Hem (or Cai of Turbansk, which is his formal Bard name) is Maerad’s younger brother and is about thirteen years old. It is revealed that Enkir thought that Hem was The Foretold One, thinking that a girl would not be able to play the part. Hem is more scarred than Maerad by his traumatic childhood, and until he discovers that he is a healer, he is not comfortable with his vocation of Barding.
Hem was taken in by Saliman, who took him to the school of Turbansk to learn how to be a bard while Maerad and Cadvan continued in their quest to find the Treesong.
During the Sacking of Pellinor, Hem was taken by the Hulls to the orphanage in Imrath, a major town in Edinur. It was there he lived for the next ten years of his life, as well as where he came into the Speech at age 10. When Hem was twelve, a hull named Malik came to claim him as his nephew and took him to the house of Laraman, the mayor of Imrath. After so long of living there in relative peace, the hulls who lived in the house with him began to give Hem lessons on being a "Black Bard." One night, the hulls demanded that Hem kill a younger child and made him suffer punishments upon his refusal.
A few days after, a Pilanel man named Sharn came and robbed the house, taking Hem with him. In Hem's point of view, Sharn and his family were kind to him. He was saddened when they were raided and brutally slain by hulls a few nights later in the Valverras, a wasteland north of Norloch.
It was the next morning that Hem was first found by Maerad and Cadvan, hidden inside a caravan. Maerad and Cadvan took him along with them to Norloch, where they discovered Hem's real name, Cai, and that he is Maerad's younger brother. After Maerad and Cadvan are forced to flee from Norloch, Saliman takes Hem to the school of Turbansk so that he can properly learn the ways of barding.
After travelling to Turbansk with Saliman, Hem has to deal with the separation from his newfound sibling as well as adjust to his new life. Hem does not fit in with the children at his school and struggles to behave as he is expected to. His first few days in Saliman's care involve him getting in multiple fights with schoolmates and even stealing fruit from an important bard's garden. It is not until he stays in Turbansk (after most of its civilians have fled from the war) and volunteers to heal the wounded that he learns about care and responsibility, and finally begins to mature.
Throughout the story, as Hem grows both in character and in age, his personality traits change drastically. In The Naming, he is very silent but also very prideful, being hesitant to admit to his sufferings. Because of his troubled past, Hem is cynical of others and inclined to violence for quite some time. Throughout the events of The Crow, however, Hem matures to be more caring and responsible.
Some traits that stay the same throughout the books are Hem's fierce loyalty and stubbornness, which make him much like his sister, Maerad. Unlike her, though, Hem is not very studious.
Maerad is Hem's older sister. Although they did not know each other for a large portion of their childhood, they share a close bond and a fondness for one another.
Saliman, as Hem's first real caretaker, has earned Hem's utmost respect and trust. Saliman loves Hem as a child of his own, and Hem sees Saliman as the father figure he didn't have for most of his childhood.
Zelika was found by Hem while he was living in Turbansk. Although their first meeting involved physical fighting, Hem starts to feel both admiration and pity for Zelika once they begin to speak with one another. The two quickly become friends after Saliman agrees to let her stay with them, even after they leave the city of Turbansk. Hem even thought that he might marry Zelika someday.
Ever since Hem saved Irc as a young chick, they have shared a friendship more akin to two humans than to a human and a pet. Irc is eager to help Hem whenever he needs it, and although Irc gets on Hem's nerves at times, the two have a lot in common and are very close.
Hem, like his sister Maerad, has intense blue eyes and dark hair. In The Naming, he is the same height as Maerad, but by The Singing has grown to be taller than her. Hem's skin is an olive color.