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Ababba was the grandfather of Saba and Mesfin on their mother's side. He was an Amhara warrior, and the husband of Emama. Ababba is deceased, but Saba has many memories of him. Emama trusted in him completely. It is implied that, though capable, he was slightly commanding and used to being obeyed. Ababba told Saba and Mesfin many stories of the world and told Saba of amber. he brought some light-yellow colored amber, but told Saba that there is also amber that is a dark red. He said, "Someday, I will find just the right amber beads to bring home for you." It is also noted that Ababba liked to tell stories of the Amhara traditional stories.
Emama is Saba's grandmother. Emama has a great knowledge of spirits, and the Ethiopian religion. She has raised Saba and Mesfin alone, hiding them from Empress Menen. She is extremely cautious, and practical, but a very loving parental figure for Saba and Mesfin. Emama has many sayings that she has taught to both of her grandchildren. She was devastated by the death of her husband Ababba, as she loved him very much. Emama can be harsh and commanding sometimes, but always wants the best for Saba and Mesfin, and protects them. In the book, Saba thinks, "Emama was food and warmth and comfort. I wanted to be near her always." It is also noted that Emama gently braids Saba's hair, several times a day.
Empress Menen is the wife of Emperor Yohannes III. In the Author's Note, someone was quoted as saying about her, "Greedy, miserly, clever, violent, ambitious, despotic, vain coquettish, she stopped at nothing." In the book, Menen is evil and corrupt, kidnapping Saba and Mesfin. Saba is told by her teacher that Empress Menen has chained away her brother, Mesfin, and will try to kill them both.
Emperor Yohannes III
The emperor of Ethiopia and husband of Empress Menen.
Father is the father of Saba and Mesfin, the nephew of the emperor. He married Mother. There was a massive and dangerous struggle for power over Ethiopia, so Father took his family and fled to the country, hiding with Mother's parents, Emama and Ababba. He is supposedly dead for a large portion of the book, but Saba finds he is alive, and sets off to find him.
Kassa is a Robin-Hood like figure that eventually redeems the people of Ethiopia from the rulers, and brings peace.
Saba's and Mesfin's deceased mother. She is the daughter of Emama and Ababba and wife of Father. Saba and Mesfin have no memories of her. What is told is that she fled with Father when his life and his family's lives were threatened and lived with her parents.