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This is a list of characters associated with the Malazan Empire from Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen. Please beware of spoilers. If you haven't finished the series you're probably best off not reading past the character descriptions.

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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.


  • 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. Wether 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 throughout the books, until she ends up trapped and usurped by Mallick Rel in Return of the Crimson Guard, who's both a better chessmaster and uses an Outside-Context Problem to his advantage.
  • Deceptive Disciple: What were Laseen's motives? Admiral Nok implies that the Napans planned to use Kellanved to destroy the Untan hegemony from the very beginning, and Kellanved's imperial ambitions just came in handy, and eventually, by getting rid of Kellanved, Laseen just took the Napan cause to its penultimate conclusion. Except she didn't tell her co-conspirators, who had become loyal to the Empire.
  • The Empress: ..of the Malazan Empire, complete with the bad reputation.
  • Evil Overlord: Laseen is a subversion. She is perceived as villainous by many of the protagonists but turns out to be genuinely trying to do what is best for her empire and isn't that much worse than any other rulers in the setting.
  • 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: Empress Laseen — an outstanding Professional Killer who gained the throne by assassinating Emperor Kellanved — outmaneuvered everyone, keeping her plans secret even from her closest allies, and got outmaneuvered in turn by Mallick Rel and assassinated, with Mallick Rel following her on the throne.
  • 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: Empress Laseen, formerly known as Surly, is the founder of the Claw, which serves as both the Malazan Empire's Secret Police and Assassin's Guild. Becoming Empress has not diminished her ability at her former job.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Empress Laseen is the former head of the Imperial assassins. Even by the time of the series she is actively engaged in running the empire and still acts as an assassin if needed.
  • 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.


  • Action Girl: That sword at her side is not just for show, and thanks to her Claw training, she can hold her own in combat.
  • Anti-Magic: The Adjunct's sword of office is made of Otataral, a magic-negating ore.
  • Anti-Villain: She isn't a particularly heroic character, but she's not an evil person. She just serves a cause that isn't particularly sympathetic.
  • Beneath the Mask: Double Subverted. As Adjunct, there's an expectation that Lorn's real personality would take the backseat to her persona as Adjunct and right hand of the Empress. Except Lorn is the Adjunct — indoctrinated from a young age to serve the Empress. The young woman named Lorn never had a chance to emerge. But then she meets Tattersail and it's revealed, to Lorn's own surprise, that she never grew past the girl who witnessed the massacre in the Mouse Quarter.
  • Broken Bird: Lorn is likely not much older than Ganoes Paran, whom she calls young and assigns to her own staff, but is all-around the detached, professional soldier and Adjunct to the Empress. But when accidentally confronted with her past, she loses all common sense.
  • Cool Sword: Her longsword, which is also a sign of her office, is made of Otataral, a magic-negating ore.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Deconstructed. When confronted with the death of her family during the riot in the Mouse Quarter of Malaz City and her childhood in the Claw, who kept the fact of her family's death from her for years, she is reminded by both Dujek Onearm and Tayschrenn that her past ceased to matter the moment she became the Adjunct.
  • The Dragon: Lorn shares the duty with Topper, but as Master of the Claw Topper is much less visible than the Adjunct.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: After trying to kill the Coin Bearer, Lorn is murdered in a back alley by Meese and Irilta, two Phoenix Inn regulars. She lampshades the irony herself when Paran finds her:
    Adjunct Lorn: Do you see... the irony, Ganoes Paran? No... glorious end... for the Adjunct.
  • Empty Shell: In the course of Gardens of the Moon, Lorn comes to realise that she is nothing beyond her Adjunct persona — the woman behind the mask has no ambitions, opinions or personality.
  • Harmful to Minors: As a child, Lorn witnessed the riot in the Mouse Quarter when the mage cadre sent to deal with illegal magic lost control and the army had to be sent in as well.
  • Heel Realization: Lorn has a crisis of faith when she realises the Empress may not be as great as she believed, and that, by extension, this also applies to her cause.
  • Mage Killer: Adjunct Lorn is known as the Empress's mage killer. Her Otataral sword negates magic, which in addition to her skill in combat makes her an effective mage hunter (although this is not her only job). This may however be a case of Early Installment Weirdness, because while the Otataral sword remains the Adjunct's sign of office throughout the series, her job as the Empress's mage hunter is never mentioned again outside the first book.
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Adjunct is the extention of the Empress's will and voice.
  • Redemption Rejection: Tool offers Lorn a chance to join him instead of returning to the Empire, but she decides to continue with her mission, and gets herself killed as a result.
  • Tragic Villain: Lorn follows her orders without questions asked, as the Empress is always right, but not because she particularly enjoys it. This causes Ganoes Paran to come to see her as a villain, especially in the face of her willingness to release the Jaghut Tyrant just to win Darujhistan. She eventually realises how expendable she is to the Empress, but by then it's too late.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: Her Otataral sword is especially effective against mages, due to its magic-negating properties.

