Complete Monster: Wolfram, the keeper of the titular fortress, is a handsome, gentle looking man who, despite his Faux Affably Evil manner, is a genuine sadist who has no qualms about hurting women or children. Everyone passing through Sankt (Saint) Gotthard Pass must be inspected by Wolfram, the bailiff of the Wolfsmund ("Wolf’s Maw"), who delights in mentally and physically tormenting his victims. Starting the series by having a young woman executed and her body displayed, Wolfram is responsible for many atrocities, including: torturing a boy (a teenager at most) by burning the soles of his feet, and then forcing him to stand, holding his father on his shoulders to prevent the man from being hanged; forcing a little girl and her mother to undergo a search inside their "hiding place" with tongs to see if they're hiding anything (then keeping the mother as a prisoner); participating in torture ostensibly for information but really for pleasure; and feeding the mother and younger brother of one of the only people to escape his clutches to ravenous wolves for an execution. It is revealed Wolfram led violent raids to kill civilians in the past and spared only two siblings, but only after putting out one eye each; even after they reveal themselves to Wolfram years later, he claims not to remember them. Ostensibly loyal to the Austrian Hapsburg Dukedom, Wolfram admits that his only reason is for the amusement it gives him and his greatest joy in life is to cause others pain, especially after giving them hope first. Finally, when the fortress is attacked, he flees, leaving his men to fight and die against overwhelming odds (and killing one who suggests surrendering).
Counterpart Comparison: Wolfram has surprisingly many things in common with Ramsay Bolton. They are both keepers of seemingly impenetrable fortresses, both are handsome, gentle looking men who, despite their Faux Affably Evil manner, are a genuine sadists who have no qualms about killing women and children. They are both fans of giving their opponents hope before trouncing on that hope like dirt. They even have the same motivations for all of their atrocities. Both are compared to savage canines, a hungry wolf for Wolfram and a mad dog for Ramsey. Both have executed people by feeding them to the pair's respective animal comparisons. They are both convinced that they are invincible which gives them the confidence to do and act as they please. They both enjoy playing games with the people they torment. They both kill siblings of The Hero to draw him out into conflict. Both are evil geniuses in terms of mind games and battle strategies, only to be sabotaged by their own cruel and Ax-Crazy tendencies. Both are loyal to a higher authority that is either indifferent or antagonistic to them and their characteristics. They even lose in an eerily similar manner when their fortresses are attacked, as the tides of the battle turn against them they both flee, leaving their men to die in slaughter against the forces of the Swiss/Starks. While in the heat of the battle both their Dragons wound up being defeated by the hero's trusted companion, Berchtold got killed by Kurt while Small Jon Umber was done in by Tormund. They both even end up losing to the underdog hero of their respective stories in single combat. Finally the both of them are executed in bloody, painful and horrific punishments with a sense of irony in front of the people they hurt.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Given the monstrous nature of the antagonists (especially Wolfram) and the sheer amount of bullshit that any heroic character has to suffer through, a number of readers have trouble getting through the story.