- Fair for Its Day: Kadmiel's story and character trades heavily on stereotypes (he's a Jewish moneylender, for starters), but he's ultimately a heroic figure and indirectly responsible for the signing of the Magna Carta.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Parnesius's entire backstory. He's the son of a nobleman born and bred in the northern province of a huge empire that's on the verge of a civil war. He becomes part of a military force assigned to guard an enormous wall that marks the northernmost end of the empire, a wall defending against an assemblage of barbarian tribes. When he arrives at the wall, he's crushed to find out that rather than the glorious place he believed it to be, it's in fact a Wretched Hive staffed by criminals and undesirables sent there from all over the realm. He ends up best friend's with another nobleman's son, one who was sent there as a means of disinheriting him, and eventually gains the trust of an important leader among the barbarian tribes. Meanwhile civil war breaks out and one of the would-be rulers of the realm comes to the wall in search of resources for his conquest, believing it is his destiny to reign. The two butt heads but eventually at the ruler's behest Parnesius brokers an uneasy truce between the realm and the natives. Despite his youth he becomes commander of the wall, and starts his tenure by re-allocating their depleted reserves along the wall in hopes of preventing the increasingly bold barbarians from realizing how weak they are and breaking through. At one point he's offered the opportunity to rule the northern provinces, but refuses, saying that his duty is to defending the wall. Gee, does that sound familiar?
- Values Dissonance: Both in and out of universe
- Una is quite horrified at Sir Richard taking his enemy's son hostage in exchange for good behavior.
- The racist descriptions of nonwhite characters, along with Kadmiel's section, can be cringing.
YMMV / Puck of Pook's Hill