The Lieutenant


Kate Grenville

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Lieutenant Daniel Rooke

Rooke is born in Portsmouth in 1962. His father is a clerk, and Rooke is a very intelligent child. His interest in prime numbers attracts the attention of Dr. Adair, who sends Rooke to… read analysis of Lieutenant Daniel Rooke

Tagaran / The Girl

Tagaran is a young Cadigal girl who lives in a camp near Rooke's hut. She's about twelve or thirteen years old, and she shares Rooke's love of language and learning. She and Rooke form a… read analysis of Tagaran / The Girl

Talbot Silk

When Rooke is assigned to the ship Resolution during the American Revolutionary War, Silk occupies the hammock next to his. The two quickly become friends, though they're very different. Silk is confident, gregarious, and skilled… read analysis of Talbot Silk

James Gilbert / The Governor

Gilbert begins the novel as the commodore of the First Fleet. Once in New South Wales, he becomes the monarch by proxy and becomes the governor. He sails on the Sirius with Rooke, though… read analysis of James Gilbert / The Governor

Lieutenant Gardiner

Lieutenant Gardiner is Captain Barton's right hand man on board Sirius. Like Barton, Gardiner is exceptionally warm and kind. He's also not competitive about his sextant readings, and he and Rooke form a close… read analysis of Lieutenant Gardiner
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Dr. Vickery

Dr. Vickery is the Astronomer Royale, or the official astronomer for the British government. When Rooke visits him as a young teenager, Dr. Vickery introduces him to the possibility that Rooke isn't necessarily an extremely… read analysis of Dr. Vickery


Brugden is a convict transported to New South Wales with the First Fleet. He's an extremely large and imposing man. In England he'd been a gamekeeper on a rich man's estate and in New South… read analysis of Brugden


Warungin is an old Aboriginal man, and is one of the men that Lieutenant Gardiner captures so that the Governor and Silk can learn the Cadigal language. Warungin is incensed by his capture, though he… read analysis of Warungin

Surgeon Weymark

Weymark is a large, jovial man who acts as the surgeon for the First Fleet. He spends much of his time caring for Governor Gilbert, who is always ill and in pain. Weymark is… read analysis of Surgeon Weymark

Lieutenant Timpson

Lieutenant Timpson is a very young soldier who shows everyone his miniature painting of his love, Betsy. Rooke is often willing to indulge Timpson and allows him to talk about Betsy, but he recognizes that… read analysis of Lieutenant Timpson

Lieutenant Willstead

Willstead is one of Rooke's fellow lieutenants in New South Wales. He's openly ambitious, which rubs everyone the wrong way. He often eagerly tries to earn Governor Gilbert's favor, but Gilbert regularly and methodically ignores… read analysis of Lieutenant Willstead


Boinbar is one of the Aboriginal men that Lieutenant Gardiner captures so the English can learn the Cadigal language. He's around 30 years old and seems just as interested in learning about his captors as… read analysis of Boinbar


Anne is Rooke's younger sister. She and Rooke are very close, and Rooke enjoys her company because she's clever enough to understand some of his scientific or mathematical concepts. He thinks about her often in… read analysis of Anne
Minor Characters
Captain Lennox
Lennox is one of the Navy captains with the fleet to New South Wales. Silk describes him as a walking string bean, and Rooke observes that Lennox is always at attention. Lennox is the first captain to oversee the farming at Rose Hill.
Lancelot Percival James
Lancelot Percival is one of Rooke's classmates at the Naval Academy. He's a bully and targets Rooke specifically. Though he's not particularly smart, he speaks at length about how the British Empire will crumble without slavery--his family's substantial fortune comes from the sugar and slave trades in the Caribbean.
Private Truby
In Rooke's first battle of the American Revolutionary War, Private Truby suffers major injuries that destroy his body from the waist down. Both Rooke and Silk watch Truby attempt to get up, and the experience is life changing for both of them.
Major Wyatt
Major Wyatt is Rooke's direct superior in New South Wales. He's a loud and generally angry man, and Rooke doesn't believe that he cares much for science or astronomy.
Dr. Adair
Dr. Adair is the man who offers Rooke a place at the Naval Academy. He's interested in Rooke's affinity for numbers.
Captain Barton
Barton is the captain of Sirius, the ship that Rooke is assigned to for the journey to New South Wales. Though Barton is initially suspicious of Rooke, he turns out to be warm and compassionate when he discovers Rooke can navigate.
Rooke's mother. Though she's initially embarrassed by Rooke's intelligence, she's very proud of him when he begins attending the Naval Academy.
Rooke's father, a clerk on Church Street. Both he and his wife are worried about and embarrassed by Rooke's intelligence, but he's extremely proud of Rooke when he's accepted to the Naval Academy. He never learns that his employment is the reason the other boys bully Rooke.
Worogan is a shy Aboriginal girl about Tagaran's age. She's takes several months to truly warm to Rooke, but spends the night with Tagaran in Rooke's hut.
Boneda / The Boy
Boneda is a young Aboriginal boy who's around six years old. He's excitable, curious, and fearless. Rooke believes that Boneda has a particularly strong grasp of English.
Barringan is one of the Aboriginal women who visits Rooke at his observatory. Though Rooke can identify that Barringan is a relative of Boneda's, he cannot figure out if she's an aunt or his mother.
Mauberry is the old woman who regularly visits Rooke with a group of Aboriginal Australians. Rooke believes she occupies a position of power within the tribe.
An Aboriginal girl. She's possibly Ngalgear's sister, but Rooke can't be sure. When a British soldier from the Charlotte beats her, she and Tagaran seek out Rooke for help.
An Aboriginal girl. She's possibly Tugear's sister.
The native man who spears Brugden.
Henrietta is a former slave that Rooke freed in Antigua. She remains in his service to care for him even after he can no longer pay her.