The Crippled God is the tenth and final volume of Canadian author Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen. In an interview, Erikson had mentioned that this book would be the second half of the series finale, with Dust of Dreams ending on a cliffhanger.
Savaged by the K'Chain Nah'ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods — if her own troops don’t kill her first.
Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew. They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal. In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.
Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, and release her from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will be a force of utter devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world. And so, in a far away land and beneath indifferent skies, the final cataclysmic chapter in the extraordinary ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ begins.
Many years ago one man took a chance on an unknown writer and his first fantasy novel--a novel that had already gone the rounds of publishers a few times without any luck. Without him, without his faith and, in the years that followed, his unswerving commitment to this vast undertaking, there would be no 'Malazan Book of the Fallen.' It has been my great privilege to work with a single editor from start to finish, and so I humbly dedicate The Crippled God to my editor and friend, Simon Taylor.
My deepest gratitude is accorded to the following people. My advance readers for their timely commentary on this manuscript which I foisted on them at short notice and probably inopportune times: A. P. Canavan, William Hunter, Hazel Hunter, Baria Ahmed and Bowen Thomas-Lundin. And the staff of The Norway Inn in Perranarworthal, the Mango Tango and Costa Coffee in Falmouth, all of whom participated in their own way in the writing of this novel.
Also, a heartfelt thank you to all my readers, who (presumably) have stayed with me through to this, the tenth and final novel of the ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’. I have enjoyed our long conversation. What’s three and a half million words between friends?
I could well ask the same question of my publishers. Thank you for your patience and support. The unruly beast is done, and I can hear your relieved sighs.
Finally, my love and gratitude to my wife, Clare Thomas, who suffered through the ordeal of not just this novel, but all those that preceded it. I think it was your mother who warned you that marrying a writer was a dicey proposition …
|The Crippled God|
|"He was a soldier"|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2|
|Chapter 3||Chapter 4|
|All the takers of my days|
|Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|To charge the spear|
|Chapter 8||Chapter 9|
|The fists of the world|
|Chapter 11||Chapter 12|
|A hand upon the fates|
|Chapter 14||Chapter 15|
|To one in chains|
|Chapter 17||Chapter 18|
|Chapter 19||Chapter 20|
|Your private shore|
|Chapter 21||Chapter 22|
|Chapter 23||Chapter 24|
|Epilogue I||Epilogue II|
"He was a soldier" Edit
I am known
I am named
I am drowned
I am found
The Malazan Book of the Fallen
Fisher kel Tath
Chapter 1 Edit
Calm, a Forkrul Assail Pure, walks through the Wastelands of the continent of Lether, trailing chains made from the bones of her ancestors. She reaches the unconscious body of Icarium and uses the chains to bind him and keep him unconscious.
Some Tiste Liosan led by Kadagar Fant, who styles himself Lord of Light, have trapped the Eleint Kessobahn. They drink his blood, so becoming Soletaken, able to veer to dragon form. They do so and kill Kessobahn.
Using a warren, Ganoes Paran has transported his Malazan 5th army Host from Aren to North Citadel, the second city of Kolanse, and taken it. They are now besieged in the city by Kolansii troops from the south, led by Watered.
Chapter 2 Edit
Olar Ethil comes to the camp of Setoc and the Trygalle shareholders. She wants Absi, Onos T'oolan's son. Baaljagg attacks her but is destroyed. After bargaining with the others she leaves with all three of Tool's children.
Quick Ben is at the Spar of Andii, where he retrieves two stashed objects; one is the Sceptre of Night. He conjures a black horse. While it is manifesting he talks to himself; his soliloquy implies that he is a son of Mother Dark.
Chapter 3 Edit
Shurq Elalle's ship, the Undying Gratitude, was damaged in the squall and has taken on water; enough that it's about to sink. Princess Felash saves it by using the warren of Omtose Phellack to freeze the water in the hold.
