[[caption-width-right:272:Anomander Rake, from the ''Gardens of the Moon'' collectors edition.]]
%%A quote by Kruppe seems appropriate here
->''“Now these ashes have grown cold, we open the old book. These oil-stained pages recount the tales of the Fallen, a frayed empire, words without warmth. The hearth has ebbed, its gleam and life's sparks are but memories against dimming eyes - what cast my mind, what hue my thoughts as I open the Book of the Fallen and breathe deep the scent of history? Listen, then, to these words carried on that breath. These tales are the tales of us all, again yet again. We are history relived and that is all, without end that is all.”''

''Malazan Book of the Fallen'' is an epic fantasy series by Canadian author Creator/StevenErikson. The series is famous for its {{Doorstopper}} tendencies, for having LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters[[note]]the DramatisPersonae usually contains several hundred characters, and even then does not include numerous incidental ones[[/note]], its deliberate use of LostInMediasRes and for introducing an anthropological and geological perspective to the {{Fantasy}} genre. The series' main influence is ''Literature/TheBlackCompany'' by Creator/GlenCook.

The Malazan Empire is yet in its infancy, and it has already seen its first betrayal. Surly, Master of [[SecretPolice the Claw]], has assassinated Emperor Kellanved and his closest companion, Dancer. She takes the throne as Laseen, continuing the Empire’s policy of ruthless expansionism, though she is continually mistrusted.

On remote Genabackis, Imperial armies struggle to bring the continent to heel, as they face enemies both ancient and internal. The Bridgeburners are decimated, the Old Guard assassinated, and Laseen wants more. On the other end of the Empire, the Seven Cities subcontinent is gathering for a religiously mandated uprising known as the Whirlwind, and undermanned Imperial garrisons prepare for the inevitable bloodbath to come. Throughout it all, rumours of peoples thought extinct or myth returning with armies and allied with a broken god seeking vengeance can be heard.

The [[TheVerse universe]] in which the story takes place is a shared creation of Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont, with the ''Malazan Book of the Fallen'' considered to be the main sequence. The following books have been written in the setting:

[[folder:The Malazan Book of the Fallen]]
* ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'' (1999)
* ''Literature/DeadhouseGates'' (2000)
* ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce'' (2001)
* ''Literature/HouseOfChains'' (2002)
* ''Literature/MidnightTides'' (2004)
* ''Literature/TheBonehunters'' (2006)
* ''Literature/ReapersGale'' (2007)
* ''Literature/TollTheHounds'' (2008)
* ''Literature/DustOfDreams'' (2009)
* ''Literature/TheCrippledGod'' (2011)

[[folder:The Kharkanas Trilogy]]
* ''Literature/TheKharkanasTrilogy''
** ''Forge of Darkness'' (2012)
** ''Fall of Light'' (2016)
** ''Walk in Shadow'' (TBA)

[[folder:Tales of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach (novellas)]]
* ''Blood Follows'' (2002)
* ''The Healthy Dead'' (2004)
* ''The Lees of Laughter's End'' (2007)
* ''Crack'd Pot Trail'' (2010)
* ''The Wurms of Blearmouth'' (2012)
* ''The Fiends of Nightmaria'' (2016)

[[folder:Novels of the Malazan Empire (by Ian Cameron Esslemont)]]
* ''Literature/NightOfKnives'' (2005)
* ''Literature/ReturnOfTheCrimsonGuard'' (2008)
* ''Literature/{{Stonewielder}}'' (2010)
* ''Literature/OrbSceptreThrone'' (2012)
* ''Literature/BloodAndBone'' (2012)
* ''Literature/{{Assail}}'' (2014)

[[folder:Path to Ascendancy (by Ian Cameron Esslemont)]]
* ''Dancer's Lament'' (2016)
* ''Deadhouse Landing'' (2017)
!!This series provides examples of the following tropes:

* AbsurdlySharpBlade:
** It seems that all Hust Swords were like this, but most, if not all of them were lost. [[spoiler:Yedan Derryg wielding one of them in TCG can decapitate A DRAGON in two hits, and just the fact of owning the sword changes him into an One-Man Army.]]
** The Whiteblade is made from chaos and will cut through most things like butter. If you do not know how to properly handle it, just touching the blade will cost you fingers or even a hand.
* AbusivePrecursors: Pretty much everyone at some point or another. The Forkrul Assail get a special mention for their [[spoiler:deliberate slaying of their god.]]
* AcheyScars: Borne by Toc the Younger, whose eye keeps scratching.
* ActionGirl: Most of the women, in fact, as the primary focus is on armies and GenderIsNoObject.
* AllAmazonsWantHercules: Played for laughs with Ublala Pung. All the amazonian women want him for his... physical assets, but poor Ublala just can't deal with being used and not getting any emotional support out of it.
* AloofBigBrother: Fear Sengar and Tavore Parran as a GenderFlip.
* AncientConspiracy: The Nameless Ones, whose goal is to [[spoiler:keep Icarium out from destroying civilization while simultaneously using him as a weapon. Much to their chagrin, the conspiracy is wiped out in the prologue of ''Literature/TheBonehunters''.]]
* AndIMustScream: [[spoiler:Both Bidithal and Sirryn get afterlives full of suffering, for raping and mutilating young girls and for backstabbing Trull, respectively. The Crippled God has also been subject to excruciating torture for hundreds of thousands of years, which is a large part of why he is the way he is.]]
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Urb professes his love for [[spoiler:Sergeant Hellian]] right before the ultimate end battle in ''Literature/TheCrippledGod''.
* AnimalEyeSpy: Bottle, the mage of Fiddler's squad, was taught how to access all of the various Warrens (schools of magic), but his most important skill is his ability to control animals in his vicinity, something he [[BlatantLies insists is not actually a form of magic]]. This proves instrumental in keeping his squad alive while they're crossing hostile territory, as he can spread out over a large number of creatures at the same time if all he wants is their sensory input.
* {{Animorphism}}: Soletaken and D'ivers are people with shapeshifting abilities. Soletaken can shift into another form -- typically a dragon, but some shift into bears or other shapes -- while D'ivers split into multiple copies of the same animal, such as a swarm of rats. Each shapeshifter has only one alternative form, and in the case of the D'ivers, the number of copies depends on their power.
* AntiVillain:
** Cotillion at first, [[spoiler:until he regains his humanity.]]
** [[spoiler:Felisin Paran, who in the end is just a mind slave of an insane goddess.]]
** [[spoiler:The Crippled God falls in here too, as all he wants is be made whole and go home.]]
%%* AnyoneCanDie: Someone very important dies in almost every novel. Biggest examples:
%%** ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'': [[spoiler:Tattersail and Adjunct Lorn.]]
%%** ''Literature/DeadhouseGates'': [[spoiler:Coltaine, even if he is later reincarnated as a child.]]
%%** ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce'': [[spoiler:Itkovian and Whiskeyjack.]]
%%** ''Literature/HouseOfChains'': [[spoiler:Felisin Paran.]]
%%** ''Literature/ReapersGale'': [[spoiler:Trull Sengar, Toc Anaster... again.]]
%%** ''Literature/TollTheHounds'': [[spoiler:Anomander Rake.]]
%%** ''Literature/TheCrippledGod'': [[spoiler:Gruntle, Mappo, Torrent, Kilimandros and Sechul Lath, Gesler and Stormy, not to mention 90% of The Bonehunters.]]
* AscendedFanfic: The setting began as a homebrewed ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' campaign, then switched over to ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' when the system limitations became too strict. According to WordOfGod, about a fifth of ''Fallen'' was gamed beforehand.
* AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence: Pretty much the most important aspect of setting - to keep it short, if you do something extraordinary, you can become an Ascendant, which grants some nice magic powers and immortal life... if no one will kill you, as Ascendants often fight beetwen themselves. Ascendants who have worshipers can then become gods, but some characters in books don't want that to happen, and are actively discouraging others from worshiping them - for example, [[spoiler: Anomander Rake]]. Sometimes, one can Ascend involuntarily, as when Ganoes Paran becomes Master of the Deck of Dragons or the Crippled God makes Karsa Orlong Knight of Chains. One can also ascend temporarily, as when Thordy becomes Mason of Death for a day or two in ''Toll the Hounds''.
%%* ArcWords: When the word "convergence" appears, it's a sign that things are about to... [[ShapedLikeItself converge.]]
* ArtifactOfDoom: Rhulad Sengar's sword, which is a gift of the Crippled God. The person bound to the sword will be tortured and forcibly resurrected each time they die.
%%* AxCrazy: Smiles, Hairlock, [[spoiler:Rhulad]].
%%* BackFromTheDead: A lot. [[spoiler: Hedge, Brys, Toc the Younger, Duiker, Coltaine...]]
* BadassAbnormal:
** Ascendants in a nutshell, who are nearly immortal, get more power than before ascending, and can even become gods, if will they'll get worshipers.
** The Avowed of the Crimson Guard were already formidable fighters and mages but the Vow seems to have turned them into something beyond that. In ''Assail'' it is revealed that [[spoiler: they accidentally recreated the T'lan Imass ritual and became undead as a consequence. They do not posses all of the T'lan Imass abilities but are highly resistant to magic.]]
* BadassArmy:
** When the story begins, the Bridgeburners are the most famous army of the Malazan Empire, but because of their infamous difficulties with authority and Laseen being afraid of them, they get sent off for increasingly dangerous missions, just to get them killed. In ''MemoriesOfIce'' only a few Bridgeburners are left alive, and even less at the end of the series.
** We see the birth of another BadassArmy in ''Literature/HouseOfChains'': The Bonehunters, who are the real heroes of the story, and under the leadership of Adjunct Tavore they survive the Raraku, Y'Ghatan, the betrayal at [[spoiler:Malaz Island]], the invasion of [[spoiler:Lether]], the ambush of the [[spoiler:K'Chain Nah'ruk]], crossing the [[spoiler:Glass Desert]] and, finally, protecting [[spoiler:Kaminsod]] from the Forkrul Assail army. Again, only the most badass soldiers get to see the aftermath of the campaign.
* BadassBoast: Kallor has one of the best boasts in the history of boasts: 'I walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?' To which Caladan Brood replies. 'Yes. You never learn.'
* BadassBystander: Corporal Blues, a low-ranking and minor character, comes out of nowhere in ''Gardens of the Moon'' to best Adjunct Lorn in a swordfight. She's utterly bewildered that some random soldier could outfight her, without magic no less. She flees after suffering serious injury. Blues doesn't go on to do all that much in the rest of the series.
* BadassGrandpa: Kallor. Several hundred thousand years old, looks like he's in his eighties, fights as well or better than many of the established Badasses.
* BadassNormal: Notably Kalam. Also, Crokus, Rallick Nom, and probably any (non-Bridgeburner) Malazan soldier.
* BarbarianTribe: Teblors, who are really [[spoiler:Thelomen Tartheno Toblakai]].
%%* BeastAndBeauty: Bellurdan Scullcrusher and Nightchill.
* BelligerentSexualTension: Lostara keeps rejecting Pearl's advances, yet is attracted to him nonetheless. [[spoiler:Eventually she gives in and admits to herself her feelings for him near the end of ''Literature/HouseOfChains''.]] Karsa and Samar also develop this kind of relationship, [[spoiler:which is finally consummated in ''Literature/TheCrippledGod'']].
* BigBad: [[spoiler:The Crippled God,]] although he is not introduced as such until ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce''. In the final novel [[spoiler: his plans are hijacked by the Forkrul Assail, and he becomes the BigGood.]] In the end, [[spoiler:there is no BigBad, but rather BigBadEnsemble: an alliance of K'Chain Nah'Ruk, Tiste Liosan and Forkrul Assail, with support of Errant, Kilimandros, Sechul Lath, and probably more minor gods feeding themselves on Kaminsod's power.]]
%%* BigGood: Several of them. [[spoiler:K'rul, Mael, Anomander Rake]], maybe [[spoiler:Ganoes Paran. And none other than the Crippled God becomes this in the final book]].
* BiggerBad: [[spoiler: The Crippled God is the power behind Pannion Seer and Emperor Rhulad, and is trying to hijack Goddess of Tornado in Seven Cities.]]
** [[spoiler:The Crippled God himself is eventually subjected to this, as described above in the spoiler under BigBad.]]
* BiggerIsBetterInBed: Some characters seem to take this opinion, while others disagree. Ublala Pung gets a lot of female attention due to his ample endowment, which he isn't always happy about. On the other hand, [[spoiler:Felisin Paran finds Beneth's immense size physically painful.]]
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Generally, both sides will be at fault in any particular conflict in the series, although the audience is encouraged to take the side of the one with the least destructive goals. Rarely, a straight-up villain will be thrown into the mix, such as the Pannion Domin in ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce''. [[spoiler:Although even the leader of this ends up having a FreudianExcuse and being BrainwashedAndCrazy.]]
* BlessedWithSuck:
** Ganoes Paran, several times (first for being fought over by the gods, for presumably [[JerkassGods obvious reasons]]; secondly for having himself and later his sword made a tool of Oponn, both of which get him followed by a lot of sinister forces; thirdly for becoming [[spoiler:Master of the Deck of Dragons]], although he eventually gets over seeing the last of these this way).
** Toc the Younger also has this happen repeatedly (at the bare minimum, getting the urge to scratch his empty eye socket whenever in the presence of magic, being inhabited by [[spoiler:Togg]], and [[spoiler:being made Mortal Sword]] when he really has no desire to fight anymore).
** The Emperor of a Thousand Deaths quickly comes to see his constant resurrections this way, because he's tortured in between each death and resurrection and becomes [[SanitySlippage a little more insane]] [[CameBackWrong each time he comes back]]. Not to mention the hideous BodyHorror to which he's been subjected, thanks to a Tiste Edur death ritual that was performed on his body before anyone realised he'd be coming back.
** [[spoiler:Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, is made of pure anti-magic. Which is a serious problem for her, because it means that wherever she flies, [[WalkingWasteland she brings destruction]], since all other life is magic. She never asked to be made what she is, and in fact actually wants to ''create something''. However, due to what she is, that option isn't available to her. Worse still, it means she needs to be chained for the good of everything else on the planet. She would like to be free, but for their own sake, the rest of the planet can't give her that option. It's not even a case of malice on either [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds Korabas' part]] or the part of anyone keeping her chained, and there doesn't appear to be a solution that would make everyone happy.]]
* BloodKnight: Karsa is the barbarian UpToEleven, and likes nothing more than a good fight... [[spoiler: At least before his CharacterDevelopment.]]
* BloodMagic: The eldest form of magic in the setting, it goes back way before the Warren system was established -- which, ironically, was done using blood magic.
* BornLucky:
** Oponn, the Twin Jesters of Chance, are two gods whose portfolio has to do with luck. The female Oponn, the Lady, will sometimes give mortals what is referred to as the Lady's Pull, making them lucky.
** Sergeant Hellian, the constantly drunk watchwoman-turned-soldier, is quite formidable a DrunkenMaster without any help, but at the climax of ''Literature/TheBonehunters'', she receives the Lady's Pull when she drunkenly decides to swim through the harbor of Malaz City (which is known to be full of sharks) to hunt for more liquor. Whether this is a permanent investment or not is left unclear.
** Crokus Younghand unwittingly receives the Lady's Pull in ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'', which saves his life multiple times. The Twins mostly use him as an unwitting SpannerInTheWorks for the local plans. The luck seemingly wears off at the end of the book, when the Twins decide his role is played out.
