Dwyrin | Thyatis | Maxian | Krista | Ahmet | Zenobia | Chrosoes | Dahak | Shahr-Baraz | Anastasia | Shirin | Heraclius | Galen | Aurelian | Theodore | Nikos | Mohammed | Khiron | Alais | The Dark Queen | Gaius Julius | Alexandros | Nicholas | Vladimir | Khadames | C'hu-lo | Khalid | Helena | Martina | Zo | Odenathus | Abdmachus | Tros | Mikele

Dwyrin MacDonald, student at the School of Pthames

Dwyrin is a sixteen year old Hibernian (Irish) boy. At the beginning of Shadow, he is a lowly apprentice in the School of Pthames in Egypt, where he is learning to be a wizard. His parents are poor (and barbarians, no less, living beyond the edge of the civilized world), but his talents were discovered by roving Imperial Witchfinders.

A sketch of Dwyrin (as a much older man) can be found in the Gallery.

(Dan Smith)

 

 

Thyatis Julia Clodia, agent of the Western Empire

Tall, broad-shouldered Latin woman, eighteen years old, very fit. Curly red-gold hair, sort-of-tan skin. Sea-gray eyes. Hard, flat muscle from endless training. Very strong. Favors the gladius (a Roman short-sword), until she gets a particularly nice Indian-steel (damascene) longsword while in Persia. Usually wears armor under her clothes. Scars and calluses on her hands and forearms from weapons practice and battle.

A grim woman, since she's never had the chance to be anything more than a killer.

(Dan Smith - upper)

(Billy Payne - lower)

 

Thyatis by Dan Smith

Maxian Atreus, Caesar (Prince) of the Western Roman Empire

Medium height Latin youth of twenty-odd years, long dark brown hair, wears a lot of black and gray, which matches his mood. Thin features, like his brothers. A priest of the temple of Asklepios (god of healing), so wears the caduceus with intertwining snakes to show the favor of Apollo. Born in southern Gaul (France) in the Narbonensis.

A happy-go-lucky kind of young man, without any real responsibilities, until he discovers something truly horrific.

(Dan Smith)

 

Krista, slave girl in the house of d'Orelio

Slim, curly very dark brown hair (to mid-back), very tan. Dark eyes, no chest to speak of. Bangles on wrists, no collar. Of Sicilian origin. Very fit, due to Thiran martial-arts training.

Sly, sharp-tongued, very forward and self-assured. Well, all right, she's a snip.

(Micha Rudack)

 

Krista by Micha Rudack

Ahmet, a priest of the School of Pthames

Egyptian of medium height, solid features but not fleshy or fat - more ascetic looking, short black hair, smooth-shaven. Not muscled, but fit from a long life out of doors. Carries a staff with the markings of his order (Hermes Trismegistus).

Studious, reliable, loyal - an excellent teacher - until he loses his head, his heart and his job. Then he gets down to business. 

(Dan Smith)

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra

Descendant of the Hellenic kings of Palmyra, a fabulously wealthy city on the trade routes from Persia to Rome. Cloud of dark hair, electric blue eyes, short, well-built. Very pale (aristocratic) skin, oval face. Tremendously charismatic.

Wears plenty of jewelry - rings, bracelets, earrings. Not an idiot, so often wears a shirt of close-linked chainmail under her gown. Being Queen is no easy business.

A woman stood behind him, her hand on his shoulder. At first, all that he was aware of were her eyes – a cobalt bluer than the open sky – with heavy dark lashes in a delicate oval face. They smiled at him and he felt the shock of that personality all the way to his stomach. She pressed him gently aside with a murmured, “your pardon, holy one”, and he had a blurred impression of a cloud of lustrous black curls ornamenting a graceful alabaster neck.

Chrosoes II Aparvez, "The Victorious", Shahanshah of Persia

Tall, curly brown hair, thick curled beard. Face disfigured by a fire, so he wears a golden mask fashioned after the great Persian emperor Xerxes. Powerful torso, arms, an accomplished swordsman, rider, general. Getting a little out of control following the death of his wife Maria in the fire that destroyed his face.

