Resilient and relatable, Alina Starkov is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. Because the story is told through her eyes, there is direct insight into Alina’s thoughts and feelings throughout her journey to becoming the Sun Summoner. This allows for a keen understanding not only of the emotional impact of what is going on around Alina, but the way it shapes her as a person. While she undergoes a great deal of change in the novel, there are parts of her that are immutable—Alina is headstrong, down to earth, and loyal.  

Alina starts out as a spunky but determined junior cartographer for the Ravkan army. She yells at a person who runs into her on the road, trades a good story for the cartography drawings she neglected to do, and pines after Mal. After her world is upturned by the discovery that she has the power to control light, she undergoes a significant change and becomes more serious because of the traumas she experiences both inside the Fold and out. By the end of the novel, Alina carries a deep guilt for what the Darkling has forced her to do, but she is also determined to undo the harm the Darkling has done. 

An orphan, Alina’s humble origins informs the way she approaches the people and situations she encounters throughout the book. She often reflects on the disparities she sees in Ravka, especially after she moves to the Little Palace in the capital city, Os Alta. There, she sees the way the Ravkan elite take their wealth for granted and feels disgusted. This points to a larger belief that Alina has in fairness. She is quick to notice when something isn’t fair, be it the beauty the Grisha all possess or the way Genya is treated by the other Grisha in the Little Palace. Instead of embracing the advantages that come with her new station, Alina continues to question the reasons behind the inequality that surrounds her. 

Alina’s impulse when faced with something new, be it the revelation that she’s the Sun Summoner or when Genya’s use of her Tailoring power to alter her appearance, is to retreat to her comfort zone. But when circumstances require action, Alina does not shy away from doing what it is she believes is right.