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"They didn't really want to know. They thought they did, but knowing only made them miserable."
This article contains plot details and potential spoilers for the Shades of Magic series. If you have not begun reading the books or are not too far into the story, please do refrain from reading.

But the thing about people, Kell had discovered, is that they didn't really want to know. They thought they did, but knowing only made them miserable.

—Kell, A Darker Shade of Magic, IV: White Throne, I

Master Kell Maresh is an Antari from Red London and the adopted Prince of Arnes.

As one of the last few with the gift to “travel" to parallel universes, Kell was charged with delivering messages between the other reigning monarchs of London until his brother, Rhy, ascended the Arnesian throne and allowed him to travel the world with Lila Bard onboard the Night Spire.

Physical description[]

Kell has fair skin, auburn hair, and a perpetual scowl. Ever since the final fight against Osaron, there is a single streak of silver in his hair.[5] Kell is also tall and lanky and has mismatched eyes: one blue on the left and one glossy[6] black on the right. This marks him for what he is: an Antari.

Furthermore, Kell has a small scar below his elbow's crook which remained when a Memory rune was applied there.[7]

Even without the Antari mark, Kell's appearance is uncommon for an Arnesian as they usually have dark skin and hair and a sturdy body, though Arnesians from the northern edge of the country can have red hair. Fair skin is usually a trait of Veskans, and a tall, lanky physique is a trait of Faroans.[8]

Kell is of Arnesian descent through his mother—from whom he inherited his red hair—and of Veskan descent through his father.[1]


Kell only has two faces. [..] The one he wears for the world at large, and the one he wears for those he loves.

Rhy Maresh, A Gathering of Shadows, X: Catastrophe, V

Kell is a very stubborn person with a perpetual frown and a strong will that was displayed, for example, when he fought against Vitari and later Osaron which wanted to take over his body in exchange for power.

He is a private person and keeps to himself most of the time. Thus, he greatly dislikes socializing and life at court, feeling lost and out of place. Kell is also very cautious, and has deep values on what is right and wrong.

To Rhy, Kell is known to be caring and overprotective. To Lila, he is protective but can be very harsh as he often disagrees with her usually reckless ideas and actions. However, in the eyes of others who only know him as the Antari, he is seen as a fearsome and dangerous man.

Kell often slouches while walking[9] and bites his lips.


Early life[]

He was born on July 10, 1798. At some point, his right eye turned black, marking him as an Antari. Because of that, his parents brought him to the Ferase Stras to sell when he was five.[10]

Kastion did not know why his parents had taken him there, and, at first, he only paid attention to his element set and nothing else until Maris Patrol approached him. Upon her request, Kastion gave her his set and demonstrated his magical power to her with it. Then, Maris cut her palm and asked him to help her. As Kastion did not know what to do, she guided him through it, cutting his thumb, pressing his wound against hers, and telling him to say As Hasari. He did as instructed, and, to everyone's awe, he could heal Maris.

Afterward, she told him to play with her dog Baro while she spoke with his parents. Eagerly, Kastion went to play with him and tried to "heal" him with the new spell he learned. After his mother's limiter was removed, she called to her magic, drawing Kastion's attention back to her. Amazed that his mother could do magic, he wanted to hug her, but was held back by Maris who informed him that this woman was not his mother anymore.

Kastion's parents said anoshe to him, and his mother gave him a dagger before they left him, confused and furious, on the Ferase Stras with Maris and Tieren Serense.[1]

As soon as his parents left, the memories of his former life were sealed, and he was subsequently adopted by Maxim and Emira Maresh, the King and Queen of Arnes.[10] Upon adoption, he received the name "Kell Maresh."

Kell grew up feeling more like a possession or pawn than part of the Maresh family. Sometimes, he would even stand in the palace courtyard's orchard with his eyes closed and imagine being elsewhere. However, while Kell never considered Maxim and Emira as his parents, he considers Rhy, the King and Queen's biological son and heir, as his brother.

