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Sand dan Glokta

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Every man has his excuses, and the more vile the man becomes, the more touching the story has to be. What is my story now, I wonder?

–Sand dan Glokta, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Sand dan Glokta is a tortured turned torturer, an Inquisitor in the Union's Inquisition, and a major point of view character created by Joe Abercrombie for The First Law Trilogy.


A former cavalry officer in the King's Own, Colonel Glokta was considered a rising star, especially after winning The Contest. He was considered an exceptional  swordsman, with none of the modern fighters in his class. He was a frequent womaniser and a possible future candidate for the title of Lord Marshal.

This was brought sharply to a close in the First Gurkish War, some nine years before the start of the trilogy. Glokta led a heroic and suicidal charge against insurmountable Gurkish defenders of a bridge in Gurkhul. Although he saved his division, he was captured. He was imprisoned, brutal treatment and tortured by the Gurkish, under the Emperors palace. After two years, Glokta was released in an exchange of prisoners, broken but alive; one of the few prisoners to survive for so long in such a condition.

Glokta spent some time convalescing at his mother’s house. During this time he grew bitter, that none of old friends visited him, especially Collem West; little did he know but his mother had turned West away without telling him, because she disapproved of the lowborn man.

A year later he made his application to the Inquisition. He was sent to Angland to run a prison mining colony. He made few friends in the Inquisition in Angland, and developed a mutual hatred of Superior Goyle. However, after three years production was doubled. So he was brought back to Adua, to work under Superior Kalyne. He now serves as an Inquisitor in the House of Questions, torturing perceived traitors for information, and anyone else who they think knows something. He is aided in this by Practicals Severard and Frost.


Glokta is only thirty-five, but his visit to the Emperor's prisons has left him severely crippled, most notably in his left leg, which is prone to spasms of intense pain[1], possibly the result of muscle death or simply severe, repeated breakages. He walks with a hunch, limping and leaning heavily on a cane, wincing with every step; stairs are his bitter enemy.

He needs to piss sitting down, and must be helped getting out of bed, often after losing control of his bowels. He has half his teeth, but where the teeth were removed above, they were left below, so that he cannot eat solid foods.[2] He describes every day is its own little hell.

He dresses in the Inquisitions traditional black, and broad-brimmed hat.


Before his capture, Glokta was a bold, clever, and dashing golden-boy, destined for great things, though reckless. He is now a shunned cripple; his former achievements - winning the Contest, heroically saving his division – are treated like they never happened.

He is bitter, self-pitying, and cynical through and through, but also possess a very sharp tongue and wit, often mocking his own condition; he views steps as his arch-enemies and chairs as his greatest allies.

He often asks himself why he turned to torturing as his profession as he was tortured, rarely coming up with a satisfactory answer but carrying on regardless. In fact, his choice isn't motivated by evil, but by pragmatism; his experience has given him an excellent insight into how to break people, and he's badly crippled, so torturing for the Inquisition is the only way he has to make a living.

He is highly intelligent and cunning, with a sly ability to out-think his opponents. He always knows when he's being lied to. Throughout the series, his determined and ruthless nature means he’s more than capable and willing to do atrocious things when they need to be done, yet not out of sadism or malice, but to achieve their goals; from torturing a false confession, to merciless slaughter. In spite of seeing himself as a monster, he does sometimes show mercy; it usually comes back to bite him.

Perhaps Glokta's greatest asset is his lack of fear. He does not fear death, and even would dearly like someone to kill him, since it would release him from his life of pain, and make him stop what he does. Despite this, he cannot stand to lose.

Glokta: Why?
Ardee: Because you’re a ruthless, plotting, bitter, twisted, self-pitying villain? You asked.
Glokta: The question was meant to be rhetorical.

–Glokta and Ardee West, Last Argument of Kings

Recent EventsEdit

The Blade ItselfEdit

Inquisitor Glokta’s story begins with the interrogation of Salem Rews, a member of the merchant Guild of Mercers who has been evading the King’s taxes. The Guild has paid bribes to avoid prosecution, so when his boss, Superior Kalyne, finds out about Glokta’s overzealous investigation, he informs the Inquisition’s leadership. Glokta’s interrogation is interrupted by Arch Lector Sult, the head of the Inquisition and one of the most powerful men in The Union. Sult actually encourages Glokta to continue his investigation of the Mercers, and to expand it to include Sepp dan Teufel – the Master of the Royal Mints.

