Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Prince Aaronev Tarvek Sturmvoraus[1] is the Sparky son of Prince Aaronev VI of Sturmhalten and, on his mother's side, a descendant of the Storm King, whose legacy he is attempting to claim. His only sibling is his sister Anevka. His particular Spark genius concerns clanks; he has had a lifelong obsession with the Muses created by Van Rijn, and one of his aspirations for the future is to collect and repair all of them.

When he was young, Tarvek was schooled on Castle Wulfenbach along with the children of other nobles, where he became friends with Gilgamesh Holzfäller (a/k/a Wulfenbach) . But he was expelled from the school after being caught while investigating Gil's then-secret genealogy. As a result, instead of the Baron's curriculum of enlightened statesmanship, Tarvek was schooled in his family's tradition of self-serving and convoluted plotting and manipulation of others.

The Storm King Conspiracy[]

Tarvek's family is part of the Storm King conspiracy, an attempt to seize control of Europa from Baron Wulfenbach by taking advantage of widespread belief in a prediction that peace will come only when a Storm King marries a Heterodyne Princess. Tarvek considers himself to be the Storm King by right, although his cousin Tweedle also claims the title and had himself crowned after participating in the defeat of the revived original Storm King at the party in Paris. But we learn in England that this claim to the throne makes Tarvek feel like a pawn in his family's plans, rather than empowering him.

We also learn in England that Orotine, Muse of Geometries, regards Martellus' place in the succession to the crown a "distant third, at best"[2] - seems to regard Tarvek's claim as strongest[3] but leaves as a mystery the identity of claimant number two.

Other participants in the conspiracy had been grooming Zola Malfeazium as a false Heterodyne to fulfill the other role in the prophecy, but this part of the plan became obsolete as a true Heterodyne heir came to light. It is never made entirely clear if the plotters originally intended to use Tarvek as their Storm King, but he vehemently denies ever having been party to the Zola aspect of the plan.[4]


Nothing is known about his mother other than the fact that she is a descendant of Valois; she is only mentioned once in-comic. (The print-novel Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess implies that Anevka, Tarvek's sister, murdered her.) According to Zola, Tarvek's birth was carefully planned and assisted by the Mongfish family, ensuring that there would be a worthy heir to the Storm King's throne. Considering the Mongfish family's skills with biology and genetics, what exactly they did to "ensure" this is a most interesting question. (Though again, in Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle, Zola states it was mostly a case of staving off excessive in-breeding.) He was raised by nannies until he was sent away to Castle Wulfenbach for schooling.[5]


Tarvek Sturmvoraus, Boy Dectective

There, he became friends with Gil. However, the two later developed an intense mutual dislike following Tarvek's expulsion from the Castle, something Tarvek still, when we first meet him, feels bitter about . Their rivalry apparently continued when they both attended the University of Paris. At this time he also got to know the Master of Paris's daughter Colette and, to his everlasting regret, Bangladesh DuPree, He only escaped the latter woman's attentions by faking a plunge to his death.

He has had the same Smoke Knight training as his cousin Violetta and is proficient in their martial arts . She served as his hereditary bodyguard until he covertly arranged to have her shipped off to Mechanicsburg in order to save her life.

Before Tarvek appeared in the story, he spent years at Sturmhalten, maneuvering amidst his father’s obsession with finding the Holy Child and restoring The Other. His personal focus seems to have been his obsession with the Muses; it was he who built the injured Anevka a clank body, based on the van Rijn muse Tinka that he had appropriated from Master Payne's Circus of Adventure. Working on a Muse seems to have been the chance of a lifetime for the young spark.[6] Tarvek expresses considerable and hard to discount enthusiasm for this laudable project.[7]

His Father[]


Aaronev was responsible for the death of the flesh-and-blood version of Tarvek's sister Anevka. Tarvek rightly considers his father inhuman. Once the initial, brief shock wears off, he feels no grief in the aftermath of his father's death (by his clank sister's hand, ironically). When Tarvek first appears, he is attempting to manage Aaronev's obsession rather than take power himself.[8]

Aaronev, for his part, appeared to have cared more about Lucrezia than about his own son's ascendancy or his daughter's life. Anevka was only one of many girls Aaronev sacrificed to the Holy Machine to bring Lucrezia back.