* BoyMeetsGirl: Crokus Younghand and Apsalar. They first meet in the Gadrobi Hills outside Darujhistan and are somewhat taken with each other in an awkward teenage fashion. After crossing continents to find Apsalar's father and return her to her home village, she decides she doesn't want to drag Crokus down into the life she is leading as a ProfessionalKiller and pulls a BreakHisHeartToSaveHim. [[spoiler:A MaybeEverAfter is implied when he nonetheless comes to find her at the end of ''The Crippled God''.]]
* BraidsOfBarbarism: Many of the ProudWarriorRaceGuys (e.g. the Barghast, the Tiste Edur, the Awl) sport variations of BarbarianLonghair, BraidsOfBarbarism and [[DreadlockWarrior dreadlocks]]. Among the Tiste Edur, when a warrior is cast out from their tribe, his head gets shaved completely and treated magically so that the hair will never grow back again.
* BreakTheCutie: Felisin Paran is forced into a life of slavery and prostitution by her own sister, enduring an epic journey across oceans and desert, being possessed and finally [[spoiler:impaled by her own unwitting sister.]]
* BreakTheHaughty: The Queen of Lether is introduced as a powerful, gorgeous woman who's political influence is somewhat greater than her much older husband. After helping start a war with the Tiste Edur for her own amusement, she and her son are defeated, captured and exposed to chaos magic that literally twists her into a hideous snake thing that is kept alive as a demonstration of the King in Chains power. To top it off, due to her near immobility she grows obese.
* BrokenBird: Felisin Paran has been thoroughly broken by her ordeal as a slave in the Otataral mines, which ultimately turns out to have been caused by her own sister. She is subsequently possessed by [[spoiler:the Whirlwind Goddess and it ultimately leads to her death, again at the hands of her own sister. Ironically, her sister only did the first to prevent Felisin from being killed in the Malazan Empire's purge of noble families and intended her to be rescued much sooner than she was, and did not realise she was fighting her sister at all in the second case]]. Felisin is a bit of a JerkassWoobie, but after what she's been through it's completely understandable. She's far from the only example in the series.
* ButtMonkey: Toc the Younger. He loses an eye, is sucked into a magic black hole, [[spoiler:is thrown out a half year later, killed, resurrected in a new body, [[NoodleIncident loses the same eye at least twice more]], is betrayed, dies again, is made to serve Hood, the Lord of Death, and forced to make his best friend his enemy.]]
* CavalryOfTheDead: When [[spoiler:the Bridgeburners]] Ascend, they rise as undead but are unfettered to Hood's realm--the Warren of Death and the local afterlife. In ''Literature/TollTheHounds'', [[spoiler:everyone who ever died]] is marched out of the Warren of Death, although most of them are too long dead to feel anything but apathy.
* CelibateHero: Shield Anvil [[spoiler:Itkovian]] is this, owing to his religious vows. Hetan tries to seduce him several times, but he resists each time. Even after [[spoiler:Fener apparently disappears]], he remains an example of this trope.
* CentralTheme: Per WordOfGod, the decline and collapse of civilizations is one of the central themes of the books, which at least [[BarbarianHero one character seeks to achieve]] in order to [[KnightTemplar save the world.]]
* CharacterFilibuster: Kruppe and Iskaral Pust are both very long-winded in their speech, and the other characters are usually too flabbergasted to interrupt them when they open their mouths. In some cases, their speeches can go on for several pages.
* ChekhovsArmory: For a series this long, there obviously have to be a few of these. Most come to naught, but then there are obvious ones like Dragnipur in ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'', and Stormy and Gesler being casually named [[spoiler:Shield Anvil and Mortal Sword]] in ''Literature/TheBonehunters''.
* ChekhovsGun: The dagger gifted by [[spoiler: Bugg/Mael]] to Tavore Paran in ''Dust of Dreams''.
* ChekhovsGunman: This series is in love with this trope. [[spoiler:First mentions about Icarium and Gothos are in the first novel, but they appear in story in the second.]] Karsa Orlong is introduced as a very minor character in ''Deadhouse Gates''. The most significant is [[spoiler:the crucified dragon]] found in ''Literature/HouseOfChains.''
* TheChessmaster: Shadowthrone, whose actions are responsible for a fairly large portion of the plot, stands out as a particularly noteworthy example, although there are several others.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: Cotillion appears to be practically a monster while possessing Sorry, but becomes much more sympathetic after ''Gardens of the Moon''.
* ChivalrousPervert: Tehol Beddict.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Seems to be the natural behavior of Eleint (dragons), for both soletaken and true dragons. [[spoiler:Several die as a direct result of said betrayals.]]
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: So, so, so many characters get this in the series proper via a NoEnding, LongBusTrip, or PutOnABusToHell, although sometimes they appear in the side stories.
* {{Cliffhanger}}: Generally averted before ''Literature/DustOfDreams'', as most books resolve their major plot threads while leaving some elements of the MythArc unresolved. This was done on purpose, because Erikson dislikes having to wait to find out what happens next. ''Dust of Dreams'', however, plays it straight since, as Erikson points out in his author's note to that book, it would have been impossible to publish all the events of the GrandFinale in the same volume without inventing a new form of book binding.
* CloudCuckooLander: Ceda Kuru Quan, who jumpes from thread to thread during every discussion. Tehol also has shades of this.
* CreepyChild: Kettle, an undead who is ReallySevenHundredYearsOld but is stuck with the appearance of a nine-year-old girl. She's also a deadly assassin who kills people to keep a dying Azath House alive for as long as possible and delay the [[SealedEvilInACan Sealed Evils in a Can]] that inhabit it from escaping. She does try to [[KarmicDeath target]] only [[AssholeVictim deserving victims]], though.
* ColonyDrop: [[spoiler:Moon's Spawn, a levitating piece of rock described as a small mountain, gets dropped on the Pannon Domin army in ''Memories of Ice''.]]
* ConservationOfNinjitsu: Despite the Claw being played up as elite assassins and mages, [[CrowningMomentofAwesome Kalam manages to tear through the best of them]] in both ''Deadhouse Gates'' and again in ''The Bonehunters''. However, he ends both occasions badly wounded [[spoiler:and is NotQuiteDead at the end of ''Bonehunters''.]]
** Somewhat [[JustifiedTrope justified]] by him being a Clawmaster and a match for the patron god of assassins, pre-ascension.
* ConstructedWorld: One of the most expansive examples, as it was initially constructed during role-playing sessions and has hundreds of thousands of years of history. Since both the creators are anthropologists and archaeologists, there is [[ShownTheirWork quite a lot of verisimilitude]] to the setting.
%%* CoolOldGuy: Ceda Kuru Qan is an old Letherii mage, and his coolness is made apparent when [[spoiler:he near kills the whole Tiste Edur species on his own.]]
* CoolSword: Dragnipur, which swallows the souls of those slain by it. Mention also goes out to Karsa's bloodwood swords, made of wood and harder than stone, and Karsa's stone sword, an eight foot length of flint containing the souls of his best friends.
* CrapsackWorld: Seemingly everyone is at war with one another; the land is crawling with horrors that can kill people without breaking a sweat; rape, slavery, attempted genocide, and similar forms of brutality are rampant; the gods themselves are frequently [[JerkassGods jerkasses]] and often think of mortals as nothing more than pawns; the planet itself is being poisoned.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: As a general rule, if you meet someone who's weak, unassuming, and/or downright wacky, the appropriate response is to run away screaming, and don't look back. Ceda Kuru Quan is a good example. [[spoiler:He spends most of ''Literature/MidnightTides'' acting out of his mind, but is actually preparing a spell to wipe out an entire invading army -- and nearly succeeds.]]
%%* DanceBattler: Some Shadow Dancers are this. You don't want to mess with them.
* DarkIsNotEvil: Anomander Rake and the Tiste Andii in general; despite being creatures of Darkness, they are unambiguously not evil, and assist the heroes on many occasions. Also Hood, who is one of the more decent gods despite being [[DontFearTheReaper the god of Death]].
