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Characters / The Queen's Thief

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Due to the sheer number of spoilers present in this series, spoilers are unmarked except for those from the latest book, Return of the Thief. If you haven't read the full series, we strongly suggest that you do so before proceeding. You will be spoiled. You've been warned.

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  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • When Costis makes his "which is more unlikely, your deaths or an heir?" comment, Eugenides finds it hilarious. Of course, there's an extra layer of amusement for him because at that point, everyone in the palace incorrectly thinks he has never once visited his wife's bedroom.
    • He also laughs quite a bit when he looks at his empty wineglass and Attolia says "take mine." She killed her first husband by poisoning her own wine.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The only one who can invoke this from him is Attolia, in her very scary The High Queen persona.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The escape by this method didn't work as well as it should have, thanks to interference from a certain someone. See Cosmic Plaything.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking
  • Badass Back
  • Badass Boast: "I can steal anything," followed by "I can do anything I want!" with a helping of Punctuated! For! Emphasis!.
  • Badass Bookworm: He's very knowledgeable about the old myths but also keeps up with the current plays and other scholastic affairs.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: He wanted to marry his love. He married her, along with all the responsibilities and obligations that came with the position.
  • Break the Cutie: Broken horribly and tragically in the second book. He comes back, but it's still noted afterwards that his health isn't what it was.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Subverted. Initially he and everyone else thinks that a one-handed thief is no thief at all, but as the magus says, he can still do something.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He pisses off everyone. Everyone. The family member who's the fondest of him says that being constantly angry with him is the correct reaction. But he is the best thief.
  • The Chessmaster: Particularly in King of Attolia. He promises Attolia that he can bring down Erondites' house in six months and it only takes him 98 days.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: As he tells Phresine, he has to keep his distaste for killing people a secret because he'll have to do it whether he wants to or not, since it comes with being King.
  • Consummate Liar: In the words of Eddis: "He always lies to me. He lies to himself. If Eugenides talked in his sleep, he'd lie then too."
  • Cosmic Plaything: The gods had a hand in some of his great, as well as his not so great achievements.
  • Crazy-Prepared
  • Dance of Romance: With Attolia in The King of Attolia.
  • Determinator: As Ornon points out in the third book, Gen will whine, he'll complain, he'll wriggle and procrastinate, but in spite of all that he will never quit.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In Queen of Attolia. He is in love with Attolia, granted, but the way he humiliates her after she cuts off his hand is definitely karmic.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Sounis (Sophos' uncle) is paranoid that Gen will sneak into his room and kill him in his sleep. Attolia hides it better but had similar concerns. Justified as Gen proved he was perfectly capable.
    • When he truly loses his temper everyone around him starts calculating minimum safe distance.
    • Revealed to be this to everyone in Return Of The Thief. Eddis' council were so worried that they voted to have him killed pre-series, and their allies in the Greater Penisula betray them because Eugenides was possibly as big a threat to them as the Mede.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: After his episode of Break the Cutie, his long hair is cut short and it stays that way for the rest of the series.
  • First-Person Smartass: In the first book only. After that he's just a smartass.
  • Gallows Humor: Thieves traditionally fall to their deaths, as he's happy to tell Costis while he is drunk-hopping on crenelations.
  • Gentleman Thief: Although he appears to be a common street thief in the first book, he's quite insistent that he's from a respectable family. From Eddis' royal family in point of fact.
  • Guile Hero: Basically whenever you think you know what Gen is up to, you don't. And even if you do, you don't know the half of it.
  • Hairy Hammerspace: Part of his first plot: hiding something essential in his long hair.
  • Happily Married: After a lot of trial and suffering, he and Irene—that is, the Queen of Attolia.
  • Heroic BSoD/Heroic RRoD
  • He's Back: Makes a spectacular and ground-breaking return after his episode of Angst in the second book.
  • Hook Hand: From the second book onwards. Occasionally he wears a false hand, but the hook doubles as a weapon.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Eugenides is always aware of what everyone in his immediate vicinity is doing at any given point. He often pretends to be half-asleep to throw them off.
  • I Know Where You Live: In the first couple of books, he routinely visits Sounis and Attolia's private apartments and shifts things around (or leaves gifts) to show that he's been there. In the final book his threats against the Braeling king include several of the king's personal effects, making it graphically clear that he has already "visited" at some point.
  • Impossible Thief: He goes from a lowly thief in the prisons of Sounis at the beginning of the series to the sovereign of all three countries by the fourth book of the series; Eddis, Sounis and Attolia. Though to be fair, he was in prison by his own choice and only pretending to be "lowly".
  • Ill Boy: Despite his athleticism and martial prowess, Eugenides is prone to bouts of ill-health. Partly this is because the traumatic amputation of his hand shattered his health, but it's implied to also be the result of frequent close contact with gods.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: How the first book came into being, apparently. Sophos does something similar to create A Conspiracy of Kings.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He enjoys provoking the hell out of people, is rude and sarcastic, and generally infuriates everyone he meets, but he's still a good friend who's trying to help the peninsular countries the best he can.
