King Guslav the Fifth
The obese, senile king of Adua, his health is rapidly failing and his mind is slipping.
- Adipose Rex: The morbidly obese king of the Union who needs to be carried around on a litter.
- Hot Consort: He had a well-known affair with Carmee dan Roth, a lady-at-court who suddenly disappeared and was rumored to have died giving birth to Guslav's bastard child. Bayaz later reveals that's the truth and that Jezal is that child. Then he confides to Jezal the whole thing was a crock of shit he spread to get Jezal planted on the throne.
- I Am Not Your Father: Bayaz spreads rumors that Jezal is the bastard son of Guslav and his mistress, Carmee dan Roth, but once Jezal tries standing up to him, the Magi reveals he lied about the whole thing, and that Jezal is the Son of a Whore he bribed a noble to raise just for the purpose of Bayaz having a Puppet King. He also reveals there are others he planted, which hed use to take Jezal's place should the man try standing up to him again.
- Passed in Their Sleep: He passes away during the ceremony to greet Jezal after he returns to the Union. Everyone assumes he just fell asleep like he always does at official functions, before they realize he's dead.
- Puppet King: Due to his senility, the Closed Council rules in his stead with King Guslav himself only brought out for special political or public events.
- Scatterbrained Senior: After living so long, his mind is practically gone. When he's not busy sleeping during important events, he has no idea where he is or what's going on whenever he's awake.
Crown Prince Ladisla
The vain and foppish heir to the throne.
- The Dandy: Ladisla is described as the image of vanity who wears ever more frivolous garments and accessories.
- Disney Villain Death: West catches him trying to force himself on Cathil and immediately throws him off a cliff to his death.
- Entitled Bastard: Ladisla is a spoiled brat who believes he's owed respect because of his title without ever having done anything to earn it.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: His younger brother is intelligent and responsible while Ladisla is vain and foolish.
- General Failure: Ladisla has zero military experience and commands the least experienced and most poorly equipped soldiers in the army, but he still thinks he can take on ten thousand of Bethod's Northmen. He ignores all of West's pleas for caution and just decides to attack head-on, resulting in ten thousand of his men being slaughtered.
- Glory Hound: Ladisla can't even wield a sword, but he joins the Northern campaign as a commander solely to get glory for himself. Unsurprisingly, his only military engagement is a spectacular failure.
- Inadequate Inheritor: It's no secret that nearly everyone thinks his younger brother, Raynault, would be a far more suitable heir to the throne than Ladisla.
- The Millstone: Not only does he end up getting troops massacred in an astonishingly stupid tactical decision, but then, while being escorted to safety by Logen's Band, he's nothing but a liability who spends the entire time grumbling, whining, pleading for rest, and blaming others for his mistakes. The final straw comes when he tries to rape their female companion, Cathil, while the rest of the men are out fighting Bethod's scouts.
- Never My Fault: After his astonishing military failure against Bethod's army, he alternates between blaming himself then shifting the blame onto others.
- Oh, Crap!: When he sees the look on Collem West's face, Ladisla gets a moment to realize how much trouble he's in seconds before he's pushed off a hill to his death.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When Collem catches Ladisla attempting to rape Cathil, it's the last straw. Collem is blinded by rage and immediately murders him.
- Serial Rapist: It's rumored that he's forced himself on many serving girls in the palace, with Arch Lector Sult covering it up.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: He and his younger brother, Raynault, are polar opposites in terms of personality. Ladisla is vain, foppish, spoiled and stupid, while Raynault is wise, compassionate and aware of the responsibilities of rulership.
- The Unfavorite: His father flat-out says that Ladisla is too weak to bare the crown and that Raynault will have to take care of him after Guslav is gone. Unfortunately he says this in public, during one of his senile outbursts.
- Upper-Class Twit: Ladisla is the Crown Prince of the Union and is quite possibly one of the dumbest men alive in it.
The younger but far more qualified heir to the throne.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Raynault is much more popular than his elder brother, Ladisla.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: His leg is broken, his throat is mauled and he's partially cannibalized by his killer.
- Eaten Alive: He ends up cannibalized by Yoru Sulfur.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: It's no secret that everyone believes Raynault would be a far more suitable heir than his vain, irresponsible older brother. Even his senile father tells Jezal—mistaking him for Raynault—that he must look after his older brother since he's "too weak to bare the crown."
- The Good Prince: He's a far wiser, kinder and more beloved prince than his brother.
- Modest Royalty: Another point of contrast between his brother, who's a dandy, Raynault dresses modestly and humbly for a prince.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Unlike his vain, irresponsible, foolish elder brother, Raynault is serious, conscientious, honest and thoughtful.
- The Wise Prince: One of the many reasons why Raynault is favored more than Ladisla is because he actually takes things seriously and thinks things through.
Jezal dan Luthar
A wealthy young Union nobleman and Captain in the King's Own. Eventually revealed to be the hidden, bastard son of King Guslav, or so Bayaz claims. Regardless of the truth, Bayaz engineers his rise as king.
- Arranged Marriage: After being crowned king following the death of King Guslav's legitimate heirs, Jezal is married to Prince Ladisla's former intended, Terez. It happens so fast, Jezal realizes he technically never agreed to it.
- Awful Wedded Life: His marriage to Terez is a nightmare. Not only does she hate him and make no secret of it, but unbeknownst to everyone, she's a lesbian who's in love with her childhood friend.
- Big Brother Worship: Jezal doesn't have good relationships with his biological brothers, but he comes to look up to Logen Ninefingers as a brother during their adventures in the second book. Even after they part ways, Jezal tries to follow Logen's example.
- Character Development: Arguably the most significant of any of the main characters in the trilogy. He starts off as a shallow, self-centered jackass and ends the original trilogy a king who cares about his people and tries to look out for their best interests. Unfortunately, given the crapsack nature of the setting, he's a rendered a Puppet King by Bayaz, and limited in the reforms he wants to make to benefit the Union's people.
- The Chosen One:He's presented as the bastard son of the King of the Union and raised to the throne to rescue the royal line. In reality, Bayaz had a dozen different babies planted with different families to see which one would turn out the most kingly. He has no idea who Jezal's parents were and doesn't care.
- The Dandy: Very impressed by his own appearance.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Specifically built up as such by Bayaz for the reason above. Although he didn't do much besides whining and complaining during the entire quest for the Seed in the second book, when he returns to Adua, he hears stories about his glorious and heroic actions during a big battle in the Old Empire. Bayaz, of course, is the source of the rumours. Then, in the third book, he is credited as the man who ended the peasant rebellion although he had nothing whatsoever to do with it - again, it was ended by Bayaz, who also started it.
- Hidden Back Up Prince: Bayaz tells the Open Council that Jezal is the bastard son of King Guslav V and a lady-at-court, securing Jezal's rise to the throne. When Jezal defies Bayaz in private, Bayaz reveals Jezal is a Son of a Whore that Bayaz purchased and had raised by a noble family for his schemes, and that Jezal is only one among many "back-up princes," telling Jezal in no uncertain terms he'll have him killed if he keeps defying him.