    Adjunct Tavore Paran 
'The gods can have their war. We will not be used, not by them, not by anyone. I do not care how history judges us — I hope that's well understood.'

Tavore Paran is the middle child of the noble House Paran (specializing in the trade of wine and horses), a year younger than her brother Ganoes and three years older than her sister Felisin. She has a habit of trying to make up for what she perceives as Ganoes' failings. Upon his fall from grace and the death of Adjunct Lorn, she is chosen by Empress Laseen as the new Adjunct. Like the other two children of House Paran, Tavore is central to the events of the series.


  • Anti-Hero: Adjunct Tavore lacks pretty much all typical heroic traits, and is a loner whose motives are rather questionable for most of the series, going so far as to openly admit — in a rare moment of saying something — that she expects her army, the Bonehunters, to die unwitnessed for a cause they know nothing about. Turns out Tavore is planted firmly on the idealistic side and intends to right an ancient wrong even if it costs the lives of all her soldiers and makes her look like the villain.
  • Butch Lesbian: Tavore wears her hair short, no make-up or other adornments, prefers practical clothes and armour, and is a scholar of war. In contrast, her lover T'amber leans towards Lipstick Lesbian.
  • The Chessmaster: Tavore is responsible for a huge part of the latter half of the series, and even other chessmasters like Shadowthrone fail to see through her plans. Even her brother Ganoes Paran can only shrug and trust in his sister.
    Ganoes Paran: Think of all the great military leaders – Dassem, Coltaine, K'azz, Dujek, Greymane – for what it is worth, I would pit my sister against any of them. Gods below, against all of them.
  • Child Prodigy: According to Ganoes Paran, in regards to military strategy. By the age of five, Tavore knew all there was to know from history books and scrolls. By the age of seven, she was able to defeat visiting High Fists in mock battles, and later again, she went on to take the sides of the losing parties in historic battles and device ways for them to win.
  • Death Is the Only Option: Adjunct Tavore Paran is prepared to not only die herself to free the Crippled God and defeat the Forkrul Assail, she also is willing to take the Bonehunters as well as her allies' armies with her. To drive the point home, almost everyone — with the exception of Fist Blistig — who deciphers her intentions agrees and hops on board.
  • 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 Empress Laseen's right hand. However, she also is a..
  • Dragon with an Agenda: ..and that agenda goes far beyond what a mortal should be able to achieve, and far beyond the borders of the Malazan Empire. She wants to right the ancient wrong that is the imprisonment of the Crippled God, all because she feels compassion for him. Even the gods are appalled. She ultimately turns out to be entirely justified in wanting to free the Crippled God, however; her actions are probably directly responsible for preventing the extinction of the human race in particular.
  • The Dutiful Daughter: Subverted. In Gardens of the Moon, this is what Tavore seems to be — when Ganoes returns home between assignments, she gives him a talking to for running off to join the army. Then, after Paran's falling from grace and Adjunct Lorn's death, she takes on the position of Adjunct to restore the family's honour. Except that this is hinted to have been the moment she decided there's no kill like overkill and hedged her plan to save the world.
  • Emotionless Girl: Justified, then deconstructed. Tavore has a mission she set upon herself and any show of emotion that might distract from that is unwelcome — including the death of her lover, T'amber. However, part of why she sets out to cross half the world and free the Crippled God is due to guilt over what happened to Felisin and — of all things — compassion, and what it gets her is the suspicion and dislike of her troops and allies, to whom she remains an enigma. When, in The Crippled God, Deadsmell gets a glance at all that she keeps locked inside, he has a minor BSOD.
  • Foil: To Trull Sengar. They are both the second child of socially distinguished but less than perfect parents and have an older, martial-minded brother who somewhat overshadows them. Both try and fail to keep the empires they serve from falling under the rule of an abhorrent dictator and are exiled as a result, and they each sink into a tragic fratricidal conflict with an impulsive younger sibling who becomes a mentally unstable warlord. However, while Trull is genial, charismatic and inspiring, Tavore is a distant, cold person who closes herself from almost anyone else and is willing to be seen as a monster.
  • 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.
  • Non-P.O.V. Protagonist: While the author almost zealously ensures that most named characters are given a point of view section regularly — not a mean feat, considering that there are usually hundreds of characters that qualify — Adjunct Tavore Paran is a notable exception. Throughout the series we are given only a single paragraph from her point of view, and a vague one at that. This is deliberate; she is one of the series' greatest mysteries.
  • 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, acquire control of an army and lead their soldiers to Kolanse to fight the Forkrul Assail and free the Crippled God.
  • No Social Skills: Either because she naturally lacks social skills, or because she cannot be bothered with niceties, Tavore comes off as rather ungraceful, to put it mildly. Even for a military commander.
  • Plain Jane: Every time Tavore is described, particular attention is given to how drab, grey, unattractive and even seemingly sexless she is, seemingly lacking in personality.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Tavore has this with both Felisin and Ganoes, who are more like each other than like Tavore. Especially Ganoes is the idealistic dreamer who sets out to become a hero by joining the army, while Tavore is the down-to-earth strategist concerned with family honour.
  • The Strategist: Used to be a Child Prodigy in this area, and was the pre-eminent scholar on imperial war even before she became the Adjunct. Downplayed insofar as she neither looks nor acts the part, and only a few people are in the know.
  • Undying Loyalty: Averted. Due to a combination of her perceived inexperience, an army composed of Shell-Shocked Veterans and New Meat, and Tavore's own utter lack of charisma, it takes a long time before her army trusts her.
  • The Unfettered: An unusual heroic example of the trope. Tavore Paran has set before her a goal, and she will sacrifice whatever needs be — herself, her reputation, her army of thousands of soldiers, as well as her allies — to achieve it.