  • Jumped at the Call: When it comes to spying in Attolia. It loses him a hand.
  • Leap of Faith: He believes he'll only ever die of a fall if his god himself drops him. And once your god betrays you, you really don't have any hope left anyway.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Spends most of his time being a pain in the ass, but when you put his back to the wall watch out. The magus, Attolia, and the Mede found this out in different ways.
  • Love at First Sight: Towards the Queen of Attolia. He says that this kind of love doesn't last, mind, but he spies on her enough that it just gets stronger.
  • The Masochism Tango: With Attolia. First he fell in love with her from afar. He spent a lot of time sneaking around and watching her. Then she cut off his hand, causing him to go into a deep depression. Eventually he recovers, only to kidnap her and propose marriage.
  • Meaningful Name: Eugenides is also the name of the god of thieves, and as he's the Queen's Thief, it's his name as well as his title.
  • Mistaken for Romance: A number of people are ready to believe that he and his cousin Eddis are romantically involved. They emphatically aren't (and she says that she'd probably strangle him if they did marry) but in the second book feed the rumor mill to misdirect Attolia and Sounis.
  • No Hero to His Valet: As much as his childhood friend and cousin Eddis respects him, she still says explicitly that she would sooner strangle him than marry him. She also tells the woman he's in love with how much of a liar he is.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: This is how he conducts his affairs. He routinely lies and breaks his promises to take it easy if he thinks he can get away with it.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the first book. Funny thing is, he's the narrator, using the first-person perspective. Somehow he manages to fool the reader without leaving out anything that would be noticed. This also comes into play in the third book (although this time the reader is in on it), wherein the court in Attolia are lead to think he's an ineffectual Upper-Class Twit.
  • Pals with Jesus: Eugenides is noted for not only talking to his gods, but for having them talk back. Of course, they tell him things like "STOP WHINING" and "GO TO SLEEP", which he finds to be rather anticlimatic.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: He's noted to be small (shorter than Attolia, for example) but he's a very effective fighter.
  • Quit Your Whining: When he spends a little too long lamenting his lost hand and the resulting war and visits the temple, the gods themselves tell him to get over it.
  • Reluctant Ruler: He married his wife because he loved her, not because he wanted her throne.]]
  • Reluctant Warrior: He hates killing and refused to follow his father into the army, which caused a lot of strife between them. But the final refusal came after years of learning how to fight.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Eugenides is part of Eddis' royal family. His first action in the series is to enact a plan that involves disguise, trickery, and artifact robbery. This doesn't change much when he becomes king of Attolia; he continues to conduct espionage personally whenever his health will allow.
  • Secret Stab Wound: After being wounded in King of Attolia, he makes such a whining, hammy ruckus about how much pain he's in all the way across the palace that everyone is just exasperated or amused. Only when they reach his room do they realize that his wound is much larger and deeper than they thought because he'd carefully bunched his clothes to conceal the injury and the blood. Costis realizes that his childish complaining was a far more effective smokescreen than stoically gritting his teeth would have been. (A point further made when Eugenides is convinced to stoically grit his teeth, and only then does Irene faint.)
  • Sherlock Scan: Particularly prominent in the first book (which is from his point of view), where he notices all sorts of small details about the magus and his party.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Although, thanks to the Narrative Profanity Filter, not much of it ends up on the actual page outside of the occasional gods damn. Costis' narration in King of Attolia mentions that he's usually very creative.
  • The Snark Knight: This is a main reason why everyone wants to hit him. He snarks at himself just as much.
  • The So-Called Coward: He doesn't like fighting, which makes people tend to assume that he's a coward who isn't good at it. They are very wrong.
  • Scars Are Forever: In escaping from the Attolians in The Thief, a flying stone chip leaves a feather-shaped cut on his cheek. The magus sympathetically hopes it'll heal cleanly, but Eugenides recognizes it as a mark of approval from his patron god (albeit a bloody one). He also has scars from Sounis' shackles.
  • Stalker with a Crush: To Attolia. He fell in love with her while spying on her for Eddis and soon began spying on her in the times when she had the mask off.
  • Street Urchin: See Obfuscating Stupidity above.
  • Tantrum Throwing: When he loses his temper he has a tendency to pitch whatever objects are nearby as hard as he can.
  • Trickster Mentor: Towards Sophos, and towards some degree towards Costis. He makes liberal use of the Batman Gambit and Reverse Psychology, setting them up to do things by pissing them off.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: His full list of titles, as of the end of the series: Attolis Eugenides Eugenideides, By the will of the Great Goddess, annux over Hephestia's Peninsula, king of Attolia, king over Sounis, and Eddis, king from the Macheddic Mountains to the sea, king from the Melenzetti Pass to the River Lusimina, and by my oath to my god, now and for my life, Thief of Eddis.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: At first, he despised fighting and killing like his father did, but it soon became a necessary skill for him to keep his position and his life. He also turned out like his mother and grandfather, who were both thieves.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In The Thief, like you wouldn’t believe. See also Obfuscating Stupidity, above.
  • With Friends Like These...: Anyone he has any sort of affection for—romantic, friendship, respect—can expect to have their lives upended and pulled inside-out by his machinations.
  • You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry: He tells Yorn Fordad that if he ends the battle alive but dethroned, then the rulers of all the Greater Powers will die choking on their own blood and that the king of the Braels will be the last to go

