|“||I’ve fought ten single combats and I won them all, but I fought on the wrong side and for all the wrong reasons. I’ve been ruthless, and brutal, and a coward. I’ve stabbed men in the back, burned them, drowned them, crushed them with rocks, killed them asleep, unarmed, or running away. I’ve run away myself more than once. I’ve pissed myself with fear. I’ve begged for my life. I’ve been wounded, often, and badly, and screamed and cried like a baby whose mother took her tit away. I’ve no doubt the world would be a better place if I’d been killed years ago, but I haven’t been, and I don’t know why.||”|
Logen Ninefingers, also known as The Bloody-Nine, is a Northman with a black name and even blacker past, who strives to turn from the path of senseless violence he has followed for so long. He is a point-of-view character in the First Law Trilogy and also appears in Red Country.
Logen Ninefingers is a big, physically imposing man, with a tangled mass of hair, and deeply set dark blue eyes. He has a great many scars, including such curiosities as a penetrating spear wound through his stomach and out his back, from a duel with Harding Grim. His asymmetrical face is also badly scarred, with a bent nose, and a big notch out of one ear. However, his most noteworthy wound, and the source of his Name, is a missing middle finger on his left hand.
Shortly after they meet, in a conversation with Bayaz he describes himself as being over 30 years of age, which would mean he was born sometime around 540-545 AU.
Logen Ninefingers is an expert warrior, adept in both calculated tactics and acting instinctively in a fight; he's arguably the deadliest fighter in the series. Crummock-i-Phail calls him "the king of killers." He generally uses a sword in battle, and also carries an abundance of daggers. However, he claims to be proficient with many different weapons, as a champion never knows what he might be called on to fight with in a duel in the circle.
Despite most people outside The North considering him a dim-witted savage, he’s surprisingly thoughtful and has a bit of a philosophical side. He comes across as a pretty decent guy, a man of integrity who killed only when had to when he was under Bethod. In truth, he wasn't. As a younger man he relished fighting and bloodshed and the feared respect it earned him. When cornered in a fight, he descends into a berserker rage and becomes The Bloody Nine, which is why most of the North fears and hates him. It is unclear if his berserker persona is demonic/spiritual possession or a split personality. He seems to have no conscious control when he becomes The Bloody Nine, killing ally and enemy alike, and often doesn't remember these episodes. Haunted by his past, he hopes to become a better man, though he often finds himself getting drawn into bloody confrontations. But, can he really escape his past? There's a part of him that doesn't want to escape violence, that finds protection from scores against him through the fear he creates.
Logen Ninefingers comes from a village or clan called the Brynn, to the north of the High Places in The North. He’s the son of the local chieftain, a wise, strong, and good leader to his people; Logen often quotes the lessons his father taught him. When he was fourteen, he argued with a friend and blacked-out in his rage. The next thing he remembers, he’d strangled his friend. That was the first time he became the Bloody-Nine. He covered up the murder. A few years later, it happened again when he nearly killed his father, stabbing him while they were eating; he didn’t know why. Fortunately, his father recovered. Logen eventually married a woman called Thelfi, and had children.
Later, concerned with the increasing frequency of Shanka attacks, Logen’s father sent him south over the mountains, to look for help. He found the charismatic and ruthless chieftain Bethod who offered to help, if Logen would fight for him and be his champion when challenging other clans. However, when Logen returned over the mountains with The Dogman to his village, he found a burned-out ruin in the valley, and nothing but corpses; his father, his wife, his children, his friends.
So Logen fought for Bethod. In the battle of Carleon, he lost the middle finger of his left hand, and won a reputation, as well as a Name, Logen Ninefingers aka "The Bloody Nine". He defeated ten other champions in duels in the circle, including Shama Heartless, Black Dow, Tul Duru Thunderhead, Harding Grim, and Rudd Threetrees; though some men he allowed to live and join his crew. The fighting went on, and on. To begin with Logen enjoyed it, loved to sit at the top of the fire, to look at men and see their fear, to have no man dare to meet his eye, but it got worse.
