See also: Magic and Holds

"The Warrens of Magic dwelt in the beyond. Find the gate and nudge it open a crack. What leaks out is yours to shape. Open yourself to the Warren that comes to you - that finds you. Draw forth its power - as much as your body and soul are capable of containing - but remember, when the body fails, the gate closes."
Warrens diagram

A diagram of how the major warrens and holds relate to each other.

The most commonly understood definition of Warren was a realm from which mages, priests, shamans, and the like, who might use magic, drew their power. "Warren" could refer to either the physical other-world that could be travelled to and to the form of magic which could be shaped by someone who could channel a Warren.

Structurally these Warrens were divided into two classes, the Elder Warrens, which were associated with a particular race, and the Paths, which were those Warrens most commonly accessed by humans and which were derived from K'rul's blood. Although not all realms described as Warrens fit that description, The Abyss was named a Warren but seemed to be used only as a means of travel rather than a source of power. It is also possible that there was a difference on how some Warrens like the Abyss were created.

Human magic needed no rituals, motions, or words to be cast. All that was required was access to a Warren. Most mages were born with a natural affinity towards a specific Warren, although some were able to draw on more than one. Extremely rare was a mage who could call on every Warren as Beak was able to do.

When a mage wished to use magical power, he or she opened themselves to a Warren (most could only access one or two) by willing into being a portal through which the magical energy flowed. Initially it was a case of opening themselves to the Warren that would come, that would find them. Drawing as much power as body and soul could contain, the wielder had to remember that the gate would close should the body fail.[1] The skills to access the Warrens could be taught, but it was much more common for someone to just be born with the Talent.[2]

Sorcery had a magical signature and adepts were able to discern different users.[3]

Types of WarrensEdit

The PathsEdit

The Paths were those Warrens which were most easily accessible to human mages and priests and used as a source of power.

  • Aral Gamelain — The Path of Demons
  • Denul — The Path of Healing
  • D'riss — The Path of Stone
  • Hood's Path — The Path of Death
  • Meanas — The Path of Shadow and Illusion
  • Mockra — the Path of the Mind
  • Rashan — The Path of Darkness
  • Ruse — The Path of the Sea
  • Serc — The Path of the Sky
  • Telas — The Path of Fire
  • Tennes — The Path of the Land
  • Thyr — The Path of Light

Additionally there was Fener's Warren, which could be channelled like the other Paths and was said to border Chaos itself.

Elder WarrensEdit

Realms which were mostly used by some of the older races. Some of these Warrens were also described as Holds.

According to Imperial Adjunct Lorn, the Warrens of the Imass (T'lan Imass) were similar to those of the Jaghut and the Forkrul Assail i.e. Elder, that is to say, blood-, and earthbound.[4]

Other WarrensEdit


  • Adept - mostly used to specifically describe those able to interpret the Deck of Dragons, not all magic users were Adepts in that sense.[8][9] The term was however also used to describe someone good at using magic in a more general way.[10]
  • Gate - term used to describe openings in and out of a Warren
  • High Ward - stronger form of protective spell[11]
  • Talent - someone capable of accessing magic
  • Touched - the common slang for anyone who knew the Warrens
  • Ward - a spell of protective magic
  • Weaving - combining the efforts of several mages to achieve a stronger effect[12]

Effects of Warren usageEdit

Effects of Warren usage on the userEdit

Initially, opening up to a Warren and feeling the power might sweep away a user's fatigue or fear,[13] however, using Warrens was physically tiring. After the last battle at Pale, Tattersail felt as if she had been beaten with clubs for the last two hours.[14]

Effects on mages of exposure to other WarrensEdit

When a Warren bristling with extreme power was being unveiled, a practitioner might experience a warning, like a bitter taste on the tongue for example. These instances, where power would arrive groaning and deadly, always indicated the arrival of a god on mortal soil.[15]

When the Hound, Gear, attacked Tattersail's High Wards, she could feel the cracks streak outwards and the fissures reaching through her arms and chest with a snapping sound instantly replaced by spurting blood.[16] Tattersail surmised that it was Hairlock's subsequent unleashing of the Warren of Chaos which then left her weakened and with a fever as Chaos was diametrically opposed to her own Warren, if one thought of Warrens as being structured.[17] [18]

Users might also be sensitive to the use of less powerful magic by others and experience sensory reactions.

