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Characters / The Song of the Shattered Sands

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With a long list competing factions in Sharakhai comes a long list of characters.

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Point of View Characters

    Cedaminh Ayanesh’ava 
The top female fighter in The Pits, Ceda is one of the strongest women in Sharakhai. Seeking revenge for her mother’s killing and the suffering of others, she seeks to take down the twelve kings of the city herself. She is the daughter of Husamettin, allowing her to join the blade maidens.
  • Achey Scars: The scar left on her hand from the adichara tree’s poison aches frequently and in varying severity. The severity of the ache appears to be dependent on how closely bonded she is with an asirim at any given time.
  • Action Girl: Ceda is very skilled in various forms of combat and is well-known in The Pits for her winning ways.
  • Becoming the Mask: Ceda finds that she geniunely doesn't mind being a Blade Maiden nearly as much as she expected to. In fact, she is happy to go on some of their missions and get information from the inside.
  • Bi the Way: The author of the series has confirmed that Ceda is bisexual, not that it isn’t well demonstrated in the books. Ceda is seen lusting after both men and women, although she seems to prefer men. That being said, her deepest and most heartfelt sexual experience is with Sumeya.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Some Asirim are able to do this to her, causing her to become extremely violent towards the kings and their children, including other Blade Maidens. Thankfully for others, she’s usually able to get it under control somewhat quickly.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: She considers pursuing one with Emre, but is content to let it remain anchored.
  • Disappeared Dad: As a young girl Ceda wonders why she doesn’t have an actual father, but her Mother brushes off the question. It’s because her father is a King.
  • Human Notepad: She receives an elaborate tattoo while she is healing in the house of maidens.
  • The Kingslayer: As of the end of Book 3, Ceda has slain Kulasan and Onur, and assisted in killing Mesut.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Ceda is very good with a sword, just like her father.
  • Obfuscating Disability: When walking around Sharakhai she likes to hide her fighting prowess by faking a limp. This also helps to keep her identity as the White Wolf a secret.
  • Rebellious Rebel: Ceda, for the most part, agrees with the Moonless Host’s goal of bringing down the Kings. She doesn’t agree with their brutal tactics that lead to what she sees as unnecessary deaths. Because of this, she is determined to go it alone or with a separate set of allies.
  • Red Baron: In The Pits she is known as the White Wolf.
  • Reverse Mole: Ceda sees her opportunity to join the Blade Maidens as an opportunity to learn more about the Kings and potentially get close enough to kill more.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Ceda can put up a good act in the arena, on the street, or during her time at the House of Maidens to hide her true identity, but her true self comes out in private or when she’s with those she perceives as allies.
Ceda’s childhood friend and longtime roommate, Emre is well-liked by most who know him. While Ceda fights in the pits he works odd jobs and helps out at the spice market to earn his living. As Ceda begins to move on her plans, he starts out on his own journey.
  • Badass Normal: In a city ruled by people with varying degrees of supernatural abilities he is able to carry out his dangerous business with minimal difficulty.
  • Chick Magnet: Emre is very popular with the ladies. He usually does not take advantage of them but is not wholly above sleeping with those he needs something from. At least once he has used this reputation to tease Ceda.
  • Childhood Friends: With Ceda.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Ceda and him both clearly have some desire to pursue a relationship, but for numerous reasons have decided not to pursue any relationship for the time being.
A Qaimari Lord and widower, Ramahd is sure he wants to get revenge against The Moonless Host. His sister-in-law, Meryam, has other plans for him – ones he’s not so sure about.
  • The Caretaker: He tries to take care of Meryam by protecting her from her self-destructive tendencies. Unfortunately she doesn’t like listening to him.
  • Crusading Widower: The motivation behind many of his actions is to find and get revenge on Macide, the man he holds responsible for the deaths of his daughter and wife.
  • Enemy Mine: At the request of Ceda, Ramahd and Meryam agree to assist the Moonless Host in destroying the Kings’ stock of their Immortality Inducer.
  • The Lost Lenore: His primary motivation for being in Sharakhai is the murder of his wife and daughter by the Moonless Host.
  • Survivor's Guilt: He regrets that he survived while his wife and daughter died in the Bloody Passage.
  • Thicker Than Water: Meryam is technically his sister-in-law, but he feels a great responsibility to help her out, likely due to Survivor Guilt over the death of his wife (Meryam’s sister).
    • He doesn’t seem to know much about what she hopes to accomplish or how she intends to accomplish it. He will disagree with her on her methods but tends to ultimately defer to her out of his feelings of obligation.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Ceda. Although they are interested in each other, they understand that they have higher priorities.
The Honey-Tongued King, Ihsan is skilled at manipulating others. He allies himself most closely with Azad a.k.a. Nayyan, but works with other Kings to get his way.
  • Bi the Way: He likes Nayyan in both her natural state and her disguise as Azad. He even enjoys feeling the shift between the two forms
  • The Chessmaster: Ihsan fancies himself this, how much he succeeds at it is debatable.
  • Compelling Voice: His ability as a king.
