Ansel of Briarcliff is the High Queen of the Western Wastes and formerly an assassin trained by The Silent Assassins.
Aelin claims that Ansel is one of the most stunning people she had ever beheld. She is slightly taller than Alein and has medium length, wine-red hair, unusual red-brown eyes that Aelin has never seen before in any land, highlighted by a splattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and cheeks and a fiendish grin.
She is often seen wearing ornate armor featuring engraved wolves even in the heat of the Red Desert, the right shoulder was fashioned into a snarling wolf’s head and her helmet featured a wolf hunched over the nose guard similar to the wolf's head molded into the pommel of her broadsword. On anyone else, the armor might have looked flamboyant and ridiculous, but on Ansel it made her so striking.
Outwardly, Ansel is funny, talkative and charming, possessing a boyish sort of innocence about her. She is the type of a woman that can easily make friends, a brave and arrogant woman who has once laughed at death. Aelin had never met someone who grinned as much as Ansel or had such a lack of concern over other's personal space. However, Ansel reveals a darker side: cunning and extremely ruthless, she is ready to betray anyone for the sake of reclaiming her homeland and avenging her family; although she seems to regret having killed Mikhail.
Born and raised in the Flatlands along the coast of the Western Wastes in what was once the Witch Kingdom, Ansel's father was the Lord of Briarcliff. Granted freedoms as the lord's daughter, Ansel often played with her older sister and her friend, Maddy.
At the age of eight, the three girls had visited a watchtower, ruined from the witch wars on the advice of a stable-boy who had heard that one could see into another world by peering through the archway on the summer solstice. Frightened by the ominous nature of the tower, Ansel hid behind a rock while her sister and Maddy crept closer, only to hear screams shortly afterward. Fleeing back to Briarcliff Hall, her sister tearfully explains that Maddy had been pulled into the tower by an old woman with iron teeth; only her bones remained the following morning when the watchtower was searched.
When Ansel was twelve years old, Lord Loch seized several territories around Briarcliff and demanded her father yield Briarcliff to him, to bow to him as the High King of the Flatlands. The Lord of Briarcliff refused to do so, he said there was one tyrant already conquering everything east of the mountains – he didn’t want one in the west, too. Two weeks later Lord Loch stormed Briarcliff Hall, seizing the villages and people. A terrified Ansel hid in a kitchen cupboard and witnessed the deaths of her older sister and father.
After Lord Loch had left Briarcliff Ansel took her father's sword from his corpse and ran, she ran towards the foothills of the White Fang Mountains, collapsing at the campfire of an Ironteeth Witch. The witch told Ansel that it was not her fate to die there, the witch fed her and mended her wounds before encouraging her to train with The Silent Assassins, that was where she would find her fate. Once Ansel was healed, the witch gave her gold and sent her on her way, gold which Ansel used to commission her armor.
Arriving at the fortress shortly after her thirteenth birthday. On her first oasis run in the Red Desert, she collapsed and lost consciousness within the second mile; Ilias, who was already returning from the oasis, found her and carried her the entire way back to the fortress. At age fifteen Ansel began dating her fellow acolyte, Mikhail, despite the eight year age difference, in the hopes of gaining extra attention during training as the Mute Master would not teach her.
Ansel is one of the Silent Assassins who Celaena Sardothien meets when Arobynn Hamel sends her to the Red Desert as punishment for destroying his deal with the Pirate Lord Rolfe. Celaena quickly becomes friends with Ansel and the girls travel to Xandria on a mission from the Silent Master. The two of them stole an Asterion mare each from the Lord of Xandria and fled back to into the desert, leaping over The Cleaver canyon. But Ansel turns out to be a double agent working for the Lord of Xandria and helping his men slaughter the Silent Assassins. Ansel poisoned Celaena and left her in the Red Desert with a sealed empty recommendation letter from the Master. Ansel intended to keep Celaena away from Lord Berick's attack on the Keep and prevent her from interfering with Ansel's killing of the Master. But Celaena found out and returned to the Keep in time, eventually saving the Master and the Keep, and defeating Ansel. Instead of killing Ansel, Celaena granted her mercy and allowed her twenty minutes to leave the Keep before she would fire an arrow from the Keep's Watchtower at her neck. Ansel was still within the Keep's vicinity, but Celaena only fired her arrow after twenty-one minutes.
