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Malazan Empire — The High Command
'An empire is greater than any lone mortal– An empire enforces its own necessities, makes demands in the name of duty – and that particular burden is something you, as a soldier, most certainly understand.'
Empress Laseen is the ruler of the Malazan Empire as of the start of Gardens of the Moon. She used to be part of the Old Guard — Emperor Kellanved's closest allies, the imperial 'family' — and helped build the empire, but eventually took over. Depending on who's talking, she either was a server at a tavern, Napan royalty, or both.
- Action Girl: Laseen is a master assassin and can hold her own in combat. In Return of the Crimson Guard, she fights an armed and armoured Avowed barehanded.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: As a Napan, Laseen has blue skin.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Laseen was the founder and leader of the Claw even before she took the throne, and can kick ass with the best of them.
- Badass Normal: Although many of the Old Guard qualify, she still lives in a world where Gods and Ascendants meddle in mortal affairs, and contrary to her predecessor, Laseen is not a mage, but simply a very skilled fighter.
- Bad Boss: Less villainous, more incompetent, as becomes apparent as the story advances. A case of We Have Reserves, especially in Return of the Crimson Guard.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Laseen prefers unadorned and simple clothing and surroundings, and fights barehanded.
- Bastard Understudy: To Emperor Kellanved and Dancer, both of whom she assassinated — after building her own Secret Police to circumvent Dancer's Talon, the empire's other Secret Police organization.
- Becoming the Mask: Zig-zagged. Whether she kept to the original Napan plan, really became Kellanved's understudy and bought into the imperial dream, or betrayed everyone depends on who's talking.
- Bus Crash: For those who haven't read Return of the Crimson Guard, the news of Laseen's death comes out of nowhere in Dust of Dreams.
- The Chains of Commanding: Possibly. Laseen may have bitten off more than she could chew, and ends up seemingly powerless in the face of all of the empire's problems, as well as getting blamed for everything.
- The Chessmaster: Subverted. She has a reputation as one, but it crumbles, until she ends up trapped and usurped by Mallick Rel, who's a much better chessmaster.
- Deceptive Disciple: What were Laseen's motives? Admiral Nok implies that the Napans planned to use Kellanved to destroy the Untan hegemony from the very beginning, and Kellanved's imperial ambitions just came in handy, and eventually, by getting rid of Kellanved, Laseen just took the Napan cause to its penultimate conclusion. Except she didn't tell her co-conspirators, who had become loyal to the Empire.
- The Empress: ..of the Malazan Empire, complete with the bad reputation.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: She means well, but possibly bit off more than she could chew, and ends up seeming rather incompetent.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: She outmaneuvered everyone, keeping her plans secret even from her closest allies (the other Napans), and got outmaneuvered herself by Mallick Rel.
- I Can Rule Alone: Possibly, see Deceptive Disciple.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Her rationalization for pretty much everything she does — assassinating Emperor Kellanved and Dancer, the death of Dassem Ultor, the culling of the nobility, etc.Empress Laseen: An empire is greater than any lone mortal—
- Karmic Death: She rose to power through assassination, and she herself is assassinated in Return of the Crimson Guard.
- Meaningful Name: Used to be known as Surly, which described her personality and demeanor quite well. She also apparently worked as a bar maid using that name.
- Meaningful Rename: Laseen means Thronemaster in Napan. She took the name shortly before taking the throne. Doubly meaningful if her being Napan royalty is true.
- Professional Killer: Laseen is the founder of the Claw, and served as their leader.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Kellanved took her in, gave her a job and raised her as his understudy, yet Laseen still turned on him. Possibly subverted in that she may have had good intentions, with Kellanved having been a great conqueror, but potentially a less great ruler.
- Uriah Gambit: Laseen demotes Whiskeyjack and sends him and the Bridgeburners, the old Emperor's loyal favourites, to fight a hopeless war on Genabackis. Though subverted as the fact that it got most of them killed was Tayschrenn's doing.
- The Usurper: Laseen was in change while Emperor Kellanved and Dancer were off exploring, but decided to finalize her position upon their return.
High Mage Tayschrenn: 'The woman named Lorn, the woman who once was a child, who once had a family, that woman does not exist. She ceased to exist the day she became the Adjunct.'
Adjunct Lorn is the right hand of Empress Laseen. She takes it upon herself to find out what caused the massacre in Itko Kan, and takes Ganoes Paran under her wing. She is killed at the end of Gardens of the Moon, and Tavore Paran takes her place.
- Action Girl: That sword at her side is not just for show, and thanks to her Claw training, she can hold her own in combat.
- Anti-Magic: The Adjunct's sword of office is made of Otataral, a magic-negating ore.
- Anti-Villain: She isn't a particularly heroic character, but she's not an evil person. She just serves a cause that isn't particularly sympathetic.
- Beneath the Mask: Double Subverted. As Adjunct, there's an expectation that Lorn's real personality would take the backseat to her persona as Adjunct and right hand of the Empress. Except Lorn is the Adjunct — indoctrinated from a young age to serve the Empress. The young woman named Lorn never had a chance to emerge. But then she meets Tattersail and it's revealed, to Lorn's own surprise, that she never grew past the girl who witnessed the massacre in the Mouse Quarter.
- Broken Bird: Lorn is likely not much older than Ganoes Paran, whom she calls young and assigns to her own staff, but is all-around the detached, professional soldier and Adjunct to the Empress. But when accidentally confronted with her past, she loses all common sense.
- Cool Sword: Her longsword, which is also a sign of her office, is made of Otataral, a magic-negating ore.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Deconstructed. When confronted with the death of her family during the riot in the Mouse Quarter of Malaz City and her childhood in the Claw, who kept the fact of her family's death from her for years, she is reminded by both Dujek Onearm and Tayschrenn that her past ceased to matter the moment she became the Adjunct.
- The Dragon: Lorn shares the duty with Topper, but as Master of the Claw Topper is much less visible than the Adjunct.
- Dropped a Bridge on Her: After trying to kill the Coin Bearer, Lorn is murdered in a back alley by Meese and Irilta, two Phoenix Inn regulars. She lampshades the irony herself when Paran finds her:Adjunct Lorn: Do you see... the irony, Ganoes Paran? No... glorious end... for the Adjunct.
- Empty Shell: In the course of Gardens of the Moon, Lorn comes to realise that she is nothing beyond her Adjunct persona — the woman behind the mask has no ambitions, opinions or personality.
- Harmful to Minors: As a child, Lorn witnessed the riot in the Mouse Quarter when the mage cadre sent to deal with illegal magic lost control and the army had to be sent in as well.
- Heel Realization: Lorn has a crisis of faith when she realises the Empress may not be as great as she believed, and that, by extension, this also applies to her cause.
- Mouth of Sauron: The Adjunct is the extention of the Empress's will and voice.
- Redemption Rejection: Tool offers Lorn a chance to join him instead of returning to the Empire, but she decides to continue with her mission, and gets herself killed as a result.
- Tragic Villain: Lorn follows her orders without questions asked, as the Empress is always right, but not because she particularly enjoys it. This causes Ganoes Paran to come to see her as a villain, especially in the face of her willingness to release the Jaghut Tyrant just to win Darujhistan. She eventually realises how expendable she is to the Empress, but by then it's too late.
- Weapon of X-Slaying: Her Otataral sword is especially effective against mages, due to its magic-negating properties.
Adjunct Tavore Paran
'The gods can have their war. We will not be used, not by them, not by anyone. I do not care how history judges us — I hope that's well understood.'
Tavore Paran is the middle child of the noble House Paran (specializing in the trade of wine and horses), a year younger than her brother Ganoes and three years older than her sister Felisin. She has a habit of trying to make up for what she perceives as Ganoes' failings. Upon his fall from grace and the death of Adjunct Lorn, she is chosen by Empress Laseen as the new Adjunct. Like the other two children of House Paran, Tavore is central to the events of the series.
- Anti-Hero: Adjunct Tavore lacks pretty much all typical heroic traits, and is a loner whose motives are rather questionable for most of the series, going so far as to openly admit — in a rare moment of saying something — that she expects her army, the Bonehunters, to die unwitnessed for a cause they know nothing about. Turns out Tavore is planted firmly on the idealistic side and intends to right an ancient wrong even if it costs the lives of all her soldiers and makes her look like the villain.
- Butch Lesbian: Tavore wears her hair short, no make-up or other adornments, prefers practical clothes and armour, and is a scholar of war. In contrast, her lover T'amber leans towards Lipstick Lesbian.
- The Chessmaster: Tavore is responsible for a huge part of the latter half of the series, and even other chessmasters like Shadowthrone fail to see through her plans. Even her brother Ganoes Paran can only shrug and trust in his sister.Ganoes Paran: Think of all the great military leaders – Dassem, Coltaine, K'azz, Dujek, Greymane – for what it is worth, I would pit my sister against any of them. Gods below, against all of them.
- Child Prodigy: According to Ganoes Paran, in regards to military strategy. By the age of five, Tavore knew all there was to know from history books and scrolls. By the age of seven, she was able to defeat visiting High Fists in mock battles, and later again, she went on to take the sides of the losing parties in historic battles and device ways for them to win.
- Defector from Decadence: Renounces her noble roots and betrays the nobility to the Empress, resulting in the culling of the noble houses and many noble either killed or deported into slavery. However, the nobility were getting a bit too comfortable with buying military posts and indulgences, and thus indirectly destroying the empire from the inside. Later on, she does it again, this time renouncing her allegiance to Empress Laseen and taking her whole army with her. To be fair, though, Laseen betrayed her first.
- The Dragon: Like Adjunct Lorn, whose place she takes, Tavore Paran is Empess Laseen's right hand. However, she also is a..
- Dragon with an Agenda: ..and that agenda goes far beyond what a mortal should be able to achieve, and far beyond the borders of the Malazan Empire. She wants to right the ancient wrong that is the imprisonment of the Crippled God, all because she feels compassion for him. Even the gods are appalled. She ultimately turns out to be entirely justified in wanting to free the Crippled God, however; her actions are probably directly responsible for preventing the extinction of the human race in particular.
- The Dutiful Daughter: Subverted. In Gardens of the Moon, this is what Tavore seems to be — when Ganoes returns home between assignments, she gives him a talking to for running off to join the army. Then, after Paran's falling from grace and Adjunct Lorn's death, she takes on the position of Adjunct to restore the family's honour. Except that this is hinted to have been the moment she decided there's no kill like overkill and hedged her plan to save the world.
- Emotionless Girl: Justified, then deconstructed. Tavore has a mission she set upon herself and any show of emotion that might distract from that is unwelcome — including the death of her lover, T'amber. However, part of why she sets out to cross half the world and free the Crippled God is due to guilt over what happened to Felisin and — of all things — compassion, and what it gets her is the suspicion and dislike of her troops and allies, to whom she remains an enigma. When, in The Crippled God, Deadsmell gets a glance at all that she keeps locked inside, he has a minor BSOD.
- Four-Star Badass: Zig-Zagged. For the majority of the series, people keep questioning what qualifies Tavore Paran to lead an army, as she is young and untested. Then the full range of her abilities, plans and motivations is revealed. Also, in contrast to Adjunct Lorn, Tavore is actually in charge of an army, while we only ever saw Lorn interact with a few underlings.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Deconstructed. Tavore is the older, smarter and plain sister, and Felisin the younger, prettier and shallower one. They still love each other, but it spirals completely out of control when Tavore becomes the Adjunct and has Felisin shipped off to the Otataral mines as a slave. She perceives this as the lesser of two evils, but naturally, Felisin disagrees and vows to kill Tavore.
- Hidden Depths: It takes time to peel all the layers away. At first, Tavore seems like a ruthless noble who betrayed her own, including her family, to further her own ambitions. Then she is shown to have planned Felisin's rescue all along, but comes off as an inexperienced commander. Except she is actually the strategist. Who betrays the Empress for unexplained, possibly personal goals. Of course, those goals are to save the world. At which she might even have outmaneuvered Shadowthrone and Cotillion. And then there's her connection to the Talon, and the fact she wears a Talon necklace in the final battle of the series.
- Not So Different: Her and her brother Ganoes Paran. They are outwardly at odds, as Ganoes is the rebel who leaves his noble family against their will to become a common soldier, while Tavore is the dutiful daughter who takes it upon herself to restore the family's honour. However, they act out of a similar belief that the gods have meddled enough in mortal affairs and both, without knowing the other's plans, acquiere control of an army and lead their soldiers to Kolanse to fight the Forkrul Assail and free the Crippled God.
- No Social Skills: Either because she naturally lacks social skills, or because she cannot be bothered with niceties, Tavore comes off as rather ungraceful, to put it mildly. Even for a military commander.
- Plain Jane: Every time Tavore is described, particular attention is given to how drab, grey, unattractive and even seemingly sexless she is, seemingly lacking in personality.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Tavore has this with both Felisin and Ganoes, who are more like each other than like Tavore. Especially Ganoes is the idealistic dreamer who sets out to become a hero by joining the army, while Tavore is the down-to-earth strategist concerned with family honour.
- The Strategist: Used to be a Child Prodigy in this area, and was the pre-eminent scholar on imperial war even before she became the Adjunct. Downplayed insofar as she neither looks nor acts the part, and only a few people are in the know.
- Undying Loyalty: Averted. Due to a combination of her perceived inexperience, an army composed of Shell-Shocked Veterans and New Meat, and Tavore's own utter lack of charisma, it takes a long time before her army trusts her.
- The Unfettered: An unusual heroic example of the trope. Tavore Paran has set before her a goal, and she will sacrifice whatever needs be — herself, her reputation, her army of thousands of soldiers, as well as her allies — to achieve it.
High Fist Dujek Onearm
Adjunct Lorn: 'Dujek is not just one man. Right now he's ten thousand, and in a year's time he'll be twenty-five thousand. He doesn't yield when you push, does he?'
Dujek Onearm is the Commander of the Malazan 2nd Army, also known as Onearm's Host. He was a young lad when he joined Kellanved's and Dancer's group and thus was part of the 'family', the Old Guard, with which the old Emperor conquered Malaz Island and later several continents.
- A Father to His Men: A textbook example, and when, after the siege of Pale, attempts are made on his life, his soldiers volunteer to guard his back at all times, even against his wish.
- Cool Old Guy: Dujek is the oldest acting commander in the military, and has a no-nonsense attitude while still remaining approacheable and relatable to his soldiers.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: In The Bonehunters, Dujek dies offscreen from the plague.
- Handicapped Badass: Missing one arm in no way impinges on his ability to keep things under control and everyone on their toes, if need be. It does make shaving difficult, though.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: To the extreme. Dujek always takes the reasonable approach, but that also means allowing the culling of Pale's nobility, if that is what's needed to keep the alliance with the Moranth and the conquered city under control. Unfortunately, Pale's Hall of Records burning down was a tragic mishap.
High Mage Tayschrenn
'The need for justifications has passed. The Empress has commanded, and we must obey.'
Tayschrenn, a renegade priest of D'rek, the Worm of Autumn, was one of the last people recruited by Emperor Kellanved into the Old Guard, and thus one of those who helped shape the Malazan Empire. As of the beginning of the series, he is the Imperial High Mage, sent by the Empress to end the siege of Pale, and has a reputation for being paranoid, shady and ambitious.
- The Archmage: The Imperial High Mage. Though there are several High Mages as of the beginning of the series, Tayschrenn seems to be the chief one, and the others defer to him.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In Orb, Sceptre, Throne, Tayschrenn takes on the role of the dying Elder God K'rul, becoming T'renn.
- Defector from Decadence: Used to be a High Septarch of D'rek, the Worm of Autumn, but left the cult for unknown reasons.
- The Dreaded: He certainly has this role from Tattersail's point of view in Gardens of the Moon. She has cast Tayschrenn as the ultimate antagonist, worse even than the Empress, dreads every encounter with him and reads his every gesture as a confirmation of that.
- Enigmatic Minion: As Imperial High Mage, Tayschrenn is close to the Empress. He is presented as a bad guy from Tattersail's point of view at first, responsible for the death of most of the Bridgeburners and attacking the 2nd's mage cadre during the Enfilade at Pale, but later heclaims that he thought the Bridgeburners safe in the underground tunnels and that he was trying to defend against Nightchill's betrayal during the battle. Ultimately, his alignment remains a mystery, though it becomes quite clear that — good intentions or not — he is incompetent at commanding and unwilling to reveal his long-range intentions, not even to the man he helped to build the empire in the first place.
- Evil Sorcerer: Subverted. Tayschrenn has that kind of reputation, especially as being paranoid and ruthless, though he is shown to be nurturing it. Tattersail suspects him of being responsible for the deaths of Calot and Nightchill, as well as of sending the Bridgeburners to their deaths. She actively does her best to not find any redeeming traits in Tayschrenn, and he seems content enough with the political power it gives him.
- Hazy Feel Turn: Taschrenn starts out as Empress Laseen's loyal minion, then joins Onearm's Host as Artanthos, the standard bearer, and fights at their side, then claims to have the Empire's intererests in mind while Empress Laseen is losing grasp and Mallick Rel is loose in the capital and eventually takes her place. And before all that, he used to be High Septarch of D'rek, the Worm of Autumn, but supposedly defected, except he claims to have been able to talk D'rek out of killing him when she went berserk on her priesthood. And in the Novels of the Malazan Empire, he seems to be running his own thing altogether, with not even his bodyguard Kiska knowing what he is up to.Silverfox: 'No sense of loyalty, no sense of trust – thoughts of him confuse me.'
- Just Between You and Me: Invoked. In The Bonehunters, Tayschrenn and Shadowthrone have a brief exchange where they try to goad each other into revealing their respective plans. Neither gives in.
- Mysterious Backer: To Tattersail, whom he grooms — unbeknownst to her — to become the Mistress of the Deck of Dragons, which in turn would, of course, benefit the empire.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Trying to safe the Bridgeburners by ordering them to remain in the tunnels beneath the city walls of Pale.
- Person of Mass Destruction: When he unleashes his Warrens in full during a battle with the Pannion Domin, he takes out all of their wizards, knocks down a third of the walls of their capital city, and causes Korlat, who had only heard about his duel with Rake, to nearly pass out as she realizes her lord tried to fight that.
- Playing with Fire: Tayschrenn uses High Telas, the Path of Fire, as his Warren.
- Two Aliases, One Character: Tayschrenn is also Artanthos, the 2nd's standard bearer during the campaing against the Pannion Seer. Much is talked about his motivations during Memories of Ice, so his actual presence comes as a surprise to everyone.
Toc the Younger: 'Often, when we camped on the march, I'd see you lugging that travelling wardrobe of yours around. Now I finally see what was in it. Sorceress, you're a sight for a sore eye.'
Tattersail is the commanding sorceress of the 2nd Army's mage cadre and an adept at reading the Deck of Dragons. She has been serving the Malazan Empire ever since its founding, but has repeatedly turned down promotions to High Mage. Her main Warren is Thyr, the Path of Light.
- Action Girlfriend: Action affair. She and Ganoes Paran hook up after Tattersail stands her ground against a Hound of Shadow.
- Big Beautiful Woman: There's no way around the fact that Tattersail is fat, she mentions it herself and even wonders how Calot is still attracted to her, but it's not just Calot — almost everyone considers her to be attractive.
- Cute Witch: While Tattersail is quite clearly a grown up woman, she is described as cherubic and upbeat — one of the few truly upbeat characters in the series — and really cares about the common soldiers of the 2nd. She is also the only mage explicitly mentioned to use a spell book.
- Do Not Go Gentle: After admonishing herself about giving up, Tattersail throws herself at Bellurdan who was sent by Tayschrenn to bring her back and keep her from warning the Bridgeburners. She uses all her power to burn both of them to ashes in a giant pillar of light.
- Kill the Cutie: One of the nicest and purely sympathetic characters, especially in Gardens of the Moon. She gets a moment to show he decisiveness and power when confronting Bellurdan and then incinerating them both in order to stop him.