  • Enemy Mine: This appears to be his motivation in helping the Moonless Host in their various endeavors, but particularly the destruction of the aqueduct. Both want the other kings dead for their own reasons, making an alliance useful.
  • Knife Nut: Ihsan’s weapon is a three-bladed dagger. He prefers not to have to use it.
  • Non-Action Guy: He believes is not as gifted at fighting as the other Kings, and therefore does not like to be on the battlefield.
  • Out-Gambitted: While he likes to think of himself as The Chessmaster, he does get outgambitted or surprised by the actions of others enough that it throws off his plans.
  • Pet the Dog: Ihsan genuinely loves his family. In particular he was greatly affected by the death of his daughter. When he learns Nayyan is pregnant with another child, he is nervous and excited for the new child.
  • Technical Pacifist: Ihsan will kill if it suits his needs, but greatly prefers not to. If there is dirty work to do he leaves it to the other Kings, the Moonless Host, or Nayyan.
A smart young boy who grew up in the same neighborhood as Ceda and Emre, he was fortunate to get offered an education at the Collegia. He finds out that he has more potential than he could have imagined, but is not quite sure he wants that power.
  • Blood Magic: As Hamzakiir is surprised (but not displeased) to learn, Davud has the potential to become a powerful user of blood magic.
  • Cunning Linguist: He hopes to study and learn languages from all over the continent.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Davud is very socially adept but also a prodigious scholar.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After using Anila's blood to stop a massive fire, she is badly wounded and refuses to talk to him. He insists on doing all of her care by himself to feel better about what he did.
  • Nice Guy: Davud is genuinely nice and polite to nearly everyone.
  • Scholarship Student: While most students of the Collegia are from wealthy families all over the city and continent, Davud was raised in a poor neighborhood of Sharakhai. He was allowed in because of his promise.
  • The Smart Guy: Davud is possibly the smartest person Ceda knows. Even those at the Collegia consider him a prodigy, allowing him to “graduate” to further studies at the young age of 17.
  • The Storyteller: He is known for his ability to tell great stories.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Davud has something that many people want. While Hamzakiir lets him go, Sukru keeps him locked up in hopes of using Davud's powers.

Moonless Host

    In General 
Tropes shared by the members of the Moonless Host
  • A House Divided: Ihsaq and Macide appear to lead the Moonless Host, but there are many warring factions. Leorah and Ayanesh have concocted a well-thought-out plan of their own that involves taking advantage of the mythology surrounding the Kings because of their frustration with the current strategy. Hamzakiir also manages to take a large chunk of the group for himself.
  • Badass Family: The family that leads the host, Ceda's maternal relatives, are all good fighters and strategists in their own right.
  • Tribal Face Paint: Like many of the desert tribes, the thirteenth tribe has its own tradition of facial tattoos.
    • Many of the high-ranking members and females have permanent tattoos, making them easy targets for those that seek them out.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: While their methods are certainly extreme, most members seem to join with hopes of taking down oppressive kings and/or freeing the people of the thirteenth tribe.
Known as the leader of the Moonless Host, Macide organizes and leads many of their activities within Sharakhai.
  • Badass Beard: One of his most distinct features is his split beard.
  • The Chessmaster: Despite the Kings and all their powers trying to stop the activities of the Moonless Host, they always seem to be a step ahead due to Macide and his predecessors’ planning.
    • It certainly helps that they have at least one King willing to help them.
    • It’s unclear how much success is due to his planning and how much is allowed by the Kings for whatever reason (propaganda, infighting making it harder to predict attacks, not caring).
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Macide wouldn’t be able to do what he could with the Moonless Host without using Sharakhai’s vast criminal network.
  • Dual Wielding: He uses two shamshirs when fighting.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: He Ceda’s uncle.
The Man Behind the Man of the Moonless Host and it’s former leader, Ihsaq now prefers to stay out in the desert leading things from afar. He is Macide’s father and Ceda’s grandfather.
  • The Chessmaster: Like Macide, he has helped to make plans that are hard even for the kings to crack.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: He's Ceda’s grandfather.
  • The Man Behind the Man: While Macide is the more active leader of the Moonless Host, Ihsaq helps with the planning and resources required for things to succeed.
Leorah is one of the oldest and wisest women in the desert. Although she agrees with the general mission of the Moonless Host, she has her own knowledge and beliefs that leads her to create her own strategy in taking down the Kings. She is Ihsaq's mother, Macide's grandmother and Ceda’s great-grandmother.
  • The Chessmaster: Macide and Ihsaq take after her quite a bit. While their opinions usually supersede hers in planning the actions of the Moonless Host, she makes sure to get her way through other means.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: She's Ceda’s great-grandmother.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She is more than willing to tell off or show up Ihsaq or Macide when she deems it necessary.
  • The Smart One: While Macide and Ihsaq like to use current political issues, economics, or terrorism to weaken the Kings, Leorah is much more well-researched. She and Ayanesh believe that the way to bring down the Kings is through studying their past and discovering each King's Bloody Verse.