After Ansel was defeated in her attempt to wipe out the Silent Assassins she returned to the Flatlands where she banded a group of Lords together and fought Lord Loch for the throne of the Western Wastes. Once she had killed Loch she stayed to defend her throne and make it right for her people but she heard that Celaena had been sent to Endovier. So last summer Ansel set out to rescue her friend, there hadn't been an hour that she did not think about what she did in the desert, and the extra minute Celaena gave her. Ansel he reached the Ruhnn Mountains when she got word that Celaena was gone. Taken to the capital by Prince Dorian. But she couldn’t go to Rifthold, it was too far, and she had been gone from her lands too long. So she turned around and went home.
Aelin and her court neared the coast of the Stone Marshes, Lysandra - in her ghost leopard form - senses a figure standing on the white sandy beaches. They see a hundred grey sails stretching towards the western horizon - surrounding their own ships - and standing on the beach before them is a party of twenty armed warriors, led by a grey-cloaked woman.
As they approach the court members, the cloaked woman - who moves with a feline grace - removes her hood, and Aelin recognizes her immediately as the now twenty-year-old Ansel of Briarcliff, Queen of the Wastes.
During the events of Queen of Shadows, Aelin used Ansel's name in the fighting pits of Rifthold and Ansel knew it was a message to her. She knew to get ready. So she began to move her army to the edge of the Anascaul Mountains. The Ansel got a letter, telling her who Aelin was and that she would gut Ansel if she didn't assist in her cause. The letter told Ansel to go to the Gulf of Oro. To meet Aelin there and follow a specific set of instructions.
Half of Ansel's army continued to the Anascaul Mountains too offer aid to Terrasen while the other half of the army veered down south, and hiked through the White Fangs and into Melisande. Its queen assumed they arrived to offer aid and let the army of the Wastes right in the front gates only to be sacked and pillaged. With Melisande's troops spread so thin for Morath, the Queen had no choice but to yield. Ansel took her out of her dungeon to reveal that Terrasen’s flag now flies alongside Ansel's wolf at her own house.
Taking Melisande's fleet for her own, Ansel arrived at the Gulf of Oro and presented the fleet to Aelin as her own. Ansel fought alongside Aelin and her court against Maeve's armada. Ansel could think of no greater gift to offer to repay her friend Celaena Sardothien; who did not stop looking north every night that we could see the stars, than saving the kingdom she did not forget.
Mikhail and Ansel were engaged romantically since Ansel was fifteen, despite the eight-year age difference between them. Towards the later parts of The Assassin and the Desert, it was revealed that Ansel entered a relationship with Mikhail only to receive private tutoring from him (as the Master would not teach her) as well as to get closer to the Master of Silent Assassins of the Red Desert. Mikhail is one of the first men she slays. Ansel's voice was tinged with what may have been regret when she admitted to killing Mikhail.
Ansel and Celaena were good friends until Ansel betrayed her, where Ansel poisoned Celaena and left her in the Red Desert with a sealed empty recommendation letter from the Master. Ansel intended to keep Celaena away from Lord Berick's attack on the Keep and prevent her from interfering with Ansel's killing of the Master. But Celaena found out and returned to the Keep in time, eventually saving the Master and the Keep, and defeating Ansel. Instead of killing Ansel, Celaena granted her mercy and allowed her twenty minutes to leave the Keep before she would fire an arrow from the Keep's Watchtower at her neck. Ansel was still within the Keep's vicinity, but Celaena only fired her arrow after twenty-one minutes.
- "Ansel" is a contracted form of French "Anselme", meaning "divine helmet".
- Ansel once swore to be silent for a month before giving up after two days.
- Her birthday is on Midsummer's Eve.
- ↑ The Assassin's Blade: The Assassin and the Desert by Sarah J. Maas, pg. 143