    High Fist Dujek Onearm 
Adjunct Lorn: 'Dujek is not just one man. Right now he's ten thousand, and in a year's time he'll be twenty-five thousand. He doesn't yield when you push, does he?'

Dujek Onearm is the Commander of the Malazan 2nd Army, also known as Onearm's Host. He was a young lad when he joined Kellanved's and Dancer's group and thus was part of the 'family', the Old Guard, with which the old Emperor conquered Malaz Island and later several continents.


  • A Father to His Men: A textbook example, and when, after the siege of Pale, attempts are made on his life, his soldiers volunteer to guard his back at all times, even against his wish.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dujek is the oldest acting commander in the military, and has a no-nonsense attitude while still remaining approachable 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.
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    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 he claims 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 interests 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. The tunnels caved in during the sorcerous enfilade Tayschrenn was heavily involved in, killing all but thirty Bridgeburners.
  • 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 campaign 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 redhead, and hooks up with Ganoes Paran, who at that point is the closest thing Gardens of the Moon has to a protagonist and hero.
  • Light 'em Up: Her Warren is Thyr, the Path of Light.
  • The McCoy: Among the mage cadre, Tattersail is known to be closest to the common soldiers, respectful and down to earth. She is also the most emotional among the mages of her cadre.
  • Mysterious Backer: She is not aware of it, but Tayschrenn wants her to become the Mistress of the Deck of Dragons, which in turn would benefit the Malazan Empire.
  • Older Than They Look: She is actually 214, but it's not unusual for magic users to be older than they look.
  • Reincarnation: Tattersail's soul is used in the creation of Silverfox and thus makes up a part of Silverfox's soul, together with Bellurdan Scullcrusher and Nightchill.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Subverted. There is an expectation that Tattersail's and Ganoes Paran's budding romance would continue between Silverfox and Paran, but it becomes clear that neither were their feelings any more than passing affection nor is Silverfox the same woman as Tattersail.
  • Spell Book: Possibly Early Installment Weirdness, but Tattersail is the only mage who is mentioned to possess and use a spellbook.
  • Tarot Troubles: Tattersail is an adept at reading the Deck of Dragons, with High Mage Tayschrenn even grooming her to become the Mistress of the Deck.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: She is introduced as a major point of view character in Gardens of the Moon, but not even half the book goes by and she dies abruptly in an attempt to stop Bellurdan.

The Seventh Army

    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 who united the clans of his people on Quon Tali in an insurrection against the Malazan Empire during Kellanved's reign. The rebellion ended with the Emperor somehow managing to gain Coltaine's loyalty, and he joined the ranks of the Malazan military. At the beginning of Deadhouse Gates, he is the newly appointed Fist of the Seventh Army, the very force against which he once fought, and dispatched to Hissar with the task of curbing the brewing rebellion in Seven Cities. He is an enigma to both the imperial troops and his own Wickan 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 Korbolo Dom's 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.
  • Supporting Leader: Like Laseen or Tavore, he never gets his own POV; the Chain of Dogs is told exclusively through Duiker's perspective.
  • 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'.


  • 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.
  • Old Soldier: 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.
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    Sormo E'nath 
'I am Sormo E'nath, who carries in his breastbone the memory of an iron spike. Eleven crows attended my birth.'

Sormo E'nath used to be the most powerful warlock of the Wickan clans and was crucified by Empress Laseen on the walls of Unta. Like most other Wickan warlocks, he was reborn, but unlike other Wickan warlocks, it took not one but eleven crows to take his soul away due to how powerful he truly was. By the time he is introduced into the story in Deadhouse Gates, he is a ten-year-old boy again and serving as Fist Coltaine's chief warlock.