Dardzada is a local chemist, making potions, salves, and medicines for people in Sharakhai.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the second book he tells Ceda that he must close his shop and return to the desert.
  • Non-Answer: One of the more common reasons adult Ceda gets mad with him is that he refuses to answer her questions about the past. This varies between him genuinely not knowing the answer and not feeling he should be the one to tell her the answer.
  • Parental Substitute: Ayanesh wants him to be this to Ceda, but it doesn’t work out well due to Ceda’s strong personality. It’s unknown how on board he was with this plan.
  • The Smart Guy: One of many in the Moonless Host, Dardzada’s primary role is to make things for the moonless host.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He doesn’t always like the methods the Moonless Host uses or doesn’t agree with what they intend to do with what he produces for them. Still, as he agrees with their mission and feels a familial obligation to their cause he goes along with their plans.
  • You're Not My Father: Ceda likes to remind him of this, particularly when he tries to act like a parent to a rebellious teen Ceda.

The Twelve Kings

    In General 
The Kings are a group of 12 God-like figures who rule Sharakhai and control the surrounding desert.
  • Achilles' Heel: Each King has a specific weakness as outlined in the bloody verses. The powers of the kings also have specific weaknesses.
    • The kings’ immortality relies on their consumption of a potion that can only be made by King Azad. When he is killed, the kings must scramble to figure out how it is made before their supply runs out.
    • Many of their weaknesses have something to do with the cycle of the moons.
  • The Ageless: The kings do not age as long as they have access to the Immortality Inducer.
  • A House Divided: The kings appear to be working together, but behind the scenes they all have their own ideas about how things should work.
  • Asshole Victim: While some Kings are more sympathetic than others, all of them could be considered this because of their actions – past and/or present.
  • Entitled Bastard: Despite all the brutality, killing, and getting control of Sharakhai at least partially by sacrificing an entire desert tribe, most of the Kings feel they are entitled to rule the city and the citizens of Sharakhai.
  • Evil Overlord: Although the Kings approve of varying levels of brutality, all seem to have no problem with using violence to maintain their power when needed.
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: While some of the Kings care deeply about some of their children and participate in raising them, most Kings are implied have children that fill this role.
  • Guilt Complex: Some of the Kings, Kulasan in particular, feel very guilty about what they did 400 years before.
  • Immortality Inducer: An elixir made by King Azad is responsible for maintaining the Kings’ immortality and youth. Without it, they will age and die.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: All of the kings seem to complete whatever job they are supposed to do for Sharakhai. Some are more enthusiastic or involved than others.
The King of Kings or Sun King. Kiral is the leader of the Twelve Kings. It is said that the other eleven Kings defer to him.Dead as of book 3
  • Cool Sword: His two-handed shamshir, Sunshearer.
  • Magnificent Bastard: In order to control the other Kings, Kiral prefers to quietly disrupt any plans they have that are out of line. As opposed to a grand display of authority, he will disrupt the plan and gloat later to all the kings about what he did.
    • Notably, when Ihsan is counting on the Moonless Host destroying the aqueduct to make his plans succeed, Kiral makes sure to do all he can to stop the attack.
  • Scars Are Forever: Kiral’s face is notably covered in small scars as a result of a childhood smallpox infection.
The King of Swords. Husamettin is responsible for leading the Blade Maidens. He is an adept fighter in his own right.
  • Cool Sword: He has a black steel blade of his own, known as Night’s Kiss.
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: He is Ceda’s father, but is absent for her entire childhood.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Somewhat justified in that he likely has some god-given talents related to his abilities with a sword added to his centuries of practice.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: He is revealed to be Ceda’s father.
  • Lunacy: Legend has it that he goes crazy (in a very violent way) when both moons are full.
  • Master Swordsman: Husamettin is well-known for his ability with a sword, and for a good reason.
  • Papa Wolf: He is protective of the Blade Maidens and their title, but he seems to advocate more strongly than normal for Ceda.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Even though he presumably never met her before she became a Blade Maiden, Husamettin knows that Ceda is his daughter.
The Reaping KingThe one who determines who will be taken as human sacrifices to the asirim on Beht Zha’ir. Dead as of book 4.
  • Functional Magic: Like the other kings, he has a specific power, but it is not one that helps him do everything he needs.
  • I Need You Stronger: Sukru has need of a blood mage to help him with something. He can't do it himself, so he tries to give Davud the materials to get strong enough do it for him.
  • Mook Lieutenant: While technically Mesut is the one to command the asirim, Sukru is the one who decides who will be sacrificed to them.
The Confessor KingHe is the Kings’ personal torturer who delights in using brutal methods to get information out of those he doesn’t like.
  • Drop the Hammer: His weapon of choice in battle is a Warhammer. Hammers appear to be something he enjoys using when torturing people.
  • Entitled Bastard: He cannot comprehend the idea that he doesn’t deserve to rule.
  • Papa Wolf: Despite his brutality, he is very close with some of his daughters. He is particularly protective of Yndris. He is upset when she is placed in the same hand as the low-born Ceda, something he sees as a personal insult.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Cahil is 400+, just like the other kings, but barely looks older than Ceda.