Eddis Helen

  • Altar Diplomacy: Much of her problems come from whether or not she's going to marry Sounis. Sounis and the magus plot to force her hand in the first book, but even in the second and fourth she admits she may have to in order to strengthen the coast against Mede invasion, even though he's an unpleasant man. When Sophos becomes Sounis the question becomes less odious, but still not easy.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: She's first seen wearing the same kind of things that her soldiers do, and she's got a broken nose from her life among them.
  • Badass Army: She has one. She also leads it. As Attolia puts it at one point, Eddisians have little to do in winter but get better at making war.
  • Boyish Short Hair: As part of her practical, unfeminine appearance.
  • The Chessmaster: Works with Eugenides to manipulate and spy on the Peninsula in order to keep herself and her country strong and independent. One Attolian soldier in the third book remarks that she has to be every bit as cunning and ruthless as Attolia to achieve that.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The second book reveals that the gods have been sending her dreams of an eruption of the Sacred Mountain that will kill everyone if she doesn't empty the country to the lowlands. It's not going to happen for another century, but given the event she has to start fixing it now.
  • Ironic Name: She's explicitly not beautiful. Her name is Helen.
  • Meaningful Name: Of the ironic variety. It's made quite clear that her beauty is all on the inside.
  • Mistaken for Romance: A number of people in the second book are under the impression that she and Eugenides are Kissing Cousins, or want to be. They decide to play up the rumors in order to throw the Attolian and Sounisian spies off of what they're actually planning.
  • Modest Royalty: She prefers soldiers' clothing and only wears finery when she's forced to look opulent for publicity purposes.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Eddis is a very active monarch and probably the most pleasant in personality, though she admits her circumstances are much more fortunate than the rulers of Attolia and Sounis.
  • She Is the King: The female variant is actually "Eddia", but she deliberately took Eddis.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Tomboy to Attolia's Girly Girl.
  • Unexpected Successor: She had two older brothers, but they died suddenly of illness and left her the sole heir.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Members of her court and her personal attendants are much less formal with her than those around Attolia and Sounis. Their loyalty is also considerably stronger, and their familiarity is part of the general character of Eddisians.

The Minister of War

  • Actually, I Am Him: When the minister makes a dismissive comment and the magus defends Eugenides as a son any father would be proud of, all of the Eddisans in the room are highly amused.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He is every bit as capable of fighting as the soldiers under his command.
  • Badass Army: He leads one.
  • Four-Star Badass
  • Modest Royalty: He is part of the royal family and head of the armed forces, but he wears an ordinary uniform with no rank insignia on it. This means he's not recognized for who he is by Nahuseresh.
  • No Name Given: Throughout the series, he is only named as Minister of War or Eugenides' father. Return of the Thief reveals that it is Hector.
  • Papa Wolf: Downplayed example, since he is also The Stoic, and given his position and the political elements of the series, he cannot actually strike out at the woman who cut off his son's hand. He does make it as clear to her as he can that he is very angry with her for it.
  • Shoot the Dog: When he and Eugenides are taken prisoner, he uses his bonds to strangle his son until Attolia stops it—not because he hates Eugenides, but because it would be better for Eddis and because he's afraid Eugenides will suffer even more than he did the first time.
  • The Stoic: According to Eddis, he, like his son, will not admit when he is in pain.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Evidently, given that he married Eugenides' thiefly mother.

Ambassador Ornon

  • Ambadassador: We learn at the end of King of Attolia that Eugenides routinely practices swordplay with Ornon and that Ornon never hesitates to strike if he gets past Eugenides' guard.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Thinks this in King of Attolia. Ornon had always wanted to see Eugenides humiliated, but seeing him swallow ever insult and humiliation hurled at him by the Attolians soon makes him seriously worried. (It's all in accordance with one of Eugenides' plans.)
  • Noodle Incident: How he lost his sheep, and much of his wealth with them. Gen was certainly responsible, given that Ornon told him to stop baa-ing like a lamb whenever Ornon walks into a room. (Gen barks like a sheepdog instead.)
  • Shoot the Dog: When Eugenides is caught by Attolia, Ornon deliberately does everything he can to inflame Attolia into an execution on the spot so that she won't torture Gen for information—and nearly succeeds, but for Nahuseresh giving her the idea of the traditional punishment for thieves. Gen considers this to have been just what Ornon should have done, because he would have been "safely dead."
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He is always mentioned to severely dislike Eugenides, but the specific reasons are left mostly unstated and never does anything substantial—he just takes any opportunity he can to annoy him. It's also possible that the extent of Ornon's antipathy is somewhat played up for the benefit of others.
  • Worthy Opponent: Describes his relationship with Eugenides as "a great deal of hard-won respect for each other."