When Kell was twelve years old, he noticed an odd scar below the crook of his elbow for the first time. A search in the palace's library revealed that the scar is, in fact, the remnant of a Memory rune which was used to seal his memories.[7]

The Shadows[]

In 1812, Rhy was kidnapped by a group called the Shadows. When nobody was able to find him, Kell used an Antari spell to track Rhy. He found him inside a ship, lying on the ground and not breathing. Wanting to heal him, Kell slit his palm and used his magic. However, when Rhy was still not waking up, Kell cut his wrists, believing that he might need more blood to make the spell work. When Rhy eventually woke—healing spells needing time to work—, he asked "Is it yours? Is it all yours?" before bursting into tears when Kell affirmed. Then, they returned to the palace.

Later, every member of the Shadows was found; and Kell, not forgiving them for their deeds despite Rhy's pardon, murdered them in secret.[11]

A few years later, Kell started to smuggle items to and from Grey and White London.[12]

A Darker Shade of Magic[]

Ambassador for the Red Crown[]

On October 15, 1819, Kell travels to Grey London to deliver a note to George III and a letter to the Prince Regent to maintain the communication between the two Londons as he does on every fifteenth of a month.

At Windsor Castle, Kell speaks to King George and reads Queen Emira Maresh's letter out to him and spontaneously extends it so that George does not learn how short the note is. When it turns five o'clock, Kell sets out to meet the Prince Regent but not before exchanging George's old Red London lin with a new one as he always does.[13]

At St. James's Palace, Kell gives the Prince Regent his letter and waits for him to finish his reply. When the Prince Regent is done, he invites him on a walk and then to stay for dinner. Kell accepts the walk, but rejects the dinner invitation. Prince George gives him his letter, and Kell leaves for the Stone's Throw.[14]


At the tavern, Kell orders a drink and waits for his newest client to arrive, a Collector who sought him out for an element set. While he waits, he is approached by Enthusiast Ned Tuttle who wants to know if he is the one who brings people objects from other places, and asks him for a bit of earth. Kell tells him that he will bring him his earth if he can move an element in the set. When Ned fails to move the drop of water he chose, Kell informs him that he will return within a month and that Ned should bring him something in exchange for his earth then. Then, Ned leaves, and Kell's client comes. He has brought a music box for the element set, and Kell quickly settles the exchange before he returns to Red London.[12]

Back home, Kell takes a walk through the Night Market. However, his stroll is cut short when he collides with a boy, Mathieu, and everyone around him realizes who is in their midst. Kell then hurries to Soner Rast, changes into his red coat, and joins Maxim, Emira, and Rhy in the courtyard for tea. They discuss Rhy's birthday, and after a while, Kell excuses himself and leaves for his room. Rhy follows him and asks him if he has brought anything from Grey London with him. Kell denies it, but when they part ways, he goes to the Ruby Fields where he stores all his smuggled goods in a secret room. There, he listens to his new music box and falls asleep.[15]

The Black Stone[]

The next day, Kell tried to teach Rhy magic while they talked, i .a., about the birthday party, Rhy's lack of talent when it came to magic, and Holland Vosijk's earlier visit. Eventually, Rhy decided to end the lesson and go outside to have a drink, but before they could go, Maxim arrived and tasked Kell with delivering a letter to White London.

Kell traveled to White London. There, he was guided by Holland to Astrid Dane. He only wanted to give her Maxim's letter and leave quickly, but Astrid and Athos persuaded Kell to have a drink with them. Reluctantly, he accepted the offer, drank one glass of alcohol after another, and soon became drunk.

Later, Kell left the castle and decided to wander around in White London for a while before returning to Red London. Eventually, he arrived at the Scorched Bone where he was approached by a woman in a blue cloak. She asked Kell to deliver a letter to her only living relative, Olivar, who resided in Red London. Olivar was dying, and she wanted to send him one last letter. Before Kell could give her a definite answer, she handed him the letter and the payment and quickly vanished.