Shortly before the start of the trilogy, bad blood had developed between Logen and Bethod. He and his crew - Dow, Tul, Grim, Dogman, Threetrees, and Forley the Weakest – were imprisoned in Carleon. Expecting death, Bethod inexplicably allows them to go into exile.
When under great duress, Logen sometimes enters a berserker state, where a second identity emerges called The Bloody-Nine. While in this alter-ego, he feels no pain or fatigue, fears no enemy, feels neither doubt nor mercy, and revels in death. He views everyone as either "dead" or "soon to be dead". As the Bloody-Nine his violence is explosive, undiscerning, manic, and horrifying, as destructive to himself and his friends as to his enemies, earning him the collective fear and hate of The North. This leads to the death of several people close to Logen, including his childhood friend and almost his own father. During the battle of the High Places, Logen becomes the Bloody-Nine and is able to hold the line after the gate is breached, but when his friend Tul Duru tries to help him after the fight, the Bloody-Nine stabs him in the neck and takes his sword. It is an Unanswered Question what causes the Bloody Nine; there are many theories of Demon possession, Spirit possession, berserker rage, and simply split personality, the former two somewhat supported by the Bloody-Nine's limited dialogue and thoughts, the ritualistic nature of some killings and the description of it a cold sensation coming over Logen, similar to Ferro's experience with the seed, the latter two suggested by the relative lack of speed and strength compared to other supernatural beings like Eaters.
Speaking with Spirits
He also has the rare ability to speak with primal Spirits, although few Spirits remain active in this age of the world. Bayaz comments that Logen might be the only one left with this ability, and that the Spirits are dwindling as magic is leeching from the world. As with the Bloody-Nine, it is an Unanswered Question where this ability comes from; Bedesh is the only other character mentioned as having this power.
In the short story Made a Monster (set before the trilogy when Logen is still Bethod's champion) it is obvious that Bethod fears the Bloody-Nine even when he is Logen's chief, and has only kept him alive until this point because he owes Logen a debt- he considered having him killed after he won a battle against the hillmen by climbing a cliff to kill them in an unassailable position, rather than letting Bethod talk. It is also obvious that Logen is a better man in the trilogy than he was when he fought alongside Bethod, as he is 'murder proud' as well as 'blood mad'. Bethod asks for Logen to give him Rattleneck's son. Logen is very reluctant to see the sense in this, seeming half mad, half stupid, but eventually agrees to Bethod's pleas. However after Bethod negotiates peace with Rattleneck, he goes to free his son and finds that the Bloody-Nine has killed him in a similar manner to how he later kills Cosca's men in Red Country. Logen asks Bethod whether Rattleneck will still want his son back, and so prevents there ever being peace in the North, though it is later shown that Bethod could not keep peace even without the Bloody-Nine.
The Blade Itself
Logen becomes separated from his crew, when Shanka attack their camp, and he survives a fall off a cliff. With his friends surely dead, he strikes out alone. Logen speaks to the Spirits and learns that a Magus of the Old Time is seeking him. Eventually, he meets the Magus' apprentice Malacus Quai, a sickly-looking young man. As the pair journey toward the Great Northern Library, they are accosted by bandits. Logen springs into action and kills them all. However, Quai is now very ill from the difficult journey. Faced with the option of leaving him to die, Logen sets out carrying Quai on his back.
At the library, Logen meets Bayaz but their discussion is short lived, when Bethod's son Calder arrives soon after. Calder demands that Bayaz attend his father Bethod and recognize him as King. Bayaz laughs at the petty kingling and chokes off his air with a wave of his hand, before letting him leave. The next morning, Bayaz announces to Logen that Bethod is coming himself, and declares the Northman needs a weapon. In the weapons room, Logen settles on a simple sword, which was made by the Master Maker himself. Bethod arrives with his eldest son Scale and sorceress 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. The trio leave, but not before making threats.
Logen, Bayaz, and Quai depart the library for Adua, but their pleasant journey takes a turn when Bethod's Northmen ambush them. Logen attacks and then they flee, only to be cornered again. However, Bayaz refuses to be taken, and promptly makes the trees around the explode with his Art.
