POV: The Heroes
- "Every sword's a curse, boy."
Leader of a crew of Named Men, known to all as a real straight edge.
- A Father to His Men: Craw cares about every member of his Dozen. He does his best to keep them alive and if he fails, he says the words over their graves.
- Catchphrase: "Those are the times."
- Conflicting Loyalties: He has to choose whether to be loyal to his principles in serving his chief, Black Dow, or loyal to Calder, someone he loves like a son, when he tries to convince him to assassinate Dow. In the end he reluctantly chooses his principles.
- Cool Old Guy: He's an old man who's also funny, personable, reasonable, and a caring leader.
- Embarrassing Nickname: His name "Craw" comes from nearly choking on a chicken bone that got stuck in his throat. At the time he was furious at Threetrees for giving him such an embarrassing name, but as time went on he became grateful for it.
- Feeling Their Age: While he's an Old Soldier, his age is definitely catching up to him, as he reflects any time he's getting ready to go into battle. His knees in particular give him a lot of trouble.
- Friendly Enemy: With fellow Northman, Hardbread. They're old friends and they genuinely like each other, it's just that every time they meet in The Heroes, they're on opposite sides of a war. At least until the epilogue where they're on the same side.
- Honor Before Reason: Even though he doesn't like Black Dow, and he loves Calder like a son, he still chooses to live up to his principles by telling Black Dow that Calder wanted Craw to assassinate him. He does this knowing it'll likely mean Calder's death.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Craw always tries to do the right thing, no matter how difficult it is or how much he grumbles about it.
- Like a Son to Me: He loves Calder like a son.
- Like an Old Married Couple: A platonic example. His second, Wonderful, describes their relationship like a married couple that no longer fuck.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: He chooses to remain loyal to his chief, Black Dow, even though it means confessing that Calder, who's practically his surrogate son, tried to convince Craw to assassinate Dow. Calder is nearly executed as a result.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: How he views his Sadistic Choice.
- Number Two: He used to be second to Rudd Threetrees. He later becomes Black Dow's second, but only until the war is over.
- Old Soldier: He's an old man who's been involved in wars practically his entire life. He's been meaning to retire for a long time but never quite gets around to it.
- Parental Substitute: He was practically Calder's second father. Even after Craw sides with Dow over him, nearly causing Calder's death, Calder doesn't hold a grudge.
- The Reliable One: Craw has a reputation as a "straight edge" due to his commitment to doing the right thing, sticking by the old ways, and standing by his chief and crew. It's the reason why Black Dow chooses him as his second.
- Retired Badass: Craw's dream is to retire from soldiering and live a quiet life. Unfortunately he can never quite find a time to hang up his sword. He finally does at the end of The Heroes only to realize he doesn't want to stop soldiering, and joins up to help Calder in his war against Glama Golden.
- Sadistic Choice: Faced with one when his old friend and former chief's son Calder attempts to turn him against his new chief.
- Undying Loyalty: He's famed for stellar loyalty among the North.
- You Remind Me of X: Black Dow tells Craw that he reminds him of Threetrees, which Craw is deeply flattered by.
- Action Girl: She's one of the only women seen fighting along with the men in the North.
- Action Mom: She has children at home and visits them between jobs.
- Bald Woman: Wonderful has shaved-stubble hair. She first shaved her head when trouble started up with Bethod's men trying to attack her farm.
- Cold Sniper: A sarcastic warrior who's skilled with a bow.
- Combat Pragmatist: Anyway to win a fight is the right strategy.
- Deadpan Snarker: Wonderful has a very sarcastic and snide sense of humor.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: After stabbing her in the heart, Clover holds her as she dies, since he thinks he'd want someone to hold him when he dies.
- Happily Married: Has a husband and kids back at home, whom she visits between jobs. This turns out to be a lie as they packed up and left years ago, and she couldn't bear to tell anyone.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be snide and sarcastic towards her friends, but it's obvious she cares about them a lot.
- The Lad-ette: Wonderful is a capable fighter who's described as tough as any man.
- The Lancer: To Craw. Later to Dow, when she takes command of his Carls.
- Number Two: She's Craw's second in his Dozen.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: She and the rest of her Dozen make a run for it rather than stick around to see the aftermath of Dow's murder at Shivers' hands.
- Shoot Your Mate: Stour Nightfall orders Clover to murder her to prove his loyalty to him. Clover doesn't even hesitate, even though he hates doing it.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: After Stour orders Jonas Clover to kill her to prove his loyalty, she doesn't even have time to finish saying Clover's name before he's stabbed her in the heart.