  • Torture Cellar: He has a torture chamber that he keeps absolutely meticulous in preparation for any future victims.
  • Torture Technician: A role he loves and excels in. He claims to have tortured thousands for information (which, given his long lifespan is realistic) and delights in making people feel pain.
The King of Spears, The Feasting King. Onur is the King responsible for leading the Silver Spears. He is, however, fat and lazy and therefore most Kings assume he isn’t doing his job. At least he doesn’t show up to many of their meetings and appears to have pawned off leadership of the Silver Spears.Dead as of book 3
  • Acrofatic: Despite his size, Onur is still quite athletic and capable of going toe-to-toe with other Kings.
  • Animorphism: Onur can turn into a panther at will.
  • The Big Guy: Not only is he obese, but he’s also very, very tall.
  • Hate Sink: While many of the Kings do reprehensible things or are easy targets for hate, they often have some sort of redeeming factor (even Cahil loves his daughter). Onur does not seem to have any.
    • In universe, he may be the only King who is shown open disdain from the other Kings.
  • Hypocrite: Onur is apparently furious that Ihsan and Azad (Nayyan) would dare betray the other Kings. By the third book he himself has a plan to take down his fellow Kings.
  • I Have No Son!: As one of the more prolific kings, Onur has lots of offspring. To prevent them from trying to take money or power from him he likes to very publicly disown them as soon as they annoy him.
  • Lazy Bum: He likes to pawn things off to other Kings or Silver Spears and doesn’t like to show up to things.
  • The Pig Pen: Ihsan (and apparently many others) think he smells horrific and question if he ever does any personal hygiene.
    • Ceda notes that his hair is matted.
  • The Slacker: As far as we (or Ihsan) know, he could do his job or fight and train alongside his men. We also know that he would rather sit around all day and eat stuff.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Onur is portrayed as one of the most evil (and hated) kings, and is easily one of the most disgusting characters to go along with that evil.
  • Villainous Glutton: He loves eating. His size and eating habits are frequently brought up with disdain from Ihsan.
The Jackal King. The King responsible for controlling the asirim. Later, he is charged with helping to create new ones.Dead as of book 2
  • Achilles' Heel: His bloody verse implies that he is weak under the light of Rhia.
  • Entitled Bastard: He claims that because Sharakhai and the desert was granted to the Kings that they will never be overthrown.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mesut is defeated but not killed by Ceda. He is only killed when the spirits of dead asirim he summoned to help himself turn on him.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Mesut is responsible for leading the asirim.
  • Soul Jar: The bracelet on Mesut’s wrist holds the souls of members of the thirteenth tribe that do not currently inhabit the body of an asirim. He can use these souls to create new asirim once a body becomes available.
  • Wolverine Claws: He uses gauntlets embedded with claw-like blades to fight.
The King of Shadows, King of Coin, or Golden King. Besir is the one responsible for the finances of Sharakhai. While he tends to be so busy with his job that he has no time or energy to do other parts of ruling, he’s not above getting involved when things get messy. Dead as of book 4.
  • Cold Sniper: He is seen participating in the battle with a bow and arrow, quickly knocking out his opponents with little care for their fate.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: He spends no time aiming and rapid fires his bow, and yet his arrows always seem to hit their targets.
  • Married to the Job: The other kings comment that he spends so much time working on the finances of Sharakhai that he has little time for anything else, including the other duties of being a king.
The Jade-Eyed King. Yusam is responsible for seeing into the future to tell the Kings what may or may not happen. He helps the Kings plan and plot, and more importantly tries to figure out how to defend the city from potential invasion, disease, attack, or other calamity.Dead as of book 2
  • Clairvoyance: This is Yusam’s special Kingly ability. He sees the visions in a small pond housed on his palace’s grounds.
  • Non-Action Guy: Yusam stays out of battle, and it doesn’t appear he’s as good at fighting when compared to the other Kings – not that he sees fighting as his role.
    • He can only see small glimpses into the future that may or may not happen, so he is far from being The Omniscient.
  • The Smart Guy: Because he can only see small glimpses into the future, he needs help interpreting those glimpses to derive meaning. He uses his 400 years of experience and a vast network of knowledge to interpret them, although this still isn’t wholly effective.
  • Succession Crisis: Yusam had not produced any heirs for 80 years at the time of his death. He only has one direct heir left, and that one is so mentally unfit for the job that he is kept locked away from the world.
The King of ThornsThe King responsible for the production of the Kings’ Immortality Inducer. He is really Dead All Along. The King Azad we see is actually his daughter, Nayyan. Dead All Along
  • Dead All Along: He was killed by Ayanesh shortly before she herself was executed by the Kings.
  • Knife Nut: He has two daggers to use in battle, although he is never seen actually using them.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: While his death didn’t trigger the actions of the Moonless Host, it helped make killing or at least taking down the Kings a real possibility. This led to the plot that ends the second book: with the Moonless Host attempting to destroy the remaining stash of the Immortality Inducer King Azad made.