%%* DeadpanSnarker
%%* DeathFromAbove: Tiste Andii-commandeered Moon's Spawn can bring this kind of death, as it's a flying fortress that can launch attacks from the sky.
* DeathIsCheap: Very, though at least there's a healthy dose of CameBackWrong going around to balance things out. Whilst there are a few [[KilledOffForReal permanent demises]] here and there, death is usually not to be feared in this series because of immediate, guaranteed CessationOfExistence, but because it's anyone's guess what's going to emerge from your grave once someone or something inevitably resurrects you.
** List of characters who have come back from the dead in some fashion at least once as of book 4: [[spoiler:Crust, Hawl, Tattersail, Bellurdan, Nightchill, Hairlock, Ganoes Paran, Baudin, Duiker, Coltaine, Toc the Younger, Truth, Trake, Bairoth Gild, Delum Thord, Apsalar's father, two Hounds of Shadow, the T'lan Imass as a race, the K'chain Che'Malle as a race, and all of the Bridgeburners. That's not counting Fiddler, Kalam, Corabb, and others who narrowly escape death on a regular basis.]]
* DeathWorld: It's a wonder there's anybody NOT in the military given how many things can and will try to kill off anything else.
* DecapitationStrike: This was a favorite tactic of the Malazan Emperor. When conquering small kingdoms he would send in his Talons, a cadre of magic wielding assassins into the enemy capital. In a single night they would kill the ruling family, any prominent generals and any magic users who could be a threat to the Malazan army. The Malazans would then use the ensuing chaos to quickly take the city without a major battle or lengthy siege.
* DeityOfHumanOrigin: Ascendants can become gods if they have worshipers. [[spoiler: Itkovian starts as mere human, but after his HeroicSacrifice becomes A Redeemer, god of, well, redemption and forgiveness. Even Shadowthrone and Cotillon were humans once.]]
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Karsa, whose tribal culture considers rape and pillage as a RiteOfPassage.
* DemonicPossession: Okay, divine possession. [[spoiler:Felisin's possession by the Whirlwind Goddess leads to her death at the hands of her own sister, who never even realised who she was fighting.]]
* DeusExMachina: This is the primary purpose of [[spoiler: the Houses of Azath.]] In addition, the [[spoiler:Trygalle Trading Guild]] in ''Deadhouse Gates'' and the [[spoiler:army of Bridgeburner ghosts]] in ''House of Chains''. Justified in that all three of these are discussed at length in the book they're used, and others. There were rules for all three. And there were consequences for them all as well.
%%* DiabolusExMachina
* DidIJustSayThatOutLoud: Iskaral Pust routinely blurts things out loud that he seems to have intended to be private thoughts, though some characters speculate that he does it on purpose as a form of ObfuscatingInsanity, or simply to {{troll}} people.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu:
%%** Quick Ben does this a ''lot''. Notably subverted with [[spoiler: the Crippled God.]]
** Ganoes Paran kills [[spoiler:Poliel, the goddess of plague,]] without breaking much of a sweat.
** High King Kallor finds himself [[spoiler:cursed by three Elder Gods for his misdeeds. He curses them back -- and it sticks.]]
** In Dust of Dreams, [[spoiler:Ublala Pung cold-cocks The Errant.]]
** Really more of a rule than an exception in this series - a lot of gods go down like absolute chumps once some BadassNormal or another manages to get within arm's reach of their physical forms. What keeps most of them alive is that they hide in their personal warrens and act as ThePowersThatBe. At one point, a god is exiled from his realm for complicated metaphysical reasons and spends several books ''fleeing for his life'', because the mortal realm is filled with people who's got both the means and the motive to kill him.
%%* DidYouJustScamCthulhu: Quick Ben.
* DisproportionateRetribution: A long time ago, an Imass cheated on his wife. Her reaction? [[spoiler:She became a mad goddess of war dedicated to wiping out the human species she saw as descended from his tryst.]].
* {{Doorstopper}}: All the books (aside from Night of Knives and the novellas) are at least 700 pages, and top out at 1200. Erikson {{lampshade}}s this in an author's note in the ninth book when he sarcastically notes that he is "not known for writing door-stopper tomes".
* DoubleStandardRapeFemaleOnMale and DoubleStandardRapeDivineOnMortal: Averted. When [[spoiler:Menandore]] rapes [[spoiler:Udinaas]], it's treated as suitably horrifying, traumatic, and painful.
* DreamLand: The sleeping goddess Burn is said to dream reality, so, technically speaking, all of reality in the world where the books take place is this.
* DropTheHammer: Caladan Brood wields a great hammer so badass that it has the power to awaken the sleeping earth goddess Burn (whose body is apparently the earth itself).
* DualWielding: Knives, swords, cutlasses, flails...
* EarnYourHappyEnding: [[spoiler:A lot of people die, most characters go to hell and back, yet in the end an ancient crime is repaired, a threat to the world is dealt with, and those that survived find a new will to live, and, most importantly, hope.]]
* ElementalPowers: More than the traditional four. Also, the Lost Elementals that are mentioned by Cotillion in ''House of Chains''.
* TheEmpire: Empires in general being a theme of the series, a number of them appear or are discussed:
** Many of the implications of this trope are averted with the Malazan Empire in that many of the protagonists work for it [[spoiler:and in that maybe it isn't as evil as it seems at first glance]]. It's fairly egalitarian and its subjects enjoy generally competent administration and have religious and economic freedom. Often forcibly.
** The Lether Empire on the other hand is a straight example, with its extreme class divisions and fixation on wealth and conquest for its own sake. Lether gets worse when it officially ''becomes'' an empire when the Tiste Edur take over (previously it was "just" a kingdom) but it's still clear that a lot of the worst excesses were part of Letherii culture all along.
** The Pannion Domin is a comparatively small but exceptionally belligerent and expansionist theocratic empire in central Genabackis. It was considered enough of a threat for Dujek Onearm's Malazan army and Caladan Brood's anti-Malazan alliance to pull an EnemyMine to stop it. [[spoiler: That's because in addition to aforementioned expansionism the Domin practices rampant cannibalism, is led by a Jaghut Tyrant, and is being secretly backed by the Crippled God, though the last is true of Lether too]].
** The nation of Shal-Morzinn, southwest of Seven Cities, is also described as an empire, though it is never visited on-page. It's apparently ruled by a trio of immortal sorcerers called the Three, is ''extremely'' isolationist, and when Emperor Kellanved of the Malazans visited during his reign, whatever he saw was enough to convince him to just not bother with invading there, a policy the Malazans still continue.
** In terms of historical empires, there's the original First Empire (the civilization of the Imass before they became undead), the [[NonIndicativeName second First Empire]] (the first powerful human nation, founded by Emperor Dessimbelackis in what would become Seven Cities) and the Kallorian Empire (founded slightly after the human First Empire in Jacuruku, led by, of course, High King Kallor). Both of the early human empires fell to supernatural cataclysms long ago (Kallor's by his own hand) but their histories play a key role in the backstory.
* EnfantTerrible: Kettle is an undead girl and serial killer feeding a dying Azath tower.
* EmpoweredBadassNormal: Ascendants, for the most part. {{Badass normal}}s one moment, immortal demi-gods the next. Exactly ''what'' an Ascendant is is never explained, nor does anyone seem to quite know, but being badass and being very difficult to kill seems to be at the core of the concept.
* EunuchsAreEvil: Korbal Broach. He actually became a necromancer because as a eunuch he couldn't create life anymore.
* EverybodyKnewAlready: Sgt. Strings[[note]]Fiddler, one of the few (known) surviving Bridgeburners[[/note]] and Traveller[[note]]Daseem Ultor, First Hero of the Malazan Empire[[/note]] don't seem to be fooling anyone who's even heard of them, pre-name change.
