Grand Duke Orso is the ruthless and ambitious ruler of Talins, who aspires to be the King of Styria. He has three children, Prince Ario, Count Foscar, and Queen Terez. Although, he has a relatively minor role in the trilogy, he appears prominantly in Best Server Cold.
Orso has black hair streaked with grey, and sports a pointed beard, immaculately trimmed. He always dresses in black, both in private and on the battlefield where he wears black Styrian armour.
Ruthless and ambitious, he wants to bring peace to Styria by uniting the country under his rule as King of all Styria. He's a very elegant man, with an air of authority and self-importance reserved for the highest royalty. A capable strategist and commander, but not particularly skilled in combat himself. He's open minded enough to employ a woman and an openly gay man as commanders, not caring about gender or sexual preferences, as long as they're useful to him.
Grand Duke Orso's great-grandfather was a lowly mercenary who ascended the throne of Talins by conquest. His older brother was the heir to the Grand Duchy, but he died after he was kicked by his favourite horse. On coming to power, Duke Orso revealed himself to be ruthlessly ambitious, and started subjugating the local city-states including Etrea, Etrisani, Cesale, and Baol. The League of Eight was formed by Grand Dukes Salier, Rogont, and Cantain to contest Duke Orso’s growing power.
The Blade Itself Edit
Grand Duke Orso arranges for his daughter to be engaged to marry Crown Prince Ladisla, the heir to the throne of The Union. Although, Teres obeys her fathers wishes, she is far from enamored with the vain and foppish Prince. The pair are seen arguing during the celebration of Jezal dan Luthar's victory at The Contest.
Last Argument of Kings Edit
With the death of Prince Ladisla in the First Northern War, the Open Council of The Union elects new King Jezal the First. Undeterred, Grand Duke Orso agreed the marriage proposal between Terez and the new King.
When Midderland is invaded by a massive Gurkish force, who lay siege to Adua in the Battle of Adua, Orso prepares an expedition to go to the aid of his daughter, the Queen of The Union. His fleet turns the tide of the battle to defeat the Gurkish ships blockading the harbour. He then lands ten thousand of his best soldiers and places them at the disposal of Lord Marshall Collem West. They are used to sweep the Gurkish from the Three Farms district of Adua. While Orso claims that the people of Talins are prepared to make any sacrifice for his daughter, in truth he was paid by Valint & Balk.
The Gurkish army were utterly routed, but the physical damage to Adua was enormous. When King Jezal announces that the aristocracy must contribute to the royal plan to rebuild Adua, the nobles threaten to revolt. However, they are quickly cowed when Grand Duke Orso and King Logen Ninefingers of the Northmen pledge their full support for the King's actions.
Best Served Cold Edit
Thanks to the victories of his greatest general, Monza Murcatto, Grand Duke Orso is on the verge of victory over The League of Eight. However, he's a suspicious man, and Monza's success has brought her the love of the people of Talins. Fearing she may usurp the throne, as his great-grandfather had done, he orders her and her brother Benna murdered and thrown off the battlements of Fontezarmo.
Nonetheless, Monza manages to survive, thanks to landing on Benna's corpse and the help of a mysterious healer. She takes Benna's death very personally, and sets off to wreak revenge against the seven men responsible; Orso's bodyguard Gobba, his banker Mauthis, General Ganmark, Faithful Carpi, his sons Prince Ario and Count Foscar, and finally Orso himself.
When Gobba and Mauthis are murdered, Duke Orso dismisses it as a coincidence. However, he's heartbroken and furious when his eldest son Ario is killed in Sipani, and learns from Carlot dan Eider that Monza is alive. In retaliation, Orso hires a small army of assassins to kill Monza and her crew, including Shenkt and later the poisoner Castor Morveer.
However, the murders continue with General Ganmark dying at the siege of Visserine, and Faithful Carpi in a skirmish outside Puranti. Finally, the Talinese army suffer a crushing defeat against his main rival Duke Rogont near Ospria, where his younger son Count Foscar is also killed.
Duke Orso is besieged in his fortress of Fontezarmo by The Thousand Swords, who have switched to support Monza. During the final assault, Monza makes her way through the chaos to the Duke’s private study. As the first mercenaries burst through the doors, Orso's personal guard cut them down, with only Monza taking refuse behind a heavy table. Recognising her, the Duke grudgingly congratulates her for ruining all his plans. When Monza snaps back that he deserves it for killing her brother, Orso states that it was justified since Benna was planning to usurp him. They both slowly realise the truth; Monza wasn't complicit in Benna's plan. Suddenly, Shenkt steps into the room. Orso order him to kill her, but Shenkt reveals that he has actually been protect her for his own reasons, and instead dispatches all his guards. Monza casually sidles up to Orso and stabs him through the heart with little fanfair. Orso accepts death rather gracefully, dying with a smile on his face.
In the end, Monza succeeds as Grand Duchess of Talins, just as Benna had planned.