Dahak (Azi Tohak), the Lord of the Ten Serpents, the Destroyer
Dahak by Dan Smith (also first t-shirt design)

Dahak by Steve Berry

The other man was well built too, ... he seemed a sapling to an ancient oak. ... this one was dressed in a flowing black robe of some shining material, with dark cotton trousers and arms graced by many bands of dark gold and red and amber. He too had dark hair, but it hung long and straight on his back, bound back by a silver fillet. His face, too, was long and straight, with arching eyebrows and a sharp nose. He was clean-shaven, without even the shadow of a beard. This one was cold and distant, like the ice on a mountaintop. Looking upon him Dwyrin met his eyes for an instant and quailed away. They were deep pools of darkness, filled with horror and suffering.

An ancient incalculable evil wearing the shape of a Persian prince, the younger brother of Chrosoes.

(Dan Smith, Stephen Berry)

Shahr-Baraz, The Royal Boar, general of the armies of Persia

The first of the two men was large, taller than Khiron, with a bristling beard and great whiskers. His black hair was curled and fell in ringlets past his broad shoulders. His arms were thick and corded with muscle. He was clad in heavy woolen garments, like a merchant, but they sat uneasy upon him. Dark piercing eyes scanned Dwyrin up and down, then the chin lifted in appraisal, a hand adorned with many rings stroking the lushness of his beard.

The son of a border lord, Shahr-Baraz has never lost a fight in single combat. A true hero, endowed with enormous physical strength and a cunning military mind. The strong right hand of Chrosoes. Fearless and confident. His nickname comes from two huge jutting mustaches that look like boar's tusks.

Anastasia d'Orelio, Duchess of Parma, spymaster of the Western Empire

A tall woman stood on the topmost step, her raven-dark hair spilling down her back in a glorious cascade of loose curls. Tiny golden pins glittered like stars against the firmament of her hair. A shimmering deep-blue-black dress of silk clung eagerly to her figure. Thin necklaces of pearl and raw red gold plunged from her neck to vanish in the soft darkness between her breasts. Thyatis suppressed a momentary urge to gape in awe at the expense of such a garment. The raw silk alone would have done to purchase the province of Pannonia. The lush red lips quirked in amusement, and Thyatis struggled to keep her composure as she realized that her opinion was all too clear to the pair of deep violet eyes that surveyed her from beneath eyelids lightly dusted with gold.

(Rush Kress)

Shirin, Empress of Persia, princess of the Khazars

The young wife of Chrosoes, seventeen or eighteen. The Emperor's second wife, his true love. A princess of the Khazar nomads, who dwell north of the Mare Caspium. Lithe, energetic, brilliant smile. Mother of four uncontrollably cute children.

The woman that had risen, sylph-like, from a pool of warm light and linen pillows matched the room and made it complete. She was of medium height, though her slimness made her seem taller. Gorgeous brown eyes dominated a face of perfect curves and planes. Sleek upswept eyebrows and long lashes framed them. She smiled, her graceful dark lips suggesting laughter and merriment. Wavy dark brown hair with russet highlights cascaded over smooth olive shoulders and down her back. A rich red gown with a scoop neckline that accentuated her full breasts clung to her body. Thyatis felt a bright spark of jealousy flare in her heart, but then it faded. The woman that returned Jusuf’s bow, laughing, her eyes sparkling with joy, could not be hated or reviled, only adored.

Heraclius, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire
Brash and commanding, Heraclius is young, in his thirties, with a powerful physique, golden hair and a short-clipped beard. A man of moods, anger and mirth come to him in equal measure. Though cunning, he lacks the administrative genius that marks his fellow Emperor, Galen.

 

Galen Atreus, Emperor of Western Roman Empire

Where Heraclius is outgoing and sometimes emotional, his Western counterpart is thin, brown-haired, nervous, with intelligent eyes and a high forehead. Galen is an intellectual Emperor, leading from experience and wisdom rather than physical strength and courage. His lank brown hair is constantly falling in front of his face, to the dismay of his wife, who wishes he would pay more attention to his dress.