* EvilAlbino: Silchas Ruin, described as "the most cruel of the three sons of Mother Dark".
%%* EvilChancellor: Triban Gnol.
* FantasticRacism: Humans are racist towards other humans just like in real life, but the Tiste races hate each other.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Getting killed by Dragnipur equals [[spoiler: spending eternity chained to the gates of the Warren of Darkness.]] In ''Garden of the Moon'', some men who have betrayed Anomander Rake are given the choice between committing suicide and being slain by Dragnipur. They all chose suicide.
* FloatingContinent: Moon's Spawn. And the island of Drift Avalii floats literally in the ocean.
* FoolishSiblingResponsibleSibling: Sergeant Sinter and Kisswhere. Kisswhere is all innocent beauty and wild seduction and lives on FavorsForTheSexy and ScrewTheRulesImBeautiful. She joined the army on a whim because she'd made too many enemies among the women of her tribe and figured she could just desert or sleep her way up should she get bored. Sinter on the other hand is the reliable and practical one with a case of HonorBeforeReason as far as Kisswhere is concerned. She followed Kisswhere to the army so she could make sure her sister would not get herself into trouble. Her entire life consists of cleaning up after Kisswhere and she admits to chafing under that yoke.
* FunctionalMagic: The Warrens are the basis of this.
* GambitPileup: Every god, Ascendant, and major human leader has some sort of long-range plan.
* GaiasVengeance: Subverted - it's [[spoiler:Poliel, goddess of Disease, who thinks that Burn would want that done in her name]].
* GeniusLoci: The Mockra Warren and Azath Houses.
* TheGhost: Plenty of characters are namechecked but never appear in the main story -- the most prominent being Admiral Nok and High Fist Greymane.
* GoldfishPoopGang: Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are quirky, eccentric villains. They don't generally present the heroes with much direct antagonism but are responsible for the deaths of plenty of unnamed characters.
* GondorCallsForAid: The siege of Capustan in ''Memories of Ice'', although the besieged are strangers to the heroes.
* GreatOffscreenWar: Being a ten-volume doorstopper series with a millenia-spanning backstory, this series has a couple:
** The so called Jaghut War on Death is said to have happened millenia ago. The only source of information on that is an undead dragon in the [[Literature/TollTheHounds eighth book]], who claims that it happened and brought the Jaghut -- usually a solitary bunch prone to becoming hermits -- together in entire armies, as well as allies from almost every race in existence at that time. High King Kallor, who's old enough to have seen the Jaghut in their prime, has never heard of that war and refuses to believe the dragon. The trope is, however, later averted in the prequel, ''Literature/TheKharkanasTrilogy'', where it happens onscreen, but is still in play for the main series.
** The civil war that sundered the Tiste home realm of Kurald Galain is often references but barely ever shown, and what little information there is tends to contradict itself. All that's certain is that it destroyed Kurald Galain and caused the three Tiste peoples to evacuate into other realms, and was caused by Mother Dark turning away from her children. Again, this one is averted in the prequel trilogy, but remains in play in the main series.
** The extermination war in which the T'lan Imass decided they'd had enough of being ruled over by the Jaghut Tyrants and vowed to hunt the latter into extinction is also often referenced and important for the setting's backstory, but only bits and pieces of information are given to the reader. This one happened at least three hundred thousand years before the main story.
** Another extermination war with even less information available is that of the Forkrul Assail against the followers of the god best known as the Errant. It reduced the Errant's power drastically and himself from the local top god to skulking the shadows. And that's pretty much all that is known about it. Other than that he is still smarting tens of thousands of years later.
** The Forkrul Assail -- they love their war mongering -- invasion of the sub-continent of Kolanse is very sparsely explained, but being important to the series' backstory, it is referenced quite often once introduced. [[spoiler:They showed up in their ships, took over, caused a famine and have been lording over Kolanse ever since.]] How exactly they managed to gain control over several kingdoms can only be inferred thanks to their particular style of magic.
** The various conquests of the Malazan Empire are mostly only referenced, chiefly among them the conquest of the continents of Korelri and Genabackis (only the tail-end of which is shown) and the sub-continent of Seven Cities. The latter plays the bigger role in the backstory of the series as it provides the set-up for the Whirlwind Rebellion that happens in the [[Literature/DeadhouseGates second volume]].
* GreyAndGrayMorality: Very few villains in the series are downright evil. Even the most heinous of antagonists do what they do without a thought-out reason. Conversely, the protagonists are not free from blame, either, for the most part. In a few books, the major conflict lacks a side with any kind of moral high ground.
* GutturalGrowler: Count how many times "growled" or "grunted" is used as a dialogue tag.
* HegemonicEmpire: The titular Malazan Empire may have been assembled mostly by military conquest, but the constituent nations are by and large satisfied with being part of it, as the alternative is reverting to constant bickering with neighbours.
* {{Hellhound}}s: The Hounds of Shadow, [[spoiler:and later, the Deragoth (Hounds of Darkness) and Hounds of Light]]. They are roughly horse-sized, terrifyingly quick and strong, and very difficult to kill. [[spoiler:It is later learned that they are D'ivers -- a shapeshifter capable of splitting into multiple animal forms. Whether the Hounds are capable of shifting back, or even want to, is never addressed.]]
* HellishHorse: Karsa's horse, Havok, which is a carnivorous half-breed created by the Jaghut.
* HerHeartWillGoOn: [[spoiler:Seren Pedac]], after the death of [[spoiler:Trull Sengar]] in ''Literature/ReapersGale''. Complete with SomeoneToRememberHimBy.
* TheHerosJourney: WordOfGod has it, that the entire series is supposed to be the classical Hero's Journey ''for the reader''.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Icarium and Mappo; Fiddler and Hedge; Quick Ben and Kalam; Gesler and Stormy; Tehol and Bugg... It seems to be a reccuring trope in this series.
* HiddenDepths: Bugg. Not only a ServileSnarker, but also [[spoiler:The Elder God Mael in disguise, hanging out with Tehol because "he hadn't so much fun for centuries".]]
* HowDoIShotWeb: After becoming the Master of the Deck of Dragons, Ganoes Paran spends quite a while not knowing what his abilities (or responsibilities) actually are, let alone how to use them. By ''The Crippled God'' he has become a full-blown SpaceMaster capable of opening portals between or within dimensions and can go to or summon to himself anyone represented by the Deck. Since he is also commanding a BadassArmy this is terrifyingly effective in terms of logistics and maneuvers.
%%* HugeGuyTinyGirl: Karsa and Samar Dev.
* ImAHumanitarian: The Pannion Domin is an empire completely based on this.
%%* ImplacableMan: The Forkul Assail.
* IncitingIncident: What kicks of the MythArc of the ''Malazan Book of the Fallen'' is the fall of the Crippled God, hundreds of thousand years prior to the start of the first book.
%%* Jerkass: The Feather Witch, Clip.
* JerkAssGods: Many, though Errastas is probably one of the nastiest.
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: And only half the pieces are available...
%%* KaleidoscopeEyes: Anomander Rake
* KarmicDeath: Most of the antagonists that don't die in direct battle get one of these.
* KillEmAll: 75% of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters will not be breathing by the end of their third book. A good third won't make it to the end of their debut book. It's called ''Book of the Fallen'' for a reason.
%%* KnifeNut: Smiles
* KnightTemplar:
** The Tiste Liosan, near-mythical cousins of the Tiste Andii whose aspect is Light. As a rule, they keep to themselves, but every so often someone will stumble into their realms or they will stumble out.
* KudzuPlot: Each book typically shifts between dozens -- if not hundreds -- of distinct, and often unimportant, viewpoints. Plot lines are set up on seemingly every page, and only a few are followed through. Per WordOfGod, this is very much deliberate, as the series was conceived as a high-brow work to begin with. It's also {{Justified}} InUniverse as [[spoiler:the Crippled God]] is presented as [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis having penned the series]] InUniverse so that [[spoiler:the sacrifices of those who freed him would not be forgotten]], meaning that all the details were deliberately placed there by the narrator of the series.