Arriving in Adua, the city stuns Logen by its size. One night, Logen wakes and encounters an icy apparition of his long dead wife Thelfi. However, Bayaz arrives and gets rid of the woman with his Art, as well as causing a gaping hole in the chambre wall. He declares it an Eater sent by Khalul, probably. The next day, Inquisitor Glokta comes to investigate the break-in. Logen recounts the night’s events, and how Bayaz caused the damage with his Art. When he questions Bayaz, Glokta accuses him of falsifying his claim to be the First of the Magi. Bayaz dares him to prove his theory.
Logen, Bayaz, and Quai sit in the stands during the final of The Contest between Jezal dan Luthar and Bremer dan Gorst. Observing the pair, Logen declares Gorst the more dangerous. Bayaz offers a gentleman’s bet that Jezal will win. Despite Quai’s warning to never bet against a Magus, Logen agrees. During the fight, Bayaz manipulates Jezal’s performance with the Art, and with his help he rallies and defeats Gorst. Logen sneers at such foul play. At the victory banquet, Logen strikes up a conversation with Major West, discussing Bethod’s war-tactics. However, Arch Lector Sult plots to discredit the supposed Magus, by challenging Bayaz to prove his identity with the key to the House of the Maker. Bayaz removes the key from his robe; tomorrow he will open the ever closed House.
Bayaz leads Logen, Jezal and Glokta to the House of the Maker. As the four men approach, all but Bayaz are crippled by a sense of dread. Bayaz unlocks the House like so much clockwork. The door opens to reveals a massive creepy space inside. Before they leave, Logen is tasked with carrying out a disconcertingly heavy box.
Bayaz' party are joined by first Brother Longfoot, a renowned Navigator, and then Ferro Maljinn. After testing Ferro, Bayaz asks her to accompany them on the journey, eventually convincing her it’s her chance for revenge on the Gurkish. However, with the journey prepared, Ferro goes missing, and Bayaz sends Logen to track her down. He finds her surrounded by three Practicals, sent by Superior Goyle to learn more about Bayaz. Logen leaps to his new "friend"'s defence. As more Practicals appear, the pair flees up the remains of The Contest stands and across the rooftops of the Agriont. However, eventually they find themselves trapped and surrounded. Logen takes a beating, but his alter-ego emerges, the Bloody-Nine, and lays waste to the attackers.
Afterwards, Ferro helps Logen back to Bayaz’ chambres. However, the Practicals have tracked them there, determined to arrest Ferro. Bayaz makes them change their minds by turning one of them to pink mist. The Magus then orders the group to help Logen to his feet, and leave … now.
Before They Are Hanged
Logen Ninefingers and the rest of Bayaz’ intrepid band of heroes reach the city of Calcis in the Old Empire. He is recovering well from his wounds thanks for Ferro’s expert healing skills. They leave toward Darmium disguised as merchants. Out on the plain, Ferro becomes increasingly agitated by the nature of their mission and as night falls, she begins her escape. However, she’s gently stopped by Logen, who persuades her that together they can watch each other’s backs.
As they journey, Logen laments the lack of meat, so Ferro shoots three birds with her stunning bow skills. Bayaz explains Ferro’s acumen is due to the Devil-Blood in her veins; she is a distant descendent of Demons. The lack of camaraderie weighs heavily on the Northman. In hopes of inspiring some interaction, he offers to sing some songs. Instead, Bayaz volunteers Quai to tell the history of the Old Empire. Logen smiles at what he’s wrought. Later, Bayaz announces that rather than Darmium, they’ll divert and cross the river Aos at the infamous city of Aulcus. No one is amused.
Meanwhile, Ferro spies riders following them. They hides in some ruins as the riders pass, but later they find a massive log in their path. They encounter Finnius, the leader of the riders, sent by Emperor Cabrian to find them. Bayaz gets annoyed; the air ripples and men go flying, until he seems to lose control, the world bends and then suddenly rights itself, leaving the battle over, but Bayaz unconscious. Quai explains that using the Art is always a risk, and Bayaz will recover... probably.
