Map Chain of Dogs 2

Seven Cities, area north of Aren

Map Seven Cities detail

Seven Cities

Aren [air-en][1] was a port-city on the southern coast of the Seven Cities continent and one of its seven Holy Cities. After the continent's conquest by the Malazan Empire, the city was the headquarters of the Imperial High Command.[2]


The city was built on the north shore of the Menykh River where it reached Aren Bay.[3] Its high walls were impregnated with otataral as proof against sorcery.[4] Its north gate was flanked by two solid towers sporting T-shaped arrow slits midway up their heights and topped by broad observation platforms surrounded by stone merlons. The entrance was approximately twenty feet high and the gate could be raised to a height of at least fifteen feet. Inside the gate was a wide concourse that was used as a caravan staging area.[5][6] Outside the north gate was the Aren Way, a broad cedar-lined Imperial road commissioned by Dassem Ultor, which ran three leagues north to the village of Balahn.[7]

The other side of the city facing the river leading to the Dojal Hading Sea was home to the harbour district and the Imperial Yard where Malazan naval vessels docked. Towing vessels maneuvered ships from the inner yard further out into the harbour where the ships were allowed to stretch their sails.[8] The harbour was normally filled with ships and the bay swirled with currents carrying the city's sewage out to sea.[3]

Near the riverfront was Dregs, a district of Malazan expatriate hovels, containing colourfully named cobble streets such as No Help Alley. This may also have been the location of a city necropolis surrounded by high brick tenements and mourners' taverns such as the Squall Inn.[9][10]

Within the city was a vast parade ground capable of holding six thousand fully armoured soldiers assembled in ranks. The parade ground's cobbles were so thick with dust that the ground appeared to be hard-packed earth almost white in colour. Nearby was a cemetery whose grounds had been blown clear exposing the bones of those interred.[11]

Broad limestone steps led up from the harbour to the city's palace gate.[12]

Within the city was a column at least twenty man-heights tall carved in a spiral from top to bottom.[13]

A pall of smoke hung over the city at all times.[3]


The city was nominally ruled by High Fist Pormqual, although decisions on taxation and trade were made behind the scenes by a host of merchants largely for their own benefit. Pormqual's edicts were all delivered through the priest Mallick Rel.[14]

The Aren Guard, led by Commander Blistig, maintained order in Aren from the City Garrison.[15] The city was also home to approximately ten thousand Malazan soldiers.[16]

Trell were not welcome within the city.[17]


It was fashionable among men in the city's court to dust their cheeks with light blue powder.[18]

Places of interest Edit


Notable residentsEdit


The city's former Falah'd, Enezgura, had conducted a series of westward conquests. During one such campaign he had largely eliminated the area's Mekhar tribe, scattering its few survivors far and wide.[24]

Aren RebellionEdit

See also: Aren Rebellion

In around 1152/1153 BS[27] when Kellanved was still Emperor of the Malazan Empire, a revolt in Aren was put down by the Logros T'lan Imass and led to a slaughter of its citizens. The attack appeared to have been instigated by Surly although no written orders were ever found. After the slaughter was over Dancer was sent to investigate resulting in an argument between the two.[28] The victims of the slaughter were buried in great barrow mounds running parallel to the eastern side of Aren Way.[29]

The rebellion was instigated by the murder of the Fist of Aren by a Red Blade officer. The officer was arrested and scheduled for crucifixion on the Aren Way. However, the people rose up in his name to slay the Malazan Garrison and drive the Red Blades out of the city. When the T'lan Imass arrived to put down the rebellion, the Red Blade officer threw open the north gate and escaped. The T'lan Imass swept into the city killing thousands and the Red Blade officer's name was cursed to infamy.[30][31]

In Deadhouse GatesEdit

During the Whirlwind rebellion of 1164 BS, Aren was the last city held by the Malazans after all the others on Seven Cities had fallen Sha'ik's armies.[32] Pormqual cowered within the city walls ordering Blistig's Guard to arrest anyone he feared of treason. The city's jails were crowded with monks, priests, soldiers, and Red Blades, including Orto Setral.[33][34] Pormqual also ordered Admiral Nok arrested to force the Malazan fleet to remain in the city's harbour.[35] Meanwhile, the High Fist evacuated his household and the city's treasury.[36]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Aren.

Just outside Aren's north gate was where Fist Coltaine's Chain of Dogs came to an end. While the thirty thousand refugees he protected safely entered the city's gates, he and his men were massacred in full view of the city's soldiers watching from the walls. Pormqual refused to intervene fearing his troops were outnumbered by Korbolo Dom's hordes. The next morning, the High Fist was tricked by Mallick Rel into taking the field and then surrendering to the army of the Apocalypse. All were taken captive and crucified by Dom's forces. Only Blistig's act of disobedience in withholding two to three hundred members of his Guard from the excursion prevented the city from falling.[37][38]

Significant plot details end here.

In House of ChainsEdit

After Coltaine's fall, the Aren markets thrived with the sale of relics from the Chain of Dogs. Everything from broken long-knives and scraps of feathered capes to pieces of withered flesh were plentiful.[39]

Adjunct Tavore Paran brought the Malaz 14th Army to Aren making it the army's staging area for the punitive expedition against the Whirlwind rebels.[40]

In The BonehuntersEdit

It was the birthplace of the name 'Bonehunters'.

In Blood and Bone Edit

The Queen of Dreams informed Captain Yusen that he and his squad had been exonerated for their involvement in the slaying of the Fist who had been appointed governor in Aren. Apparently, the Fist had been about to declare independence from the Malazan Empire, and had started killing everyone opposed to him. Knowing he had no choice if he refused, Yusen killed the Fist, while Burastan, Yusen's aide killed the Fist's aides.[41]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Ten Very Big Books podcast - Deadhouse Gates As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 04:50
  2. Deadhouse Gates, Glossary, UK MMPB p.937
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.226
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.566
  5. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.533
  6. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 21, US HC p.544/559
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.529-530
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.395
  9. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.332
  10. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 13, US HC p.363-364
  11. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.312/314-315/320
  12. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.589
  13. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 7, US HC p.179
  14. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.56
  15. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.395
  16. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 21, US HC p.546
  17. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.592
  18. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.391
  19. House of Chains, Chapter 5
  20. 20.0 20.1 Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.332
  21. The Bonehunters, Chapter 15
  22. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.330
  23. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 13
  24. 24.0 24.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.564
  25. The Crippled God, Chapter 10, Epigraph
  26. Toll the Hounds, Book 3, Epigraph
  27. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.94/95 calculation is based on the timeframe given for the surrender of Karakarang and the known beginning of the Genabackan Campaign
  28. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.129
  29. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.531
  30. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.502
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.565-566
  32. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.
  33. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.395
  34. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.561
  35. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.
  36. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.395
  37. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 21
  38. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22
  39. House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.413
  40. House of Chains, Chapter 5
  41. Blood and Bone, Chapter 15
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