Tarvek, Agatha, and Lucrezia at Castle Sturmhalten,
or Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

Tarvek is a conflicted young man. His long-term goals are good: Bring peace to Europa, tame or destroy the evil Fifty Families, and repair the muses. Like many other fundamentally well-intentioned sparks (including the Baron, Othar, Gil, Tweedle, and arguably even Agatha), he thinks that only he can achieve peace, and so his self-interest is consistent with his lofty goals; he is doing well by doing good. His conflict is about tactics; although he hates the manipulativeness of his family, it's the only way he knows to pursue his goals. At Sturmhalten we see him alternating good deeds with appalling betrayals.


Though Agatha’s command voice registers as a match on Aaronev’s instruments and the drugged Agatha confirms her mother's identity, Tarvek resists and delays subjecting Agatha to the Holy Machine. First, he works to replicate her command voice with Anevka's clank voicebox. Once his father's ally Lady Vrin is imprisoned, Tarvek attempts to release Agatha back to the circus, with a request that she return and help him with the Muses at some point in the future. (In evaluating his later actions, it's noteworthy that before Lucrezia complicates the situation, Tarvek doesn't try to involve Agatha in his machinations, even though he knows that she's the Heterodyne, whom he needs for the Storm King Conspiracy. He's already in love with her.)

He does not anticipate Dingbot Prime releasing the Geisterdamen. When Lady Vrin throws the switch and resurrects Lucrezia into her daughter's body, Tarvek's entire game board is upended. Faced with an ascendant Lucrezia, he allies with her, believing that Agatha is gone for good,[9] while simultaneously inquiring into the secrets of the Holy Machine.[10] Lady Vrin remains skeptical of Tarvek, her rival—rightly, as it turns out.

Meanwhile, the Baron discovers that Agatha is still alive, and when he learns that Aaronev has died, he assumes (wrongly) that Agatha killed him, and concludes (rightly) that she must be at Sturmhalten. He orders an attack in force. But Gil sends Wooster in his personal flying machine to rescue Agatha.

Lucrezia falls asleep, and Agatha wakes up. (This change of personality will happen repeatedly, back and forth, much to Tarvek's confusion.) Agatha wants to trust Tarvek, asking for his help, but isn't sure she really can trust him. She puts a dingbot to work making more dingbots that can produce the Heterodyne music. Then she falls asleep and Lucrezia puts Tarvek to work. Hours later, an exhausted Tarvek asks Moxana for advice, with cryptic results.[11]

Using the dingbots' music to break free of Lucrezia's control, Agatha builds a holoprojector to inform the Baron that the Other is in her head. But Tarvek doesn't want Agatha to give herself up to the Baron. (His reaction, "No! I won't allow this ," sheds some light on his otherwise inexplicable later sabotage of Agatha's singing dingbots and of the holoprojector. He doesn't see himself as betraying Agatha; he sees himself as knowing better than she does what's in her own interest. But, besides being arrogant and maybe sexist, his view is clouded by self-interest.) He tries to tell Agatha about his plan to ally with her and use the Other's technology to reestablish the rule of the Storm King without Lucrezia.[12] Alas, in mid-rant, Agatha falls asleep and it's Lucrezia who hears his plan. To recover from this mistake, Tarvek cuts some sort of deal with Lucrezia, but the details are not explicitly revealed to us.

Agatha records her message to Klaus, with Tarvek's help, and then sends him out of the room while as a backup plan, she tells four wingbots she has constructed to try to get out of Sturmhalten and deliver her message. Three of them are destroyed by the resident Geisterdragon, but one manages to escape...

When Wooster is spotted in Gil's flying machine, Tarvek wants to keep him and Agatha apart, and so he disables the musical dingbots, restoring Lucrezia. But we see in his face that he isn't happy about it. Tarvek also reveals the spark-infecting slaver wasp to the Geisterdamen, apparently to gain their trust and respect.


Meanwhile, Anevka and Lord Selnikov organize the people of Sturmhalten to storm the castle, taking advantage of the command voice that Tarvek has given her voice box. Tarvek, their ally inside the castle, arranges to lower the moat. But Tarvek betrays the plan to Lucrezia, and she and Tarvek shut Anevka down to replace her head with one containing another copy of Lucrezia. (Preparing the Holy Machine to copy her personality into that clank head must have been the work that got Tarvek so tired earlier, and is probably the outcome of his deal with her.)