Confused, Kell returned to Red London and went to Olivar's alleged home. There, a pair of enchanted killers attacked Kell. One of them managed to injure him; wounded, Kell fleed to the Ruby Fields where he unpacked the woman's "payment"—a black stone, a forbidden relic from Black London. Eventually, the assassins tracked down Kell. During their fight, Kell accidentally activated the stone's magic and froze one of them before he traveled to Grey London.

In Grey London, Kell ran into the thief Lila Bard who exchanged the black stone in his coat pocket with her handkerchief. As soon as he noticed the theft, Kell used the handkerchief to "teleport" himself to Lila, only to pass out from exhaustion the instance he arrived at the Stone's Throw.

When he woke up again, Kell found himself tied to a bed. Lila demanded to know how he managed to get into her room, and as Kell realized that Lila would not let go until she knew the truth, he reluctantly told her about magic, the multiple Londons, and the black stone. Curious, Lila played around with the stone's power, and Kell eventually freed himself and attacked her before taking the stone and leaving the tavern.

But before Kell could gather his strength and leave Grey London, he was summoned by Holland who found Lila while tracking down the black stone and who was now torturing her. Kell rushed to save her, and it came to a fight between him, Lila, and Holland. During the fight's course, Lila hit Holland over his head before he could beat Kell to death. She then dragged Kell back to the Stone's Throw.

A Gathering of Shadows[]

It has been four months since the black stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift – back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries – a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

Rhy persuades Kell to join the tournament, disguising him as Kamerov Loste. They both believe that it will do them good, and release the tension and pain that bound them when Kell saved Rhy from death. In the tournament, Kell meets a familiar Stasion Elsor, and his arch-nemesis Alucard Emery.

Afraid that his son is doing something illegal again, the King confines Kell in the palace until the end of Element Games. However, Kell defies him and continues to compete in the third round of the tournaments, facing off against the now-famous Stasion who reveals herself to in fact be Lila. Kell intentionally loses so that he won't be unmasked in the finals.

Kell unwillingly attends the ball. He dances with Lila and tells her his troubles, which had not gone away even after he had competed. He realized that it's because he missed her. They kiss and Kell tries to warn her of the unmasking but she does not listen and leaves.

When Lila injures herself at the next match after abusing magic, Kell goes into an argument with her. He becomes angry and leaves Red London. In Grey London, he walks around restlessly until Rhy cuts the letters S-O-R-R-Y into his arm, compelling Kell to come home through their bond.

However, soon after his return, the King has him imprisoned for treason. The Queen grows even more distrustful of Kell, but Kell only asks her if she knew his real mother. They are interrupted by the King, who frees him after telling him that their nation needs him because, without him, they are weak against the other two nations. Kell becomes frustrated and tells the King that he is leaving.

As he was still deciding what to do, a strange woman, with a grey cloak and one black eye, appears. She told him she was from White London and that her king needs his help to rebuild their London. Kell agrees. He arrives and sees instead, Holland. And a renewed White London.

But then, a collar was placed on him and he was captured, unable to use magic, and unable to be free from an eternal pain that seems to be tearing open the seal binding Rhy to his life.



Lila and Kell by Victoria Ying.png

He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Bent it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time those points were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell's world. One he was sure to snag on.

—Kell, A Darker Shade of Magic, XIV: The Final Door, IV

Upon their first meeting, the two seemed to be intrigued, as well as slightly annoyed by each other. But along their adventure, they grew closer, and while the exact status of their relationship is complicated; both have shown romantic feelings for one another.

During the travel from Grey London to Red London Lila kissed Kell "for luck". This became a sort of charm between them, Kell kissing her again saying the same thing until they finally shared one or two real kisses.