Attolia Irene

  • Afraid of Blood: Not notably. But she does faint when she sees her husband's blood and realizes how severe his injury is.
  • Arranged Marriage: In her backstory. Her dad fobbed her off on another house as she was only a minor princess.
  • Badass Army: She has one that's absolutely devoted to her, in the form of the Queen's guard.
  • Big Brother Is Watching : This quote from the third book sums it up.
    Attolia: "I have trusted you, and no, that does not mean that I have not had you watched and that I do not have spies that watch my spies, and spies even that watch those."
  • Broken Bird: She was pawned off on an asshole husband, and after she took control of her country, she had no choice except to be totally ruthless to maintain her power thanks to the misogyny on top of the fact that her barons are untrustworthy power-grubbers.
  • The Chessmaster: She's playing Nahuseresh far better than he thinks he's playing her and manages to subvert his plans in plain sight of him.
  • Dance of Romance: With Eugenides]], in "The King of Attolia".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most people are too scared of her to perceive her sense of humor, but it's very dry and often verges into Black Comedy.
  • Death Glare: Her gaze can cut down her courtiers like a scythe.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: A major plot point in "The Queen of Attolia" is how much of her emotion she's locked away for the good of her country. In "The King of Attolia", her husband tells her mentor that a heartless queen would end up hurting the country in the end.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Done on her behalf. In The King of Attolia, said king tells Relius that he must accept the pardon, even if he believes it would be smarter for Irene not to forgive him, because she might be the Queen, but she's also a person, and it hurts her when she has to be ruthless towards people she cares for.
  • Double Meaning: Many of her conversations with Nahuseresh seem to be her agreeing with him. Remarks like "If you are with me, I want [Teleus] near" after Nahuseresh has tried to make her doubt Teleus' loyalty, for instance.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Establishing Character Moment: When she has Gen's hand cut off. She spends a lot of time in the first and second books mellowing out.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Even Eddis has to admit that Attolia's ruthlessness was necessary both to survive the Deadly Decadent Court and to set her country in a good direction.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: She has a habit of reacting to things by raising one eyebrow.
  • Gallows Humor: When Eugenides is outraged at a courtier, she defuses it by offering him her goblet—which was how she killed her first husband. He finds this absolutely hilarious.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Played with. Really, she's ruthless because it's the only way to survive as a female ruler in a sexist government. The Attolian lower class seems to love her, at least the ones we've seen.
  • Guile Heroine: It started when she was sent to live with her future husband's family, where they spoke openly of their plot to take the throne. She stayed quiet and demure and secretly collected poisonous leaves, then sold most of her jewelry to buy the palace guard over to her side.
  • Happily Married: To Eugenides, in spite of the hand amputation. He's one of the few who sees her as a person.
  • Heel Realization: She realizes she's hit a new low after she cuts off a boy's hand.
  • Hidden Depths: As Eugenides says, she does have a heart. She's just had to wall it away because of her position.
  • The High Queen: Attolia is beautiful, serene, terrifying, and inspires both great loyalty and great fear in her close allies. She ruefully describes herself as a magnificent war chariot, scything down friend and foe alike.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Attolia's cruelties were all to keep her country stable and in the hands of someone who wanted the country to prosper.
  • Ironic Name: Her given name is Irene, which means peace.
  • Kick the Dog: Most of her cruelties were committed in the name of stabilizing her rule and her country. Cutting off Eugenides' hand was an act of pure spite.
  • The Masochism Tango: Mentioned above, with Eugenides. When you cut your love interest's hand off, you know you have this trope.
  • Meaningful Name: Irony, again, as her name means “peace", and her reign has been brought with violence.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: To her Mede ambassador.
  • Oblivious to Love: Everyone from here to Sounis knew that Dite was madly in love with her... except for her. She thinks it's a joke when she finds out.
  • Pals with Jesus: Indirectly, as she is married to the chosen one of the gods, Eugenides.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Summed up best in the conversation she has with Eugenides in the boat when he makes his proposal, with her assuming that Attolia would become a tributary state of Eddis to be run roughshod by the barons, taxed into oblivion, with the peasants left to starve while the king was well-fed.
    Eugenides: Would you care, if the queen was also well-fed?
    Attolia: Yes.
  • Sherlock Scan
  • Tantrum Throwing: When she allows herself to lose her temper behind closed doors, she and her husband throw household items and furniture.
  • The Strategist: She is exceptionally good at planning ahead and well-matched to not only Eddis' and Sounis' considerable skill in this area, but also the Mede.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Mostly ice; even when she's angry, it's cold. However, she does still have human emotions, which she's able to show around her husband Eugenides.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to Eddis' Tomboy.
  • Tranquil Fury: When she gets mad, this is how it plays. It's very rare that she ever shouts or pitches things.
  • Unexpected Successor: Her brother was king, but her future husband's family had him killed so they could seize the throne through her. And then she poisoned him.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask


  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The head of the Queen's Guard is the best fighter in it.
  • Fisticuff-Provoking Comment: He gets a reluctant and hungover Eugenides to a sparring match near the end of King of Attolia by making one of these.
    Eugenides: I could have your head off, Teleus.
    Teleus: Of course, your Majesty. [Beat] With a word.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Relius is his closest friend. This doesn't stop Teleus from carrying out his duty and arresting him when Relius fails. By the time of Return of the Thief, they're lovers, and although they aren't monogamous Teleus is Relius's most important partner.
  • Honor Before Reason: He initially refuses to plead for his own life after the assassination attempt in the garden, feeling that it's his just punishment for his failures.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Eugenides takes great glee in reminding Teleus of how he, Eugenides, kidnapped Attolia from under Teleus' nose.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Though reluctantly, he pleads for his life and the lives of the squad who failed to secure the King's safety from would-be assassins.
  • Princess Carry: He carries Relius in his arms after Eugenides orders him released from prison.
  • Underestimating Badassery: To Eugenides.


