Sarene is described as being unusually tall for a woman, as well as thin. This leads to her father nicknaming her Leky Stick. She has fair hair and is presumably well muscled, due to her affinity for fencing. She has silver grey eyes.
Sarene, as princess of Teod, is very politically savvy, and not afraid of using any means to get what she wants. This is shown by how she is willing to act dimwitted in order to manipulate King Iadon. She is known for being very clever, so much so that no potential suitors besides Raoden ever approached her, for fear of living with a woman smarter than them. This, along with the accidental alienation of the majority of the women at home, has left her feeling like an outcast. However, by the end of the book, she overcomes this feeling.
She is also known as being brusque, occasionally sarcastic, and patronizing to those who underestimate or try to manipulate her. She is a natural leader, as evidenced by her immediate taking over of Raoden's revolutionary group, despite strong personalities such as Roial and Ahan. She is never satisfied with an unsolved mystery, and will allow herself to be sidetracked by unraveling them. Not only that, but she can detect quite well when she is being lied to, and is very rarely wrong.
She seeks to better the lives of others, such as when she brings food to the Elantrians, works to overthrow King Iadon's system of government, and works with the women of Arelon to improve their status in society.
Sarene became an ambassador for Teod at a very young age, serving most notably as the ambassador to Svorden.
In an attempt to re-establish diplomatic relations with Arelon, Sarene arranges a political marriage with Prince Raoden. She meets and gets to know Raoden by communicating through letters, and later by Seon. When she arrives in Arelon, however, she finds out that Raoden has died of "disease". A clause in the marriage contract states that the death of either her or Raoden qualifies as a marriage, so she finds herself a widow, and legally the daughter of King Iadon of Arelon.
She spends the first three months of her "married" life working to block the efforts of a gyorn named Hrathen to convert the people to Shu-Dereth and thus add both Teod and Arelon to the massive Fjordell Empire. In addition, she works with Raoden's group of friends to attempt to change Iadon's system of government. She also brings food to the Elantrians and teaches a group of Arelish noblewomen , including Eshen and Daora, fencing, in an attempt to give them some agency in the court.
Hrathen eventually gets to Telrii, a rich nobleman, and promises to place him on the throne if he converts to Shu-Dereth. When Iadon commits suicide, Sarene realizes that the only way to keep Telrii off of the throne is to combine her fortunes with Roial's through marriage. On the day of the wedding, however, Hrathen poisons her to make her look like she has undergone the Shaod, and she is thrown into Elantris. After five days in Elantris, when the poison wears off, she and Raoden realize that she was not truly an Elantrian, and she returns to Kae.
She convinces the people to accept Raoden as king even though he is an Elantrian, but then the Derethi priests attack Arelon, capturing Sarene, along with the rest of her allies and family in Kae. She is taken to Teoin by Dilaf, where he attempts to use her to make King Eventeo surrender to the Derethi. With the aid of Hrathen, Raoden, Galladon, and other Elantrians, she fights off the Derethi invasion and saves both Kae and Teod from Dilaf's attack.
Afterward, she is married in a grand ceremony to Raoden, and becomes the Queen of Arelon.She becomes pregnant by him after.
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