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Coltaine was the leader of the Wickan Crow clan. He was described as having a lean, expressionless lined face with deep brackets around a thin, wide mouth, and squint tracks at the corners of his dark, deep-set eyes. He wore his hair in oiled braids which hung down past his shoulders, knotted with crow-feather fetishes. He was tall, wearing a battered vest of chain over a hide shirt, a crow-feather cloak hanging from his broad shoulders down to the backs of his knees. He wore a rider's leggings, laced with gut up the outer sides to his hips. a single horn-handled long-knife jutted out from under his left arm.

Coltaine originally united the Wickan clans in an uprising against the Malazan Empire. That uprising failed, but somehow the then Emperor, Kellanved, managed to pursuade Coltaine to pledge loyalty to the Malazan Empire.[1] He became the first Wickan Fist in the Malazan military.

He half-jokingly referred to Bult as his uncle, though this was neither proven nor disproven.

Later, as leader of the Chain of Dogs, he became a curse upon the lips of the warriors of the Apocalypse whilst others worshipped him.

In Deadhouse GatesEdit

Like others of the old Emperor's commanders, Coltaine had been side-lined by Laseen. A change in the political situation however led to him being recalled from the backwaters of Quon Tali to take command of the 7th Army.[2]

Coltaine's arrival at Hissar was observed by Mallick Rel, the historian Duiker and an unnamed captain of the 7th. The Wickans looked to be on the verge of causing a riot when, at a bellowed command by Coltaine, order was restored within less than a minute.[3]

The Fist immediately began training the Malaz 7th Army in guerrilla tactics with his Wickan warriors. When the Whirlwind began its rebellion, this training proved to be incredibly useful in allowing the army to escort and protect the various refugees accompanying them to Aren. Along the way, he successfully led the army in battle against various tribes who sought to kill the refugees, escorting many of them to the safety of Aren.

He was only forty[citation needed] when he was crucified and killed outside the city of Aren; High Fist Pormqual refused to authorize a sortie to aid the Wickan Fist. Ten thousand Malazan soldiers watched on and were broken that day, through their inability to help Coltaine. In order to shorten his agony, Squint, an archer on the city's walls with uncanny aim, fired an arrow into Coltaine's head, killing him. Despite the efforts of Korbolo Dom's mage, Kamist Reloe, a huge number of crows came for his soul.[4]

In Return of the Crimson Guard Edit

A Quon Tali baby was unquestionably recognized by the Wickans as Coltaine reborn.[5] He and a group of Wickan childern facilitated the escape of Rillish and his command, who were under attack by angry settlers.[6] The baby Coltaine was pulled along in a travois surrounded by the other children until found by Nil and Nether, who became his guardians.[7]

Significant plot details end here.


"Coltaine rattles slow
across the burning land.
The wind howls through the bones
of his hate-ridden command.
Coltaine leads a chain of dogs
ever snapping at his hand.

Coltaine's fist bleeds the joumey home
along rivers of red-soaked sand.
His train howls through his bones
in spiteful reprimand.
Coltaine leads a chain of dogs
ever snapping at his hands.
―'Coltaine', a marching song of the Bonehunters[src]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.51
  2. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.52
  3. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.50-53
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.858
  5. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book l, Chapter llI
  6. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book l, Chapter I
  7. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book l, Chapter llI
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