"It never gets any easier."
―Iron Bars, lying in a slave galley with a crossbow bolt in his chest[src]

Iron Bars was an Avowed in the Second Blade, Fourth Company of the Crimson Guard. He was described as "a burly, scarred fellow" and obvious veteran.[1]

He was good friends with fellow Guard Jup Alat.[2]

In Midnight Tides Edit

Iron bars by dejan delic

Interpretation of Iron Bars by Dejan Delic

After fighting their way out of Assail, Iron Bars and his squad were for some time stranded on the continent of Lether after their sieve of a ship sank. After seven months, Bars and his men were heavily indebted. While trying to find passage on a ship in Letheras, the city was attacked by the Tiste Edur. Iron Bars killed Rhulad Sengar making him even stronger. He also slew the god of the Soletaken Jheck and the gods of the Toblakai, with help from Silchas Ruin and Ublala Pung. He left the continent with Shurq Elalle and her crew.


In Reaper's Gale Edit

Shurq Elalle revealed that she had dropped off Bars and his men on the continent of Jacuruku. The last she'd seen of Iron Bars and his soldiers was when they were turning inland to face a dozen massively armoured figures descending the broken slope, great-helmed with visors lowered.[3]

In Return of the Crimson Guard Edit

Iron Bars vs Seguleh by Shadaan

Iron Bars challenging a Seguleh by Shadaan

The slave galley, Ardent, found Bars and ten of his soldiers on a sodden raft on the Southern Rust Ocean. He killed the ship's captain and seven of his guards with his bare hands, taking a crossbow bolt to the chest in the process, before ordering the crew to make for the Cape of Stratem.[4]

However, their ship was becalmed and later boarded by Seguleh. Bars challenged the Seguleh speaker so that their supplies and men would not be taken. He barely defeated this Seguleh, revealed to be a female youth named Leal, earning a place among the Agatii. Bleeding from a severe neck injury, he declined a challenge from another Seguleh, Oru, who was identified as ranking in the top twenty. Oru notified Bars that he was now Bars' Yovenai, a word that roughly translated to patron, commander, and teacher.[5]

When word reached Iron Bars via the Brethren that he had missed the Guard's climactic showdown with the Malazans at the Battle of the Plains, he became listless and withdrawn. All that he had endured since leaving Assail had been for nothing. He also blamed himself for the deaths of the friends he had not been able to fight beside.[6] Before they could reach Stratem however, their vessel was sunk by a Mare ship and they were sold to the Stormguard for service on the Stormwall.[7]

In Stonewielder Edit

Iron bars by shadaan

Iron Bars at the Stormwall by Shadaan

Iron Bars by PLUGO

Iron Bars by PLUGO

Iron Bars' martial skill and seeming immortality impressed his new masters and he soon rose to the rank of Champion on the Stormwall. But his disillusionment and sense of failure continued. Only fellow imprisoned Guard Corlo's repeated intercessions and Bars' sense of duty to his blade kept him from giving up and ending his own life.[8] He became gaunt and skeletal, and barely recognizable even to those who knew him well.[9]

Things came to a head after Shell, Blues, Fingers, and Lazar came looking for him. At one point, he and Shell were both brought to defend the shoring up of the northern Stormwall and he attacked her, assuming that she was part of Skinner's Disavowed.[10] When Corlo confessed that the rest of their blade had died on the Wall, Bars went mad and attacked him as well. After this, even the Stormguard considered him useless and allowed High Mage Ussü to use him for his bloody scrying experiments.[11]

When the Stormwall began to fall, his bonds were loosened enough to allow him to choke his tormentor Ussü to death. Then Blues and his squad found Bars, Corlo, and Jemain and transported them to safety by warren.[12]

Once free, they sensed Skinner and his Disavowed at the Sky Tower. They raced to meet them only to see their former comrades disappear into a warren with a fragment of the Crippled God. Iron Bars was particularly incensed by the sight of the man who had betrayed the Guard, and Skinner made a special effort to mock him before he retreated. Blues took Bars and the others back to Stratem to inform K'azz D'Avore.[13]

In AssailEdit

Iron bars by luztheren

Iron Bars by Luztheren

Iron Bars returned to Assail as part of Shimmer's expedition to find Cal-Brinn and the lost Fourth Company. He revealed that his Blade had been separated from Cal-Brinn during a conflict with the Sharr and Sheer mage families at Exile Keep. Cal-Brinn lured the mages away to allow Iron Bars' Blade to escape.[14] On the journey, he began a romantic relationship with Shimmer. As the Guard neared Cal-Brinn on the high peaks of the Salt Mountains, Iron Bars and others began to succumb to the extreme cold of Omtose Phellack. K'azz D'Avore asked Iron Bars to go back with others to safety off the ice. He complied even though he wondered what made him different than K'azz, Shimmer, or Blues.[15]


Iron Bars: "Skinnerrrrrr!"
Skinner (laughing): "Bars! Is that you? You look like Hood's own shit! Lost them all, did you, Bars? Always were murder on your people..."
―Iron Bars and Skinner[src]

Notes and referencesEdit

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