After torturing a false confession out of the Master of the Royal Mints, Glokta finds himself drawn deeper into Sult’s scheming. Glokta learns that Sult wanted Teufel removed as a candidate for the vacant Lord Chancellor seat on the Closed Council, in order to promote his own preferred candidate. Now Sult wants Glokta destroy the Mercers, so he can take their resources as his own, and weaken the nobles.

However, Glokta’s investigation leads only to a slew of dead bodies; the Mercers are ruthlessly cleaning house. An operation is concocted to use Salem Rews to trap the assassin. The assassin named Carpi leads Glokta to a high ranking Mercer called Hornlach, and finally the high treason of the Guild is laid bare. Glokta is ordered to arrest everyone at the Mercers Headquarters; however he is unable to prevent Magister Kault, the overall head, from committing suicide. Before he hangs himself, Kault implicated other culprits—the banks Valint & Balk and members of the Closed Council.

The Arch Lector reject Glokta request to extend his investigation to Valint & Baulk. Instead, he tasks Glokta with proving that Bayaz, who has recently arrived in Adua, is a fraud. When a break-in and an unusual explosion occurs in the Magus’ chamber, Glokta takes the opportunity to meet the Magus. Bayaz proves to be a wily character, who dares Glokta to prove he’s a fake.

At the University, Glokta tries to find a mundane explanation for the explosion in Bayaz’ chamber. However, the Adeptus Chemical is unable produce any meaningful results. Next, Glokta turns to the Adeptus Historical. The old man knows quite a bit about the Magus, The Seed, and Kanedias, but Glokta focuses on one simple fact; the real Bayaz has the only key to the House of the Maker. Glokta leaves the University satisfied, with the kernel of a plan.

One night, Glokta is woken by an icy cold and mysterious figure in his room demanding The Seed. Then she simply disappears, leaving Glokta disoriented about whether it was a dream. The next day, Glokta investigates a mauled body found near Bayaz’ chamber; mauled by human bites. However, his new boss, Superior Goyle, arrives and throws his weight around - dismissing it as a dog attack.

Glokta is in the crowd as Bremer dan Gorst and Jezal meet in the final of The Contest. Glokta watches in shock as Jezal impossibly rallies and eventually wins. He spots Bayaz in the crowd working hard at some unseen purpose, and becomes convinced that Jezal and Bayaz have somehow cheated.

The Arch Lector and Glokta plan to discredit Bayaz at Jezal’s victory banquet. During the dinner, Sult challenges the Magus directly to prove his identity by producing the key to the House of the Maker. Bayaz casually removes a key from his robe, and promises to open the ever closed House tomorrow.

Glokta, Jezal and Logen Ninefingers accompany Bayaz to the House of the Maker. Glokta’s beliefs are shaken by the experience: the crippling sense of dread outside; the bizarre clockwork of the door; the massive creepy space within; and the Houses ability to warp time and space. Although, still unconvinced by the Magus, Bayas is impressed by Glokta’s inquisitive mind and honesty.

At night, Glokta gets a visit from his former friend Collem West, who asks him a favour; to watch over his sister Ardee while he is in Angland. Bitterness rises in Glokta - where was West when he was broken and alone after the Gurkish war? Glokta is rocked when West reveals that he did visit him, but was turned away by his disapproving mother. The pair renew their former friendship, bonding over their shared self-loathing.

At his next meeting with the Arch Lector, Sult explains that Superior Davoust of Dagoska has disappeared. With the situation in the city deteriorating, Glokta is appointed the new Superior of Dagoska. He is tasked to investigate the disappearance of his predecessor, root out traitors in the city-council, and defend the city from the Gurkish at all cost. Sult attaches six more Practicals to his staff, including Vitari.

Before They Are HangedEdit

Glokta arrive in Dagoska with his Practicals, including Sult’s spy Vitari. He’s tasked to investigate the disappearance of his predecessor Superior Davoust, root out traitors in the city council, and defend the city at all cost from the Gurkish who are preparing for the Battle of Dagoska. He’s struck by the poverty of the native Dagoskans.

