a way for Cytherea to prevent her cover from being blown.
- Flat Character: He is repeatedly called basic and boring. Which makes sense, considering he's not much more than a reanimated corpse. His actual reappearance in Harrow the Ninth subverts this, making Harrow wonder how any of them could've mistaken his empty body for a real person. She does however come to think of him as boring in a whole new way - he's just so dutiful and heroic.
- Gentle Giant: He's absolutely massive and a tremendously skilled warrior, Happily Married with children, writes poetry and breeds flowers, and is devoted to Dulcie. The Cohort complains that they can't understand why he was paired with a dying necromancer and speculate that it was meant to be a short-term pairing scaffolding him to a new necro for the long term but Dulcinea held on for longer than expected.
- Hero of Another Story: Judith's files mention Protesilaus joining the Cohort at eighteen, touring on three different front lines, and having an impressive reputation that's referenced by other characters in the first book, disappointed that he's not living up to it. He's also the oldest person officially traveling to Canaan House.
- Impersonation-Exclusive Character: In Gideon the Ninth, courtesy of Cytherea puppeting his zombie around since before his arrival at Canaan house. Zig-zagged in Harrow the Ninth when Harrowhark meets his ghost and is amazed that anyone could have fallen for the ruse.
- Meaningful Name: Protesilaus is the first hero to die at Troy, and here was dead before he arrived.
- The Quiet One: He really doesn't say much. Even when he actually appears as himself.
- The Rival: To Ortus, as a far better poet and an actual warrior.
- Warrior Poet: He writes poetry and breeds flowers, and was, before his death, one of the greatest living cavaliers.
The Eighth HouseKeepers of the Tome, the Forgiving House
- Color Motif: Pure white and nothing but.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Their necromantic specialty is soul siphoning, which even the Emperor has warned against using.
- Holier Than Thou: The defining characteristic of the zealous Eighth House.Palamedes: The Eighth House thinks there's right and there's wrong, and by a series of happy coincidences they always end up being right.
- Ironic Name: They're called "the forgiving house" but tend toward the Knight Templar.
- Light Is Not Good: The Eighth's shtick; they dress in pure white and have austere living habits, but they also practice one of the most dangerous sub-disciplines of necromancy, soul siphoning, and treat their cavaliers as little more than human batteries.
- Living Battery: What soul siphoning amounts to, sending a cavalier's soul elsewhere and draining the energy that flows into their empty vessel. Where exactly the soul gets sent is unclear, but an incidental comment from Augustine suggests that it is Hell itself.
Silas OctakiseronThe heir to the Eighth House, and master templar of the White Glass.
- Badass Baritone: It's noted by Gideon's narration that he has a rather deep voice.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Utilizes soul siphoning, which all the other Houses view unfavorably (from unease to outright contempt). It's not exactly banned, but even the Emperor warns against using it. Teacher warns Silas that siphoning in the haunted Canaan House is sheer lunacy. He's absolutely right.
- Demoted to Extra: After being one of the most prominent necromancers in Gideon the Ninth, he appears only briefly in Harrow the Ninth, throwing himself off the cliffs of the fake Canaan House to avoid Harrow's liminal space, with Abigail alluding to this having terrible consequences for his soul.
- Disney Villain Death: In Harrow's Dream Land, he's last seen jumping off the edge after killing the fake Corona. Given that he was an actual ghost, Abigail fears what became of him.
- Foil: To Harrow. They're both highly religious, wield outsized authority for their age, and have a distinctly parasitic relationship to their cavaliers. Silas always wears white, and his necromancy is associated with souls and light, while Harrow wears nothing but black, and her necromancy centers on bones. Unlike Harrow, who deeply regrets the way she's treated Gideon, and eventually even tries to sacrifice herself to save Gideon, Silas overrides Colum's will constantly, and ends up getting them both killed due to his hubris.
- Holier Than Thou: The Eighth House has a reputation for zealotry, and Silas embodies this. At Canaan House, he's of the opinion that he's the only "pure" person present and it's up to him to force the path of divine righteousness on everyone else. Despite everyone's assumptions, he ends up hoarding keys primarily to prevent others from studying the Lyctor labs, viewing the mere existence of the Lyctor trials as blasphemous.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: People spend most of the book warning him about the danger of soul siphoning, which Silas brushes off. When he starts siphoning Colum against his will to fight Ianthe, Colum's empty body ends up possessed, and stabs him through the throat.
- Hypocrite: There are several necromantic practices which Silas denounces as heresy, but Dulcinea notes that the only one the Emperor has openly cautioned against is soul siphoning, Silas's own speciality. And the process of becoming a Lyctor, in which a necromancer devours their cavalier's soul and uses it as a renewable energy source (and which Silas also condemns as heresy) is basically just a scaled up version of soul siphoning.
- Irony: The heir to the Forgiving House is about as forgiving as a dagger point.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While he's a haughty jerk quick to call anything he disagrees with blasphemous, he's entirely right in his suspicion that the death of the Ninth's children was intentional and that the cover story of a flu didn't make any sense.
- In the second book, his brief appearance has him seemingly aware of the situation and that Harrow is already a Lyctor, though he doesn't explain anything clearly before jumping from a cliff and seemingly going back into the River. Additionally, in the first book he believed swallowing and burning a cavalier's soul to become a Lyctor was blasphemous - and the Resurrection Beasts in the second are out to try to kill anyone who's committed that "sin".
- Knight Templar: Silas does everything he does because he genuinely believes he's in the right in the eyes of the Emperor. Calling things blasphemous is practically his catchphrase.
