Spensa Nightshade

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Spensa Nightshade
by Charlie Bowater
Parents Zeen & Spensa's mother
Ancestors Becca Nightshade, great-grandfather, great-grandmother
Abilities Cytonics
Titles Callsign: Spin
Profession DDF pilots
Groups DDF, Skyward Flight
World Detritus
Universe Skyward Universe
Featured In Skyward
This page or section contains spoilers for Skyward!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.
This page or section needs to be updated with new information for Skyward!
Be aware that in its current state, it does not include this additional content yet.

When this is done, Jerkface, I will hold your tarnished and melted pin up as my trophy as your smoldering ship marks your pyre, and the final resting place of your crushed and broken corpse!

— Spensa to Jorgen Weight[1]

Spensa Nightshade is a cadet at the DDF Flight School on Detritus. Her callsign is Spin. She is the daughter of Zeen Nightshade (callsign: Chaser). She is the main character in Skyward.

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Spensa is seventeen years old with brown hair and is 151 centimeters tall (4'11" in feet).[2][3]

As the daughter of "The Coward of Alta", Spensa was looked down upon by her fellow Defiants. As a result, she acted fiercely when confronted by others and used intimidation as a defense-mechanism. Spensa would often lash out at people who threatened her and even those who didn't, using a wide and somewhat graphic vocabulary inspired by stories of glorious heroes from Earth that her grandmother told her. She was certain that her father was not a coward like everyone thought, and she was bent on proving it by seeming as 'brave' as possible. However, she believed that bravery was about being the most daring warrior and to never show fear. She thought that anything less would make her a coward and prove that the DDF had been right about her father.

In her time in Flight School, she came to realize that being brave wasn't as simple as she thought. People she respected, like Cobb, were guilty of doing things that she would consider cowardly if she did them herself.[4][5] As she loses flightmates to the Krell, she realizes that true bravery isn't just about sounding heroic and what other people think. Instead, bravery is about her own confidence in herself and knowing that, no matter what anyone else said, she was not a coward.[6][7] She becomes embarrassed by how she acted before and realizes that it's okay to get scared sometimes.


Spensa is both an excellent pilot[8] and also has access to Cytonics. Of her Cytonic abilities she can use FTL communication, has some Sensing ability, and can use FTL transportation.


Spensa lived in the Glorious Rises of Industry with her mother and grandmother, who she referred to as Gran-Gran.

Spensa accidentally finds an old ship in a cavern. Shortly afterward, she is accepted into Captain Cobb's Flight School class and became a member of Skyward Flight. Unable to take up residence at the school overnight because of Admiral Ironside's fears, she stays in the cavern with the ship. After recruiting her friend Rodge "Rigmarole" McCaffrey to help her, they repair the ship; which is the host of an AI known as M-Bot.


  • Spensa's race was intentionally left ambiguous.[9]
  • The first ideas for her character were developed in 2012.[10]
  • If she was a Knight Radiant, she would most likely be a Dustbringer, "with small arguments for Stoneward, Skybreaker, or Edgedancer."[11]


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