Very well read and possessed of a fabulous memory.

His brothers looked up; Galen thin and wiry, clean-shaven, with his short-cut dark hair thinning at the temples, Aurelian tall and broad, with a full dark red beard. Galen grimaced at the sight of his missing sibling and shook his head. Aurelian turned, his light brown eyes sparkling with surprise and delight.

Aurelian, Caesar of the Western Roman Empire

Hearty and cheerful, Aurelian is a horse-loving, stocky cavalryman. Broad shoulders, thick wrists, a bushy red beard. Wears his hair short and his beard (though it is constantly striving to escape) clipped short. He also loves all kinds of gadgets and machines, even those forbidden by the Augustan Edicts, and shows his native intellect in the physical world by making marvelous devices.

Has no time for anything but food (the spicer the better!), horses (the faster the better), his Legion duties and mechanical devices. A particular patron of the Sarmatian heavy horse used by the Western Legions to support their infantry.

Theodore, prince of the Eastern Empire

A proud young man, with redder hair than his brother Heraclius, a bluff, open face and a strong young body that will go to fat as soon as it can. Wears his hair and beard short, aping the Western military style.

Nikos, agent of the Western Empire

A bald, clean-shaven Illyrian with a wrestlers physique. Very strong, though his body shows the effects of years of service in the Office of Barbarians. Really a very cheerful fellow, he spends a lot of time practicing being grim and killing people.

Thyatis' second in command. 

Mohammed, a merchant of the Quryash

A traveler out of the south, stocky and fit, with a neatly trimmed black beard. Classic Arab features, weathered by years in the saddle and out-of-doors. Driven by curiosity and an odd feeling of emptiness. Cannot abide staying home in Mekkah.

(Gideon van Santen)

Khiron, the homunculus
A construction of the Walach sorcerer Bygar Dracul. A creature stitched together from the bodies of the dead and given life by ancient sorcery. Fine stitches hold the homunculus together, binding flesh to his limbs. Has a repellent, reptilian cast.

(Micha Rudack)

Alais, a woman of the Valach

A rebellious Valach girl, who aspires to more than being the servant of the Dark Queen. Not particularly pleasant, particularly to other women.

The girl rose, her dark robes falling around her like the wings of night. It was the blonde one that had looked back over her shoulder. Her hair was loose and very long, a shimmering cascade down her back. The cloak covered her shoulders, but her breasts, creamy white, threatened to spill out of the tight leather bodice that contained them in criss-crossed leather ties. She bowed deeply as he entered, allowing her dress to slither away from a long smooth thigh and firm calf. Her sandal straps oozed up and around her leg almost to her knee, snug to the flesh. Her eyes were a tremendously deep blue, a clear winter sky over bare trees and fallen snow.

(Rush Kress)

The Dark Queen (the bidalaksha'virazhoi)

The woman was tall, almost as tall as Maxian, with pale ivory skin and deep red hair, almost black, that fell behind her to her waist. A delicate net of silver held back the hair from her high forehead, and shining drops of ruby glittered at her ears. Her cloak and hood fell back from smooth white shoulders and revealed a black silk gown with buttons of white bone. She was as thin as a reed. Her lips were pale rose, and the beauty of her face was the more striking for the strength of her features. The prince met her gaze and saw that her tilted eyes were so pale a blue that the iris was almost invisible in the white.

The ruler of the Valach, though she is not of the cat-tribe herself, in the city of Constantinople. Very old, perhaps older than man. Displeased that her world is now overrun by these daywalker children.

(Gideon van Santen)

 

Gaius Julius, a dead Roman senator 

An old patrician, with a winning smile, thinning hair and a taste for the good things in life. Wiry, doesn't look particularly strong, a consummate politician and plotter. Should have been a theatre manager, for he loves shows and games and plays more than almost anything. Always dresses in an old, archaic style - but it looks good on him.

Alexandros, a dead Macedonian 

A young strong man with golden curly hair. Once had great success in politics, war and business. Now somewhat at loose ends.