* LighterAndSofter: Not thematically, but Erikson has announced that the Kharkanas Trilogy will have a slightly more traditional and less complex structure.
* LightIsNotGood: The Tiste Liosan, a species of Tiste (elves) whose aspect is Light, but who over the many millennia since the split of the Tiste have become more and more extreme, arrogant and isolationist.
%%* LivingMemory
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: As mentioned above, [[spoiler:the Crippled God]] is the InUniverse narrator of the work, and the unorthodox style of the series is a direct result of the reasons he penned the series for. He's not quirky enough to qualify as a LemonyNarrator, but is nonetheless a pretty unconventional narrator.
* LizardFolk: The K'Chain Che'Malle, and their short-tailed creation, the K'Chain Nah'ruk, are very lizard-like in appearance, although their biological structure is closer to that of communal insects, such as ants or bees. Both are extremely ancient -- the history of the K'Chain Che'Malle can be traced at least six million years back -- but are now functionally extinct, and are considered little more than myth.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: ''Literature/ReapersGale'' has seventy-two named Malazan soldiers, and that's only a part of the DramatisPersonae.
* MadScientist: Korbal Broach kills and disembowels people so he can do creepy experiments on them. He even collects bottles of blood.
* MaskPower:
** Redmask, a man wearing a mask seemingly made from the hide of a creature with red scales. He is a hero of the Awl.
** The Seguleh are a society who consider martial prowess to be the foremost of religious virtues. Their ruling caste, the warriors, all wear masks with different numbers of stripes indicating their current position, with fewer stripes being desirable.
* TheMasochismTango: Iskaral Pust and Mogora, Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev.
* MasterSwordsman: Aside from the Seguleh, to whom martial prowess is a religious virtue, plenty abound. Brys Beddict, Anomander Rake, High King Kallor and Karsa Orlong are just a few of the more visible ones.
* MauveShirt: Most Malazan soldiers who are even tangentially involved in the story get at least some characterization; it is possible that the Bridgeburners' burgundy uniforms are a LampshadeHanging on the whole RedShirt thing
* MayflyDecemberRomance: [[spoiler:Whiskeyjack (human middle aged) and Korlat (millennia) in ''Memories of Ice'', Spinnock Durav (also millennia) and Salind (teenager) in ''Toll the Hounds'']], Sandalath Drukorlat (also millennia) and Withal (human middle aged).
* MessianicArchetype: [[spoiler:Anomander Rake]] in ''Toll the Hounds''. Don't forget [[spoiler:Coltaine]] in ''Deadhouse Gates''; the guy ends up being [[spoiler:''crucified on a hill top'' then is reborn, not to mention the devotion and worship that surrounds him both before and after his 'death']]. The author actually seems to go out of his way to add parallels between him and good old JC.
* MindRape: Sha'ik's possession of [[spoiler:Felisin]].
* MindScrew: The series' vague explanations and complex style of plotting tend to cause this for many readers.
* MedievalStasis: Not a pure example. While the world is truly ancient, different civilizations, some of which were not even human, have risen and fallen many times. Also, the K'Chain Che'Malle and Nah'Ruk reached higher technological levels. Lether also has magical reasons for being kept in a permanently primitive status.
* MotherOfAThousandYoung: The Elder Goddess T'iam is known as the Mother of All Dragons; as her title implies, she was the progenitor of every dragon in existence, and the creator of the Eleint Soletaken via her blood.
* MST3kMantra: Don't try to make sense of the timeline; really, don't.
* MurderInc:
** The Guild of Assassins in Darujhistan is exactly what it calls itself. They are headed by Guild Mistress Vorcan and organized in internal clans and make it possible for noble families to settle their disputes away from the public eye.
** The Claw doubles as the SecretPolice of the Malazan Empire. They are typically trained from a young age and organized in Hands, which often include assassin mages as well. Any place facing a Malazan conquering army tends to shit its metaphorical pants at even the ''rumor'' of a Claw Hand or two having slipped in to prepare their army's arrival.
** The Talon was the precursor of the Claw, but with less emphasis on the police and more on the secret parts. It was allegedly wiped out by the Claw to secure Empress Laseen's hold on the empire, yet rumors of a few agents still existing and operating tend to have even the Claw scamper in near panic.
** The Kingdom of Lether has the peculiarly named [[WeirdTradeUnion Rat Catcher's Guild]] which purposes to do just that, catch rats and other vermin. In truth, they act as the unofficial assassins guild, [[ThievesGuild the guild of thieves]], a refugee smuggling ring ''and'' are conveniently contracted by the crown to investigate disappearances.
* MushroomSamba: The hallucinogenic honey in ''The Bonehunters''.
* {{Mytharc}}: Although there are three rough story arcs spread between the three books -- commonly called the Genabackis, Seven Cities and Letheras (or Tiste Edur) arcs, after their respective primary geographical settings -- they all interweave and connect to the arc of the Crippled God.
* TheNamesake: ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce'', ''Literature/TheBonehunters'' and ''Literature/TollTheHounds'' all refer to important events; the first example is also used as a TitleDrop and the third as ArcWords. Meanwhile, ''Literature/TheCrippledGod'' is named for, well, the Crippled God.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast:
** "The Emperor of a Thousand Deaths" refers to an emperor who, no matter how often he is killed, always returns to life again, allowing him to wear down even the most skilled foe.
** Icarium Lifestealer is a seemingly immortal half-breed whose memory is reset each time he suffers a bad enough injury. Although seemingly harmless, as he is an extremely meek person, riling him up will cause him to enter a nearly unstoppable rage which will cause him to destroy everything around him, and makes him nearly impervious to attack.
** "The Son of Darkness" is the appellation given to Anomander Rake, the leader of the Tiste Andii. Their native Warren (magical realm which they can access and have a special affinity for) is Kurald Galain, the Realm of Darkness, and his title is closely tied to their vanished matriarch slash goddess, Mother Dark. The title marks him as one of the rulers of the realm, and he is one of the most dangerous beings of the ''Malazan'' universe -- although as a ruler, he is quite benign.
** The series likes this trope a lot with characters named things like Envy, Malice, Spite, Fear Sengar, Silchas Ruin, Cutter, Shadowthrone, Throatslitter, Grave, Scorn, and so on. Many of these end up being {{Subverted|Trope}} or at least PlayedWith due to the large number of such characters who end up as [[AntiHero Anti-Heroes]] or at worst [[AntiVillain Anti-Villains]] (though they're almost always still badasses), but in the case of the [[spoiler:Forkrul Assail]] who have such names it's almost always played straight.
* NarratorAllAlong: [[spoiler:The Crippled God]] is revealed in the final book to have narrated the entire series. The unorthodox narrative style of the series is attributable in-universe to his motivations for writing the series.
%%* TheNeidermeyer
%%* NighInvulnerability: The Forkrul Assail, and some Ascendants.
* NoBiochemicalBarriers: All kinds of hybrids between different intelligent species
* NoOneCouldSurviveThat: Characters routinely survive events that would have killed ordinary mortals. A great example is [[spoiler:Kruppe]] surviving a blast from [[spoiler:Caladan Brood's hammer, which is rumoured to have the power to awaken the sleeping goddess Burn and therefore end the world]]. He's completely unscathed, despite everyone else around him being bowled over and the surrounding landscape being irrevocably blasted. Other characters survive events assumed to have killed them, and others still are resurrected. Since this is a WorldOfBadass, it's to be expected.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Tehol Beddict and Bugg; possibly also Iskaral Pust, although he might just be genuinely mad. Then there's Kruppe, who uses all the standard ObfuscatingStupidity techniques, but never seems to actually ''fool'' anyone; the other characters all know he's smart, and his acting like an idiot all the time usually ticks them off... which may be the real reason why he does it.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Most professional soldiers, especially the Malazan ones.