In the Bonehunters' camp Atri-Ceda Aranict tells Brys Beddict that she feels a hidden presence in the camp; one that during the battle protected Adjunct Tavore. The Perish Grey Helms, Queen Abrastal's Evertine legion and the remnants of the Khundryl Burned Tears expect to reach the Bonehunter's camp the next day.
Chapter 4 Edit
The few remaining Bonehunter Marines and Heavies reluctantly consolidate into a few full squads. Deadsmell, a squad healer-mage, is bound to Hood. But Hood is no longer King of High House Death and instead controls the Elder warren of Omtose Phellack. Deadsmell realises that he can now utilise Omtose Phellack despite the presence of the Otataral sword, and uses it to heal Adjunct Tavore.
The other leaders of the allied armies arrive at the Bonehunters' camp for a meeting.
All the takers of my days Edit
Well enough she faces away
Chapter 5 Edit
There are two queens in Kharkanas, neither of whom wants to take the throne. Finally Yan Tovis persuades Sandalath Drukorlat to do so, while she goes to the First Shore. Both she and Yedan Derryg, the Watch, can see Tiste Liosan with hate on their faces, trying to break through the barrier.
In Kolanse City five Forkrul Assail Pures have ascended the Spire. At its top is an alter, encased within which is the heart of the Crippled God. Soon they intend to drain its power and use it to cleanse the world of all its people in the name of Justice. A fleet of warships is sighted in Kolanse Bay.
Chapter 6 Edit
Onos T'oolan and the T'lan Imass with him still stand among the corpse of the Barghast clan they slaughtered; all but Tool regret the deaths. After three days Tool leads them east, towards the gathering forces; apart from two who refuse his call.
The Trygalle shareholders need water. Faint tells the mage Precious Thimble to use her power to get some. Instead she rouses an ancient buried god, who kills Sweetest Sufferance before Draconus arrives and defeats him.
Chapter 7 Edit
The leaders of the assembled armies finally meet. Adjunct Tavore unveils her strategy, which is met with universal consternation: she intends for the Bonehunters and remaining Khundryl only, to pass through the impassable Glass Desert to draw the Forkrul Assail armies out of position. Meanwhile her allies will skirt the desert to the south and head for Kolanse City. She reveals her goal: to attack the Spire and free the heart of the Crippled God before the Pures can drain its power.
Ruthan Gudd and Bottle survived the battle with the K'Chain Nah'ruk, and are catching up with the Bonehunter army. They are joined by Masan Gilani, who brings five T'lan Imass of The Unbound. The T'lan Imass address Ruthan as an Elder God, which he denies. They catch up with the Bonehunters. When the T'lan Imass meet Adjunct Tavore they announce that they bring her greetings from the Crippled God.
To charge the spear Edit
And now the bold historian
Princess Felash's sorcery has enabled Shurq Elalle's ship to reach land, and all have alighted. However the ship cannot be repaired without wood, so Felash sends her handmaiden into her warren, Omtose Phellack, to find some. Instead she finds a ship and manages to return with it.
Silchas Ruin is searching for a sword for Rud Elalle. He comes to a strange place where shadows of gods are wandering. Shadowthrone appears and offers Silchas an ancient Hust sword. Silchas is surprised that he doesn't recognise it. He feels it's too good for Rud and decides to take it for himself.
Olar Ethil tries to contact Onos T'oolan telepathically to persuade him to join with her. He resists her attempts, and her subsequent mental attack is repelled by a line of undead Bridgeburners led by Whiskeyjack.
Sister Equity, a Forkrul Assail Pure, has detected Princess Felash's use of an Elder warren and goes to investigate. She hopes to find allies to use against Sister Reverence, her leader, who wants to destroy all of humanity. When she arrives she is attacked first by the sailors, who are quickly killed, and then by Felash and her handmaiden which results in stalemate. She asks about the Elder warren, disbelieving that it's Omtose Phellack. Felash invokes the warren; from it emerges Hood, who kills Equity.
