Study Guide

Sigurd Bruch in The White Darkness

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Sigurd Bruch

For most of the book, Sym thinks that Sigurd Bruch is a sixteen-year-old Viking from Norway who is traveling in Antarctica with his father Manfred. In fact, "Sigurd" is not from Norway; he's from Norwich. He's a con man and an actor whose dearest wish is to be on the silver screen. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere.

Thing is, Sigurd's just a so-so actor; Sym notices his accent slip sometimes, for instance, and he's not great at improv. But he does have one thing going for him: Sigurd is hot. We're talking Vampire Eric hot. He uses his good looks to his advantage, distracting Sym with kisses when she tells him she wants to call home to check in with her mom. He even goes so far as to pretend to be in love with her. (Victor buys it, and Sym wants to, which is enough.) Though Sigurd's a liar and cruel, he does have some amount of savvy. He's intelligent enough not to tell Victor he'd like to abandon the quest for Symmes's Hole, for instance:

"Well, what was I supposed to say?" he asked Sym. "If I'd said any different, I'd have gone the same way as Bruch. Which of those drinks on the table do you think I'd have gotten if I'd said, No, Mr. Briggs: I said I want to go back, Mr. Briggs. […] The cup with the Vitamin C, d'you think? Or the one with the arsenic?" (17.15)

Sigurd betrays Sym and Victor by making off with their vehicle, leaving them to die from exposure. After Victor dies, though, Sym somehow finds Sigurd and he helps save her life. Still, he's no prince. After they're both rescued and on a boat heading back to civilization, Sigurd tries to convince everyone that Sym is crazy. She's not; he's just worried she'll turn him in to the police. Fortunately for him, she doesn't intend to, though she has plenty of reason to if she wanted.

As the book closes, Sigurd is safe and free to go on his terrible way. Sym is totally over him, too. In fact, we never even learn his real name because Sym can't be bothered to learn it: "He had another name—of course he did—but it did not register in my head" (15.7), she tells us. You go, girl. Forget him.

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