  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Downplayed. After his soul is taken away by hundreds of thousands of butterflies upon his death in Deadhouse Gates, Sormo is presumed to be lost. But in House of Chains, Fiddler stumbles upon a ritual of Nil and Nether, who are trying to find Sormo's ghost. They are swarmed by the same kind of butterflies that took Sormo's soul away and Fiddler senses a presence in the swarm which tells him that it — that is, whatever is the presence in the swarm — is now awakened and one with the land and ceased to be whatever is was prior to that. It tells Fiddler to slay the goddess that is staining the land. Fiddler brushes the encounter off, but Nil and Nether remain convinced that it was the remnants of Sormo E'nath's soul.
  • Born-Again Immortality: Implied to be possible with the way the Wickan warlocks reincarnate when they're powerful enough. When a warlock dies, a crow takes his soul to a soulless child that is soon to be born. Sormo's soul had to be taken up by eleven such crows. When he dies again at the Battle of Vathar Crossing, his soul is taken up by hundreds of thousands of butterflies, after which Duiker implies that this will prevent him from being reborn again, meaning the Wickans have lost generations of knowledge, experience and wisdom.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: When Sormo is killed at the Battle of Vathar Crossing, hundreds of thousands of the butterflies that use that particular location as a mating ground swarm him to take his soul away. Imperial historian Duiker points out how this is wrong, implying that it will stop Sormo from being reborn again.
  • Child Mage: Justified and downplayed. Sormo is, well, Sormo reborn, and since he retains all his Past-Life Memories, knowledge and skills, and a war is brewing and the Wickans are short on warlocks due to all of them being executed by Empress Laseen ten years prior, he's got little choice but be at the forefront of events. Although Imperial Historian Duiker theorizes that Sormo, as knowledgeable as he might be, still lacks the physical stamina requiered for the really powerful stuff he used to be capable of.
  • Dead Guy on Display: In his previous life, Sormo was spiked to the walls of Unta on orders of Empress Laseen and left there on display until he died. It is said that it took him eleven days to die as it took eleven crows to take his soul away.
  • Past-Life Memories: Sormo retains all his memories, knowledge and skills from his previous life and has no need to be taught anything, enabling him to serve as Fist Coltaine's chief warlock at the tender age of ten in his current life.
  • Reincarnation: As of the time he is introduced, the current Sormo is actually the reincarnation of the previous Sormo E'nath, the Wickans' most powerful warlock, whose soul needed eleven crows — as opposed to the usual one — to take his soul away to its rebirth. Even as a ten-year-old in this one, he is highly aware of his past life(s) and has no need to be taught magic.
  • Reincarnation-Identifying Trait: After at first not believing that the boy he is presented with is truly the reborn Sormo E'nath, cadre mage Kulp takes a good look at him and changes his opinion based on the boy's aura. For one, it's the aura of an ancient man. Additionally, Kulp smells on Sormo a ritual that only a truly old and powerful warlock could have undergone in his final years as preparation for his own death.

    Nil & Nether 
Blistig: Two children who are not.

Nil and Nether are two of the reborn warlocks initially executed by Empress Laseen ten years prior to the series and reborn as twins. They comprise part of Sormo E'nath's entourage of child warlocks and are the only other named warlocks of that group.


  • Child Mage: Justified. Like Sormo E'nath, Nil and Nether look like they are ten years old at most but are the reincarnations of an old Wickan warlock and witch. Though they both also retain their Past-Life Memories, it is very evident that their child bodies cannot deal with the strain of channelling the kind of sorcery they subject them to. In fact, only Nil and Nether survive the events of the book due to said strain becoming too much for the others.
  • Creepy Twins: Downplayed. Nil and Nether start out a bit unsettling, but that's largely due to the fact that they are ancient warlocks reborn. They then get progressively worse during the course of Deadhouse Gates. With each tragedy they witness and each ancient ritual they enact to safe their allies they become more dishevelled and unkempt and aged looking and are never seen apart anymore. When at first they are quite talkative and willing to share their opinions with Imperial Histarian Duiker, they become identically cold and silent towards everyone by the end of the book, spooking most people who come into contact with them. At one point, after receiving identical marks of the supernatural due to a ritual Imperial Historian Duiker finds them curled into fetal positions in a wagon bed.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Warlock and witch Nil and Nether start out as reasonably identical considering they're outwardly very young but are reincarnations of two different people, but become more and more alike as the story pregresses until they are never seen alone and behave as mirrors of each other.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Nil and Nether receive identical marks in the form of their hands becoming permanently stained black with the burned blood of the mare, an animal sacred to the Wickans, they had to sacrifice in a ritual at the Battle of Gelor Ridge. It is almost a Mark of Shame for them. Duiker remarks how the Wickans know that power is never free and do not envy the chosen among them.
  • Past-Life Memories: Both Nil and Nether retain their memories of their past lives. Duiker finds it quite unsettling when Nil at one point remarks 'There is little good in people. Little good.' in the midst of a battle considering Nil looks like a ten-year-old boy.
  • Reincarnation: Like Sormo, Nil and Nether are the reincarnations of a warlock and witch that were executed by Empress Laseen ten years prior and retain their Past-Life Memories and knowledge. It is never specified wether they were twins in their past lives and, like Sormo E'nath, also retain their former names or wether Nil and Nether are names they took on because they were reincarnated as twins.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Not only do Nil and Nether's names start with the same letter, they both have somewhat negative connotations, what with meaning "nothing" and "beneath", respectively. It is never mentioned wether they retained these names from their previous lives or took them on due to being reborn as twins.