  • Break the Haughty: When Costis sees him in the queen's prison, he only recognizes him by the now-ruined cloak Relius wore. Relius openly admits to Eugenides that he, too, begged not to be hurt anymore.
  • Broken Ace: After he is imprisoned and tortured for his failures. Though he remains the Queen's confidant, it's noted that he's not up to being her full-time spymaster again.
  • Fingore: Suffers this at the hands of Attolia's torturer after he unwittingly betrays her. Both of his hands were broken and it's noted in Thick as Thieves that he's missing a few fingers.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Teleus. In Return of the Thief they're lovers; although Relius has many other partners, Teleus appears to be his primary (not that they'd use that word to describe it), as the others are all short-term and Teleus is the only one he allows really close.
  • Interrupted Suicide: He attempts to take poison when he realizes that his lover was a Mede spy, causing the collapse of Attolia's intelligence network in the Empire. The guards stop him and drag him before her.
  • The Mentor: He taught Attolia everything she knows about how to survive as a sovereign Queen.
  • Rags to Riches: Started as an underservant who was dragged out for spying on the new Queen until he offered to teach her how to navigate the cutthroat world of Attolian politics.
  • Really Gets Around: The final book shows that Relius has and has had many lovers besides the one who betrayed him.
  • The Spymaster: His official position is "Secretary of the Archives," but he spies on everything and everyone inside Attolia and as much as he can outside of it.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Attolia. Even after she imprisons and tortures him. Later he becomes just as loyal to Eugenides.

Costis Ormentiedes

  • Berserk Button: The honor of the Queen's guard, his own honor, honor in general.
  • The Chew Toy: Most of the third book is about him getting punished, ostracized, provoked, humiliated, being called out in the middle of the night because the king has gone nuts...
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: At one point, the king makes a comment that Costis might one day become Captain of the Guard to his heir, if the king and queen both happen to be assassinated, however unlikely that may be. Costis's response is to ask which is unlikely—the assassination or the heir? It's only after the words leave his mouth that he realizes what a huge mistake he made in saying them...
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": He tells Kamet several times to stop calling him "Master" when they're not pretending in front of others, until he finally says it in such a way that Kamet is too afraid to slip up again. As far as Costis is concerned, Kamet stopped being a slave from the moment Costis met him.
  • Field Promotion: The king promotes Costis to lieutenant so he can have him as a personal guard, long before Costis would have been considered ready by himself or Teleus.
  • Honor Before Reason: Seems to be a theme with members of the Guard, but even they think Costis takes it too far. He retains this despite becoming a bit of a Guile Hero in Thick as Thieves, when he reveals that he would have let Kamet leave at anytime if he'd known that Nahuseresh was deadnote  and would have taken all the blame for it to save Kamet, had Kamet not interrupted loudly.
  • It Gets Easier: When Kamet asks how he can make himself kill people, Costis says that it's not hard once you think of it as part of the job, but that there's also a reason soldiers get drunk after every battle.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: He sees himself as one to Attolia, mentally referring to her as "my Queen" rather than the more proper "Your Majesty".
  • Love Epiphany: Not so much love as loyalty, but not long after Costis says he'd happily see the king choke to death accidentally, he finds himself making a wild charge through hunting dogs and high-ranking officials to save Eugenides' life. He finds himself re-evaluating that statement in light of his own actions.
  • Oh, Crap!: When he realizes that the dogs were released to occupy the Guard and leave the king alone in the garden.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Very early in King of Attolia, when he punches said king in the face for mocking the Guard's inability to protect their queen in the previous book. Turns out this was all part of the plan for Eugenides—by changing Costis' mind he hoped to change Teleus'.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: To Eugenides, saying that he sits on the throne like a printer's apprentice among other things.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: In multiple languages, in fact, as Kamet notes in Thick as Thieves.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Downplayed. Costis isn't stupid and he's both capable and quickwitted enough to get through Medea, but Eugenides sent him to fetch Kamet because he knew Kamet would be able to escape a more cunning man.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In Thick as Thieves he's become quite adept at manipulating people.
  • Tranquil Fury: In Thick as Thieves, he silently snaps the neck of several slavers while escaping from them, and the look in his eyes terrifies Kamet. After this episode, Costis admits he wasn't doing the work of a soldier.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Attolia at first, then eventually Eugenides as well. It causes him no amount of conflicting emotions, partly because he doesn't realize that Eugenides and Attolia actually do love each other for another hundred pages or so, and is worried he might be forced to choose between them.


