- "[Necromancy is] just the other side of Denul, Reem, like I keep telling you. Denul's giving, Hood's taking away."
Balgrid was a young squad mage, in the 9th company of the 8th Legion of the Malaz 14th Army. He was assigned to Borduke's 6th squad of Marines. He was originally described as overweight, but seemed to grow into a thick-chested man, "solid as a tree trunk" over time. He had a bearded and "appallingly unattractive" face.
Balgrid was an illusionist using the Meanas warren. His skill at 'cheating light in all directions' was such that it had impressed Bottle. Balgrid also showed some degree of skill at necromancy through Hood's Path and healing through Denul.
In House of Chains
Balgrid was part of Adjunct Tavore Paran's punitive expedition against the Army of the Apocalypse. While the 14th Army was still in Aren, Balgrid stood guard duty with Maybe outside the 9th Company's improvised barracks. Balgrid was magically disguised as a bale of hay when their post was approached by Pearl and Lostara Yil. The mage recognised Pearl as a member of the Claw and thought his disguise successful. But Pearl later confided to a confused Lostara that there had been two guards at the gate.
On the road to Raraku, Balgrid was nearly overcome with heat exhaustion and had to be attended by Lutes, the squad healer. Later, Fiddler asked Balgrid and Tavos Pond to find his missing mage, Bottle. Both could sense the mage was up to something, but were unaware of his exact location or what he was doing. When Bottle returned, he chastised the two mages for not sensing the magic gate through which Topper had entered the Adjunct's tent. Then he revealed the spoils of his eavesdropping.
In The Bonehunters
After the Battle of Raraku, Leoman led the Army of the Apocalypse westward to Y'Ghatan and the 14th Army followed. Adjunct Tavore launched the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan by sending the army's sappers to breach the city's wall under the cover of night. The sappers were organised into groups with each group protected by a mage. Balgrid's group of sappers included Able, Bowl, Gupp, Jump, and Taffo. Once the walls were breached Balgrid quickly returned to Borduke's squad.
Borduke's marines were first into the breach. But just as they cleared the wall's rubble, they were ambushed by archers and swordsmen, and Borduke, Ibb, and Hubb were killed. Fiddler launched a cusser into the archers in the windows of the building above them and the resulting explosion left Balgrid temporarily deafened and bleeding from the ears.
When enough Malazans were engaged in street fighting inside the city, Leoman sprung his trap. The city's olive oil-soaked buildings were set alight and the streets quickly became an inferno. Balgrid fled the flames along with a mixed group of survivors from Cord's and Fiddler's squads. After another attack by Leoman's fanatics, Balgrid and Scant corralled a grievously wounded Tavos Pond and guided him to safety.
Balgrid was among the small group of soldiers who survived Y'Ghatan by tunneling their way out from under the city. They spent three days crawling on their hands and knees through the dark led by Bottle and his rat. The oversized mage had to occasionally be forcefully dragged through tight spaces by Tarr. At these times. only the threat of Urb's knives at his back was able to silence his pained shrieks.
Unaware that any had survived, the 14th Army made haste for the Kokakal Sea to embark on Admiral Nok's ships and escape the Bluetongue Plague ravaging Seven Cities. Faradan Sort and Sinn remained behind and discovered the survivors as they crawled from the wreckage. Captain Sort reorganised the shattered soldiers, placing Balgrid into Hellian's squad. Balgrid still had difficulty hearing, but Lutes said it would mostly come back over time. Nok's fleet returned the army to Malaz City where the Adjunct met with Empress Laseen.
In Reaper's Gale
Adjunct Tavore clashed with Empress Laseen at Malaz City and took the Bonehunters rogue, following the Tiste Edur fleet that had ravaged Sepik back to Lether. Tavore invaded the Letherii Empire, burning her transport vessels on the shoreline and spreading the marines in isolated pairs of squads across thirty leagues of coast. The marines moved forward into the Letherii countryside towards Letheras, the capital, with orders to kill Edur by night and stir the occupied Letherii into rebellion. Each squad had a mage responsible for hiding their presence and confusing their enemies. Fist Keneb followed in their wake with six squads of marines, while Captain Faradan Sort and Beak attempted to keep lines of communication open between both groups. By this time Balgrid had regained his hearing and was assigned to Hellian's 8th Squad. Unable to remember his name, she referred to him as "Baldy".