- When You Coming Home Mom: She doesn't get a chance to visit her husband and kids often because she's usually too busy off fighting. She says they understand it's just who she is. Except it turns out she's lying, and they packed up and left years ago and she couldn't bear to tell anyone.
Whirrun of Bligh
A hero from a valley in the far north of the North, and a member of Craw's dozen.
- Because Destiny Says So: The reason he joined up with Craw was because the sorceress Shoglig told him that he'd be shown his destiny by a man choking on a bone. He's also unafraid when fighting because she told him the day and manner of his death. He's pretty bummed when dying that she was just making shit up.
- BFS: The Father of Swords, an impossibly large two-hander.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: People put up with his gonzo personality because he's such a good fighter.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's usually chipper, even during war, partly because he knows when and how he'll die.
- Character Development: In "The Fool Jobs," a story concerning Craw's crew several years before The Heroes, Whirrun is new to the band, so he's detached from his comrades and rather reticent. By the time of The Heroes, he's an old hand with the group won't shut up about whatever is on his mind.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Whirrun has an... odd way of thinking at times.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Acts like a weird goofball most of the time.
- Cursed With Awesome: He wields the Father of Swords, a sword said to have been dropped by God and is worshipped by people way up North in the valleys. Whirrun says he views it as both a blessing and a curse, though, he admits as he lays dying, that now he only considers it a curse, and asks Craw to bury it with him so no one else needs to carry that burden.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: He dies in Craw's arms.
- Face Death with Dignity: He takes his death remarkably well, only being disappointed that Shoglig had no clue what the hell she was talking about when she predicted his death.
- Famed in Story: Other Northmen spend the time between battles talking about his ridiculous list of accomplishments.
- Foreseeing My Death: He has no fear because the witch Shoglig told him to the day and manner of his death. He often gloats that today is not the day of his prophesied death, so he is sure to overcome his enemies. Subverted when he's mortally wounded by a random spear. As he lay dying, he's not too happy to realize that Shoglig had no idea what she'd been talking about all along.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: He dies when he's stabbed by a random spear while fighting Bremer dan Gorst.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Whirrun can somehow use the impractically large Father of Swords to deadly effect. Bremer dan Gorst has never seen such swordsmanship.
- Master Swordsman: His swordsmanship skills are legendary. Gorst, a Master Swordsman himself, regards him as a Worthy Opponent when they meet on the battlefield.
- Non-Indicative Name: He's never even been to Bligh. That's just the northernmost place that anyone locally has ever heard of, so he's assumed to be from around there.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Has less clothes on every time he fights. This ultimately gets him killed.
- Worthy Opponent: He and Bremer dan Gorst acknowledge each other as this during their duel. Unfortunately, in the middle of it, Whirrun ends up killed by a random spear.
POV: The Heroes
A Northern lad of seventeen, whose father was a famous champion.
- Dirty Coward: Deconstructed. Beck abandons his comrades and hides during a battle, but it's part of the deconstruction of warfare. Who would want to participate in such an atrocious waste of human life?
- Dramatic Irony: Beck becomes a Named Man, doing so by hiding in a pile of corpses and getting covered in blood, so that his comrades believe he'd fought through hell to survive.
- Jerkass: Well, he is seventeen.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Of course, throughout the novel there are obvious signs that Beck cares, and that much of his jerkish behaviour is overcompensating. And while a good part of his aversion to war is (arguably sensible) cowardice, much more of it has to do with the fact that he's just not a killer, and after his first taste of battle, he doesn't want to be.
- Momma's Boy: He was raised by his mother, but abandons her and his siblings to become a man. When the realities of being a warrior dawn on him, he starts thinking a lot about his mother. He returns to her in the end.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Kills a comrade after spending most of a battle hiding. When the northman veterans give him a name, he tries to correct them, but he's too exhausted and traumatized to do so. At the end of the novel, he confesses this to Craw hoping to be punished, and when Craw simply says he's seen and heard stories like that dozens of times, he only feels worse.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of the battle, having seen enough of his father's lifestyle.
- Small Name, Big Ego: His father was Shama Heartless yet he acts like he's owed the same level of reverence without having to do anything to earn it. He soon becomes disavowed of that notion.