Although Kell never planned on picking up a Grey Londoner and taking her with him to his own London, he agreed after a few good points made by her. On this dangerous journey, Lila was what kept him going, she gave him strength and confidence with her "Of course we can do it" attitude. When Kell cares about someone he gets very overprotective. This annoyed Lila so extremely that he took to learning how to respect her while also protecting her. He discovered soon though that Lila needs no protection.


ADSOM CE Brothers by Malesha Essner.png

One glance at this Kell told Rhy all he needed to know—that he was summer, this boy was winter. Where Rhy was loud and bright, Kell was silent, a shadow.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Collector's Edition), Brothers

When Kell was adopted by the royal family as a child he knew it was only because of his Antari powers. This was a weighing knowledge at such an age, but Rhy made it livable. Rhy never ceased making Kell feel like his brother as if they had always been brothers.

Rhy has a bad habit of disappearing in the night to find trouble, to feel more human, every time, afterward, Kell would follow just to piece together Rhy again. There was also an episode in the past where Rhy was kidnapped by a cult, no one could find him, except Kell. Kell used a dangerous spell he had never tried before, found Rhy and used up all his energy on healing Rhy.

After Alucard broke Rhy's heart Kell became enraged, he banished Alucard from London and threatened him several times. When it was known that Alucard was competing in the Elemental Games he joined in hopes of fighting him to the death. His wish did not come true though and threatened Alucard again when seeing him leaving Rhy's dorms.


Tieren Serense is the Aven Essen of the London Sanctuary. He taught Kell magic since he was a little boy and is very patience with everybody.

Skills and abilities[]

  • Magic: As an Antari, Kell is one of the most powerful magicians to exist. However, ever since a small part of his magic was sucked into the Inheritor while trying to imprison Osaron, Kell has problems using his magic.[16]


  • Antari binding rings: A ring which can be separated into three and which allows Antari to share one another's magic. Kell obtained it on the Ferase Stras.
  • Kamerov's helmet: A silver helmet Rhy let be made for Kell to enable him to compete in the Essen Tasch.
  • Kell's coat: A jacket with numerous sides. Kell won it in a game of Sanct against Aldus Fletcher.
  • Kell's silver dagger: A dagger monogrammed with the initials "K.L." It is the only thing Kell possesses from the time before losing his memories and coming to the palace.
  • Travelling coins: Kell keeps coins from every London on a chain around his throat.

  • Black stone: A powerful stone from Black London. It was given to him by an unknown woman who was sent by the Dane twins. After foiling the twins' plan and dispelling the magic inside the stone, Kell sent it to Black London alongside Holland Vosijk.
  • Ruby Fields items: A collection of objects Kell received during his time as a smuggler. Among those things was, i.a., a poetry book by William Blake and various music boxes from Grey London, a White London glass ball which showed someone's dreams and was filled with black sand, and maps of all three remaining Londons: Red, White, and Grey.[7] The items were destroyed when Holland burned down the Ruby Fields.

  • Appearances[]


    See more here

    Titles and styles[]

    • Since 1803: Master Kell Maresh


    • Kell does not know what he wants from life or sex.[18]
    • Kell is more of a cat person than a dog person. He hates this fact because Alucard Emery, his arch-nemesis, is also a cat person.[19]
    • Kell hates limes.[20]

    Out of Universe[]

    • Kell's past and his real name were revealed in the short story included in the collector's edition of A Conjuring of Light.[21][22]
    • Despite Kell's birthday being July 10, he tells Rhy in A Gathering of Shadows, which is set in February 1820, that his birthday is in a month.[23]
    • One of the things that ties Kell and Lila's fates together are the poems of William Blake: Kell stored a book of Blake's poems in the Ruby Fields, and Lila's mother read his poems to her.[24]
    • Kell's favorite tea would be English Breakfast[25] which is also one of V. E. Schwab's favorite teas.[26]
      • Kell's Starbucks order would be green tea.[27] He would also be a "pissy hipster barista."[28]
    • Kell would only wear a Christmas sweater to make Rhy smile.[29]
    • If Kell had to live through lockdown, he would read a book.[30]
    • In Vengeful, at a costume party, someone is dressed as Kell and is making out with someone dressed as Lila.[31]