The coffin had folded away. A man sat up from a bed of linen, a strong hand, burned almost bronze by some ancient sun, rubbed a face of noble proportions. He was naked, not a tall man, but well made. His limbs were long and clean, with sharply defined muscles. His hair was long and golden, falling in a wave of curls over his shoulders and broadly muscled back. The man looked around, his blue eyes narrowed in apprehension.

Nicholas, an agent of the Eastern Empire

Dashing man in his middle thirties, proud of a pair of sharp-pointed mustaches, dark brown hair, odd violet eyes. Trim and fit, carries a Scandian longsword named Brunhilde that is close to his heart. Cheerful seeming, though he has a sharp tongue and a taste for garlic.

Raised as a slave by the Stormlords of the Dannmark, though from his face and build, its clear he was born a Latin.

...the sharp Italianate features, a medium height, the trim waist and broad shoulders and the jutting points of waxed mustaches.

(Joanna Dawkins)

(Billy Payne)

 

Vladimir, a refugee Valach nobleman

Brooding and dark, with rich black hair and a pale complexion. A sturdy fellow, well-muscled. Keeps to himself, save for his friends Nicholas and Dwyrin. 

Another soldier swung up onto the bulwark and pulled himself to the rail. Nicholas nodded politely at him, hiding a frown. The man was stocky and of middling height, with thick black hair hanging heavily around his head and shoulders. Unlike most of the men on the ship, he was not wearing a helmet. Bushy eyebrows crowded over his muddy brown eyes and, though his skin was fair and even pale, he seemed a dark and brooding sort.

“Greetings,” said the fellow, his dark eyes idly drifting over Nick's clothing, armor, weapons, hands. “I am Vladimir of Carpathos – and you?”

Nicholas frowned openly now, and he lifted his head a little, pointing with his chin at the shirt of heavy iron rings that the soldier wore under a tunic of deep green wool. Copper wire bound the rings – each the size of a solidus – to a leather backing. He was obviously no sailor.

Khadames, lord of Persia, general in the armies of Chrosoes

A very tired man, with a short-clipped beard and thinning hair. Usually sporting a worried expression and bags under his eyes. Classical Aryan features - strong nose and cheekbones.

C'hu-lo, yabghu of the T'u-cheh, exiled prince

At their head, a chief rode – marked by the ermine fur cloak he wore and the glitter of iron mail at his chest. Too, he rode a barrel-chested roan stallion with a fey look in its eye. Even Khadames, who felt nothing but hatred for the Hun, noticed the noble breeding of the horse. The man was swarthy and strong-featured, with the slanted eyes and sallow skin of the eastern Turk, and he wore his mustaches very long and waxed with grease. His coal-black hair hung over his shoulder in many small braids, each twisted with the knucklebones of dead enemies.

An exile from the lands under the Rampart of Heaven, where the T'u-cheh rule. Once a great war-leader and prince, now disgraced and exiled by his great enemy, the boy Shih-kuei and his Chin masters.

Khalid al'Walid, the Young Eagle

A cheerful, cunning youth of the Mekkan tribe. Very handsome, with striking features. Lithe and wiry, an excellent swordsman and rider. Captain of a band of renegades, bandits, thieves and outcasts. Served for a time in the army of the Great Prince Shahin of Persia.

Think Oded Fehr from The Mummy.

Their leader, whose sleek black mare was still eager to run, pirouetted his mount in a circle and then back again. He was tall, with a strong olive face and a neatly trimmed black beard. Uri raised an eyebrow – the chieftain of these rascals was young, too, barely twenty if a day.

Helena, Empress of the Western Roman Empire

A graceful, elegant woman notable for the sharpness of her wit and her voluminous correspondence. More than a match, intellectually, for the Emperor Galen, who is more than a little afraid of her (if the truth were told). Short curly black hair, dark brown eyes. Well cultivated skin.