- Took a Level in Kindness: One of the very few in the First Law Universe. He goes from being a selfish, vain, jerkass of a teenager who dreams of being a butcher on the battlefield to a humble, caring man content to live the rest of his life on a farm and forget about the war.
Black Dow's War-Chiefs
One of Black Dow's five war-chiefs, and Calder's father-in-law.
- Broken Pedestal: Calder expresses disappointment in Reachey's attempt on his life, mostly because he thought better of Reachey than that. In contrast, when Craw betrayed Calder, there were no hard feelings because Calder knew Craw was sticking to his principles.
- Cool Old Guy: He's a reasonable old man with a reputation as a straight edge and promises to side with Calder within reason. Turns out he's not quite as much of a straight edge as he advertises.]
- Frame-Up: Calder has him assassinated in revenge for his attempt on Calder's life, and frames Glama Golden for the deed.
- I Have Your Wife: His daughter is held hostage by Black Dow to ensure Reachey's good behavior.
- Killed Offscreen: He's killed by Calder offscreen.
- Papa Wolf: Reachey will do anything to protect his daughter, Seff, who's being held hostage by Black Dow to ensure his good behavior. He's even willing to try to assassinate his son-in-law, Calder, rather than risk his scheming costing his daughter her life.
- The Reliable One: Like Craw, Reachey has a reputation as a straight edge due to his dedication to the old way. Unlike Craw, Reachey has no illusions about the old way and is willing to backstab and betray his son-in-law out of pragmatism.
One of Black Dow's five war-chiefs. He's the most loyal among them and possesses a burning hatred of Bethod's sons.
- Big Damn Villains: Tenways actually saves Calder's life from Mitterick's soldiers.
- Evil Old Folks: An evil, elderly war-chief.
- Gonk: Tenways has bad teeth, a foul smell, and patches of a hideous rash covering his twisted face. The overall effect has Calder describe him as "ugly as incest."
- The Mole: Bayaz reveals that Tenways' loyalty was mostly a show, and he was really one of his agents.
- Not Me This Time: He wasn't behind the assassination attempt on Calder. Caul Reachey was.
- Sins of the Father: Tenways lost to Bethod twice in battle and lost everything he had as a result. Since Bethod's death, however, he's transferred all his loathing to his sons, Scale and Calder, instead.
- Uriah Gambit: He withholds backup for Scale during a battle, nearly resulting in his death.
- Yes-Man: He's the most vocal in his support of Black Dow, and comes across as a toadying bootlicker as a result. In reality, this is an act, and he's really one of Bayaz's pawns.
One of Black Dow's war-chiefs and Glama Golden's rival.
- Hidden Depths: Calder is surprised to realize that Ironhead is more politically cunning than Calder anticipated.
- Killed Offscreen: He dies during the Time Skip between The Heroes and the Age of Madness trilogy. It's eventually revealed his killer was Jonas Clover.
- The Rival: He and Glama Golden despise each other and are in frequent competition.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He and Glama hate each other but they're forced to work together under Black Dow.
One of Black Dow's war-chiefs who's known for his vanity and his rivalry with Cairm Ironhead.
- Bling of War: He goes into battle decked out with golden armor, rings, bracelets and necklaces. It's where he got his name from.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He gets an undeservedly excruciating death in Red Country when Logen, as the Bloody-Nine, literally rips him apart during their duel to the death.
- Curbstomp Battle: In Red Country, while his and Logen's duel starts off seemingly on even footing, it ends with Logen effortlessly killing him.
- Duel to the Death: In Red Country he's become a pit fighter who engages in these. His last one, against Logen Ninefingers, does not go well for him.
- Everyone Has Standards: He's introduced in Red Country defending Shy South from some of Papa Ring's thugs. When Papa Ring kidnaps Shy to force Logen to throw the duel, he keeps it secret from Golden because he knows he'd disapprove.
- The Exile: After he's framed for Reachey's assassination, he's forced to flee the North and remain in exile in the Far Country.
- Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: From a mighty, feared war-chief to a measly pit fighter for a crime boss.
- Frame-Up: Calder assassinates Caul Reachey and frames Glama Golden for the deed.
- Noble Top Enforcer: He becomes this to the crime boss, Papa Ring. Unlike his other hired muscle, Glama is reserved, has standards, and no longer relishes violence.
- Not So Different: By the time of Red Country he's become a lot like Logen, a killer who's remorseful of his violent past but can't quite escape it's shadow.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He works for the crime boss, Papa Ring, but otherwise he's nowhere close to being a villain.
