Characters / Malazan Book of the Fallen

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     Malazan Empire — The High Command 

Empress Laseen

'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.p
  • 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 it's 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.

Adjunct Lorn

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.
  • 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 extention, 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.'
Dust of Dreams

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 anchient wrong that is the imprisonment of the Crippled God, all because she feels compassion for him. Even the gods are appalled.
  • 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 safe 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: 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.

Tattersail

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 red head, 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.

Fist Coltaine

'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.

Bult

'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.'
    Kalam: 'Liar.'
  • 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 brawns 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.
  • 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.

Fiddler

'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 Binehunters, Fiddler goes through more than should be humanly possible, but in the end — in a case of Bookends harking back to Gardens of the Moon — he is seen fishing in the harbour of Malaz Island.
  • Feeling Their Age: Towards the ende of the series, Fiddler starts complaying 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.

Trotts


  • The Big Guy: Plays this role to Quick Ben and Whiskeyjack whenever Kalam is unavailable.
  • Duel to the Death: Against Humbrall Taur's unnamed son.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Subverted. Trotts is a Barghast, but takes no joy in combat, and fights in the style of the Malazan army.

     Darujhistan 

Crokus Younghand/Cutter


Rallick Nom


Kruppe


Murillio


  • 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.

Coll


Alchemist Baruk


Lady Simtal


Snell


Bellam Nom



     Caladan Brood's Forces 

Warlord Caladan Brood


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.
  • Badass
  • 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.
  • Jerkass
  • 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
  • Turncoat

Silverfox


  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of Memories of Ice, Silverfox wanders off towards Assail with her army of T'lan Imass.

     Tiste Andii 

Mother Dark

The 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.

Anomander Rake

Lord 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.

Andarist


Korlat


Orfantal


Spinnock Durav


Silchas Ruin

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.

Nimander Golit

Son 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.

Phaed

Sister to Nimander.

Clip

Udinaas: 'I've almost given up hoping that you'll end up garrotting yourself with that chain. Almost.'

A Tiste Andii from Bluerose.


     Tiste Liosan 

Osseric

Eldest 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.

High Mage L'oric

Osseric'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.

     Tiste Edur 

Tiste Edur

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".

Scabandari Bloodeye

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.

Hannan Mosag

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.

Fear Sengar

First 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.

Trull Sengar

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.

Binadas Sengar

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 Sengar

Fourth and youngest son of the Sengar family.
See High House Chains

Tomad Sengar

Patriarch of the Sengar family.

Uruth

Matriarch 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.

Ahlrada Ahn

'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.

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



     Imass / T'lan Imass 

Onos Too'lan

  • Bad Ass: Yes he's undead. Yes he has a host of advantages related to being undead. And yet, Tool is still incredibley 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

Silverfox


Kilava Onass


Onrack the Broken


Olar Ethil


  • 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.

     Jaghut 

Raest


  • 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.

Gothos


Pannion


See Pannion Domin

     Pannion Domin 

Pannion Seer


  • 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



     The Defenders Of Capustan 

Gruntle


  • Badass
  • 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.

Stonny Menackis


  • 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.

Brukhalian


Itkovian



     The Army of the Whirlwind 
Also called The Army of the Apocalypse, or the Apocalypse Army.

Sha'ik Reborn / Felisin Paran


Heboric Light Touch / Heboric Ghost Hands


Leoman of the Flails


Toblakai

—-See High House Chains

L'oric

—-See Tiste Liosan

     High House Chains 

The Crippled God


  • 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.
  • 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 Ruhlad Sengar. See below.
  • Mad God
  • The Man Behind the Man: To so many different villains, with the Pannion Seer being a particularly spectacular example.
  • Narrator All Along
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • After his plans get taken over by the Forkrul Assail, who are basically using his heart as an Artifact of Doom, he turns into more of a straight-up Woobie.
  • 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.

Rhulad Sengar


Karsa Orlong / Toblakai



     High House Shadow 

Shadowthrone/Ammanas


Cotillion The Rope

"It's not such a bad thing girl, to be the pawn of a god."

  • Anti-Villain
  • 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.

Sorry/Apsalar


  • 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.
  • Waif-Fu

Iskaral Pust


  • 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 

Lady Envy


  • 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


Mok, Thurule, and Senu


Baaljaag


Gareth



     Letherii 

Tehol Beddict

'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.
  • The Chessmaster
  • Chivalrous Pervert
  • 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.
  • 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.

Bugg

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.

Brys Beddict

The 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.

Shurq Elalle

A 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 offering a way to enjoy carnal pleasures again.

Kettle


Gerun Eberict


Harlest Eberict

'I want to be scary. It's important that I be scary. I've been practising hissing and snarling.'

Udinaas

'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 extention, by Tehol Beddict. Udinaas is extremely intelligent and Genre Savvy.
  • 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.
  • 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 to cryptical 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 alsmost 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 build 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 Witch

A Letherii slave among the Tiste Edur. She was born into slavery and possesses a talent for casting the tiles.


     Unaligned Ascendants 

K'rul

An 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.

Draconus

An 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.

Burn


Icarium Lifestealer

Icarium is an incredibly old being, forever wandering with a sole companion in tow. He is present in the mythology of many cultures, and is feared by most of them. While his companion varies - being often replaced due to the death of the previous one - they are always devoutly loyal, and act as friends, protectors and, above all, minders. Icarium is one of the most powerful beings to walk the planet, and he must always have someone nearby to check his temper. While an incredibly gentle person, should he ever grow angry the consequences for the world would be catastrophic, something he is only vaguely aware of. Fortunately, he suffers from frequent bouts of amnesia, especially when seriously injured, and his natural meekness makes him easy to to keep under control.

Hood

The god of death, and (an undead) Jaghut. Succeeded as King of High House Death by Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners

Errastas / The Errant



     Others 

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.


Alternative Title(s): The Malazan Book Of The Fallen

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/MalazanBookOfTheFallen