    Duiker 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/duiker_by_corporal__nobbs_d5vkb7w_pre.jpg
'The historian, now witness, stumbling in the illusion that he will survive. Long enough to set the details down in the frail belief that truth is a worthwile cause. That the tale will become a lesson heeded. Frail belief? Outright lie, a delusion of the worst sort. The lesson of history is that no-one learns.'

A Dal Honese soldier in Dassem Ultor's regiments, he was the last person to join Emperor Kellanved's "family" during the early days of the Malazan Empire, appointed Imperial Historian even though he was illiterate at the time. By the time we meet him in Deadhouse Gates, attached to Fist Coltaine's staff in Hissar, he is an old man who's grown somewhat jaded and cynical after a lifetime spent chronicling the Empire's wars.


  • Back from the Dead: During the final push of the Chain of Dogs, he ends up with the sorcerous bottle Baruk meant for Coltaine, which leads to his soul surviving his death and Baruk's demons retrieving him from Aren Way. By the epilogue of Memories of Ice, Baruk has revived him, but he is so scarred by his experiences that little remains of his original personality. He remains at Krull's Bar in Darujhistan throughout Toll the Hounds.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He is a good and compassionate person, if somewhat cynical from the beginning, but he grows increasingly angered by the arrogance of the Malazan nobles on the Chain of Dogs, and in the aftermath of the Battle of Vathar Crossing, where the Council of Nobles letting themselves be used as pawns for Korbolo Dom leads to tens of thousands of deaths, he has to be restrained from strangling Nethpara, one of the nobles' leaders.
  • The Cynic: See his quote above. He shows traces of this from the start, but the unrelenting horror of the Seven Cities Rebellion drives him to an extreme.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: In the finale of Deadhouse Gates, he is crucified by the Dogslayers along with ten thousand soldiers of the Aren Army.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: As a Dal Honese, Duiker has a skin colour that doesn't stand out in Seven Cities, and he speaks unaccented Dosii, allowing him to disguise himself as a local and observe believers of the Whirlwind in Hissar. This later saves his life when Seven Cities rises. Pretending to look for a nephew of his, he manages to get through the Whirlwind's raiders and rejoin the Seventh.
  • Empty Shell: After his resurrection in Darujhistan. His brief POV section in Toll the Hounds makes it especially obvious.
  • May–December Romance: During the Chain of Dogs, he has an affair with a marine in the Seventh Army who's significantly younger than him. They make an effort not to let themselves grow too close, up to her never telling him her name, as they are both in an army being decimated as it makes its way through enemy territory, with little chance of survival.
  • Old Soldier: Though an old man who's stayed out of combat in his role as Imperial Historian since the Wickan Wars, he is increasingly involved in battles throughout the Chain of Dogs.


The Old Guard

    Dassem Ultor 
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.


  • Badass Bystander: Traveller first shows up in House of Chains accompanying a group of nameless soldiers, defeats a hundred elite mooks off-screen, and leaves the narrative by the end of the chapter that introduced him.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Dassem Ultor, the Imperial First Sword (supreme commander) of the Malazan Empire eventually became Dessembrae, the Lord of Tragedy, although his path was somewhat convoluted and, well, tragic. He used to be the Champion of Hood, the God of Death, but reportedly was betrayed by Hood and swore revenge. The last couple of books reveal that he ascended when the T'lan Imass, whose First Sword title the Empire initially copied but with whom said title carried actual metaphysical investiture, transferred the title from their original First Sword Onos T'oolan to Dassem Ultor, giving the God of Death an opportunity to get at them for becoming undead and slipping his influence through Dassem. To do so, Hood used Dassem's daughter, and upon finding out, Dassem rejected the T'lan Imass worship of him and swore revenge on his former Patron God. As Onos T'oolan asserts, Dassem Ultor aka Dessembrae is the God of Tears and cursed to hunt down all those who were involved in his Ascension, starting with Hood.
  • Enemies with Death: Dassem Ultor started out as the Champion of Hood, the God of Death, but felt betrayed by his god when his beloved daughter died under suspicious circumstances which looked a lot like Hood using her for his own purposes. Dassem declared himself an enemy of his former patron and spends most of the series pursuing a way to kill Hood. Hood himself really does not have any strong feelings on the matter.
  • 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: Dassem Ultor used to be the First Sword of the Malazan Empire, a title equivalent to World's Best Warrior for the Malazans, putting him as the highest-ranked commander of the Malazan armies. He was so competent with his sword, in fact, that the T'lan Imass decided he deserved the original title of First Sword, which was theirs, and transferred it to him despite him being a mortal human.
  • 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.

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.


  • 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.'
  • Cosmic Plaything: In Gardens of the Moon, Ganoes Paran suffers one misfortune after another, as the gods squabble over him constantly. The universe has a perverse sense of humour, however, and in later books he ends up as the guy setting the rules for said gods.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: 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 Space Master 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 Badass Army this is terrifyingly effective in terms of logistics and maneuvers.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ganoes Paran starts out as the Ensign Newbie and is treated as a tool by pretty much everyone in the setting. Then he becomes the Master of the Deck of Dragons by accident and after some "How Do I Shot Web??" he's suddenly the one setting the rules the gods have to follow.