- Heroes Want Redheads: She is a redhead, and hooks up with Ganoes Paran, who at that point is the closest thing Gardens of the Moon has to a protagonist and hero.
- Light 'em Up: Her Warren is Thyr, the Path of Light.
- The McCoy: Among the mage cadre, Tattersail is known to be closest to the common soldiers, respectful and down to earth. She is also the most emotional among the mages of her cadre.
- Mysterious Backer: She is not aware of it, but Tayschrenn wants her to become the Mistress of the Deck of Dragons, which in turn would benefit the Malazan Empire.
- Older Than They Look: She is actually 214, but it's not unusual for magic users to be older than they look.
- Reincarnation: Tattersail's soul is used in the creation of Silverfox and thus makes up a part of Silverfox's soul, together with Bellurdan Scullcrusher and Nightchill.
- Reincarnation Romance: Subverted. There is an expectation that Tattersail's and Ganoes Paran's budding romance would continue between Silverfox and Paran, but it becomes clear that neither were their feelings any more than passing affection nor is Silverfox the same woman as Tattersail.
- Spell Book: Possibly Early Installment Weirdness, but Tattersail is the only mage who is mentioned to possess and use a spellbook.
- Tarot Troubles: Tattersail is an adept at reading the Deck of Dragons, with High Mage Tayschrenn even grooming her to become the Mistress of the Deck.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: She is introduced as a major point of view character in Gardens of the Moon, but not even half the book goes by and she dies abruptly in an attempt to stop Bellurdan.
'All men have hidden motives. I care nothing for their sentiments. If they obey my commands I in turn will serve them. If they do not, I will tear their hearts from their chests.'
Coltaine of the Crow Clan is a Wickan warchief and a newly appointed Fist, tasked with curbing the brewing rebellion in Seven Cities. He was the one to unite the Wickan clans on Quon Tali in an insurrection against Emperor Kellanved, yet the latter somehow managed to gain Coltaine's loyalty. He is an enigma to both the imperial troops and his own followers.
- Animal Motif: The Crow. Coltaine of the Crow Clan, wearing a cloak of crow feathers and crow feather fetishes in his hair. Thousands of crows also come to take in his soul upon his death.
- Badass Cape: It is made of crow feathers and looks appropriately fierce when he's riding into battle.
- Badass Native: All the Wickans are, but Coltaine is known for being especially fierce and cunning. After all, he was the one to unite all the Wickan clans beneath his rule.A captain in the 7th: 'If you're going to keep your head as leader of all the clans, you'd better be nastier than all the rest put together. Why'd you think the old Emperor liked him so much?'
- Crucified Hero Shot: At the end of Deadhouse Gates, he dies on a cross.
- Determinator: Coltaine leads the 7th Army and several thousands of refugees across an entire subcontinent while being constantly attacked by rebels all the way. He delivers them to Aren's gates, but dies in a last stand to allow them to reach the gates.
- Guile Hero: Surprisingly, since he cultivates a savage horse warrior image, Coltaine can be really cunning and politically effective. While he does not care for insulting anyone's sensibilities, he insults them in a way that gets him the results he wants.A captain in the 7th: 'Coltaine's a snake, if that's what you're asking. If the High Command at Aren thinks they can dance around him, they're in for a nasty surprise.'
- The Leader: Warchief of the Wickan Clans. He is a mastermind at tactics, always thinking a step further than the leaders of the rebellion, and predicting their reactions. He does what he does because he takes his resposibility as a Malazan Fist seriously and serves those that serve him. However, Coltaine is will not budge no matter how much pressure he receives from without or within — from those refugees he is guarding, some of whom are Ungrateful Bastards. Yet despite all his apparent fierceness and arrogance, he has the kind of charisma that draws people to him and make them swear their lives to his cause, sometimes without knowing what he's up to.
- Mercy Kill: At his last stand in the finale of Deadhouse Gates, Coltaine is caught by the Army of the Apocalypse and crucified. They also keep killing the crows that come to take away his soul, thus prolonging his suffering. The troops watching from the walls of Aren dig up Squint, their best archer, who manages to kill Coltaine with one shot from the distance and end it all.
- Messianic Archetype: A hero to the Wickans whom they follow without questions, who leads tens of thousands of refugees he has no other connection with other than being a Fist of the Malazan Empire across an entire continent, all while being under constant attack from religious fanatics. He then dies on a cross, his soul — too big to be taken in by one crow — taken away by thousands of crows, and is reborn on the Wickan Plains of Quon Tali. In Return of the Crimson Guard, he is back to leading the Wickans, albeit from a stroller.
- Nerves of Steel: No matter what happens, Coltaine's reaction is always the same: Think of a plan, put it into action. When everyone else is loosing their cool during the Chain of Dogs, Coltaine never does.
- No Badass to His Valet: No matter how much Coltaine snarls and raises hackles and delivers death glares, his uncle Bult is not impressed.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Escorted 30,000 Malazan refugees across the worst desert in the world, under constant attack from dozens of different armies and in constant danger of starvation. His reward? To be abandoned by his superiors and crucified right outside the walls of Aren. Most of the refugees were Ungrateful Bastards as well.
- Terror Hero: Coltaine's modus operandi. He verges on being The Dreaded upon his arrival in Seven Cities, as soldiers recall their last encounter with him — most of them saw their first battle facing Coltaine when he rebelled against Emperor Kellanved. He uses intimidation and the threat of death to keep the nobles among the refugees in check.
- Wild Hair: Not unkempt, but Coltaine sports long, wild braids full of fetishes and crow feathers. He is as close to nature as a horse warrior from the steppes can be, and comes off as having no social skills at all unless they include snarling at and passively insulting people. And if anything, he can be said to be Chaotic Good and the Wickans' hero.
'Wise words are like arrows flung at your forehead. What do you do? Why, you duck, of course.'
Bult is a veteran commander in Fist Coltaine's command and his uncle. He seems able to read Coltaine a tiny bit better than everyone else and translate the his silences and snarls into worded orders. When he was young, Bult was badly wounded in battle by Dujek, giving him an ugly scar which almost folds his face in half diagonally. In retaliation, Bult's horse made certain Dujek would gain the moniker 'Onearm'.
- Badass Grandpa: Bult is old enough to have fought both Duiker and Dujek when all three of them were young, but he can hold his own not only within the command structure but also on the field of battle — like any younger Wickan horse warrior.
- Every Scar Has a Story: Lampshaded. Bult got badly wounded and scarred in a battle when he was young. He dealt some damage to Duiker, got caught by Dujek, then his horse bit off Dujek's arm. He jokes how losing his beauty left him with the only wife he'd had then, who was his sister and blind.
Malazan Empire — The Old Guard
Dassem Ultor aka Dessembrae aka Traveller
Spindle: 'But Dassem taught us — he taught every soldier in the Malazan armies back then. Sure, we had swords, but who we used 'em on was up to us.'
Dassem Ultor was one of those Kellanved and Dancer had recruited to found the Malazan Empire. Like the Emperor, he came from Dal Hon, and served as the First Sword, the supreme commander of the malazan armies. He reportedly betrayed Hood, whom he was sworn to, and died at Y'Ghatan during the conquest of Seven Cities. He didn't, changed his name to Traveller and is on a revenge quest against Hood.
- Expansion Pack Past: Downplayed, but every new information regarding Dassem's past, especially his connection to Hood, puts his backstory in a different light.
- Faking the Dead: Dassem's Old Guard, of course he did it. He escaped Laseen's assassination attempt at Y'Ghatan and became Traveller, so that he could pursue his revenge quest against Hood.
- It's Personal: After breaking with Hood, everything he does is to further his quest for revenge and get to kill Hood, even though on the surface he may participate in, e.g. fighting the Tiste Edur in House of Chains.
- I Will Fight Some More Forever: Even after Hood's out of reach, Traveller still duels Anomander Rake to get at Hood.
- Kill the God: That's his goal: to kill the God of Death. It almost works, but Anomander Rake gets to it first, then taunts Traveller into a duel if he wants to still get Hood.
- Legendary Weapon: The sword Vengeance, which used to belong to and was reportedly forged by Anomander Rake.
- Magnetic Hero: Dassem used to be this for the soldiers of the Malazan armies in general and his immediate entourage in particular. Many soldiers still follow his credo.
- Master Swordsman: Considered the empire's best swordsman, also known as the First Sword of Empire. So good, even Logros thought he qualified for the T'lan Imass title of First Sword.
- Named Weapon: Vengeance, which is also known as Grief, though the name depends on the wielder.
- Physical God: Dessembrae is the God of Tragedy. The cult came into being among the soldiers of the Malazan Empire, and the fact that Logros and his T'lan Imass transferred the title of First Sword from Onos T'oolan to Dassem Ultor sealed Dassem's ascension to godhood.
- Posthumous Character: Averted, but it's still significant, as his death is reported in the prologue of the first volume, Gardens of the Moon, making it seem final. Furthermore, Dassem Ultor is indeed past and gone, but the Cult of Dessembrae lives on, turning him into an Ascendant, and Traveller has left the Malazan Empire behind.
- Rage Against the Heavens: He broke with Hood after the latter did in Dassem's daughter. So Dassem swore revenge on Hood and means to kill the God of Death no matter what or how long it will take.
- Revenge: Subverted, as it's made clear how pointless and misaimed his quest is. In the end, he does not get Hood, and has to face having nothing to continue his life for.
- Revenge Before Reason: Despite being aware that Logros' and the T'lan Imass' blessing is to blame for everything, he goes after Hood, and is intent on killing the God of Death no matter what. Revenge is his only goal.
- The Unfettered: In regards to his revenge quest, to the point where he does not care what happens to people and seeing his goal taken from him makes him break down. Information about his days as First Sword show him as having been the opposite.
- Unwitting Pawn: Repeatedly. At first, he becomes Hood's instrument in getting back at the T'lan Imass for cheating death, then in Toll the Hounds, Anomander Rake, Shadowthrone and Hood use his single-mindedness to achieve their goals.
- World's Best Warrior: Considered one of the best in several fields, among them military tactics on a larger scale, and sword fighting on a smaller one. And even outside of those he is capable of, for example, mopping the floor with a giant bear.
Malazan Empire — The Bridgeburners
Captain Ganoes Paran
'All right, it's rather more complicated than I had imagined, then.'
Ganoes Paran is the oldest child of House Paran and a young officer in the Malazan Army, recently assigned as Captain to the Bridgeburners. In Gardens of the Moon he seems to be the closest thing the book has to a protagonist, with the prologue and first chapter following him from childhood to the army. He eventually gets accepted by the notorious Bridgeburners and becomes the Master of the Deck of Dragons and even later takes over Onearm's Host after Dujek's death.
- Anxiety Dreams: They result in Dreaming of Things to Come, Dreaming of Times Gone By and a diffuse version of Dream Spying, and comes with being Master of the Deck but actively resisting it. It gets better as soon as he accepts his powers.
- Bad Dreams: In particular, thanks to being touched by the blood of a Hound of Shadow, Paran keeps dreaming of being a Hound, hunting and drowning in darkness.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In the prologue of Gardens of the Moon, the twelve-year-old Paran wishes to become a soldier and a hero. He becomes the former, against his family's wishes, but soon finds out it's neither the same as being a hero, nor does the empire care much for its own.And me? I'm a fool who followed his dream, and now all I desire is its end.
- Blessed with Suck: How he sees the intervention of various gods in his life, especially Oponn. Paran named his sword Chance, which got it blessed by the Jesters of Chance, which in turn made it possible to get at them through Paran. Not a fun place to be.
- Can't Stay Normal: After getting used by Adjunct Lorn, falling for a mage, being blessed by Oponn, absorbing the blood of a Hound of Shadow and eventually becoming Master of the Deck of Dragons, Paran decides to settle down and moves in with Raest at the Finnest House of Darujhistan. The next time he appears, though, he's apparently come to the conclusion that he wants to know more about the war the gods are preparing for.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: He's the noble born, young and well spoken Captain to the low born, older, gruff and down-to-earth Sergeant Whiskeyjack. Although Paran wisely lets Whiskeyjack run the Bridgeburners as he's well aware of being a newbie.
- Chick Magnet: Both before and after getting a Rugged Scar. Though his actual conquests consist of only Tattersail, there's quite a list of women who can't take their eyes off Paran, starting with Adjunct Lorn and ending with Minala:Quick Ben: 'Her and Rythe Bude – what is it with Ganoes Paran anyway? All these women slobbering all over him.'
- Decoy Protagonist: Defied. Since Ganoes Paran has an important part in both the prologue and first chapters of Gardens of the Moon, he comes off as the closest thing one can assume to be a protagonist. Then he gets knifed by Sorry in a back alley as soon as he arrives in Pale. He does get better, though, and goes on to play an important part in the story. However, he fades into the multitude of other points of view, taking up no more or less screentime than them.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In The Bonehunters, Captain Paran disposes of Poliel, Mistress of Pestilence, with the help of a shard of Otataral, setting the scene up for the Deragoth to kill Poliel.
- Emergency Authority: Paran takes over the 2nd Army when Dujek Onearm and his entire command cadre are dying of the plague because he just happens to come along and to be the highest healthy ranking officer around.
- Ensign Newbie: Fresh out of the military academy, Paran gets assigned the rank of Lieutenant while stationed in Itko Kan. Thanks to keeping his cool during the aftermath of the massacre at the fishing village, he is noticed by Adjunct Lorn and made her personal aide and eventually Captain of the Bridgeburners, who are notorious for getting rid of captains they dislike in creative ways. They are not happy about getting assigned a newbie. He gets better at his job. Quickly.
- The Face: While Paran initially has trouble becoming this for the Bridgeburners, when he comes to lead Onerarm's Host, he becomes this. Especially for the Forkrul Assail he is the face of the entire army, as he's the only one they get to see and talk to.
- Fish out of Water: Practically runs on this trope. First he is thrust into dealing with the massacre in Itko Kan. Then, though with some Claw training, into commanding the Bridgeburners, who are notorious for killing their captains. Then he has to deal with becoming Master of the Deck of Dragons, only to end up commanding Onearm's Host because no one else of rank is around. He grows with every occasion.
- Giving the Sword to a Noob: He becomes Master of the Deck of Dragons because Tattersail, who was much better qualified for the job, dies unexpectedly and Paran was the last person to be close to her. He turns out to be very well suited for the position when he makes his peace with it.
- I Call It "Vera": In Gardens of the Moon, Paran names his standard issue sword Chance while still in the grip of his childhood dreams of becoming a hero. It brings down the blessing of Oponn on him, which cures him of the idea.
- Involuntary Shapeshifter: It's downplayed, but after touching the blood of a Hound of Shadow, Paran occasionally has moments where he partially seems to transform into one. He's not particularly fazed:Hurlochel: 'Captain. For a moment there... your eyes... they... flared. Like a beast's.'
Ganoes Paran: 'Did they now?'
- Knight in Sour Armor: He's had his idealistic dreams of becoming a hero through soldiering shattered quite thoroughly and is not shy about saying things as they are, but still believes that it's worth to prevent The End of the World as We Know It.Ganoes Paran: 'The gods have been kicking us around for a long time. When do we say enough?'
Noto Boil: 'And in their absence, High Fist, will we manage things any better?'
Ganoes Paran: 'No, but at least then we won't have the option of blaming someone else.'
- Let's Get Dangerous: Happens at some point between Memories of Ice and The Bonehunters. In the former, Paran is the gut sick newbie captain of the Bridgeburners who's actively trying to suppress his being the Master of the Deck of Dragons. In the latter he's accepted what he's become and gets a chance to show his capabilities by, e.g. pawning Poliel, the Mistress of Pestilence.
- Nice Guy: Paran is far from being a doormat, and plays at being rebellious at the beginning of the series, but he soon finds himself and is one of the most straightforwardly nice and well balanced people in the series. He's easy to deal and get along with, and is outwardly not fazed by anyone or anything. Of course, being a soldier he's got the requiered humour down pat.
- Not So Different: Ganoes Paran and his sister Tavore Paran. They are outwardly at odds, as Ganoes is the rebel who leaves his noble family against their will to become a common soldier, while Tavore is the dutiful daughter who takes it upon herself to restore the family's honour. However, they act out of a similar belief that the gods have meddled enough in mortal affairs and both, without knowing the other's plans, acquiere control of an army and lead their soldiers to Kolanse to fight the Forkrul Assail and free the Crippled God.
- Portal Picture: Paran finds ingenious ways to use his powers as the Master of the Deck of Dragons. He has Ormulogun paint or scratches himself new cards, then uses them as portals to transport the 2nd Army to Kolanse. He also baits Sister Belie from another realm to follow him and get trapped there.
- Rugged Scar: In Memories of Ice, a Hound of Shadow bites off part of one of his ears. By his next appearance the wound has faded to a Rugged Scar.
Sergeant Whiskeyjack / Iskar Jarak
'Taking up the sword is the last act of desperate men. Mark my words and find yourself a more worthy dream.'
Whiskeyjack is the Sergeant of the 9th squad of the Bridgeburners. He used to be Commander of the entire 2nd Army, but was demoted by Empress Laseen after her ascension to the throne. He is beloved and looked up to by all of his soldiers. On Seven Cities, the tribe of the Anibar consider him a holy figure and call him Iskar Jarak, the Iron Prophet, because he once warned them of the coming of the malazan armies.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Captain Paran's the noble born, young and well spoken Captain to the low born, older, gruff and down-to-earth Sergeant Whiskeyjack. Although Paran wisely lets Whiskeyjack run the Bridgeburners as he's well aware of being a newbie.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Iskar Jarak tells Kalyth in Dust of Dreams that the Guardians of the Gate will, unlike Hood, be the human face of death, because they've once been mortal themselves and remember what it's like to want to live.
- Four-Star Badass: He used to command the 2nd Army while Dujek was his subordinate, but got demoted by Empress Laseen upon her ascension to the throne.
- The Grim Reaper: After dying, ascending and taking on the moniker Iskar Jarak, he becomes the leader of the Guardians of the Gate — the ascended Bridgeburners who take the place of Hood, Lord of Death.
- The Hero Dies: Whiskeyjack is considered a hero by most soldiers who've even heard about him. He is abruptly killed by High King Kallor in a duel, which comes as a shock to many.
- Marked to Die: Ever since Whiskeyjack broke into the Temple of Hood on Malaz Island and stole his little sister away from the temple, he's been marked by Hood for it. It's strongly implied that it was Hood who kept him from having his leg healed after the Fête of Gedderone in Gardens of the Moon, leading directly to his death in a duel against Kallor.
- Master Swordsman: It is strongly implied that he could have defeated High King Kallor had not his injured leg given in and broken during their duel.
- Mayfly-December Romance: With the Tiste Andii Korlat, who already is potentially many thousands of years old and will continue living for quite some time yet, while Whiskeyjack is purely human. They meet and fall in love in Memories of Ice.
- Meaningful Name: Or rename? But it's the only name given as malazan soldiers are mostly Only Known by Their Nickname. When he was younger, Whiskeyjack stole his baby sister back from Hood's Temple on Malaz Island, and Whiskeyjack is an alternate name for the gray jay. The Moranth even flat-out call him 'Bird That Steals'.
- Number Two: He is Dujek Onearm's second-in-command during the campaign against the Pannion Domin, though Korlat points out that he's actually a more compelling leader than Dujek — which is why Laseen demoted him in the first place. And in fact Dujek used to be his second-in-command before his demotion.
- Odd Friendship: With Anomander Rake. The Malazans and the forces of Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake did their respective best to defeat each other, but after the Enemy Mine team-up between Dujek Onearm and Caladan Brood against the Pannion Seer, Whiskeyjack and Anomander Rake become friends, spending many evenings talking about stuff and drinking ale.
