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"First in, last out."
―Motto of the Bridgeburners[src]

The Bridgeburners were a legendary elite division in the Malazan 2nd Army[1] who were respected by the majority of the Malazan Empire and even their enemies. The unit symbol was a stone arched bridge, lit with ruby flames.[2]


"A Bridgeburner—such a strange name for soldiers, and yet . . . so perfect there in the chasm between the living and the dead."


"Crossing [Raraku] had etched the souls of the three companies that would come to be called the Bridgeburners. We could imagine no other name. Raraku burned our pasts away, making all that came before a trail of ashes."
―Thoughts of Kalam Mekhar, alone in the desert[src]

During the conquest of Seven Cities, the unit that would become the Bridgeburners was tasked with hunting down a Cabal of thirteen mages which fled through the Pan'potsun Wastes and across the Holy Desert Raraku. They were a collection of seventy marines, engineers, infantry, and cavalry veterans cobbled together from decimated squads that Dassem Ultor could afford to sacrifice. For the pursuit, the company under the command of Whiskeyjack[3] was given as guide a Claw agent who was native to Seven Cities, Kalam Mekhar.[4]

Brooch of a Bridgeburner by Araiel

During the chase, body after body was found but the unit was itself nearing death. As they approached the edge of the Raraku desert, they came upon the last remaining mage, Quick Ben. In the confrontation that followed, Kalam was revealed to be in league with Quick Ben and accused of attempting to lead the unit to its death whilst crossing Raraku. Seeing the changes in the soldiers wrought on them by Raraku, Quick Ben and Kalam were stunned, and they pledged their allegiance to the unit.[5] Ultimately they were brought into the company itself, naming it the 'Bridgeburners' because Raraku had burned the bridges of their pasts, of who they once were.[6][7]

That night, the Bridgeburners saw their first blood-letting engagement. They singlehandedly crushed the 400 desert warriors holding nearby G'danisban and retook the rebel city.[8]

The story of the forging of the Bridgeburners was told by Whiskeyjack to Anomander Rake.[9]

In the Time of the Emperor[]

During the reign of Emperor Kellanved, the Bridgeburners were considered his own elite, his favorites.[10] At this time the Bridgeburners comprised a division of soldiers and were led by the 2nd Army's Commander Whiskeyjack.

In the Time of the Empress[]

When Empress Laseen assassinated both Kellanved and Dancer, ascending to the imperial throne, she inverted the command structure of the military, discarding the Old Family and dismembering the Old Guard. The Bridgeburners were no exception, being placed into the dirtiest and hardest of campaigns for nearly a decade. This reduced them to a single undermanned division[10] Their Commander, Whiskeyjack, was demoted to the rank of Sergeant and placed under the command of his one time subordinate, now High Fist, Dujek Onearm.

The Siege of Pale[]

The Bridgeburners - Kalam, Fiddler, Sorry, Quick Ben and Whiskeyjack - Interpretation by genesischant

During the Siege of Pale, beginning circa 1160th Year of Burns Sleep, the Bridgeburners were assigned to undermine Pale's massive ancient walls. This order was sent down directly from the Imperial capital, Unta. Tattersail (Commander of the 2nd's Mage cadre) described the city of Pale as being placed on a glacial dump, with the wall's foundation filling a crevice so deep that even her magic could not find the bottom. The Bridgeburners spent three years underground attempting to undermine those walls.[11]

Over the course of those three years, the Bridgeburners went through four captains, 'not one worth his weight in salt' according to Kalam.[12] Captain Ganoes Paran conveyed that amongst officers, the impression was that 'the mortality rate was so high because half the captains ended up with a dagger in their back'.[13]

About two years prior to the end of the siege, when the Bridgeburners were on a brief attachment to the 5th army in the middle of the Mott Campaign, Sorry joined them. She was with the new troops arriving from Nathilog and made a lasting impression, albeit not a good one, when she mutilated prisoners, ostensibly to get information.[14]

The Bridgeburners started the last day of the siege with over 1400 members.[11] Four of the five sapper tunnels that were being created collapsed completely.[15] Sorry estimated the survivors at maybe thirty to thirty-five.[15] Thirty-nine were present when High Mage Tayschrenn's officer addressed them, in the days after the battle.[16] Of the fifteen members of Whiskeyjack's 9th Squad, eight perished.[17] The rest only survived due to Fiddler having one of his 'bad' feelings.[18]

Sorry indicated that High Mage Tayschrenn prevented help to dig out survivors.[15] There was a feeling amongst Whiskeyjack's squad that someone in the Empire wanted the Bridgeburners dead, a feeling which Whiskeyjack shared.[19] Kalam pulled some strings and through his sources discovered that some unknown persons high up in the Malazan Imperial order had marked the Bridgeburners for death.[12] The Bridgeburners were also suspicious that plans were afoot to disband them as they were getting chaff for recruits.[20]

Whiskeyjack and his squad were planning to cut away Tayschrenn's support and arrange his fall from grace.[21]

Dujek was under pressure to disband the Bridgeburners.[22]