  • Calot's eyes watered[19]
  • Gear's hackles would stiffen[20]
  • Tattersail would get a migraine headache[19]
  • Tiste Andii mages could sniff the opening of a small rent through which Oponn's coin dropped at the feet of Crokus[21]
  • Baruk's head was pounding with blood, lancing him with pain and he felt an enormous pressure upon the arrival by Warren of Anomander Rake.[22] He also had a headache when Oponn resisted his Warren and destroyed the wax imprint of the coin. Baruk used healing tea to combat headaches.[23]

Reactions might be worse when the Warrens in question were anathema to each other.[19]

Visual perceptionsEdit

Tattersail perceived Quick Ben's sorcery as bleeding a strange, swirling flavor.[24] On another occasion he emerged from a swirling cloud which held a strange spicy scent.[25]

When Hairlock attacked Gear, a wave of grey light struck the Hound and a miasma churned into Tattersail like pestilence. The chaotic Warren radiated from Hairlock in visible pulses of grainy grey shot through with black.[26]

When Crone approached Darujhistan, the emanation of sorcery she detected among the estates was described as aquamarine.[27]

Uses of Warren magicEdit

Travelling by WarrenEdit

Warrens were frequently used by characters for travelling.[28] When the Hound Gear exited a Warren, it was described as a savage parting of the fabric and his arrival heralded by two muted thunderclaps.[29] When Gear left, the opening of the Warren was again described with a fabric analogy, the term used being 'a dark rift opened around him with the sound of tearing burlap'.[30]

Once within the Warren, the mage visualized specific details of the intended destination and as they physically traveled they were brought closer to their goal. The farther a destination in the real world, the longer the trip required within the Warren.[31] Additionally, the "primordial elements asserted an intractable consistency across all Warrens. Land to land, air to air, water to water." For example, if one entered a Warren by ship, then one journeyed through the Warren by sea. Entered by foot or on horseback, then travel would be by land.[32]

It was possible to travel to a moving ship, although few were able to manage this difficult task.[33]

The Warrens of Chaos were the miasmic paths between the Warrens.[34] A mage travelling through Chaos would weaken the other Warrens allowing the mage to break in and out of them at will, as shown by Hairlock.[35]

Protection and preservationEdit

Warrens were used to set protective wards, both for people[36] as well as property.[37] A Warren could be used to set a sealing spell.[38] But wards were susceptible to physical forces. A sufficiently powerful force, such as a Moranth munition, was capable of shattering a ward by eliminating the pattern the magic depended on.[39]


"...Yath had sat as well, staff across his lap, struggling to weave the commingled contributions of the participants into one seamless flow of channeled power to be held, coalesced and distilled, then released in one awesome revelation of willed intent..."
Yathengar weaves[src]

Multiple mages accessing their Warrens together to produce an effect beyond the ability of a single mage were said to be "weaving".[12] Generally, this required a period of preparation or ritual and was not performed off the cuff. Participants did not have to all be accessing the same Warren, but at least one mage was required to weave the work of the others into a cohesive effect.[40] Examples included the Pannion Domin mage cadre preparing for battle at the Siege of Coral[12] and the mages who combined their skills to guide an entire ship through the Warren of Serc in Return of the Crimson Guard.[40]

Magic weaponsEdit

According to Ceda Kuru Qan, the use of sorcery to invest weapons with magical power was fraught with difficulty. Iron itself resisted magical imposition. Additionally, sorcery thrived on flaws, "whether structural in the physical sense, or metaphorical in the thematic sense." Consequently, the better forged an iron weapon the more difficult it was to enchant it. A failed result was a weapon whose investment refused to function and which was then considered cursed.[41]

