Duncan Rowntree

The second son of Helen and Marcus Rowntree, Duncan boasts a keen intellect and a savage streak a mile wide. It is a ruthlessness he shares with his older brother, Edmund, but one applied with more accuracy and cunning, and one he takes pride in — especially since the death of his wife while she was having his second child. He believes in keeping the Rowntrees strong for the benefit of the settlement as well as his own personal gain, and often finds himself acting as his father's sword when it comes to the capturing of caravans and martial justice within the bounds of Dornie.

He is also gaining some infamy in what is occasionally known as Duncan's army (and more disparagingly called Duncan's thugs), which is a group of young men (and even some women) who are being trained up in the ways of combat with weaponry and hand-to-hand. They are fed, clothed and groomed, and chosen for their physical potential and loyalty, as opposed to intelligence. It is also the first real emergence of any kind of true organised militia, and stirs up some feelings, positive and negative, among the settlement.

Duncan also happens to not be Marcus's son, but the patriarch of their clan rival, Adler Ross. Only Adler's wife suspects.


Full Name: Duncan Rowntree
Age: 35
Hair: Ginger
Eyes: Blue

Status: Alive
Occupation: Law Enforcer
Origin: Dornie, Scotland
Allegiance: Clan Rowntree

First Seen: Just Passing Through
Last Seen:

If ever there were a man made for the return of a savage age, it would be Duncan Rowntree. His features, built for weathering, are rough hewn enough to make his anger readily apparent, while preserving the privacy of his thoughts when he is lost in them. His head carries a full crop of rusty red hair, and his cheeks are - by the end of a long day - shadowed by insistent prickles that require a well honed edge to remove, a procedure he adheres to with religious regularity, time permitting. To see Duncan with a shaggy cheek is to see a man caught up in a prolonged, engrossing task - a man to be avoided, generally, considering how little he likes for problems to persist. He is, after all, a kind of problem solver, and he is rarely seen without lead and powder solutions, tell-tale of his clan for their quality and upkeep. His eyes are a pale blue, a piercing shade not uncommon amongst the remnants of the so-called British Isles, and their steadiness convey both a steadfast intelligence and a touch of the implacable which, if one were to use a less charitable word, could also be described as mercilessness.


Portrayed by: Kevin McKidd


A bastard born is a bastard bred. And while the illegitimacy of Duncan's birth remains a secret and a suspicion - not even his suspicion - there has always been an appreciation for the precariousness of legitimacy, especially in a world so big, and in a city so small. While his older brother inherited the task of maintenance and staple, breath and bread, and his sister wed to help cement ties with the other great clan of Dornie, the task of organized violence landed primarily upon his own shoulders. Organized violence, and a monopoly on it, is the heart and soul of that violence's legitimacy - civilization isn't a reduction of violence, but a stockpiling and systematizing of violence. This alone separates law from lawlessness, heirs from usurpers.

From childhood Duncan showed a knack for the less cultivated aspects of the civilized - he was among the first to ride the horses his brother tamed into the wild, one of the youngest to take up a Rowntree rifle and wield it well, and when the time came to assemble what would become the Dornie militia, he had already made a number of acquaintances perfectly suited for the job: a collection of men and women of like (and necessarily dull) mind, ones able to recognize hierarchy and to restrain their appetite for brutality within the confines of their 'duties'. This has led Duncan to favor consistent assignments: the steady-handed keep the peace within the settlement, while those with less restraint are frequently amongst the raiding parties sent after caravans that draw too close. Such decisions are part of Duncan's continued mission to render the Rowntree army as relied-upon and trusted as Rowntree arms.

Love is a difficult notion for Duncan, especially after the death of his wife. He holds little against his youngest, Celia, for the price paid for her passage into the world - you don't range into the highlands far before you understand that birth is paid for in blood. He can, however, act somewhat distant - Leah had a much larger hand in raising their children than he, and without her he does not know what words to speak, what gestures to make; it is not his bailiwick. His older children, the twins, at least are adults: a son he can cast expectations upon and a daughter pretty enough to be easily marriageable, assuming she doesn't get too caught up in this dramatic nonsense. Constance's flair for the thespian recedes in comparison to the consideration of Peter's magical talent, a difference in practical importance Duncan lacks the tact to disguise. His attitude about it is like his attitude towards all things magical - useful, but dangerous and unpredictable to the first and last.

Nine years as a widower has made Duncan a fairly regular visitor to the Dovetail, a habit that better suits his busy schedule than the courtship and marital duties that seeking and securing a second spouse would entail. It also allows him to keep an eye on one of the few surviving Hare's, a once-powerful clan whose persistence gives the thorough-minded Duncan cause for some suspicion.


This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.

Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent. - Judge Holden, Blood Meridian

When there are no governing institutions, no formalized documents of sovereignty and little in the way of formal law, all politics are realpolitik. That, at least, is how Duncan Rowntree sees the world. Too smart to see Rowntree dominance as natural, and too canny to want it any other way (besides, perhaps, more dominance), Duncan's life has been tied up with his sense of permanence and posterity, those lasting things determined by harsh instants of contingency. For him, for his clan, and to some extent for all of Dornie, there is the choice between the Dark Ages behind them and the untold future before them, and the third way, that of oblivion, a path Duncan sees the Hares as having been hastened along.

So while some clear goals - some of these even approaching principles - guide him, in the day to day Duncan considers his available means to be as broad as circumstance allows. He rarely acts rashly, but he will act decisively and with whatever force he deems necessary. The wound that goes untreated will fester, he knows this well, and burning tar will serve as well as a suture when time is of the essence. While this ruthlessness is justified in part by such noble notions as 'loyalty' and 'rule of law', he knows very well that if it were not his law it would be the next strong man's, that power legitimizes law, not the other way around.

When found at his ease, Duncan is not unpleasant company, given to humor and even - after a drink or two - song, though he is never seen in less than proper order when in public. After his wife's death, his grief was lonely, silent and cold, with no wailing or displays; the world went on, as he well knew, and he wasn't about to get left behind. But this failure to mourn has not made him a warmer, gentler person, and what tenders feelings he may have are locked up tight.

Duncan is very proud of his intelligence, and while he cannot be easily goaded on the basis of prowess, potency or popularity, a slight to his intellect or competence is rarely forgotten. He is by no means above revenge, and fully able to excuse abuses of his power for personal reasons with the simple insistence that, in a population as tight knit as Dornie, the personal and the political can never be truly separated.

For more, see: Character Notes for Duncan Rowntree