Hellian's squad was paired with Urb's for the landings. When they assembled on the beach, Urb found her arranging casks of rum she had salvaged from the burning ships amongst her squad. The two squads remained together and Balgrid and Bowl used magic to cover their tracks. After defeating a troop of Edur at Boaral Keep they acquired mounts at Hellian's suggestion and pushed hard inland for the capital, fighting from tavern to tavern. The two squads began taking trophies of ears and fingers and tying them to their belts. Beak said Balgrid's use of necromancy to obscure the smell of the dead they left behind was particularly effective because Lether had not known death magic for some time.
Contrary to the Adjunct's expectations, the Letherii soldiers did not use the Malazan invasion to turn against their Edur occupiers. As the marines neared Letheras fighting became more desperate and they began taking casualties. In the same battle that Hanno died, Balgrid had to revive a badly cut up and unconscious Saltlick. The mage also squabbled with Reem, complaining about the normally taciturn corporal's sudden runaway mouth. Balgrid warned he could make Reem stop talking and the corporal would not like it at all. Hellian was not pleased when Balgrid revealed that someone had been magically tracking them for two to three days, but their pursuers were revealed to only be Captain sort and Beak.
Hellian earned the support of the Letherii slave and Indebted classes by changing tactics to slay the government officials, lawyers, moneylenders, and debt-holders in each village. Then her squad stayed in the village tavern--decorated with the severed heads of their victims--until it was dry before moving on to the next. Fiddler and Gesler's squads found them drinking and singing at a tavern a day's travel from the capital. Fiddler did not approve, but could not argue with Hellian's success where all the other squads had failed miserably.
Almost as soon as the marines were reunited, a force of hundreds of Edur enveloped the village. The Edur were repelled by the arrival of Badan Gruk, Sinter, and Primly's fresh squads. The new arrivals deferred to Fiddler's seniority, and the former Bridgeburner ordered the marines to hold their position in hopes they would be reinforced by Fist Keneb.
By the time Keneb's forces arrived, thousands of Edur followed in their wake, pushing the gathered Malazans towards the city where the Imperial Brigade awaited. Caught between the two armies near Kravos Hill, the 800 remaining Malazans were forced to huddle under Beak's protective spell when the Letherii mages cast a deadly ritual of Chaos upon them and the Edur. The spell was broken, but the hair of all those under Beak's protection turned white. The Edur abandoned the field after their allies' betrayal, and the shaken Imperial Brigade withdrew to meet Adjunct Tavore's more threatening main force as it disembarked from the Lether River.
Keneb marched on Letheras thinking the marines deserved to be the first to enter the capital. After the marines found a hidden entrance beneath the wall, Hellian, Urb, Fiddler, and Gesler's squads were sent into the city to cause trouble while the remaining marines opened the city's west gate to Tavore's infantry. Hellian's squad quickly disappeared into a local tavern where she threatened to hang a Letherii barkeep unless he revealed the tavern's hidden stock. After the main force of Malazans entered the city, the City Garrison surrendered and the city fell.
In Dust of Dreams
In The Crippled God
Notes and references
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, UK BCA edition p.388
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.362
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.655
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.343
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.484
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.330-332
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.415
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.420
- House of Chains, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.629
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.283/298
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.285/292-296
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.295-296/319
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.334/368/370
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.427/429
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 24
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.356
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.361-365
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.363-364
- Reaper's Gale, Dramatis Personae
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.361-363
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, UK BCA edition p.522
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.402-404
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.482
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.482
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.410
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.481/486
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.483-485
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.632-633
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.631-633
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.633-636/650
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.642-643/648-652
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.652-653
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.673-674
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.745
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.679/686-695
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.692-695
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.778
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.779/792/794-795
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.779/800/812