- Jerkass: Starts the series as a vain and shallow jerk.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: His growth from selfish, spoiled jerk to a more mature and empathetic person takes up the first three books.
- Kick the Dog: Spends a lot of his initial chapters displaying his contempt for the lower classes and generally being an ass.
- Lack of Empathy: He starts off the trilogy as a callous individual who barely cares about his "friends" let alone commoners. By the end of the first trilogy he's probably become the most empathetic of the POV characters.
- Manchild: At the start of the series, he's interested only in money and girls, and wants the world to be handed to him on a platter.
- Master Swordsman: He's an excellent swordsman and makes it to the final round of the Contest, but would have lost to Bremer dan Gorst if not for the intervention of Bayaz.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Flips the fuck out on one of his friends for talking about Ardee West's reputation.
- Puppet King: What he's reduced. Jezal grows enough as a person that he truly wants to help his less fortunate subjects, but he's unable to enact his reforms after Bayaz makes it clear his life will be forfeit if Jezal doesn't cater to the instructions of Bayaz's mouthpiece, Sand dan Glokta.
- Scars Are Forever: His battle injury of a broken and scarred jaw is occasionally brought up.
- Son of a Whore: Bayaz reveals in private that Jezal has no noble blood and is really the son of a prostitute who sold Jezal to Bayaz as a baby.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After a near-death experience in the second book that leaves him permanently scarred, he realizes what a terrible person he is and strives to be a much better person.
The daughter of Grand Duke Orso of Talins, she's a celebrated beauty who's engaged to Crown Prince Ladisla. Following Ladisla's death and Jezal's coronation, she marries him instead.
- Arranged Marriage: Her father arranges her betrothal to Crown Prince Ladisla, and she makes it abundantly clear she's not happy about it. She later ends up betrothed and married to Jezal instead, following Ladisla's death and Jezal's coronation. She's just as unhappy as she was when she believed she was marrying Ladisla.
- Awful Wedded Life: Outside of the public eye, she displays nothing but contempt for her husband, mocking his bastard origins and forcing him to sleep on the couch. Her being a lesbian that her father forced into marriage against her wishes probably doesn't help.
- Childhood Friend Romance: She's secretly in love with her childhood friend, Countess Shalere.
- Happy Marriage Charade: She puts on a parody of wifely affection to maintain her public image, but privately she's a haughty Jerkass to her husband.
- I Have Your Wife: Glokta takes her childhood friend/lover, Countess Shalere, hostage and threatens to torture her unless Terez performs her "wifely duties" and gives Jezal heirs.
- Ice Queen: She has an aloof and haughty demeanor.
- Jerkass: Mostly to her husband, Jezal, whom she makes it clear she despises despite his efforts to get her to warm up to him.
- Lipstick Lesbian: She's described as breathtakingly beautiful and impossibly regal. She's also in love with her female friend from childhood.
- Rape as Drama: Glokta forces her to have sex with an unknowing Jezal against her will, otherwise he threatens to torture her lover, Countess Shalere.
- Rich Bitch: She's spoiled and haughty and comes from a rich and noble family.
- Secret Relationship: She and her childhood friend, Countess Shalere, are lovers, something they're forced to keep secret so her father can marry Terez off to a highborn man.
- Settle for Sibling: After Crown Prince Ladisla dies she ends up marrying his bastard brother, Jezal, instead. Then it turns out Bayaz was lying about Jezal being King Guslav's bastard son.
The Closed Council
Lord Chamberlain Fortis dan Hoff
A loud and impatient man who conducts the duties of the otherwise incapable king.
- The Alcoholic: Hoff is almost never seen without a drink in his hand.
- Fat Bastard: He's an overweight jackass who treats all supplicants seeking an audience with the High King with equal disdain.
- Jerkass: Hoff is described as rude, unpleasant and quick to anger. All on top of being a drunkard.
- Lack of Empathy: He really could care less about why someone is petitioning the king, there's a 99% chance he'll refuse their request.
- No Indoor Voice: He's described as being a very loud man.
- Retired Badass: Surprisingly enough, in his youth, Hoff was once the champion of the national fencing Contest. You'd never be able to tell it from looking at him now.
- Would Hurt a Child: After finding out that Jezal fathered a bastard with Ardee, he subtly suggests that Sand dan Glokta, the new Arch Lector of the Inquisition, murder Ardee and her unborn child. Luckily, Glokta doesn't go through with it. Instead he marries Ardee to pass her child off as his own and threatens Hoff should anything befall his wife and child.
High Justice Marovia
Leader of the King's Justice, an elderly man and Sult's bitter rival.
- Enemy Mine: In The Last Argument of Kings, he teams up with Glokta to bring down Sult, provided the former can obtain evidence of the latter's treason.
- Internal Reformist: He wants to reform the way commoners are treated in the Union from within. Secretly, he wants to bring down the monarchy and replace it with a democracy.
- Kill and Replace: He's murdered by Yoru Sulfur who takes on his appearance to guard King Jezal during the Gurkish attack on the capital.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's one of the few members of the Closed Council who actually cares about commoners in the Union, and he's even willing to work with Glokta to remove Sult providing Glokta can bring evidence of Sult's treason.
- The Rival: He despises Arch Lector Sult, as the two of them have diametrically opposed ideas of what's best for the Union. They head two different factions in the Closed Council and end up disagreeing about every subject in the Closed Council no matter how small.
- Token Good Teammate: He's one of the only members of the Closed Council who gives a damn about the commoners in the Union and believes people in power should use their status to help those less fortunate. Naturally in this series, he ends up murdered.
Lord Marshall Varuz
The overall commander of the Union Army during the events of The First Law. He remains at home while the junior Lord Marshall, Burr, goes on campaign.
- Badass Grandpa: Even though he's getting on in years, Varuz is the most famous living soldier in the Union and still trains soldiers in the art of dueling for the Contest.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: If you want to train for the Contest under Varuz's tutelage, you'll have to put up with a lot of abuse.
- Killed Offscreen: His death isn't seen during the Battle of Adua but it's heavily implied giving the building where he was stationed ends up being destroyed.
- Never Found the Body: His body isn't found but he's presumed dead given that he was conducting Adua's defenses from the Tower of Chains when it was destroyed.
- Smart People Play Chess: He plays squares with West, a game that is presumably similar to chess.
- Training from Hell: Varuz forces all soldiers he trains for the contest to undergo this, as Jezal and Glokta can attest.
Lord Marshall Burr
The junior overall commander of the Union during the events of The First Law. He's in charge of the campaign in the First Northern War.
- A Father to His Men: Burr genuinely cares about the men under his command, Collem West in particular, whom he personally mentors.
- Achilles in His Tent: Just before an important battle, Burr falls ill and seems on the verge of death from his gut-rot. In order to keep his squabbling generals focused on his plan, West pretends that Burr is alright and issues orders in his stead. Luckily for West, Burr pulls through, so he's not punished for his deception.
- The Chains of Commanding: Even though he's one of the most powerful men in the Union's military, he's still bound by the whims of the Closed Council and the ineptitude of his subordinates.
