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Donovan was a mercenary in Gambino's band to whom Gambino sold Guts as a child prostitute for one night for three silver coins. During the night, Donovan, a notorious pederast, appeared in Guts's tent with intent to rape him, and although Guts attempted to fight the brute off, he could not reach his sword and was eventually sodomized when Donovan told him that Gambino had sold him to the mercenary for the night, paralyzing Guts with disbelief and allowing Donovan to overpower him. The attack left Guts with an aversion to being touched that would continue into adulthood.
In the following battle, Guts took violent revenge on Donovan by shooting him in the back with a crossbow before savagely attacking him with his sword, demanding to know who had sold him. As Donovan died, he attempted to tell Guts that Gambino was the one who sold him, but died before he could answer successfully. During Gambino's later attempt to kill Guts, Gambino confirmed that he was the one who sold him to Donovan, just before Guts killed him in self-defense.
A figure similar to Donovan appeared in a nightmare that Guts had right after his first battle with Griffith, while Casca slept by him to keep him warm. In this nightmare Guts as a child is being chased by a huge bald man with claws for hands whose face is not visible but whose eyes glow; Guts tries to attack him with his sword but with no effect. He then runs to Gambino and asks for help but Gambino refuses him. Next Guts is caught from behind and the face of the man chasing him becomes visible and it's Donovan's. The whole scene begins to twist and Guts wakes up.
Donovan was a large build muscular man with dark skin and a bald head. He had a scar running through his left eye. He had a very stout build and broad shoulders, with large hands and long legs.
Donovan was arrogant and did not hesitate to kill enemies fleeing from the battlefield. He was a notorious pedophile as shown when he rapes Guts when he was still at a young age. He showed no remorse in any of his actions, and could be characterized by actions of excessive cruelty.
- Donovan did not appear in the anime series, but he did briefly appear in the Golden Age Arc I: Egg of the Supreme Ruler as a traumatic flashback when Guts was unconscious due to his first encounter with Griffith, in which it is briefly referenced that he was raped. The scene only shows a black screen, with audio that implies the rape.