Characters Discussed

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Gillan, the protagonist and narrator. An orphan reared in Abbey Norstead, Gillan is about twenty years old and without a home or social status. She elects to become a bride of a Were-Rider, a member of an efficient but strange group of men from a magical and threatening land called the Waste. The Were-Riders fought for High Hallack, where Gillan lived, and claimed thirteen brides for their services if they won the war against Alizon. Gillan discovers many secrets of the group she enters and discovers myriad unknown strengths in herself and her husband.


Kildas, a bride of the Were-Riders who is slightly more aware and kind than the others. Generally, the brides are a passive, mindless group who are easily controlled by the Weres, who employ magic to manage them.

Herrel, the Wronghanded

Herrel, the Wronghanded, a Were-Rider who takes on animal shapes. He is the future husband of Gillan. He has a low standing with the Were-Riders at the start of the novel, but it apparently improves as he learns to accept himself and to love Gillan. He reveals his “animal” persona to Gillan, but to his surprise he does not lose her love.

Halse, the Strongarmed

Halse, the Strongarmed, an enemy of Herrel who was not claimed as a husband by a young maid. He is arrogant, physically strong, a powerful sorcerer, and a leader of many Were-Riders. He despises and envies Herrel, who has a growing self-possession and respect within the Weres.


Hyron, the captain of the Were-Riders, who grudgingly includes Herrel within the group. He appears to enforce the rules of the Weres, but he is frustrated by the laws and the demands for justice made by Gillan and Herrel.

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Critical Essays