Minor spoilers ahead. This list was not updated past around the halfway point of the novel. Major spoilers used to exist here, but due to several instances of people willingly spoiling themselves, I removed them all.
Fu Shen ♂
Titles: Marquis of Jing Ning, Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Yan Iron Cavalry, General Who Guards the State
Age at start: 23
A first-rank General and military official of the Court who rose to fame young in a successful deflection of a Tartar attack on the border. Well-liked in the country for his skill, but not so much by the Emperor for the same exact reason. Was recently crippled in an assassination attempt and can no longer walk, having to use a wheelchair.
Yan Xiaohan ♂
Titles: Royal Inspector Envoy of the Flying Dragon Guard, Commander of the Imperial Guards of the Northern Office, High General of the Left Divine Martial Army
Age at start: 25
A third-rank official and the notorious Court lackey, earning his infamy from doing whatever the Emperor says in pursuit of personal gain in an effective, heartless way. Always at loggerheads with Fu Shen, as the two have irreconcilable differences… or so the rumors go.
Gets variously described as a wolf, dog, weasel, snake, venomous snake, pufferfish, and walking jar of vinegar.
The Fu Family
Fu Jian ♂ (deceased)
Title: Duke of Ying (posthumously granted)
Fu Shen’s grandfather. Started the tradition of the Fu family being one of Generals and fought in Northern Xinjiang.
Fu Tingzhong ♂ (deceased)
Title: Duke of Ying
Fu Jian’s eldest son. Father to Fu Shen, Fu Ling, Fu Ya, Fu Ting, and Fu Xi, the first two by his first wife and the last three to Lady Qin. He was assassinated by Tartars, ironically leading to his brother’s death and his son’s rise to fame. He was not known to be the nicest man.
Fu Tingxin ♂ (deceased)
Titles: General Who Guards the State, briefly as Duke of Ying
Fu Jian’s second son, and Fu Shen’s second uncle, who he was close to. Died in battle against the Tartars a year after his older brother’s assassination. He was a… study-buddy of the Prince of Su.
Fu Tingyi ♂
Title: Duke of Ying
The third son of Fu Jian and current Duke of Ying. Unlike his brothers, he is non-combatant and acts much like someone cultivating to immortality; secluding himself and absorbing texts.
Lady Qin ♀
Fu Tingxin’s second wife after his first one died. Schemes against Fu Shen and Fu Ling as evil stepmothers often do.
Fu Ling ♀
Fu Shen’s full-blooded little sister and First Consort to the Prince of Qi.
Fu Ya ♂
Lady Qin’s only son, Fu Shen’s half-brother, and a useless dandy.
Recently, Yan Xiaohan had ordered him to be rendered infertile.
Fu Ting ♀
Lady Qin’s eldest daughter and concubine to the Crown Prince.
Recently, she had been accused of witchcraft by Lady Cen and demoted.
Fu Xi ♀
Lady Qin’s younger daughter.
The Imperial Family
The Yuantai Emperor ♂
The current emperor. The manner of his rise to power was suspicious, and he, too, is a suspicious person, both in character and towards others.
Empress Yang ♀
Mother to the Crown Prince and leader of the Terrene Calm Palace.
Sun Yunliang ♂
Title: Crown Prince
Wanted Fu Ling as a Consort, but due to her reluctance and Fu Shen’s subsequent refusal, he housed a grudge and settled for Fu Ting, as did the rest of his Yang family. His main wife is Lady Cen.
Sun Yunduan ♂
Title: Prince of Qi
The seventh royal prince. Fu Ling’s husband.
Sun Luo ♂
Title: Kin-Prince of Su
The current Emperor’s half-brother, full brother to the Prince of Ying. Works often with Fu Shen, and was Fu Tingxin’s “””study-buddy”””.
Prince of Ying ♂
Yuantai’s late half-brother. Favored by the late Emperor but not chosen to rule. Died defending his fiefdom from the Tartars in a last-ditch effort.
Prince of Ying’s descendant ♂
Name unknown. Khatun Khash is his mother.
Yang Sijing ♂
Title: Third-rank General of the Right Nine Gates
Matrilineal cousin to the Crown Prince, who recommended him to head the Northern Yan via marriage to Fu Shen.
Yang Gong ♂
Title: Grand Tutor
The one who read Yuantai’s ascension to Emperor aloud. Empress Yang is his daughter.
Yang Xu ♂
Title: The Nation’s Uncle
The Empress’s older brother and Prefectural Governor of the Tang Prefecture.
Yang Hexuan ♂ (deceased)
Former Golden Crow Guard, dead by sexual exhaustion. A nephew of the Empress and the Crown Prince’s cousin. Had behavioral problems in life.
Lady Cen ♀
The Crown Prince’s main wife, in competition with Fu Ting for his affections. Daughter of Cen Hongfang.