- Odd Name Out: Most characters in the series are either Only Known by Their Nickname or have obviously fantastic names. Whiskeyjack's name, while still only a nickname, is pretty much the only one that invoked real world images due to there being no whiskey in the malazan world (at least not known as such). So, unless one knows that it's an alternate name for the Canada jay, or gray jay, the name can really stand out.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: To his squad. He'll listen to what his soldiers, especially Quick Ben and Kalam have to say, mull it over and come up with a reasonable plan of action, one that preferably will keep his squad alive and out of trouble.
- Reassignment Backfire: Laseen demoted him to Sergeant and put him in the front lines at Pale and Darujhistan in an attempt to get him killed. This leads to him and the entirety of Onearm's Host defecting to Caladan Brood's campaign against the Pannion Domin. It also puts Quick Ben and Kalam on Laseen's case, toying with the ideaof killing her and putting Whiskeyjack in her place.
- Renamed the Same: With some help from the Anibar and Funetik Aksent. In The Bonehunters, Boatfinder tells of how someone named Iskar Jarak, also called the Iron Prophet, came to the lands of the Anibar with a hundred dark warriors and warned them of those who will come after him. It was Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners. After his death and ascension — likely influenced by the Anibar's worship of him — he takes on the name of Iskar Jarak.
- Sacrificial Lion: He dies in a duel against High King Kallor to show how Anyone Can Die and that Kallor is just fine with killing allies if it gets him what he wants.
- Sergeant Rock: Whiskeyjack is rough and often grunts or growls his sentences, cares very much for his soldiers beneath it all and is very efficient at his job. So efficient, in fact, that Empress Laseen demoted him to the rant of Sergeant to keep his influence down. He is liked so much by his soldiers that at least Kalam and Quick Ben have ideas to put him on the throne.
Corporal Kalam Mekhar
Fiddler: Just Kalam for old company, and he calls that land ahead home. And he smiles before he kills.
Kalam Mekhar is an assassin from Seven Cities, where he had served one of the Seven Holy Falah'dan before he joined the Malazan forces, and known for having been recruited into the Claw instead of being raised there. He then left the Claw, which again was unprecedented, and joined the Bridgeburners. Kalam and his long-time friend Quick Ben were instrumental in the creation of the Bridgeburners.
- Awful Wedded Life: His marriage to Minala, though it's partly played for laughs, and they do actually love each other. Minala thinks Kalam's a buffoon and he thinks she's a tyrant. Of course, there's also the fact that they have to teach fourteen hundred traumatized children how to fight.Cotillion: 'Ah. Chafing, are you? I would never have guessed.'
- Badass Normal: He's a trained assassin and former Claw. That's it — unlike the majority of the Claw, Kalam is neither a mage assassin nor does he use magically enhanced equipment. And yet he's pulled off stunts to rival those of Ascendants. Even Cotillion, the Patron of Assassins, acknowledges his abilities.
- Brains and Brawn: The brawn to Quick Ben's brains. Quick Ben is the one who comes up with plans and prepares the appropriate spells to provide Kalam with, while Kalam is the one to go in and do the job, which usually involves stabbing something or someone.
- Combat Pragmatist: Kalam demonstrates at several occasions that he is willing to use whatever weapons are at hand and do whatever it takes to end a fight fast and thoroughly. Especially against the Claw, who rely too much on magic, this is very effective.
- Hitman with a Heart: He prefers to not have to kill innocents and sometimes goes for those who are cruel for cruelty's sake on his own, and when, in Deadhouse Gates, he comes across hundreds of crucified children, his helplessness and sympathy is so palpable, even Apt the demon feels it and convinces Shadowthrone to save them — because Kalam wanted to.
- Knife Nut: Long-knives are Kalam's fevourite weapons. He usually has two on him and in House of Chains he acquieres two Wickan style long-knives, one of which is alloyed with otataral.
- Lightning Bruiser: Kalam is often mistaken for slow due to his bear-like bulk, so while his strength and toughness is not such a big surprise, he's capable of an uncanny, graceful speed that belies his appearance. When he goes against the Claw — both times — he aptly demonstrates that while he may not look like an assassin, he can outmaneuver and outfight them just fine.
- The Masochism Tango: His marriage to Minala, with the sexual tension in Belligerent Sexual Tension resolved, the belligerent part much less so, though. Paran and Quick Ben put it best:Paran: 'Speaking of which, how do you warrant Kalam and Minala's chances?'
Quick Ben: 'I don't. And while I think they'd be good together, they keep trying to wear each other's skin, if you know what I mean.'
Paran: 'Sort of.'
Quick Ben: 'It's not love that's the problem.'
Paran: 'It's all the rest.'
- Professional Killer: He used to serve as a Dagger for one of the Seven Holy Falah'dan on Seven Cities, then was recruited into the Claw, where he commanden a Hand. Even after leaving the Claw, Kalam's reputation remains.
- Scary Black Man: Thanks to his fluent, graceful motions despite his bear-like bulk, his perpetual glare and his reputation as one of the empire's deadliest assassins, that's how most people in-universe see Kalam.
- Sword and Sorcerer: Quick Ben and Kalam, with the latter being the sword in the duo — although Kalam is an assassin instead of a typical fighter. Though Quick Ben can hold his own against other mages, when working together he usually acts as support for Kalam, providing assistance such as levitation or invisibility spells, while Kalam himself eventually even acquieres an Otararal knive. The duo is known and feared for their efficiency.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Quick Ben. He at one point goes beyond just threatening to throttle Quick Ben and stops just in time for the latter to get the message. They're still each other's oldest and closest friend respectively, though.
Quick Ben / Ben Adaephon Delat
Sergeant Cord: 'Shifty, mysterious and scary as Hood's arse-crack.'Quick Ben is the squad mage of Whiskeyjack's squad. He's best friends with Kalam Mekhar and usually considered the squad's shaved knuckle in the hole. Like Kalam, he used to serve the Holy Falah'd of Aren on Seven Cities, but also used to be a priest of the Cult of Shadow. His warren is Meanas, however due to housing the souls of twelve mages in one body he is able to access far more warrens than would be normal for a human mage.
- Brains and Brawn: The brains to Kalam Mekhar's brawns. Quick Ben is the one who comes up with plans and prepares the appropriate spells to provide Kalam with, while Kalam is the one to go in and do the job, which usually involves stabbing something or someone.
- Bullying a Dragon: This and a heaping of Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? characterises Quick Ben's interactions with Gods and Ascendants, Shadowthrone in particular, most of whom he bullies, surprises and tricks into agreeing with whatever he wants.
- Child Prodigy: The Bonehunters reveals that he used to be one in regards to magic and trickery, but coupled with Enfant Terrible — to the dismay of his sister Torahaval and the entire family.
- Defector from Decadence: Ben Adaephon Delat used to be a High Priest of the Cult of Shadow, but burned the vestments of his office and left the cult for unspecified reasons, faked his death and joined the Bridgeburners as Quick Ben. His willing assistance in the destruction of the Cult of Rashan indicates a dislike for the priesthood and priests like Bidithal.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Quick Ben's response to go when threatened by someone more powerful is refuge in audacity. It tends to astonish the God/Ascendant in question enough for Quick Ben to whisk himself away.Hood: 'You will be mine one day, mortal—'
Quick Ben: 'No doubt, Hood. In the meantime, let's just luxuriate in the anticipation, shall we?'
- Enfant Terrible: In The Bonehunters, his sister Torahaval recalls how as a ten-year-old, he fashioned voodoo-dolls of every member of their family and sent them nightmares and generally considered himself 'destined for vast infamy'.
- Field Promotion: Played with. During the campaign against the Pannion Domin, he gets promoted to High Mage after conjuring illusions strong enough to actually kill people. The promotion sticks, though High Mage Tayschrenn is not happy about it. Quick Ben just glibly reminds him that he's held the rank before — twice in fact, under different aliases.
- Flip Personality: In private, when no one's within earshot, Quick Ben is in the habit of muttering to himself in a variety of distinct voices. He's holding a conversation within the Mind Hive.
- Indy Ploy: Quick Ben's modus operandi when he's not engaging in Xanatos Speed Chess, although the line occasionally blurs. Pursued by mage assassins? Release an Imperial Demon. Caught in the house of a nasty necromancer? Blow a hole through the wall. Caught in an uncomfortable situation? Pull the God of Death in for a chat.
- Insufferable Genius: Quick Ben is one of the most versatile mages around and knows everything, and if he doesn't, he will — as others suspect in-universe — make it up as he goes along. Fortunately or unfortunately, he usually ends up being right, and vocal about having saved the day. Kalam points out how the more Quick Ben knows, the more obnoxious he gets.
- Master of Illusion: He has impressive control over High Meanas, the Warren of Shadow and Illusion. Impressive enough to create illusions so believable they can kill or scare the crap out of a Tiste Edur fleet, although he might have had some help with this one.
- Mind Hive: He has twelve souls inside of him, but claims they've reached some kind of accord regarding who gets the say-so. It seems like there's still some need to communicate, and it's possible to catch him switching to access new information.
- The Smart Guy: For the Bridgeburners and later the Malazan Army in general. It's been said that if Kruppe is one of the smartest people in the world, than Quick Ben is only a step behind him. A short one, mind you.
- Squishy Wizard: Zig-zagged. Quick Ben is fairly easy to take out when he is not expecting an attack. However, when he knows he is in danger and has time to prepare, even lightning strikes barely scratch him.
- Sword and Sorcerer: Quick Ben and Kalam, with the former being the sorceror in the duo. Though Quick Ben can hold his own against other mages, when working together he usually acts as support for Kalam, providing assistance such as levitation or invisibility spells. The duo is known and feared for their efficiency.
- Talking to Themself: It is possible to catch Quick Ben talking aloud in a variety of voices with himself, which is an indication of the Mind Hive holding a conversation.
- The Trickster: Among those who have known Quick Ben for some time, or have even heard of him, he is quite infamous for his trickster and cheating tendencies. He is a Master of Illusion, possibly a Master of Disguise, as well as of Xanatos Speed Chess, who especially delights in tricking the gods.Of course he was hiding secrets. Of course he was playing unseen games. He was Quick Ben, the last surviving wizard of the Bridgeburners. He thought outwitting gods was fun.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Everyone knows Ben Adaephon Delat cheats — even the gods and his allies know. It's the how and when that nobody can tell.
- Underestimating Badassery: Quick Ben doesn't look particularly imposing or dangerous, especially when he's — presumably — playing up his self-pompousness, so even his allies don't always remember to take him seriously. His enemies routinely underestimate him, which tends to end badly for them particularly after he ditches any attempt at being subtle.
- Vancian Magic: Some of Quick Ben's magic works like that. While he can just punch out an impressive amount of power, especially when working with Kalam he prepares his spells in advance, and as soon as they are set off and working, they are not adjustable, e.g. the invisibility or levitation spells.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Kalam Mekhar, his oldest and closest friend. He at one point manages to bait Kalam into trying to throttle him, with Kalam stopping just in time, hoping in vain that the message might stick.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: It is never outright confirmed, but through the course of the series various characters remain convinced that Quick Ben is some kind of shapeshifter, be it a Soletaken or a D'ivers.
- Voodoo Doll: One of the two major ways Quick Ben uses magic is through dolls he ties magical strings to, enabling him to follow said strings, tug on them, cut them, and so on.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: On the few occasions Quick Ben has had an overaching plan (like fleeing the Bridgeburners through Raraku or saving Burn), he's shown an uncanny ability to adjust his immediate plans to the circumstances while still approaching his overall goal, which tends to be somewhat loosely defined anyway.
'Soldiers are always underestimated. I've not spent fifteen years fighting Imperial wars with my eyes closed.'Fiddler is a soldier in Whiskeyjack's squad and a long-standing friend of the same, both of them having been apprentice masons on Malaz Island. He has a latent talent for reading the Deck of Dragons, often having 'bad feelings' about something, and is — together with his friend Hedge — considered an expert sapper. In House of Chains, he re-joins the Malazan army under the name of Strings and becomes part of the Bonehunters.
- Ascended Extra: In Gardens of the Moon, Fiddler is little more than a supporting character, but becomes a point of view character in Deadhouse Gates.
- Audience Surrogate: Fiddler is the most constant soldier point of view in the series and one of the most down-to-earth characters. It is easy to emphasize with him because he has mostly understandable human flaws — as opposed to some of the crazy stuff the other soldiers have to offer — but also some cool abilities like being a Demolitions Expert and a reader of the Deck of Dragons.
- Best Friend: To Hedge, during the Bridgeburner era. They are constantly together and obviously best friends. When he finds out about Hedge's death, Fiddler takes quite a while to get over it. He also used to be Whiskeyjack's best friend during their apprenticeship.
- Demolitions Expert: He's a sapper, and was one of the first to use Moranth explosives the way the Malazan sappers came to do.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Like many of the Bonehunters, Fiddler goes through more than should be humanly possible, but in the end — in a case of Book Ends harking back to Gardens of the Moon — he is seen fishing in the harbour of Malaz Island.
- Feeling Their Age: Towards the end of the series, Fiddler starts complaining that he's too old for all this soldiering.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Fiddler's a pessimist at heart and even in Gardens of the Moon it already shows. Nonetheless he keeps doing what he does best — being a soldier — because the Empire's done some good things and later, because he knows that Tavore's cause is the right thing to do. He still gripes about almost everything.
- Living Legend: Among the sappers of the Malazan Empire. Hedge and Fiddler were the first sappers to receive Moranth munitions and experiment with them, and as a result were the ones to devise most of the tactics and tricks all Malazan sappers now use.
- Magical Flutist: Carries a Fiddle —hence his name— that he plays sometimes to impressive magical effects.
- Magic Music: It is markedly different from the Warren Magic System, but Fiddler playing his instrument and singing has had supernatural effects on his surroundings on more than one occasion; including but not limited to: temporarily manifesting the ghosts of fallen comrades.
- Meaningful Rename: Subverted. In House of Chains, Fiddler renames himself Strings in order to sign up with the Malazan military again. Nobody who's ever even heard of him buys it, so he eventually goes back to Fiddler.
- Nerves of Steel: Fiddler demonstrates these when he is preparing the Drum in Reaper's Gale — Fiddler shaves the clay shell of a clay grenade off close enough to the core that an enemy merely standing on it will trigger a series of explosions. Cuttle is appropriately awed and terrified.
- Rank Up: Fiddler is promoted from sergeant to captain after the events of Dust of Dreams. He is not happy about it in the least.
- Resigned to the Call: Later in the series. Since Fiddler has a latent talent for reading the Deck of Dragons, and basically has one inside his brain, he can't help but know what's going on and get dragged into the games of the power players. And while he agrees that what Tavore Paran is up to is the right thing to do, he is not happy about having a part in it.
- Survivor Guilt: Subverted. Fiddler initially feels it after Hedge's and the other Bridgeburners' deaths. But due to death being a part of soldiering and people dying all the time, he gets over it. Then Hedge comes back and expects Fiddler to take things up as if nothing happened, but Fiddler tells him it's too late, as he's emotionally moved on already.
- Tarot Troubles: Fiddler has a natural talent for reading the Deck of Dragons and may be the most adept reader in the series. Since he never had formal training, he's developed his own style, mostly by employing the cards to play games for which he makes the rules up as he goes along.
- Team Dad: Starting in House of Chains, when he is put in command of a squad of newbies, making him — beside Cuttle — the squad's oldest member. Fiddler affects a gruff, too-old-for-this attitude and makes noises to enforce discipline, but he looks very closely at his soldiers and knows all their strengths and quirks.
- Up Through the Ranks: When, after Deadhouse Gates, he re-enlists with the Malazan Army as Strings, he is given the rank of sergeant as it's obvious he's served before.
- Vague Age: It's never made clear how old Fiddler is. In the prologue of Gardens of the Moon, Ganoes Paran, himself twelve at the time, judges Fiddler to be only a few years older than him. However, that does not add up with his apparent age later in the series, and how soon he start referring to himself as old, goes grey-ish or is referred to as old by others.
Fiddler: Trotts, you're still the damned ugliest Barghast I ever saw. They bred 'em that way in your tribe, didn't they? To better scare the enemy.Trotts is a Bridgeburner in Whiskeyjack's squad and serves as the squad's Big Guy. Not particularly wordy, the Barghast is covered in tattoes and fetishes, and is allegedly his clan's last living member.
- Badass Native: The Barghast consider themselves native to certain parts of Genabackis and have a proud warrior culture. Trotts himself is the only Barghast among the Bridgeburners and thus stands out, especially with his Barbarian Longhair, filed teeth and fetishes, as well as his willingsness to kick ass. Also, thanks to him looking native and badass, and thus being a curiosity, the Bridgeburners manage to get hired as guards at Lady Simtal's fête.
- Barbarian Longhair: Trotts sports long black hair knotted in fetishes and is a Barghast, this setting's equivalent to barbarians.
- The Big Guy: Being a Barghast, Trotts is even bigger than Kalam, and still sports the barbarian look of his people, what with being covered in tattoes, scars and fetishes all over. While not dumb at all, he prefers to keep to the background and pretend otherwise, and only exercise authority when necessary, for example when he shows his loyalty to the Bridgeburners by fighting his own people in Memories of Ice and then taking charge as the Barghast would only accept another Barghast.
- Covered with Scars: As befits a Barghast warrior, Trotts' body is covered with tattoes which are only broken up by various faded scars.
- Duel to the Death: To win the support of the Barghast against the Pannion Domin, Trotts agrees to fight against Humbrall Taur's youngest son. He wins by using the Stone Wall tactic and just letting the boy tire himself out while he hides behind his shield, then kills his opponent with one well-timed attack.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Despite his barbaric looks, Trotts has forsaken the wild Berserker fighting style of the Barghast and has instead adopted the Malazan heavy infantry style of hiding behind a shield until an opportunity to end the fight quickly presents itself.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: As is par for the course with the Bridgeburners, Trotts is only known by the name he gained when he joined up. Although he does use the name Niganga during his squad's mission in Darujhistan, it is never mentioned again.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Subverted. Trotts is a Barghast and displays all the visual signs associated with their Blood Knight and Berserker tendencies, but actually he takes no joy in combat, and when it comes to actual fighting he uses the strinctly disciplined combat style of the Malazan army.
- Punny Name: As Hedge puts it, he's not named Trotts because he likes jogging...
- The Quiet One: Trotts rarely ever talks, unless it's to punctuate the moment. Or to deliver a moment of Sophisticated as Hell.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Trotts has a peculiar, surprisingly articulate way to curse:'You, sapper, are the scum beneath a pebble in a stream running through a field of sickly pigs.'
- Stone Wall: This is the way Trotts wins the Barghast's support for the Malazan forces in Memories of Ice. He just hides behind his shield, military-style, until his tribal opponent has tired himself out by jumping around, then delivers a quick punch which kills the other Barghast.
- Gentleman Thief: This is how he sees himself at the beginning of the story, with a fair amount of justification; he refuses to take advantage of Challice and eventually returns what he stole from her. He also generally targets the wealthy and avoids targets who would be truly worse off because of his theft.
- Hitman with a Heart: When he becomes an assassin, he is an example of this.
- Knife Nut: His preferred method of assassination.
- Love Hurts/Love Martyr: His relationship with Apsalar, which was initially portrayed as kind of cute, is more or less poisoning his life. All attempts to move on have so far failed. It doesn't help that he became an assassin in an attempt to get closer to her, but this backfired when it reminded her of the parts of herself she disliked, and ultimately ended up pushing her away.
- Maybe Ever After: Tracks down Apsalar in one of the epilogues of The Crippled God.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Cutter
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Frequently. Against opponents in his own weight class, he's very capable. Against Ascendants and monsters, not so much.