  • The Smart Guy: He is apparently the King who is responsible for things like potions and salves including the Kings’ Immortality Inducer.
The King of Whispers. Zeheb is feared for his ability to hear all the “whispers” or voices around Sharakhai at his will. He is able to listen into private conversations that anyone in Sharakhai has, serving as a deterrent for those looking to plot against the Kings.
  • Achilles' Heel: He cannot hear conversations between members of the thirteenth tribe. Effectiveness of this varies by how pure the blood of the thirteenth tribe flows through whoever they’re listening to.
  • Sensory Overload: He is at real risk for this happening if he loses control over his power.
    • To prevent this he is able to turn his attention to whatever conversation(s) he deems important at any given time.
  • Super Senses: His power is his ability to hear every conversation in Sharakhai.
The Wandering King. Dead as of book 1.
  • Death Seeker: He has reservations about being a King, so much so that he wanted to die at times.
  • Guilt Complex: The other kings believe he had one because he questioned the Kings’ mission and goals.
    • He told Mesut that he built his underground palace because he was too ashamed of the Kings’ actions to be seen with them.
  • Family Man: He seems to genuinely care about his long-dead family members. Whether he’s similarly affectionate and loyal to his more recent offspring is debatable.
The King of the Thirteenth Tribe. He is currently living in the desert, avoiding the other Kings. Rarely he will head to the city on Beht Zha’ir.
  • Blow You Away: He is able to summon up large winds to damage things or provide distraction.
  • Elemental Shapeshifter: Sehid-Alaz can shift between sand and asirim form, allowing him to be hard to strike in combat.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Ceda was young, he had one of these because his situation felt so hopeless. Being introduced to Ceda snapped him out of it.
  • The Leader: He is the former head of the Thirteenth Tribe and is now the “King” of the asirim. He wears a crown on his head to identify himself as such.
    • As one of the more lucid asirim, capable of thoughts and not overtaken by anger towards the kings, he is able to speak to them and calm them in a way that others cannot.
  • Papa Wolf: Although he’s technically some very distant relative of Ceda, he is very protective of her.

Blade Maidens

    In General 
The elite fighting force and Praetorian Guard of the Kings, the Blade Maidens are an Amazon Brigade composed of the Kings’ firstborn daughters. At any given time it has 144 Maidens (give or take a few) divided into “hands” of five maidens. The Maidens are served by Matrons, former maidens who train, educate, and provide necessary supplies for them.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The Blade Maidens serve many different purposes, but notably serve as a Praetorian Guard for the kings.
  • Cool Sword: All of the Blade Maidens are gifted a named Ebon Blade upon joining their ranks.
  • Covered with Scars: Many Blade Maidens have a number of scars from their various battles and missions. As they are so common, only notable ones are discussed.
  • Cunning Linguist: As part of their training Blade Maidens are expected to learn several languages, ideally to the point of fluency.
  • Evil Wears Black: As the Maidens often carry out the Kings’ dirty work in Sharakhai, they are feared and respected. While on jobs for the Kings they wear a distinctive black uniform. Even their weapons are black.
    • They may wear normal clothes on certain missions as needed, for formal events, and on their days off.
    • This is in contrast to the Matrons, who wear a white uniform.
  • Human Notepad: While the nobility of Sharakhai are said to look down upon the tattoos of the tribes, the Maidens still practice the art of tattooing. Many tattoos include writing. The writing may describe a victory the maiden had or be more artistic in nature.
Zaide is a daughter of Onur and a matron of the Blade Maidens that serves Sumeya’s hand. She is very skilled in what she does. She later begins to train Ceda one-on-one.
  • Apron Matron: She is responsible for making sure the members of her hand are prepared at all times. With the other matrons she trains them, provides them with necessities, and helps them prepare for missions.
  • Mama Bear: She cares for her Maidens quite a bit (well, other than Yndris). In particular, she acts as one for Ceda.
    • While she’ll scold Ceda about things, she is more than willing to defend Ceda when she is facing a punishment from high-up.
  • The Mole: Zaide is one of a faction of the Moonless Host that believe the best way to fell the Kings is from inside. As the leaders of the Moonless Host have seen few meaningful results from her or any of the moles they have had in Tauriyut over the course of 400 years, she does little else than act as a mole for them.
    • Ceda believes that she was Dardzada’s contact in Tauriyut.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Like many of the Matrons, Zaide is an older woman, but is nonetheless able to go toe-to-toe with even the best young maidens in training.
Sumeya is the First Warden, a daughter of Husamettin, leader of one of the most prestigious Blade Maiden crews, and one of the best warriors among the Blade Maidens. She is leader of the hand Ceda was placed into upon joining the Blade Maidens. She is also Ceda's half-sister, as they share the same father.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: By Beneath the Twisted Trees, she gives up on Nayyan and ends up loving Ceda instead.
  • Battle Couple: With Nayyan before her disappeareance.