As Tarvek is waiting for the Smoke Knight Veilchen to report to him and lower the moat, Tarvek hums in a way that might or might not be Heterodyning (which he would presumably have learned from Agatha). But the short piece of musical notation in that speech balloon is too short to allow certainty on this question. It has also been suggested that it might be a machine, rather than Tarvek's throat, producing Heterodyning, especially since he suggests to Veilchen later on the same page that what looks like a watch is really a more powerful machine, with unspecified powers. But the whole idea of the Sparky nature of the watch is called into question by the revelation in the last panel that it was his own sense of smell, not the watch, that let Tarvek know Veilchen has arrived. This page has led to much speculation, but no firm conclusions.

The Wulfenbach assault arrives. Agatha's projector (activated by Dingbot Prime) turns out to have been modified so that the recorded Agatha seems to be saying that Klaus is the Other. Although Tarvek denies having edited the message,[13] the fact that Lucrezia was unaware of the machine's purpose makes his assertion somewhat suspect. The recording does include the Heterodyne music, so it puts Agatha back in control for a while. leading Vrin to slash Tarvek half to death before Agatha can stop her (and try to give him a few whacks herself). When Bang destroys the projector, Lucrezia regains control and shoots Tarvek in the back. Unknown to Lucrezia, the stolen Wulfenbach handgun that she uses to shoot Tarvek is non-lethal.

When Klaus lands, Lucrezia wasps him but puts on the Heterodyne Sigil (Agatha's locket) that Klaus has given her, thereby giving control to Agatha. Klaus, thinking he's still dealing with Lucrezia, tries to kill her, but Lars throws himself between them and is killed. This is when the Battle of Sturmhalten begins: Agatha is furious about Lars's death and unleashes the weaponry in the circus wagons. After a great many explosions, the circus troupe rescues Agatha. Tarvek, critically wounded by Vrin, takes no part in the battle.

Wulfenbach troops transport the wounded Tarvek to the Great Hospital in Mechanicsburg. Meanwhile, a singer who looks a great deal like Tarvek performs the role of Andronicus Valois in The Storm King in Vienna.

In Mechanicsburg[]

Violetta springs Tarvek from Wulfenbach custody at the Hospital by dosing him with Moveit #6. With the town in general chaos and the pair being chased by Wulfenbach forces, they duck into Castle Heterodyne for "safety" (which is rather like jumping into a bonfire to dry your clothes).

After Agatha rescues him from a devil dog, Tarvek attempts to give her political advice, but Agatha has other motivations and would prefer if he and Gil both left her castle. However, Tarvek's wounds overcome him, and he begins changing color, taking the situation beyond Agatha's medical skills and forcing her to seek out Gil for assistance.


Upon Agatha's and Gil's return, we find that, despite Gil's earlier prediction of Chromatic Death, the disease is actually Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation and that Tarvek is, in fact, the prettiest frog in this entire pond. The plan to save him from it is problematic, however, as it would involve killing him first, and therefore make him ineligible to become king according to the rules of succession. The Castle gives two theories as to how he got infected: the Ghostmaker mice and Vipsania Heterodyne's Cabinet Of Contagion. (Tarvek himself later suggests that his own family infected him deliberately, and in Voice of the Castle, Violetta says Tarvek was hit with a Smoke Knight dart while still in the hospital.)

Knowing that he is about to die (whether permanently or temporarily), he releases Violetta from her duties toward the Smoke Knights, and transfers her allegiance to Agatha. He does this, apparently, just for Violetta's sake, with no ulterior motive.

The plan to cure Tarvek has a moment of disaster when Agatha kisses Tarvek and becomes infected herself. At this point, Tarvek makes Gil agree that, if push comes to shove and they're unable to save all three, Gil will let Tarvek die and just cure Agatha.[14] It's also noteworthy that Gil is persuaded only reluctantly; he mistrusts Tarvek but doesn't want him to die, and not only for tactical reasons.

Despite an ongoing series of complications and distractions, Agatha is eventually able to cure Tarvek, Gil, and herself, using energy and transcendent knowledge from drinking the water of the Dyne, combined with an electric shock administered by the Castle in the body of Otilia. Tarvek commits himself to helping her repair the Castle; is forced to deal with Zola Malfeazium (again and again and again ); survives the re-possession of Agatha by Lucrezia Mongfish; helps Agatha reinstall the Castle's mentality ; and argues with Gil (again and again and again , including during their joint fight with Captain Vole).