- Sex for Solace: After Apsalar leaves him and Felisin Younger is kidnapped by the T'lann Imass, Scillara begins sleeping with him in order to make him feel less dead inside. Both of them are aware that it's not love, but she's fine with this because it gets him out of his Heroic B.S.O.D.. Later, he begins an affair with Challice, his first crush, but he's still quite obviously in love with Apsalar and it seems to be equally an example of this trope. He does end up feeling quite a bit better in both cases, though.
- Took a Level in Badass: Has he ever!
- Bad Ass
- Badass Normal: Unlike the various superpowered freaks present in the story, Rallick relies entirely on his own skill (and a little magic-negating dust).
- Dual Wielding: Knives.
- Hitman with a Heart
- Knife Nut
- Professional Killer: A member of Darujhistan's Guild of Assassins.
- Author Avatar: In Toll the Hounds.
- Character Filibuster: He can go on for pages, and other characters rarely think to interrupt him.
- The Chessmaster
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: As mentioned below under Obfuscating Stupidity, he initially seems rather dull. In reality, he's one of the smartest people in the series, if not the smartest. He's also incredibly powerful. Caladan Brood at one point got so irritated with him that Brood swung his powerful hammer at Kruppe. The land around him was permanently altered and all other witnesses were thrown to the ground, but Kruppe was unscathed.
- Insufferable Genius: Oh, the man's ego.
- Lemony Narrator: If he tells a story, expect him to be this.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Kruppe is way, way, way smarter than he looks. Underestimating him has had unfortunate results for many characters. To be fair, a lot of other characters aren't fooled and it sometimes seems like he's mainly doing it to annoy people.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: His usual method of talking.
- Third-Person Person: Only ever refers to himself in the third person.
- The Casanova
- Informed Ability: We're often told that Murillio is extremely skilled with the rapier. Usually right before (or as) someone or something kicks his ass.
- Killed Off for Real: And rather pointlessly to boot.
- Stuffed In The Fridge: His death serves only to force Cutter to kill Gorlas Vidikas, which is in and of itself, completely irrelevant to the overall plot of both the entire series, and Toll the Hounds.
- The Alcoholic: When the story begins he hasn't been sober since losing his land.
- Character Development: Has stopped drinking since regaining his land.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Hands up, anyone who expected Coll to show anything approaching competence or sobriety let alone fighting skills.
- Drowning My Sorrows: And he has a lot of sorrows.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Somehow he didn't notice that his (now) ex-wife, Lady Simtal was a psychotic (and none-too subtle) bitch.
- Gold Digger: A particularly evil version.
- Driven to Suicide: And good riddance!
- Really Gets Around
- Rich Bitch
- Too Dumb to Live: Commented on by everyone who knows her, including her Smug Snake accomplice Turban Orr. Who's no slouch in the Too Dumb to Live department himself.
- The Vamp
- Cain and Abel: Tries to sell his handicapped sisters into slavery.
- Enfante Terrible
- Evil Is Petty
- Kids Are Cruel: Kids are sniveling monsters.
- Smug Snake
- The Sociopath: Even the Crippled God wants nothing to do with him.
- Good Is Not Nice: Which he lampshades as he threatens to sell Snell into slavery.
- Teens Are Monsters: Fakes it incredibly well.
- First Love: Crokus falls in love with her on sight, though it's later indicated to have been a youthful infatuation. When they eventually do have an affair, it's implied that both of them are mostly doing it out of desperation, loneliness, and lust rather than love.
- Incompatible Orientation: While not actually stated outright, this is hinted to be a significant problem with her marriage. It's not clear whether Gorlas is gay or asexual, but her inner monologue notes that "Gorlas only ever used his fingers in this place", and that sex was much better. It's also noted that he won't be giving her an heir because of his proclivities.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Deconstructed. She initially comes across as a somewhat downplayed example of this trope and inspires Crokus to try to pass himself off as a gentleman in order to win her affections, but this ultimately ends up not happening when the plot takes him away from Darujhistan and she ends up in a loveless marriage. When they do have an affair upon his return to Darujhistan, both of them once again begin speculating about wild plans that both of them realise in their interior monologues are highly unlikely ever to happen. Furthermore, her cheery exterior masks a very lonely, desperate, and fearful woman who feels trapped by the constricts of her society and sees no realistic way of escaping, which ultimately leads to her suicide when she becomes convinced that none of her plans will ever happen.
- Sex for Solace: It's implied that she has affairs because she feels trapped in her marriage to a sociopath who views her as nothing more than a tool to be used, and doing this is the only thing that makes her feel alive.
- Stepford Smiler: She attempts to put on a brave face to the rest of the world, but, as Cutter can see immediately, she's really very unhappy and frightened. This eventually leads to her suicide when Darujhistan is under siege by the Hounds of Shadow.
- Your Cheating Heart: She has an affair with Cutter, and it isn't the first one she's had. It's never made entirely clear whether this bothers her husband, who appears to be aware of them; even she herself isn't sure. It's hinted that he actually wanted her to have affairs because he thought it would increase his power over the people she slept with. However, this leads to his Karmic Death when one of those people ends up killing him, though more out of revenge for an unrelated matter than because of his wife.
Caladan Brood's Forces
Warlord Caladan Brood
- Asskicking Equals Authority
- Badass: Very, very Bad Ass.
- Drop the Hammer: His main weapon is a hammer that only he can lift. If swung, it can awaken Burn, the Sleeping Goddess of the Earth, though this will kill everything on the planet.
- Famed In-Story
- Genius Bruiser
- Guile Hero
- Healing Hands: Ironically, despite his well-deserved title of "Warlord" and being a Four-Star Badass who has the ability to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, his principal magical abilities are his healing powers.
- Large and in Charge
- Lightning Bruiser: Heavily implied.
- Magic Knight
- Physical God
- Really 700 Years Old: As an Ascendant, Brood no longer ages. He's also an Azathanai.
- The Strategist
Kallor, The High King
- 0% Approval Rating: Apparently how his people felt about him during his stint as The Emperor.
- Age Without Youth: Were it not for his use of Century Candles, Kallor would be too decrepit to move.
- Ambition Is Evil: He wants power, no matter what the price.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Following his deal with the Crippled God he gains access to the Warren of Chaos.
- Badass Beard: In Toll the Hounds.
- Badass Grandpa: He's over a hundred thousand, looks to be around one hundred, and can still fight like a madman.
- Badass Longcoat: Justified as it's a chainmail longcoat.
- Beard of Evil
- BFS: Not an extreme example, but Kallor's bastard sword is a two-hander and is repeatedly described as "huge", "enormous" and so on.
- Commander Contrarian: Rarely agrees with the strategy suggested by the Alliance.
- Cursed with Awesome: Subverted. Being cursed to live forever sounds great, but with the continuous aging, and Failure Is the Only Option subclause, it really, really appears to suck for him.
- Determinator: Demonstrates some aspects of this in Toll The Hounds.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Three gods cursed Kallor to live forever and never Ascend. He cursed them back. And it worked.
- Face–Heel Turn: Betrays Brood to The Crippled God for a chance at killing Silverfox."If you call it a sudden reversal of strategy, the sting fades."
- Elderly Immortal
- The Emperor: He called himself The High King, but he's much closer to this trope, specifically the Evil Overlord/ General Ripper variant.
- Failure Is the Only Option: A part of his curse."Kallor Eiderann Tes'thesula each time you rise you shall than fall. All that you achieve shall turn to dust in your hands. As you have willfully done here, so shall it be visited upon you in all that you do."
- Famed In-Story
- Gone Horribly Right: Kallor's curse did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made him an even bigger SOB.
- Hero Killer: Clearly has this status by Toll the Hounds.
- Immortality Hurts: Although he'll deny it to the end.
- Lone Dalek: In Toll the Hounds, where the degree that Kallor's life has sucked becomes apparent. It's almost entirely his own fault, but you can still feel a certain amount of pity for him.
- Master Swordsman: In one hundred thousand years, Kallor has never been defeated. Caladan Brood notes that this is at least partly because he picks his opponents well.
- Misanthrope Supreme: Kallor is fully aware that he is a spiteful, vicious minded bastard, who takes out his frustrations on everyone around him. He also believes that Humans Are Bastards, and that as such, his tyranny and brutality are not only justified, but the norm.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Everybody mocked Kallor as a bullying braggart. Right up until he joins with the Crippled God and performs an epic backstab on Brood's forces. Averted in Toll the Hounds where he approaches near Hero Killer status.
- Number Two: Serves as Brood's second-in-command.
- Precision F-Strike: Twice during his duel with Spinnock Durav in Toll the Hounds.
- Pride: Kallor is arrogant, prone to overestepping his bounds, and very touchy about insults to his person. And then there's the whole, "allowing a continent to die rather than relinquishing control of it" thing, and the obsession with power and becoming an Ascendant.
- Really 700 Years Old: He's older than most Ascendants, despite being completely mortal. He was cursed over 120 000 years ago and is still alive and kicking.
- Sanity Slippage: Seems to have suffered some between Memories of Ice and Toll the Hounds.
- Time Abyss
- Composite Character: In-universe.
- Creepy Child: For a while.
- Rapid Aging: After being born she grows much more quickly than expected.
- Reincarnation: Silverfox's soul is a composite of the souls of Tattersail, Bellurdan Scullcrusher and Nightchill, while her physical body is the child of the Mhybe, born with the help of Bonecaster Pran Chole.
- Reincarnation Romance: Subverted. Tattersail and Ganoes Paran were just casual lovers, but her sudden death and rebirth as part of Silverfox creates the expectation that their feelings were stronger than they actually were and that something would continue after Silverfox's coming of age. It doesn't, and Paran realises there never was anything real between them.
- Vampiric Draining: Is stealing her mother's life energy without even knowing it.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of Memories of Ice, Silverfox wanders off towards Assail with her army of T'lan Imass.
- Younger Than They Look: She's only a few years old, but has aged herself to her early twenties.
Mother DarkThe goddess of the Tiste Andii, theological opposite and possibly wife of Father Light, god of the Tiste Liosan. Turned away from her children millenia ago following an unspecified betrayal Anomander Rake, and possibly others.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
- Goddess Unaware Speaks through Nimander's simpleminded sister Aranatha in Toll the Hounds. Possibly more a case of Divine Possession.
- Interspecies Romance: Mother Dark (mortal Tiste turned goddess) and Draconus (Azathanai).
- Love Ruins the Realm: Other people's conflicting opinions regarding her sex life and marital status cause many of the problems in the prequel.
- Missing Mom: Of an entire race. She's convinced to come back in Toll The Hounds.
Anomander RakeLord of Moon's Spawn, leader of the Tiste Andii, wielder of Dragnipur, eldest son of Mother Dark metaphorically; Andarist is older than him, Knight of High House Dark, and all-around badass, he initially opposes the Malazan Empire's invasion of Genabackis, before allying with Dujek Onearm to take on the Crippled God's forces. He has a long-standing alliance with Caladan Brood.
- A Father to His Men: Several of the Tiste Andii are so tired of their own immortality they have more or less chosen to commit suicide. The only reason they are still alive is that Anomander Rake asks them to live.
- Bad Ass: So. Very. Much.
- Dark Is Not Evil: One of the best examples in modern lit.
- Famed In-Story: There are entire poems about him.
- Fate Worse Than Death: What those slain by Dragnipur (his sword) suffer.
- Genius Bruiser
- Hero Killer: Introduced this way in Gardens of the Moon.
- Heroic Sacrifice
- I Have Many Names: Anomander/Anomandaris Rake/Irake/Purake/Draginipurake, in all combinations. Also sometimes referred to as the Lord of Moon's Spawn, the Mane of Chaos, and the (First) Son of Darkness.
- Immortality Begins at 20: Or somewhere in his thirties or forties anyway.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Shapeshifts into a giant, black dragon.
- Interspecies Romance: Apparently, Silanah the dragon was his lover as well as his ally. The mother of his children, however, is implied to be Lady Envy.
- Large and in Charge
- Lightning Bruiser
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Magic Knight
- Master Swordsman
- Messianic Archetype: Becomes one in Toll The Hounds
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Known as "The First Son of Darkness".
- Physical God
- Really 700 Years Old: Most Tiste Andii live 20,000. Rake is so much older.
- Scary Black Man: How his opponents see him.
- Sorcerous Overlord
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: As a Soletaken, Rake becomes a black dragon.
- Warrior Prince
- Who Wants to Live Forever??: The reason he sells the services of the Tiste Andii off as mercenaries is to pevent them from becoming suicidal over the boredom of their eternal life; in effect, he is trying to inspire them to fight and live for something bigger than themselves in defiance of this trope, though he fears it is a losing battle.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Anyone killed by Dragnipur is sealed within the Warren inside it for all eternity.
- The Heart: Among the Purake brothers. Maybe.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Pointedly averted. Of the three Purake brothers, only Andarist refused Tiam's blood.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Somewhat, compared to his brothers.
- Parental Substitute: To Nimander and his siblings.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Gets barely any screentime. Shows up a bit more in the prequel.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: A Soletaken, like Rake and her brother.
- Interspecies Romance: With Whiskeyjack.
- May-December Romance: With Whiskeyjack.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Made even more inevitably shorter by Kallor's murder of Whiskeyjack
- Really 700 Years Old: Par for the course with Tiste Andii.
- The Unfavourite: Her mother is a lot more concerned about Orfantal.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting
- Break the Cutie: In the prequel.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Shapeshifts into a big, black dragon, same as Rake.
- Heroic Bastard
- Killed Off for Real: In Toll The Hounds he picks a fight with Kallor. It doesn't end well for him.
- Really 700 Years Old
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Another Tiste Andii Soletaken.
- Bad Ass
- Determinator: And a prime example at that. Despite being completely outmatched, he manages to duel Kallor for an entire night, lasting from dusk until dawn. He's cut to pieces in the attempt but never falls down. All because Rake asked him to stand between Kallor and Darujhistan.
- Interspecies Romance: With a teenage girl.
- Mayfly-December Romance: See above.
- Smart People Play Chess: Well, Kef Tanar.
Sheltatha Lore: 'More than any of us – more even than Anomandaris, Silchas Ruin thinks... draconean. As cold, as calculating, as timeless.'Annomander Rake's brother, Silchas Ruin is the youngest of Mother Dark's children, and cruelest. Having been betrayed and sealed by Scabandari Bloodeye, one-time leader of the Tiste Edur, he has sworn to have his revenge on Bloodeye and his kin.
- Awesome McCool Name
- Dual Wielding: Holds Sarat Wept and Glory Goat, one in each hand. Later swapped out for a Hust dragon-slaying sword.
- Famed In-Story: Though not quite to the extent of his brother.
- Genius Bruiser
- Good Is Not Nice
- Heroic Albino
- Immortality Begins at 20
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons
- Large and in Charge
- Lightning Bruiser
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Magic Knight
- Master Swordsman
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast
- The Prankster: Implied to have been this before he became a Soletaken Eleint and the blood of Tiam made him into the cruellest of the three Sons of Mother Dark.
- Really 700 Years Old
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: If you happen to be a villain.
- Revenge: Swore it on Scabandari Bloodeye, and all the Tiste Edur.
- Sealed Good in a Can
- Tragic Bromance: With Kagamandra Tulas Shorn. Their reunion in The Crippled God implies that Tulas' disappearance and presumed death during the civil war in Kharkanas devastated Silchas Ruin to such a degree that even Anomander Rake felt compelled to help him look for Tulas. Eventually, it's taken up a notch when at the end of the book Tulas dies again, this time for good, after fulfilling their mutual wish to fight side by side.
- Voluntary Shape Shifting: Another Tiste Andii Soletaken. He becomes a giant white dragon, with blood red eyes.
Nimander GolitSon of Anomander Rake and the leader of the small group of remaining Tiste Andii youths who used to live on Drift Avalii, beneath Andarist's supervision.
- Bad Liar
- The Eeyore: Initially, especially in Reaper's Gale, but gets better in Toll the Hounds.
- Enemy Within: It's never made explicit whether Phaed is truly in Nimander's mind or it's just him imagining her so he has someone to battle inside his mind; and then Phaed scoffs that the notion of a conflict is ridiculous anyway.. in his mind.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation
- Inadequate Inheritor: Considers himself this regarding Anomander Rake's legacy; or that of any other known Tiste Andii of times past.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- These Hands Have Killed: Technically, Withal killed Phaed, but Nimander did a good job with trying.
- The So-Called Coward: Seen as this by everyone outside his clique of Tiste Andii followers, and sees himself more as a Cowardly Lion, which is actually in the end what makes him a great leader, as he comes to embrace his doubts, instead of succumbing to them.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Nobody bothers to tell him that, but everyone thinks it.
PhaedSister to Nimander.
- Cute and Psycho
- Enemy Within: For Nimander. Maybe.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Withal's solution after Nimander bungles his attempt at killing Phaed.
- Slain in Their Sleep: Tries this on Sandalath Drukorlat.
- Token Evil Teammate
- Yandere: ..implied to be this towards Nimander. Of course, it could be just his imagination.
Udinaas: 'I've almost given up hoping that you'll end up garrotting yourself with that chain. Almost.'A Tiste Andii from Bluerose.
High PriestessThe High Priestess of Mother Dark, who is a fairly important character in Toll the Hounds. Despite this, her name is never actually specified. It is possible that "High Priestess" actually is her name. She should not be confused with Salind, the High Priestess of the Redeemer.
- Deus Sex Machina: She is implied to use sex as a ritual to open the gate to Kurald Galain. It's not explained exactly how this works, but it's referred to as a religious ritual.
- Really Gets Around: We see a sexual relationship between her and Spinnock, and she's implied to have sexual relationships with dozens of other characters. This is actually stated to be the hat of Tiste Andii priestesses in general. While there are religious or magical reasons for it, it's also hinted that there is an element of Sex for Solace involved as well.
OssericEldest son of Father Light, and ruler of the Tiste Liosan, Osseric was the counterpart, rival, and former companion of Anomander Rake. The Champion of High House Light, worshipped as a god by the Tiste Liosan, and a famed figure within the Malazan mythos, Osseric has long since withdrawn from the world and has no desire to interact with it.
- A God Am I: Worshipped as a god by the Liosan. Osseric himself notes wryly that the Liosan have always worshipped themselves, and he is just a convenient figurehead for their narcissism.
- The Champion: Champion of High House Light; also known as The Son of Light.
- Famed In-Story: He once journeyed alongside Rake, and is featured in all the same poems.
- Foil: To Anomander Rake
- Genius Bruiser
- Immortality Begins at 20
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons
- Knight Templar: Once, though no more.
- Large and in Charge
- Lightning Bruiser
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Magic Knight
- Master Swordsman
- Really 700 Years Old
- Spell My Name with an "S": Nobody can seem to agree how his name is spelled. Osseric? Osserc? Osric?
- Took Many Levels in Badass: Between the prequels and the present.
- Voluntary Shape Shifting
High Mage L'oricOsseric's son by an unnamed Ascendent, and a powerful mage in his own right. He becomes involved in the Apocalypse Army's plans, though prefers to avoid fighting.
Trull Sengar: 'Our denial is wilful, our studied indifference conveniently self-serving to our basest desires. We are a long-lived people who now kneel before short-term interests —'
The Tiste Edur are one of the three Tiste peoples originally alien to the series' main Realm, which according to the prequel trilogy may or may not have once been all one realm. They are considered the Children of Shadow, the unwelcome product of a conjoining of Dark and Light, and thus looked down upon by both the Tiste Andii and the Tiste Liosan. After a civil war that shattered their home realm, they fled Kurald Emurlahn under the leadership of Scabandari Bloodeye, whom they now worship as Father Shadow, and — after defeating the locally settled K'Chain Che'Malle — settled on the continent of Lether. Due to a deliberate distortion of the history of this event, they now consider themselves to be the victims of a betrayal by Silchas Ruin and his Tiste Andii followers. What really happened was the opposite.
- Barbarian Longhair: The Tiste Edur, especially the warriors, let their hair grow long and are variously described as barbaric looking to others.