%%* OracularUrchin: Kettle, Grub, Sinn.
* OurDemonsAreDifferent: "Demon" is a blanket term for beings from other worlds. This goes both ways; WordOfGod has it that each side in a summoning considers the other to be monstrous, and neither cares to actually investigate how true this is.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: Dragons, known as Eleint, are very magical in nature, and don't really care about other species as a rule. Mostly they keep to their Warren, the extremely hostile Starvald Demelain. There are numerous [[{{Shapeshifter}} Soletaken]] with a dragon form, however.
* OurElvesAreBetter: Tiste races, especially the Liosan, who are a massive {{deconstruction}} of the elves in other fantasy sagas.
* OurGiantsAreBigger: The Thelomen Toblaki and their almost innumerable related species.
* OurZombiesAreDifferent: Shurq Elalle is one example--she is cursed, and even after death by drowning her soul is still connected with body. The setting does have normal zombies, however--necromancers use them as beasts of labour or as scarecrows for civilians, and other mages and magical beings can raise them if sufficiently motivated. The T'lan Imass could also be considered zombies, a race of undead and undying neanderthal-like warriors that have existed for around 320,000 years.
* OvershadowedByAwesome: Crokus is an absolutely lethal assassin and knife fighter, whose skills surpass people who were badass in the first book. He just keeps ending up in fights with immortals, demigods and monsters. He finally gets to take on opponents in his weight class in ''Toll The Hounds'', and shines.
* PetTheDog: [[spoiler:Rhulad is a half insane emperor wielding a cursed sword, but he really wants to be a good ruler, has a sort of friendship with Udinaas, and gives his brother Fear his wife Mayen back]].
%%* PhysicalGod: All the Ascendants and Elder Gods.
* PiecesOfGod: The Warrens are literally the body and blood of the Elder God K'rul.
%%* PowersThatBe: The Azath.
* {{Precursors}}: The four founding races all qualify - the K'Chain Che'Malle being the oldest, then the Jaghut and Forkrul Assail, and finally the T'lan Imass. All of these races are effectively extinct for different reasons, with only a few surviving members that rarely interact with the world (except in the case of the Imass, who are around but undead and still don't typically mix with the living) but their legacies still hang over the setting and help shape much of the plot. All of them have at least some members who qualify as AbusivePrecursors, [[spoiler: especially the Forkrul Assail]].
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Karsa Orlong. Again. And many others.
* PurpleProse: While most of the text is just right in terms of wordiness, Erikson has a fondness for letting characters reflect at length on philosophy, using a more complex and out-of-place vocabulary. These segments take up quite a bit of room, and are largely responsible for the length of the individual books.
* PutOnABus: Silverfox disappears at the end of ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce'', and only reappears in ''Assail''. Due to the sheer volume of characters, this is not an uncommon occurrence.
%%* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: Seems to be a requirement to join the Malazan army.
* RandomEventsPlot: Viewpoints shift constantly and often show events which have little to do with each other; piecing together the narrative is part of the charm of the series. Nevertheless, many scenes are seemingly unimportant to the overall story, and seem to serve little purpose. WordOfGod has it that the idea is to show just a slice of the events going on in the world; if something seems unrelated to the rest of the story, it's probably there to remind the reader that the world doesn't revolve around the main narrative.
* RapeAsDrama: Due to the CrapsackWorld nature of the setting, quite a few characters have been victims of this. Examples from the first five books alone include, but are not limited to, [[spoiler:Stonny Menackis, Felisin Younger, Scillara, Seren Pedac, Udinaas, and Mayen]], not to mention numerous background characters. Unsurprisingly, different characters have different reactions, though it usually ends up causing a rather large shift in their {{Character Arc}}s. Some of them ultimately become darker characters ([[spoiler:Mayen's abuse of Feather Witch is noted to have gotten much worse and borderline sexual in itself after her forced betrothal]]), while some go on entirely justified [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge Roaring Rampages of Revenge]], others end up brainwashed until someone gets them to snap out of it, and others still suffer stoically (though to be fair [[spoiler:Udinaas]] doesn't have much choice as he's been raped by [[spoiler:a goddess who is entirely beyond his capacity to deal with]]). [[spoiler:Felisin Paran]] is a borderline example as it's doubtful that she'd have begun prostituting herself if she hadn't been MadeASlave, but she's implied to have considered her options and concluded that it was the best option for herself and her friends regardless.
* ReallyGetsAround: Quite a lot of characters fall under this at some point in the series, including [[spoiler:Lady Simtal, Felisin Paran, Hetan, Shurq Ellale, Felisin Younger, and pretty much every priestess of Mother Dark, to name a few]]. Most of them are presented sympathetically, but Simtal is not. Some of them also eventually end up having monogamous relationships; for example, [[spoiler:Hetan ends up married to Onos T'oolan]].
* ReligionOfEvil:
** The Faith of the Pannion Seer, which is based around [[ImAHumanitarian cannibalism]]. There is also a sect of fanatical women who produce children by raping dying soldiers. This is not played for titillation.
%%** The Religion of the Dying God.
%%* {{Retirony}}: [[spoiler:Averted with Fiddler; played straight with Whiskeyjack.]]
* RevengeBeforeReason: [[spoiler:Dassem Ultor starts a fight with Rake because he killed Hood, the god of death, first.]]
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: [[spoiler:Dassem Ultor, also known as Traveller. His only goal in life is killing Hood, god of death.]]
** [[spoiler:Gruntle is largely unmotivated in fighting during the siege of Capustan until an unnamed Seerdomin rapes his friend Stonny. While she quickly kills her rapist, both of them end up leading the resistance.]]
* RolePlayingGameVerse: The setting grew out of Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont becoming frustrated with the strict rules of ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' and turning to ''{{TabletopGame/GURPS}}'' game mechanics to create their own world, in which they gamed extensively. A big portion of the first volume, ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'', as well as other key events, were gamed, [[WordOfGod up to and including]] the series' finale.
* RotatingArcs: The series rotates between the Genabackis arc, which depicts the current Malazan attempt at expansion, the Seven Cities arc, which depicts a rebellion against the Malazan Empire, and the Lether arc, which depicts what is happening in the BigBad's home turf. The Genabackis Arc is chiefly dealt with in ''Gardens of the Moon'', ''Memories of Ice'', and ''Toll the Hounds'', the Seven Cities arc in ''Deadhouse Gates'', ''House of Chains'', and ''The Bonehunters'', and the Lether arc in ''Midnight Tides'' and ''Reaper's Gale'', while ''Dust of Dreams'' and ''The Crippled God'' tie the MythArc together; it should be noted, however, that the elements of any given arc may show up or be foreshadowed in a book primarily concerned with a different arc, and some characters may jump from one arc to another or back again entirely.
%%* SealedBadassInACan
* SealedEvilInACan: Or buried in a barrow. Or chained to a monolith. Or captured by a House of the Azath. Grave robbing and amateur archeology are dangerous indeed in this world. Played straight, but also subverted at least once, in that the big, unstoppable evil gods rose... to be dispatched within ''minutes'' by the new badasses who have arisen to replace them.
* SeriesContinuityError: Some of them seem to be intentional or the result of an UnreliableNarrator, but there are still quite a lot:
** Tattersail's account of the Siege of Pale in ''Gardens of the Moon'' differs quite substantially from the one Tayschrenn gives in ''Memories of Ice''. In particular, Tayschrenn states that Nightchill killed A'Karonys, but in Tattersail's account, Nightchill died first. For storyline purposes, Tayschrenn's account is the correct one.
** In ''Gardens of the Moon'', Tool states that the battle in the Jhag Odhan was the end of the Twenty-Eighth Jaghut War, but in the prologue of ''Memories of Ice'', which takes place thousands of years before ''Gardens'', the T'lan Imass declare the end of the Thirty-Third Jaghut War.