Helena sat, brushing away a few narrow leaves that had fallen from the willows that shrouded the bench. As befitted a lady of the city, she was wearing a conservative dress and tunic, with a light lace scarf covering the sleek line of her hair. In defiance of usual fashion, her hair only fell to her shoulders. Like many in the city, she wore somber colors and very little jewelry. Of course, with the resources at her command, the bracelets on her left arm had come from distant Taprobane and blazed with rubies set in white gold. Sitting, she sighed gently, leaning on one hand.

(Joanna Dawkins)

Martina, Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire

The young niece and wife of the Emperor Heraclius, cheerful and somewhat naive, unused to the harsh realities of Imperial life. Trying to keep out of trouble by working on a voluminous history of the city of Constantinople.

On the bank, clad in a simple white gown and half-cloak of pale green, a young woman was clapping her hands in delight.

"Oh well done!" she called out, shading her eyes with one pale white hand. Dwyrin flushed and, remembering his manners, bowed. The woman bowed back, but then sat down heavily. Dwyrin splashed through the stream, weaving his way amongst the rocks, to the bank. The lady, for the quality of her bracelets and hair-pins marked her as one, was a little pale. The Hibernian could see, too, that she was very pregnant.

(Rush Kress)

Zo, princess of Palmyra, sorceress

Intense young woman, a sorceress in the Legion, the niece of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra and her heir.

"Shut up." she hissed. Her hair was dark and thick as pitch and tied back in a dull red fillet around her head. Her face, like that of the boy on the left, was thin and lean. Her eyes were a dark brown, with graceful black eyebrows above. She shook him again, her white shift falling back from a firm tan arm, and pushed his head back against the edge of the frame.

"If you squeal like a pig, Celt, I'll make sure you never have a moments peace here, see? You're in our five now, and if you make us look bad, I'll skin you myself."

(Joanna Dawkins)

Odenathus, noble of Palmyra, sorcerer

A likeable young man with even features. Also enrolled in the Legion's thaumaturgic corps. The cousin of Zoe. A little reserved, but cheerful if pressed.

To his left a short, tan, black-haired boy with a long face and thin nose, dressed in plain white shirt and trousers was staring at him with guarded dark eyes.

 

Abdmachus, a spy in the service of Persia

A wizened old Nabatean, long ensconced in Rome, waiting for the right day to arrive. A sorcerer more skilled than powerful, with a long life of research and learning behind him. Which is not to say that he does not use his power, just that he is subtle.

The eye disappeared and the door opened the rest of the way, revealing a short, thin, man with a wisp of white hair showing from underneath a small felt cap. The fellow was dressed in a trailing robe of narrow blue and white stripes, bound at his waist with a dark green sash.

Tros, an Islander

A hulking man with a shaggy head of black hair, a broken nose and a face only a mother could love. Powerfully muscled and skilled with any kind of weapon known to man. The bodyguard of the Duchess Anastasia.

(Gideon van Santen)

Mikele, teacher of the Open Hand Way

... was very thin, even lighter than Shirin who was not heavy at all. The little woman was a swordblade, balanced and whip-thin, with a core of steel. An enormous amount of pitch-black hair was curled up on Mikele’s head, held in place by silver combs and tiny golden pins. She wore a plain cotton shirt, without even embroidery, with a round-notched collar and Persian-style pants with wide bottoms. Her face was serene and elegant, marked by high cheekbones and those slightly slanted eyes. Shirin knew, looking upon her, that in her youth the little woman had been surpassingly pretty. But now, age had peeled away everything but a clear beauty that shone from her eyes more than the appearance of her face. Her lips were thin, but creased at the corners by a constant smile. Every thing about her spoke of balance and restraint, nothing hinted at the effortless speed of her movements.

Ok, she's Michelle Yeoh. Sue me.

Dwyrin | Thyatis | Maxian | Krista | Ahmet | Zenobia | Chrosoes | Dahak | Shahr-Baraz | Anastasia | Shirin | Heraclius | Galen | Aurelian | Theodore | Nikos | Mohammed | Khiron | Alais | The Dark Queen | Gaius Julius | Alexandros | Nicholas | Vladimir | Khadames | C'hu-lo | Khalid | Helena | Martina | Zo | Odenathus | Abdmachus | Tros