- Braids of Barbarism: Their Barbarian Longhair often takes the form of this, and when a warrior is cast out completely, he is Shorn — that is, his hair is shaved off and the scalp treated with an unguent that prevents it from ever growing back.
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Braids, Shells and Sealskins, more precisely, as the Edur live in the northern climate and near the coast, but they are the closest thing the series has to a Native American Fantasy Counterpart Culture.
- Blind Obedience: They blindly follow their traditions, and as a consequence whoever is in charge. Also, Father Shadow can do no wrong, but unfortunately, he's not around anymore.
- Blood Knight: Prone to becoming this due to inborn blood lust.
- Casting a Shadow: While Kurald Emurlahn has been shattered and sealed, thanks to Shadow being its own elemental force the Tiste Edur retain some access to their shadow-themed magic.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Grey-skinned, in contrast to the midnight-skinned Tiste Andii and porcelain-skinned Tiste Liosan.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Most Edur eventually become this during the course of the story, as they have nowhere else to go and speaking up is no good idea. It helps, of course, that they are naturally inclined to blood lust.
- Culture Justifies Anything: Deconstructed. Slavery, Aggressive Categorism, looking down on others because of their place in that society, others falling by the wayside, it's all Inherent in the System. It's usually subdued, but as Udinaas remarks on several occasions, all's well only until someone does something wrong, and the Edur are Not So Different from their neighbouring Letherii.
- Have You Seen My God?: Depending on the point of view, Father Shadow either disappeared or abandoned his children. Of course, while some know where his body can be found, that does not account for his soul.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Again, deconstructed. Pretty much every Tiste Edur point-of-view character shows what this can do to people, whether they buy into it, e.g. Fear Sengar, or not, e.g. Trull Sengar.
- Trapped in Villainy: Thanks to their rigid social structure, the Tiste Edur become this after Rhulad Sengar proclaims himself Emperor. Some like it, others less so.
- Women's Mysteries: The women are the ones who keep the true records of their history, while the warriors get watered down and diluted versions. This is deconstructed by the reader being aware of what really happened from the beginning of the book, and by how irrelevant their secret knowledge evetually is. Shurq Elalle points out in Reaper's Gale how Tiste Edur women seem to be "completely useless mystics of some sort".
Silchas Ruin: 'You cannot see yourself, but I give you this name, for the blood that now stains your... vision.'
One-time leader of the Tiste Edur, Scabandari led the Tiste exodus from Kurald Galain in the company of Silchas Ruin. Coming to a new world, Scabandari betrayed Silchas, and was himself slain by the Elder Gods Kilimandaros and Mael.
- A God Am I: Worshipped as such by the Tiste Edur.
- Badass: It took two Elder Gods to take him out.
- Famed In-Story
- Genius Bruiser
- Immortality Begins at 20
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons
- Large and in Charge
- Lightning Bruiser
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Magic Knight
- Posthumous Character: Long dead, though Fear, Trull, and Rhulad Sengar stumble onto his body.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting
Fear Sengar: 'He seeks power, brothers. He needs power, and he cares nothing for its provenance, nor its taint.'
The Warlock King of the Hiroth, who has achieved the unification of the Tiste Edur tribes and whose motives are anything but clear. He enters a pact with the Crippled God, but the Crippled God chooses Rhulad Sengar instead.
- Ambition Is Evil: Only Kallor would make a better poster boy for the trope.
- Deal with the Devil: Cut a deal with the Crippled God, exchanging alleigance for use of the Chaos Warren.
- Evil Chancellor: To Rhulad, following his ascension to the throne.
- Evil Cripple: Courtesy of his deal with the Crippled God.
- Sanity Slippage
- Sorcerous Overlord: Before Rhulad ascended to the throne.
- Vader Breath: Due to his crippling overuse of the Chaos Warren.
Fear SengarFirst son of the Sengar family.
- Aloof Big Brother
- The Ace: How his family saw him.
- Big Brother Mentor: To all of his brothers, but especially towards Trull.
- Honor Before Reason: After having lost his betrothed to Rhulad because he had not the guts to speak up, he latches onto Seren Pedac in a desperate attempt to protect her despite everyone's conviction that Trull is already dead anyway.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- The Stoic: His emotions are all subtle and bottled up, but when they do show they are so subtle, only Trull seems to be aware of them, and even he does not notice the really deeply hidden ones.
Fear Sengar: 'There is reluctance in you, Trull. You hide it well enough, but I can see where others cannot. You are a warrior who would rather not fight.'
Trull Sengar is the second of the four sons of the Sengar family. He is a skilled warrior, vastly preferring the spear over the sword, but lacks the inclination towards blood lust most Tiste Edur share. His intelligence and compassion puts him at odds with what the Tiste Edur become and eventually sees him exiled.
- Aggressive Categorism: A much milder version than most Tiste Edur, but at the start of Midnight Tides Trull still categorically dismisses Rhulad because the latter is 'an unblooded pup', remarks how Ahlrada Ahn has risen above his heritage despite being the son of a Tiste Andii slave and has serious trouble reconciling Udinaas' intelligence and his being a slave. He gets better.
- Badass: The first person to ever successfully hold off Icarium Lifestealer. He also holds his own against Silchas Ruin for a time, sends Clip packing, fights off a pack of Jheck, and even his older brother and mentor Fear admits he cannot be sure to be able to defeat Trull in a one-on-one fight.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: In Midnight Tides, Trull lets Canarth talk smack about him all the former wants, but when Canarth accuses Ahlrada Ahn — whom Trull admires — of being a betrayer, Trull finally snaps. He challenges Canarth to a duel and disposes of him in a matter of seconds.
- Big Brother Worship: At the end of Reaper's Gale, Trull's point of view narration calls Fear Sengar, his elder brother who trained him in combat, the god of his childhood. And even early on in Midnight Tides Trull thinks that while he himself did well in the War of Unification, it is only right and proper that his older brother Fear can boast even more trophies.
- Blade on a Stick: His spear is his favourite weapon. Trull even uses it in close combat, despite having a sword as well. Whenever he is not lugging a spear around, someone remarks on how something must have happened.
- Broken Messiah: Everyone who ever encounters Trull sees him as humble, compassionate, courageous, and so on, but he himself is all too aware of his own perceived failings; seeing not just too much, but — as he believes — all the wrong things, passing judgement based on prejudices, being indecisive and easily deceived because he trusts people to be honest, and so forth...
- Brutal Honesty: One of Trull's defining character traits, as he seems unable to lie or pretend whether he wants to or not. He cannot keep himself from voicing his suspicions and asking inconvenient questions. Lilac even uses that to deceive him, as he rightfully assumes that Trull, who does not lie, would not suspect others to lie, either.
- Despair Event Horizon: Reaches it in Midnight Tides when he realises with finality that whatever happened cannot be undone and the Tiste Edur have changed irreversibly — but he himself hasn't.
- The Ditherer: Results from his constant doubts. He can't seem to be able to make up his mind about Rhulad, what to about the events that swap his people away and later about what to do with his life, so he ends up just floating from one conflict he as nothing to do with to the next.
- The Exile: The Shorning. The tipping point is when he leaves Rhulad lying bleeding and incapacitated on the floor, instead of killing him so he can be resurrected. When he returns to the throne room to try and reason with Rhulad, he is taken into custody and, some time later, chained in the Nascent to die slowly. The Shorning also means that as far as the Tiste Edur are concerned, his parents had one child less, and just speaking his name can get one sentenced to death.
- Fatal Flaw: His Brutal Honesty, which causes him to be exiled and lose everything he cared for.Trull: I was ever the worrier. I do not see too much, I see only the wrong things. And so the fault is mine, within me. I need to remain mindful of that.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation:Onrack: 'It is your way, my friend, to disarm your own achievements.'
Trull Sengar: 'Onrack —'
Quick Ben: 'He's calling you modest, Edur. And don't bother denying the truth of that — you still manage to startle me on that count.'
- Interspecies Friendship: With Onrack the Broken, a T'lan Imass. Cotillion even remarks in The Bonehunters how unlike it is to see a Tiste Edur and a T'lan Imass become friends.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: He was this, according to Seren Pedac, prior to his permanent Traumatic Haircut in the prologue of House of Chains, which also gives him a..
- Mark of Shame: ..in the form of a distinct scar on the forehead: a circle broken by a line.
- The Power of Friendship: With Onrack, who frees Trull from his chains in the Nascent on a whim. Onrack serves as a means for Trull to keep despair at bay, while Onrack learns anew what it's like to feel emotions and have someone care for him.
- Reluctant Warrior: In contrast to the Blood Knight tendencies of the Tiste Edur. Fear even calls him that. It's not that Trull would not fight when needed, and he's one of his tribe's best warriors, but he vastly prefers to not brag about it, which causes others to see him as a coward.
- Tranquil Fury: Best seen in his duel against Canarth in Midnight Tides, where he efficiantly disposes of Canarth in a matter of seconds, although afterwards Trull admits his anger dissipated the moment he had Canarth on the ground.
- Traumatic Haircut: It's a part of the Shorning procedure, which includes having his head shaved and magically treated so that the hair will never grow back. It's a sign of being permanently exiled from Tiste Edur society.
- Trauma Button: A whole parade of them; anything that reminds him of what happened pre (and including) his Shorning, but especially anything that reminds him of Seren Pedac and his family.
Hannan Mosag: 'I understand that Binadas wanders once more. He knows no anchor, does he?'
Binadas is the Sengar family's third son and the only one with a talent for sorcery. He is said to rival the Warlock King in power. In House of Chains, Binadas is the ship captain Karsa Orlong kills on a whim when he encounters the Tiste Edur vessel.
- Blood Brothers: Binadas has 'cut flesh' for Hull Beddict, and vice versa, making them this.
- Dreadlock Warrior: Binadas' hairstyle is explicitly described as short dreadlocks when he first is introduced in Midnight Tides and Seren Pedac sums him up as 'A hunter. A killer.'
- Hunter Trapper: The way he makes sure he is respected in the warrior society of the Edur, as he brings home trophies as proof of his hunting feats.
- Killed Off for Real: On a quest to find Trull, Binadas is killed by Karsa Orlong in House of Chains even before he is properly introduced, while commanding the ship Karsa Orlong and Torvald Nom come across in the Nascent.
- Magic Knight: The only one of the Sengar brothers who inherited their mother's talent for sorcery.
- Mountain Man: Prefers to spend his time in the mountains and forests instead of the village.
- The Quiet One:His brother shrugged, ever reluctant to surrender his reserve, his mindful silence. [...]
- We Hardly Knew Ye: An interesting case, because he is killed even before he is introduced, then is introduced in Trull's backstory without any connection to the ship he eventually dies on, and only even later is the connection between the Tiste Edur captain Karsa killed and Binadas Sengar made.
Rhulad SengarFourth and youngest son of the Sengar family.
See High House Chains
Tomad SengarPatriarch of the Sengar family.
UruthMatriarch of the Sengar family.
- Almighty Mom
- Brutal Honesty
- Women's Mysteries: Uruth is one of the principal magic-users of her tribe and also a leading figure among the tribe's women, who are responsible for keeping the secrets of the Tiste Edur's true history.
'Rise above? I suffered under no such compulsion, Trull Sengar. Before she died, my mother told me many secrets.'A Tiste Edur who, like Trull Sengar, opposed the Wars of Unification. He is said to be the child of a slave from Bluerose, and thus a half-blood. Actually, Ahlrada Ahn is a full-blooded Tiste Andii who serves as a spy among the Tiste Edur.
- Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Child of a Bluerose slave. Has travelled far and wide and forged kinships with many Tiste Edur from the outlying tribes. Yeah.
- Deep Cover Agent
- Half-Breed Discrimination: Subverted. Trull assumes that's what Ahlrada has to deal with. Ahlrada tells him that he's quite proud of his heritage, thankyouverymuch.
- Hates Everyone Equally: ..at least, every Tiste Edur. With one exception.
- Hero-Worshipper: Towards Trull Sengar, as revealed in The Bonehunters.
- Mole in Charge: Ahlrada eventually leads a company of Edur warriors during their forays into the territory of the First Throne.
- Redemption Equals Death
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Abrasive and cold towards everyone because he has to keep up his disguise. He later admits that he really wanted to be able to drop the act around Trull, the only Tiste Edur he ever admired, but thought it too much of a risk.
- The Stoic
- You Can't Go Home Again: This realisation serves as the point where he crosses the Despair Event Horizon, as all he has left is the wish to return home, to Bluerose. 'Home' is the last word he mutters before he dies.
Kagamandra Tulas Shorn
'In the time of my deathlessness, Silchas, I came to understand the truth of that old saying: you cannot go back.'
The Crippled God
- Bash Brothers: With Silchas Ruin.
- Back from the Dead: Escaped Hood's realm while Death was otherwise occupied.
- Determinator: In Forge of Darkness towards Faror Hend. Sharenas Ankhadu points out how idiotic that is.
- Dracolich: Being undead and a Soletaken Eleint, Tulas can turn into an undead dragon.
- Fluffy Tamer: The Hounds of Shadow originally belonged to him and it was him who raised them from half-wild pups to the vicious beasts they became.
- The Quiet One:[...] Although such mockery had invariably faded when they had seen what had been achieved by this strange, quiet warrior with the Eleint-tainted eyes.
- Shape Shifter
- Shell-Shocked Veteran
- Tragic Bromance: With Silchas Ruin. He says that Tulas' disappearance and presumed death devastated him, and their reunion in The Crippled God is almost tearful, between the slinging of insults. And then it's taken up a notch when, after fulfilling their mutual wish to fight side by side, Tulas dies for a second and final time.
- The Undead
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: An undead Soletaken dragon.
Imass / T'lan Imass
- Bad Ass: Yes he's undead. Yes he has a host of advantages related to being undead. And yet, Tool is still incredibly Bad Ass.
- Berserk Button: Tool doesn't have a lot of friends. Don't hurt the ones he has.
- Cool Sword: A huge, enchanted flint sword.
- Deliberate Injury Gambit: As a T'lan Imass, Tool can surive anything short of beheading or total dismemberment. It's not surprising, therefore, that these kind of tactics feature prominently in his playbook.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Like most of the T'lan Imass, Tool regularly shrugs off crippling injuries, just to remind us that, yes, he is undead.
- Implacable Man: Comes with being a T'lan Imass, although even by their standards he's pretty damn hard to stop.
- Lightning Bruiser: As the First Sword, he can fight with the best, and as a T'lan Imass, he can basically become dust and travel really fast, and short of decapitation T'lan Imass don't die. However, T'lan Imass cannot materialize over water.
- Loners Are Freaks: Tool is unbound, and unconnected to any clan. Other T'lan Imass tend to view him with a mix of suspicion and awe because of this.
- Master Swordsman: The First Sword of the T'lan Imass.
- The Undead: Naturally.
- The Unfettered
- Loners Are Freaks: Even more so than her brother, Tool. Especially since she was the one who killed their entire tribe...
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Pannion. That is all.
- The Undead: A notable aversion; she refused to take part in the Ritual of Tellann and is now one of the only living Imass still around.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting / Panthera Awesome: As a bonecaster, she turns into a big black panther.
Onrack the Broken
- Fluffy Tamer: His two emlava cubs.
- Happily Married: Eventually, with Kilava. Not so much with his first wife...
- Power of Friendship: With Trull Sengar.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Averted. Onrack is one of the few T'lan Imass that doesn't see his condition as a curse.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheated on his wife, the Imass woman who would later become the Whirlwind Goddess.
- Dracolich: Being the First Bonecaster, Olar Ethil is also a Soletaken. However, since she is undead, her Soletaken form is that of an undead dragon.
- A God Am I: Like many Jaghut Tyrants, Raest took perverse delight in being percieved as a god by the Imass.
- Armour Is Useless: You don't even find out he was wearing it until several books after the fight. To be fair, he was fighting Dragons, so it probably didn't make all that much difference.
- Badass: Hell yes. Possibly one the strongest characters introduced in the series, in terms of raw power (although that may have just been a GOTM thing.
- Deadpan Snarker: Is evolving into one as the series progresses. His sense of humour is definitely an odd one though.
- Morality Pet: Has several Malazan soldiers find him a dead cat. He brings it to life so that it can keep him company inside the House of Azath and names it Tufty.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Jaghut loathed community and avoided it as though it were a disease, believing it led only to horror and violence. Raest is a tyrant, who gets his kicks out of enslaving weaker species.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Well, sealed in a barrow anyway, and by his own species no less. His Finnest, which contains most of his power, is also an example.
- Soul Jar: The Finnest has most of Raest's power in it.
- The Undead: He's not Undead like the Imass are, but it's clear that Raest and his body no longer share a particularly intimate connection, and the destruction of the latter causes him few difficulties. A straight example now that he's inside the Azath House.
- An Ice Person
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Like most Jaghut, shows a rather...weird sense of humor.
- "I greet you as guests and so will not crush the life from you and devour your souls with peals of laughter. No, instead, I will make some tea.""Ah, I despair, or I would if I cared enough. No, instead, I will make some ashcakes. Which I will not share."
- Famed In-Story
- The Hermit: Like most non-Tyrant Jaghut. To the point where he willingly lives in an Azath house.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Lord of Hate.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Oh yeah. His work, Gothos' Folly, is described as a suicide note dozens of volumes long.
- Parental Neglect: To his son Icarium, a rather screwed up individual.
- Person of Mass Destruction: When you can casually freeze an entire continent...
- Really 700 Years Old
- Troll: Really enjoys jerking Kilmandaros and Mael around.
See Pannion Domin
- Break the Cutie: His backstory. His mother was killed by the T'lan Imass and he was shoved through a rent and into the arms of the K'Chain Che'Malle Matron. This has had a rather negative impact on his sanity.
- Dark Messiah: As dark as they come.
- Evil Overlord
- Mordor: Is deliberately transforming his realm into one.
- Religion of Evil: Runs one.
- The Reveal: He's a Jaghut named Pannion in disguise.
- Sorcerous Overlord
- Unwitting Pawn: He's being manipulated from the start by the Crippled God, who is messing with his emotions.
Anaster, First Child of the Dead Seed
- Bastard Bastard
- Child by Rape: His mother raped a dying man, in order to become pregnant with Anaster.
- Death Seeker: Becomes a monster in the hope that someone will kill him.
- Despair Event Horizon: Crossed it long ago.
- Empty Shell: There's literally nothing left inside Anaster. All he has is his despair.
- Freak Out: When Itkovian offers to take his despair from him. It's all he has.
- Grand Theft Me: Toc the Younger's soul eventually takes possession of Anaster's body.
- I'm A Humanitarian: Encourages cannibalism among his followers and practises it himself.
- Improbable Age: He's in his late teens and leading an army. Justified by his Tykebomb status.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Tries this on Rake and Whiskeyjack, appearing to be a Type 2, before revealing that he really does want to die.
- Poisonous Person: Briefly demonstrates this sort of ability when Annomander Rake grabs him.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Taken to the extreme.
- Sociopathic Soldier
- Soulless Shell: After Itkovian claims his despair.
- Tykebomb: Raised since birth to lead the cannibalistic Tenescowri horde.
Seerdomin / Segda Travos
'Redeemer, I have looked in the eyes of my enemy, and they are hard, cold, emptied of everything but hate. I have, yes, seen my own reflection – it haunts me still.'
A remnant officer of the Pannion Domin army that stays in Coral after the Seer's defeat and tries to better his life. He befriends the Tiste Andii Spinnock Durav in a tavern, where the both of them spend their evenings playing board games and pondering their daily lives. Aside from that, Seerdomin garners a little cult following within the camp of the Redeemer's worshippers as the Benighted, because he visits Itkovian's barrow daily and so keeps undesirables from the camp.