** Orfantal changes genders from female to male between ''Literature/GardensOfTheMoon'' and ''Literature/MemoriesOfIce''.
* ServileSnarker: Bugg, Tehol Beddict's manservant, never really takes his master seriously.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: [[SarcasmMode Just a little bit cynical.]]
* SmugSnake: Triban Gnol, Karos Invictad.
* StopWorshippingMe: Anomander Rake actively denies any cults that spring up around him. Same goes for Fiddler, who absolutely does not want to be worshipped by other sappers; not that those care for his opinion. And it's not like Dessembrae asked to become Lord of Tragedy, either.
%%* SoulJar
%%* SpeciesLostAndFound
%%* SteamPunk: A lot of K'Chain Che'Malle technology.
* StupidNeutral: The Forkrul Assail are now functionally extinct, in no small part due to their randomly switching sides during the war between Jaghut and T'lam Imass to ensure balance.
* TeleportersAndTransporters: The Warrens are often used this way.
* ThePowerOfFriendship: What allows the T'Lan Imass Tool and Onrack to start feeling emotions again. This also motivates [[spoiler:the squad mage Beak's]] HeroicSacrifice.
* ThirdPersonPerson: Kruppe is a man whose greatness is only surpassed by Kruppe's humility--a greatness, Kruppe hastens to add lest his good friends misjudge him most grievously, which refers more to his girth than the many skills Kruppe has shown his unmatched talent at--and as such refers to himself in the third person lest Kruppe's presence smother his attentive and handsome audience.
* ThisIsYourBrainOnEvil: About half of the Crippled God's followers get screwed over because they allied with him.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Bauchelain and Korbal Broach.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Fiddler and Hedge, Quick Ben and Kalam, Scorch and Leff, Telorast and Curdle, Deadsmell and Throatslitter.
* TitleDrop: At the very end of the series, [[spoiler:Kaminsod resolves in his thoughts to write down the sacrifices the Malazans made to free him, entitling the work ''Malazan Book of the Fallen''.]]
* TravelingLandmass: The island of Drift Avalii is drifting across the ocean and one would have to know its route to find it. There used to trade between it and the Malazan Empire, but all the trade ships were lost and the island and its inhabitants were forgotten, which -- as far as the latter ones are concerned -- may be for the best, because Drift Avalii houses the Throne of Shadow, the possessor of which would [[CastingAShadow have power over the Shadowrealm]]. It was put there to be out of everyone's reach in the first place, after all.
* {{Tykebomb}}: Rud Elalle.
* TheUndead: Although necromancy exists in the setting, it is not necessarily frowned upon, although typical undead are fairly rare. %%We don't need more examples here. Put the additional examples in the trope list of their respective books, please.
** The T'lan Imass, a now-extinct species who nearly one and all enacted a ritual 320,000 years earlier to keep themselves alive in order to ensure that the Jaghut were truly hunted to extinction. They appear as dried, desiccated corpses, and can travel across long distances by turning into dust. They can not reappear or even maintain themselves in large volumes of water, however, and as such individuals sometimes commit what is effectively suicide by jumping into a lake or sea.
** Everyone in Hood's realm--meaning most people who ever died--appears as a half-rotten corpse. Generally, this is a moot point, as they can not leave by themselves, but occasionally Hood will want to attend to matters in the living world, or a mage will want to pass through the realm, and it becomes clear that the dead have actual, physical bodies.
** The thief Shurq Elalle would have died in a Letherii punishment called the Drownings, but one of her victims cursed her with undeath. When Tehol Beddict first meets her she's pretty much lost her enthusiasm for doing much of anything until he provides her with a way to enjoy carnal pleasures again. There are noted to be two other undead humans in Letheras, and we soon meet both of them: Harlast Eberict, who was cursed by his sociopathic (and living) brother, and Kettle, who is ReallySevenHundredYearsOld but has been stuck with the appearance of a nine-year-old girl. The latter of these is an assassin who kills to delay the release of [[SealedEvilInACan Sealed Evils in a Can]] and tries only to [[PayEvilUntoEvil kill]] [[AssholeVictim deserving targets]]. [[spoiler:Kettle is ultimately revealed not to be human at all but actually a child of Eres, a goddess of the people of the same name who predate even the Imass. She's also implied to have the soul of a Forkrul Assail, although it's not entirely clear how that would work, but if true it would make her a case of MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch if anyone had any idea what the Forkrul Assail were like at that particular point in the series]].
* UnstoppableRage: Icarium, whose rage, if it is not contained in some way, can potentially destroy the world.
* ViewersAreGeniuses: Constantly switching viewpoints, innumerable characters, deliberate use of LostInMediasRes, oblique dialogue, philosophical digressions, PurpleProse... The series is quite infamous for being unfriendly to casual readers.
* WalkingWasteland: Korabas, [[spoiler:the Otataral Dragon]]. Because all life is magic, her aspect causes any area she crosses to become a wasteland. [[spoiler:She was chained to keep this from happening, but never got a say in whether she wanted any of it, so naturally, when she gets the chance to fly free in ''The Crippled God'', she does.]]
* WarIsHell: Erikson, being an anthropologist and archaeologist, does not shy from showing all the various facets of war.
* WeirdTradeUnion:
** The [[WeirdTradeUnion Rat Catcher's Guild]] based in Letheras purposes to catch rats and other vermin. In truth, they act as the unofficial [[MurderInc assassins guild]], the guild of thieves [[note]]although some independently minded thieves refuse to join[[/note]], a refugee smuggling ring ''and'' are conveniently contracted by the crown to investigate disappearances.
** The Darujhistan-based Trygalle Trade Guild, with offices on several continents, is a collection of would-be adventurers that sign on as shareholders and put their lives on the line to deliver whatever the client wants delivered, which usually involves crossing other dimensions full of things that want to eat and/or skin you alive.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: Icarium, Sinn, Feather Witch, Hannan Mosag and lots of the followers of the Crippled God.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: The "naturally immortal species are immune to this" angle is subverted with the Tiste Andii; [[spoiler:also, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths is an example of the BlessedWithSuck variety]].
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds:
** [[spoiler:Rhulad Sengar. It's hard to not to sympathise with him, after his mind starts to slowly break apart because of his deaths... and deaths of his loved ones. Also Udinaas, his only friend, betrays him -- or so he thinks...]]
** [[spoiler:The Crippled God. He's been driven insane by his long imprisonment and all he really wants to do is go home. Towards the end of the final book he really becomes more of a straight-up Woobie and for that matter switches from being the apparent BigBad to being pretty close to a BigGood.]]
** [[spoiler:Korabas, the Otataral Dragon. She never asked to be made what she is. Due to her nature, if she isn't chained up, she will destroy life wherever she flies, because life is magic and she is AntiMagic. Not that she ''wants'' to do this - she actually wants to create something rather than destroying it for once in her existence. Unfortunately, she doesn't really have the ability, due to what she is. As a result, she has to be chained up for the survival of essentially ''everything else on the planet''. There's nothing malicious about this on the part of the people keeping her chained - but there's also nothing malicious in her desire to be unchained. Being chained up is ''boring'', after all. It's simply a case of being BlessedWithSuck of an extreme level.]]
* WomensMysteries: Among the Tiste Edur, the women are the keepers of their race's history, the truth of it, while the men tend to get watered-down versions handed to them to keep things simple. The women are also the ones who learn healing magic among the Edur.
* TheWormThatWalks: [[spoiler:T'iam when she incarnates]] in the final book[[spoiler:, her body composed of the dragons that were present in a battle. She's so big and powerful that the world gets in danger because of her presence.]]
* YouShallNotPass:
** At the climax of ''Literature/TheBonehunters'', [[spoiler:Trull Sengar fights Icarium to a standstill to protect the child army of House Shadow.]]
** In ''Literature/TollTheHounds'', [[spoiler:Spinnock Durav holds Kallor at bay for an entire night.]]