Age 15, lonesome and unlucky boy from New Orleans with deformities on his hands and feet. At the beginning of the story, he stumbles through a magical doorway into an ancient, parallel world (Pangrelor), where he discovers that his deformities hide strange abilities he never dreamed he possessed. As he learns to navigate his new surroundings, he also discovers an abiding connection to the alien world into which he has passed. Elliott is the story's protagonist.
Age 16-18, Princess of Harwelden (Pangrelor's greatest civilization). Just before the story begins, Sarintha suffers the death of her father, King Gregorus. At the beginning of the story, she is captured by the enemy serpan horde and carried away to their homeland. As the story progresses, she begins to fear that she is the intended target of a coup, and that the forces at Harwelden don't intend for her to be coronated as Queen.
Middle-aged beast from the Valley of Susquatania. Hooks is a petty criminal and an outcast from his homeland. Early in the story, he is captured during the commission of a theft and sentenced to die in Harwelden's central square. But he has a few tricks up his sleeve, and an incredible secret no one could ever guess.
Elderly gimlet with some fight left in him, and chief steward of the captured Princess.
The youngest gimlet ever advanced to the position of royal steward. He is Marvus's protege and also serves Princess Sarintha. He is skilled with throwing a dagger and widely known for his faith in The Shama, a local religion.
An elderly, though powerful, Shamalan priest. He was a member of the royal Shamalan court in the old times, and was thought to be long dead. Elliott and others find him hiding in the wilderness, waiting for the winds of war to turn back in favor of Harwelden.
A middle-aged grayfarer, and sitting member of Harwelden's Grayfarer Council. He is a fierce and loyal warrior, who is sent on a quest to hunt down Elliott lest he interfere with the empires plans for war with the serpans.
A young serpan warrior who defects from his regiment. Facing certain death if captured by his own countrymen, he aims to redeem himself by assassinating Elliott, who has piqued the interest of the serpan emperor.
The mysterious Serpan emperor, whose face remains covered at all times by an ornate steel mask. He is a believer in the old magic, and fears that Elliott's unexpected arrival in Pangrelor may adversely affect his plans to storm Harwelden and eradicate the Shamalans once and for all.
An older grayfarer, and general in Harwelden's grayfarer army. Like Woolf, he is a fearsome warrior, though he has been captured by the serpans before the story begins. When Princess Sarintha is imprisoned by the serpans, she finds her old friend Grimaldi faces a grisly fate.
A middle-aged grayfarer warrior, and Chancellor of Harwelden's powerful Grayfarer Council. As the story progresses, his loyalties become unclear, though he holds so much power, no one is quite sure what to do about it.