With Logen as the new leader, they continue towards Aulcus. They stop at an old ruin on a hill, and Ferro sees thirteen of the riders are still following them. They resolve to stay and fight. Despite being outnumbered Logen and Ferro use the terrain to win, however Jezal gets badly hurt. Later, Bayaz wakes after weeks of torpor, looking older than ever. At the outskirts of Aulcus, a battlefield littered with dead bodies rises around them. The magus Zacharus strides toward them, claiming the dead are the work of his protégé Goltus. Zacharus tries to deter Bayaz from his dangerous plan, but Bayaz refuses. Zacharus leaves them saying that he hopes they fails.
Soon they arrive at Aulcus. The city stuns them, the jewel of cities, but nothing lives there, not even birds. Before continuing, Bayaz tells them of a hill south of the city with a temple, which will be their rendezvous should they be separated. They ride through the city in silence brought on by the desolation. The Magus guides them to a massive domed structure, the Imperial Senate of Aulcus. As they explore, Logen smells something and recognizes the stink of Shanka. As they flee, more and more flatheads emerge from the shadows. About to be overwhelmed, Bayaz reaches into The Other Side and causes the buildings around them to collapse. However, Logen and Ferro fall into a rent in the earth.
Logen and Ferro find themselves in tunnels beneath the city. As Ferro leads Logen through the darkness, they come across a massive cavern full of Shanka working at forges. Before Logen can stop himself, his rage grows. And then there is nothing but the Bloody-Nine. Logen and Ferro escape the city through an underground river. When darkness falls, Ferro stops them in a ruin. Logen offers Ferro his filthy coat since she's clearly unused to the cold. Her response catches him off guard, when she asks if he’d like to fuck. Logen sputters, but before Ferro can take it back, he recovers and suggests they get a little closer. The next morning, the two are awkward with each other, but eventually make it to the rendezvous.
Reunited, Bayaz leads them from Aulcus over the Broken Mountains to the Great Western Library. Inside Cawneil welcomes them, and invites them to dinner. However, the food is poor and the company rancid. Cawneil reminds Bayaz of his failings, of when he left her for Tolomei, and when his actions led to Tolomei’s death. Bayaz calls her a fool for hiding away at the edge of the world. There is a long and sordid history between these two. Bayaz asks about the boat that will take them to Shabulyan, a duty commanded by Juvens of Cawneil.
Bayaz’s crew sail to the desolate rocky island of Shabulyan at the edge of the world. They find a cave, and huddled around a meagre fire, Logen drinks some liquor to draw the Spirit. It arrives and offers Ferro the stone from its stomach that Juvens gave it centuries ago. Its duty done, the Spirit fades away. Bayaz investigates the stone and flies into a rage; this is not the Seed, but a trick of Kanedias to keep the power for himself. Bayaz declares the journey a failure. Back aboard the boat, Logen and Ferro consider their future. Neither is capable of making the first move and rather than take what pleasure they can in one another, they drive each other away.
Last Argument of Kings
Logen returns to The North and the First Northern War to settle his score with Bethod. He makes his way from Uffrith to the frontline. Arriving at the main Union Army camp, he learns that there are already three-hundred rebel Northmen, led by The Dogman.
Ninefingers arrives while the men are gathered around the long-fire, to the amazement of all his old crew. Tul Duru and Dogman greet him warmly, while Grim is him usual taciturn self, however Dow seems less than pleased he's alive. Dogman tries to offer him the chief’s position but Ninefingers declines; it’s Dogman’s turn. When he notices Caul Shivers staring at him, Logen makes an effort to make it right with him but its clear Rattleneck's son possesses a level of animosity that will not go away easily.
Soon they encounter the hillman Crummock-i-Phail, and come up with a plan to lure Bethod into a trap in the High Places, using his hatred of Logen, Crummock, and the others. Logen leads the crew on the walls during the seven days of bloody siege, repelling multiple attacks by Shanka and Easterners. On the seventh day, Bethod sends him best, his well-disciplined Carls, who finally breach the gate. Unable to stem the tide, Logen goes down in the crush of bodies. Tul Duru tries to lift him to safety, however the Bloody-Nine has taken hold. Through a bloody smile, the Bloody-Nine cuts his throat and takes his sword. The Bloody-Nine starts dealing death, even killing one of Crummock's young sons. Reaching the gate, he sees in the distance that The Union have finally arrived and routed Bethod's army.
