- Ho Yay: Richard II and Robert de Vere
- Katherine is in awe of Blanche of Lancaster from their first meeting, and she comments on how beautiful, kind, and elegant the older woman is. Even after her death, she looks to the duchess for guidance.
- Nirac de Bayanne is devoted to John of Gaunt to a ridiculous extent. He looks after the woman he assumes is John's mistress loyally and later murders her husband in order to free her for John. John's ignorance of this and therefore his "ingratitude" drive Nirac insane.
- Jerkass Woobie: Hugh Swynford was rough and inelegant, but his personality was well-suited for a knight fighting in the Hundred Years. Then he saw Katherine and developed romantic feelings for the first time. He couldn't cope, and he ended up making himself, Katherine, and later John of Gaunt miserable. And then, he was murdered for his trouble. Still, it's a little difficult to feel sorry for him after he tried to rape Katherine when they first met and then bullied her into marrying him.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Plenty of this since the novel is set in the 14th century.
- Most of the characters are of the opinion that marriage is about securing alliances and producing heirs, not love.
- Nearly everyone thinks that Katherine is an Ungrateful Bastard for not jumping at the chance to marry a landed knight like Hugh Swynford.
- The example most likely to bother modern readers is Katherine's willingness to force her shy 14-year-old daughter to marry a much older man she can't stand, even though Katherine herself was coerced into an arranged marriage at age 16. (She does of course call off the betrothal once Blanchette contracts scarlet fever.)
- John openly expresses the opinion that it doesn't matter whether Pedro the Cruel was a tyrant or not because he was still an anointed king.
- No one has a good word to say about the Basques or the French, and opinions of the Flemish decline after Queen Philippa's death (she was a Hainaulter and universally beloved) as the economy dives and the English begin to blame Flemish immigrants for their poverty, resulting in the murder of several Flemings during the 1381 Peasants' Revolt.
YMMV / Katherine