- Gasshole: Burr can't seem to go a sentence without burping, either because of indigestion or gut-rot brought on by the pressures of command. What starts as a funny character quirk ends up killing him.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: He's Collem West's mentor in the military, but ends up passing away in his sleep, leaving Collem to take charge as the next Lord Marshall.
- Not Quite Dead: It looks like he won't survive the events of Before They Are Hanged as he vomits up blood and ends up incapacitated from his gut-rot. Against all odds, he does survive, only for his illness to kill him in The Last Argument of Kings.
- Only Sane Man: Between Generals Kroy and Poulder, who focus more on their rivalry with each other than the enemy they're facing, and Crown Prince Ladisla, who's an incompetent Glory Hound, Burr seems like the only military commander in the First Northern War who actually knows what he's doing.
- Passed in Their Sleep: In The Last Argument of Kings, Lord Marshall Burr ends up passing in his sleep from gut-rot.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Burr is an extremely competent military commander. Unlike his contemporaries, he's not biased against commoners in the military like West, and values skill and experience over blood. He's also painfully aware of how ill-prepared the Union is for the war against the North, and has to spend a lot of his time diverting Generals Kroy and Poulder attention from their rivalry to focus on the actual enemy instead.
One of the senior commanders of the Union Army during the First Northern War. During The Heroes, he has been promoted to Lord Marshall and is overseeing the Second Northern War.
- A Father to His Men: Most notably in The Heroes where Kroy has become Lord Marshall and taken a level in kindness. He confides in his daughter just how absolutely devastated he is by the loss of thousands of his men following the first day of battle.
- Antagonist in Mourning: In The Last Argument of Kings, he's genuinely saddened when he finds out that his long-time rival, General Poulder, died during the Battle of Adua.
- The Chains of Commanding: After he becomes Lord Marshall, Kroy reflects on how he always thought he'd be able to make a difference with his new power, only to realize that the higher his rank, the less power he has.
- Defeat Means Friendship: He seems to form a genuine respect for Collem West after he becomes Lord Marshall instead of Kroy and proves his competence in the war against Bethod.
- Foil: Kroy and Poulder are both generals, but otherwise they're polar opposites. Kroy is always formally dressed, has a stiff demeanor and prefers to do things by-the-book. Poulder, meanwhile, dresses casually, has a flamboyant personality, and prefers to just charge into things gloriously.
- Good Parents: By all accounts he seems to be a loving and reasonable father to his daughter, Finree.
- Lean and Mean: In the original trilogy, Kroy is gaunt and acts haughty and arrogant. By the time of The Heroes, he's become much nicer.
- Not So Different: Kroy doesn't seem to realize that he and Poulder are alike in more ways they'd care to admit. Their behavior when it comes to each other is identical, they'll disagree over everything—regardless of how minor it is—they're both rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing, and they seem to be more concerned with their rivalry rather than actually beating Bethod.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: He and Poulder put aside their rivalry and display respect for each other just before they go to fight the Gurkish attacking Adua.
- Rank Up: By the time of The Heroes, he's been promoted to Lord Marshall.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In The Heroes where he cares about the soldiers under his command and does everything in his power to end the war and save lives. In the end he sues for peace with Black Dow against Bayaz's wishes and resigns from his post rather than get anymore of his men killed without reason.
- Right Hand vs. Left Hand: Kroy and Poulder are two of the most senior generals under Lord Marshall Burr, but they prioritize one-upping each other over actually winning the war. They end up squabbling over every minor point and one will usually disagree with a course of action just to spite the other.
- The Rival: He and General Poulder are fierce rivals, to the point where it seems like they want to one up each other more than they want to defeat Bethod.
- Smart People Play Chess: He and his daughter, Finree, play squares, a game similar to chess, and are able to remember the game in their head when they're separated by long distances.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: If it isn't obvious, Kroy and Poulder do not get along at all, so getting them to work together to win the First Northern War is a challenge for Lord Marshall Burr and his successor, Collem West.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He's much kinder and more reasonable in The Heroes than he was in the original trilogy, the intervening years having made him aware of the true limits of power.
Another of the senior commanders of the Union Army during the First Northern War.
- Fat Bastard: He's an overweight, arrogant and self-interested man.
- Foil: Poulder and Kroy are both generals, but otherwise they're polar opposites. Poulder dresses casually, has a flamboyant personality, and prefers to just charge into things. Kroy, meanwhile, is always formally dressed, has a stiff demeanor and prefers to do things by-the-book.
- Horseback Heroism: Poulder is famous for his renown cavalry charges.
- Leeroy Jenkins: During the war against the Gurkish, Poulder just can't resist prematurely launching one of his famous cavalry charges. Unfortunately, it ends in his death at the front of his charge.
- Mildly Military: In further contrast to Kroy, who is always sharply dressed and acts by-the-book, Poulder adopts a casual demeanor and actually puts effort into undoing the top button of his uniform and mussing his hair.
- Not So Different: Poulder doesn't seem to realize that he and Kroy are alike in more ways they'd care to admit. Their behavior when it comes to each other is identical, they'll disagree over everything—regardless of how minor it is—they're both rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing, and they seem to be more concerned with their rivalry rather than actually beating Method.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: He and Kroy put aside their rivalry and display respect for each other just before they go to fight the Gurkish attacking Adua.
- Right Hand vs. Left Hand: Poulder and Kroy are two of the most senior generals under Lord Marshall Burr, but they prioritize one-upping each other over actually winning the war. They end up squabbling over every minor point and one will usually disagree with a course of action just to spite the other.
- The Rival: He and General Poulder are fierce rivals, to the point where it seems like they want to one up each other more than they want to defeat Bethod.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: If it isn't obvious, Poulder and Kroy do not get along at all, so getting them to work together to win the First Northern War is a challenge for Lord Marshall Burr and his successor, Collem West.
A Major in the King's Own; Jezal's friend despite his lack of noble blood. He's a tall, slender man with thinning hair and a gaunt face. Following the death of Lord Marshall Burr, West is made his replacement.
- Abusive Parents: His father was a drunken bastard who abused him and his sister. When Collem was old enough, he left and joined the army. He still regrets how he abandoned his sister to their father to look out for himself.
- The Berserker: In spite of being a pretty nice guy, he has a bad temper. When fighting alongside the Northmen, he goes completely berserk and bites an enemy's face. He's given the name "Furious" by the impressed Northmen.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's one of the most noble character in the series, but he has a deadly temper, and commits cold-blooded murder on Prince Ladisla when he catches him trying to rape Cathil.
- Big Brother Instinct: Despite their strained relationship, Collem really cares about his younger sister, Ardee, and when his duties prevent him from looking out for her, he asks Glokta to look out for her in his stead. He still has regrets over abandoning her to their abusive father in the past.
- Body Horror: Suffers what appears to be radiation poisoning after the use of the Seed. He loses most of his hair and becomes a shrunken shell of his former self.
- Embarrassing Nickname: He doesn't like his Northmen allies coining the name "Furious" for him, after a particularly brutal fight where he fell into an unstoppable rage.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: He's prone to losing his temper and doing unfortunate things, though it occasionally helps him in a fight.