  • Honor Before Reason: Surprisingly averted, unlike other guardsmen.
  • New Meat: He's an experienced soldier, but he isn't experienced enough to be leading the king's squad of personal guards. He believes he was promoted as a political favor to a different (but incompetent) soldier in his squad, "Legarus the Awesomely Beautiful," but is happy to celebrate the promotion anyhow.
  • Odd Couple: A pragmatic okloi, best friends with Costis, an honor-bound patronoi.
  • Unwitting Pawn: He delivers a message (which tells an ill-intentioned prankster to let the hunting dogs loose in the king's path) and is later promoted to a squad leader specifically so that he'll be he New Meat unable to stop an assassination attempt on the King.

Baron Erondites

  • The Dreaded: He can control pretty much all of Attolia's barons because he has some kind of leverage on them—blackmail, trade routes, sheer inimidatory force. Sejanus notes that none of his own family could ever stand up to him except Dite.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Most of the plots against Attolia and Eugenides from the second book on have his hand somewhere in it. The final book has him outrank Nahuseresh among the Medes as the chief conspirator against the Penisula's rulers.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He is struck by a lightning bolt in the final book after Eugenides—who may or may not be inhabited by the divine Eugenides at the time—calls his name.
  • Offing the Offspring: He had a son who carried the same genetic condition that disables Pheris, and who like Pheris was clever enough for Erondites to feel threatened, so Erondites murdered him.
  • Out-Gambitted: He thinks he's The Chessmaster who is cunningly manipulating the weak-willed king in order to become the power behind the throne. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that the son he's using as an instrument hates Eugenides more than he wants to aid his father's plans—and that he's out of Eugenides' and Attolia's league anyway.

Erondites the Younger (Dite)

  • All Love Is Unrequited: He is madly, desperately in love with Attolia (one reason his father tolerates him was the off-chance that Dite might woo her). Unfortunately for him, she has absolutely no idea.
  • Bawdy Song: He wrote one called "The King's Wedding Night". It proves to be an Ear Worm around court and becomes a plot point later.
  • Disinherited Child: He is only barely not this. The only reason that his father hasn't thrown him off entirely is because it would leave him with only one child who could succeed him, which is too risky.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: A rare male version. The music-loving, foppish Dite is the only child of Erondites who ever openly defied his father and got away with it.
  • The Unfavorite: His father hates him and only won't disinherit him because he'd only have Sejanus left.


  • Big Brother Instinct: Though he's the younger brother, he's favored by their father and treated as the would-be heir, so he tries to look out for Dite. He hates Eugenides and tries to have him killed mainly because Dite is so in love with the queen, and confessed to a crime he didn't commit to save Dite.
  • Graceful Loser: When Eugenides tears down his entire house in the space of fifteen minutes and leaves him just his and Dites' life, Sejanus accepts it stoically and calls him by the archaic title 'Basileus' as he's arrested.
  • The Hyena: Whether the joke ends up on him or someone else, Sejanus always laughs.
  • Jerkass: The only reason he's popular is that people like him mocking the people they dislike, and they also don't want to end up as a target.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • He actually loves his brother, he just pretends not to so their father doesn't separate them]].
    • He was also kind to his nephew Pheris.
  • Mugging the Monster: Like many of the Attolians, he underestimates Eugenides as a pawn of the queen of Eddis, and falls for his Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Pet the Dog: Unlike most of his family, he treats young Pheris Erondites kindly and tries to spirit him away from the battlefield.
  • Smug Snake: He thinks himself very clever, smiling even as he's accused of treason. Unfortunately for him, his inability to disguise his hatred of the king means that he totally failed to enact the "make myself indispensable" part of the Baron's plan to manipulate the throne.


  • Affection-Hating Kid: Disapproves when he accidentally shows up for tutoring just as Relius and Teleus are "saying their farewells" (ie, making out).
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He suffers from an unnamed, inherited disease that causes physical disability, potential mental disability, and short stature. He’s extremely mathematically intelligent and eventually learns to write, but he cannot speak and uses sign language to communicate.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: He’s the attendant Kamet tutors at the end of Thick As Thieves.
  • Good with Numbers: He's fascinated by all things geometry. Whenever he gets a free moment he'll use whatever small objects he has to hand (pebbles, almonds, sometimes his own spit) to construct elaborate patterns. He's particularly fond of the "bee spiral" (the Fibonacci sequence in a world in which there is no Fibonacci).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Reveals the route of a supply caravan to Juridus, who passes the information on to Erondites for an ambush. This results in the deaths of the men who were on it and almost destroys Eugenides' trust in him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He pretends to be mentally disabled so that he won't attract unwelcome attention, a habit he was taught by his nurse.
  • The Unreveal: Whatever it was he did to Emtis.