Adjunct Tavore and the Bonehunters have started across the Glass Desert. The allied armies are passing to the south of it when Brys Beddict and the Letherii army meet the K'Chain Che'Malle. It is Tavore's intention that Gesler and Stormy, the leaders of the Che'Malle army, should be in overall command of the allies.
Tanakalian, the Perish Grey Helms' Shield Anvil, finally confronts Krughava, their Mortal Sword. The Perish are sworn to the Wolves of War, the Lord and Lady of the Beast Hold. Yet Tanakalian accuses Krughava of betraying that oath when she vowed to follow Tavore. He convinces the Grey Helms, and Krughava resigns her position.
The fists of the world Edit
If there was a better place
Hethra of Aren
On the First Shore the initial Tiste Liosan attack is repelled by the Watch and the Letherii refugee army. But there are many more Liosan still to fight, and four of their leaders have veered to dragon form. The Liosan attack again.
The surviving Trygalle shareholders catch up with the Letherii army before they die of thirst. Atri-Ceda Aranict's powers have grown, or perhaps the Hold that she uses is recovering its strength; she is able, mentally, to teach Precious Thimble her language.
Ex-Mortal Sword Krughava has been contemplating her situation. She decides to ride into the Glass Desert to Adjunct Tavore to warn her of the likelihood that the Perish Grey Helms will not fight for her. A K'ell Hunter notes her departure.
A hand upon the fates Edit
'I have had visions of the future, and each and every one of them ends up in the same place. Don't ask me what it means. I already know. That's the problem with visions of the future.'Emperor Kellanved
Silchas Ruin returns to Rud Elalle with his new sword and gives Rud the old ones. He then leaves after explaining that large numbers of Eleint will soon be arriving from Starvald Demelain, and he will be trying to resist them.
The battle on the First Shore continues. Wave after wave of Liosan troops attack and are repulsed. One of their Soletaken leaders goes through the breach in dragon form; Yedan Derryg kills him with his Hust sword. Four Hounds of Light attack and are also killed by him, but not before slaughtering many defenders. Another dragon attacks and is killed too.
Back in Kharkanas, Queen Sandalath Drukorlat is losing touch with reality, due to her ancient memories of the city and the strain of waiting on the throne while the Shake die in her place. She determines that the Liosal will not take the city, preferring to burn it herself.
Silchas Ruin is reunited with his now-undead cousin, Tulas Shorn.
Olar Ethil has taken Torrent and the children into a warren to avoid the Glass Desert. The girls fear that she will soon kill them to exert more pressure on Onos T'oolan. Torrent wanders off a little way and meets Kruppe, who reveals that he is the girls' real father. He gives Torrent a better bow and arrows with which to defend them.
Gruntle, in tiger form, is again travelling through dream-warrens. He meets Kilava in a cavern in the Refugium. Above he sees the approaching Starvald Demelain. Kilava speaks in his mind, warning both him and Trake to stay away. Gruntle refuses. Kilava veers to her panther form and they start to fight.
Mappo Runt reaches the Crystal City. Though now empty, he sees the memory of Badalle who speaks disconcertingly to him.
The newly-freed Otataral Dragon, Korabas, bursts from her cave and flies away; the ground she passes over dies forever. Kilmandaros reveals that otataral is not a thing but a title, a shortened form of Otas'taral, the Eye of Abnegation. By releasing her they have forced the other Eleint to attack her, else all sorcery will die; due to their sorcerous nature, so would the Eleint.
To one in chains Edit
If you knew where this path led
Psalm VII 'The Vulture's Laugh'
The Sparak Nethem
The Bonehunters are dying of thirst and are unlikely to last another day; yet they are inspired by the presence of the children to struggle on for longer.
