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Characters / The Machineries of Empire

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The Machineries of Empire has a lot of characters, most of whom are kind of scary. Spoilers for Ninefox Gambit unmarked!

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Kel Cheris/Ajewan Cheris

An infantry captain with a talent for mathematics and independent (read: heretical) thinking.

Shuos Jedao/Garach Jedao Shkan

A military genius, mass-murderer, and currently, a ghost. He was a brilliant general whose last battle ended with a massive murder-suicide of both his enemy and his own fleet, and now he's back.
  • Animal Motifs: Foxes, like the rest of his faction. Also sometimes geese.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: Jedao Two has no conscious memory of events beyond his teens, but still has all of the tactical and physical combat skills that he gained over his military career.
  • Boxed Crook: After Hellspin, his mind is placed in the Black Cradle, and brought out whenever the Heptarchate/Hexarchate faces a military emergency.
  • Cloning Gambit: The Jedao in Revenant Gun is a clone created by Kujen, with only the original's teenage memories.
  • Complete Immortality: Jedao Two, because moths don't age and have a Healing Factor. Kujen speculates that jumping into a star might kill him.
  • Death Seeker: Essentially longs for death all the time after Hellspin, but he has things to do.
  • Dramatic Irony: In Revenant Gun, Jedao Two intermittently wonders about his Academy best friend/lover Ruo and what he would think of various things, whereas we know from earlier books that Ruo was forced into suicide a short time after Jedao Two's conscious memories end, because of Jedao's political naivety.
  • The Dreaded: Thanks to both his military talents and his mass murder.
  • Healing Factor: Jedao Two has one as a humanoid moth.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Jedao Two — a humanoid, completely inhuman entity with superhuman moth abilities such as an incredible healing factor, the ability to sense gravitational distortions created by mass, and spacewarp. When this comes out the people who were already scared and revolted by him because of who he is are even more so.
  • Iconic Item: his Fingerless Gloves.
  • Killed Off for Real: At the end of Ninefox Gambit. His actual status is ambiguous until most of the way through Raven Strategem.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: He's a revenant, which means he's either in the black cradle, or has to be attached to a living anchor.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Probably the best general in the hexarchate, so of course he had a psychotic break and killed everyone.
  • Posthumous Character: Technically, he's dead.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: He want to bring down the oppressive, murderous hexarchate. Too bad his methods involve so much bloodshed....
  • Trickster Mentor: To Cheris in Ninefox Gambit. At the end of Revenant Gun, Mikodez is trying to make Jedao Two into this to the entire Shuos, with the mission of giving a caste of people devoted to espionage, counter-espionage and assassination an ethical code.


Kel Ragath

A historian and infantry colenel, assigned to Cheris' fleet during the siege of Scattered Needles.
  • Hero of Another Story: He survives Kel Command's attempted purge, and is now Scattered Needles.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: When one of his soldiers questions a strange (sacrificial) order, he explains the rationale in person.

Kel Nerevor

Commander of the Unspoken Law, the cindermoth Cheris and Jedao use as their flagship during the siege of Scattered Needles.
  • Action Girl: Despite being in charge of a cindermoth, she's a good duelist and jumps at the chance to duel with Cheris.
  • Badass in Charge: She's badass, and she's the captain of one of the hexarchate's six cindermoths..
  • Hot-Blooded: Very much so.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jedao needed a sacrificial hostage. She volunteered.
  • Worthy Opponent: Seems to consider Cheris one after their duel.

Kel Khiruev

General of the Swanknot swarm.
  • Four-Star Badass: She's in charge for a reason! Holds her own even when Cheris is around.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Likes tinkering with machines. Comes in handy when she tries to assassinate Jedao.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Once she invokes Vrae Tala, she starts dying. Luckily, she survives.
  • Undying Loyalty: Like all Kel, formation instinct means she must obey the orders of a higher-ranked Kel until Cheris makes it voluntary.

Kel Brezan

Khiruev's aide.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Being simultaneously ceremonial head of state and ultimate military commander of the Compact causes him a lot of stress and moral conflict.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: His attitude after he realises what being in charge of the Compact means, after he uses a biological weapon to deny a disputed system to the Protectorate, possibly killing civilians if they weren't evacuated in time, and then an idealistic university student commits an imaginative form of Seppuku in front of him.
  • Four-Star Badass: Lieutenant Colonel to start, eventually brevetted to high general.
  • Only Sane Man: More or less.
  • Transgender: He's a trans man.
  • Undying Loyalty: Like all Kel, formation instinct means he must obey the orders of a higher-ranked Kel except he can, because he's a crashhawk.
  • You Are in Command Now: As the only Kel around who isn't immediately stuck obeying Jedao, he gets sent back to take back control of the swarm. Since he outranks Jedao/Cheris, he's currently technically the one in charge, despite his brevet status and crashhawk-ness.