  • The Captain: She is the First Warden and leader of Ceda’s hand. While she can easily hold her own in battle, she also helps with much of the planning and paperwork that comes with their jobs.
  • Iron Lady: She is tough and professional when working in the official capacity of the First Warden and a Blade Maiden. During off hours she tends to be warmer and more permissive to her hand.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Although Sumeya views Ceda as a Replacement Goldfish for Nayyan, she isn’t one to act on that feeling Until both of them get pretty drunk.
  • Loose Lips: When she gets drunk in the second book she spills important information to Ceda while talking about the past, including spilling the beans that Nayyan may or may not be Hidden in Plain Sight from the maidens.
  • The One That Got Away: Nayyan It’s implied that Sumeya knows her fate.
  • The Mourning After: After Nayyan’s disappearance, she insists on keeping a free spot in her hand for years on end, much to the annoyance of Husamettin. This is one of the main reasons she is so opposed to Ceda joining her hand.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sumeya is harsh at times when punishment is necessary, but is generally willing to listen to the members of her hand.
    • It should be noted that she does hold prejudices that occasionally get in the way of this.
  • Sentimental Drunk: When drunk, Sumeya gets moody and sad.
  • Surprise Incest: Comes close to this with Ceda. In book 4 they end up making love anyway and neither really seems to care that they share the same father.
Kameyl, like Sumeya, is one of the best warriors the Blade Maidens have to offer. Sumeya trusts her a great deal, and allows her to perform important tasks including training new members of the hand and performing the ritual dance with them. Her father is Besir.
  • The Confidant: She serves as one for Sumeya.
  • Covered with Scars: Kameyl has an incredible number of scars of all sorts on her body.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Ceda is curious to learn the history behind her scars. Thankfully for her, some of Kameyl’s scars have the story behind them tattooed around the mark.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: She is initially upset that Ceda is added to her hand, enough so that she tries to kill Ceda during her initiation for Sumeya. After Ceda demonstrates her fighting ability by stopping Kameyl’s Assassination Attempt, Kameyl accepts her into the hand.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Switches sides in book 4, when she eavesdrops on Husamettin's confession of what the kings did to the thirteenth tribe.
  • Human Notepad: Kameyl’s tattoos include at least one poem she has written along with tales of former lovers.
  • The Matchmaker: She, along with Melis, are annoyed that Emre and Ceda are not hooking up on their voyage on the Javelin because Everyone Can See It. They try to make Ceda jealous enough to give in to her desires, but fail.
  • Number Two: She is given many important tasks by Sumeya.
  • Scar Survey: Ceda does one to her when she sees Kameyl without her dress on.
  • Warrior Poet: Despite her tough exterior, one of her favorite hobbies is poetry. She has tattoos of some of her poems.
Another member of Sumeya’s hand along with Kameyl. She is less combat-oriented than the other two, but just as competent. A daughter of Kiral.
  • The Confidant: She serves as one for Sumeya.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Takes several arrows in Beneath the Twisted Trees to save Ceda.
  • The Matchmaker: She, along with Kameyl, are annoyed that Emre and Ceda are not hooking up on their voyage on the Javelin because Everyone Can See It. They try to make Ceda jealous enough to give in to her desires, but fail.
  • Nice Guy: Melis is one of the more calm, nice members of Sumeya’s hand. While she’ll defer to Sumeya, she’s certainly not as strict as her.
  • Number Two: She, like Kameyl, serves as a sort of right-hand-man to Sumeya.
Yndris is the daughter of Cahil and a noblewoman. As a second-born daughter to that couple, she never expected to become a Blade Maiden but trained for the job nonetheless. When her well-respected older sister is killed protecting a King her father finds a way to force Husamettin to accept her into the Blade Maidens’ ranks.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: After Ceda escapes the torture chamber and mortally wounds Yndris, she gives Yndris the option of jumping to her death or dying at Ceda’s hand. Yndris chooses the former.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Yndris takes after her father in her love for torture. She is all to happy to be the one to torture Ceda after Cahil leaves the room.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: She is frustrated when she feels that she is not getting the respect she deserves from her fellow Blade Maidens, particularly when Ceda is getting respect.
  • Foil: In some ways she serves as this to Ceda. While neither were supposed to join the Blade Maidens, and both are equally upset to be in each other’s hand, Ceda is obviously more worthy of her spot than Yndris.
    • Physically, she also has light hair in contrast to Ceda’s dark hair.
  • The Mole: From the beginning, it’s obvious that her father wants her in the Blade Maidens for a reason. Although Sumeya’s hand works for Yusam, Yndris is seen doing things that seem suspiciously like requests from Cahil to get more information about Ceda.
  • New Meat: She is brought into Sumeya’s hand as a replacement for Jelize.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: Yndris is certainly skilled at some things, but not nearly to the level of other Blade Maidens. She has problems recognizing her weaknesses and deficiencies, and refuses to accept that she is not quite on par with her fellow Blade Maidens Ceda in particular, which gets her into trouble.
