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There’s been no war leader in his league since the days of Skarling Hoodless.

Logen Ninefingers, The Blade Itself

Bethod was a King of the Northmen; the first for almost two hundred years. Equal parts charismatic and ruthless, he unified The North mostly by defeating his enemies in battle, something he's exceptionally good at. He has two sons, Calder and Scale.

Appearance and Personality[]

Bethod was a tall, vigorous, and handsome man, with eyes as cold as diamonds. His face was deeply lined, and his hair and beard touched with grey. He had an air of authority and wisdom, of majesty even. He was often robed in rich, coloured cloth and rare white furs. He wore a heavy golden chain across his shoulders and a golden circlet round his head, set with a single diamond, as big as a bird’s egg.

Bethod was a ruthless and remarkably skilled war-leader, greatly respected even by his enemies. He delights in tricks of war, in mounting feints and deceptions, in sending sudden raids against unwary enemies. He has that in him which men respect, or fear, or at least obey.


The North has not been united since the days of Skarling Hoodless, some two hundred years ago. Inter-clan warfare is endemic.

Bethod was once just one of many ambitious chieftains. He started to defeat the local clans to stop the big clans squeezing him. As victory followed victory, his notoriety grew, as did his enemies. He frequently used duels in the circle to subjugate clans, using his champion; first Logen Ninefingers and later Fenris the Feared. When necessary, he also made use of magic; formerly favours from the Magus Bayaz, and more recently the sorceress Caurib. He has now united almost all the northern clans, with only a few hold-outs like Crummock-i-Phail, and proclaimed himself King of the Northmen.

As King, he begins to build infrastructure, great walls and bridges in Carleon, and plans a road to Uffrith. Shortly before the start of the series, bad blood developed between Bethod and Ninefingers. Logen and his crew were imprisoned in Carleon. Expecting death, Bethod inexplicably allows them to go into exile. He is now spoiling for a fight with The Union, partly to gain territory, but also to strengthen his fragile hold over The North by uniting the recently conquered clans against a common enemy. He considers The Union soft, arrogant, unprepared. He has started to gather an army of his own Carls and Thralls, Easterners from beyond the Crinna, and even an alliance with the beastial Shanka.

The Blade Itself[]

Bethod sends his youngest son, Calder, to the Great Northern Library to summon the First of the Magi to Carleon to swear fealty to the King of the Northmen. Calder is turned away with the message that Bethod must to come himself. Soon, Bethod arrives at the library with his eldest son Scale and Caurib. He demands to know where Bayaz stands in his planned war with The Union. After some verbal foreplay, Bayaz rejects Bethod’s overtures of friendship. Scale and Caurib get angry but Bayaz silences them with a word. The trio leave, but not before making threats.

Bethod now considers Bayaz an enemy. He sends one of his chieftains to capture Bayaz and Logen, but they fail.

Meanwhile, Bethod sends Fenris the Feared and his translator White-Eye Hansul to The Union as his emissary to offer a peace proposal with The North, but only in return for the territory of Angland. When The Union refuse the offer outright, his forces invade Angland, capturing the key fortress of Dunbrec, and starting the First Northern War between them.

Before They Are Hanged[]

Lord Governor Fedor dan Meed could not stand idly by, and wait for the Union Army to arrive from Midderland. He gathers every able man and meets Bethod's army in battle. Outmatched and outwitted, they suffer a crushing defeat at Black Well.

The Union forces soon arrive in Angland, outnumbering Bethod by five to one. Lord Marshal Burr splits the army into three commands, two to flush Bethod onto the field, and one to guard their back led by Prince Ladisla. However, Bethod’s main force eludes Burr, and head directly south. Foolishly, the Prince meets them in battle north of the river Cumnur. Bethod uses a simple trick of showing his weakest troops on a low hill, to draw Ladisla's best troops into an ambush, and then unleashes hell under the cover of Caurib's mist. The Union is massacred almost to a man.

Bethod then moves his army back north, ignoring the easy-pickings further south, intent on breaking the Union's main force into pieces small enough to defeat. However, they are drawn into open battle near the fortress of Dunbrec. Despite all his tricks, cavalry on one flank and his secret allies Shanka on the other, Bethod's forces are forced to retreat.

Last Argument of Kings[]

Bethod’s forces have been driven out of Angland, having lost Dunbrec and the important Northern port of Uffrith. Even worse, more and more Northmen are abandoning him, to join Dogman's crew of rebels. When Bethod learns from Caurib that the rebels have taken refuge in the High Places, he lays siege to Crummock-i-Phail's crumbling fort. After seven days of siege, Bethod seems on the verge of victory when the Union army arrive, and convincingly routed him.

Bethod himself escapes and takes refuge in Carleon, surrounded by the Union, the rebel Northmen, and Crummock's hillmen. Bethod is dumbfounded when Logen Ninefingers arrives at his gates, and offers him a duel in the circle. What is left to fight over? But it's a deal he cannot ignore. When Logen goads him, Bethod snaps back that it was Logen’s desire for blood that drove him to this. When Logen asks why he didn’t kill him when he had the chance, Bethod frowns; surely Logen knows it was a favour for Bayaz. The talking done, Bethod accepts.

Bethod sends Fenris the Feared as his champion to fight Logen. Despite Caurib's magic, the Bloody-Nine manages to defeat the Feared. Logen then climbs to the top of Carleon's walls and kills Bethod before flinging his corpse from the wall.