- Kick the Dog: A big one when he punches his sister.
- Killed Offscreen: The ending of The Last Argument of Kings implies he's minutes away from dying as he's rushed away for medical attention. In The Heroes he's remembered as a good man who died too soon, confirming his fate.
- Majorly Awesome: Eventually becomes a Four-Star Badass.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He's immediately remorseful after he strikes his sister in a rage.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: He makes no secret he wants Jezel to stay away from his sister. But since this is before his Character Development, Jezal doesn't listen. Even after his Character Development, he doesn't.
- Only Sane Man: Played with, as he is this most of the time, but has a terrible temper that sometimes makes him half mad- at one point, in a fit of rage, he bites a guy's nose off.
- Pet the Dog: In an Establishing Character Moment, he helps a scribe grab a page that was fluttering by, while Jezal was enjoying watching the man struggle.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: First established when he asks Logen for advice on fighting in the North, codified when he becomes Lord Marshal and wins two wars inside of six months.
- Self-Made Man: Rises from the peasantry to an officer in the King's Own based on his hard work. He eventually becomes Lord Marshal of the Union.
- Unexpected Successor: He's promoted to Lord Marshal over the heads of much more senior officers, because he was nominated by his friend, Jezal dan Luthar, who himself was an Unexpected Successor to the late King Guslav V.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When he expresses his disdain for the prison work camp in Angland, he's thoroughly dressed down by the resident Inquisitor on just how much West benefits from the Inquisition's terrible actions, causing him to shut up.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: He's embarrassed by his berserk rage during a battle. When the appreciative Northmen start calling him "Furious" because of it, he becomes even more embarrassed.
Bremer dan Gorst
- "It's an upside-down sham of a world in which men like these, if they can be called men at all, can look down on a man like me. I am worth twice the lot of you. And this is the best the Union has to offer? We deserve to lose."
- Ascended Extra: Had a minor role in the original trilogy before being promoted to a main character in The Heroes.
- The Atoner: Tries to redeem himself in battle after failing to protect his king in Best Served Cold.
- Benevolent Boss: He cares about his two servants, genuinely viewing them as two of his only friends. After one of them is scarred by a colonel, Gorst heads to his tent to demand satisfaction. Unfortunately, when the man turns out to be in awe of Gorst's display in an earlier battle, Gorst's need for recognition makes it so he can't bring himself to avenge his friend's honor.
- The Berserker: When he fights in battle, Gorst practically falls into trance as he gets in the rhythm of killing.
- Blood Knight: After his fall from grace, fighting is the only thing that makes him feel alive. He goes so far as to say that he loves war as it makes him feel like a God.
- The Big Guy: His role in the Union's army. He's quite possibly the best fighter in the series, with the exception of Logen Ninefingers.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Has been in love with Finree for years. When he finally does tell her, it goes disastrously.
- Death Seeker: One of the reasons why he throws himself so recklessly into war is because he wants to die.
- Desperately Craves Affection: Gorst is starved for affection, whether romantic—like he wishes from Finree—or platonic—where he wants respect and recognition from his peers.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Bremer is a bit of a laughing stock due to his piping voice and his disgraceful exit from the King's service, but he's very intelligent and the best warrior the Union has. He silently rages about the lack of respect and appreciation he gets.
- The Eeyore: While his sour attitude initially seems like a natural reaction to the miserable state of both his life and the war, near the end he receives the royal forgiveness and reinstating into his previous position as royal bodyguard that he's spent the whole novel yearning for and working towards, and is happy for all of five minutes - after which he promptly finds new reasons to pity himself. His short story in Sharp Ends reveals he suffers from depression.
- Failure Knight: His failure to protect Jezal in Best Served Cold haunts him, as it caused his fall from grace. During, The Heroes, he seeks to prove himself in the Second Northern War in the hopes of regaining his position.
- Faster Than They Look: It's remarked upon multiple times that for all of Gorst's massive size, he's much faster than he has any right to be.
- First-Person Smartass: Bremer doesn't talk often because he's ashamed of his high-pitched voice, but his inner monologue is full of biting commentary on the people who surround him.
- Graceful Loser: When he loses his duel against Jezal in The Blade Itself, he takes it in impressive stride, congratulating Jezal and presenting him to the cheering crowd.
- Green-Eyed Monster: His unrequited love for Finree has turned him into this, to the point where he attempts to murder the already wounded Harod dan Brock.
- Hero Killer: Gorst is this for his Northern opponents in The Heroes, even with the book's Gray and Gray Morality. He nearly kills Scale and Curnden Craw, successfully kills Drofd, and is the only swordsman who can duel Whirrun of Bligh on even terms.
- Hopeless Suitor: Gorst is hopelessly in love with Finree, who, in addition to barely knowing him, is already married to Harod dan Brock. When Gorst reveals his feelings for her, it goes horribly wrong.
- Lightning Bruiser: Bremer is a hulk of a man and able to fight with amazing speed as well.
- Loving a Shadow: Though he believes himself to be in love with Finree, throughout The Heroes it becomes clear that he barely knows her and is just projecting his own desires onto her.
- Master Swordsman: Bremer is the best fighter the Union has, not that he gets much respect for it.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: While helping Finree search through the rubblier of Osrung to find her husband, Gorst finds him first, unconscious but still alive. He attempts to strangle him to death so he can have Finree to himself, but stops when she arrives.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Subverted, he's got nothing but contempt for Jezal. Ironically, Jezal is deeply loyal to Bremer.
- Never My Fault: Insists that he was wrongfully blamed for the disaster at Cardotti's House of Leisure in Best Served Cold. In fact, he was drunk out of his mind and whoring around when Jezal needed him, and Finree's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him reveals that it wasn't the first time. However, in the short story Wrong Place, Wrong Time from the collection Sharp Ends, it's revealed that, rather than being passed out drunk and whoring, Gorst was sobbing on a prostitute's lap as she soothed him, showing that Gorst had been dealing with depression for quite some time before The Heroes. Once he heard the chaos break out, he immediately rushed to find the king, barreling into Shivers who promptly headbutts him, sending Gorst sprawling down the stairs.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: His notes to Jezal, reporting on the war, are filled with empty flattery and blatant lies about how well things are progressing. At one point he writes a letter expressing his real, contemptuous feelings towards Jezal, only for it to be revealed that he writes an honest letter every night then burns it.
- The Quiet One: Gorst usually keeps his thoughts to himself because he's ashamed of his child-like voice.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Following the fiasco at Cardotti's House of Leisure, he's dismissed from the King's First Guard and is made Royal Observer for the Second Northern War. By the end of The Heroes, he's granted an opportunity to regain his old position due to his perceived heroics.
- The Scapegoat: Gorst claims this is why he was dismissed after failing Jezal at Sipani. In reality, it's because the Council believed he was drunk out of his mind and whoring when he should've been protecting his king. The truth is a little more complicated as he was actually sobbing in a prostitute's lap because of his depression.
- Vocal Dissonance: His high, child-like voice notably clashes with his brutish appearance, to his eternal shame.
