Black Company Wiki
Black Company Wiki

He was improbably tall and lean. His head was twisted way over to one side. His neck was swollen and purpled from the bite of the noose. His face was frozen into the bloated expression of one who has been strangled.

Croaker, The Black Company

The Hanged Man (also called Crooked Neck) was one of the immensely powerful sorcerers known as the Ten Who Were Taken. He was a key combatant and general in the Lady's war against the Rebel Circle of Eighteen during the events of The Black Company. His death in combat against Harden prior to the Battle of Charm gave him the unfortunate distinction of being the first of the notoriously resilient and centuries-old Ten to be killed.

True to his name, the Hanged Man's neck exhibited the hideous disfigurement and discoloration of the bite of a noose, and, his head was dramatically bent to one side. His face was frozen in a bloated rictus, and although Croaker initially expected that he would have difficulty speaking due to the gruesome wounds, the Hanged Man could communicate effectively in TelleKurre, the forgotten language of the Domination era.

Before Croaker's Annals[]

The Domination[]

Prior to or during the era known as the Domination, the Hanged Man was an independent wizard-king. Then he was enslaved by the infamous sorcerer known only as the Dominator, becoming one of the Ten Who Were Taken. As such, the Hanged Man was forced to become one of the Dominator's enforcers and generals, but presumably was also one of his subordinate lords with control over much territory. It is not established in the Annals when he was hanged, or who did it to him, but his "crooked neck" sigil suggests it occurred before his Taking. After a dark period of rule, they were all defeated (but not killed) by the original White Rose and her armies in the Great Forest. The Hanged Man, alongside the Dominator, the Dominator's wife the Lady, and the other nine Taken, were all imprisoned in the Barrowland alongside a considerable number of horrendous demons. The imprisonment was meant to last for eternity.

Liberation and service to the Lady[]

Thirty-seven years before the end of The Black Company (and 370 years after being interred in the Barrowland), the Hanged Man, the other nine Taken, and the Lady were freed from their prison by a group known as the Resurrectionists. To keep power to herself, the Lady orchestrated this event such that the Dominator and his "pet" demons remained imprisoned. The Hanged Man and the other Taken would soon join the Lady in building their headquarters, the Tower at Charm. Then, the Taken served as the Lady's generals in the consolidation wars, helping her establish her own dominion, the Lady's Empire, over a huge span of the north.

The Black Company[]

The Black Company encountered the Hanged Man for the first time at the Stair of Tear. He was at the head of a group of reinforcements consisting of about 1,000 men. The Hanged Man was the fifth Taken to be personally seen by Croaker, after Soulcatcher, Limper, Shapeshifter, and, the first of the new Taken: Whisper. The Hanged Man brought the news that Whisper had captured Rust in the east and surrounded the enemy army of Trinket, one of the Circle of Eighteen. When some unseen Rebel wizards sent up magical banners of light which posed a threat to the Company and the Imperials, the Hanged Man defeated them. Soulcatcher revealed that the Hanged Man had arrived at the Stair specifically in anticipation of this sort of threat.

Hanged Man by Виталий Стрелец

Hanged Man by Виталий Стрелец

The Hanged Man was a participant in the successful ambush and killing of the formidable Rebel general Harden. He, two other Taken (Soulcatcher and Stormbringer), as well as Croaker and Raven from the Black Company, and at least 4 veteran Imperial soldiers, all descended upon Harden and some Rebel soldiers using flying carpets. The Hanged Man used a powerful spell on the Rebels, causing them to grasp at their throats in debilitating agony. Only Harden was able to shake off the Hanged Man's spell; the rest were defenseless and were cut down by Soulcatcher, Croaker, and Raven. Harden struck back with his own magic, which literally froze the three Taken in their tracks. However before he could kill them, Harden was attacked by his own horse, which was actually Shapeshifter in disguise the whole time. In desperation, Harden flung his sword toward the three frozen Taken just before he was finally assassinated. The sword punctured the Hanged Man through his head. When Shifter realized what happened, he was deeply disturbed and attempted to help his fellow Taken. But Soulcatcher and Stormbringer made it clear that the Hanged Man should be left to die, causing Shifter to feel betrayed. The Hanged Man did manage to pry the sword from his skull, but died moments later, sputtering unintelligibly and abandoned by his allies. He was the first of the Ten Who Were Taken to die.

Years later at the Battle of Dejagore, Shapeshifter would avenge the death of the Hanged Man by tracking down and attacking Stormbringer under her new guise as "Stormshadow". However, his revenge would cost him his life, as both Taken were killed in the citadel of Dejagore during this event.

Ten Who Were Taken
Soulcatcher • The Howler • The LimperShapeshifterStormbringer
The Hanged ManBonegnasherNightcrawlerMoonbiter • The Faceless Man