He meets Dagoska’s city council, which includes Carlot dan Eider of the Spicers, General Vissbruck, Lord Governor Vurms, Korsten dan Vurms, and Haddish Kahdia the speaker for the natives.

The Gurkish have blockaded the city by land, and massively outnumber the defenders. Glokta examines the defences; they’re deplorable. He orders the situation resolved. Other forces available are a mercenary company led by Nicomo Cosca though he has a history of betrayal.

The situation in the city is improved, the wall is fixed and the moat dug, but the council is now in debt. The situation seems dire until a man named Mauthis walks into Glokta’s office carrying a million marks in silver, gold, and gems. Glokta can have the money in return for future services to Valint & Balk.

An ambassador from the Gurkish arrives to offer terms, Shabbed al Islik Burai. After the meeting, Glokta take him into custody, and tortures him into admitting that the traitors are Vurms and Eider. When the Inquisitor confronts them, Eider reacts calmly until Glokta breaks the news that Cosca has switched sides thanks to his newfound wealth.

Glokta interrogates Carlot dan Eider, who admits the betrayal, but only to stop the inevitable bloodshed. When Davoust discovered their plot, she told the Gurkish, and he was gone the next day, but she does not know who the assassin is. Glokta takes her down by the docks. Expecting death, Glokta surprises her; she is free provided she never returns to the Union.

In his room, Glokta warns his servant, Shickel, that he’s expecting the Gurkish assassin. Her voice is different and he realizes that she is the assassin. She admits to killing and eating Davoust. As she moves to kill Glokta, the Practicals descend. After breaking bones that won’t stay broken, they wrap her in chains. Wave after wave of Gurkish soldiers have been turned back, but they’re losing. Glokta tells Vissbruck to withdraw to the Upper City, cutting off all hope of escape.

Beneath the palace, Glokta observes his Practicals torturing Shickel.  Though the torture has no effect, she chooses to tell her story anyway. She admits to being an Eater. Khalul has many Eaters each with different gifts. As she finishes, Glokta orders them to burn her.

Arch Lector Sult instructs Glokta to return home, leaving Vissbruck to fight to the last man, though Glokta urges them to surrender. Vitari begs him to take her with him. Demonstrating a weakness for desperate women, the Inquisitor agrees, leaving Dagoska and the war behind.

In Adua, Glokta visits Ardee West, prioritizing his promise to his only friend Collem West. He finds her apartments devoid of furniture. Ardee explains that a man named Fallow came to collect on her father’s debts. Glokta has Frost track him down and gives Ardee a chance to pay Fallow back.

Glokta heads to his meeting with Sult. Having expected death, Glokta is surprised to find Sult pleased. Of course Dagoska was going to fall, but by delaying the inevitable Sult has gained influence. Also Eider’s treachery has allowed them to dissolve the Spicers. Sult dubs Glokta co-Superior of Adua with Goyle.

Dagoska has fallen and the Emperor has sent an envoy to Adua to negotiate peace, Ambassador Tulkis. That night, Crown Prince Raynault is murdered and Glokta ordered to find the culprit.

Glokta notices a piece of white cloth and gold thread which he recognizes from Tulkis; a clue too obvious to ignore or to trust. In the interrogation room, the Inquisitor confronts Tulkis. Despite Glokta suspecting the man is innocent, under pressure from Sult, he obtains the confession.

The truth is something Glokta cannot ignore and he asks Severard continue the investigation. Mauthis from Valint & Balk arrives and orders the Inquisitor to stop his investigation. Taken aback, Glokta realizes he is bought and paid for.

Last Argument of KingsEdit

Glokta is charged with bribing and threatening the Arch Lector's way to victory in the upcoming elections for the King. He visits nobles whose vote he can influence, but each time Harlen Morrow has been there first, on behalf of High Justice Marovia.[3][4] Eventually, Morrow lures Glokta to a slaughterhouse near the Four Corners, under the pretence of coming to an arrangement, but intending to kill the cripple. Unfortunately, Glokta’s hidden Practicals kill Morrow and feed him to the pigs.