Tarvek's Epiphany[]

It is in the course of the arguments with Gil that Tarvek finally confronts his own opportunism and commits himself fully to the new impromptu Shining Coalition against the Other, with founding members Agatha and Gil (and later allies such as Colette). The crucial moment comes when, during an argument about Tarvek's motives, Gil concedes that Tarvek wouldn't want Agatha controlled by the Other, and Tarvek says "No, of course not! It shouldn't happen to... Well, to anybody" with a face expressing surprise at hearing his own words. Although he is still a master of complex plotting, after this point he never betrays his allies.[15]

On Castle Wulfenbach[]

In a case of mistaken identity, Tarvek gets kidnapped by Sanaa and Othar Tryggvassen and taken to Castle Wulfenbach.


Gilgamesh Wulfenbach — master of disguise!

On board the Baron-free Castle, his intellect is quickly recognized, and when Gil returns as well, he finds Tarvek running the show , albeit at gunpoint. When the supposedly dead (and presumably Other-controlled) Klaus reappears, Gil covertly dispatches Tarvek, Othar and Vole back to the surface, where is it revealed that Tarvek has convinced the Vespiary Squad to defect to him; the arguments he uses to achieve this are never explicitly revealed, but presumably involve the Baron's unusual post-Wasping actions. The fleeing Squad's airship is shot down by the Baron's forces, leading Tarvek to risk his life in an increasingly-desperate attempt to save what remnants of their resources he can. At least he gets a chance to kiss Agatha and punch Othar when it's all over, and he sends parts of the squad to at least three destinations outside of the Baron's territory.

He then goes on to do what he can to get the Castle fully functional and help Agatha break the Siege of Mechanicsburg. Following said breaking, he is hit with a poisoned dagger thrown by Martellus von Blitzengaard during the latter's kidnapping of Agatha from the Red Cathedral. At nearly the same moment, Klaus deploys his Take-Five bomb, leaving Tarvek also trapped in a time-frozen Mechanicsburg.

Post-Timeskip: One Kidnapping After Another[]

Two and a half years pass before now-Baron Gil is able to tunnel (both physically and temporally) into Tarvek's location, extract him from the time-field and cure him of the poisoning. He remains awake just long enough to express his surprise that the Vespiary Squad members he sent abroad haven't sent some wasp eaters to Gil, but not long enough to make that happen.

Almost immediately afterwards, a sleeping Tarvek is snatched away (kidnapping #1) by a raiding party from the Immortal Library, led by the the Lord High Conservator himself. Their escape-airship is hijacked (#2) by a team of Smoke Knights (including Mister Obsidian) in the employ of Tarvek's Grandmother, leading to the deaths of all the Library personnel and Tarvek being dragged, very unwillingly, to Paris.

Once there, he has a (perhaps surprisingly) civil discussion with Grandmother, and is sent off to attend Tweedle's upcoming masquerade ball incognito. He identifies the party-crashing Queen of the Dawn as Zola, maintains his cover even after Agatha arrives on the scene, and is a witness when the revived Andronicus Valois also emerges from beneath the city and is confronted for the last time by his former ally Simon Voltaire.Tarvek's unsurprising reaction to this last event is to discreetly extract Valois's tag-along, the Muse Prende, from the immediate battle-zone. He then helps Colette survive her ascension to Sparkhood and, following her father's death, becoming the new super-powered Master of Paris.

During the (final and complete) death of Valois and the defeat of the various Paris-based minions of the Other, Agatha becomes aware that Tarvek is on the scene. Before the two of them can actually meet, however, Mr. Obsidian ominously re-appears behind Tarvek, who then drops completely out of sight (#3); even Colette cannot track him down. It turns out that rather than Grandmother, it is his cousin Seffie who has spirited him away; she plans to send him to England to rejoin Agatha, in the hope that the two of them formally hook up, leaving her free to pursue her lifelong crush on Gil.