    Sergeant Whiskeyjack 
'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.


  • 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.
  • Interspecies Romance: In Memories of Ice, the human commander Whiskeyjack and the millenia-old Tiste Andii Korlat fall in love and have an intense relationship, which has the added benefit of fostering a friendship between Whiskeyjack and the Tiste Andii Warrior Prince Anomander Rake. Whiskeyjack dies at the end of the book, though, causing Korlat to go on a quest for revenge.
  • 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: Whiskeyjack is considered the best swordsman in the Bridgeburners and it is heavily implied that, at the end of Memories of Ice, he would have won his duel against the millennia-old High King Kallor had his leg not been injured.
  • 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.
  • Old Soldier: Whiskeyjack has been fighting Imperial wars for decades. He is quite disillusioned with most of it, and tells the young Ganoes Paran to find himself a more worthy dream than becoming a soldier in the prologue of Gardens of the Moon, but he himself keeps going nonetheless. He is grizzled, greying, gruff and down-to-earth, despite having been a commander once, and is now the Sergent of the 9th squad of the Bridgeburners. He immediately develops a Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough dynamic with the (now) Captain Paran when the latter is assigned to the Bridgeburners, and turns out to be a Four-Star Badass and a Master Swordsman in Memories of Ice.
  • Pals with Jesus: Anomander Rake, one of the most badass Ascendants in the world, calls the human Whiskeyjack his "friend" in Memories of Ice, something he has almost never done before with any mortal or god.
  • 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 brawn to Quick Ben's brains. Quick Ben is the one who comes up with plans and prepares the appropriate spells to provide Kalam with, while Kalam is the one to go in and do the job, which usually involves stabbing something or someone.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kalam demonstrates at several occasions that he is willing to use whatever weapons are at hand and do whatever it takes to end a fight fast and thoroughly. Especially against the Claw, who rely too much on magic, this is very effective.
  • Convenient Coma: At the end of The Bonehunters, Kalam is deposited by Shadowthrone on the threshold of the Deadhouse on Malaz Island, where he spends the next three books in a comatose state, to be re-awakened by Quick Ben and Minala just in time for the series finale.
  • 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: Kalam Mekhar 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 commanded a Hand. Even after leaving the Claw, Kalam's reputation remains. He is unusual in that as a Lightning Bruiser, described like a hulking bear and Scary Black Man, he looks nothing like an assassin would be expected to, but can move his bulk around like it's nothing.
  • 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 
Cotillion: 'He is too powerful. Too mysterious. Too conniving. Too Hood-damned smart. Indeed, even Shadowthrone has turned his attentions elsewhere.'

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.


  • Bequeathed Power: This is how Quick Ben became so powerful. As told in Memories of Ice, the Aren cabal of mages, numbering twelve members, fled into the desert to escape pursuit by the Malazan army that had conquered their city. It is kept vague what really transpired in the desert, but somehow the youngest and thus fittest and strongest of them managed to convince the others to transfer their power and life force to him upon their deaths from thirst. It is heavily implied that Quick Ben had somehow managed to acquiere the ancient, supposedly lost art of transferring souls between bodies, and taking the souls of eleven powerful mages into himself made him unparalleled in power and knowledge.
  • 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.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Everyone knows Ben Adaephon Delat cheats — even the gods and his allies know. It's the how and when that nobody can tell.
  • 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.
  • Sesquipedalian Smith: An inverted example with a simple first name but long und unusual second and last names: Ben Adaephon Delat, aka "Quick Ben".
  • The Smart Guy: For the Bridgeburners and later the Malazan Army in general. It's been said that if Kruppe is one of the smartest people in the world, than Quick Ben is only a step behind him. A short one, mind you.
  • Squishy Wizard: Zig-zagged. Quick Ben is fairly easy to take out when he is not expecting an attack. However, when he knows he is in danger and has time to prepare, even lightning strikes barely scratch him.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Quick Ben and Kalam, with the former being the sorceror in the duo. Though Quick Ben can hold his own against other mages, when working together he usually acts as support for Kalam, providing assistance such as levitation or invisibility spells. The duo is known and feared for their efficiency.
  • Talking to Themself: It is possible to catch Quick Ben talking aloud in a variety of voices with himself, which is an indication of the Mind Hive holding a conversation.
  • The Trickster: Among those who have known Quick Ben for some time, or have even heard of him, he is quite infamous for his trickster and cheating tendencies. He is a Master of Illusion, possibly a Master of Disguise, as well as of Xanatos Speed Chess, who especially delights in tricking the gods.
    Of course he was hiding secrets. Of course he was playing unseen games. He was Quick Ben, the last surviving wizard of the Bridgeburners. He thought outwitting gods was fun.
  • 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 Bonehunters, Fiddler goes through more than should be humanly possible, but in the end — in a case of Book-Ends harking back to Gardens of the Moon — he is seen fishing in the harbour of Malaz Island.
  • Feeling Their Age: Towards the end of the series, Fiddler starts complaining that he's too old for all this soldiering.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Fiddler's a pessimist at heart and even in Gardens of the Moon it already shows. Nonetheless he keeps doing what he does best — being a soldier — because the Empire's done some good things and later, because he knows that Tavore's cause is the right thing to do. He still gripes about almost everything.
  • Living Legend: Among the sappers of the Malazan Empire. Hedge and Fiddler were the first sappers to receive Moranth munitions and experiment with them, and as a result were the ones to devise most of the tactics and tricks all Malazan sappers now use.
  • Magical Flutist: Carries a Fiddle —hence his name— that he plays sometimes to impressive magical effects.
  • Magic Music: It is markedly different from the Warren Magic System, but Fiddler playing his instrument and singing has had supernatural effects on his surroundings on more than one occasion; including but not limited to: temporarily manifesting the ghosts of fallen comrades.
  • Meaningful Rename: Subverted. In House of Chains, Fiddler renames himself Strings in order to sign up with the Malazan military again. Nobody who's ever even heard of him buys it, so he eventually goes back to Fiddler.
  • Nerves of Steel: Fiddler demonstrates these when he is preparing the Drum in Reaper's Gale — Fiddler shaves the clay shell of a clay grenade off close enough to the core that an enemy merely standing on it will trigger a series of explosions. Cuttle is appropriately awed and terrified.
  • Old Soldier: Fiddler becomes this as the series goes on. He starts out as a member of Whiskeyjack's squad and is said to have joined the army together with the latter. After technically deserting at the end of Gardens of the Moon, he rejoins the army under a different name because he can't think of doing anything else than fighting for the Malazan Empire, and though everyone can tell he's a deserter who came back, they value his experience more. He is assigned a squad and inadvertently takes on the role Whiskeyjack used to have in his old squad, constantly grumping about how he is too old for this and how the recruits are still all green, but he keeps the squad together and is the leading Demolitions Expert of the Bonehunters.
  • 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.
  • Renamed the Same: Played With. Fiddler renames himself Strings to go incognito in House of Chains. It does not sound the same, but the meaning remains, essentially, and nobody who's ever even heard of Fiddler is fooled.
  • 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, Fiddler 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 starts referring to himself as old, goes grey-ish or is referred to as old by others.