- What You Are in the Dark: When no one else is around, he attempts to murder his romantic rival, only stopping because Finree came across him before he could finish the job.
- Worthy Opponent: He and Whirrun of Bligh consider each other to be this during their duel in The Heroes. Gorst is disappointed when a random spear kills Whirrun before they could finish their fight.
- "Wars are hard enough work without people fighting in the middle of them."
Standard-bearer of the First, a veteran Union soldier.
- Cowardly Lion: Subverted. He's suicidally brave when his adrenaline's going, and spends the battle trying to repress it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He acts cynical towards the rookies under his care and charges them for anything he can, but he also does his best to keep them alive. He even writes notes to their next of kin if they don't survive.
- Jerkass Façade: He acts like he doesn't care about the soldiers he's in-charge of, but really it's just an act. He has a reputation to uphold after all.
- Mean Boss: He frequently demeans the soldiers under his command and gives them shit assignments. He does care about them, deep down, however.
- Old Soldier: While not that old, he's a long-time veteran and is much older than his immediate underlings.
- The Peter Principle: He's been Sergeant Tunny four times, once even Colour Sergeant Tunny, but each time he's demoted back to Corporal.
- Redshirt Army: He's in one.
- The Scrounger: His specialty is finding things and selling them to his subordinates, keeping them reliant on him for everything.
- Soldiers at the Rear: He's the Standard-Bearer of the First Regiment. Throughout the entirety of The Heroes, he and his men wait for orders to attack while behind enemy lines. By the time they finally do attack, they realize the enemy isn't where they thought they'd be, and the war is over.
Arch Lector Sult
- "Rising early. Of course. The second greatest virtue. It comes just behind ruthlessness."
The elderly leader of the Inquisition, manipulative and greedy.
- Bad Boss: His primary management technique seems to be threatening his subordinates with torture and death.
- Big Bad Wannabe: While he thinks that he's running the Union, he's actually just another of Bayaz's pawns.
- The Chessmaster: A canny political operative. Subverted; he gets Out-Gambitted pretty regularly and his grand plan in the end involves a demon-summoning spell that doesn't actually do anything.
- Evil Old Folks: He's in his sixties, but far from frail.
- Fate Worse than Death: He ends the original trilogy as the captive of the new Arch Lector, Sand dan Glokta, who, along with his new Practical, Pike aka Salem Rews, are about to torture Sult for their amusement.
- High Collar of Doom: Wears a long white robe with high collar.
- Knight Templar: Fanatically devoted to maintaining what he sees as the natural order, aristocrats on top, everyone else down in the gutter.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Furious that common peasants and laborers have the cheek to demand any sort of rights. Also, the whole torture thing.
- The Rival: Has a bitter rivalry with High Justice Marovia, at least partially because Marovia champions the rights of commoners, while Sult wants to suppress them.
- Smug Snake: Accomplishes very little except to be a pawn to Bayaz.
Sand dan Glokta
- "Why do I do this?"
A former Union war hero, now a crippled member of the Inquisition.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Glokta is often Disappointed by the Motive when performing his interrogations, and wishes he'd get an answer more interesting than the questions he poses. When Practical Frost reveals he's a traitor and prepares to kill him, Glokta demands to know why. Frost simply shrugs, and Glokta reflects that sometimes there really are no answers.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Played with. Glokta spent two years being tortured by the Gurkish Empire, and was mutilated and crippled. After he returned home, he joined the Inquisition and started torturing others for a living. However, according to others and Glokta himself, he was as big an asshole in his youth as Jezal was pre-Character Development.
- Broken Ace: He was a champion swordsman, war hero and renowned ladies man. Now he's a shunned cripple that inspires pity at best, and disgust or fear at worst.
- The Chessmaster
- Cold-Blooded Torture: He spent two years being tortured by the Gurkish Empire, and now he's become an expert at performing torture on others.
- Consummate Professional: He tortures and investigates as ordered, even when he doubts his superiors or sympathizes with his victims. He has no problem forcing false confessions from the relatively innocent, mutilating and even murdering them in the process, as long as he's following his orders. Unlike many cases of this trope, however, he doesn't have much love for his institution or his superiors, and often finds himself wondering how and why he became the man he is.
- During his time in Dagoska, he found himself privately sympathizing with the oppressed natives and sharing their disdain for the inquisitors and Union administration in the city, but as the ranking representative of both kept these thoughts to himself. He worked to better the conditions of the natives and remedy the corruption in the citt, but for practical reasons mkre than moral, and still played the part of the unflinching Unionist in his duty.
- Cornered Rattlesnake: Without his Practicals, everyone expects Glokta to be a helpless cripple. But when his back's against the wall, he reveals his cane is secretly a sword that he's still handy with. He used to fence, after all. Jab, jab.
- Death Seeker: A version. He doesn't go out actively looking for his death, but he'd dearly like someone to kill him. He's positively thrilled when Ferro and Salem Lews hold his life in the palm of their hands and thinks they're about to kill him. He can't stand to lose though...
- Disabled Snarker: Especially in his inner monologue.
- Disappointed by the Motive: After spending so much of his life questioning others and hearing their motivations, he often finds himself disappointed at how petty their reasons for their actions are. Even discovering that Arch Lector Sult is secretly trying to control demons is seen as a surprisingly childish scheme by Glokta.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even Glokta thinks the Superiors are assholes. Not to mention his professional disgust when he learned an inquisitor had tortured someone to death and not even bothered to ask any questions.
- Evil Chancellor: He becomes this at the end of the trilogy. His efforts have earned him some respect from Bayaz, who makes him de facto ruler of the Union in his absence. Though he's technically an "advisor" even King Jezal obeys the instructions Glokta relays on behalf of Bayaz.
- Evil Cripple: Although "amoral cripple" would be more accurate, this is how people tend to perceive him. He definitely plays up the image to frighten others.
- First-Person Smartass: His inner monologue is entertaining in just how much snark he can dole out, especially when dealing with people either more powerful than himself or less untrustworthy.
- Handicapped Badass: A distinct subversion. Being tortured for two years has made him a wreck of ineffective bodily functions. Then subverted again when he reveals he possesses a Sword Cane and stabs Frost to death.
- Happily Ever After: Though he's certainly not happy about it.
- It Gets Easier: He expounds on the theme in Before They Are Hanged:"You could not even guess at the things that I have done. Awful, evil, obscene. The telling of them alone could make you puke... They nag at me from time to time, but I tell myself I had good reasons. The years pass, the unimaginable becomes everyday, the hideous becomes tedious, the unbearable becomes routine. I push it all into the dark corners of my mind. And it's incredible; the room back there. Amazing. What one can live with."
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: It's his speciality. His victims confess to their crimes, even if they're innocent, after spending some time with him and his instruments.
- Karma Houdini: A notable example. Whether or not you think he is, Glokta certainly thinks so. He commits horrific crimes but ends the original trilogy as the new Arch Lector of the Inquisition, married to Ardee West, a beautiful woman who's one of the few people to treat him decently, and the second most powerful man in the Union as Bayaz's Mouth of Sauron.