  • Spoiled Brat: Yndris, unlike Ceda, was raised in a wealthy and doing household. Unlike most of the Blade Maidens in general, she has a very close relationship to her father. All of this combines to make her feel entitled to things her more skilled peers do not get.
    • While this primarily serves to rile up Ceda, it doesn’t help her reputation with any of the other Blade Maidens at all. While Sumeya comes to like Ceda she comes to hate Yndris more as time goes on.
  • Underestimating Badassery: She knows that the Blade Maidens are fierce warriors but does not quite understand how fierce they are.
Jelize is a member of Sumeya’s hand, and one of the two more welcoming members to Ceda.
  • The Chick: While all Blade Maidens are female, she is portrayed as more of a peacekeeper.
  • Gossipy Hens: She is happy to bring Ceda up to speed with the gossip at the House of Maidens. Jelize is also happy to “innocently” try to learn more about Ceda.
  • Nice Guy: She’s one of the Blade Maidens most willing to accept Ceda into their fold. Making it all the worse when Ceda has to kill her.
  • The Scapegoat: for Kulasan’s death. By killing her, Ceda is able to claim that she killed Jelize in an attempt to protect the King.
    • Some of the Kings (and Maidens) have more immediate suspicions, but by the end of the second book it appears most Kings have figured out the truth of the situation.
  • Unfriendly Fire: How she is ultimately killed by Ceda.
The former head of the hand that Ceda now belongs to, she disappeared the night her father (King Azad) was killed. Before she disappeared she was known to be one of the best warriors in the Blade Maidens, going so far as to defeat an ehrekh. She wore thorns from it’s body as a necklace.
  • The Ace: Nayyan was one of the best the Blade Maidens ever had to offer.
  • Battle Trophy: She wears a ring of thorn necklace from the ehrekh she defeated.
  • Blingof War: After taking over for King Azad, she will still go out for certain tasks in the outfit of a Blade Maiden. Unlike the other Blade Maidens, her new battle dress has bling on it.
  • Bi the Way: She was Sumeya’s lover when they were Blade Maidens together. Later she becomes Ihsan’s lover.
  • Gender Bender: Using a necklace given to her by the kings she is able to transition between her natural female form and the male form of her father.
  • Lover and Beloved: Sumeya is described as in her 20s, whereas Nayyan is about 40 in book 4. Add up that Nayyan used to be the leader of their Blade Maiden hand before Sumeya and her mentor and they fit this trope very well.
  • Pregnant Badass: Despite finding out she’s pregnant, Nayyan (disguised as King Azad) participates in battle against the Moonless Host at the end of the second book.
  • The One That Got Away: To Sumeya


Ceda’s mother, Ayanesh is a driven and smart woman. While she does work for her brother and father on behalf of the Moonless Host, she has her own ideas and methods. Those methods eventually lead to her death at the hand of the Kings.
  • Action Mom: Ayanesh carries out many impressive feats that require a variety of skills. Some of her more impressive feats include breaking into Tauriyut and killing King Azad.
  • Ambiguous Allegiance: Ayanesh is secretive enough in her actions and motivations that it is difficult for Ceda to figure out who she is doing things for, if anyone. While it initially appears that she is doing things her brother and father ask her to do for the Moonless Host, by the second book it becomes clear that she follows some competing beliefs of the Moonless Host’s historian. Saliah’s influence leads Ayanesh to do some of her most daring actions. Ceda suspects some of her actions are the will of the kings themselves, though it’s unclear if this is due to Ihsan’s manipulative ability or her own free will. Other actions are yet to be explained.
  • Badass Bookworm: While she is something of a badass, some of her greatest accomplishments are related to her knowledge of history and languages.
    • She claims to have found all twelve of the bloody verses herself through her studies. To hide her finds she meticulously hid each one in a personal book. She did such a good job of hiding the information that Ceda needs months to find single verses Ayanesh left behind.
  • Because I Said So: While she explains some things to Ceda, she will often tell Ceda something along these lines.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: She died by Cahil’s hand.
  • Death by Origin Story: The mystery and circumstances surrounding her death are one of Ceda’s motivations for going after the kings.
  • Education Mama: She was very concerned with Ceda being properly educated in certain things including reading, writing, and battle – all things Ceda will need to go toe-to-toe with the kings.
  • The Kingslayer: She succeeds in killing King Azad before being killed herself.
  • Mama Bear: She is very protective of Ceda.
  • Missing Mom: After her death.
  • Posthumous Character: Ayanesh dies before the main story, although she is heavily featured in Ceda’s flashbacks.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: She made sure she was so drugged that the Kings would not be able to get any information from her when she died.
Hamzakiir is The Dreaded for pretty much every faction in Sharakhai, but his power is so great that some want him on their side. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you talk to) he is Dead to Begin With. He is the son of Kulasan.
  • Back from the Dead: He is resurrected by the Moonless Host, and then quickly kidnapped by Meryam.
  • Blood Magic: The primary reason he is so feared is his talent for blood magic, a form of magic that is both exceedingly powerful and taboo.
