basic informationName: Ashelia "Ashe" B'nargin Dalmasca (アーシェ・バナルガン・ダルマスカ)
Age: 17 at the beginning, 19 during gameplay
Height: 5' 5'' (165 cm)
Home: Rabanastre, Dalmasca
"The only child of King Raminas and sole heir to the Dalmascan throne, Ashe is believed dead following the invasion. She meets Vaan and the others under the most unlikely of circumstances. Ashe knows all too well she lacks the power to right the wrongs committed against her and her kingdom, but she will not allow herself to admit defeat."
In 704, at the age of 17, it was arranged for Ashe to marry Prince Rasler Heios Nabradia, of, you guessed it, Nabradia. The marriage was intended to strengthen relations between the small kingdoms of Dalmasca and Nabradia under the threat of the imposing Archadian Empire. Shortly after, however, civil war erupted in Ivalice and Rasler was killed at Nalbina fortress during an attack by the Archadians. Nabradia fell, and the Empire turned towards Dalmasca. Ashe's father was then slain while attempting to enact a peace treaty at Nalbina. Dalmasca fell to the empire, and Ashe went into hiding after her false suicide was announced by Ondore of Bhujerba. But Ashe doesn't exactly stay quietly in hiding for very long...
name originsAshe's surname, Dalmasca, obviously comes from the name of her kingdom. Her middle name, B'nargin, is the name of the second son of King Raithwall, heir to the Dusk Shard. Ashe's father shares the same middle name. Her first name is a bit more difficult to explain. "Ashe" is, of course, very close to the English word "ash," meaning remnants of a fire, ruins, or remains, perhaps an allusion to Ashe being the only living hope for her kingdom after the Archadian takeover. Ash is also a type of tree. Yggdrasil, the "world tree" and center of the universe in Norse mythology, is said to be an ash tree. Ashe's alias, "Amalia" is a name with Germanic origins, from "amal" meaning "work." I'd say that Ashe is a pretty hard worker, yes? Amalia is also a synonym for the "Laelia" genus of orchids, seen to the right. You'll notice the pink petals flying around Ashe in some of the promo art (though those might be leaves. But I've never heard of pink leaves, have you?). Amalia is also a type of rose.
heroine?I'm hesitant to name a specific "hero" or main character of FFXII, because really, there isn't a definite one. The game itself doesn't rely heavily on character development or one protagonist's personal journey, but rather on broader concepts, such as politics, liberation, and freaky ancient god-monsters. While Vaan appears to be the protagonist as the game starts, he later serves mostly as a bystander to the game's events. In the grand scheme of things, he has a very small part. While Balthier does claim that he's the leading man, but there's really no character that fits the traditional "hero" role. There's no clear leader of the party, no end-game powerup for anyone in particular, and no love story. But if I had to name a heroine, the requisite RPG female lead, I'd say Ashe. While she certainly doesn't take the usual role of a love interest, supporter of some hero, or a damsel in distress, she has an immense role within the game. She embodies the movement to free Dalmasca and stop Vayne. I wouldn't call her the "main character," but Ashe herself is perhaps the most directly fleshed-out and motivated character within the main cast. So in terms of direct relation to the storyline, I'd confidently call Ashe FFXII's heroine.
So uh... that's my excuse for calling her the "heroine" all over this site.