|“||This ain't for you, to kill a man tied up. It's for work like this, you bring along a man like me.||”|
–Black Dow, The Blade Itself
Appearance and personalityEdit
Black Dow is a hard, gaunt man, with black hair hacked short, cold flat eyes and sharp features. He has a nasty scar where his left ear used to be. Finree says she thought he'd be taller, but still describes him as being tallish. Dow's hands are scarred and calloused from many years of battle. Collem West describes him as the most evil-looking man he'd ever seen, violence itself. Craw finds him unpredictable and dangerous, like he might snap and kill someone any second. He often flashes a menacing, bloodthirsty grin and is known for his deadly glare.
Dow has a black reputation, hence the Name, and is the most savage and merciless member of the crew. He's an unrepentant killer with no qualms about killing anyone that gets in his way. His humour is very abrasive and snarky, and he's often belligerent and sharp-tongued, especially with Tul Duru. Although he has a hair-trigger temper, he seems to be able to turn it off just as quickly. Despite having a reputation for being one of the cruelest bastards in the North, he seems to abide by some sort of moral code, and has great respect for seasoned fighters such as Rudd Threetrees and Curnden Craw.
It's hinted that he plays up his reputation somewhat, and helps spread the many rumours about himself. Being known as a psychopath who might start killing people at the drop of a hat has its perks. In reality, Dow reveals himself to be above all a cunning and intelligent man with not only a killer's mind, but also a tactician's. Sharp-tongued and foul-mouthed, he frequently trades nasty quips with everyone he meets.
His preferred weapons are an axe and a sword, which he dual wields. In battle he relies on strength and agility, and is fond of burning his enemies after capturing them.
In his youth, Black Dow was a potter's apprentice, and in The Heroes he tells Craw he sometimes regrets leaving that life behind, remembering how soft the clay made his hands. Dow beat Bethod six times in battle and burned the city of Kyning to the ground with the people inside. Later he fought Logen Ninefingers in the circle and nearly won. Instead, his life was spared by Ninefingers and he was bound to serve, joining Ninefingers' crew. His name is one of the hardest in the North, and also one that men fear almost as much as the Bloody Nine's. They say he's killed more men than winter and the plague , and he earned his name because he'd attack suddenly in the black of night and leave burned villages behind. Although he admits to burning a couple of farms and villages down, he says he let the children live, implying his name might be a bit blacker than he deserves, though Tul Duru says he heard different.
Shortly before the start of the series, bad blood developed between Logen and Bethod. Logen and his crew, including Dow, Rudd Threestrees, the Dogman, Harding Grim, Forley the Weakest and Tul Duru Thunderhead were imprisoned in Carleon. They were expecting death, but Bethod inexplicitly allowed them to go into exile. They find themselves in the mountains and are attacked by Shanka who seem to be rapidly moving south.
The Blade Itself Edit
With Logen presumed dead after his fall from a cliff during a Shanka attack, Dow and Tul Duru argue about who should be the new chief of the crew. Eventually, Dow sees that everyone is against him, and relents, with Threetrees becoming the new chief. He decided they will go south.
On the journey, they learn that The North is now at war with The Union. With Bethod's army heading south, they fear that The North will be undefended against the Shanka. Forley the Weakest proposes warning the only person they can; Bethod himself. Bethod fears all the others in the crew, so the Forley should be the one to do it. Although, they fear for Forley’s safety, it’s the best idea they have. Dow surprises everyone by wishing Forley luck before he departs.
Forley enters Carleon alone to deliver the warning. The crew hide away, while Threetrees stands alone on a bridge waiting for the answer. It comes in the form of Bethod’s Carls, who throw Forley’s head in a sack at Threetrees feet. At the sight of their dead friend, the crew attack and butcher all of Bethod’s men without mercy. After Dogman kills Bad-Enough, Dow hacks his head off and sticks it on a spike as a message for Bethod's men.
Threetrees says the words over Forley's grave honouring his self-sacrifice and Dow is the one who buries him. Dogman is surprised at how much emotion Dow shows, thinking for a second there might be a tear rolling down Dow's nose, but he decides it must be the rain. Afterwards, Threetrees makes an announcement; the enemy of my enemy is my friend; he will join with the Union to fight Bethod. Who’s coming with him?
