|“||Who was it always had to push a step further? Who was it would never let me stop? Who has it had to taste blood, and once he’d tasted it got drunk on it, went mad with it, could never get enough? Who else but the Bloody Nine?||”|
Chapter Summary Edit
Suddenly, a rider streaks past them heading to Lord Marshal West’s tent. Fearing the worst, Dogman walks towards the tent for news. West tells him of the Gurkish invasion, and that the Union Army has been ordered home immediately. Knowing this change of plan will leave Bethod in control, and make the deaths of Threetrees, Tul, Forley and the rest pointless, Logen agrees to a radical plan. If West will keep his army in Carleon for one more day, Logen will challenge Bethod to single combat in the circle.1 West agrees. With the roads, half the army will be here anyway.
At the gates of Carleon, Logen makes his challenge.2 Bethod on the walls just laughs; Ninefingers hasn’t changed a bit. What is left to fight over? Logen continues saying if he wins, he gets Bethod’s head. If Bethod wins, The Union will pack-up and leaves for home. Bethod knows this is a deal he cannot ignore. However, when Logen goads him that he’s finally got what he has long deserved, Bethod snaps back with some home truths. It was Logen’s urgings, his desire for blood that drove the King of the North to put on the crown.3 Logen tries to deny it, but knows he can’t. He asks why Bethod didn’t kill him when he had the chance. However, Bethod frowns; surely Logen knows it was Bayaz. He owed the old Magus a favour and he asked for Logen’s life; he doesn’t know why. The talking done, Bethod accepts Logen’s challenge, but says his new champion if even worse than the last.
Back at camp, Dogman and Grim4 worry that even Logen cannot defeat Fenris the Feared. Crummock thinks Logen can win, but not as long as Bethod’s witch lives. She won’t let a fair fight happen, so someone needs to kill her; someone small and sneaky and ruthless. The Dogman quietly groans.
Meanwhile, Logen takes himself off alone to gather himself for the fight to come, and summons the Spirits. Only one answers this time. When Logen asks about the Feared and how he might beat him, the Spirit answers that the Feared was created by Glustrod himself for his war against Juvens. It was he who tattooed the words of Demons on his body; he cannot be hurt on that side of his body.5 As the Spirit begins to leave, saying it will sleep now, it delivers some parting words; he cannot win.6
|Logen Ninefingers||Rudd Threetrees|
|The Dogman||Tul Duru Thunderhead|
|Bethod||Forley the Weakest|
|Collem West||Fenris the Feared|
Locations and Terms Edit
|Carleon||The North||First Northern War||Union Army||Knights Herald|
|Battle of Adua||Order of the Magi||The Gurkish Empire||Spirits||Demons|
- There's so much action packed into this last book. We've just had the battle in the High Places, and now the challenge that moon will love to shine upon. As Yoru Sulfur would say “Never any peace, eh, Logen? Never the slightest peace.”
- As with our last visit to Carleon in Back to the Mud, it's interesting to see "progress" in Carleon; new bridges, new roads, new walls, and order. It makes you wonder if Bethod really is such a tyranny.
- This is very much one of Abercrombie's themes, that good and evil is a matter of perspective. We know and like Logen so we don't want to believe Bethod, but Logen's acceptance of the truth forces us to, at least in part. We've seen Logen do some dark things as the Bloody-Nine. Now we learn that many of the blackest deeds in the past ascribed to Bethod were in fact Logen's actions, which created so many enemies, that Bethod was forced to conquer the whole North. However, Bethod is certainly trying to dodge any responsibility at the same time. Bethod allied himself with the Shanka, the Feared, and Caurib, after Logen had been exiled. We get the truth of Sharma's death in the short story Made a Monster in the collection Sharp Ends.
- Arguably our proof that Logen is something more than evil, is that the men who follow him do so willingly — Threetrees and Tul and Dogman and Grim.
- The Feared is a relic of the Old Time when Glustrod sacked Aulcus, and has been alive for thousands of years. We don't really get an explanation of where he's been, other than the one Tea and Vengeance that "Caurib dug him out from under a hill."
- This is the last time we meet the Spirits, and this particular Spirit may be the last one to fade in the Circle of the World.