Back to Ardee’s apartments, Glokta encounters a rougher Jezal dan Luthar than he remembers. They participate in an awkward exchange that leaves Glokta frowning. Glokta emphasizes how foolish dalliances with Jezal are, but Ardee snaps back that Glokta was not concerned with a lady’s virtue when he was young, hale, and womanizing. Glokta absorbs the punishment and acknowledges its voracity. Later, Glokta confronts Jezal and demands that he either marry Ardee or break it off entirely, else a third option will emerge that involves Glokta’s bag of tricks. Jezal responds with anger, turning the threat back around. Of course, Jezal has every intention of marrying Ardee West. Doesn’t he?

In the Open Council for the vote, Bayaz springs his surprise; Colonel Luthar is none other than the bastard child of the recently deceased King Guslav. Glokta tries to warn Sult that Bayaz has planned this all along, but he votes for the young fool. Jezal is voted the new High King of the Union. However, Jezal soon proves to be less malleable than expected, and the Arch Lector orders Glokta to destroy Bayaz and Jezal.

Glokta arrests and tortures Brother Longfoot into revealing all he knows about Bayaz’s journey and The Seed. Glokta tries to ask the Adeptus Historical about The Seed, but is interrupted by Superior Goyle, and ordered to leave and not come back. Finally, Glokta meets Ferro, and they bond over their hatred of the Gurkish, and Glokta finds out a little more about The Seed.

The investigation comes to an end when Glokta gets another visit from Mauthis of Valint & Balk. The Arch Lector soon becomes suspicious of Glokta’s lack of progress, and also what really happened in Dagoska. Glokta wonders how they both know so much, and whether there is a spy close to him.

With Adua under siege from the Gurkish in the Battle of Adua, Glokta gathers Ardee with Nicomo Cosca and his motley mercenaries, and heads to the dilapidated mansion. While Cosca deals with the Practicals that Sult has sent to kill him, Glokta takes Severard down below. After torturing him, Severard admits that he spied for Valint & Balk, but not the Arch Lector. Glokta meets Frost’s eyes and realises it was him. Frost kills Severard but Glokta kills him with a sword hidden in his cane.

With the roads blocked by the Gurkish, Glokta has Longfoot lead them through the sewers to the House of Questions. They find Goyle and torture him into revealing that Sult and Silber are trying to contact The Other Side at the University. They find the University defended by Practicals, but Glokta tricks them into giving up without a fight. In the room they find a demonic incantation in progress, led by Silber. Cosca kills him with a throwing knife and the Sult is arrested for treason.

With the Gurkish siege ended, Glokta returns home exhausted, only to find Bayaz waiting. Bayaz admits to owning Valint & Balk. He offers Glokta the Arch Lector’s ring and complete power over the Closed Council. Glokta has a new master. After a meeting of the Closed Council, Hoff pulls Glokta aside, and tells him that Ardee is pregnant with Jezal’s bastard. In Adree’s house, Glokta timidly pulls out a ring with a colossal diamond. She agrees to marry him, intending to be truly his wife.

Later, in the palace, Glokta has noticed that Jezal and Queen Terez do not sleep in the same room, and offers to speak to the Queen. Glokta quickly realises that Countess Shalere and Terez are lovers. By threatening the Countess, he makes Terez promise to sleep with the King and bear him children.

In the end, Glokta is in his office meeting West. As he leaves, Pike lingers behind. Glokta has a flicker of recognition before he leaps on him, Salem Rews. Glokta offers a deal, and down below, he unlocks a cell to reveal Arch Lector Sult. Glokta and Practical Rews set to work.

Best Served Cold Edit

Carlot dan Eider reveals that Glokta is still in control in The Union.


  • Sand Dan Glokta, as illustrated by Chris McGrath for the cover of 'Before They Are Hanged'
  • Glokta by Mat EdwardsGo to
  • Glokta by Jason RumpffGo to
  • Sand dan Glokta by IcedWingsArtGo to
  • Sand dan Glokta by VinchaGo to
  • Sand dan Glokta, Jezal dan Luthar and Logen Ninefingers
  • Sand dan Glokta, and Practical Frost and Severard


  1. The Blade Itself, Part I, Questions
  2. The Blade Itself, Part I, Teeth and Fingers
  3. Last Argument of Kings, Part I, Feeding Time
  4. Last Argument of Kings, Part I, The Poison Trade

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