Kel Inesser

The single most respected Kel General in frontline command.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Briefly mentioned in the first two books, she becomes a major character in the final novel.
  • Enemy Mine: Teams up with Brezan when Kujen reappears and launches his attack.
  • Four-Star Badass: Under the hexarchate, achieved the practically unheard of distinction, for a living person, of having her cindermoth flagship named after her personal emblem.
  • The Generalissimo: Military dictator of the Protectorate, the more traditional and totalitarian of the hexarchate's successor states.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Despite being dictator of the totalitarian Protectorate, she's a fairly reasonable and non-malicious person, and certainly preferable to Kujen.


Shuos Mikodez

The current Shuos hexarch. Has a (deserved) reputation as dangerous ditz.
  • Affably Evil: For a certain definition of evil, and a certain definition of affable.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Par the course for high-ranking Shuos.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Has managed to remain hexarch for decades, in a faction where Klingon Promotion is the norm. Also surprisingly invested in his pet green onion.
  • Functional Addict: Relies on stimulant drugs to function on the bare minimum of sleep.
  • Keet: Weirdly enough.
  • Moral Sociopathy: He's very sociopathic, but believes intellectually that running a society with some pretensions to decency and justice, and doing your best to treat people kindly on an individual level, is more effective in the long run that tyranny and sadism.
  • Murder, Inc.: He runs one.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: More like Obfuscating Eccentricity, though some of it is real.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: After he supposedly assassinated two of his own cadets after being promoted to Hexarch, just to keep his hand in and to keep the others sharp. Actually, they were part of a heretical plot, but he thought that letting people think he did it for fun would be better for his reputation among both followers and outsiders than admitting to having had heresy in his faction.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He genuinely believes that this is a better approach than arbitrary tyranny.

Shuos Zehun

Mikodez's assistant, who has served multiple hexarchs previous to Mikodez.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: A former Shuos instructor, now Mikodez's personal assistant.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: A lot of their job seems to involve snarking at Mikodez until he does something, or making him eat something other than sugar.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Well, they do like their cats. Said cats are also all named after famous assassins.
  • Transgender: They're nonbinary ("alt", in hexarchate terms).


Nirai Kujen

The immortal inventor of the black cradle, responsible for most of the hexarchate's tech — and therefore, its social structure.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: He has a brief but significant appearance in Ninefox Gambit, is a Present Absence in Raven Strategem, and then becomes a major character in Revenant Gun.
  • The Dandy: For a ghost, he pays a lot of attention to his looks, and insists on only having pretty anchors.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In universe, after a drama exposing the truth about him is produced, it's revealed that his fictional version has fans due to snarky dialogue and a sexy actor.
  • Dying Curse: To Jedao: "No one else will ever love you".
  • Freudian Excuse: He had a particularly unpleasant childhood, involving warfare, prostitution, and then being put in a Kel orphanage that was OK in material terms but lacking in love.
  • Mad Scientist: Definitely.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Nirai Faian is nominally in charge of his faction, but he's actually the one running the show. Until he unexpectedly disappears.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Everything from math to starship design to psych surgery. He has had nearly 1,000 years to study. Subverted by the fact that several of his achievements are not as impressive as they seem: his first psych surgery Went Terribly Wrong; attempting to make himself into a functional sociopath instead made him into a psychopath and he has been shown to be fallible, especially at psych surgery. The starship design is actually just breeding FTL-capable aliens into draft animals.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: He's a revenant, which means he's either in the black cradle, or has to be attached to a living anchor.
  • Posthumous Character: Technically, he's dead.
  • Sissy Villain: He is very effeminate, very pretty, and very evil. The Cast Full of Gay means that this trope doesn't have the nasty implications it often does.
  • The Unfettered: Surprisingly enough, he started out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist. But then he deliberately turned himself into a sociopath because he thought that a conscience would prevent him from doing the evil things that were necessary for his benevolent objectives, not realising how severely Motive Decay would set in.


Andan Tseya

An Andan agent sent with Brezan to assassinate Jedao.

  • Hufflepuff House: They are the only faction who don't have a single character who even vaguely approaches three-dimensionality. (According to Word of God, because Lee thought the series was dark enough without being full of graphic scenes of torture and mutilation, making them the exact opposite of the Trope Namer.)



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