Blistig was the Malazan Commander of the Aren Guard. He was a burly-armed, bearded man who wore a torc on his left arm denoting his rank. Blistig had a blunt, wide face with solid, broad features and scarred cheeks.
In Deadhouse Gates
Blistig bristled under High Fist Pormqual's orders to do nothing to support Fist Coltaine's Chain of Dogs. When the Malazan refugees reached the Aren city gates he sent his guards to gather them up and escort them inside. Then he watched with barely controlled rage as the High Fist allowed Coltaine and the last of his soldiers to be massacred without aid from the city's troops.
Afterwards, Blistig sought out Duiker and insisted that the Imperial Historian report his version of the Chain of Dog events to Pormqual. Already the nobles Nethpara and Pullyk Alar had convinced the High Fist that Coltaine was to blame. Pormqual, therefore, prepared to empty Aren of its defenders in order to strike at Korbolo Dom's seemingly sated army. Blistig complained that nearly his entire garrison had been conscripted for the battle.
Failing to heed Duiker's warnings, Pormqual led his troops into a trap devised by his treacherous advisor Mallick Rel. The High Fist and all of his soldiers were killed, but Duiker took satisfaction in being able to inform Mallick Rel that Blistig had disobeyed orders and kept three hundred of his Guard behind. Because Blistig had done this, Aren did not fall to the Whirlwind.
In House of Chains
Adjunct Tavore Paran brought the newly formed Malaz 14th Army Aren to reconquer Seven Cities from the Whirlwind rebels. She found Blistig angry and demoralised. He assumed that because he had disobeyed the orders of the High Fist that his new commander would have no faith in him. Instead, Tavore promoted Blistig to the rank of Fist and assigned to him the command of the 9th Legion. This assignment was one that Blistig neither wanted nor was allowed to refuse, although he attempted to do so.
Blistig had no confidence in the clearly inexperienced and disorganised 14th Army. He predicted disaster and his personality clashed immediately with Fist Gamet, who had been elevated from the Tavore's House Guard. Gamet questioned whether Blistig had been the one to arrange for Grub's dire and portentous appearance before the gathered 8th Legion. An angered Blistig removed the peace-loop from his sword's hilt before Fist Tene Baralta tamped down the disagreement. After witnessing the deaths of Coltaine and his 7th Army, as well as Pormqual and his soldiers, Blistig had no patience for military decorum.
As the 14th Army neared Sha'ik Reborn's camp at Raraku, Blistig and Baralta attempted to convince the wounded Gamet to reassume his position as Fist. Both worried that Adjunct Tavore was leading them into Korbolo Dom's carefully constructed trap. Blistig told Gamet to cease his selfish sulking, causing Gamet to strike him so hard he fell off his horse. Blistig's nose was broken, but he smiled grimly as Gamet returned to duty.
In The Bonehunters
After the Battle of Raraku, Leoman led the Army of the Apocalypse westward towards Y'Ghatan and the 14th Army followed. Fist Blistig recalled the Malazan Empire's last conflict at Y'Ghatan and feared that the city was destined to drink more Malazan blood. He was particularly concerned when the Adjunct dismissed Quick Ben and Kalam Mekhar on what appeared to be a wild goose chase. Distrusting Adjunct Tavore's leadership, he and Fist Tene Baralt attempted to unite the other Fists in a plot to corner Tavore and demand answers. Fist Keneb refused to be drawn into their pessimistic talk. Keneb described even Blistig's posture in staff meetings to be borderline insubordinate.
At the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan, Blistig stood with Tavore and the rest of the army's command outside the city. When Leoman unleashed the fires trapping three thousand soldiers inside to likely burn to death, Blistig felt the helplessness of Aren all over again. An explosion sent them all staggering to the ground and Blistig saw panic in the Adjunct's face as she ordered the camp to be pulled back. She ordered Blistig to take squads and healers forward to help those coming out of the fire, but Blistig saw only a vision of a burning world awaiting them under the Adjunct's command.
Tavore put him in charge of the healing and he spent two exhausting days setting up the camp hospitals and organising the Denul healers. In that time, his soul nearly drowned in the Abyss and he considered the battle a defeat despite what the imperial records would say.
Soon the 14th Army made haste for the Kokakal Sea to embark on Admiral Nok's ships and escape the Bluetongue Plague ravaging Seven Cities. During the discussions over what route to return the army to Unta, Blistig questioned the wisdom of assuming Nemil and the other kingdoms on the route would sell them supplies. He embarrassed himself saying he hoped it would not require negotiations at sword point, revealing his lack of confidence in the Adjunct's army. Tavore cut off his apology before sending him away.
Blistig was later by Tavore's side when Captain Faradan Sort returned with Fiddler and the other soldiers who had tunneled out from beneath Y'Ghatan. Not recognising who was behind her, he noted that it was stupid for the deserter to return and face execution. Nok's fleet returned 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. Although the Adjunct tried to maintain strict control of her emotions over T'amber's death, Blistig and others aboard the Froth Wolf recognised her as a woman more dead than alive. By the time the fleet neared Theft to resupply, the 14th Army was demoralised and near mutiny with no home to return to. Lostara Yil stepped in to replace T'amber as Tavore's personal aide to manage the nearly eight thousand remaining miserable soldiers. She reawakened the Adjunct's spirit in a night-long argument in the Adjunct's cabin. Afterwards, Tavore called together the Fists and senior officers to deliver a speech defining the Bonehunters within the context of other storied Malazan armies and steeling them for the fight ahead. They would follow the Tiste Edur fleet that had ravaged Sepik back to Lether to invade the Letherii Empire.
