Malazan Book of the Fallen

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Anomander Rake, from the Gardens of the Moon collectors edition.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a series of long fantasy novels by Canadian author Steven Erikson. It is known for having loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of characters. Dust Of Dreams has two hundred and forty-four characters listed, and that doesn't include the ones that are only mentioned in passing. The universe in which the story takes place is a shared creation of Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont.

Ten of ten planned books have been published as of February 2011:[edit | hide | hide all]

  1. Gardens of the Moon (1999)
  2. Deadhouse Gates (2000)
  3. Memories of Ice (2001)
  4. House of Chains (2002)
  5. Midnight Tides (2004)
  6. The Bonehunters (2006)
  7. Reaper's Gale (2007)
  8. Toll the Hounds (2008)
  9. Dust of Dreams (2009)
  10. The Crippled God (2011)

In addition to the Book of the Fallen, the main sequence written by Erikson, there are also a number of side stories:[edit | hide]

  • Steven Erikson: Blood Follows (2002)
  • Steven Erikson: The Healthy Dead (2004)
  • Steven Erikson: The Lees of Laughter's End (2007)
  • Steven Erikson: Crack'd Pot Trail (2010)
  • Ian Cameron Esslemont: Night of Knives (2005)
  • Ian Cameron Esslemont: Return of the Crimson Guard (2008)
  • Ian Cameron Esslemont: Stonewielder (2010)
  • Ian Cameron Esslemont: Orb, Sceptre, Throne (Jan 2012 UK; May 2012 USA)

Now has a Character Sheet.

Tropes used in Malazan Book of the Fallen include:


  • Abusive Precursors: The Forkrul Assail.
  • Achey Scars: Born by Toc the Younger (eye)
  • Action Girl: Apsalar. She killed almost one houndred Claws in ten minutes.
  • The Alliance: The forces arrayed against the Malazan Empire's invasion of Genabackis, and later against the Pannion Domin.
    • In backstory, most of the Elder Gods and ascendants and the Jaghut and T'lan Imass coming together to chain the Crippled God
    • There is one between Gothos and Kilmandaros to seal Scabandari.
    • Also, the Tiste Andii and Edur, until the Edur betray them.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Fear Sengar and Tavore Parran as a Gender Flip
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Apsalar is an odd case. She has most of her old memories, but she got some of Cotillion's memories and skills from when he possessed her.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Nameless Ones.
  • And I Must Scream: Lots of examples
  • Animorphism: Soletaken and D'ivers. In the case of the latter, several of the animal form at once. The number depends on power.
  • Anti-Villain: Cotillion is an obvious example. Anomander Rake looks like one at first, but gradually turns out to be more purely heroic in Toll the Hounds.
    • The Crippled God falls in here too, as all he wants is be made whole and go home.
  • Anyone Can Die: Most poignantly demonstrated at the end of Memories of Ice with the death of Whiskeyjack. But see also Death Is Cheap, below. Another example is Trull Sengar in Reaper's Gale.
  • Ascended Fanfic: The setting began as a homebrewed Dungeons & Dragons campaign
  • Artifact of Doom: Rhulad Sengar's sword and Dragnipur
  • Ascended Extra: Tavore, Torrent, squad of Fiddler, Nimander and his friends.
  • Ax Crazy: Smiles, Hairlock, Rhulad.
  • Back from the Dead: A lot. Hedge, Brys, Toc the Younger, Duiker, Coltaine...
  • Badass Army: Up the wazoo, Bridgeburners and Bonehunters are two examples.
  • Badass: Most obvious examples are Anomander Rake, Karsa Orlong and Silchas Ruin. Many Bridgeburners also qualify.
  • Badass Boast: Kallor has one of the best boasts in the history of boasts:'I walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'
  • Badass Grandpa: Kallor. Several hundred thousand years old, looks like he's in his eighties, fights as well or better than many of the established Badasses.
  • Badass Normal: Notably Kallam. Also, Crokus and probably any (non-Bridgeburner) Malazan soldier.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Teblors, who are really Thelomen Tartheno Toblakai.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Lostara and Pearl, until they find way to resolve this.
  • Big Bad: The Crippled God. Although he is not introduced until Memories of Ice and plays next to no role in several books.
    • Technically, he's mentioned in passing in books one and two- it's just not until Memories of Ice that the reader becomes aware of his central role.