Day to day usageEdit

Warrens might be used for mundane tasks such as opening windows.[42]

Warrens and Hold magicEdit

"Unlike the sorcery that prevailed on this continent until recently, Preda, magic everywhere else exists in a more formalized state.  The power, so raw here, is elsewhere refined, aspected, organized into something like themes, and these themes are what we call warrens.  Many are accessible to mortals and gods alike; others are –"  and he glanced at Bugg – "Elder.  Some are virtually extinct, or inaccessible due to ignorance or deliberate rituals of sealing.  Some, in addition, are claimed and ruled over by elements either native to those warrens, or so fundamentally related to them as to make the distinction meaningless." ―Quick Ben • DoD


Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Warrens.
"... when we draw upon the power of the warrens, we draw your very blood."
―Lady Envy[src]

It transpired the Warrens ran through K'rul's flesh. Any mage traveling through the Warrens was traveling through the arteries and veins of K'rul.[43] The power of Warrens was his blood.[44] The twin chambers of the heart were Kurald Galain and Starvald Demelain.[45] Only a handful of entities knew the truth about the Warrens, amongst them Anomander Rake, Draconus, Osric, and Envy.[46]

Each Warren was aspected to an Eleint by K'rul when he created the Warrens.

K'rul was unlikely to have had any hand in the creation of the Elder Warrens. For instance Draconus gifted the Tiste Andii their darkness.

In Memories of IceEdit

After being bound to Burn's flesh during the Chaining, the Crippled God became a virulent poison inside her. Burn's Warren was a pathway to all the other Warrens which first began seeing the effects of the Chained One's infection on Genabackis. Rife with Chaos, magic became unpredictable and dangerous.[47][48] Access to the Warrens became difficult and mages risked becoming incapacitated with a raving fever.[49][50] Some Warrens, such as the Barghast Warren[51] and Tellann,[52] did not seem to be affected, while others, such as Hood's Path, were temporarily safe through the efforts of the associated Elder Gods.[53] Ultimately, Burn's fever was broken and slowed by the unveiling of Omtose Phellack within her realm.[54]

Significant plot details end here.


  • Authors Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont devised the Warren-based magic system during their days fleshing out the Malazan world in role-playing games. When asked how the pair got the idea for how magic worked, Erikson stated, "We learned early on to keep it mysterious and mysterious it shall remain."[56]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.78
  2. Night of Knives, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.74 statement by Temper
  3. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.194
  4. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.277
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.707
  6. Deadhouse Gates, Glossary, UK MMPB p.938
  7. Memories of Ice, Chapter 11
  8. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.110
  9. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.295
  10. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, US HC p.265
  11. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.165
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Memories of Ice, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.865
  13. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.164/165
  14. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.78
  15. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.78/79
  16. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.165
  17. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.168
  18. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.279/282
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.63
  20. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.161
  21. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 5, UK MMPB p.187
  22. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.209
  23. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.250-252
  24. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.135
  25. Gardens of the Moon,Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.146
  26. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.166
  27. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.194
  28. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.31
  29. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.160/161
  30. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.167
  31. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.332
  32. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.280
  33. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.94
  34. Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.709
  35. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.127
  36. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.165
  37. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.198
  38. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.103
  39. House of Chains, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.376-377
  40. 40.0 40.1 Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 3
  41. Midnight Tides, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.394
  42. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.198 - example
  43. Memories of Ice‎, Chapter 7
  44. Memories of Ice‎, Chapter 7
  45. Memories of Ice‎, Chapter 7
  46. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.327
  47. Memories of Ice, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.74
  48. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.201-202
  49. Memories of Ice, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.382
  50. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.560
  51. Memories of Ice, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.400
  52. Memories of Ice, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.729
  53. Memories of Ice, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.884
  54. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.967-968
  55. Blood and Bone, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.518
  56. Steven Erikson Reddit AMA 2015.
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