- The Atoner: Wishes to atone for his crimes in the service of the cannibalistic army of the Pannion Domin. He keeps the title 'Seerdomin' so that he won't be able to hide his legacy.
- From Nobody to Nightmare:
- Once the son of a fisherman, became a high ranking fanatic in the Seer's army, admitting to have fully comitted to the tyranny.
- Does it again in Toll the Hounds, when he goes from gloomy but generally decent citizen to stalking and murdering people at night because they were planning to get rid of their new Andii Lord.
- Heel–Face Turn: While you couldn't exactly call him evil at any point, he is still conflicted about his past and tries his best to live with himself and his decisions. While his road is rocky indeed, by the end of Toll the Hounds he dies for the ideals of a god he isn't even sure he really believes in or trusts.
- The Hunter: Goes after a bunch of cutthroats trying to depose Anomander Rake as the Lord of Black Coral, so the Andii Lord would not have to deal with the rabble himself. Seerdomin thinks these people are proof that Humans Are Bastards and that their benign Lord is the best thing that could have happened to Coral.
- Lonely Together: Spinnock and him meet every evening in Scour Tavern to play Kef Tanar, get drunk and be miserable together.
- Madden Into Misanthropy: By the time of Toll the Hounds he is a gruff loner, not even trying to hide his legacy and his only friend is a Tiste Andii he considers better than most humans.''This is my penance, Spinnock Durav. My singular apology for the madness of humanity. Forgive them, please, because I cannot.'
- Messiah Creep: In Universe! Seerdomin slowly realizes that he's becoming a figure of salvation to the Redeemer's followers and deeply conflicted about it, because while his deeds may seem heroic to outsiders, he is mainly in it for personal reasons.
- Mook Lieutenant: The Septarch calls him his most trusted servant.
- The Nameless: Goes by his former military rank of 'Seerdomin' to show that he won't hide from his crimes under the Pannion Domin. It is later revealed that his real name was Segda Travos.
- Nominal Hero: The Redeemer's followers see him as their hero, because his daily presence at the barrow discourages bandits from entering the camp, but his reasons for visiting are personal and he is even surprised that people would look up to him.
- Not Always Evil: Despite not being a named character yet, in Memories of Ice he is an all around decent human being towards Toc during his imprisonment with the Matron: conversing with him to alleviate the torture the latter has to endure, taking him outside to view the sea and carrying him when he grows too weak to walk himself. All this despite holding the highest military rank of his army and being a very minor character in that book.
- Religious Bruiser:
- Deconstructed in Memories of Ice when he is part of the fanatical army of the Pannion Domin and already a broken man because of the things he had to do. Then...
- Reconstructed in Toll the Hounds when he finds himself bafflingly in the service of the Redeemer, once again fighting for a faith, but this time the implication is, that he's doing the right thing.
- Only Sane Employee: He is smart enough not to directly oppose his less than sane Seer's commands, but does go out of his way to call attention to the state of their prisoner and tries to reason with his higher-ups. It also helps that he is not one of the hunger-crazed foot soldiers that make up the bulk of the army.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Seerdomin has been thoroughly broken by the things he witnessed and did under the Seer's tyranny. While capable of great kindness towards Toc and later Spinnock, his outlook on the world and humanity as a whole is far from positive.
- The Stoic: He delivers the news of the starvation of an entire people in a detached tone, though Toc sees a Not So Stoic undercurrent in him.
- You Shall Not Pass: Defends the Redeemer from a dying god-possessed Salind.
The Defenders Of Capustan
- The Champion: Becomes Mortal Sword of Trake
- Dual Wielding: Cutlasses.
- Hired Guns: Worked as a caravan guard for hire.
- Lightning Bruiser: Big, strong and fast. Becomes stronger, and lethally quick and agile when Trake selects him as his Mortal Sword.
- Panthera Awesome: As the Mortal Sword of the Tiger of Summer, Gruntle now moves like a big cat.
- Power Makeover: His appearance becomes very, very tigerish following his selection as Mortal Sword of Trake, to the point where it creeps people out.
- Power Tattoo: Trake's blessing tattoos his skin with tiger stripes.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Initially disinterested in fighting during the siege of Capustan, Gruntle changes his mind after Stonny is raped by a Seerdomin and ends up leading the resistance.
- Technicolor Eyes: They turn tiger-yellow.
- Lipstick Lesbian/ Bi the Way: It's not entirely clear which she really is, though she seemingly sleeps with both Nektara (female) and Netok (male) in Memories of Ice.
- Rape as Drama: Raped by an unnamed Seerdomin during the siege of Capustan. She quickly kills him, though not before making him beg for mercy first.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Becomes an Ascendent known as The Redeemer.
- Bad Ass
- Celibate Hero
- The Empath: Can detect and absorb others' grief. Given the nature of the series there's a lot of it to go around.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dies absorbing the collective grief of the T'lan Imass.
- Meaningful Funeral
- Reasonable Authority Figure
The Army of the Whirlwind
Also called The Army of the Apocalypse, or the Apocalypse Army.
Sha'ik Reborn / Felisin Paran
- Bi the Way: As Felisin, sleeps with both men and women. May be a case of Situational Sexuality; see the spoiler under Really Gets Around.
- Break the Cutie: Most of her family is killed, she is enslaved, she prostitutes herself to secure better treatment for herself and her friends, several of her closest friends are killed in the escape, she is subjected to mind control by an insane goddess who wants to wipe out humanity, and she is ultimately killed by her own sister, who never even learns who she was fighting.
- Dark Messiah: isn't obvious at first, but by the time we see the Whirlwind Goddess' internal monologue, it becomes apparent just how monstrous the cause she's been compelled to serve is.
- Demonic Possession: Or divine possession (by the Whirlwind Goddess), but it still counts.
- Really Gets Around: As Felisin, though this is at least partially a reaction to being a slave; she sleeps with anyone and everyone who is willing to offer her favours for doing so. However, this behaviour continues to a lesser extent after she escapes the Otataral mines, at least until she becomes Sha'ik Reborn.
- Rebel Leader: of the Whirlwind Rebellion
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: proves to be a large part of her motivation. Tavore thought it would be better for Felisin to be enslaved than killed. Naturally, Felisin doesn't forgive this, particularly since Tavore's planned freeing of Felisin doesn't happen nearly as quickly as anticipated.
Heboric Light Touch / Heboric Ghost Hands
- Chekhov's Gunman
- Poisonous Person: His hands; natural, Jade and Otataral.
- Jade and Otataral Hands
- Sanity Slippage
Leoman of the Flails
- Badass Normal
- Dual Wielding: Uses two flails.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At Y'ghatan. Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas, his erstwhile second in command, does not forgive him for this and ultimately allies with the Malazans, whom he had previously regarded as his hated enemies.
Toblakai—-See High House Chains
L'oric—-See Tiste Liosan
Felisin YoungerThe adopted daughter of Felisin, who after being subjected to horrific abuses is ultimately kidnapped by renegade T'lan Imass and installed as a new Sha'ik Reborn.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Due to her indulgence in as many sensual pleasures as she can manage, she puts on a lot of weight. This doesn't stop her from having as much sex as she wants, although to be fair, the fact that she's effectively worshipped probably helps here.
- Break the Cutie: Raped and circumcised by Bidithal. Although Heboric appears to have healed her of the latter, she bears severe psychological scars from the abuse and they only get worse after she sees the friends who have been guarding her apparently cut down by T'lan Imass. While most of them survive and Heboric Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence, she does not know this and has clearly been broken by her string of traumatic experiences.
- Generation Xerox: Not a biological example, but she follows the trajectory of her adoptive mother's life pretty closely, including being subjected to a huge Trauma Conga Line, Really Getting Around, and being installed as Sha'ik Reborn.
- Rape as Drama: Is raped by Bidithal, which is only the start of her Trauma Conga Line.
- Really Gets Around: After being installed as Sha'ik Reborn it doesn't take her long to start indulging as heavily in pleasures of the flesh as she can, which includes sex. Constantly. With, apparently, anyone who is willing.
- Sex for Solace: This is implied to be the reason she indulges in sex so much, though it's also suggested that the Crippled God is messing with her mind.
ScillaraA camp follower with the Army of the Apocalypse who has been subjected to horrific abuse.
- Babies Make Everything Better: Averted. She ends up pregnant as a result of her forced prostitution, views the pregnancy as an ordeal, and wants nothing to do with the child when born. To be fair, it is effectively a Child by Rape.
- Bi the Way: She certainly enjoyed her encounter with Blend, though she does seem to prefer men.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: ends up Happily Married to Barathol, but she had to go through seven different kinds of hell to get there.
- Good Bad Girl: A fundamentally good person who will happily use sex to cheer people up if she thinks it worthwhile. However, this hasn't stopped her from getting emotionally hurt from doing so.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Starts out as this, but it wasn't exactly by choice.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: She tries to tell herself that it's just sex with Cutter, but ends up getting hurt anyway. She believes Barathol will abandon her too, but ultimately he doesn't.
- Rape as Drama: was subjected to the same rape and circumcision that Felisin Younger was, and then made a prostitute without apparently being given a say in the matter. She was also kept in a haze of durhang throughout this time which may have resulted in somewhat less trauma than she might have otherwise experienced.
High House Chains
The Crippled God / Kaminsod
- And I Must Scream: He's been trapped and tortured for hundreds of thousands of years at the start of the series.
- Big Bad: About as close to one as the series gets. Arguably subverted in that he's treated with considerable sympathy, particularly in the later books, and in the end the protagonists end up having to save him when his plots get Hijacked by the Forkrul Assail.
- Black Cloak: Of sorts. He usually covers himself in dark-colored rags, rather than an actual cloak, but the look is very similar.
- The Corrupter: The Crippled God specialises in bringing out the worst in people, typically offering them exactly what they want in exchange for their inclusion in his House of Chains. He seems to like driving his followers/victims mad.
- Deal with the Devil: Munug, Kallor and many others have made them with him.
- Disabled Deity: It's in the name. He's not a paragon of mental health, either.
- Dysfunction Junction: His followers. It's entirely deliberate too. The Crippled God desires every member of his House to be as flawed, mentally and/or physically, as he is.
- Evil Cripple: Evil due to crippling. The Fall destroyed his mind.
- Freudian Excuse: The Fall did not do good things to his sanity. The fact that most of the pantheon has periodically gotten together and chained him up for, from his perspective, no real reason didn't help either.
- God of Evil: Deconstructed. He's more like a god of suffering, and that suffering includes his own. While he's initially presented as causing it, in the end after the Bonehunters risk everything to save him from the Assail and succeed, he ends up becoming the god who has sympathy for those who suffer.
- Well, at least up until the point Cotillion kills him with a surprise backstab. It's implied, however, that this was done to allow him to return home, which was what he wanted all along.
- Hidden Villain: For the first two and a half books.
- I Have Many Names: The Crippled God, the Fallen God, the Chained One. But his real name is Kaminsod.
- Kick the Dog: His treatment of Rhulad Sengar. See below.
- Mad God: Due to being caught in a trap meant for Kallor and spending hundreds of thousands of years in it.
- The Man Behind the Man: To so many different villains, with the Pannion Seer being a particularly spectacular example.
- Narrator All Along: Ultimately revealed as the narrator in The Crippled God. This turns out to be a Justified Trope, as it's revealed that he penned the series so that those who sacrificed their lives to free him would not be forgotten. The title of the series, naturally, relates to this.
- Omnicidal Maniac: He's slowly poisoning Burn. Whether he genuinely wants her dead or is hoping that someone will free him in order to prevent this isn't known for most of the series. It's the latter.
- Pillar of Light: When he's freed.
- Physical God: Like many other Ascendants in the series.
- Red Right Hand: The evil god is the crippled one. Go figure.
- Sadistic Choice: See Xanatos Gambit below. The best case scenario is his freedom, and the end of civilisation as they know it. The worst case scenario is the slow death of the entire world.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Chained in place to the sleeping goddess Burn, though his spirit can move around inside a Warren and has appeared in several places around the world. Ultimately subverted when he is freed and turns out to act more in the manner one would expect of a Sealed Good in a Can. Freeing him seems to have undone the madness that led to most of his actions prior to his freedom, and it certainly stops his poisoning of Burn which had been causing many of the world's problems. He's also immensely grateful to the people who freed him; ending hundreds of thousands of years' worth of torture will do that to a god.
- Start of Darkness: He was just a foreign god who fell to earth as the result of a trap meant for Kallor. And went stark raving mad as a result.
- Vader Breath: Has to constantly inhale incense in order to keep his lungs clear. Even then, his breathing is still ragged and wheezing.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The fate of many of those who choose to follow him.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Fall left him crippled, agonised and totally insane. He seems to be out to destroy the world in order to make the pain go away. It's very hard not to feel bad for him on some level.
- Wound That Will Not Heal: None of the injuries from the Fall have healed. Not one in a hundred thousand years.
- Xanatos Gambit: If they don't loose him, Burn dies and he gets his revenge. If they do, he's free to wreak havoc and get his revenge via other means. Kind of a win-win situation for him.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Before the horror show began.
- Artifact of Doom: Mystically linked to one.
- Axe Crazy
- Back from the Dead: Over and over and over again.
- BFS: The aforementioned Artifact of Doom.
- Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Rhulad is a much more layered character than his Annoying Younger Sibling behaviour lets on at first, however it takes a serious horror show for that to surface. By the time he starts trying to get his shit together it's way too late and he can't help himself slipping back into his old persona again and again.
- Blessed with Suck: He comes back every time he's killed, but only after having his soul tortured by the Crippled God.
- Body Horror: Covered in half-melted gold coins from a Tiste Edur death rite. Some of them fall out, but that just leaves him with horrific burn scars instead.
- The Caligula: Deconstructed. We're treated to a blow-by-blow account of his descent into madness, and it's treated as tragedy rather than menace.
- Cool Sword: Subverted. It's the Artifact of Doom that keeps bringing him back.
- Death Seeker: Gee, I wonder why?
- The Dragon: As The King in Chains, he fullfills this role with regards to the Crippled God.
- The Emperor: Of the Letherii Empire and the Tiste Edur.
- Evil Overlord
- Glory Seeker: Initially. By the time he learns the lesson it's too late, though.
- Healing Factor: Can heal any injuries, save those inflicted on him by the funeral rites after his first death.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Which got him linked to the Artifact of Doom in the first place.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Due to being too young and too proud, Rhulad is prone to misjudging people. He considers Trull a coward, but trusts people who are only in it for their own benefit.
- I Have Many Names: Rhulad Sengar, The Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, The King in Chains.
- Immortality Hurts: Between getting tortured by the Crippled God in the afterlife, the Body Horror from his funeral, his bride committing suicide rather than bearing his child, and his enroaching insanity, yeah.
- Killed Off for Real: When Karsa finally kills his soul.
- Lust: Lusted after his brother Fear's wife, who toyed with his emotions as a game. This results in a very nasty Love Triangle once he becomes The Emperor.
- Mood-Swinger: Comes with the increasing insanity.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Emperor of a Thousand Deaths.
- Neck Snap: How he meets his second death at the hand of Letherii soldier Iron Bars. He gets over it.
- Pet the Dog: His attempt at returning Mayen, his wife, to his brother, Fear, whom she genuinely loves. Also, his forcing Mayen to stop beating her slave, Feather Witch.
- Pride: One of Rhulad's major sins before becoming The King In Chains. He was convinced he was far superior to everyone, including his brothers Fear and Trull.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Averted. He forces his brother's wife to marry him, and has his way with her, and somehow, it just makes him all the more pathetic and pitiable.
- Sanity Slippage: Gradually loses his mind as each new resurrection takes its toll on him.
- Self-Made Orphan: Not that this was his intention. He threw his mom and dad in prison. The jail promptly flooded.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Initially. His first death pretty much shatters his ego though.
- Trauma Conga Line: His brother is murdered by Karsa, his bride kills herself, his parents are drowned in his dungeon, his people are scheming against him, he's slowly going mad, and that's without getting into the horror show that is his curse.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Not Rhulad.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It's hard to not to sympathise with him, after his mind starts to slowly break apart because of his deaths... and deaths of his loved ones. Also Udinaas, his only friend, betrays him - or so he thinks...
- Wound That Will Not Heal: No matter how many times he dies, the wounds from his first death will not heal. And then there's those damn coins from his first funeral.
Karsa Orlong / Toblakai
- Anti-Hero: A Nominal Hero, more or less. An Unscrupulous Hero on a good day.
- Badass: How his fans view him.
- Barbarian Hero: His perspective is initially, per Word of God, a deliberate deconstruction of the barbarian fantasy, and as such his perspective begins as not heroic in any conceivable sense. He gets somewhat better as he undergoes Character Development, but at his best remains an antihero.
- Blood Knight: While he's not as much of one now as he was when the series starts, he's still quite fond of, and skilled at, combat.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Catch Phrase: "Witness!" Usually followed by something very Bad Ass or just plain insane.
- The Champion: Accepting the position of Knight of High House Chains would make him this to the Crippled God.
- Defeating the Undefeatable: Or more accurately, killing the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths who was supposed to be unkillable.
- The Dragon: The Crippled God wants him to be his Knight of Chains. So far, Karsa has been doing his best to refuse.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He may have started out believing that there is nothing wrong with rape, but he is nonetheless completely appalled when he finds out about Bidithal's paedophilia, and ultimately kills him. This effectively solidifies his transition from a Villain Protagonist to an Anti-Villain (he ultimately ends up an Anti-Hero). In The Bonehunters, he mentions that he hasn't raped anyone in years, so it's quite possible that seeing the effects of sexual abuse on Felisin Younger cured him of these tendencies.
- Fish out of Water: Anytime he approaches a remotely civilised location.
- The Giant: Karsa's immense size is almost always noted.
- Heel–Face Turn: He starts out as unambiguously villainous. Even at the end of his character arc he is far from entirely sympathetic, but arguably becomes either an Anti-Villain or a dark Anti-Hero. Some of this is arguably due to the narrative setting him against people who are unambiguously more villainous (Pedophile Priests, slavers, etc.), but some of it is due to Character Development, as his internal narrative makes it plain that he is re-examining the core beliefs that shaped him into the villain he was initially.
- Hellish Horse
- He-Man Woman Hater: Not a straight example as he doesn't hate women, but he does believe them to be inferior, and holds them in deep contempt, initially believing that rape is totally okay. His interactions with Samar Dev and various other women seem to be improving him for the better, although it's hard to tell completely; nonetheless, he delivers a massive Pay Evil unto Evil moment to Bidithal for his paedophilia and abuse of Felisin Younger, which appalls him.
- Inherent in the System: Karsa believes slavery and exploitation are inherent in society. His solution? Burn it down.
- Karmic Death: Hands them out, with great relish.
- Kill the God: In addition to Rhulad Sengar, who was more or less the vessel of the Crippled God, he also kills Fener, facilitating his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: As mentioned above, he is quite fond of dishing out Karmic Deaths, particularly to paedophiles and slavers.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Teblor are a Proud Warrior Race, and he starts as one of the proudest. Even as he moves away from their customs, he doesn't lose his relish for combat.
- Psychopathic Man Child: On occasion.
- Refusal of the Call: Sort of. He has no problem with going on adventures and raping and pillaging and whatnot. He just really resents doing it on the Crippled God's orders.
- Tattooed Thug: The broken-glass tattoos on his face that denote his past as a slave.
- Values Dissonance: Both in-universe (with the rest of the cast that is) and with the fans. He does get better as he undergoes Character Development.
- Villain Protagonist: His perspective starts out as unambiguously villainous, which was done deliberately. However, he undergoes a substantial amount of Character Development and arguably becomes either an Anti-Villain or a very dark Anti-Hero.
High House Shadow
- Black Cloak
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Feared emperor, chessmaster usurper of High House Shadow, all around Manipulative Bastard...and deathly afraid of his mother (and all females), apparently. Has some shades of Cloud Cuckoo Lander as well.
