Organized by the novel they appear in.
The Curse of Chalion
Lupe dy Cazaril
- Badass Bookworm: Although he's not very good at holding a pen anymore, he's hired as a secretary and a tutor of languages. He even winds up writing poetry.
- Beware the Honest Ones:
- He regularly refuses bribes, from the Roknari during the siege of Gortoget, from Dondo dy Jironal, and from the Fox of Ibra, cementing his reputation as an unimpeachable courtier.
- Imparting on Iselle an understanding of how to recognize self-serving flattery helps her deflect Dondo's initial wooing attempts.
- Finally, he rides across Chalion and Ibra to persuade Royce Bergon to marry Iselle, so she can legally become the Royina upon Orico's death without triggering a civil war.
- Blessed with Suck: Becomes a living saint, hosting two miracles from different gods. This is less awesome than it sounds, because saints are the gods' tools, not their work, and tools get damaged.
- Broken Bird: Nineteen months of backbreaking slavery on a galley will do that to a guy. He gets better.
- Combat Pragmatist: Having witnessed both courtly duels and real combat, Caz knows exactly how far knowledge of the former will take you in the latter. The answer is: not very.
- Determinator: Once he sets his mind on a goal he will see it through, no matter how much pain he might be in.
- Humble Hero: To the point where it seems to be a symptom of depression. To hear Caz tell it, he's failed at everything he's ever done in his life and is just generally worthless and useless. Other characters frequently point out his praiseworthy qualities and many achievements, but he always dismisses them as irrelevant.
- Mr. Seahorse: It's left vague whether he's literally pregnant with some kind of ghost-demon-hybrid that will eventually claw its way out of his body (when his tumour is punctured at the end of the novel there is no demonic fetus to be found within it, but Caz dourly notes that the demon might just have taken its half-formed body with it as it vacated the premises), but he does in fact carry the spirits of a ghost and a demon within him, and they manifest physically as an abdominal tumour that makes his stomach look swollen.
- Younger Than They Look: Even without the demonic cancer thing, his greying beard makes him seem rather older than his mid thirties.
March dy Palliyar
- The Lancer: To Cazaril. He's also his best friend.
- Beware the Honest Ones: He's genuinely shocked when his case against an corrupt official in the Daughter's Order is summarily thrown out, and is uneasy when Iselle recruits him to help in arranging her marriage to Bergon. However...Palli: I, I, I... I can swear my fealty in addition to what I have sworn to your brother Orico, lady. I cannot swear to you instead of to him.
Iselle: I do not ask for your service before what you give to Orico. I only ask for your service before what you give to Orico's chancellor.
Pallli: Now that I can do. And with a will.
- Good-Looking Privates: He's described as being a very handsome soldier of the Daughter's Order, to the point that Caz wonders why Betriz isn't attracted more to him.
- The Ingenue: Though with Cazaril's help she quickly sheds her maidenly ignorance and becomes very sophisticated, clever and bordering on wily.
- The High Queen: The High Royina. She's heading there toward the end of the book, with her native intelligence, carefully schooled demeanor, heroic husband and clever advisors. She's got great PR.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: She's determined to become this, even though tradition is for highborn women to be demure and passive. After a few stumbles along the way, she succeeds admirably.
- The Lancer: To Iselle
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Caz gave him water and defended him from a rape attempt, earning himself a vicious flogging, while they were on the galley together — all with no clue who the boy truly was until they met again over a year later.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He's mentioned briefly in the early chapters as background detail, and then re-enters the plot at a crucial point late in the book.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Well grounded and a thoughtful strategic and tactical planner.
- Warrior Prince: Almost the Wise Prince, but without the associated melancholy. He's cunning but not cynical.
Paladin of Souls
- Blessed with Suck: Sainthood ain't all it's cracked up to be...
- Broken Bird: ... as a matter of fact, it drove her mad the first time around.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Adultery, betrayal, treason, murder, madness... she's got it all.
- I Was Quite a Looker: It's how she feels now that she's reached forty, though Illvin seems to think she's still got it.
- MayDecember Romance: She was eighteen when she married the fifty-something Ias.
- Rage Against the Heavens: After a series of very, very painful experiences, Ista has no interest whatsoever in being the gods' tool again, and often appends any talk of them with curses. (As it happens, the latest god to choose her as a champion finds this hilarious.)
- Rebellious Dowager Royina: Perhaps it runs in the family...
- The Snark Knight: Spends a lot of time insulting the Bastard, even as she works for his goals.