- The Rival: He and Cairm Ironhead despise each other and are in frequent competition.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He and Ironhead hate each other but they're forced to work together under Black Dow.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He's lost a lot of his vanity and arrogance by the time of Red Country, having become a more thoughtful and less violent person. Not that it helps him any.
Regarded "the maddest bastard in the north" he leads a clan of Treemen, he wears a necklace of finger bones around his neck and has his three children carry his weapons around for him (unable to tell his daughter from his sons), he seems friendly if crazy.
- Acrofatic: Despite his considerable girth, he's a capable fighter.
- Affably Evil: Beneath his goofy, easy-going facade, he's surprisingly ruthless and cunning.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Zigzagged. He wants to see Logen fight in a war as the Bloody Nine again, but when the Bloody Nine does take over in battle, he ends up murdering one of Crummock's sons. However, afterwards Crummock doesn't seem too shook up about it, and seems ignorant Logen was even the killer. At least until their final conversation where Crummock flat-out tells Logen he knows he murdered his son and gives him an Implied Death Threat if he ever comes back into Crummock's territory.
- Big Fun: He's a fat man who's cheerful and entertaining in his borderline insanity. Then it turns out he's not as insane as he leads others to believe and he's much more ruthless than first expected.
- Boisterous Bruiser: The only Northman who is always in a good mood. Even when outnumbered and outclassed against an attacking army. He loves to fight, laugh and tell stories, often laughing at stories about fights.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He seems insane, in particular with regards to believing Logen to be "favored by the moon". He struggles to remember his own children's names, and is shocked to find out one is his daughter where he remembered having a son.
- Creepy Souvenir: Wears a necklace made of the finger bones of his fallen enemies.
- Dissonant Serenity: He reveals to Logen that he knew all along that the Bloody Nine killed his son, yet, beyond dropping his mad facade for a moment of seriousness, the Hillman is remarkably comfortable with the fact. He does warn Logen to keep out of the High Places unless he wants retaliation, but leaves in surprisingly good humor about the whole affair."You don't put a wolf amongst your sheep, then cry when you find one eaten."
- Drop the Hammer: His Weapon of Choice is an enormous war hammer.
- Everyone Has Standards: He's proud to be considered bloodthirsty and mad, calling himself and those like him "beloved of the moon". Once he sees enough of Logen's fighting, however, he admit's it's possible to be too beloved.
- Fat Bastard: Despite the above tropes, he's also happy to get other people killed pursuing his ideas about destiny, and remarkably unconcerned about his own son's death.
- Just Between You and Me: In his last scene with Logen, he drops his usual loony behavior, revealing that he's completely aware that Logen killed his son and advising him never to come back to the High Places before leaving.
- In Love with Your Carnage: He respects Logen mostly because of how brutal and impressive his Bloody Nine personality is in battle.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Hilariously, has this reaction to Logen.
- Lunacy: He seems to have some sort of religious fixation or superstition about the moon, claiming that the mad, such as himself, can commune with it, and that the bloodthirsty and brutal, like Logen, draw their power from its favor.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Everyone regards him as a complete lunatic, but he's apparently sane enough to lead men into battle, and was able to evade Bethod's armies longer than any other chieftain. His conversation with Logen after the battle of the High Places shows that his insanity is mostly a charade.
- Old Soldier: He's well past his prime, but still a highly respected chieftain and warrior.
- Papa Wolf: Averted. When one of his children is killed in battle, he seems remarkably unconcerned about it. Then subverted when he drops his facade of insanity in his last conversation with Logen, where he reveals he knows Logen killed his son in one of his Bloody Nine episodes. While he doesn't attack Logen outright, and says maybe the weak should be culled for the strong, he still says he won't be one of Logen's subjects and warns him to stay out of the High Places.
- Parental Favoritism: He confides in Logen that his daughter, Isern, who Crummock acts dismissive of, is actually his favorite of all his children.
A towering savage who brings his Northmen to Dow's cause.
- Affably Evil: He acts surprisingly polite for a towering monster and rapist who relishes bloodshed.
- Blood Knight: Specifically joins Dow's army because he wants a good fight. He repeatedly asks about fighting his own allies, like Whirrun or Dow himself.
- The Dreaded: One of the most feared men in the North these days.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: After he captures Finree dan Brock, he makes it perfectly clear he intends to rape and impregnate her, being impressed with her boldness and wanting to have "civilized" children. Luckily, Finree gets to go free. Unluckily, her friend doesn't.
