Cleavers are highly skilled soldiers, enforcers, and guards that have been trained by the Sanctuaries. Although they can talk, no Cleaver has been heard conversing in the books. Cleavers are predominantly male.
They served during the War and were later assigned as a protection force for the various Sanctuaries.
Starting from a young age, they were brainwashed and mentally conditioned to become the perfect soldiers. Cleavers are predominantly male; the brainwashing techniques used for training does not work well with females. Cleavers consider their orders absolute and follow them without a second thought.
Cleavers are a staunch, resolute group of soldiers. They consider their orders absolute and follow them without hesitation, even if it will likely result in their death. Cleaver candidates begin training at a very young age in order to brainwash them into the perfect soldiers. They are subjected to copious amounts of mental conditioning, which accounts for their unflinching ability to follow orders. The conditioning process does not affect the genders equally, with males far more susceptible.
As mentioned in The Dying of the Light, a training/combat circle exists deep within each Sanctuary. Cleaver candidates strip naked and fight within the circle, unable to leave until defeat occurs. A challenge to fight is considered a ceremonial honour that cannot be refused. Cleavers who undertake the challenge prove themselves capable without armour or protection.
The Behavioural Indoctrination
As mentioned before, Cleavers undergo heavy Behavioural Indoctrination. Beginning at a young age, the lengthy process is often likened to voluntary brainwashing. The indoctrination entails for dampening or repressing of certain personality traits, which results in an individual capable of following orders to the letter.
It is stated that numerous ethical debates have been waged for hundreds of years over the implications of the Indoctrination process. The process was once removed and replaced with a new approach. However, this approach failed, resulting in a generation of faulty Cleavers. These failed Cleavers would form the first of the Rippers. The first Rippers were as physically impressive as their grey-coated counterparts, but psychologically flawed in their ability to take orders. Behavioural Indoctrination was reintroduced shortly after, and has embedded itself as an integral facet to creating the ideal soldier.
Roles in Books
Two Cleavers are assigned to help Tanith Low, Valkyrie Cain, and Ghastly Bespoke rescue Skulduggery Pleasant. They had to give their lives as distractions for the Hollow Men to allow Tanith, Valkyrie, and Ghastly to sneak in undetected. Both Cleavers destroy scores of Hollow Men but are ultimately overwhelmed. One is kept alive and experimented on by Nefarian Serpine, resulting in the White Cleaver.
The Cleavers are the reinforcements to Valkyrie, Skulduggery, Tanith, and Mr. Bliss during the attack on the Grotesquery. They acted as the second wave, (the first being Valkyrie, Skulduggery, Tanith and Mr. Bliss) and fight with great skill until they are defeated by Baron Vengeous.
Skulduggery said that after the events of the previous books, Cleavers are now being treated more carefully, their numbers depleted. In the third book, they are seen only a few times. Remus Crux has two Cleavers protecting him while he is investigating the death of Cameron Light. When Vaurien Scapegrace is let out of his cell, two Cleavers catch him. More Cleavers are then used when Skulduggery and Valkyrie are accused of stealing the Grotesquery. Skulduggery incapacitates these Cleavers looking for them in their escape. Crux later uses Cleavers to arrest Valkyrie. At Aranmore Farm, Cleavers help fight Hollow Men, but are killed when Faceless Ones get through the portal.
Three Cleavers are assigned in Haggard to protect Valkyrie after Tanith is permanently possessed by a Remnant. Valkyrie feels sorry for them and pays them a visit, but finds that Tanith killed them all.
The cleavers assist Skulduggery and Valkyrie when the lay siege on they Necromancer Temple.
Cleavers load a man who thought he was a butterfly into a van.Dublin by assisting in the hunt for Silas Nadir.
Equipment and Powers
Cleavers are solely melee fighters. They are nonmagical; magic is seen as a corrupting force that would create bias. They do possess some magic ability, but it is used in augmenting their physical powers.
Cleavers use scythes. These weapons can easily cut through bone, as seen in the third book, when Jaron Gallow cuts off his arm with an abandoned scythe. Their scythes, used as a physical, close-quarters weapon, are capable of resisting magic. Cleavers' coats and helmets also share this ability. Their uniform is made by Sanctuary magic-scientists.
- All Cleavers have shaved heads.
- The Cleavers were originally part of an unproduced script.
- A "Cleaver commander" was mentioned in one book, meaning Cleavers may hold different ranks.
- This idea was only mentioned once, so it is unclear whether this is a common rank or whether the Cleaver in question was simply chosen to lead their comrades during that assignment.
- The idea that they were in charge could be an assumption on the part of the character who mentioned them.
- If the rank is real, it has not been established how to distinguish a commander from regular Cleavers.