Will Darkwood's crowning achievement is the perfect cup of tea.
He spends most of his time staring at an old, wrinkled map, dreaming of what lies beyond the distant hills. His greatest ambition has always been to leave his hometown of Haven, where nothing ever happens.
When Will finds the ancient pendant that has protected his country for millennia, he nearly kills himself trying to cut it off his neck with rusted scissors. He is terrible at magic. Every spell he tries backfires spectacularly. Will seems capable only of convincing everyone he meets that the end is near.
Will learns quickly that he is not capable of living up to his new responsibilities. At least not in any traditional sense. But in the end, his loyalty to his friends is his true asset.
Elle ("The Sovereign")
Elle is a scientific mastermind and one of two surviving immortals from “The Old World”—Earth. Millennia ago, during Earth’s desperate last days, she invented what has since come to be known as magic.
Elle has long protected the land of Valis from the other surviving Earthling, whose mental faculties and magical prowess rival her own. In the first chapter, she relinquishes her power and immortality, ending her life.
Elle is "dead." But she is at the core of the book. Time travel machinations left behind as clues for Will allow her to engage with the story in a very real sense. Three thousand years of solitude have affected her more than she knows, but she still serves as the mind behind everything, engaged in a battle of wits with Will’s ancient foe even long after her death.
Until the first chapter, Anaia was Elle’s chief guard. She is the most talented mage in generations and the fiercest fighter in Valis.
Anaia witnesses the Sovereign’s death by old age in the first chapter. When she meets Will, she finds it hard to believe that Elle could have bestowed her legacy on someone so simple. Still, she is fiercely loyal, repeatedly fighting the surgically enhanced assassin Khel to defend him.
When Khel defects, he reveals that they have a history. They've fought repeatedly over the years. Khel maintains that she has held back, going easy on him out of sideways affection. She starts the story referring to Khel as an “it” instead of a “he.” But the two develop a trust as the story progresses.
Silas ("The Avatar")
In the far-off land of Aru, an ancient deity known as the Avatar controls everything. With the Sovereign gone, his Legion is coming.
Aru’s pristine capital, Elaneth, is off-limits to all but the wealthiest and best-connected in its society. Bathed in the golden light of the Avatar’s Eventide spell, its people live in tranquility. The Avatar uses his magical prowess to provide for all the needs of his people. Upon arriving in the latter stages of the book, Will struggles with the implications of interfering with such a system.
The Avatar was once an Earthling known as Silas. He and Elle have a long history. Silas’ decisions prompt the reader to consider questions worth considering. He has good reasons for doing what he does.
Khel starts as an efficient assassin, kidnapped as a child and surgically implanted with magical objects to enhance his aptitude in combat. He is ruthless in achieving his ends. He is known for his dry wit and for playfully torturing his prey.
But instead of killing Will, he inexplicably saves him and disappears without a trace. Before long, he reappears and joins in a fight against his own people. Over Anaia and Lewis’ repeated objections, he joins their group.
Khel has a tendency to subvert expectations and to say what everyone is thinking. As the group travels deeper into Khel’s homeland of Aru, questions of his allegiances keep resurfacing. Is he playing the long con, waiting for the opportune moment?