In North Citadel the recently-arrived Pure, Sister Belie, has arranged a parley with the leader of the besieged Malazans; she intends to order him to kill himself in front of the defenders. However that leader is Ganoes Paran, the Master of the Deck, and he deflects the command.
On Death's ship Hood and the undead Shurq Elalle discuss life and death, and how the old gods take but don't give. Hood explains how Shadowthrone and Cotillion conspired with other gods and Ascendants to remedy the situation.
They encounter a Forkrul Assail ship, captained by a Watered. Felash's handmaiden boards it to negotiate. Told that they will all be killed, she attacks and kills them all, including the Watered. Felash mentions that five of her sisters have similar handmaidens, and that they originally had insisted on wearing masks.
In Kolanse City the Pures learn that the assault on North Citadel has failed, and why. A delegation of Perish Grey Helms from the fleet arrive and, having duplicated the Shield Anvil's reasoning, wish to ally with the Assail. Instead they are enslaved and sent to attack North Citadel.
The Shi'Gal Assassin Gu'Rull discovers the unconscious Krughava and rescues her from the swarm of Shards that was about to eat her. When recovered she warns the Bonehunters that they can no longer rely on the Perish army to fight on their side.
That army has reached Kolanse. Setoc arrives, possessed by the Wolves of Winter to whom she is Destriant. The Wolves wish the Perish to fight on the side of the Bonehunters, to the chagrin of Shield Anvil Tanakalian.
Kilava and Gruntle are evenly matched, even without Trake's presence. Then Starvald Demelain opens and an Eleint dragon emerges. Gruntle, possessed now by Trake, attacks it successfully but Kilava takes the opportunity to kill Gruntle, to her regret. All the Eleint emerge into the world.
Fighting continues on the First Shore. In Kharkanas Withal dons some old armour that he found and sets off for the front, against Sandalath Drukorlat's wishes. His departure deepens her madness and she starts mistaking people for old friends and enemies.
The Tiste Liosan finally commit their elite troops to the battle, which allows the rest of the Soletaken to cross and then veer. Yedan Derryg kills the first, but dies in the process. The Tiste Andii arrive, some veered, and join the defence. However they are losing until Sandalath is persuaded to release Silanah; she is twice the size of the Liosan Soletaken and easily kills them. The remaining Liosan are slain.
The Bonehunters and Khundryl have no water left, yet they are still nine days from the nearest supply. At the end of the day's march the leaders gather. Then Banaschar retrieves the knife given to Adjunct Tavore by Ceda Bugg, to be used "in her most dire necessity, when blood is required". Tavore takes it and cuts herself, then thrusts the knife in the ground. Water wells up beneath them.
Your private shore Edit
Quick Ben and Kalam Mekhar have joined Ganoes Paran in North Citadel. The Malazans sally from the city to attack the Forkrul Assail besiegers, and win easily when Kalam kills their commanders including Sister Belie. However he uses a knife containing otataral, which attracts the attention of the newly-freed Otataral Dragon. Following their victory the Malazan Host sets out for the south.
Brys Beddict's Letherii and Queen Abrastal's Bolkando armies are well behind the Perish and K'Chain Che'Malle. Messengers reach them from the coast, telling of supplies and reinforcements that King Tehol has sent by ship; the reinforcements include Teblor. They will arrive the next day.
The Forkrul Assail Sister Calm becomes aware of the release of Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, and feels it approaching. She turns back towards Icarium, whom she considers the only force that can resist Korabas if the other Eleint fail to kill her, or the Eleint themselves should they win.
Korabas is aware that many Eleint have appeared and are chasing her. She cannot out-fly them, so she turns and waits.
Ganoes Paran and the Malazan Host find a mountain pass blocked by Forkrul Assail and the Perish from the fleet. That night Kalam Mekhar, with Quick Ben's help, infiltrates their camp and assassinates Brother Serenity, the only Pure. The Malazan sappers have been resupplied by Ganoes: he used his abilities as Master of the Deck to acquire Moranth munitions direct from a Moranth warehouse. The next day the sappers use the munitions to massacre the Forkrul Shriven army. The Perish are forced to surrender.