Prince of An ♂
Name and relation to the Emperor unknown. Jiangzhe was part of his fiefdom that the Emperor dissolved after Han Yuan’s rebellion, thus is involved in the Jin Yunfeng case.
Title: Prince of Jin
Not much is known about him, but he’s apparently talentless.
Tian Tong ⚲
An imperial eunuch in the Yuantai Emperor’s service, and former Imperial Attendant. Yan Xiaohan gave him the boot.
Cen Hongfang ♂
A provincial governor with friendly relations to the Duke of Ying’s family.
Yi Siming ♂
Title: High General of the Golden Crow Guard
The Duke of Chen’s eldest son. Friends with Fu Shen in their teenage years.
Jin Yunfeng ♂ (deceased)
An Assistant Minister of Legislature, accused of co-conspiracy due to speaking out against the Emperor’s wish to dissolve the Prince of An’s fiefdom. Was the Prince of An and Su’s teacher.
He committed suicide in jail following all but one of his family’s death.
Han Yuan ♂ (deceased)
Former Vessel Conductor of Jiangzhe. Convicted of incurring rebellion and beheaded.
Sa Zhimu ♂
Title: Naval Commander of the East Sea
Was prompted to give up his post just for being in the same area as Han Yuan, the rebel. He did not do this.
Gu Shanlu ♂
Title: Right Collective Imperial Censor
The only one overseeing Fu Shen’s assassination case that found it suspicious and wanted to continue investigating. His teacher is currently in containment for ‘libel’.
Mu Boxiu ♂
A walking spoiler.
Click here for spoilers on: Mu Boxiu
An archer formerly of the Leopard Scabbard, now of the Golden Crow. He was the one who shot the arrow at Fu Shen’s failed assassination, and flubbed it by using one of Leopard Scabbard’s special, branded arrows. He revealed the whole plot of the assassination, and Yi Siming’s masterminding of the Golden Crow, in retaliation for Siming’s perceived betrayal and hunting of him. He was last mentioned being in an underground holding cell of the Northern Yan, and is likely deceased.
Liu Ji ⚲
A eunuch and the current Imperial Attendant of the Yuantai Emperor.
Zeng Guang ♂
Gu Shanlu’s elderly teacher of Kuangshan College, put in jail for ‘speaking out of line’.
Wang Zhen ♂
Title: Commandant of the Capital Encampments
The low-key man who commandeers the five major military camps in the southern capital.
Yue Changfeng ♂
Governor of Huainan.
Northern Yan Army Folk
Yu Qiaoting ♂
Fu Shen’s close friend in the Northern Yan Army who takes care of things while he’s gone.
Du Leng ♂
A medic of the Northern Yan Army.
Xiao Xun ♂
A General in the Northern Yan Army who’s very loyal and concerned about Fu Shen.
Duan Guihong ♂
Title: County Prince of Xiping
The only non-Sun County Prince of the dynasty. Once served in Fu Jian’s troops. Controls the western garrison border in Kui Prefecture.
Flying Dragon Guard Folk
Duan Linglong ⚲ (deceased)
Yan Xiaohan’s adoptive father. A eunuch, and formerly the most well-known one, being the leader of the Flying Dragon Guard before his death.
Shen Yi’ce ♂
A talented medic within the Flying Dragon Guard, currently looking after Fu Shen’s health.
Wei Xuzhou ♂
Title: High General of the Left Divine Pivot Army
A gossip that belongs to the Imperial Guard who’s more decorated than talented. Technically not of the Guard, but is under Yan Xiaohan’s command.
Jiang Shu ♂
Exact function unknown; used by Yan Xiaohan for secret investigations twice.
Tang Guo ♂
The youngest, most naive member, and overseer of the North Prison of the Department of Punishment.
Tao Beiming ♂
Title: General of the Right Divine Pivot Army
Cao Fengchen ♂
Title: General of the Right Divine Pivot Army
A plant that’s so prominent a plot device, it warrants its own entry. In its refined form, it’s also known as whitedew.
Wang Gou’r ♂
A boy suspected of leaving a ‘present’ in Fu Shen’s study. No relation to Wang Zheng (different surname).
Khagan Hartu ♂ (deceased)
Previous leader of the Tartars’ Dark Pearls.
Khagan is a title, synonymous with Khan.
Khatun Khash ♀
Previously the Prince of Ying’s concubine, she was captured and kind of passed around the Tartar region. She had been pregnant with the Prince’s child before his death.
Khatun is a title; the wife of a Khan.
Khagan Ëlchui ♂
Current leader of the Dark Pearls.
Cai Yue ♀
A young female slave of the Jin family who fled their fall along with her infant master. She now works in a small town on the border of Northern Yan as the owner of a liquor store.
Jin Nian ♂ (Nian’er)
The last surviving remainder of the Jin family, having escaped with Cai Yue.
Priest Chunyang ♂
A Daoist of the Clear Void Monastery who got into the Emperor’s good graces via a recommendation from Yang Xu, then got right out of them trying to assassinate him.