Blistig was unsure of the army's course and felt himself a dead man walking. He believed in nothing anymore and his eyes reflected some spectre of a future only he could see. Although he retained the title of Fist, Lostara Yil was pleased to pull him away from any real command. Captain Kindly would lead Blistig's troops in the field in any future battle. Some, like Throatslitter, thought him spiritually exhausted and a drain of life, hope, and faith. He wished to see him replaced as Fist altogether.
The Adjunct established her headquarters and resupply base on the island of Second Maiden Fort off the coast of Lether while Fist Keneb's marines invaded the mainland. The marines were spread in isolated pairs of squads across thirty leagues of coast and burning their transport vessels behind them. 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. It was only after Tavore and her officers met with Shurq Elalle on Second Maiden Fort that they learned the Letherii were content with their new masters and would not rise against them. Blistig groaned, immediately understanding the implication that the marines were outnumbered with no hope of support.
Tavore hired Shurq Elalle to guide the Malazan fleet to the mouth of the Lether River leading to Letheras. The Adjunct's fleet made landfall near Letheras and defeated the city's Imperial Brigade with Kindly leading Blistig's infantry. Despite Blistig's fears, Keneb's marines had indeed found their way to the capital and secretly entered the city to secure its western gate. They sent word to Tavore for reinforcements, and the Adjunct accompanied the cavalry that rushed to Keneb's aid, while Blistig pushed the infantry hard, arriving at the city only two or three bells behind. Soon the City Garrison surrendered and the city fell. Adjunct Tavore left Blistig in charge of the army's main force while she took Keneb and the marines to the Eternal Domicile to determine the fate of the Letherii emperor.
In Dust of Dreams
In The Crippled God
Blistig was full of fear and bitter thoughts. His criticism of Tavore had turned into anger and hatred. Blistig frequently expressed dismay and depression at his appointment, which he saw as conscription. His new rank and appointment had dashed his hopes of becoming High Fist of Aren.
After the Bonehunters had begun their trek across the Glass Desert on their way to Kolanse, Blistig ordered Lieutenant 'Quartermaster' Pores to secretly reserve a number of barrels of water specifically for his own personal use. When the general water supply for the army had nearly run out, Blistig made his move. He stabbed Pores intending to kill him in order to obtain 'his' water barrels and to hide the truth. Fist Kindly was informed of the attack on Pores and that Blistig had been found and was being watched by a number of officers, including Ruthan Gudd. Ruthan Gudd had been able to determine that blood found on Blistig's knife belonged to Pores. Blistig did not try to deny his guilt, but unconvincingly tried to justify his actions.
Considering this vicious assault the last straw in a long string of offences, Kindly isolated Blistig from the prying eyes of the troops, and then challenged him to hand-to-hand combat. Exhausted by their extreme dehydration, the fight didn't last very long, resulting in only a few comparatively light hits. Still, the truth was out.
Later, Tavore had a personal conversation with Blistig, noting that her agents had stopped three assassination attempts on his life. She noted that he would have been killed eventually had she left him in Aren. She then managed to convince him to become a proper commander to his assigned troops in the upcoming battle with the Forkrul Assail led Kolansii forces.
It is left open whether or not Blistig survived the battle of the Bonehunters Regulars with the Kolansii forces at the end of "The Crippled God". He is not shown being killed, nor does anyone ever remark that he had been. Neither is he mentioned specifically by name as being present at any of the funereal events at Kolanse portrayed in Epilogue I.
However, near the very end of the battle, Banaschar could see that Fist Blistig was still fighting defiantly at the center, Fist Kindly was still fighting on the right and Fist Faradan Sort was still fighting on the left. The ex-priest remarked to himself that, "These three Fists [italics added], chosen by the Adjunct, simply refused to fall."
Then, at the foot of The Spire in Kolanse, after ceremonies at the various barrows, Bottle noticed that the Adjunct along with Banaschar at her side, were moving toward where the Bonehunters Regulars still stood, in order to have a final word with them. Bottle also saw that behind these two, "...walked Lostara Yil, Henar Vygulf, the three Fists [italics added], Skanarow and Ruthan Gudd."
This, of course, leaves it open for the reader to speculate about which 'three Fists' are meant. From context, this would seem to refer to Bonehunters Fists--rather than to Fist Rythe Bude of 'The Host', for example. There could have been other Fists in the Bonehunters that were never mentioned (or Captain Raband could have been promoted), but there is no evidence for or against this. Besides which, these 'three Fists' had clearly been singled out and are mentioned in the same company as others who had fought with the Regulars in that final battle.
Notes and references
- Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.17
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 21, US HC p.544/560
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.408
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.223-224
- The Crippled God, Chapter 11, UK HB p.295
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.533
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 21, US HC p.544
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.560
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.566
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.225/234
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US TPB p.185-186
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.316-318/322
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.224
- House of Chains, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.720-723
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.199
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.251
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.292/305/321-322/327
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.327/347
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.637-638
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.670
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 24
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.354-358
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.354-358/364
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.501
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.361-365
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.410-411
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.613
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.693-694
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.748-754
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.501
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.779/799-800
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.812
- The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.90
- The Crippled God, Chapter 11, US HC p.290
- The Crippled God, Chapter 20, US HC p.594
- The Crippled God, Chapter 20, US HC p.596-7
- The Crippled God, Chapter 24, US HC p.804-806
- The Crippled God, Chapter 24, US HC p.862
- The Crippled God, Epilogue One US HC p.902
- Steven Erikson (2014) Ask Steven Erikson Your Crippled God Questions!, Tor Blogs, Macmillan, Accessed: 16-12-2014, Available: <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/11/steven-erikson-the-crippled-god-q-and-a>, see Steven Erikson's answer to question 2