    • And in the final novel his plans are hijacked by the Forkrul Assail, and he becomes the Big Good.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Suprisingly enough, Hood in Dragnipur.
  • Big Good: Several of them. K'rul, Mael, Anomander Rake, maybe Ganoes Paran
    • The Crippled God becomes this in the final book.
  • Bigger Bad: The Warren of Chaos.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Alliance against Pannion Domin in Memories of Ice'
  • Black and White Morality: Anomander Rake vs. Chaos in Toll the Hounds
  • Blessed with Suck: Ganoes Paran, twice over.
  • Blood Knight: Karsa really like a good fight.
  • Born Lucky: Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas
  • Bottle Fairy: Sergeant Helian is an oddly competent bottle fairy, managing to lead part of an invasion force across Lether while being drunk the whole time.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Tusked Milk, an alcoholic drink made from orange rinds, honey and Tusked Seal sperm.
  • Break the Cutie: Felisin Paran
  • Broken Bird: Again, Felisin Paran
  • Bus Crash: Empress Laseen. She's alive and well when last we see her in Reaper's Gale. Come The Crippled God, she's dead and apparently has been for a while.
  • Butch Lesbian: Tavore Paran
  • Butt Monkey: Toc the Younger and Tool.
  • Celibate Hero: Shield Anvil Itkovian
  • Character Filibuster: Gets really Anvilicious in Toll the Hounds with Kruppe's long ramblings.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Most notably, Whiskeyjack's injured leg in Memories of Ice
  • Chekhov's Gunman: This series is in love with this trope. First mentions about Icarium and Gothos are in the first novel, but they appear in story in the second. The most significant is the crucified dragon found in House Of Chains.
  • The Chessmaster: Shadowthrone.
  • Characterization Marches On: Cotillon appears to be practically a Complete Monster while possessing Sorry, but becomes much more sympathetic after Gardens of the Moon.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Tehol Beddict
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: So, so, so many characters get this in the series proper via a No Ending, Long Bus Trip, or Put on a Bus to Hell, although sometimes they appear in the side stories.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ceda Kuru Quan, who jumpes from thread to thread during every discussion. Tehol also has shades of this.
  • Creepy Child: Kettle
  • Colony Drop: Moon's Spawn getting dropped on the Pannon Domin army in Memories of Ice
  • Conservation of Ninjitsu: Despite the Claw being played up as elite assassins and mages, Kalam manages to tear through the best of them in both Deadhouse Gates and again in The Bonehunters. However, he ends both occasions badly wounded and is Not Quite Dead at the end of Bonehunters.
    • Somewhat justified by him being a Clawmaster and a match for the patron god of assassins, pre-ascension.
  • Constructed World
  • Cool Sword: Dragnipur, Karsa's bloodwood swords, Karsa's stone sword
  • Cool Old Guy: Ceda Kuru Qan
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: As a general rule, if you meet someone who's weak, unassuming, and/or downright wacky, the appropriate response is to run away screaming, and don't look back.
    • Ceda Kuru Quan is a good example. Everyone thinks, that he lost his mind - he was just preparing himself to create powerful spell. This spell was designed to wipe out entire army of Tiste Edur, and he nearly succeeded.
  • Dance Battler: Some Shadow Dancers. You don't want to mess with them
  • Dark Action Girl / Dark Magical Girl: Apsalar
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Anomander Rake and the Tiste Andii in general. Also Hood, who is one of more decent gods.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lots of them
  • Death From Above: Moon's Spawn
  • Death Is Cheap: Very, though at least there's a healthy dose of Came Back Wrong going around to balance things out. Whilst there are a few permanent demises here and there, death is usually not to be feared in this series because of immediate, guaranteed Cessation of Existence, but because it's anyone's guess what's going to emerge from your grave once someone or something inevitably resurrects you.
    • List of characters who have come back from the dead in some fashion at least once as of book 4: Crust, Hawl, Tattersail, Bellurdan, Nightchill, Hairlock, Ganoes Paran, Baudin, Duiker, Coltaine, Toc the Younger, Truth, Trake, Bairoth Gild, Delum Thord, Apsalar's father, two Hounds of Shadow, the T'lan Imass as a race, the K'chain Che'Malle as a race, and all of the Bridgeburners. That's not counting Fiddler, Kalam, Corabb, and others who narrowly escape death on a regular basis.
  • Death Seeker: Apsalar.
  • Death World: It's a wonder there's anybody NOT in the military given how many things can and will try to kill off anything else.