Before They Are Hanged Edit
Crossing the river Whiteflow into Angland, Black Dow and the rest of the crew are turned away at Ostenhorm when they try to offer their services to The Union. To convince them, they ambush Lord Marshal Burr and Colonel West. Relieved to be alive, the Lord Marshal agrees and assigns them to Prince Ladisla's division, under West's command.
Colonel West sends Threetrees' crew scouting north of the river Cumnur. Despite Dow's gumbling about the futility of the task, the crew soon find one of Bethod's scouting parties. After disposing of them, they follow their tracks and discover the King of the Northmen's whole damn army, ten thousand men not five days march away from Ladisla's division. However, when Threetrees and West inform the Prince, he decides to meet the Northmen in battle. Threetrees storms off, declaring them all fools. His crew won’t fight with The Union, too blind to see they have no chance of defeating Bethod’s host.
However, the crew follows the Union's army safe in the forest, and witnesses the massacre of Ladisla's division. Amidst the chaos, Dogman finds West, Ladisla, Pike and Cathil, and brings them back to the rest of his crew. Threetrees and the others keep following Bethod's army, surprised to find they are now going north, ignoring the easypickings further south. When West catches Ladisla trying to rape Cathil, he pushes him off a cliff to his death; Black Dow claps him the on the back with approval and gives him the name Furious. Eventually, the crew make it safely to the main Union Army near Dunbrec, to warn them of Bethod’s movements. More rebel Northmen soon start to join Threetrees crew against Bethod, including Caul Shivers.
As Bethod and The Union prepare for battle, Threetrees' crew are assigned to General Poulder's division tasked with flanking the enemy while Kroy diverts their attention. However Bethod lays on some surprises, first the Shanka attack, and then Fenris the Feared. During the mêlée, Threetrees finds himself facing the Feared alone. The old warrior gives it his best, but the Feared crunches him to the turf, mortally wounded. Eventually, the Feared is routed by Tul, Dow and Shivers, leaving behind him a devastated crew, its leader dead.
The crew bury Threetrees. Overcome with emotion, Dogman cannot speak for Threetrees. Nor can Tul or Dow who seem lessened with their chief’s death. To the surprise of all, Harding Grim steps forward to speak the words. Afterwards, Tul and Dow agree that neither one can be leader, so they name the Dogman their new chief.
Last Argument of Kings Edit
Black Dow and Dogman's growing crew seize the town of Uffrith with as little bloodshed as possible, to allow The Union to use the city as a port for supplies. Dow reluctantly accepts Dogman's orders to leave the women be.
Later, when Dogman is holding a war council, Logen Ninefingers returns from his journey, to the amazement of all his old crew. Not everyone is happy at the return of the Bloody-Nine, especially Black Dow, who doesn't hide his dislike of Logen.
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 men around them. Black Dow fights among Logen’s crew on the walls during the seven days of bloody siege. When the gate is finally breached, and all seems lost, The Union finally arrive and rout Bethod's forces. However, Tul Duru dies on the last day of the siege, killed by the Bloody-Nine. To everyone’s surprise, Black Dow speaks the words over Tul’s grave, declaring himself less with the giant dead. Logen sees Dow giving him a dark look and immediately suspects Dow knows he was the one who killed Tul Duru.
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 agrees to a duel with Fenris the Feared. Meanwhile, Dogman, Dow, and Grim infiltrate the city to kill the sorceress Caurib, who is using her powers to fill the Feared with strength. Dogman and Grim enter Caurib’s lair, while Dow sneaks around the back, disobeying Dogman's orders. As Dogman and Grim approach her, she takes them under her control with a word. However, Black Dow saves the day, leaping from the shadows and splitting Caurib’s head with his axe.
After Bethod's defeat in the First Northern War, new King Logen goes south to help the Union repel the Gurkish invasion of Midderland in the Battle of Adua. Dow volunteers to remain in the North to hunt down Bethod's sons, saying he isn't overly fond of The Union or going on boats. Rather than killing Calder and Scale, Dow negotiates with them instead, and the three of them agree to kill Ninefingers. When Logen realises he's been betrayed by Black Dow, he's forced to jump from a window to save his own life. Black Dow tells everyone he killed the Bloody-Nine, thought to be unkillable, and this adds to his black reputation.