Tarvek is covertly put on the Mopey Tortoise, a small airship heading to Albia's sinking kingdom. Sadly, the attempt at stealth fails, and his journey is first interrupted (#4) by a party of Smoke Knights under the employ of Grandmother, who wants him dragged back to the mainland and kept under her control, and then (#5) by a pack of Knights of the Hunt, accompanied by the assassin Jaron, all working for Tweedle, who just wants him dead. In a rare display of sparky madness, Tarvek creates a chemical weapon to kill the Knights, but is only able to annoy , not defeat, Jaron. Luckily, Gil and Bang show up in one of Her Majesty's Subhunter Serpents just in the nick of time to save him. (This is the first time that Tarvek has been pleased to see Bang, whom he welcomes as "a terrible, terrible angel.")


This means that finally, after two years' worth of comics, Tarvek is able to take full control of his own movements and actions. And he does so with.. ahem.. a Bang. Upon being informed by her of Gil's being inflicted with an overriding mental copy of his father, Tarvek knocks out Gil, chains him up, and has the Tortoise's Captain resume course for England.

Upon his arrival in England, he displays a detailed knowledge of English law in defending both Gil and himself from charges about their illegal entry into the country, including, in Gil's case, hijacking a vessel of the British Navy (the Serpent). He then arranges to visit Agatha at her quarters in the Royal Society dome, but the visit is delayed (at least in our-world time), first by the lockdown of the dome following the murder of Professor Homlomium, and then by his coming off second-best in a contest of wills with, as Tarvek labels him, General Higgs. He does eventually get into the dome with Higgs posing as his dogsbody, and begin assisting Agatha with her various areas of research, including curing Gil of his Klaus-implant and Agatha of her Lucrezia-implant, fixing her chemical dependence on her wasp-eater, and dealing with the, yes, Murderous Abomination-Summoning Conspiracy among the dome's resident Sparks.

Tarvek and Higgs arrive at said Conspiracy's secret underground temple in time to meet two extradimensional beings. Kjarl Thotep improves Tarvek's ability to see extradimensional beings without being lost in time by linking him in some way with Higgs, who already has a superior ability to stay anchored in time because of his long life. And then Red grabs Tarvek and, after Tarvek's preliminary efforts at communication, eats him, or at least inserts him into its mouth-like orifice. But he is almost immediately spit out, only slightly and temporarily insane.

In the end, Team Agatha finds itself apparently alone in the Society dome, because Snacky has killed all the other Sparks, and then been tossed into the closing extradimensional portal, followed by Dimitri Vapnoople, whose Spark and evilness have been restored by Kjarl. (This is an impossibly short synopsis of events that, while momentous, aren't immediately important to Tarvek.)

Extracting Lucrezia[]

Dimo reports that some of the dome's minions managed to survive, and are preparing a meal. But Tarvek declares that they should resist that particular temptation, and instead take advantage of the rare opportunity to get some work done without interruption. He prepares an apparatus to erase Lucrezia from Agatha's mind, and is about to throw the switch when he is (of course) interrupted by the arrival of Klaus-in-Gil and Trelawney Thorpe, who tell him to stop. Despite a good deal of mutual mistrust, Tarvek is persuaded that they just want to modify the apparatus, on instructions from Albia, to rather extract and contain the Lu-copy for questioning. Alas, Tarvek needs Gil's help, but the Klaus overlay in Gil can't turn itself off in Agatha's presence. Agatha cleverly realizes that this is the opportunity they need to operate her Klaus-out-of-Gil machine, which requires Klaus to be in charge while Gil is positioned correctly. So she proposes to leave the room temporarily, let Tarvek and Gil work together, and then return for the actual operation. But, with subtle wording and expressions, she conveys to Tarvek that her real plan is for Tarvek to get Gil to stand on the X, wear the helmet, and hold the electrodes, after which she will return to the lab, the Klaus overlay will be activated, and Tarvek will throw the switch.

The first steps of this plan work perfectly, but when Tarvek calls to Agatha to return, she isn't outside the lab; she has been kidnapped by Seffie's Smoke Knight attendant Sparafucile . The rest of Team Agatha stand around outside the lab debating the situation before following Agatha's scent-trail. Tarvek naturally wants to join them, but he again steadfastly resists temptation, gets the Klaus-copy to resurface by faking Agatha's return and mentioning Othar in particularly egregious fashion, and successfully erases Klaus from Gil's mind. The two of them then set off in search of Agatha together, bickering as always.