- Action Girl: In typical LMB manner, realistically. She doesn't wield any weapons, but as a courier, Liss is an expert rider, lightweight with access to the fastest horses. She uses her skills to materially affect the outcome of events in the book.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: When she wants to Liss can be very deliberately dense when a higher born character, particularly Lady dy Hueltar, tries to get her to shove off.
- Tomboy: She's far more comfortable in her riding gear than dresses. She wears a skirt tucked up around her waist while she rides, and only unrolls when forced to pay lip-service to conventional attire.
- Pony Express Rider: Medieval Fantasy Edition!
Ferda dy Gura
- Ascended Extra: The dy Gura brothers had a cameo in The Curse of Chalion, escorting Cazaril to Ibra and back.
- Cultured Warrior: Though he's not the avid reader Foix is, he's very much a gentleman.
- Sibling Team: Rarely encountered without his brother Foix.
Foix dy Gura
- Ascended Extra: With Ferda.
- An Axe to Grind: Though he also carries a sword, he uses a battle axe on occasion.
- Badass Bookworm: He's built like a brick, er...house, but is an avid reader and has a mind like a steel trap.
- Cultured Warrior: When Ista finds him in Ahrys' library, she's surprised to find him reading a book of poetry.
- Genius Bruiser: At first glance Foix looks like little more than his brother's faithful shadow; in truth, while he is very close to his brother and aids him loyally, Ferda relies heavily on Foix's intelligence and analytical ability.
- Hidden Depths: The point of his characterization, if you weren't getting that by now.
- Sibling Team: Rarely encountered without his brother Ferda.
Lord Arhys dy Lutez
- The Ace: He's good at everything.
- Can't Live Without You: He's dead, but his soul remains in his body and keeps it from rotting so long as a spiritual "link" exists between him and a living person — currently Illvin. Any injuries sustained by Arhys close up and reappear on Illvin. Unfortunately, the body is a limited vessel; there just isn't enough spirit in one person to sustain two living people at full strength. Typically Arhys is upright and in the prime of health while Illvin lies comatose, though the link can be manipulated. There's a more significant downside: he is sundered from the gods, denied his proper place in the afterlife.
- Chick Magnet: It's a plot point!
- Disappeared Dad: Arhys and his mother were well provided-for but completely ignored by Lord Arvol dy Lutez.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Illvin confides to Ista that Arhys believed as a boy that if only he was good enough, his father would call him to court. In the end, it is not his father but the Father who calls him, through Ista.
- Always Second Best: But not The Resenter. He adores his brother and pities his fatherless upbringing.
- Heroic Bastard: Lady dy Lutiz and the Castle Warder were... close.
- The Lancer: To Arhys.
- The Smart Guy: He's a medieval version of an intelligence analyst and field agent.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: She really does not want anything to come between her and Arhys. Not even death...
- Determinator: An untrained noblewoman barely out of her teens with no grasp of theology whatsoever kept an experienced demon under control with sheer grit.
- Spoiled Brat: Illvin and Ista regard her as such, and not without reason.
- Took a Level in Badass: By the end, she rallies the castle to repel invaders and finally starts to ditch her spoiled traits.
The Hallowed Hunt
Ingrey kin Wolfcliff
- Amazon Chaser: Ingrey thinks so of Ijada.
- The Berserker: When his spirit-wolf takes over, he becomes insatiably blood-thirsty.
- Cursed with Awesome: Ingrey's "defilement" gives him superhuman strength, a Compelling Voice and a dangerous, angsty air.
- The Fettered: In more ways than two. Ingrey is constrained by his honor code and his oath of service, which in the course of the novel begins to conflict with his equally ironclad sense of chivalry. His wolf adds yet a third dimension — he must keep its wild tendencies "bound" by a vaguely spiritual mental discipline.
- Knight In Sour Armor
- Troubled, but Cute: At least Ijada thinks so.
Ijada kin Badgerbank
- Cursed with Awesome: Ijada's spirit animal.
- The Ingenue: Though she's highly intelligent and practical-minded, Ijada had lived a sheltered, provincial life.
- Spirited Young Lady: On the ride to Easthome she dresses primly in riding habits suitable to a noblewomen's hunting party, but she is easily able to handle a restive horse, her backstory reveals that she was a bit of a tomboy as a girl, she turns out to be able to swim, and she's determined to do the right thing, whether that right thing is "Stand trial for murder," or "Stand by the maimed ghosts of several thousand barbarian warriors."