  • Demonic Possession: Okay, divine possession. Not much of a difference in most cases.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Turudal Brizad, who even slept with his own son, Tribal Gnol, who is also example of this trope.
  • Deus Ex Machina: This is the primary purpose of the Houses of Azath. In addition, the Trygalle Trading Guild in Deadhouse Gates, the army of Bridgeburner ghosts in House of Chains. Justified in that all three of these are discussed at length in the book they're used, and others. There were rules for all three. And there were consequences for them all as well.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Iskaral Pust
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Quick Ben does this a lot
    • Notably subverted with the Crippled God.
    • Ganoes Paran dispatching of Poliel, the goddess of plaque without breaking much of a sweat.
    • High King Kallor. Three gods show up and curse him for his misdeeds. So he curses them back.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Quick Ben again.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Long time ago, an Imass cheated on his wife. Her reaction? She became a mad goddess of saint war, and is trying to kill everyone.
  • Doorstopper: All the books are over 700 pages, some up to 1200.
  • Drop the Hammer: Caladan Brood wields a great hammer so Badass that it has the power to awaken the sleeping earth goddess Burn (whose body is apparently the earth itself).
  • Dual-Wielding: Knives, swords, cutlasses, flails...
  • Elemental Powers: More than the traditional four. Also, the Lost Elementals that are mentioned by Cotillion in House of Chains
  • The Empire: Averted with the Malazan Empire in that many of the protagonists work for it and in that maybe it isn't as evil as it seems at first glance. The Lether Empire on the other hand is a straight example.
  • Enfant Terrible: Kettle - undead girl and serial killer living nearby Azath tower.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Rhulad finally snaps when Udinaas, the closest thing he had to a friend, leaves him. Not that Udinaas had a choice in the matter...)
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Korbal Broach. He actually became a necromancer because as an eunuch he couldn't create life anymore.
  • Everything's Better with Chickens: At Tehol Beddict's house in Reaper's Gale.
  • Evil Albino: Silchas Ruin, described as "the most cruel of the three sons of Mother Dark".
  • Evil Chancellor: Triban Gnol
  • Fantastic Racism: Both subverted and played straight. Humans are racist towards other humans just like in real life, but the Tiste races hate each other. The T'Lann Imass make themselves undead so they can kill off the Jaghut.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Getting killed by Dragnipur equals spending eternity chained to the gates of the Warren of Darkness.
  • Floating Continent: Moon's Spawn. And the island of Drift Avalii floats literally in the ocean.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: There are quite a few parallel plot threads going on, always.
  • Functional Magic: The Warrens
  • Gambit Pileup: Every god, Ascendant, and major human leader has some sort of long-range plan
  • Gaia'sVengeance: Subverted - it's Poliel, goddess of Disease, who thinks, that Burn would want that done in her name.
  • Genius Loci: The Mockra Warren and Azath Houses
  • Genocide Backfire: Subverted - The Jaghut survivors aren't interested in revenge against T'lan Imasses, they just want to be left alone.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Bauchelain and Korbal Broach
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The siege of Capustan in Memories of Ice, although the besieged are strangers to the heroes
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Malazans vs. Darujhistan in Gardens of the Moon, Tiste Edur vs. Letherii in Midnight Tides, Crippled God vs. everyone else.
  • Hellhounds:The Hounds of Shadow, and later, the Deragoth (Hounds of Darkness) and Hounds of Light
  • Hellish Horse: Karsa's horse, Havok
    • Both of them
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Seren Pedac
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hedge, who detonated himself with attacking Kell Hunter.
  • Heroic Sociopath: Karsa Orlong, especially early on.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Icarium and Mappo; Fiddler and Hedge, Quick Ben and Kalam, Gesler and Stormy; Tehol and Bugg, Karsa and Torvald... It seems to be a reccuring trope in this series.
    • basically, at least one instance can be expected out of most any squad of Malazan Marines.
    • Does Shadowthrone and Cotillion count?
  • Hidden Depths: Bugg. Not only a Servile Snarker, but also The Elder God Mael in disguise, hanging out with Tehol because "he hadn't so much fun for centuries".
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Karsa and Samar Dev.
  • I'm a Humanitarian
  • Implacable Man: The Forkul Assail and T'lan Imass are races composed of implacable men. Most Jaghut are as well
  • Jerkass: The Feather Witch, Clips.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: And only half the pieces are available....