- Kick the Dog: One of his most monstrous deeds is forcing a Scarpia Ultimatum on Queen Terez, threatening to torture her childhood love unless she essentially becomes a baby-farm to an unknowing King Jezal. He takes some morbid delight when he first summons his Practicals, though even he admits what he did is disgusting. Not that it stops him from doing it, however.
- Master Swordsman: He apparently won a prestigious swordsmanship tournament, before he was crippled by torture.
- Morality Pet: Collem and Ardee West are the only two people Glokta shows consistent kindness to, especially when he finds out Collem didn't abandon him after his mutilation, but was driven away by Glokta's own mother. Glokta even refuses to murder Ardee, who's presence risks a scandal after she becomes pregnant with Jezal's bastard child. Instead, he marries her to protect her from any attempts on her life by other members of the Closed Council.
- Mouth of Sauron: After Bayaz lets Jezal and the Closed Council know who's really in charge, he leaves Glokta behind as his mouthpiece to relay his orders. Everyone knows that disobeying Glokta and causing Bayaz to return to the Union would be a bad thing for everyone.
- My Beloved Smother: Following his torture, mutilation and crippling, he was returned home to his mother's to heal. Unbeknownst to Glokta, his mother sent away his friend, Collem West, on account of West being lowborn, driving away the only person who hadn't abandoned Glokta and convincing him that he was truly friendless.
- Pet the Dog: In spite of seeing himself as a monster, he does show mercy many times. It usually comes back to bite him.
- Sadist: Averted. While it doesn't bother him, Glokta gets no pleasure out of torturing people. Indeed, many times he asks himself why he does what he does.
- Scars Are Forever: Inside and out. Worse, they still cause him terrible agony.
- Sword Cane: It's revealed in The Last Argument of Kings that is cane secretly contains a fencing sword, which he uses to great effect on the treacherous Practical Frost.
- The Tooth Hurts: Had half of his teeth broken as part of his torture. Its now one of his favourite methods of interrogation.
- Torture Technician: Thanks to his firsthand experience of torture at the hands of true professionals, he's very good at extracting answers from people.
- Too Kinky to Torture: After what he went through in the Gurkish prisons, amateurs don't exactly bother him. Nor is he afraid of death either.
- To the Pain: What his torture sessions often boil down to before he gets to work.
- Villainous Friendship: His Practicals, Severard and Frost, are the closest thing he has to friends in his line of work. He takes it hard when he finds out both of them betrayed him, for separate parties and for separate reasons.
- Younger Than They Look: He's thirty-five, but seems far older due to his disabilities.
One of Sand dan Glokta's Practicals, a hulking albino with a speech impediment.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Frost doesn't speak much due to his speech impediment, usually reserving his words for either when he has to, or when he can't a resist a joke. This becomes especially terrifying when Glokta realizes he betrayed him to Sult, at the same time that Frost realizes he's figured it out. Frost snaps Severard's neck without a word before trying to finish off his old boss. When Glokta demands to know why, Frost simply shrugs.
- Brains and Brawn: Subverted. While Severard is the smirking quipster and Frost is a hulking lisper, Frost shows Hidden Depths in a few occasions, including excellent penmanship and being a mole for Arch Lector Sult.
- The Brute: Frost is an especially strong bruiser who provides the muscle for Glokta.
- Deadpan Snarker/Disabled Snarker: Frost's speech impediment doesn't stop him from occasionally making snide remarks.
- Did Not See That Coming: When Frost tries to kill Glokta he's shocked to discover that Glokta's cane secretly doubles as a fencing sword, which his ex-employer uses to fatally stab him. Frost has just enough time to express mild surprise before dying.
- Dissonant Serenity: Frost is always impassive, even during torture sessions, even when the victim is his long-time co-worker, Severard.
- Evil Albino: Frost has white skin and pink eyes and works as a torturer.
- Hidden Depths: Frost, the lisping albino brute, has beautiful penmanship. He's also the one who identifies the mural of the Magi fighting the Master Maker.
- The Mole: Glokta begins to suspect that either he or Severard is a traitor. It turns out, both of them are but for separate reasons and employers. Severard was forced to betray Glokta because he was threatened into it by Valint and Balk. Frost was willingly informing for Arch Lector Sult and never gives a reason why he betrayed Glokta.
- Not So Above It All: Despite being mostly grim and silent, he will quip on occasion.
- The Sociopath: Unlike Glokta and Severard who are capable of some kindness, Frost really is just an emotionless killer. He shows no hesitancy in torturing Severard, and even less in snapping his neck. When Glokta demands to know why Frost turned on him, Frost shrugs, implying he did it for no reason.
- The Stoic: Frost rarely displays any kind of reaction to anything. Even his own death doesn't elicit much more than a mildly surprised reaction.
- Speech Impediment: Frost has a chronically swollen tongue that causes him to slur his speech.
- Terrible Trio: He makes up one with his boss, Glokta, and his fellow Practical, Severard.
- Torture Technician: Since he works for the Inquisition, this is a given.
One of Sand dan Glokta's Practicals, a smart-mouthed joker who's in it for the money.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Despite being a professional torturer, it's hard not to pity him considering he was forced to betray Glokta and then ends up tortured by Glokta and killed by Frost, the two people he had that were closest to friends.
- Brains and Brawn: Subverted. While Severard is the smirking quipster and Frost is a hulking lisper, Frost shows Hidden Depths in a few occasions, including being a mole.
- Dissonant Serenity: Severard is often smiling and humming to himself when he engages in acts of violence.
- Hidden Depths: When Ferro threatens to kill him for spying on her and demands a reason why she should spare him, he says he doesn't deserve mercy, but no one will feed his birds if he dies. It's enough for Ferro to let him live.
- Knife Nut: Severard really likes his knives.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He aides Glokta in his tortures, even complimenting him on his precision in using a meat cleaver to cut off bits off fingers. When Glokta finds out he's a mole, he uses the cleaver to cut off Severard's own fingers. Glokta even asks if Severard still values his precision.
- The Mole: Glokta begins to suspect that either he or Severard is a traitor. It turns out, both of them are but for separate reasons and employers. Severard was forced to betray Glokta because he was threatened into it by Valint and Balk. Frost was willingly informing for Arch Lector Sult and never gives a reason why he betrayed Glokta.
- Neck Snap: When Glokta realizes Frost has betrayed him to Sult, Frost snaps Severard's neck.
- Pet the Dog: Severard likes to feed stray birds.
- Terrible Trio: He makes up one with his boss, Glokta, and his fellow Practical, Frost.
- Torture Technician: Since he works for the Inquisition, this is a given.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: A short story in Sharp Ends reveals that Severard was a nice, loyal, naive kid before an incident taught him what doing good deeds gets you.
Practical Shylo Vitari
A practical in the Inquisition first introduced working under Superior Goyle. She accompanies Glokta to Dagoska in Before They Are Hanged to report on him. She eventually quits the Inquisition and, by the time of Best Served Cold has gone freelance.