The Forkrul Assail army is deployed to defend the approaches to Kolanse City; their Perish Grey Helm allies will hold the centre of the line. The advancing Bolkando, White Face Barghast and Letherii troops will soon arrive. In Kolanse Bay the Perish Thrones of War are being sunk by squalls, even though there is no wind.
Krughava, the late Perish Mortal Sword, and Grub ride a Ve'Gath to the allied armies. Prince Brys Beddict explains their plan: to press the opposing army sufficiently that it cannot disengage from their feint to counter the real attack by the K'Chain Che'Malle on the Spire. Krughava rides forward to rejoin her Perish Grey Helms.
The advancing Che'Malle become aware of an army in their path; it is a host of T'lan Imass led by Onos T'oolan. They explain that they intend to free the Crippled God, and Tool realises that he shares that goal. The armies merge and advance to attack the Spire.
The Pure Brother Diligence in charge of the Shriven and Perish armies in the approaches, has become suspicious of Shield Anvil Tanakalian's motives and comes to take charge of the Perish with his Voice. Setoc uses the power of the Wolves to repel him, leaving him unconscious. On the Spire Sister Reverence is informed of the approaching Che'malle army. She tries to summon reinforcements from Brother Diligence but is unable to contact him.
Krughava reaches the Perish and confronts Tanakalian and Setoc. The Wolf Gods, speaking through Setoc, say to take no part in the forthcoming battle; instead they want to wait, then attack the weakened winner. Krughava argues against this, seeing that the wolf tactic of killing the weakest of the herd will not work against humans. She convinces Setoc herself, but not the Wolves who then fully possess her. Tanakalian kills Setoc to prevent the Wolves from stealing 'his' glory and mortally wounds Krughava, but she is able to kill him before she dies. The Perish have lost all three of their commanders and probably also their gods. They feel shamed and decide to fight against the Forkrul Assail. Queen Abrastal sends them to block any Forkrul withdrawal.
Brother Diligence recovers consciousness and hears Sister Reverence's pleas for help: the Spire troops are being slaughtered by the Che'Malle. He sends reinforcements, then uses his Voice on the Letherii commanders. Brys Beddict is aware of him and releases at him the names of all the forgotten gods that he stored inside him in the Abyss before his resurrection; Diligence is overwhelmed. The last forgotten name is that of the Forkrul Assail's own god, which enters Diligence's soul. As the names pour out of him, Brys gradually dies in a pool of seawater. Ceda Aranict refuses to let him go, and is herself drawn down into the water. Faint cuts her arms and offers blood to Mael to get him to intervene; then Amby Bole is able to drag them to safety.
Despite Diligence's death the battle continues. Queen Abrastal sends the Barghast to the aid of the Perish trying to prevent reinforcements reaching the Spire, but they are outnumbered and fail.
On the Spire Sister Reverence commands the defence and hopes the relief force arrives in time. She sees that Kolanse Bay has frozen solid; Death's ship has arrived and Hood has unleashed Omtose Phellack. Hood walks across the ice to the Spire and creates a shaft of ice to the top. Gesler is told of the approaching Kolansii reinforcements and sends the K'ell Hunters and T'lan Imass to intercept them. The rest of the attackers slowly advance. Above them the sky fills with dark clouds and lightning. Slowly the god Fener, the Boar of Summer, manifests. In Darujhistan Karsa enters the temple of Fener. On the alter is a boar tusk. Karsa swings his stone sword and smashes tusk and alter. Above the Spire the manifestation of Fener is sliced by an enormous stone sword. A rain of blood falls from the sky, reanimating the Imass just as the Shriven reinforcements arrive. The living Imass cannot withstand them and are dying again. The 14 Jaghut, no longer undead, come to help, and they are joined by K'ell hunters and the Teblor and Barghast from the south. They are still losing until Whiskeyjack and the undead Bridgeburner army arrives.
