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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.

–Bremer dan Gorst, The Heroes (POV)

Bremer dan Gorst is introduced as a contestant in the Contest, considered the favourite by those in the know. He has a minor role in the original trilogy, before being promoted to a major POV character in The Heroes.

Appearance and Personality[]

Gorst is a big, thick-necked bull of a man, with a doorstep of a jaw. His arms are thick as tree trunks and corded with heavy muscles[1]. His hair is shaved to dark stubble. His appearance is often likened to that of a commoner. Gorst's physique belies a gentle, high-pitched voice, for which he is subjected to all kinds of ridicule and scorn.

He is an exceptional swordsman, arguably the best fighter in the series barring Logen Ninefingers. He appears too thickset to be quick, but is revealed to be far quicker than he looks. His fencing steels are heavy and worn. His strikes are described by Glokta as well-timed and highly accurate.

Gorst has an extremely casual manner, completely calm and utterly unconcerned at the big occasion of the Contest, watching his opponent dance through barely open eyes. His true personality is only revealed in The Heroes. After his disgrace in Sipani, where he failed to protect his king, he becomes consumed by bitterness, secretly loathing virtually everyone and everything, even, or especially himself.

History[]

Bremer dan Gorst is a kinsman of Lord Brock, and served in his personal guard[2].

The Blade Itself[]

Gorst enters as a contestant in The Contest. In Lord Marshal Varuz' eyes, Gorst is the only competitor that Jezal should seriously worry about: Gorst has excellent stamina[3], and is hard to knock down[4].

Jezal dan Luthar notices Gorst at the opening ceremony to The Contest, whom he compares to a farmhand rather than a fencer. Where most of the contestants are nearly shaking in fear, Gorst seems completely calm and utterly unconcerned; he even has the audacity to wink at him.

In the first round, Gorst is up against a man named Kurster, the crowd favourite. Sand dan Glokta observes the pair and alights on the fact that Gorst, despite his dockside appearance, is the superior fighter and an innovator with his new brutal fighting style[5]. Gorst demolishes the more traditional fighter[2].

Jezal and Gorst face off in the final of The Contest. Bayaz, Logen, and Quai sit in the stands, and Logen agrees a gentleman’s bet with Bayaz that Gorst will win, despite Quai’s warning to never bet against a Magus. Down three touches to none, with only one more needed for Gorst to win the match, Jezal impossibly avoids a final strike. Jezal counters to put himself back in the match. In the stands, Bayaz, sweating profusely, manipulates Jezal’s performance with the High Art. Thanks to the aid of the Magus, Jezal rallies, a better fencer than he ever imaged he could be, and defeats Gorst. A very graceful loser, Gorst congratulates his opponent and presents him to the cheering crowd[6].

Last Argument of Kings[]

Soon after King Jezal the First assumes the throne, Gorst leaves Lord Brock's service because "the position did not suit him"[7], and becomes a Knight of the Body. The King asks Gorst to quietly bring his former lover Ardee West to the palace.

During the Battle of Adua, Gorst remains at the King's side throughout[8]. He saves his life when Jezal leads a charge of the royal guard, wading into the enemy to rescue him. As the Gurkish Eaters breach the palace to kill the king, Gorst helps fight them off until they are finally cornered in the Chamber of Mirrors. Tired of running, Jezal confronts the Eaters, side by side with Gorst. Before they can attack, High Justice Marovia dashes between them, and slices the Eaters in two with The Divider. Before their eyes Marovia then becomes Yoru Sulfur[9].

Best Served Cold[]

Although not named in the book, a Knight of the Body briefly encountered by Caul Shivers in Cardotti's House of Leisure in Sipani, is later established to have been Gorst. It is revealed in the short story Wrong Place, Wrong Time (in the Sharp Ends collection) that Gorst was in an upstairs room with a prostitute. However rather than having sex or being passed out drunk, he was simply resting his head on her lap and cried as she soothed him, establishing that Gorst has been dealing with depression for some time. When he hears the chaos ensuing downstairs, Gorst dashes to find his king.  He barrels out of the whores bedroom and into Shivers, who butts him in the face, and hurls him down the stairs.