Wencel kin Horseriver
- Blessed with Suck: Congrats! You can bespell people around you, control animals, and have powers to thwart the gods themselves... what could go wrong? Well, the way you did it was to involuntarily steal the bodies of your descendants and lock them in a sensory-deprived mental prison. Also, you are incapable of death, though you can still feel pain and you still have all your memories. Enjoy!
- Blue Blood: Ijada and Ingrey are nobility, but Wencel outranks them quite a bit, as an Earl.
- Rage Against the Heavens: He knows perfectly well how much the gods love all human souls, which is why he's going to sunder as many of them as he can before he goes. There is very little left in him at all except spite.
- 0% Approval Rating: Even Ingrey's silver-tongued employer can't come up with anything nice to say at his funeral, having to settle for something vague about "young lives cut short."
- Dead Guy on Display: For various reasons, but mainly as a member of the royal family, his death must be universally confirmed because of its effect on the order of succession.
- Blue Blood: A barbarian prince is still a prince. Jokol's casual interaction with Ingrey belies his rank, but is underscored when he meets Prince Biast for the first time and they greet each other as equals.
- Cultured Warrior: He's a either a barbarian prince or possibly a pirate — no one's quite sure — yet poetry drips from his lips like kisses from the Goddess of Spring.
- Heroic Build: He's big.
- Meaningful Name: Though not what you'd think, and Bujold gets a good bit of mileage out of the joke.
The Penric stories
Penric kin Jurald
- Badass Bookworm: A young man with a love of learning, who happens to be a sorcerer with a powerful and protective demon.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Penric usually is the most generous, forgiving person in the world. That is until the events of The Orphans of Raspay, when being betrayed twice while trying to escape an island of pirates leads to him letting Desdemona off the leash, burning the pirate base to the ground, and sinking two of their ships in a whirlwind of Chaos Magic.
- Broken Bird: In between Penric and the Shaman and Penric's Mission, Penric tries to commit suicide, thanks to being assigned the most desperate cases to heal and repeatedly losing patients. Fortunately he gets better, but he's still leery of healing extreme cases.
- Chekhov's Hobby: Averted. Despite Penric's archery skills being mentioned in every story, he never actually uses them for anything.
- Happily Married: To Nikys, as of The Orphans of Raspay.
- Impoverished Patrician: Penric's family are the barons of a valley whose peasantry's main pastimes seem to be "archery, poaching, and tax evasion". His father was fond of drinking and gambling; his older brother, the current baron, is a sucker for any "pious beggar, whether in rags or Temple robes."
- Insistent Terminology: Thanks to some bad experiences and not taking the proper oaths, (see above) Penric is adamant that he is not a physician. He just has all the training and heals the ill and injured at every opportunity.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Penric has light blond hair usually pulled into a long braid. It gets a lot of attention in Mira's Last Dance, especially when he starts dressing as a woman.
- Nobility Marries Money: His intended marriage to Prieta, the daughter of a wealthy cheese merchant. The marriage is cancelled when he becomes a sorcerer.
- The Smart Guy: Even before he obtained a demon with twelve previous lives, four of which went to the university.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: In Mira's Last Dance he dresses as a high class prostitute to help disguise his party's escape to Orbas. Later in The Prisoner of Limmnos he dresses up again to rescue Nikys' mother from the titular island.
- Many Spirits Inside of One: Twelve of her, referred to by one name that Penric gave her. The individuals sometimes are referred to separately as well.
- Really 700 Years Old: She's lived through twelve lives already, including a lioness, a mare, and ten women of varying nationalities, social classes, and professions.
General Adelis Arisaydia
- A Father to His Men: He seems one of those generals who truly inspires his soldiers.
- Expy: Of Flavius Belisarius.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Under house arrest on a false charge of treason, he continues to believe that he will be found innocent by those who trumped up the treason charge in the first place.
Madame Nikys Khatai
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Grey for the Father, green for the Mother, red for the Son, blue for the Daughter, and white for the Bastard.
- God's Hands Are Tied: Here's the thing. The five gods hold absolute power over the realm of spirit. Souls can be manipulated by them as easily as a human being manipulates matter. What they can't do is, well, manipulate matter. Even lifting a pebble is beyond all measure of their powers. For this reason, they need saints: mortal agents who consciously surrender their souls to the gods and act as living conduits into reality. Most people aren't psychologically capable of yielding so utterly even if they want to, and the moments of surrender happen under painful/traumatic circumstances, which is one reason why saints seems to be just a little bit odd to anyone who is not a fellow saint.