- The Chessmaster: sets in motion much of the series
- Deal with the Devil: "Shadowthrone loves deals."
- The Emperor: Pre-Ascension.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Inverted. Ammanas' voice is very high-pitched and cold.
- Faux Affably Evil
- From Nobody to Nightmare: started off as a bar owner and middling criminal
- Giggling Villain
- Hellhounds: Commands seven of them.
- In the Hood
- Laughably Evil
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Would you mess with a guy named "Shadowthrone"?
- Physical God
- The Reveal: He's Emperor Kellanved, who Ascended following Laseen's assassination attempt.
- Revenge: Wants to pay back Laseen for murdering him.
- "It's not such a bad thing, girl, to be the pawn of a god."
- Bad Ass: If the stories are to be belived, Dancer was a Bad Ass even before his Ascension to Godhood. He's definitely one now.
- The Champion: As Assassin of High House Shadow he holds this position.
- Demonic Possession: Takes over Apsalar/Sorry during Gardens of the Moon.
- The Dragon: To Shadowthrone.
- Knife Nut
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Rope, Patron of Assassins.
- Parental Substitute: Seems to be trying to become one to Sorry/Apsalar, as a means of making up for what he put her through.
- Pet the Dog: Has a minor one with Sorry right before he possesses her, reassuring her that the experience won't be that bad. Has had many more since than; see Parental Substitute, above.
- Physical God
- Professional Killer: Cotillion is the Patron of Assassins.
- The Reveal: Was formerly Dancer, Emperor Kellanved's companion, and Ascended alongside his master.
- Revenge: For the same reasons as Ammanas.
- Shipper on Deck: He seems to want Cutter and Apsalar to be happy. It's just that, well, try as he might to be a kind father figure, he's not the god of happy endings, he's the god of murdering people in the face. It's not working.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Has been gradually remembering the things she did while controlled by The Rope.
- Badass: She danced with the Claw. All of the Claw. When she was done, all of her dancing partners lay dead.
- Break the Cutie: Twice. After Cotillion's posession she seemed to go back to normal...right up until she started recovering her skills and plunging into whole new depths of Wangst. She's now abandoned Cutter, the one person who really gives a damn about her in order to go off and do god knows what, excusing it by claiming that he'd only get hurt.
- Creepy Child
- Dance Battler
- Dark Action Girl: Though much more sympathetic than most (she's one of the main protagonists).
- Dark Magical Girl: Her personality is closer to this, even if her abilities are those of a Dark Action Girl.
- Demonic Possession: Posessed by Cotillion, though whether it's in full or in part isn't entirely clear.
- Knife Nut: Inherited from The Rope.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Loses all her memories of The Rope's actions, post-posession.
- Loss of Identity: She remembers quite a bit of her life pre-possession, but clearly isn't that girl anymore. Not to mention that she still doesn't know her name.
- Maybe Ever After: One of the Epilogues of The Crippled God has Cutter finally tracking down Apsalar, at the ruins of the fishing town she originally came from.
- Psycho for Hire:Poses as one while infiltrating the Malazan Army. She scares Quick Ben, Whiskeyjack, and Kalam she's so damn creepy.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Somewhere between an extreme example of this, and Crazy Awesome.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: At times, Pust has been known to make comments like "she's falling for my clever scheme" to the person he is trying to manipulate.
- Evil Genius: The only reason Shadowthrone keeps him around.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Maybe. It's really hard to tell if Pust is faking it, or if he just happens to be both rather bright and totally nuts.
- Smarter Than You Look: Despite his craziness, tendency towards accidentally stabbing himself in the foot, and an ego the size of some small countries, Pust is actually quite bright, and at times, suprisingly effective.
- Talkative Loon: Trying to shut him up would likely take an act of god. Or several gods.
- Thinking Out Loud: Often.
Lady Envy's Companions
- Cain and Abel: She and her sister Spite cannot bear to be in the same city without trying to kill each other.
- Betrayal by Inaction: Is said to have stood by while her then-lover Anomander Rake killed her father and took his Soul-Cutting Blade Dragnipur from him. It is heavily implied that she did this just to spite Lord Draconus, and because she wanted Dragnipur for herself in the long run, not to stay out of a conflict between her father and her lover.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Towards her sister, Spite.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Draconus intentionally named his daughters Envy, Spite and Malice, and would've named a fourth one Venom.
- Upper-Class Twit: Does an amazing impression of one. She's actually quite bright, if a little ditzy.
Toc The Younger
- Achey Scars: His eye still hurts.
- Action Survivor: Feels like one alongside Envy, Tool, Baaljaag, Gareth and the Seguleh.
- Can't Stay Normal: Or dead. He's been attacked by Hairlock and thrown into a rent, accompanied Lady Envy, body snatched Anaster and become Mortal Sword of Togg and Fanderay, been killed again, and now serves Hood.
- The Champion: Mortal Sword of Togg and Fanderay, then Herald of Death.
- Death Is Cheap: How many times has he come back from the dead now?
- Eyepatch of Power
- Grand Theft Me: Following his initial death, Toc's soul is transplanted into that of Anaster in order to give them both a second chance at life.
- Private Military Contractors: As leader of the Grey Swords.
Mok, Thurule, and Senu
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Seguleh hierarchy is modelled on combat ability. As the Third, Mok can and does kick a lot of ass.
- Bad Ass: All three of them. To the point where their fellow Seguleh class them as a "punitive army" and expect them to carve their way through the Pannion Domin on their own. They don't dissapoint.
- Blood Knight: Three representatives from an entire nation of them.
- Charles Atlas Superpowers
- Dual Wielding: All three Seguleh.
- The Fettered: Courtesy of Lady Envy's magic.
- Honour Before Reason: If the Seguleh think you might be tough, they will challenge you, no matter where or when. And they'll make it a fair fight too.
- Improbable Age: Senu's just turned twenty.
- Mask Power: All Seguleh go masked, and the markings on their mask indicate their rank (Mok is the third-ranked Seguleh, his mask has two slashes on it).
- Master Swordsman: All three, but especially Mok.
- Proud Warrior Race Trio
- The Quiet One: All three of them, but especially Mok.
- The Stoic
- Amnesiac God: The wolf-goddess Fanderay is trapped inside her.
- Canine Companion
- Sizeshifter: Can greatly alter her size, though not to the extent Gareth can.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Is searching for the spirit of her mate, the wolf-god Togg. He's hiding inside Toc.
'What do you think? Should I get out of bed today, Bugg?'
The middle Beddict brother. When the Beddict family came dangerously close to becoming Indebted, Tehol took it on himself to keep the family afloat, something he did in secret while attending his instructors. Tehol is an economic savant, and was able to amass one of the largest fortunes in Letheras - a "peak", or one million "thirds", roughly one eighth of the city's combined currency - before going bankrupt literally overnight, nearly crashing the economy of the Empire. What happened to the money is unknown, and Tehol is now a largely forgotten figure living in poverty with his manservant Bugg.
- Author Avatar: It is quite likely that Tehol's thoughts on the Letherii economic system mirror Erikson's own.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He may be the smartest person in the entire setting, but, as seen in the quote above (his Establishing Character Moment), he really prefers not to do anything unless it's strictly necessary. Part of the reason he keeps up the appearance of living in poverty is to escape attention and keep his life simpler, and when he becomes emperor he comments that he will probably never get around to enacting many of the the reforms he wants to.
- Character Filibuster: Is prone to these. It is rare for him to be interrupted, though because a lot of these are directed at Bugg, who only hangs around Tehol because he finds him interesting, there's likely a reason for this.
- The Chessmaster: He is quite possibly the single most intelligent character of the series, which is saying something. He's capable of single-handedly manipulating the entire Letherii economy if it suits his purposes. Which it eventually does. The general populace eventually thanks him for this, as it ends a brutally oppressive economic system, and he ends up ruling the entire empire at the end of Reaper's Gale by popular demand, making him perhaps the setting's first democratically elected leader.
- Chivalrous Pervert: He hits on almost every woman he meets, and several of them do climb into bed with him, including Shurq, Rucket, and Janath, the last of whom eventually marries him. However, he remains every bit as flirtatious as ever, which Janath simply finds amusing.
- Defector from Decadence: He is very, very good at playing Lether's economic game. And he hates it so much he nearly brought the whole thing down. In Midnight Tides, he gets asked to do this a second time. In Reaper's Gale, he does so.
- Guile Hero: Of the Beddict brothers, Tehol is the only one without combat skills of any sort.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: At the start of Midnight Tides, he's living in a run-down single room hut with his manservant, with barely anything to his name. Or so it would seem. Tehol still secretly owns a number of businesses in Lether, and can easily come back and dominate the game, if he wanted.
Tehol Beddict: 'You've no talent to speak of, in much of anything, come to think of it. Probably why I love you so dearly, Bugg.'
Bugg is Tehol's mysterious manservant of many talents.
- Battle Butler: To Tehol.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He is actually the Elder God Mael, god of the sea. Hangs around with Tehol because he's interesting.
- Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Again, to Tehol.
Brys BeddictThe youngest of the three Beddict brothers. A Finadd (captain) of the Letherii army, he was recently raised to the position of King's Champion, the King's personal bodyguard for his superlative skills as a swordsman. Though he would like nothing more than to be left to do his duty, the intrigues of the Letherii court have a way of enveloping even the most tangential of players.
- Back from the Dead: In Reaper's Gale.
- Badass Normal: Defeated Rhulad, without killing him.
- Master Swordsman: Possibly the best non-Ascendant swordsman in the series.
Shurq ElalleA burglar who got caught. Deciding to try her luck in the Drownings, she got tangled in detritus in the canals and drowned, only to discover that one of her victims had cursed her with undeath. Much to her frustration, her dead nerves prevent her from enjoying the pleasures of the living, most notably sex. She gives up stealing, not caring about much any longer, until Tehol Beddict contacts her for her services - and offers a way to enjoy carnal pleasures again.
- Classy Cat-Burglar
- Cool Big Sis: To Kettle.
- Cursed with Awesome: It takes awhile, but she ultimately appears to come to see being undead as this, after first viewing it as being Blessed with Suck.
- Good Bad Girl: one of the most promiscuous characters in the series (which is saying a lot), and also (despite being a thief and later a pirate) one of the least ethically flawed.
- I Love the Dead: Inverted—she's a walking dead woman who enjoys sex with the living.
- Mate or Die: Maybe. After she's given an ootooloo (a strange aquatic life form that enhances sexual pleasure), she can once again enjoy sex despite being undead. The byproduct is that she also has an extremely strong sex drive as a result, and it's stated that if she doesn't satiate it on a daily basis, something will happen to her, and it's implied not to be pleasant. It's not made clear what this is, and in any case, "death" isn't likely to be the outcome, since she's already undead. Strangely, this doesn't seem to bother her at all, because not being able to enjoy sex had made her utterly apathetic about everything, and she seems to regard her new state as an improvement. Eventually she does seem to get more control over this.
- Pirate Girl: Eventually decides she wants to be a pirate. No particular reason, it just sounds like a fun thing to do.
- Really Gets Around: She spends quite a bit of time in a brothel at one point due to her newly awakened carnal appetites, which require daily satiation. We don't see first-hand what she's been up to, but since the madam mentions that the brothel's other occupants resent her for stealing all their clients, we can assume this trope was involved. She does eventually get involved in multiple monogamous relationships though (or at least as monogamous as one can be when one needs to have sex every day - see Mate or Die above).
- The Undead
- Creepy Child: Although she is probably not actually a child, she has the appearance of one. Unlike many examples of this trope, though, she's also a genuinely nice person, despite also being a killer.
- Enfante Terrible: Played with. She's a creepy, Undead Child with a penchant towards murder, but she's also one of the few things standing between a dying Azath's denizens and the rest of Lether. She's also a genuinely nice person and only kills to prevent several Sealed Evils in a Can from escaping a dying Azath House.
- Kill the Cutie: She carries the seed of an Azath House within her. This means that her death was required to allow a new Azath House to grow, holding the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye and saving the Refugium and the now-mortal Imass who inhabit it. Udinaas, who has developed a strong friendship with her, is not at all happy about this, but appears to recognise that allowing the soul of Bloodeye to fall into the wrong hands, or for the mortal Imass to die, would be even worse.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: She tries to kill only evil people to feed the Azath.
- Rape as Drama: Due to the Crapsack World nature of the setting, this happens to her at the start of Reaper's Gale. She is surprisingly stoic about it, but then again, it's also implied that she is Really 700 Years Old, so despite appearing to be a child, she most likely is not one.
- Really 700 Years Old: While she has the appearance of a nine-year-old human child, she is actually a daughter of the goddess the Eres'al and apparently has the soul of a Forkrul Assail, and it's implied that she has been guarding the Azath House for a long, long time. She still behaves like a child in many ways, but is quite a lot more perceptive and resilient than a child would realistically be expected to be.
- The Stoic: Despite the long string of horrible things that happen to her, she remains surprisingly resilient. It may become slightly less surprising when one considers how old she likely really is, or the fact that she is the daughter of a goddess.
- Undead Child: At first. Towards the end of Midnight Tides, she is returned to the living when the Azath House plants its seed in her. Also, she's probably not actually a child, but has the appearance of one.
- Vigilante Man: A truly bizarre example. She targets criminals, spies, etc.
'I want to be scary. It's important that I be scary. I've been practising hissing and snarling.'
- Catch Phrase: "Fangs and claws".
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Harlest comes off as rather goofy, with all his talk of "fangs and claws" and his desire to scare people. Then he actually uses said claws in an attack on five Toblakai Ascendents.
- Psychopathic Man Child
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With his sociopathic (and living) brother Gerun.
- Talkative Loon
- The Undead
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Shurq.
'You will discover that the notion of debt is not so easily denied.'
A Letherii slave among the Tiste Edur. He is Indebted, and the debt is owned, by extension, by Tehol Beddict. Udinaas is extremely intelligent and Genre Savvy.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Is hopelessly in love with Feather Witch, who initially doesn't have the time of day for him. When she finally realises she is in love with him, he has already moved on and wants nothing to do with her.
- Attempted Rape: In Reaper's Gale, Feather Witch apparently decides that throwing herself naked at Udinaas is a good way to win his alliance. This uncomfortably harkens back to when Menandore raped him in Midnight Tides, especially since Menandore herself has just left the scene. Udinaas tells Feather Witch in no uncertain terms where she can stick her attempts at seduction.
- Beneath the Mask: Tries for Obfuscating Stupidity on the outside by playing the obedient slave, though nobody who bothers to look even remotely past the facade is buying it; and even then he still manages to say one thing and think another, usually something along the lines of 'That's why I said it, so you can go on enjoying your blessed ignorance.'
- Conversational Troping: Most notable in Reaper's Gale when he launches into a lengthy rant about Dungeon Crawling, but subtler instances occur:
- Genre Savvy: At least when it comes to heroic tales, which he spends a significant amount of time taunting Fear Sengar with in Reaper's Gale, as well as what his master & slave relationship to Rhulad is supposed to entail, which he deconstructs by laying out the actual mechanics of to the reader.
- Happiness in Slavery: Initially. A slave among the Tiste Edur has food, shelter and clothing against the harsh weather. The alternative would be labouring on a galley to pay off an inherited debt.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Described as 'ravaged eyes, a bleakness like defiant ice in this world of fire' in Reaper's Gale. He is always quick with a cold grin and a sharp-tongued comment, but Rud also notes how Udinaas is capable of 'ethereal ease' when he allows his harsh emotions to pass.
- Meta Guy: Udinaas spends most of his time in Reaper's Gale making observations about the storyline he's involved in, the people he travels with and their intentions, all the while commenting on the absurdity of it all.
- Morality Pet: To Rhulad during the conquest of Lether in Midnight Tides. He is fully aware of that and the precarious situation it puts him into.
- The Nondescript: Goes largely unnoticed wherever he is, and Seren Pedac even calls him 'nondescript' at one point.
- Open-Minded Parent: To Ryadd, when they finally get around to get to know each other.
- Precision F-Strike:'You understand too much,' Clip said in that lilting, offhand tone of his. 'Did you hear me, Udinaas?'
'Go fuck yourself,' the slave muttered.
- Rape as Drama: Is raped by Menandore shortly after his introduction. It's not played for titillation or comedy; it's completely horrifying.
- Spirit Advisor: Deconstructed via Wither. In Midnight Tides, Wither latches onto Udinaas and tries to play the Spirit Advisor in exchange for hiding in Udinaas' shadow. Udinaas considers the constant pseudo-arcane whispering 'worse than a burrowing tick', especially since Wither's advice is too cryptic to be useful, and his revelations are obvious to anyone with a working brain — at least as far as Udinaas is concerned. He hands Wither the wraith's own motives (not having wasted his time on Udinaas) on a platter, and gets almost killed by Wither as thanks in the finale of Reaper's Gale.
- Stepford Snarker: Eventually, he starts to dish out 'The Reasons All of You Suck, Myself Included'-speeches and snide remarks left, right and centre in an attempt to hide how he truly feels.
- Stopped Caring: Udinaas starts off as rather emotionally uninvolved but builds a growing wall between himself and everyone else the further the story goes. Remarkably, he never loses his capacity for feeling compassion and occasionally acts on it, but he does not get particularly involved with any one person unless he can help it, to prevent himself from being burdened with their problems.
- That Thing Is Not My Child!: His initial reaction after meeting Rud Elalle for the first time. He mellows out quite quickly and comes to love Rud/Ryadd.
- Too Clever by Half: Even Fear Sengar notices eventually and points it out. Udinaas just curses him for his trouble.
Feather WitchA Letherii slave among the Tiste Edur. She was born into slavery and possesses a talent for casting the tiles.
- All Love Is Unrequited: She doesn't have the day for Udinaas, who is initially hopelessly in love with her. By the time she realises she has feelings for him, he has moved on and wants nothing to do with her.
- Jerkass: To an extent, her treatment of Udinaas qualifies her for this, although she does eventually have some Pet the Dog moments towards him. It's subtly hinted towards the end of Midnight Tides that she may actually return his feelings for her, but is afraid to acknowledge them and behaves horribly to him as a result. However, her internal monologue in Reaper's Gale is initially still quite dismissive of him, so if this is the case, even she isn't aware of it. It's also implied that part of the reason she treats him horribly is as her way of coping with the abuse she herself is suffering at the hands of Mayen, which would make her a Jerkass Woobie. (For that matter, so is Mayen herself.)
- Sanity Slippage: Her internal monologue and actions eventually reveal that she has essentially gone insane, quite possibly as a result of all the horrible things that happened to her when she was a slave. Her thoughts may also qualify her for Blue and Orange Morality.
RucketThe Chief Investigator of the Rat Catchers' Guild, which, despite its name, does a lot more than catch rats, including assassinations, thievery, and smuggling out refugees. She appears to have significant magical powers, although what they are is not specified.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Although she isn't one, she takes on the appearance of one as a disguise. Tehol appears to be smitten.
- Glamour: It's implied that nearly all the supposed Rat Catchers are actually visions conjured up by either her or by Bubyrd. She, Ormly, and Bubyrd are the only members we ever meet who are suggested to be real. It's not actually clear how they perform all their functions with just three members. She's also capable of changing her appearance.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Bugg and Tehol seem to, at any rate.
Janath AnarA political prisoner of the Patriotists, the Letherii secret police. Prior to her imprisonment she was a highly perceptive academic.
- Babies Ever After: In Dust of Dreams, she is pregnant with Tehol's child and Bugg assures her the child will be healthy.
- Badass Bookworm: The bookworm part is presumably self-evident. She earns the badass part with how she kills Tanal.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: A particularly extreme case. She ends up empress after two lengthy imprisonments in each of which she was subjected to repeated sexual assault, the latter of which she put an end to by killing his assaulter. After her first imprisonment, Bugg did something to ease her psychological trauma, and it's likely that he did so the second time as well. She also writes a history of Tehol's reign as emperor.