- Tautological Templar: Most of his actions can be summarized as "since I'm right, I can do whatever I want." He insists that he is the only morally pure person in the trial, and therefore sees nothing wrong with confiscating keys and doing whatever is necessary to prevent the others from ascending. When Colum promises Gideon her safety, Silas breaks that promise without a second thought, since a promise to an "honorless dog" is irrelevant. Colum, notably, refuses to cooperate with him on this.Palamedes Sextus: The Eighth House thinks there's right and there's wrong, and by a series of happy coincidences they always end up being right.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Colum states that Silas used to look up to him as a child, and that he loved Silas then, but that he can't stand the man he's become.
- Younger Than They Look: He's only 16, making him the second youngest necromancer at Canaan House, and much younger than most of the other heirs he lectures.
Colum AshtThe cavalier primary to Silas, and a templar of the White Glass.
- Ambiguous Situation: Unlike the other dead, he never makes any sort of appearance in Harrow's Dream Land. Given siphoning is said to operate by sending a soul "elsewhere", it's possible he never ended up in the River in the first place.
- Demonic Possession: Teacher warns early on that this could happen to him if Silas soul-siphons him in Canaan House. This warning comes to fruition during the fight with Ianthe, and leads to both his and Silas's deaths.
- Exorcist Head: His head turns 180 degrees while he's possessed.
- Eye Colour Change: After being possessed, his eyes turn completely black.
- Hidden Depths: Despite being born and bred purely to serve as a Living Battery, Colum is actually a highly skilled and dangerous cavalier. He also has a sensibility and intelligence that surprises Gideon, and helps provide key insights into the mystery of who was burnt in the incinerator.
- I Gave My Word: When he confiscates Gideon's weapons in the Eighth's quarters, he promises on his honor that no harm will come to her. He takes this very seriously: see below.
- Lightning Bruiser: Gideon expects Colum to be able to hit really hard; after all, he's a big guy. She is surprised at how fast he can move while doing it, though.
- Living Battery: His primary role as cavalier to Silas, and something he was born to do even before Silas was concieved; it's also notably left him with a battered, aged appearance despite being younger than Magnus.
- Meaningful Name: His given name derives from a sacrificial dove (Columba), while his house name very blatantly refers to his usage as a Living Battery. In the Nine Houses last names aren't inheritable and are given deliberately — just as Ianthe and Corona both being Tridentarius indicates their father's desire to have them be a linked pair, Colum and his two brothers (who also have sacrificial first names) are all Asht, indicating both their purpose to be interchangeable depending on Silas' blood type, and the fact that they were all born to be consumed.
- Many Spirits Inside of One: After Silas siphons his soul to empower himself for the fight with Ianthe, multiple spirits possess Colum.He now moved like there were six people inside him, and none of those six people had ever been inside a human being before.
- MookFace Turn: Colum silently abides by many of Silas's decisions that anger him, but he won't let Silas attack an unarmed Gideon after Colum had promised their meeting would not be violent.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Colum has lived in this trope for years, disliking the direction Silas has taken, but obeying him anyway out of duty.
- Odd Name Out: His given name breaks the Religious and Mythological Theme Naming that almost everyone else in the cast follows.
- Too Many Mouths: While he's possessed, his eyeballs disappear and turn into mouths.
- Younger Than They Look: Years of siphoning have taken a marked toll on his body; he's noted as having a washed out, jaundiced tinge to his skin and seems like a fairly battered middle aged man, despite only being in his early 30s.
- Eldritch Abomination: Murdered planetary souls, feral with grief and madness, shaped into wildly different forms that appear different to everyone who sees them.
- Genius Loci: All planets are subtly such, not fully conscious but full of memories and complexity from their formation and long existences.
- Mook Maker: Mature Beasts are accompanied by thousands of Heralds, human-sized mix-and-match monsters made out of the dead matter of a Resurrection Beast's corpus, capable of threatening a Lyctor physically even as they wrestle with the Beast spiritually. They aren't independent creatures, but extensions of the Beast itself, like fingers. The ones spawned by Number Seven look like giant insects made out of non-insect parts and attack the Mithraeum by engulfing it in their bodies and trying to cook it from the inside, like bees killing a hornet.
- No Kill Like Overkill: A full-fledged Resurrection Beast requires it. The primary way that the Lyctors fight them is by physically dragging them to the mouths of Hell in the River.
- Planet Eater: In their grief and hunger, Beasts devour the energy of other planets as they wander through the universe.
- Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: Lesser Beasts form from planetary deaths and can be put down rather easily by a single Lyctor. It takes thousands of years of consuming other planets to accumulate into a true Resurrection Beast, which are practically small planetoids in and of themselves, and require multiple Lyctors to fight on even terms, let alone attempt to kill.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Fully mature beasts appear as indistinct swirls of madness and ghosts to those who encounter them, with each seeing them slightly differently.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the relatively recent past, they found a Herald of one of the remaining Beasts and killed it, despite not having any necromancy. And then they suffered the madness it brought to fashion it's body into anti-necromancer weapons.
- Homeworld Evacuation: They're the descendants of humanity that left Earth behind. The Empire was formed by those they abandoned to die with the planet.
- Hypocrite: The Emperor views them as such because they claim to be avenging the murder of Earth when they themselves left it to die.
- La Résistance: Portrayed as such by the Emperor. They're not. Wake's letters make clear that they're an entire civilization in their own right, fighting back against the Empire both in self-defense and to avenge the death of Earth. Camilla telling Harrow "You call them Blood of Eden," suggests it's not even their real name.
- Meaningful Name: The "Eden" in their name means Earth.
- The Mole: Has a number of converted agents within the Empire, including Camilla Hect, Augustine the First, and Mercymorn the First.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Viewed as terrorists and revolutionaries within the Empire, or at least by most.