A K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunter battling a soldier by Steven Erikson


Interpretation of K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunter by Yapattack

The K'Chain Che'Malle were non-human and one of the founding intelligent races in the Malazan Book of the Fallen.[1] Although evidence of their strange mechanisms, architecture,[2] and barrows could be found on nearly every continent,[3] they were presumed extinct.[4] The Imass Pran Chole said the K'Chain Che'Malle were "no more--the ice spoke to them with words of death."[5]

Their power was said to have been so immense that they had kept the Elder Gods away from the Malazan world until their civilisation self-destructed. They were also said to have once ruled over the younger Jaghut race much as the Jaghut Tyrants had ruled over the Imass.[3]

The Edur name for them was 'Kaschan'.[6]



Interpretation of a K'ell Hunter, by Toraneko


Interpretation of a K'ell Hunter, by Toraneko

The K'Chain Che'Malle were intelligent lizards standing taller than a man, moving bipedally by balancing the weight of their torsos with a tapering tail (much like velociraptors and other bipedal dinosaurs) and pale skin similar to the underbelly of a snake. They selectively bred their own kind to take advantage of specific traits, the most noticeable difference being the length of the tail. There were the original long-tails (K'Chain Che'Malle) and the engineered short-tails (K'Chain Nah'ruk).

See also Edit


The K'Chain Che'Malle were the first race on the Malazan world to evolve intelligence, and they developed a culture of technological and magical sophistication hundreds of thousands of years before the evolution of hominids. Most knowledge of the K'Chain Che'Malle was retrospective, developed through inspection of their cultural ruins thousands of years after their extinction. As such, it was difficult to state anything definitive about them. It was known that they were eusocially ruled in the manner of ants, with a single female queen (the Matron) and thousands of male drones and soldiers. They were matriarchal and matrilineal.[3]

The K'Chain Che'Malle appeared to lack a racial Warren to draw upon, instead employing gravity-based magic that mixed heavily with their technology. They inhabited gigantic structures known as Skykeeps, buildings so large they appeared to be floating mountains. Most Skykeeps were destroyed during the civil war that exterminated their race, though there were a few known Skykeeps remaining during the time of the Malazans. Examples included the one used by the Tiste Andii, Moon's Spawn, the one piloted by the remaining K'Chain Che'Malle on the continent of Lether, and a few others piloted by K'Chain Nah'ruk seen in the Imperial Warren (later destroyed).

Kell Hunter PAINT 2

K'ell Hunter - Sculpture by Corporal Nobbs

Towards the end of their civilisation, the race's Matrons gathered together to meld their powers towards some unknown purpose. One result was the engineered resurrection of the extinct K'Chain Nah'ruk breed (dubbed the Short-Tails by Kallorian scholars). The experiment that broke from the control of the long-tailed Matrons due to the Short-Tail's independent nature and resistance to surrendering their magical talent to their mothers. This resulted in a civil war.[3] In addition to internal struggle, a massive Tiste invasion occurred and a large-scale war between the K'Chain Che'Malle and Forkrul Assail. These conflicts were supposed to have destroyed their race, though at least two Matrons and a number of others survived until the events that occured during the Malazan Book of the Fallen (see Anatomy for more details).

Interaction with the Malazan worldEdit

Most of the K'Chain Che'Malle appearing in the novels were undead or seen in visions of the past, though there were a couple of exceptions.

In Gardens of the MoonEdit

The inner ring of Malazan military commanders were each said to be equipped with communication devices looted from a K'Chain Che'Malle tomb. Made of human bone and verdigrised copper wire, the devices allowed users to speak across great distances. Whiskeyjack used such a device in Darujhistan to communicate with Dujek Onearm in Pale.[7]

In Memories of Ice Edit

Two Blades by Shadaan

'Mok faces an undead K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunter' Interpretation by Shadaan

The seguleh by artsed-d8f65yf

Interpretation of the Seguleh fighting a K'ell Hunter by Artsed

The soul of a single living Matron was accidentally freed from imprisonment within the Rent on Genabackis by Kilava Onass. After hundreds of thousands of years, it managed to escape its warded tomb and raised hundreds of its children from their barrows as undead. But the Matron was driven insane in the process, and control of its children was co-opted by the Pannion Seer for the expansion of his empire.[8][9][10] Undead K'ell Hunters were sent to assist the Pannion Siege of Capustan. The undead versions of the long-tailed K'Chain Che'Malle were slower and more resistant to normal, mortal pain.

The first direct interaction between the Malazan Empire and the K'Chain Che'Malle occurred at Coral during the Pannion War. The Battle of Black Coral pitted the T'lan Imass, Malazan forces, and the Barghast versus the undead K'ell Hunters and the forces of the Pannion Domin.[11][12]

In Midnight TidesEdit

To date the only time they had spoken with other races was with Silchas Ruin in a parley attempt, though it was unclear if the parley actually happened or if Ruin simply sought it.[citation needed]

In Dust of Dreams Edit

K'Chain Che'Malle by genesischant

Interpretation of a K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunter by genesischant

The second K'Chain Che'Malle interaction with the Malazan Empire involved the appearance of a male and female on the continent of Lether, and the revelation that an entire hive still existed on that same continent. Gesler and Stormy aiding the only remaining hive, Acyl nest, and fought successfully against some remaining K'Chain Nah'ruk. It was revealed that Gunth'an Acyl, the reigning Matron, sacrificed herself to create an army of K'Chain Che'Malle. Where a normal Matron would only birth several hundred Che'Malle, she brought over twenty-thousand into the world in a short time. The exhaustive act of restoring her race broke her sanity and she perished before the battle, leaving her daughter Gunth Mach as the last living Matron of the Che'Malle.

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about K'Chain Che'Malle.

Gunth'an Acyl named Kalyth Destriant of the K'Chain Che'Malle. Gesler and Stormy were kidnapped from the middle of the Bonehunters camp and named as Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil respectively. With their aid, and that of Sinn and Grub, the Che'Malle defeated the 'Nah'ruk.

In The Crippled God Edit

K'Chain Che'Malle by slaine69

Interpretation of a K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunter by Slaine69

The Che'Malle army accompanied the alliance of Bolkando, Letherii, Perish, Malazan, and Barghast east to fight in the Battle of the Spire. They were one of the primary forces attacking the Kolanse Spire alongside the other elder races: reborn T'lan Imass and living Jaghut against the Forkrul Assail.

Significant plot details end here.

Notes and referencesEdit

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