  • All Love Is Unrequited: It's noted that although he desires Eddis mostly for the country's strategic value, he also seems to really want Eddis the queen to bestow one of her radiant smiles on him.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Although he's the most unpleasant ruler on the Peninsula, Sounis is a legitimate warrior.
  • Jerkass: Sounis is a ruthless, unpleasant man who quite happily mistreats Gen. Gen is later able to use his penchant for temper against him.
  • Killed Offscreen: He dies of a fever in the fourth book during a civil war.
  • Manipulative Bastard: His method of governance is to pit the barons against each other, raise taxes, declare war to unite the country and refill people's coffers with plunder, rinse and repeat.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's a rather nasty version of this but he is a very active king who is quite capable of terrorizing thieves and holding his own on the battlefield.
  • Slasher Smile: His smiles are always unpleasant and threatening.

The Magus

  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: In the first book they stop at an abandoned farm and he's asked how he knows the owners won't protest. The magus explains that most of the family there died of plague, and the son who remained decided to seek his fortune in the big city. Gen knows right away the magus is talking of himself, but Sophos doesn't until he asks.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He was a soldier before becoming magus.
  • Badass Bookworm: He's probably the most scholarly character in the books, but he's a skilled fighter and an incredibly capable royal servant.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Queen of Attolia, he tries to return Eugenides' spirits by saying there are still things he can do. Eugenides takes him at his word and steals the magus by framing him for the destruction of Sounis' navy. The magus didn't mean he should do that!
  • The Chessmaster: He's the architect of the plan to steal Hamiathes' Gift, which would force Eddis to marry Sounis. He's also mentioned later as having fought spy-to-spy with Relius.
  • Cool Teacher: To Sophos and Ambiades.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Thus far, his real name has not been revealed.
  • Guile Hero: In the first book he devises a plan to conquer Eddis without warfare by compelling the queen to marry Sounis through her country's sacred artifact.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He feels rather badly for his general disdain and mistreatment of Gen after Gen nearly dies trying to hold off a bunch of Attolian soldiers—and in particular because the magus had scoffed to the others that Gen was obviously about to run away shortly before the boy was impaled on a sword.
  • No Name Given: Is only ever referred to as "the magus."
  • Out-Gambitted: By Eugenides, who knew that this plan was in the works and planted himself in the magus' party as their thief.
  • The Professor: When he's not plotting, he's studying botany and applying historical analysis to legends and myths.
  • Quip to Black
  • Stealing the Credit: He tells Gen that if their expedition is a success that he, the magus, will be known as "the King's Thief." To Gen, the person who would be doing the actual stealing, this is rather galling.



  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: After he uses two well-placed bullets as his second argument, the council of barons unanimously confirms him as king.
  • Bad Liar: Everything he feels shows on his face, but he and Eugenides figure out how to turn this to their advantage.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He tries to win over the barons with an idealistic speech about how they need to ally with Eddis and Attolia to prevent a Mede conquest. It doesn't work. So he shoots the chief conspirator against him very dead and asks for a new vote. They confirm him as King unanimously.
  • Break the Cutie: During A Conspiracy of Kings, when he is kidnapped, becomes a slave, and is generally thrust neck-deep into the cutthroat politics of his world, where everyone is trying to manipulate him.
  • The Bus Came Back: He doesn't appear at all in the middle two books, but he's the protagonist of the fourth.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A Conspiracy of Kings is about this.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: He thinks of himself as a spineless weakling unworthy to succeed his uncle. At one point he says that his gift is knowing that he is an ass. (In fairness, so few people do.)
  • Made a Slave: He's hidden by his kidnappers this way in Conspiracy of Kings, along with some beating to make his face unrecognizable. He actually likes it better than being the heir.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In A Conspiracy of Kings. Everyone thinks he's an idiot and his emotions show on his face. So he lets everyone think he's a gormless, naive dolt while he plans to show them all that he is 1. smart and 2. definitely ruthless enough to succeed his uncle.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's put on the dangerous trip to steal Hamiathes' Gift in The Thief. He racks up more considerable achievements in the fourth book, starting when he saves his father from assassination and escapes enslavement at the same time.
  • Slasher Smile: A scar he got from the identity-concealing beating of his capture turns his normal smile into this. Once he sees it, he realizes it's an asset—it makes him look like his uncle.
  • Took a Level in Badass: During A Conspiracy of Kings. Not only does he start using his brains for practical and political ends, his time digging and building walls makes him much tougher physically.
  • Unfit for Greatness: Initially. He's keenly aware of how disappointment he is to his father and uncle, being a soft, shy, scholarly boy instead of shaping himself into a cunning fighter like Sounis. The realization that he's failed his family and his country hits him hard in the fourth book, and he launches himself out of this trope as hard as he can.


  • Broken Pedestal: Sophos stops admiring him in the aftermath of tying Gen up and almost causing him irreprable harm.
  • Jerkass: Is a serious jerk to Sophos, who hero-worships him, not to mention anyone who he perceives as being from a lower class (most noticeably Gen).
  • Impoverished Patrician: His family was disgraced a generation ago and then his father gambled away what remained of the family's money.
  • The Mole: He was secretly working for Attolia as they offered to pay him and his family quite handsomely.



