Grueburn, among the more underdeveloped Giantesses of the 3rd chronicles sometimes referred to as octuplets, is the second most distinguished Swordmain right after Rime Coldspray, and possibly her equal in both aptitude and cunning. One might state that she carries the fate of the Earth in her arms in the form of a variedly unconscious/mentally tortured/whiny Linden, persevering unto the very crumbling of time and space.
Appearance and Character
A hulking clump of muscle, sinew, and - as is implied by the cup size of her cataphract - some very well-endowed womanly assets, Grueburn duels over the title of the mightiest Swordmain with Cabledarm. Her second name suggests that she gains some considerable...satisfaction from the fear-shivers of enemies. (Furthermore, as she, in The Last Dark, yammers at length about how among her kin, she is celebrated for 'the purity and pathos of her moans', the reader cannot be ascertained as to...what makes this lass tick. Or perchance all willing to pursue the career of a Swordmain demonstrate a mite...irregular fancies.) To "grue" is an old English verb meaning "to shudder", only exemplified in modern English in the word "gruesome", and a synonym for "gore" as a noun. One can only surmise at the significance, but Grueburn might stand for "to burn for the fear-shivers of enemies" or "burn/yearn for gore". Linden shivers when she hears her name for the first time. An inside joke?
'These assumptions turned out to be herrings redder than a ruby wallowing in ketchup. One of those ditzy Chronicles fangirls that bother to fly to another continent to meet minds alike actually asked the author about the meaning of this mystifying name, when presented with the opportunity. Grue does in fact refer to gore and entrails, yet burn correlates with rope burn rather than heat of a questionable nature. To make it plain: the Giantess was a sailor who suffered a grievous, gory rope-burn, possibly an evisceration from which she yet fully recovered. This is why in all post'-E-Fest pinups she displays a considerable scar across her abdomen.
The first half of the name appears at least superficially somewhat enigmatic: rather more jovial and quipping than most of her fellow glaive-wielders, and, apart from righteous indignation, she never exhibits a particularly gelid disposition or a lack of feelings. On the contrary, at one point she confesses that she has developed a love for Linden that exists beyond the boundaries of a simple friendship, and is the first of the Earth-bound characters willing to become the angst-bristling Jeremiah's shrink after his reawakening, and due to utterly unselfish reasons. Hence, perhaps she adores the subzero temperatures of some extreme snow-riddled north of Gianthome, or serves as the author's homage, together with Rime Coldspray, to the Frost Giants of Norse mythology that tramp into battle on the verge of Ragnarökkr, the end of the nine worlds. Either that, or being christened "Frostheart" is an example of giantish tongue in cheek humour, which it well might be, considering that a sailor called Stoutgirth is a stick-thin fellow.
Among the hird, Grueburn usually becomes the arse of everyone's jests, perhaps for a good reason, as she for instance manages to snore herself through a raging storm aboard Dire's Vessel while dread grips the hearts of others. Stonemage doubts her level of intelligence, telling that she would never fall under the glamour of the Feroce due to an innate confusion. However, she is no Baf Scatterwit: in Coldspray's absence, she takes upon herself to translate the stymieing speech of the ur-viles to Linden and Covenant, and while she does regard herself as incompetent to the task, the other Swordmainnir feel that they could perform no better. Keeping this undertaking in mind, she oft shows rather more initiative
than her comrades-in-arms, for instance volunteering as the first to help Jeremiah collect malachite for his mystical fane. For a twinkling, she furthermore wards the Staff of Law against puissant abominations while the Sun-Sage suffers from one of her... moments.
Grueburn carries one of the rare steel longswords (while even Coldspray herself possesses a granite one), which must mark a history of feats and a high rank. Iron and other metals appear to be prized possessions among the Giants: They know not how to smelt or forge these materials, stuck in the everlasting Stone Age as they are. Besides, Coldspray likely would not have commanded
Grueburn to become Linden's substitute Ranyhyn... erm... caretaker, had she considered her insufficient to bear this responsibility beyond prodigious.
A gaggle of fans wonders how, akin to Hyn, she manages to breathe while struck by one of Linden's tearstorms. Many alternatives populate the opinion-spectrum: a) Linden creates a reverse umbrella with Staff-magic to protect the Swordmain, b) she is actually a Mere-Giantess like Ægir's daughters in a related realm ruled by thurses, or c) gravity lends a helping... graviton and directs all the wetness downwards ere hitting her breathing orifices.
Coldspray’s hird stumbles upon Linden and her cohorts in Salva Gildenbourne while tracking the escaped Longwrath. After tearing out and feasting on some raw skurj hearts (for some reason the author omits this fact and claims she tossed them over the forest…), Grueburn grabs Linden and flees the onslaught of were-menhir together with the other Swordmainnir. Thoolahians of course kept their fingers and toes crossed for a sudden bout of berserker rage from her, during which she might have dismembered the doctor and crunched her ribcage open with the force of her bare teeth, but thank Ukko Ylijumala this never occurs. Instead, as mentioned above, she becomes the staff-wielder’s guardian, and the latter spends considerable stretches of time sitting upon one of Grueburn’s forearms and leaning against her cataphract while the Swordmain runs. It's a particularly good thing (or bad thing, dependant upon your point of view) that Grueburn's makeshift jogging top is made of granite - had the buxom Swordmain been wearing Spandex, Linden would have soon been pummelled into bruised unconsciousness by the former's bouncing bounteous assets.
While the author does not divulge it explicitly and a layer of granite does stand between them, the combination of Linden’s positioning and the shape of a woman’s upper torso means that she practically clings to the Giantess’s charms. A comfortable spot, undoubtedly, and an experience for which devoted fanboys would pay two arms and three legs, but the reader never receives the impression that Linden likes ladies as well. In fact there's one particular lady that Linden spends most of the Chronicles in total and abject revulsion of - albeit that is of course herself.
In The Last Dark
// SPOILERS //
If her battle-prowess and general persistence had not manifested itself enough before, like during the Cavewight slaughterfest in Against All Things Ending, it definitely begins to show as her comrades drop dead one after another.
However, Frostheart Grueburn is very definitely one of life's natural survivors - or to put it another way, she's one tough mother (albeit not in the literal sense). Hence she beats the overweening odds and makes it through to the very end, thus being blessed with the visions of gambolling fluffity bunnies, prancing unicorns, glittery rainbows and troupes of sweetly singing Care Bears™ as the newly deified trio of Covenant, Linden and Jerry effortlessly remake and Disneyfy™ - or indeed Hasbrofy™ - the world.
Some opine that it might have been better to die under Mount Thunder, rather than be faced with the realization that all of one's hugely drawn-out and incredibly perilous travails have merely served to bring about a vista of such "pass the barf bag" sickly sweetness, but anyway.
Other readers, wallowing in a sea of tissues after umpteen re-reads, judge it to be a satisfactory ending, albeit lacking in detail. Thereafter, they have pranced to write fanfiction in masses, and for instance begun to ship Grueburn alternatively with a resurrected Foamy or a resurrected and suitably therapized Exalt.