- Psychopomp: All five take up mortal souls after death; funerals determine which one by observing the reactions of sacred animals brought close to the body. Usually it's whichever would best fit the personality or preference of the deceased. However, if the first four shun that soul, it must be taken by the Bastard; if even he refuses (or is refused), or under certain other unusual circumstances, the soul is sundered from heaven and trapped in the mortal world until it fades into nothingness. The gods prefer to avoid that, and so do most mortals.
The Father of Winter
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: He appears to one character in the shape of someone she knew to be a comforting and stolid presence.
- Dark Is Not Evil: His domain is winter and his colours are black and gray, but he is the god of fatherhood, justice, fairness and leadership.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: The god of natural and peaceful deaths (others fall under the governance of the Bastard). Like winter itself, he brings rest and dormancy so that life can be renewed.
- Hot God: An especially attractive and manly man is said to be "blessed by the Father" — so, yes, masculine allure, virility and sexuality are also his domains. To hammer home that point, the area on the human body associated with the Father is the genitalia.
The Mother of Summer
- Love Goddess: Of love and the results of love, but especially motherly love.
- The Medic: Her dedicats are often physicians or midwives.
- Mother Nature: She governs healing, renewal and birth, as well as holding domain over general motherly qualities. When invoking the gods, she is represented by touching the navel; the only place everyone was once connected to his or her mother.
The Son of Autumn
- Cardiovascular Love: The god of passionate emotion and overt displays of such, as well as friendship, has the heart as his symbolic point in the body. Naturally.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Heroism, courage, action and the emotions behind such things are his gifts. His Order defends a nation's borders from invasion and, of course, makes invasions of its own. Soldiers pay at least lip-service to him.
- War God: A kindly one, governing more the camaraderie and nobility of soldiers than violence for its own sake. He is also god of the hunt and the harvest, and the one most often associated with animals.
The Daughter of Spring
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Notable in that she doesn't bother to take one when appearing to a human character (he was fortunate in that his perception was altered enough to bear it). He specifically describes how he'd come to imagine her, from childhood sermons, as a "nice immortal lady" — nothing at all like the magnificent and incomprehensibly powerful being he perceives.
- Guile Hero: Or...well, god. Thought, learning, logic, subtlety and long-laid plans are her specialities. When performing the Quintarian gesture to invoke the gods' protection, touching the forehead is representative of the Daughter.
- It should surprise no one that the goddess of the planting season is a gardener of more than just plants...
- Nature Spirit: As the Son is heralded by animals, she is heralded by plants, especially flowers in bloom.
- War God: Her Order is much like the Son's, but turned inward; it pursues bandits, hunts down murderers, investigates crime, roots out corruption and defends those who can't defend themselves (such as, for example, maidens who are not trained in combat — hence their patron deity). Those who pledge themselves to the Daughter in this regard are fewer than the followers of the Son, but what they lack in numbers they make for with a certain romantic dedication.
- Dragged Off to Hell: When demons escape his hell, this is the fate that ultimately finds them — and the souls of those unwise enough to entangle themselves in such forces tend to go with them.
- For Want of a Nail: When a nail is needed, it's his job to provide it.
- Love God: Specifically, homosexual love (or perhaps any form of romantic attraction that doesn't conform to the traditional sort). Not coincidentally, nations that revile the Bastard tend also to regard homosexuality as heretical.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Well, God with bad publicity, especially in the Rokanari Princedoms.
- Odd Job God: "All things out of season" covers everything from Foundling Hospitals to Executioners and those they execute.
- Trickster Mentor: And of course, any trickster's best tool is his or her mouth, which is the Bastard's holy symbol. Invoking him requires touching one's lips. (Since blessing from the gods are conferred with a kiss, the Bastard has great fun with this metaphor by smooching the hell out of his saints. Or into them, as may be required.) Various comments are made by his followers about how his miracles are somewhat...distinctive in their peculiarity.
- Satanic Archetype: His domains are disasters and chaos; "all things out of season". When calling a demon, one prays to the Bastard. Most other prayers beseech him to steer clear. When cursing, one invokes "the Bastard's Hell." Deaths by violence, accident or sickness — lives cut short — are his. He actually is reviled as a Satanic figure in some regions. He fulfils the role only up to a point, however — he may be inscrutable and his blessings hard to parse as such, but he loves humanity as much as the rest of his family. Orphanages are run by his dedicates (since unwanted children are often bastards), and unexpected windfalls are also his purview.
- Satan is Good