    Trotts 
Fiddler: Trotts, you're still the damned ugliest Barghast I ever saw. They bred 'em that way in your tribe, didn't they? To better scare the enemy.

Trotts is a Bridgeburner in Whiskeyjack's squad and serves as the squad's Big Guy. Not particularly wordy, the Barghast is covered in tattoes and fetishes, and is allegedly his clan's last living member.


  • Badass Native: The Barghast consider themselves native to certain parts of Genabackis and have a proud warrior culture. Trotts himself is the only Barghast among the Bridgeburners and thus stands out, especially with his Barbarian Longhair, filed teeth and fetishes, as well as his willingsness to kick ass. Also, thanks to him looking native and badass, and thus being a curiosity, the Bridgeburners manage to get hired as guards at Lady Simtal's fête.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Trotts sports long black hair knotted in fetishes and is a Barghast, this setting's equivalent to barbarians.
  • The Big Guy: Being a Barghast, Trotts is even bigger than Kalam, and still sports the barbarian look of his people, what with being covered in tattoes, scars and fetishes all over. While not dumb at all, he prefers to keep to the background and pretend otherwise, and only exercise authority when necessary, for example when he shows his loyalty to the Bridgeburners by fighting his own people in Memories of Ice and then taking charge as the Barghast would only accept another Barghast.
  • Covered with Scars: As befits a Barghast warrior, Trotts' body is covered with tattoes which are only broken up by various faded scars.
  • Duel to the Death: To win the support of the Barghast against the Pannion Domin, Trotts agrees to fight against Humbrall Taur's youngest son. He wins by using the Stone Wall tactic and just letting the boy tire himself out while he hides behind his shield, then kills his opponent with one well-timed attack.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Despite his barbaric looks, Trotts has forsaken the wild Berserker fighting style of the Barghast and has instead adopted the Malazan heavy infantry style of hiding behind a shield until an opportunity to end the fight quickly presents itself.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: As is par for the course with the Bridgeburners, Trotts is only known by the name he gained when he joined up. Although he does use the name Niganga during his squad's mission in Darujhistan, it is never mentioned again.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Subverted. Trotts is a Barghast and displays all the visual signs associated with their Blood Knight and Berserker tendencies, but actually he takes no joy in combat, and when it comes to actual fighting he uses the strinctly disciplined combat style of the Malazan army.
  • Punny Name: As Hedge puts it, he's not named Trotts because he likes jogging...
  • The Quiet One: Trotts rarely ever talks, unless it's to punctuate the moment. Or to deliver a moment of Sophisticated as Hell.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Trotts has a peculiar, surprisingly articulate way to curse:
    'You, sapper, are the scum beneath a pebble in a stream running through a field of sickly pigs.'
  • Stone Wall: This is the way Trotts wins the Barghast's support for the Malazan forces in Memories of Ice. He just hides behind his shield, military-style, until his tribal opponent has tired himself out by jumping around, then delivers a quick punch which kills the other Barghast.