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Anomander Rake
  • Karmic Death: Most of the antagonists that don't die in direct battle get one of these.
  • Kill'Em All: 75% of the Loads and Loads of Characters will not be breathing by the end of their third book. A good third won't make it to the end of their debut book. It's called Book of the Fallen for a reason.
  • Kill the Cutie: Tattersail in Gardens of the Moon.
  • Knife Nut: Smiles
  • Knight Templar: Most of the Tiste Liosan seem to be this way
    • The T'lan Imass, too.
  • Kudzu Plot: Oh, boy...
  • Light Is Not Good: The Tiste Liosan
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Stonny Menackis
  • Living Memory
  • Lizard Folk: The K'Chain Che'Malle, and their short-tailed creation, the K'Chain Nah'ruk.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters (Reaper's Gale has seventy-two named Malazan soldiers. Seventy-two. Steven Erikson tries to give them all distinctive personalities, and fails.)
    • Dust of Dreams has 75
  • Loads and Loads of Races: And they're all Proud Warrior Race Guys.
  • Love Martyr: Crokus/Cutter for Apsalar
  • Madness Mantra: You see an issue with chronology? Start repeating: "The timeline is not importent, the timeline is not important..."
  • Mad Scientist: Korbal Broach kills and disembowels people so he can do creepy experiments on them. He even collects bottles of blood.
  • Mask Power: Redmask, the Seguleh
  • The Masochism Tango: Iskaral Pust and Mogora, Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev
  • Master Swordsman: The Seguleh apart, plenty abound. Brys Beddict, Anomander Rake, Kallor and Karsa Orlong just to name a few.
  • Mauve Shirt: Mostly Malazan soldiers; it is possible that the Bridgeburners' burgundy uniforms are a Lampshade Hanging on the whole Red Shirt thing
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Whiskeyjack (human middle age) and Korlat (millennia) in Memories of Ice, Spinnock Durav (also millennia) and Salind (teenager) in Toll the Hounds
  • Messianic Archetype: Anomander Rake in Toll the Hounds. Don't forget Coltaine in Deadhouse Gates, the guy ends up being crucified on a hill top then is reborn, not to mention the devotion and worship that surrounds him both before and after his 'death' the author actually seems to go out of his way to add parallels between him and good old JC
  • Mind Rape: Cotillion's possession of Sorry, Sha'ik's possession of Felisin.
  • Mind Screw: The series' vague explanations and complex style of plotting tend to cause this for many readers.
  • Medieval Stasis: Not a pure example. While the world is truly ancient, different civilizations, some of which not even human, have risen and fallen many times. Also, the K'Chain Che'Malle and Nah'Ruk reached higher technological levels
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The emlava in Reaper's Gale
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: Tiam.
  • MST3K Mantra: Don't try to make sense of the timeline; really, don't.
  • Mushroom Samba: The hallucinogenic honey in The Bonehunters
  • Myth Arc: The backstory covers literally hundreds of thousands of years, repeatedly
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "The Emperor Of A Thousand Deaths", Icarium Lifestealer, "The Son Of Darkness"
  • The Neidermeyer
  • No Biochemical Barriers: All kinds of hybrids between different intelligent species
  • No One Could Survive That: Several times with different characters
  • The Not-Secret: Sgt. Strings[1] and Traveler[2] don't seem to be fooling anyone who's even heard of them, pre-name change
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Tehol Beddict and Bugg; possibly also Iskaral Pust, although he might just be genuinely mad. Then there's Kruppe, who uses all the standard Obfuscating Stupidity techniques, but never seems to actually fool anyone; the other characters all know he's smart, and his acting like an idiot all the time usually ticks them off . . . which is probably the real reason why he does it.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most professional soldiers, especially the Malazan ones.
  • Oracular Urchin: Kettle, Grub
  • Our Demons Are Different
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Our Elves Are Better: Tiste races, especially the Liosan, who are a massive Deconstruction of the elves in other fantasy sagas.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Thelomen Toblaki.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The Jaghuts: with the exception of the Tyrants, they are actually peaceful in nature.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Kettle.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The T'lan Imass. Shurq Elalle is another example - she is cursed, and even after death by drowning her soul is still connected with body.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Crokus is an absolutely lethal assassin and knife fighter, whose skills surpass people who were Badass in the first book. He just keeps ending up in fights with immortals, demigods and monsters.