Bethod himself escapes the rout and takes refuge in Carleon, surrounded by The Union, the rebel Northmen, and Crummock's hillmen. To end the siege, Logen offers Bethod a duel with Fenris the Feared. Before accepting, the King of the Northmen delivers some home truths: it was Logen’s desire for blood that forced Bethod to put on the crown. Before the duel, Ninefingers learns something of the Feared's past from the Spirits, and leave the unwelcome parting words, he cannot win.
In the circle, Ninefingers holds his own despite the Feared’s immense size, however the monster’s blue side is invulnerable. The fight seems to turn in Logen’s favour, when his alter-ego emerges, until the Feared gets him in a bear hug. Even with all of the Bloody-Nine's rage, the Feared begins to crush him. In the meantime, Dogman, Grim and Dow have managed to kill the sorceress Caurib, and the Feared’s strength immediately weakens. The Bloody-Nine gets an arm loose, and stabs the giant through his blue side, into the vulnerable flesh beyond. With Bethod's champion dead, Logen climbs to the walls of Carleon and kills Bethod. The gathered masses below declare Logen the new King O’ the North.
King Logen insists on going south to help The Union repel the Gurkish invasion of Midderland in the Battle of Adua, leaving Black Dow behind to hunt down Bethod's sons. Many of the war-weary Northmen go reluctantly. The Northmen attack the city from the northeast, and make their way towards the Inner City. As they enter the Agriont, Logen with Dogman, Shivers and Grim faced off against an Eater. The Eater is eventually overwhelmed by numbers, and killed by Logen, but Grim is mortally injured and dies in the Dogman’s arms.
Afterwards, even Logen has never seen death and destruction on the scale of Adua. Also, Ferro has been altered by her exposure to The Seed, and disappears south. When Ninefingers confronts Bayaz, the Magus' blithe indifference infuriates the Northman. Logen snarls that he’s done with him.
In the end, Logen returns to The North, only for Black Dow to betray him, and together with Scale and Calder, they try to kill him. Outnumbered, Ninefingers hurls himself out of the window, and plunges down into the river far below, much as he had the very first time we met him. It is unknown whether he survived until Red Country.
In Red Country a nine-fingered Northman, revealed to have once been King of the North, has reappeared in a far corner of the world with little connection to the Union, as a meek farmer by the name of Lamb. His step-children are stolen, setting in motion the story-arc of the novel. He and his step-daughter, Shy, join a fellowship and track the captors across the Far Country. On the way, Lamb kills a set of Ghosts, including Sangeed.
The fellowship arrives in Crease. The Mayor of Crease agrees to help Lamb and Shy find the children if Lamb fights to the death in the ring with Papa Ring's champion, Glama Golden. Golden fights Lamb and initially has the upper-hand. However, Golden recognizes who Lamb really is when Lamb, now transformed into the Bloody-Nine, begins laughing at him soft and low, despite the blood drooling from his mouth. He then shows Golden that he has nine fingers. Golden realizes that there is no way he can win. A spreading fire then plunges the town into chaos.
Lamb and Shy track the children as far as Ashranc. Lamb is possessed by the "Great Leveler" once again when fighting Waerdinur. Lamb attempts to kill Ro with a metal bar but Waerdinur flings himself in the way. Lamb is then re-strained and returns back to normal once again.
On the way back to Crease, Lamb decides to go back and rescue Savian, who has been identified as the rebel leader Conthus. Lamb manages to free Savian from the Practicals guarding him but the two become trapped in a building. Together, they hold off several of Cosca's mercenaries. Lamb piles up the severed heads of the dead mercenaries on a table and flings them out of the windows at Cosca. Cosca sends in Jubair, but Jubair meets the same fate as the previous mercenaries and is killed by Lamb.
Lamb manages to escape and meets up with Shy in Crease. Upon their return to Squaredeal, Shivers confronts Lamb, the nine-fingered man he has been searching for, but opts not to duel with Lamb. Shivers decides to tell everyone back north that the nine-fingered man is back to the mud. Shivers then rides out of town. Lamb tells Shy and the children he must be leaving too, taking his troubles with him. He says bye to them and rides off into the sunset.