  • The name "Kell" derives from the initials engraved on his dagger—"K.L." It is unknown for what the initials are actually standing but the pronunciation of them—Kay-Ell—eventually turned into "Kell."[7]
    • Furthermore, the name "Kell" is the Danish variant of "Kjeld"[32] and "Kjell." The latter is the "East Nordic younger form of Kætill" which is Old Norse and means "(sacrificial) cauldron" or "helmet."[33][34][35]

    References and notes[]

    1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Conjuring of Light, Bonus short story: "A Life Erased"
    2. "For those asking, the second half of the name is '-ion.'"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    3. "Kell: July 10/Cancer"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    4. "How tall are the characters?" — "Kell: 6′"
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    5. A Conjuring of Light, XIV: Antari, VI
    6. "I envision Kell's eye as glossy, so there would be a reflection of light off the surface!"
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 A Darker Shade of Magic, II: Red Royal, III
    8. A Conjuring of Light, I: World in Ruin, IV
    9. A Darker Shade of Magic, IV: White Throne, II
    10. 10.0 10.1 A Conjuring of Light, X: Blood and Binding, III
    11. A Darker Shade of Magic, X: One White Rook, II
    12. 12.0 12.1 A Darker Shade of Magic, I: The Traveler, III
    13. A Darker Shade of Magic, I: The Traveler, I
    14. A Darker Shade of Magic, I: The Traveler, II
    15. A Darker Shade of Magic, II: Red Royal, II-III
    16. A Conjuring of Light, XV: Anoshe, V
    17. "The whole cast of ACOL will be in it."
      (V. E. Schwab Twitter)
    18. "Kell isn't sure what he wants from life, let alone sex."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    19. "Kell is a cat person, a fact he hates solely because his arch-nemesis (coming in Book 2) is also a cat person."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    20. A Conjuring of Light, XII: Betrayal, III
    21. "Kell's history is written! It will be the primary story in the collector's edition of CONJURING OF LIGHT! Want to know his real name? How he came to be in London? Thats your source."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    22. "I could give you Kell's origin story but OH YEAH that's going in the CONJURING OF LIGHT collector's edition ;)"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    23. A Gathering of Shadows, IV: Londons Calling, III
    24. "Throughout the series there are a few things that tie Kell and Lila's fates together. This is one. In A Gathering of Shadows we learn that Lila's mother read her Blake poems, and consequently Lila uses them to help her summon and focus magic."
      (A Darker Shade of Magic — Kindle notes and highlights)
    25. "What kinds of tea would the characters of ADSOM like?" — "Kell: English Breakfast."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    26. "English Breakfast in the AM, jasmine or mint green in the evening. But I'll try almost anything so long as it's not that VILE EARL GREY."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    27. "Kell would order green tea [from Starbucks]."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    28. "Kell: Pissy Hipster Barista"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    29. "do you think that kell would wear christmas sweaters?" — "Not voluntarily. But he'd do it to make Rhy smile."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    30. "I've found myself wondering how my characters would handle [lockdown]. [...] Authors, what you got?" — "Kell would read a book"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    31. "You spotted the Shades of Magic Easter egg in VENGEFUL ;)"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    32. Nordicnames — Kell
    33. Nordicnames — Kjeld
    34. Nordicnames — Kætill
    35. Surnamedb — Kell

    1. After Kell traded three years of his life for the Antari binding rings
      (A Conjuring of Light, X: Blood and Binding, III)
    2. Even though Kell is an Arnesian prince by adoption, he is not formally styled as "Prince Kell." Instead, he is referred to as "Master Kell."


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