    Sorry 

    Other Bridgeburners 
  • Ambiguously Bi: Picker is in a steady relationship with Blend, but they don't seem to be too big on exclusivity and at one point Picker is implied to have had sex with Barathol, which may or may not have been a byproduct of being drunk enough for an orgy.
  • Animals Hate Him: Spindle has this effect on animals. It's usually subdued, but as soon as he opens his warren, all animals within a certain area become aggressive and go completely nuts. Mallet points out how it's useful to have Spindle around in case enemy cavalry needs to be disposed of.
  • Badass Creed: The Bridgeburners keep it simple:
    First in, last out.
  • Battle Couple: Lieutnant Picker and Blend are a lesbian battle couple. They've been going steady ever since joining the Malazan army. Picker is proficient with the sword and crossbow, while Blend prefers long-knives and stealth, and Blend acts like something of an aide for Picker as they need little words to communicate.
  • Brawn Hilda: Detoran is a huge, muscular Napanese woman. She is awkwardly shy and not good with words, but you'd never know it before she punches you into doing what she wants. Suprisingly, she is said to be an effective drill sergeant, once having screamed at a recruit for so long he fell backwards dead — or so the story goes.
  • Elite Army: The Bridgeburners used to be Emperor Kellanved's favourites. The company was formed when seventy soldiers, a mage and an assassin reconquered the city of G'danisban, which was guarded by four hundred desert warriors, in one single night. They are known for killing any incapable commanders they may be assigned and for getting sent into the most difficult places, and have developed the creed "First in, last out."
  • Magic Feather: Blend is exceptionally good at hiding or remaining unnoticed. She thinks that it somes from a "don't-notice-me" charm she once purchased from a street vendor, but when High Mage Quick Ben takes a good look at the stone in question, he claims that it's just junk. Turns out Blend just has an innate talent that was brought out by her intense belief in the stone's potency.

The Bonehunters

    Smiles 
Corabb: Not sure about Smiles, though. Not sure about her at all. Reminds me of Dunsparrow, with that knowing look in her eyes and the way she licks her lips whenever someone talks about killing. And those knives — no, not sure about her at all.

Smiles is one of the new marine recruits in Fiddler's squad when he rejoins the Malazan army in House of Chains. She's very secretive, resentful, does not like authority unless she's the one giving orders and is obsessed with her knives, which only gets worse as the series continues.


    Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas 
'I spent half my life making mistakes about people, and I vowed I'd never do that again. So I keep my peace, but I pay attention, right? I'm a heavy, too.'

Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas is a young fanatic in the army of the Whirlwind during the Seven Cities rebellion and later. He basically worships Leoman of the Flails but when the latter betrays the rebels and leaves them to die in Y'Ghatan, Corabb is rescued by the Bonehunters and joins Fiddler's squad as their new recruit.


  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Later in the series, Corabb muses on how after falling in with the rebels of the Whirlwind and fanatics of Dryjhna the Apocalyptic, he forgot what it's like to think for himself and believed everything they told him. After joining the Bonehunters, he figures that all the stories weren't even true and intended to make him hate the Malazans.
  • The Big Guy: Corabb has a big, solid frame and becomes the squad's heavy after finally being accepted as part of it. At heart, he is intensely loyal and tries his best to make himself useful, but because of poor communication skills and — having learned his lesson after Leoman — unwillingness to communicate that, he is percieved as a Dumb Muscle Attention Whore.
  • Born Lucky: Corabb has nearly every form of cancer on the planet, yet will never sicken. Multiple arrows fired into his back all strike the same spear shaft hanging on his back. On the other hand, everything he tries results in a lucky fumble — he will drop his weapon if he swings it, but it will trip up his foe. This is exploited at one point when his squad needs to take down an officer but can't get close enough for a clear shot: Corabb is made to fire the crossbow, which predictably causes the shot to go wildly off-mark, but the ricochet causes it to impale the target's neck perfectly.
  • Fearless Fool: Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas is blessed by the twin gods of luck and also a Glory Seeker par excellence — which makes for an explosive combination of accidental awesomeness in delicate situations.
  • New Meat: Corabb spends most of his time with the Bonehunters as being viewed as the new recruit, except nobody calls him that. Despite spending time with the Army of the Apocalypse, he's got little actual fighting experience and absolutely none with the Malazan fighting style and ends up getting in the way often. All that saves him from an untimely end is that he's chronically lucky.
  • Walking Armory: Played for Laughs. Corabb begins hauling around almost more weapons than he can carry after joining the Bonehunters. At on point that includes: four spears, two javelins, a single-edged sword, a longsword, two sticker knives, a brace of gutters, a shield, a crossbow and twenty-seven quarrels. And one sharpernote . It becomes a Running Gag how he tends to either lose or break one of his weapons and come back dragging more of them.

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