The Heroes[]

Following the debacle at Cardotti's House of Leisure, Bremer dan Gorst has been removed from his position as the King's First Guard, having been apparently unjustly scapegoated for failing to protect the king. He's instead appointed Royal Observer of the Second Northern War, accompanying the Union Army against Black Dow's Northmen and reporting on the details of the ongoing war.

Despite instructions to remain away from the front lines, Gorst repeatedly seeks the most dangerous parts of the battle, using violence as a temporary catharsis for his personal despair. On the first day, he leads a cavalry charge that halts the Northmen at the river. On the second day, he turns the tide on the Old Bridge, severely injuring Scale and securing a Union bridgehead. By the third day, he has fully embraced his role as a killer, leading the charge up the Heroes, and getting into an epic fight with Whirrun of Bligh, before being forced to retreat.

Gorst's heroics do eventually earn him a modicum of respect from the other soldiers. In the end, he's overjoyed to receive the royal forgiveness and reinstatement to his previous position as the King's First Guard. His happiness lasts all of five minutes. Gorst runs out to tell Finree dan Brock of his news, only to learn of her husband's promotion. Utterly crestfallen, he bursts out his unrequited love for Finree, the joy he finds in killing, and bemoans being scapegoated for Sipani. Finree doesn't let this pass however, and delivers a string of hurtful truths, including that he was indeed passed out drunk with a whore in Sipani, and not for the first time. Gorst does not try to deny it.

Sharp Ends[]

In the short story Wrong Place, Wrong Time from the collection Sharp Ends, it's revealed that, rather than being 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 Gorst hears the chaos break out, he immediately rushed to find the king, only to barrel straight into Shivers, who headbutts him and sends him sprawling down the stairs.

He also appears in the story Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden, were he writes a report for the King shortly before the Battle of the Heroes. He approaches a house in a farm, where a northman sees him and thinks the worst. Instead, Gorst asks for goats milk. The Union caravan is attacked, Gorst fights on his own in the middle of the field, and kills many northmen and one of his own, by accident. After the attack, he goes back to the house, sword bloody. Again, the northman thinks the worst, fearing Gorst will hold him responsible for the ambush. Instead, Gorst ask if he and his family are fine, and leaves some money for the troubles, which is more than enough.

A Little Hatred[]

Bremer dan Gorst is now well into his fifties, but remains the King Jezal's First Guard. He still trains for three hours every day, with a fair claim to being the greatest swordsman of the age. He trains once a week with Savine dan Glokta.

The Trouble With Peace[]

After King Jezal's death, Bremer dan Gorst continues to serve King Orso the First as Commander of the Knights of the Body. Gorst is always at the king's side. In the Lord's Round. when Leo dan Brock leaps to his feet to denounces the Wetterlant trial as a travesty, Gorst is ordered to forcibly remove him from chamber. Ironically, Orso insists on him taking a day-off, on the.day the Burners orchestrate an assassination attempt at the demonstration of Honrig Curnsbick's steam engine. During the Battle of Stoffenbeck, Gorst remains by Orso's side throughout the fighting. When Leo's glorious charge has come to grief, Gorst leads the advance to bring the battle to a close,

The Wisdom of Crowds

Gorst is involved in the plot to rescue Orso and lead the loyalist army into Adua. After Orso is freed by Savine Dan Glokta, he serves as a diversion on the docks. After slaying several guards during his diversion, he is finally killed Jurand, who managed to strike the already wounded Gorst in the face with a flatbow bolt during his final desperate charge against Leo Dan Brock.

In his final moments Gorst looks up at Leo Dan Brock with a look that resembled a smile and asked him if he believed in redemption, to which Leo replies "I don't fucking care." Gorst responds with his final words: "You're young, give it time." While searching for a response Leo notices that Gorst's eyes had gone glassy and that he had succumbed to his wounds, finally dying in combat and having given his King a chance to escape.

Illustrations[]

References[]

  1. The Blade Itself, Nobility
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Blade Itself, Barbarians at the Gate
  3. The Blade Itself, Playing with Knives
  4. The Blade Itself, Fencing Practice
  5. The Blade Itself, An Offer and a Gift
  6. The Blade Itself, Never Bet Against a Magus
  7. Last Argument of Kings, Part I, Such Sweet Sorrow
  8. Last Argument of Kings, Part II, Leadership
  9. Last Argument of Kings, Part II, Dark Paths
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