    • He finally gets to take on opponents in his weight class in Toll The Hounds, and shines.
  • Pet the Dog: Rhulad is a half insane emperor wielding cursed sword, but he really wants to be a good ruler, has sort of friendship with Udinaas, and gives his brother Fear Mayen back.
  • Physical God: All the Ascendants and Elder Gods.
  • Pieces of God: The Warrens are literally the body and blood of the Elder God K'rul.
  • Planet Eris: The Malazan world may be the most insane Constructed World in the history of fantasy.
  • Powers That Be: The Azath.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Karsa Orlong. Again. And many others.
  • Purple Prose
  • Put on a Bus: Silverfox, Ganoes Paran, Apsalar, where are you?
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Seems to be a requirement to join the Malazan army.
  • Random Events Plot: Can come across as this at times. Word of God says this intentional
  • Rape as Drama: Seren Pedac
  • Religion of Evil: The Faith of the Pannion Seer.
    • The Religion of the Dying God
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Dassem Ultor / Traveller, whose only goal in life is killing Hood, god of death.
    • Revenge Before Reason: Again, Dassem Ultor. He even starts fight with Rake, only because he killed Hood first.
  • Rotating Arcs
  • Rule of Cool: As of Memories of Ice, zombie velociraptors with swords for hands
  • Sealed Badass in a Can
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Or buried in a barrow. Or chained to a monolith. Or captured by a House of the Azath. Grave robbing and amateur archeology are dangerous indeed in this world. Played straight, but also subverted at least once, in that the big, unstoppable evil gods rose... to be dispatched within minutes by the new Badasses who have arisen to replace them
  • Servile Snarker: Bugg, a servant of Tehol.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Definitely death of Trull Sengar. And the end of Grey Swords. And many more.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Just a little bit cynical
  • Smug Snake: Triban Gnol, Karos Invictad
  • Soul Jar: Jaghut Finnests
  • Species Lost and Found: Repeatedly
  • Stupid Neutral: The Forkrul Assail are now functionally extinct, in no small part due to their randomly switching sides during the war between Jaghut and T'lam Imass to ensure balance
  • Sword Fights: Lots of them
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The Warrens are often used this way.
  • The Archer: Toc the Younger
  • The Chew Toy: Toc the Younger, oh, so much. He lost his eye, was sucked into the magic black hole, thrown away half year later, KILLED, resurrected in a new body (which also hadn't one eye), KILLED AGAIN, resurrected as an undead, and forced to make his best friend his enemy. Let's face it, Steven Erikson propably hates him.
  • The Messiah: Trull Sengar. Is also the point of a Shield Anvil
    • Itkovian: "You are in pain. I will embrace you now..."
  • The Nascent Did It
  • The Power of Friendship: Is what allows the T'Lan Imass Tool and Onrack to start feeling emotions again. Is also what enables Beak's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The Undead and Dem Bones
  • Third Person Person: Kruppe
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: About half of the Crippled God's followers get screwed over because they allied with him.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Bauchelain and Korbal Broach.
  • Those Two Guys: Scorch and Leff. Possibly Telorast and Curdle.
  • Too Dumb to Live: High Fist Pomqual. For Shadowthrone's sake Pomqual. Fortunately he did not live past the first book he appeared.
  • Turncoat
  • Tyke Bomb: Apsalar and Rud Elalle
  • Unstoppable Rage: Icarium
  • Viewers Are Geniuses
  • War Is Hell
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Tattersail
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Icarium, Sinn, Feather Witch, Hannan Mosag and lots of the followers of the Crippled God
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The "naturally immortal species are immune to this" angle is subverted with the Tiste Andii; also, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths is an example of the Blessed with Suck variety.
    • Non naturally immortal beings vulnerability is also subverted in several cases, such as Onrack, a Tlan Imass, who doesn't find his immortality to be all that bad because "there's always something else to see"
  • World of Badass: Very nearly everyone is a Badass to some degree.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The war between the Imass and the Jaghut is a species-wide example.
  • The Worm That Walks: Tiam when she incarnates in the final book.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Trull Sengar fights Icarium to a standstill to protect the child army of House Shadow.
    • Also, in Reaper's Gale, Trull beats Silchas Ruin and Clip in order to protect the Finnest. Neither make it past him.
    • Let's not forget Spinnock Durav holding Kallor at bay for an entire night.
  1. Fiddler
  2. Daseem Ultor, First Hero of the Malazan Empire