Anyanwu, an immortal shape-shifter and healer, the novel’s protagonist. By manipulating her physical form, An-yanwu can change her gender, race, and species. She begins the novel in Africa in the guise of an elderly woman living alone, the mother of many children. She leaves her home when she encounters Doro, who promises her a safer existence in a new world (America) and children who will never die. To the powerful and immortal Doro, Anyanwu is “wild seed,” a freak of nature whose powers he wishes to use in building an immortal culture of people he will breed and rule. Anyanwu is drawn to Doro and the idea of immortal children. Doro abuses her until a war is begun between them that lasts more than 150 years and spans the course of the novel. Only after Anyanwu’s suicide attempt convinces Doro to treat her and all of his people with some respect can she care for him.
Doro, an immortal body-vampire, the novel’s antagonist. Doro lives eternally by invading other people’s bodies. Late in the novel, it is revealed that he wished to die when he discovered the brutal nature of his powers as a child. He has come to accept his fate and works to build a “superrace” through enslavement of and forced breeding of individuals with extraordinary mental and physical abilities. Although his goals never change, he becomes less brutal through prolonged contact with Anyanwu.
(The entire section is 459 words.)