- Killed Offscreen: He died in the Circle against Stour Nightfall before the events of A Little Hatred.
- Large and in Charge: He's a veritable giant and is chieftain of the region beyond the Cinna.
- The Mole: He's revealed to be working for Bayaz at the end of The Heroes.
- You Have Failed Me: He kills one of his men for trying to defile Finree, but only because he wants her for himself.
Formerly known as Jonas Steepfield, after a battle in the Circle that didn't go his way, he lost it all and changed his name to Clover. Now he's content to spend his days sitting on his ass, teaching boys to fight with swords while doing as little work as humanly possible. Unfortunately for him, Calder wants him to use his age and experience to set his dangerous son, Stour Nightfall, down the right path.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: It's implied he still has some skill at fightingenough that people pay him to teach their kids how to swordfightbut he'd much rather spend his time sitting under a tree or munching on a piece of fruit than doing any actual work.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Clover is remarked on as being loyal for a Northman. However, the North's version of loyalty is "faithfully serving until it no longer becomes practical." Clover's served many people then jumped ship when it became clear they and even admitted to killing a few friends too. By then end of the book, Wonderful is added to that list. By the end of the next book, he turns around and betrays Stour, the man he betrayed Wonderful for, as well.
- Combat Pragmatist: Clover's preferred method of winning a fight is killing his enemy before they even realize what's happening. He kills one of Stour's flunkies this way, then does the same thing to Wonderful near the end.
- Cool Old Guy: He's an old man who's seen and learned much about the world and is happy to hand out pearls of wisdom in his customary dry wit to those who will and won't listen. He'd also rather spend the majority of his time retired, doing absolutely nothing if possible.
- Everyone Has Standards: Despite the setting's Grimdark nature and the typical ennui Northmen have to violence, Stour's stated plans for Rikke are so vile that Clover and Wonderful begin to think he's genuinely insane instead of just being a bog-standard prick.
- Ignored Expert: He has years of experience under his belt, so much so that Calder sent him to steer his son in the right direction. In spite of his pragmatic suggestions, however, Stour ignores his advice at every turn. After losing the entire war and nearly his life in a duel against Leo, Stour spares Clover because he's come to recognize the usefulness of his advice. But only lets Clover live once he proves his loyalty by killing his friend, Wonderful.
- Ironic Name: He avoids depending on luck by avoiding taking risks and using underhanded tactics. He won't antagonize others out of meanness, but there is no line of morality or loyalty he won't cross to serve his own personal interests.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: He murders one of Stour's toadies, not because the man had been a bastard harassing him for much of the book, but because it gave Clover an excuse to drag the man's corpse to the healers so Clover could avoid actually fighting in a battle.
- Lazy Bum: Clover would really rather spend his life doing as little work as he can possibly get away with, even down to drawing out menial gestures for the sake of it. It's only when more powerful players force his hand that he can be bothered to do any work at all.
- Lovable Coward: He's an amusing, old man, so it's hard to fault him from wanting to stay as far away from any actual danger as much as possible, especially when commanded by an ass like Stour Nightfall. He falls more into Dirty Coward by the end of A Little Hatred when he murders Wonderful in cold-blood on Stour's orders to save his own ass, even if he does hate doing it.
- Mysterious Past: He's said to have lost everything in the Circle and changed his name afterwards, but who he fought, for what reasons, and what he was really like before are all left unclear.
- Remember the New Guy?: Clover has never mentioned before A Little Hatred but apparently he held a shield during Logen's duel with Fenris the Feared, has been friends with Wonderful for a good while, and is trusted enough by Calder that he picks him to be Stour's advisor during the North's latest war against the Union.
- Servile Snarker: Not even Prince Calder and Stour are spared his usual deadpan sarcasm, though at least with Stour he'll walk back some of his jokes if he senses the latter is in a black enough mood.
- Shoot Your Mate: He's confessed that he's had to kill friends before to survive. This is mentioned not five minutes before Stour Nightfall forces him to kill Wonderful to prove his loyalty, which Clover does immediately, even while regretting it all the while.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Jonas changed his named from "Steepfield" to "Clover" to make himself sound less dangerous, but it's implied by multiple characters throughout the book that he's not as harmless as he tries to pass himself off as. This is abundantly clear when he murders Wonderful without even hesitating in order to save his own life.