  • Arch-Enemy: To Eugenides. It's mutual. For Gen, it's the loss of his hand; for Nahuseresh, it's the loss of the kingdom he feels should be rightfully his.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Like all the Mede ambassadors that follow, Nahuseresh is smug, imperious, and there only to bring about a Mede conquest of the peninsula.
  • Big Damn Heroes: He acts on an anonymous tip to rescue Attolia from the Eddisians, not realizing the tip was from one of the goddesses. (It doesn't take, all he's really doing is giving Attolia the freedom to choose Gen as her husband rather than being forced into it.)
  • The Chessmaster: Or at least, he would like to believe that he is. Since he's up against Gen and Irene, he keeps getting his ass kicked.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: He can get away with a lot because a wise ruler knows that insulting a Mede ambassador too flagrantly will give them a pretext for invasion.
  • Fan Nickname: Nahuserfish.
    • And occasionally Nahuserloser.
  • Hate Sink: Oh so very much. He first appears in The Queen of Attolia, the book where Attolia is revealed to be much more human than originally expected but not until after she cuts off the beloved main character's hand, so he mainly seems to exist so that the readers have someone to hate more than her. It works, as he's easily the most hated character in the entire series and as a smug, rude, sexist, Karma Houdini who stirred up more trouble than just about any other single character, he deserves every bit of it. He's canonically this In-Universe as well, as Gen makes it clear that he blames and hates Nahuseresh for the loss of his hand, not Attolia.
  • Henpecked Husband: After the events in the second book he had to hide out his disgrace on his home estate, where his wife was spectacularly unimpressed with his attempt to marry Attolia. Can't blame her, really.
  • Kick the Dog: He's the one who convinces Attolia to cut off Gen's hand.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Gen finally gets him back by stealing Kamet, his enslaved secretary, three books after Nahuseresh contrived Gen's amputation and humiliation. Losing his own "right hand," who knew enough about the inner workings of the Empire to have the Praetorian Guard sent after him, destroyed Nahuseresh's chances of ever leaving his disgrace.
  • Playing Both Sides: He's happy to pit Attolia against Sounis in an effort to weaken both.
  • Stupid Evil: Even knowing that Attolia is considered a ruthless tyrant by her enemies and simply ruthless by her allies, he persists in thinking of her as a naive little woman.
  • Underestimating Badassery: He assumes that he has Attolia wrapped around his little finger. Boy, was he surprised.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In the final book. The Mede general eventually reveals that Nahuseresh is only there so that his presence will anger Eugenides into making mistakes.


  • Ascended Extra: He's Nahuseresh's personal secretary, only appearing in Queen of Attolia and his own opinions are only seen in a brief mention that he has some sympathy and admiration for the queen's impossible position. The fifth book, Thick as Thieves, is told entirely from his point of view.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: As part of his Happiness in Slavery attitude. He doesn't like being beaten, but he has no concept of the idea that it might be wrong for Nahuseresh to do that to him, and even engages in a little bit of victim-blaming towards himself. For instance, he thinks that he shouldn't have presumed to serve celebratory drinks before being sure Nahuseresh had gotten a promotion, rather than blaming Nahuseresh for venting his frustration on a helpless target.
  • Culture Clash:
    • Frequently with Costis—as a slave he would never presume to sit before a free man, and as an Attolian Costis waits for his guest to sit first.
    • He addresses Eugenides with the Peninsular word meaning "Great King" hoping merely to flatter him into sparing Costis. He doesn't realize that the word, Annux, carries an almost mythic sense of gravity.
  • Fantastic Racism: He shares the Mede contempt for Attolians, and believes wholeheartedly that most of the nobility can't even read. Narrating after the fact, he expresses embarrassment over this.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Eventually with Costis as they journey across the Mede empire, facing many perils and saving each other's lives. Though he doesn't realize it, even after he thinks Costis is dead, until a stranger—who is strongly implied to be Ennikar—suggests that he's as wrong as that as he is about whether Costis is truly dead.
  • Friendship Moment: Near the end of the book. Though believing the friendship shattered by his own actions, when he sees what kind of ruler Eugenides is, Kamet yells out before Costis can try to lie for Kamet's sake and begs Eugenides not to punish him for not realizing Kamet's deception. Fortunately, the whole situation was a set-up by Eugenides himself.
  • Happiness in Slavery: When Costis offers him freedom in Attolia, Kamet has to stop himself from laughing because he is the right hand to a member of the imperial family, which includes authority over all the other slaves and even some free men, and he'd be likely to have a great deal of influence as the personal secretary for the emperor's brother.
  • Oh, Crap!: To be honest, the entirety of Thick as Thieves is Kamet having one heart attack after another. But he has an especially climactic one when he finally sees Eugenides and realizes this is not a vain, petty lordling, but a genuine ruler, and therefore not likely to forgive Costis' "failure."
  • Pals with Jesus: He kind of cottons on to the fact that Immakuk and Ennikar gave him a little help on his journey.
  • Underestimating Badassery: He initially thinks that Costis is a stupid guardsman from a nation of illiterates, and that Gen is a spoiled, weak fool.


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