They along with the rest of the protagonists learn that Seffie has brought Tweedle to England, to save him from his own alteration of his and Agatha's bodily chemistry. The duo responds to Tweedle's presence in a fairly logical fashion: punching him hard in the face. They then return to work on the Lucrezia-extraction, but make the fairly major mistake of allowing Agatha to assist on the project. This time, Lucrezia really does take over, and sabotages the extraction-device in some unspecified fashion. Fortunately, this is caught before the thing is actually used, but it does require a total re-build from scratch. Eventually, finally, following the now-traditional string of delays and interruptions, Tarvek and Gil finish the machine, Lucrezia-in-Agatha is forced into position, and is successfully extracted.

Scheming Beneath the Waves[]

Sadly, many people die in the battle between Lucrezia's servants and our heroes' team, culminating in the activation of the Society dome's self-destruction device. However, among the things preserved in the hurried exit is the surviving wingbot with Agatha's original message at Sturmhalten, which has been sent to England by the now deceased Ardsley Wooster. As a result, Gil belatedly hears Agatha's original unaltered message, and yells at Tarvek about the many lives lost (at Sturmhalten and throughout Europa, following the disintegration of the Empire) because of Tarvek's long-ago manipulation. Alas, Tarvek misses the opportunity for an open and heartfelt apology, instead pointing out to Gil that a properly forewarned Klaus would undoubtedly have had Agatha killed, with a sotto voce "whew" when Gil accepts that argument.

Our Heroes all escape in two submarines, only to be scooped up by the local Great Cetacean. Tarvek assists in the construction of a Sparky mermaid costume for Agatha (it's a long story), with Kjarl chipping in a comment about how vital it is to get this outfit exactly right. The construction and use goes off successfully, but soon after that Tarvek loses the ability to hear Kjarl.

Everyone makes their way back to more civilized climes, where Albia throws a big royal party. Tarvek allows Gil to have the first dance with Agatha, assuming he'll immediately stick his foot in his mouth, but to Tarvek's annoyance, Gil does pretty well at avoiding any insertions. Watching Trelawney Thorpe and Hadrian Rakethorn being sicced on (respectively) Gil and Agatha, Tarvek then further tempts fate by smugly commenting to Zeetha that Albia doesn't have anyone to distract him with.. only to be approached by Orotine the Muse. He manages to again resist temptation, and remains focused on his Gil and Agatha related scheming, siccing Orotine on Gil to start with. After the dance, they all get to work on fixing Kjarl's dimensional-offset problem, and succeed in stabilizing him in a visible more-humanish form.

Back to the Continent[]

Albia summons everybody to a mandatory royal audience, and announces that the Polar Ice Lords have mounted a massive invasion of the rest of Europa. She therefore sends an airship fleet to assist with the defense, and dispatches/banishes Gil and Tarvek to lead it. (She has her own plans regarding Agatha, and from the start has considered the duo an obstacle to be removed.) Along with about half of Our Heroes, they return to the mainland, where they first stop in Paris and have a meeting with the city's new Master, Colette; also present is Othar and a small pack of rebel Geisters. A discussion begins on the current situation further north, with Tarvek giving a brief history of the Geisters and taking a moment to lament all the female Sparks that got fed into his father's Holy Machine. The group then proceeds to Mechanicsburg, where Gil dispatches Tarvek to work with Agatha while he strives to repair the political damage done to the reduced Wulfenbach empire by his running off to England. Tarvek gets an Ice-Lord update from Agatha, and has a conversation with Bang in which he reveals, thanks to his personal spy network, he knows all about her plans regarding a Last Big Fight with Zeetha, but promises not to interfere since it's not like Bang is going stab the other woman in the back.

What Kind of Madboy[]



An expert opinion

An analysis of Tarvek's actions indicates several things:

  • He's consistent. He knows who he is, what he wants to do, and doesn't let circumstances rule him.
  • A determination to free Europe from both Lucrezia's and Wulfenbach's control.
  • A determination to set himself up as a benevolent Storm King, with the apparent motive to bring stability, justice, and common weal to Europa. Everything he does shows this motive in one way or another.
  • A less than subtle hate for everything Lucrezia, including his own father's execrable actions in Lucrezia's service.
  • A less than subtle hate for his family's Machiavellian ways. He hates using people, even as he does use them to bring about his goals.
  • A strong belief in right and wrong. However, because of the intrigues he was born into, while it is manifested in consistently doing what he believes is the right thing, his methods are sometimes less than honorable.
  • He genuinely cares about people and their welfare. If he becomes the new Storm King, one gets the impression that his first actions will be to consolidate control, then to do a thorough housecleaning of Europa, starting with his own evil family and going through the noble houses, placing persons of good character into positions of power.
  • He's a genius at using the existing political systems to bring about his goals.
  • He possesses an almost sixth-sense situational awareness of his surroundings, of danger, and the machinations of others; this includes a stunningly deceptive cover-up of Smoke Knight like abilities, mostly used to evade danger but occasionally employed offensively.
  • He very rarely goes into the madness place, instead remaining calm while displaying his genius at clank design, political intrigue, and military tactics.
  • As we learn in England , Tarvek himself has a low opinion of his track record in achieving his goals.

Tarvek and Gil[]


Gil rejoices at Tarvek's recovery.

Tarvek and Gil became close friends during their childhood together on Castle Wulfenbach. The friendship is interrupted by Gil's betrayal after learning that he is the son of the Baron. Tarvek is left with a lasting anger against Gil. (Gil is also angry at Tarvek, angry enough to betray him, but the reason is less clear; Tarvek thinks it's just because the Baron warned Gil about his family's reputation for double-dealing.)

Although they describe their mutual anger as hatred, we know better. Tarvek remains involved in Gil's life in Paris, at risk to himself. Gil volunteers to be infected with Tarvek's dangerous illness in order to save him.


Tarvek fears for Gil's safety.

Tarvek runs Gil's empire for him. Gil rescues Tarvek from time-frozen Mechanicsburg and from Tweedle's poison; also, Gil is constantly in Stage 2 Madness Place from the freezing of Mechanicsburg until the rescue of Tarvek, and again from Tarvek's kidnapping by the Library until Gil and Bang rescue him from Jaron. (Not even seeing Agatha at St. Szpac calms Gil.) Tarvek gets the Klaus overlay out of Gil's mind.

Once Tarvek figures out why Gil feels so bitter toward him, and extends a still-tentative hand of friendship, their mutual mistrust slowly dissolves, and their mutual insults become less fraught and more playful .

When Gil isn't around, Tarvek is able to express his love[16] for Gil plainly, as when he learns that Agatha got angry at Gil and chased him away from Mechanicsburg. When he pours his heart out to Krosp and Higgs in England, he explicitly lists Gil and Agatha as the only people, other than the presumed-dead Violetta (and Zulenna), he truly cares about.

It's a great irony, although not uncommon in literature, that these two loving friends find themselves rivals for Agatha's affection. Even while supporting each other and protecting each other when it comes to their common enemies, they are happy to watch each other behaving stupidly around Agatha.

Tarvek and Agatha[]


"You look beautiful... Always."

In spite of his less-than-stellar record of plotting and scheming, Agatha still considers him to be a friend and a "perfectly good suitor ". Just how far her feelings go is unclear, though Gil seems to think her worries about hurting Tarvek have made her "sloppy and helpless ". Her reaction to being called on this is also telling. For his part, Tarvek considers her to be his future bride.

Most people (in our world as well as theirs) consider Tarvek the underdog, although the inhabitants of Mechanicsburg think he evens the odds after the Vespiary Squad rescue. Tarvek's cousin Violetta thinks that Agatha will choose him for political reasons, because Gil's position as heir apparent to the Empire would make a marriage between him and Agatha too much of a power imbalance.

Tarvek's Spark[]


Tarvek is perhaps the most gifted builder of anthropoid clanks alive today. That he was able to largely reverse engineer Tinka, a Van Rijn Muse, while only moderately damaging her is a testament to his skills -- historically, even the finest sparks have only succeeded in destroying van Rijn's Muses when they've tried to study them. Although chemistry is not his specialty, he is able to whip up a poison specific to Knights of the Hunt during their attempt to kill him. He also displays a genius for political and military plotting.



  • Anevka's clank body, based on a Van Rijn muse.
  • Assists with the construction of (and sabotages) Agatha's holographic recorder/projector.
  • A device which simultaneously disabled all the Dingbots that Prime had constructed in Sturmhalten.
  • Assisted in the repair of Castle Heterodyne.
  • A chemical that poisons Knights of the Hunt.
  • The removal of Lucrezia from Agatha; also, executes Agatha's plan to remove Klaus from Gil.


