The protagonist of the novel, Alina is a teenage mapmaker in the First Army who’s hopelessly in love with her childhood best friend, Mal. Alina feels she’s never going to fit in anywhere, as… read analysis of Alina Starkov
Malyen “Mal” Oretsov
Mal is Alina’s childhood best friend and current love interest. He’s a tracker in the First Army, and Alina believes he’s totally out of reach: he’s handsome, popular, and good at what he does… read analysis of Malyen “Mal” Oretsov
The antagonist of the novel, the Darkling is a Summoner who can manipulate darkness and shadows. He leads the Grisha and the Second Army. Though Alina is frightened of and intimidated by the Darkling from… read analysis of The Darkling
Baghra is a mysterious, crotchety old woman who lives in a hut on the grounds of the Royal Palace—and eventually, Alina discovers that she’s the Darkling’s mother. She’s hundreds of years old, if not… read analysis of Baghra
Ivan is a Heartrender who serves as the Darkling’s right-hand man. He’s hulking and powerful, and he knows it—he likes to lord his power over others, especially over Fedyor. One of the reasons… read analysis of Ivan
Botkin is the combat instructor at the Little Palace. He’s not a Grisha, but is a former Shu Han mercenary who’s fought for a variety of countries and is very good at killing people… read analysis of Botkin Yul-Erdene
Zoya is an extremely beautiful—and mean—Squaller. Even Marie and Nadia, whom Alina finds catty and mean themselves, don’t have anything nice to say about Zoya. Zoya first appears in the novel’s opening… read analysis of Zoya
The King of Ravka is in his mid-40s. Rather than being an imposing figure, the King is unattractive, with watery eyes and a weak chin. However, the King is still quite powerful, and he uses… read analysis of The King
The Queen of Ravka is a blond woman in her mid-40s. She’s beautiful, but she’s been made beautiful to the point of it being uncanny, thanks to Genya’s gift. The Darkling “gifted” Genya to… read analysis of The Queen
The Apparat is a priest who serves the King and the Darkling. Alina initially hates and fears him: he smells like a musty graveyard and seems like an unhinged fanatic who’s far too interested… read analysis of The Apparat
Ana Kuya was the strict, elderly housekeeper who ran Duke Keramsov’s estate and was in charge of managing the many orphans who lived on the estate. While it’s implied that she wasn’t the nicest… read analysis of Ana Kuya
Duke Keramsov is the elderly noble who cared for Alina, Mal, and countless other children who were orphaned by the border wars. He educated the orphans in his care and, in Alina’s memory… read analysis of Duke Keramsov
Mikhael is one of Mal’s best friends and a fellow tracker in the First Army. Alina doesn’t like him, as he’s cocky, dismissive, and not very nice to her. But she’s still shocked and… read analysis of Mikhael
Dubrov is one of Mal’s best friends and a fellow tracker in the First Army. Alina doesn’t like him, as he’s cocky and not very nice to her. But she’s still shocked and sad… read analysis of Dubrov
Marie is a Summoner who’s Alina’s age. Her best friend is Nadia. The two of them take Alina under their wings, though Alina can never tell if they genuinely like her or just… read analysis of Marie
David is a young Fabrikator at the Little Palace. He’s Genya’s crush, but he’s uninterested in anything that isn’t metal or glass—including girls. David crafts the mirrors that Alina uses to fight, as well… read analysis of David
Ruby is another young woman in the First Army. When Alina first joined, Ruby tried to befriend her—but Alina quickly discovered that Ruby was just trying to get close to Mal. She continues to express romantic interest in Mal in the novel’s present.
Fedyor is a Heartrender who serves the Darkling. Though he’s one of the Grisha to forcibly escort Alina to the Little Palace, he’s a bit more open and kind to Alina than Ivan, his companion and superior.
Sergei is a young Heartrender. He and Marie act like they hate each other, but they begin flirting and dating not long before Alina leaves the Little Palace.
Nadia is a Summoner who’s Alina’s age. Her best friend is Marie. The two of them take Alina under their wings, though Alina can never tell if they genuinely like her or just want to get close to her for political reasons.
Alexei is Alina’s best friend in the First Army; he’s a fellow mapmaker and is one of the best at the job. Though Alina tries to protect him, volcra snatch and kill Alexei in the Shadow Fold.
Eva is a fellow mapmaker in the First Army. She’s seen as quaint and provincial, as she talks about how Grisha, and the Darkling specifically, aren’t human and don’t have souls.
Colonel Raevsky is a senior officer in the First Army.
The Senior Cartographer
The Senior Cartographer is Alina’s boss in the army. He’s an older, rumpled man.