  • Body Horror: One of the ways he prefers to use his magic is to transform human beings into grotesque creatures that will do his bidding.
  • Body Surf: He does this in battle to engage enemies so that his men are killed in his place.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He is loyal to pretty much no one, not even his father. Therefore, he’ll ally with just about anyone willing to have him just long enough to get what he wants.
  • The Dreaded: Hamzakiir is known for being loyal to no one but himself, having no regard for human life, and wreaking havoc on Sharakhai. Hence why most are happy to have him stay dead.
  • Freudian Excuse: At least some of his anger can be explained by the distaste the Kings had for blood mages. He was left alone to die when his powers were sparked before he was finally helped and mentored by blood mages from Qaimar.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Many of his so-called experiments. In a desperate time the Moonless Host call on desperate measures by resurrecting him. They didn’t realize he’d end up making them even weaker by stealing their men for his own purposes.
  • Lack of Empathy: He could care less what happens to those in his way or those who he needs to kill for the sake of whatever he’s trying to do at the moment.
  • Pet the Dog: Although he is the one responsible for awakening Davud’s powers in the first place, he does work to save his life and ensure he gets at least the basic information he needs to keep living.
    • This is because Davud reminds him of his own awakening as a blood mage.
  • Playing with Fire: One of his biggest weapons in battle.
  • We Have Reserves: He has no problem killing his own allies if it will benefit him.
Meryam is the crown princess later queen of Qaimar and a powerful blood mage. She keeps her dead sister’s husband, Ramahd, as her right hand man. Although she appears to be up to something, she likes to keep her plans to herself.
  • Big Bad: Hamzakiir is just her puppet, Meryam is the real threat and by the end of book 3, she has the throne of Sharakhai.
  • Blood Magic: Meryam is talented at blood magic, although Ramahd worries that using too much of it is negatively affecting her health.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: She conducts most of her blood magic by drinking the blood of others. More violent forms of cannibalism, such as eating the heart of a human, can further enhance her powers.
  • The Chessmaster: She is every bit as powerful as Hamzakiir and every bit as good at planning as Macide. Along with her blood magic, her manipulative abilities fool everyone around her.
  • Consummate Liar: As an important political figure, she cannot show any weakness, forcing her to learn how to act like she is not ill or weak. She also proves she is a master at hiding her plans, even from those who know her best, and even when it requires an act-within-an-act.
  • Master of Disguise: She is able to use blood magic to disguise herself as others for short periods of time. She is so good at it that she can even fool Ramahd.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: She is incredibly skinny, likely because she does not like to eat anything but her frequent sips of human blood.
  • Settle for Sibling: After her sister’s death, she appears to develop a strange obsession with her former brother-in-law Ramahd, possibly hoping he’ll do this. She finally succeeds in manipulating Ramahd into having sex with her when they are stranded in the desert.
  • Soap Opera Disease: She is weak, pale, and skeletal in appearance. While no specific disease is to blame, Ramahd suspects it is a combination of using too much blood magic, too little sleep, and her aversion to food.
  • Underestimating Badassery: While she is physically weak, it is a big mistake to underestimate her. In fact, this might be why no one has realized that she is planning something potentially disastrous.
    Saliah a.k.a. Nalamae 
Saliah is a desert witch that Ayanesh occasionally takes Ceda to visit as a child. When Ceda is an adult, Saliah will occasionally come to her to help out.
  • God in Human Form: She is actually Nalamae, a goddess long thought missing or dead.
  • Honest Advisor: Although she provides good advice to Ayanesh, she does not always agree with what Ayanesh plans to do with that advice. Saliah is more than willing to make her displeasure known when that happens.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Each time she is reincarnated, she is left with no memories of being a goddess. As her new body grows up and into its powers she will begin to remember who she is.
  • Reincarnation: The other gods don’t like her for undisclosed reasons. She is forced to remain in the desert, reincarnated over and over into different bodies as the gods try to hunt her down.
  • Solitary Sorceress: She lives far out in the desert away from everyone and everything, but apparently not too far from Sharakhai.
  • Witch Classic: Ceda knows her as a desert witch. She wears flowy desert robes and has a strong association with earth and the nature of the desert. We rarely see her do actual magic.
    Juvaan Xin-Lei 
He is the Mirean ambassador to Sharakhai. Although his plans are unknown, Ceda believes he is scheming something.
  • Ambassador: He is an ambassador. We haven’t yet seen him do much politically beyond attending events at the Palaces.
  • Knowledge Broker: Juvaan seems to know more about what’s happening in Sharakhai than the Kings themselves. He’ll share it if he sees no harm in doing so, but can be reluctant to do so.
Anila is the daughter of a wealthy Sharakhani family that lives in Goldenhill. She befriended Davud while both were studying at the Collegia and was kidnapped with him.
  • Elective Mute: After having her blood drained by Davud she manages to save her own life. She chooses to only talk to a very select group of people.
  • Hades Shaded: After volunteering her blood to help out Davud, her skin becomes colored a very dark shade of Gray. As it sheds every few days Davud likes to think of it as snakeskin.

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