Tarvek isn't seen in the Madness Place for very long periods of time. When he is mad, he's notably different from other mad Sparks.

  • He appears to act less "insane" and more just hyper-focused on whatever task he's working on,[17][18] with a major exception being supernaturally-induced, and another[19] being sickness-induced.
  • He's still able to hold intelligent, rational conversations with other people when mad.[18][20] Even when he's acting emotional he speaks clearly.
  • He's able to slip out of the Madness Place very easily, almost as if he slips in and out at his own will.[21]

Physical Abilities[]

He is a bit heavier than he should be but in shape. As stated before he has had training similar to that of Violetta, a Smoke Knight, and is proficient enough in their martial arts to spar with Gil . (At first he keeps this secret, making a show of having paid no attention to the training.) He actually appears faster than Violetta. He can even handle a few Wulfenbach stealth troops without major difficulty .


Tarvek has repeatedly[22] been shown to have an interest in fashion, but there is no evidence to date that his Spark has been manifested in fashion design.

See also[]

Outside World[]

According to Professoressa Foglio during the 30 May, 2013, Reddit Ask-Me-Anything session, Tarvek's name was created by her and therefore has no specific linguistic sourcing. [23]


  1. Tarvek's full name is revealed during comments by his cousin Martellus. In the comic, Tarvek is almost exclusively referred to and addressed as Tarvek or Tarvek Sturmvoraus since he shares his first name with his father (and five previous generations of male ancestors). His father was apparently more commonly known by his middle name as well.
  2. Orotine introduces herself to Krosp and in panel six says " a claimant to the Lightning Crown, Prince Martellus is a distant third, at best."
  3. Orotine seems to refer to Tarvek as the Storm King saying "As for my King's current companions" as she gives Krosp and Prof Foglio an opportunity to review the current cast of Agatha's intimates and their machinations.
  4. On the other hand, since his plan was formed before anyone knew that a true Heterodyne would be found, it is never made clear just what he had in mind.
  5. Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, 30 May 2013:
    'PKSchefflera: Tarvek says Von Pinn was the only caretaker who showed him love or kindness. Who took care of him when he was at Sturmhalten? Did he have nannies?'
    'Phil: Yes, he had nannies. Not good ones.'
  6. Agatha’s response. “Besides — Master Payne believes they were more than just clanks.”
  7. Tarvek: Isn't she Marvelous?!
  8. Tarvek expresses shock and anger at Anevka’s abrupt end of Aaronev’s work (and life): Anevka, What the Hell—?
  9. We know this is his honest belief because of his later reaction when Agatha reawakens.
  10. Lucrezia: I do so mistrust it when “impossible” is one's initial reaction to an idea.
  11. "This will work —won't it?" Moxana gives four answers, all of which turn out to make sense:
    • "Great power at great risk": This is the least specific, but in context it presumably means that Tarvek should work with Agatha but not expect it to be easy;
    • "Beware of things underground": This must be a reference to the geisterdamen moving the wasp engine out under the castle;
    • "Expect an unexpected friend": Clearly Agatha, since Tarvek has been saying she hasn't been in control for many hours;
    • "Learn a new piece of music": This prediction is immediately borne out when Tarvek hears the Heterodyne music from Agatha's clanks.
  12. At this point in the story, Tarvek has no ethical objection to Lucrezia's program of mass enslavement. He just sees her as a rival. His character is not admirable. It's not until Gil's moral struggle with him at Castle Heterodyne that Tarvek is awakened to the ethical aspect of the struggle against the Other.
  13. Tarvek: "She...she wanted it found after we left Sturmhalten ; she wanted keep you and the Baron from talking." Note that he ascribes his own previously expressed motivation to Lucrezia.
  14. At the time, readers who'd learned to mistrust Tarvek at Sturmhalten looked for ways to see his self-sacrifice here as misdirection, but in retrospect it's clearly a straightforward expression of Tarvek's love for Agatha.
  15. But that doesn't stop him from maneuvering Gil into acknowledging him as the Storm King in front of witnesses.
  16. No, not that kind of love.
  17. "At least now I have both hands free to work."
  18. 18.0 18.1 "What should I do?"
  19. "I don't like this. It's too dangerous." (A madboy saying "it's too dangerous" as a reason to not do something is quite the sight to see.)
  20. Reddit Ask-Me-Anything - Kaja: I made it up!