Part of Vaden just wants to give up and die. He has survived chained up in a dark dungeon long than many of the other captives, kidnapped as part of a mad plot to lure pirate captains to their death. In Vaden's case, the target is his sister, who has gone against the family and joined the brotherhood of pirates. But also, perhaps, the kidnapper and his master are after Vaden's brother, an admiral.
As the youngest son of a powerful and ruthless lord, Dradin is seen by his own family as more or less surplus to requirements. His fair looks and slight build make him the target of bullying, even by his brother Vax. Yet, despite it all, Dradin has not developed the cruel streak that his family is known for. He treats his young servant fairly and has a reputation for fair dealing when looking after his father’s estates.