- Obfuscating Insanity: She kills Tanal Yathvanar after convincing him she's developed Stockholm Syndrome for him, which she uses to lower his defences and strike at a particularly opportune moment. Her interior monologue indicates that she may actually have been driven mad at some point, but she was certainly faking the Stockholm Syndrome.
- Rape and Revenge: Subjected repeatedly to rape by Tanal Yathvanar. She eventually gets her revenge by convincing him she has Stockholm Syndrome and, having learnt his behaviour patterns, killing him when his defences are furthest down. To add further to the nature of his Karmic Death, she kills him while he is in the midst of sexually assaulting her.
Karos InvictadThe leader of the Patriotists, the Letherii secret police.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: An extreme case. He is shocked when the populace rebels in Reaper's Gale, because he is convinced his techniques of terror will infallibly subdue a populace. In all likelihood, these techniques actually made the rebellion worse.
- Smug Snake: In the midst of the events of Reaper's Gale, he thinks he is both the smartest and the richest person in Letheras. He is outclassed in both regards by Tehol, which ultimately leads to his demise.
- Wicked Cultured: A truly despicable man with a fondness for fine clothing and puzzles.
Tanal YathvanarPersonal assistant to Karos Invictad.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Despite his repeated sexual assault of Janath, he also genuinely believes himself to be in love with her, and she is very easily able to convince him that she is in love with him. This almost immediately leads to his death at her hands.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While this trope isn't always played straight in this series (in particular, see Rhulad, who is too insane to qualify as truly evil), in Tanal's case it's one of the earliest signs we have of how truly despicable he is.
- Smug Snake: Like his boss, he's an extreme one, not least due to his underestimation of Janath.
- Too Dumb to Live: Quite literally, as a direct consequence of his underestimation of one of the most intelligent academics in the city.
- Torture Technician: A truly disturbing one, since his tortures frequently include sexual assaults of prisoners.
K'rulAn Elder God. The shaper of paths.
- Elder God Unaware: As Keruli.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Mortal worshippers prayed to him. So he granted their prayers...which promptly caused all sorts of problems and power struggles.
- "...K’rul, who answered worship with generosity. Who, assailed by prayers written in spilled blood, gave answer to them. But the power he surrendered was not intended only for those who worshipped him. He has given it freely, to everyone."
- Big Good: Kind of. Maybe.
- Body Horror: The warrens run through his veins, literally. So when the warrens are poisoned, opening them occasionally causes boatloads of blood to come pouring out.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: The lack of it is implied to be the reason he's so weak now.
- Elder Gods accept prayer in the form of blood sacrifice. Give generously...
- Heroic Sacrifice: Jaraku. Also the entire warren system.
- In the Hood: Default appearance is a fully cloaked figure.
- Karmic Punishment: Kallor's curse.
- The Mentor: To Kruppe.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the prequel, implied to have been the root cause of all the series' problems, though probably not intentionally or knowingly.
- Older and Wiser: To all the gods.
- Samus Is a Girl: Apparently. Maybe. Nope, we didn't see that coming either.
DraconusAn Elder God, the Suzerain of Night, Consort to Mother Dark, and brother of K'rul. He was killed with his own sword, Dragnipur, by Anomander Rake, and has been trapped in there ever since. Or at least until Rake's Heroic Sacrifice.
- Parental Neglect: Doesn't pay much attention to his kids, and named his three daughters Envy, Spite, and Malice (if he had a fourth, she would apparently be named Venom). On the other hand, their mother, Olar Ethil, urges him to kill them, so...
- Badass: Curbstomps Kilmandaros and Sechul Lath, both Elder Gods themselves. Also scares the crap out of everyone once they realize that he's been freed from Dragnipur.
- Cool Sword: Forged Dragnipur...
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Naturally, he also turns into a giant black dragon. Although his particular Soletaken form is described as "darkness with wings" instead of a normal draconic form.
- Love Makes You Crazy, together with Love Ruins the Realm: Implied.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The Terondai he commissioned from Errastes
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: with a side of I Have Many Names.
- Older and Wiser: Apparently, spending several hundred thousand years suffering a Fate Worse Than Death mellowed him out a bit.
- What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Doesn't quite get it right, with unfortunate consequences.
HoodThe god of death, and (an undead) Jaghut. Succeeded as King of High House Death by Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners
- An Ice Person: Comes with being a Jaghut.
- Badass Seems fond of killing Forkrul Assail with his bare hands...and occasionally with his teeth.
- Big Damn Heroes: At the end.
- Dark Is Not Evil: One of the more reasonable gods, though still kind of a dick.
- The Grim Reaper
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast
- Love Makes You Crazy: His wife was murdered by Errastes. So he raised an army and waged war on death itself. And won!
- Our Orcs Are Different
- Unusual Euphemism: Not him, but "Hood's breath" and "Hood's balls" seem to be the most popular Malazan curses.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: As the king of the Jaghut, he waged a war on death, which ended with him becoming the god of death.
Errastas / The Errant
- Ambiguously Evil
- Ambition Is Evil
- The Chessmaster
- Depraved Bisexual: As Turudal Brizad.
- Elder God Unaware: As Turudal Brizad.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Karma Houdini: Although he ends the series with several rather nasty beings intent on chasing him down...
- Powers That Be
- Prescience Is Predictable
- The Omniscient
- Spell My Name with a "The"
- Time Abyss
'I am my own curse, Mappo. I have lived centuries, yet what do I know of my own past? Where are my memories? How can I judge my own life without such knowledge?'Icarium, a Jaghut halfblood, is an incredibly old being, forever wandering the world with a sole companion in tow. He is present in the mythology of many cultures, and is feared by most of them. He is known for his obsession with time — having gained sobriquets such as Lord of the Sand Grains — and as an inventor and maker of monumental machines, particularly those that measure time, by the building of which he tries to counteract his frequent bouts of memory loss. While an incredibly smart and gentle person, he is also one of the most powerful beings alive without being aware of it.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: After discovering what happens during his black-outs, Icarium is horrified and comes to the conclusion that only death or eternal imprisonment can redeem him.
- Amnesiacs Are Innocent: His amnesia shields Icarium from what he has done in the past, allowing him to retain his generous and sometimes downright innocent nature. Fiddler wonders how Icarium never questions his partnership with Mappo despite having only Mappo's word about their long friendship to rely on, but Icarium later points out that while frustrated, he has become simply used to the feeling.Mappo: In your ignorance you are so pure, so noble.
- The Berserker: Once his Unstoppable Rage kicks in, he becomes utterly uncontrollable in a fight, unable to distinguish friend from foe and indifferent to his own life. Comes complete with a frightening, keening scream.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: He carries both a longbow, which seems to be his first choice of weapon, and a sword, and can be deadly with either, but wears little — if any — armour.
- Bullying a Dragon: In Deadhouse Gates, with Icarium as the dragon and Iskaral Pust as the one who cannot keep his mouth shut, baiting Icarium with supposed knowledge he posses that Icarium lacks and calling Icarium a fool. He gets choked pretty thoroughly for his trouble.
- The Dreaded: Everyone who's ever heard of Icarium is shitting their metaphorical pants at the mere thought that Icarium might lose his temper and level the next couple of cities.
- Genius Bruiser: Icarium is a seven foot tall, tusked, weathered and travel-worn looking warrior sporting a sword and a bow, one of the most lethal fighters ever born and infamous for his Unstoppable Rage. He is also a mapmaker, inventor and scholar.
- Glowing Eyes: While in an Unstoppable Rage, Icarium's eyes blaze silver as a sign of the enormous power that surrounds him like a maelstrom.
- Here We Go Again: Though Icarium cannot remember it, it's implied that it's happened countless times before that he would have a companion, this companion would either die or be killed by Icarium in an unfortunate moment, and he would then wake up with a new companion who would claim that they'd been travelling together for ages. At the end of The Crippled God, he wakes up to find Ublala Pung at his side, and just accepts him as the feeling is already so familiar, and the cycle starts anew, while Mappo's corpse lies mere metres away.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With his travelling companion Mappo Runt. They spend their entire time together and obviously mean a lot to each other, although Icarium sometimes has trouble reconciling the depth of their friendship with his lack of memories. For him, there has simply always been someone at his side, and in whatever memories he does possess, it's always been Mappo.
- Human Weapon: The Nameless Ones treat Icarium as one. Although, technically, he was not made by them, they claim authority over how and when he gets to be used. Naturally, Icarium gets no say in the matter, not does he even know about the Nameless Ones.
- I Am Not a Gun: When, in The Bonehunters, Taralack Veed urges him to kill the defenders of the Throne of Shadow, Icarium retorts that he's had enough of this. Unfortunately, he goes berserk anyway, as too much fighting is going on around him.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. However, the unusual shape of his sword — a thin, long, single-edged, curved blade — is remarked upon several times, although it is not treated any differently in combat than other words.
- Lightning Bruiser: Especially once he loses control, Icarium can both dish out and receive potentially catastrophic amounts of damage without even blinking, all while doing it too fast for some to register. But even without the rage mode, he is frighteningly fast. Fast enough to startle Karsa Orlong.
- Made of Iron: It's unclear if he can be truly killed. Serious wounds only knock him out and trigger his amnesia, and he seems to grow even tougher when angry.
- Mad God: There are cults on the island of Cabal which worship Icarium as the One God, the Stealer of Life, essentially claiming he is a mad puppet with unimaginable power, turning any power of creation he may possess into random destruction. One sect calls itself that of the Mockers, asserting that a god who never left his worshippers any doctrine to live by but allows them to make and interpret their own, cannot be anything but insane.
- Martial Pacifist: He demonstrates on several occasions that he'd prefer not to get into a fight, but he also doesn't have the greatest patience, so annoy him long enough and you are dead meat. And Icarium will not even remember having mopped the floor with you afterwards.
- Master Swordsman: He's had thousands of years to hone his sword fighting skills, coupled with his incredible speed.
- Mind Hive: After the end of Reaper's Gale, where his previously built memory machine turns out to be broken and sucks not only his own mind in but also that of several random bystanders, Icarium ends up with a fractured mind and the ghosts/personalities of eight other people stuck in one — his — body. While that body wanders the Waste Lands aimlessly, the caught ghosts perceive themselves as separate entities undertaking that same trip, constantly arguing among each other, with the original Icarium — reduced to a ghost not even the others can perceive — floating around them in hopeless confusion. Ultimately, however, they do act as one, simply because they — unknowingly — share one body.
- Missing Time: Whenever he goes into Unstoppable Rage, effectively transforming into a monster capable of destroying entire civilizations, Icarium afterwards forgets all that he's done. He then usually shows concern about the Missing Time, but whatever companion he is currently travelling with makes sure to make the right noises to help Icarium with rationalizing the memory loss away.
- Mook Horror Show: At the end of The Bonehunters, Icarium loses control after witnessing children die and almost annihilates the Tiste Edur contingent sent to the Throne of Shadow. They practically melt several at a time; that is, those that don't get thrown around like toys.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: To those who have heard of Icarium's reputation or have been witness to its cause, his byname Lifestealer is something to run away from really fast indeed. Other variations on the name exist, such as Slayer of the Ten Thousand.
- Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Icarium is half Jaghut (from his father's side) and — presumably, as it's never fully disclosed — Thelomen Toblakai (from his mother's side). Both races are roughly humanoid, so in consequence, Icarium is as well, although he visibly leans more towards Jaghut than Toblakai.
- No Social Skills: As he spends most of his time wandering the deserts of Seven Cities with Mappo as his sole companion, and due to his memory problems, Icarium is not very good with social interactions beyond the basics. May also be because he's half Jaghut, and Jaghut are notorious loners prefering their own company above all else.Mappo: 'He entertains your companions. Feebly, I admit. For all his years, Icarium has never mastered the social grace necessary to put others at ease.'
- Person of Mass Destruction: Icarium may be one of the nicest and most caring people one can come upon in the books. Piss him off, though, and you may say goodbye to your city/country/civilization. And it's not even intentional, as afterwards he will not remember how he just levelled the city in the ruins of which he's now standing and will even be shocked at how someone could possibly bring so much destruction and death. In trying to use him as a weapon the Nameless Ones might have bitten off more than they could chew and characters who encounter Icarium have a hard time reconciling the person they've met with the stories trailing in his wake.
- Quest for Identity: His eternal search for his own memories, without which he feels he cannot assert a proper sense of his own self. And later, more literally, when he wakes up in the Waste Lands, his mind splintered and his core having become a ghost with no recollection of even its own name.
- Screaming Warrior: Whenever his Unstoppable Rage is triggered, it is both prefaced and accompanied by a high-pitched, haunting keening sound coming from his throat.
- Talking to Themself: During his wandering around the Waste Lands with a split mind and a host of other minds populating his body, everything that the other ghosts/personalities say to each other, is actually also said out loud by Icarium's body, creating the image of a lone wanderer ceaseless talking to himself.
- Tragic Bromance: He and Mappo have been Heterosexual Life-Partners for centuries, wandering the world together, and are close enough to openly speak about their deep feelings of friendship. Even though Mappo was originally meant as a guardian and minder for Icarium, Icarium's generous and noble nature makes Mappo cherish him, and despite having severe problems with memories, Icarium can by the feeling of familiarity alone tell that Mappo is indeed who he claims to be. When they are attacked and separated, Mappo crosses half the world to find Icarium again, only to die mere metres away from his friend. However, it is heavily implied that this is the turning point for Icarium and the latter finally regains at least some of his memories, enabling him to take his life back into his own hands.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: It is implied in House of Chains that Icarium once tried to destroy an Azath House to free his father — who didn't want to be 'freed' — but only managed to mortally wound it, receiving enough trauma in return that he not only forgot that incident altogether, but has been suffering bouts of Unstoppable Rage and subsequent Missing Time ever since.
- Unstoppable Rage: Icarium suffers bouts of Unstoppable Rage in which he utterly loses control and attacks everything and everyone (with the sole exception of machines he has built himself). They are rooted in a traumatic incident with an Azath House, and make him one of the or possibly most feared entity in the entire realm, as they're almost impossible to predict or stop, and he has gone so far as to destroy entire civilizations in the past. When enraged, Icarium becomes surrounded by a magical maelstrom that basically melts anything in his way. Afterwards, he never remembers what he's done.
Fiddler: Mappo, a name ever chained to another's. And enough rumours to fill a tome. If any were true...Mappo Runt is a Trell whose name is eternally associated with being the companion of Icarium Lifestealer. He is Icarium's close friend and — unbeknownst to Icarium — also his guardian and minder, tasked by the Nameless Ones with keeping Icarium out of trouble and ignorant of his own past. However, due to Icarium's gentle nature, Mappo is eternally conflicted about whether ending a potential threat is worth losing the friend he loves so much.
- Bag of Holding: He was given a bag with an entire warren inside of it by the shoulderwomen of his tribe. Some irritating people have also found their way into it on occasion.
- Carry a Big Stick: Mappo carries a mace around for fighting purposes. It is made of a big long-bone with a ring of iron spikes at the business end and is invested with sorcery to make it as durable as possible.
- Doomed Hometown: Mappo's hometown was destroyed, allegedly by Icarium, and Mappo, as the only survivor, was recruited by the Nameless Ones as Icarium's new guardian. Deadhouse Gates reveals that actually, the town was destroyed by the Nameless Ones themselves, as they urgently needed a new guardian for Icarium and wanted to make sure Mappo would hate Icarium and take the threat seriously enough to fit the job.
- Gentle Giant: Although shorter than Icarium (who is seven feet tall, mind you), as a Trell Mappo is rather wide and thus even more imposing. But while he can dish out serious damage with his mace, he prefers to stay out of the way of trouble, find peaceful solutions and generally be on friedly terms with people.
- Guilt Complex: After losing Icarium, Mappo develops one, until he eventually feels guilty for anything and everything. He feels guilty for not being good enough anymore in the eyes of the Nameless Ones to remain Icarium's guardian, for having believed the Nameless Ones, for lying to Icarium for centuries, for having spurned the opportunity to free the world of Icarium by handing him over to Tremorlor just because he didn't want to give up his friend, for outwardly looking like a noble friend even though he had selfish motives, and eventually for turning away from people — children — in need just so he could keep looking for Icarium.
- Heartbroken Badass: Not a love interest, but when Mappo loses Icarium, whom he loves as a friend, he becomes utterly heartbroken, even going so far as crossing the entire world to get him back, all the while fighting his guilt.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Mappo experiences one in Deadhouse Gates when Icarium finally understands what he is and Mappo is flooded with conflicting thoughts about saving the world from the threat that Icarium represents but at the same time losing the only friend he's ever cared this much for. He doesn't even notice how he falls to his knees, and has to be brought back to reality by Icarium.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Icarium, with whom he has travelled for hundreds of years. Initially only meant as a guardian for Icarium, they have developed a deep friendship and trust each other unconditionally, although Mappo has to live with — and is tortured by — the knowledge that he is eternally lying to his friend. When Icarium is taken from him by the Nameless Ones, Mappo becomes heartbroken and crosses half the world to find him again, all the while thinking, in tears, of how much he wants Icarium back.
- My Greatest Failure: Mappo considers his blunder in keeping Icarium safe and the world safe from Icarium by almost dying when attacked by Dejim Nebrahl to be his greates failure and incentive to set things right again.
- Power of Trust: Icarium reminding Mappo of his unconditional trust for the latter is what snaps Mappo out of his Heroic B.S.O.D. in Deadhouse Gates.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Mappo used to be one in his youth, when he left his hometown, which specialized in trade, and joined one of the outlying tribes that were following the traditional Trell way of war and wandering. He spent a couple hundred years there, before snapping out of it by find his burned to the ground.
- Sidekick: Mappo ist best known in-universe as Icarium's companion and sidekick. While Icarium is tall, lean, skilled with a sword and widely-read, Mappo is shorter, wider, hairier, fights using a mace and purports to know little, even though he is actually quite knowledgeable in everyday survival matters. Subverted in that it's Mappo who's in charge of keeping Icarium out of trouble, even though Icarium is unaware of that.
- Tragic Bromance: He and Icarium have been Heterosexual Life-Partners for centuries, wandering the world together, and are close enough to openly speak about their deep feelings of friendship. Even though Mappo was originally meant as a guardian and minder for Icarium, Icarium's generous and noble nature makes Mappo cherish him, and despite having severe problems with memories, Icarium can by the feeling of familiarity alone tell that Mappo is indeed who he claims to be. When they are attacked and separated, Mappo crosses half the world to find Icarium again, only to die mere metres away from his friend. However, it is heavily implied that this is the turning point for Icarium and the latter finally regains at least some of his memories, enabling him to take his life back into his own hands.
- Unbreakable Weapons: Mappo's mace was invested by his tribe's shoulderwomen to make it practically unbreakable. At least, it's never shown any sign of the spell failing within hundreds of years.
Fisher kel Tath
- The Bard
- Famed In-Story: Provides many chapter epigraphs, occasionally cited by other characters. But mostly, he's the one that everyone quotes when discussing Anomander Rake, since his epic poem Anomandaris seems to be the main source of information concerning Rake.
- The Ghost: His name is tossed around a lot, but he himself never appears.
- At least, until Toll the Hounds.
- May-December Romance / Mayfly-December Romance: Possibly, with Lady Envy? The "possibly" is because Fisher himself is Ambiguously Mortal, and may, for all we know, be both immortal and as old as Envy.
- Warrior Poet: Mostly known for his poetry, but surprisingly capable in a fight.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Olar Ethil claims to be Burn, but it's not clear if she was telling the truth.
- Damsel in Distress / Ill Girl: A rather bizarre example. Spends most of the series being slowly poisoned, and although she never actually shows up in person, other characters comment constantly on her deteriorating condition. Mostly because it's making the Crapsack World even worse.
- Mother Earth