- Action Mom: She's a capable fighter who does dirty work, first for the Inquisition, then later on as a freelancer. She's also the loving mother of three children.
- Chain Pain: Her weapon of choice is a chain with a cross-shaped blade at the end.
- Dark Action Girl: A torturer for the Inquisition who is one of the few people who can go toe-to-toe with Logen in a fight.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has her moments, especially when Cosca is involved.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite her unpleasant behavior to everyone else, she deeply loves her husband and children.
- Fiery Redhead: She's a fighter with a mop of spiky red hair.
- Good Parents: Despite her job as a killer and torturer for hire, Vitari is a loving, devoted mother to her three kids.
- Happily Married: While her husband is often away, and Vitari has tried several other relationships, she deeply adores her husband and treasures whenever he visits. The fact he's Shenkt, a superpowered cannibal assassin makes this even more surprising.
- Heroes Want Redheads: And so do villains: Both her husband and Morveer find her red hair a very attractive feature.
- Hired Guns: Monza hires her to help her assassinate the targets of her vengeance in Best Served Cold.
- Information Broker: Her primary job.
- Mama Bear: Do not touch Vitari's children.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Vitari leaves the Inquisition after Glokta threatened her children and flees the Union. In Best Served Cold, she leaves Monza's employ before her group makes it to Ospria, stating she'd rather take half pay and be alive than earn full pay and be dead after going into a war zone for a personal vendetta.
- Sixth Ranger: For Monza's group.
- Stealth Expert: She's very good at sneaking in and out of places.
- Torture Technician: As a former Practical of the Inquisition, she knows how to make people talk.
- Unholy Matrimony: She's a professional torturer and hired gun who's revealed to be married to Cas Shenkt, the world's most feared assassin and an Eater. Their relationship is one of the most loving and stable in the series.
A disfigured prisoner in an Angland penal colony, he was recruited by Collem West due to the need for capable smiths in the war and acts as an ally to him. Following the Battle of Adua, Pike becomes a member of the Inquisition.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The hardships and disfigurements he endured as a prisoner at an Inquisition penal colony have hardened him. By the end of Last Argument of Kings, he takes Glokta's offer to join the Inquisition.
- Best Served Cold: He waited the entire length of two bloody campaigns, one in the North, and one against the Gurkish invasion, before trying to get revenge against the man who ruined his life. When he finds himself in a room alone with Glokta, he immediately tries to kill him, only for his victim to talk him out of it by letting him take his anger out on someone more deserving.
- Boxed Crook: He's a prisoner in an Inquisition penal colony recruited by West to make up for the lack of capable smiths in the army.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Pike actually appears very early on in the story but
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Not that corrupt as Salem Rews, a successful merchant in the Guild of Mercers. In fact, he's targeted for avoiding the King's taxes but it's really just a pretense for Sult's vendetta against his Guild.
- The Dragon: He becomes Glokta's right-hand man following the events of Last Argument of Kings.
- Facial Horror: His face is horribly burned during an accident in his penal colony. Even Glokta is unnerved by it.
- Formerly Fat: As Salem Rews he was described as being very fat. His time in a penal colony caused him to lose a lot of weight and become lean and sinewy.
- Hero-Worshipper: In his old life, he both loved and hated Sand dan Glokta who he viewed as everything he wanted to be even as Glokta singled him out for public mockery.
- No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Forced servitude and horrific burns have changed his appearance quite a lot. When he confronts the object of his vengeance, Glokta, he doesn't even recognize Pike until Pike spells out just who he is, and his would-be victim laughs at the absurdity of being killed by him of all people.
- Papa Wolf: Towards Cathil, a female prisoner he befriended and whom he pretends to be the father of to protect her from being raped by others in the penal colony.
- Pet the Dog: He pretended that his fellow prisoner, Cathil, was his daughter in order to protect her from the lascivious intentions of the guards and other prisoners.
- That Man Is Dead: Pike isn't his real name, but he adopts it as his permanent identity rather than going back to Salem Rews.
- Took a Level in Badass: The hardships he's endured as Pike has made him tough and unflinching, a far cry from the coward who caved easily under Glokta's torture.
- Two Aliases, One Character: "Pike" isn't his real name. His real name is Salem Rews.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Before being imprisoned he had a young and beautiful wife while he was morbidly obese. It's implied the marriage was due to his wealth.
- Walking Spoiler: His true identity is that of Salem Rews, the merchant Glokta tortured in the beginning of The Blade Itself who was shipped off to Angland.
- "No one likes to shake hands with the man who empties the latrine pits either, but pits have to be emptied all the same. Otherwise the world fills up with shit. You can have your dozen smiths, but don't try to take the high ground with me. There is no high ground here."
The Inquisitor who also serves as the commandant of a prison/penal labour camp in Angland. He returns with a large role in Red Country as part of the Union's plans to expand their reach in the Near and Far Countries.
- Big Bad Wannabe: In Red Country, theoretically he's the one in charge of the Union's activities in the Near and Far Country. In practice, his hired mercenary commander, Nicomo Cosca, plays him like a fiddle to pursue a fabled treasure rather than find and eliminate the rebellion as Lorsen intended. In the end, Lorsen is able to outmaneuver and arrest Cosca by taking advantage of the low morale of Cosca's men.
- The Dog Bites Back: After being manipulated by Cosca into going on a wild goose chase for the rebel leader, Conthus, Lorsen convinces one of Cosca's lieutenants to turn on and arrest Cosca so he can use him as a scapegoat for the expedition's failure.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He's disgusted by Cosca for leading their men on a campaign of pointless slaughter all for the sake of money. Cosca, for his part, sees no difference between mass murder for ideals or for profit, and thinks he's at least honest about what he does and why he does it.
- Know When To Fold Them: When he's tricked into thinking the Old Empire has made a treaty with Crease, Lorsen decides to take his forces and go rather than risk an entanglement with the Old Empire that could spell war for the Union.
- Necessarily Evil: How Lorsen views the Inquisition and their actions. Torture, forced labour and mass murder are all an ugly business, but Lorsen believes it's all necessary to maintain and advance civilization.
- Torture Technician: Like all members of the Inquisition, however, Lorsen isn't a very good one. It's not that he's a sadist, just that he apparently isn't good at keeping his victims alive.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: How Lorsen justifies the Inquisition's brutal practices, the horrific conditions of his prison camp, and his bloody actions in the Near and Far Countries. Everything he does is for the sake of a better civilization in the future.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In Red Country he's last seen arresting Cosca and vacating the Near and Far Countries after being duped into believing the Old Empire had signed a treaty with Crease. Not much later, Cosca reappears, having freed himself from his imprisonment, with no clue as to what happened to Lorsen and the rest of his captors.
Carlot dan Eider
A merchant, head of the Guild of Spicers.
- The Charmer: Dipping into Femme Fatale when necessary.
- The Chew Toy: The universe apparently hates poor Carlot. She's constantly batted around by powerful figures, which ends repeatedly in her losing everything, and she deserves it far, far less than people who get away free with bigger crimes. She's finally content and happy as of Red Country.