The rain of blood reanimates Olar Ethil too. While this distracts her, Torrent makes the children run inland, then tells Olar that they slid onto the ice filling Kolanse Bay. She tries to find them there; Torrent follows and breaks his legs in a fissure, yet manages to kill Olar with an arrow from Kruppe's bow.
Sinn intervenes in the battle before the Spire. She raises the fires of Tellann warren, burns her way through the defenders and starts up the Spire. Gesler and Stormy fear she wants the power of the Heart for herself, and chase after her. Stormy throws her off the stair while Gesler ascends to the top. Sinn climbs back up and burns Stormy but he grabs her and leaps off the Spire, killing them both. Gesler reaches the top of the Spire and trades blows with the rejuvenated Sister Reverence, damaging her before she kills him. Hood then arrives and kills her. The Shi'Gal Assassin takes the Crippled God's heart.
Adjunct Tavore, Banaschar and Fiddler make a short excursion to a hill. At the top Tavore thrusts her otataral sword into the ground. Banaschar suggests that D'rek could encircle the hill to help with its defence. They return to the Bonehunter army, then Fiddler takes the Marines and Heavies back to the hill. Tavore leads the Bonehunter Regular troops westward.
There are three Forkrul Assail Pures in charge of the approaching Kolansii troops. Aware of Fiddler's small force and of Ganoes Paran's host in the north, they split their army into three: the largest will attack the Bonehunter Regulars, the others Fiddler and Ganoes, all with overwhelming force.
Silchas Ruin and Tulas Shorn are flying towards the other Eleint. Silchas's Hust sword is restless; he lands and draws it. Three chains appear from the sword, anchored in the ground; from the earth at the end of each emerges an ancient Eleint: Eloth, Ampelas and Kalse. As they fly off they pass over Telorast and Curdle who also veer and join them to form a seven-dragon Storm, which attacks those attacking Korabas.
The Great Ravens are now flying with the Shi'Gal assassin carrying the Crippled God's heart. The Ravens reach the marines' hill; each plunges down next to the otataral sword and is changed, gradually forming the figure of a deformed man chained to the ground: the Crippled God. There is a hole in his chest; in it Gu'Rull places the heart.
The Kolansii army engages the Bonehunter Regulars and their Khundryl and T'lan Imass allies. The Imass attack one of the Pures, wounding her as she destroys them. The other Pure advances on Tavore, using his Voice to attack her. Badalle summons the Shards, remnants of the Forkrul Assail god; they appear and devour him. The remaining Pure is about to fight the last T'lan Imass. She steps over the mortally-wounded Warleader Gall; he rises behind her and thrusts a sword through her spine. The T'lan Imass then finally kills her. Despite the loss of their leaders, the Kolansii are winning easily against the outnumbered Bonehunters, only a few hundred of whom remain. Then Ganoes Paran's army appears and turns the battle.
The other Kolansii army has surrounded the hill where the marines and heavies protect the Crippled God. They attack repeatedly; each time they are repelled by the defenders helped by their alchemical munitions. Eventually only a handful of defenders remain. The Kolansii are about to attack for the last time when Quick Ben and Kalam Mekhar arrive and kill the Pure and Watered leaders. The Otataral dragon reaches the hill, fleeing the other Eleint. Her arrival breaks the Crippled God's chains. Fiddler urges him to bind Korabas; it's the only way the dragon will be permitted to live. With the help of K'rul and Mael, and by means of Heboric's ghost hands, one jade and one otataral, the Crippled God succeeds in chaining Korabas; the remaining Eleint disperse. He is then released from his crippled body by Cotillion.
Icarium, unbound by the death of Sister Calm, is again amnesiac. He buries Mappo Runt, whose name he has forgotten, and wanders off; this time accompanied by Ublala Pung and Ralata.