- Determined Widow: Married a far older man to pay off her father's debt, and gradually took over his responsibilities in the Guild of Spicers as his health declined. After his death, she effectively inherited his title as a Magister.
- Manipulative Bitch: Although for pretty altruistic reasons.
- MayDecember Romance: When she was twenty-two, she was compelled to marry a sixty-year-old man to repay her father's debt.
- Miss Kitty: In Red Country, true to the book's Western theme.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: She ignores Glokta's earlier warning to flee the Union to return and warn him about the Gurkish making their way to Midderland with a secret fleet. As a result, Glokta ends up seizing her assets at the end of the story and forcing her to act as his spy in Styria.
- Non-Idle Rich: Does everything in her power to support Glokta in his defense of Dagoska.
- Pet the Dog: As part of the ruling council of Dagoska she tries to restrain the Union's worst abuses towards the natives.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Her role in the ruling council of Dagoska and as the Mayor in Red Country.
- The Rival: In Red Country, she's in a bitter fight with the crime boss, Papa Ring, for control of the town of Crease.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: By the end of Best Served Cold, she flees Styria after Shivers fails to kill Monza to avoid Glokta's wrath. It's revealed in Red Country that she's made her way all the way to the town of Crease in Far Country.
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: When she first appears, she tries to use her resources and wiles to save the population of Dagoska. With every appearance after that she compromises her principles further. In Red Country, she breaks her word to let a duel decide which of them rules Crease, and instead launches a preemptive strike against Papa Ring's forces and businesses while the fight's still going on, causing a bloodbath in Crease.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After spending most of her screen time suffering undeservedly, the end of Red Country has her as the unopposed Mayor of Crease which is starting to evolve thanks to industry. She's also gotten the Union out of her hair by convincing them she's aligned with the Old Empire.
- Trauma Conga Line: Glokta exposes her as a traitor and later forces her to work for him as a spy in Styria, where she becomes Ario's mistress. In Best Seved Cold, she's tortured and blackmailed into assisting Monza in Ario's assassination, forcing her to seek protection in the League of Eight in order to escape the wrath of both Glokta and Grand Duke Orso. Fortunately, things start to look a little brighter for her by the time of Red Country.
- Two Aliases, One Character: Though her name is never mentioned, it's pretty obvious that she's the Mayor of Crease in Red Country.
- Ultimate Authority Mayor: In Red Country she's become the Mayor of Crease and the power in town is split evenly between her and her rival, Papa Ring, until she bests him. Her authority is justified in this case since it's a plot point that Far Country is far away from most global powers, and Carlot's plan is to align with the Old Empire over the Union.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: In Before They Are Hanged, she turned traitor to the Union and made a deal to hand Dagoska over to the invading Gurkish Empire because she knew the city was doomed anyway and at least by cooperating she could ensure there wasn't any bloodshed.
Finree dan Brock
A Union noblewoman with ambitious plans.
- All Girls Want Badboys: Downplayed. She briefly gains some minor respect for Gorst after finding out about his violent exploits in the war, but she remains happily married to her kind husband.
- Ambition Is Evil: Averted. Finree is ambitious but overall she's a good person and she doesn't stoop low to get ahead.
- Daddy's Girl: Finree dearly loves her father, General Kroy, who raised her alone after her mother's death. She even chews out Bayaz when she finds out her father's resigning because he went against Bayaz's wishes when he sued for peace.
- Damsel out of Distress: She negotiates her own release and that of a number of other prisoners from Black Dow.
- Deadpan Snarker: She has a very quick wit, which doesn't do her any favors sometimes.
- Happily Married: Though her and Harod have their differences, their marriage is a happy and loving one overall.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: She ends up captured by Stranger-Come-Knocking who plainly states his intention to have her father "civilized" children for him. Luckily, she's saved at the last minute. Unfortunately, her friend isn't so luckily.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's opinionated and has a sharp tongue, but she's a good, charitable person at heart.
- Lady Macbeth: Averted. She's ambitious and scheming to make her husband Governor of Angland, to the point where she ponders eliminating the current governor, Meed, but she's not evil at all.
- Manipulative Bitch: A much nicer example than most. She tries to manipulate others to advance in politics but she's a good person overall.
- Military Brat: Since she grew up around army personnel, she knows more about good strategy than some of her father's generals.
- Ms. Vice Girl: She's ambitious and scheming but ultimately a very good person.
- Oblivious to Love: She had no idea that Bremer dan Gorst was in love with her until he told her to her face.
- Pitbull Dates Puppy: Finree is ambitious, abrasive, and willing to play dirty to get ahead, while her husband believes in getting ahead by working hard and being a good person.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Her husband, Harod, is brave, loyal, innocent, and optimistic while Finree is a devious cynic. She loves him anyway and married him even though his family had fallen from grace after his father's failed bid at becoming king.
- Smart People Play Chess: Finree and her father play a game implied to be the Union equivalent of chess, and they're smart enough to keep all the pieces in their mind so they can plan their moves even when separated by large distances.
- Spoiled Sweet: Despite coming from a wealthy and noble background, Finree is a good person who's compassionate enough to want to give refugees aid for purely altruistic reasons.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Having been raised by a talented military officer, she's quick to notice all the failings of the officers around her.
- Survivor's Guilt: While she ends up escaping from Stranger-Come-Knocking's lecherous clutches, Aliz dan Brint, remains his captive, and her ultimate fate is never revealed. When she gets back to camp, she suffers from a great deal of guilt for not being able to save her friend.
- Too Clever by Half: As Black Dow notes after she tries to press her luck in their negotiation, she's sharp, but she doesn't want to be so sharp that she cuts her own throat.
- You Just Had to Say It: Despite her intelligence and charm, Finree can't stop herself from sassing some people when it's not socially appropriate.
- "No one gets what they deserve."
Sister of Collem West, bored with her station in life and what is expected of her gender.
- Broken Bird: Abused by her father since childhood - when she gets pregnant he beats her so badly she has a miscarriage - and then ignored by polite society, except for her brother, who's embarrassed by her.
- Deadpan Snarker: Her barbed tongue marks her in strong contrast to the noble ladies that Jezal usually meets.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After a steady diet of misery and abuse, ends up married to Glokta, ensuring no one will be able to harm her or her illegitimate child, or ever mock or ignore her again.
- Lady Drunk: Her male associates note how she spends most of her free time getting drunk.
- Morality Pet: To Glokta; Collem asks him to keep an eye on her as a favor between old friends, but Glokta grows genuinely fond of her.
A talented Navigator whose constant chatting and boasting get on his companions' nerves.
- Lovable Coward: He admits to running from fights, but it's hard to hold that against him.
- Miles Gloriosus: Spares no opportunity to boast about his talents and accomplishments.
- Non-Action Guy: Combat is not among his many skills.
- Plucky Comic Relief: He doesn't have much depth beyond providing humor to that plotline.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Following the journey, he is captured by the Inquisition and barely escapes (mostly) intact, before exiting the story. Things get worse after that.
- Small Name, Big Ego: One of his signature traits is constantly boasting about his skills and knowledge, and having a very high opinion of himself despite his relative unhelpfulness to the group.