Sigil of the Bridgeburners by Bluefire

Whiskeyjack and his squad were sent to Darujhistan on a covert mission.[23] Dujek did not know whose scheme the infiltration had been, but it had not been Paran's idea.[24] Whiskeyjack viewed the mission as a suicidal undertaking designed to get the Bridgeburners killed.[25] Dujek told him that should he and his squad come out of it alive, they had his permission 'just to walk', however Whiskeyjack rejected the suggestion.[26]

A dozen Quorl fliers of the Black Moranth picked up the squad and conveyed them overnight to the northern shore of Lake Azur.[27][28] The crossing over the Tahlyn Mountains was hazardous as the Quorl were tossed about in the midst of three thunderheads. When questioned about the larger than expected delivery of ammunition by the Green Moranth, Whiskeyjack was told that he was highly regarded by the Moranth and would always be able to rely on their generous assistance.[28] In all, they were supplied with two crates of munitions, from Cussers to Smokers.[29] The squad then made their way across the lake to Darujhistan with an eighteen-foot fishing boat which had been delivered by the Green Moranth.[30]

To avoid getting themselves killed, Whiskeyjack changed the original plan of mining the city gates. Kalam and Quick Ben were sent out to make contact with the local Assassins' Guild whilst he took the rest of the squad to mine the streets with explosives, enough to level large portions of the city.[31].[32] When Kruppe passed the 'work crew' he thought them to be a belligerent, rude lot.[33]

In the distance, a Jaghut Tyrant was unleashed by Adjunct Lorn and Tool. During the ensuing encounters, Whiskeyjack's leg was badly broken when part of a pillar fell on top of it.[34]

As Fiddler and Hedge left to set off the explosives they had hidden, Kalam realised that the natural gas used to light up Darujhistan would ignite and the resulting explosion would incinerate absolutely everything. When he caught up with the saboteurs, they had already abandoned the plan for other reasons.[35]

The Bridgeburners eventually departed the city without having to set off the explosives.

Kalam and Fiddler left with Sorry and a local Daru thief named Crokus in order to bring Sorry back home, among other things.[36]

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

Pannion Domin Campaign[]

The Bridgeburners - Sorry, Hedge, Detoran, Fiddler, Quick Ben, WhiskeyJack, Mallet, Antsy, Kalam - Interpretation by Shadaan

After Darujhistan, Whiskeyjack was promoted to High Fist Dujek's second-in-command as his host was ostensibly outlawed by the Empress.

Captain Ganoes Paran took command of the 38 Bridgeburners. The remainders of the ninth squad were re-grouped with those of Sergeant Antsy's squad. The former squad mages, Quick Ben and Spindle had been promoted to cadre mages but Whiskeyjack told Paran that they would be joining him and the other Bridgeburners on a mission. [37] Paran was aware that there was a lot of resentment amongst the Bridgeburners about his appointment but considered it an honour nevertheless and was determined to prove himself worthy.[38]

Following the taking of Darujhistan they sat on the Divide, ostensibly collecting taxes from merchants wanting to trade with Pale whilst actually collecting information. While patrolling on a smugglers trail, Picker paid 300 councils for interlocking torcs blessed by the Tiger of Summer and was roundly chastised by Quick Ben as he told her that Trake's Soletaken form had made Trake insane. Picker was unable to remove the torcs. On entering enemy commander Caladan Brood's camp they discovered a table previously constructed by Fiddler and Hedge in Mott Wood which was being used in Brood's command tent and decided to take it back. They hid it away and tried to play a card game on it but found that the table had been altered, with a new card painted on it's underside. They were caught with the table and told to return it. The next day they set off to meet with the Barghast.

Bridgeburners by YoltonsArt

Once they reached the gathering of the White Face Barghast clans, Trotts stepped up to challenge for their leadership and won the position of warchief of the Bridgeburners. He fought in the Malazan style to underline his allegiance and slew the leader of the clans' champion, one of Humbrall Taur's sons. He was injured but was saved by a cutter called Mulch. The mage Mallet arrived in the nick of time with Twist and healed Trotts with the aid of the Barghast spirits. Captain Paran kept the negotiations going until Quick Ben arrived with news of the importance of Capustan to the Barghast.

Captain Paran took over as the second-in-command of Trotts' warhost and marched with the White Faces to Capustan. The Bridgeburners were the first to the relief of Capustan, breaking through with Moranth munitions after becoming agitated with the slow pace of the White Faces, leaving Quick Ben behind. They quickly encountered Gruntle and his troop on a rooftop and found themselves trapped as the city was liberated. Picker gave up her torcs to Gruntle, Mallet took time to heal Stonny Menackis and again Paran was assailed by his role as the Master of the Deck, conversing in his mind with Nightchill. Once pulled from his trance he led the Bridgeburners, along with Gruntle, to The Thrall. Here they witnessed Shield Anvil Itkovian punish the traitorous Rath'Fener then take on the grief of the city to cleanse it. Paran stepped forward to aid him as he faltered without his god and Mallet, with the help of the Barghast spirits, was also pushed into action. Paran then mediated between Rath'Trake, his Mortal Sword, and Itkovian and an uneasy balance was found. He then stepped back to allow the Barghast to claim their ancestors.


After the siege of Coral, Anomander Rake offered the crippled Moon's Spawn as a worthy sarcophagus for Whiskeyjack and the fallen Bridgeburners.[39] Three black-wood sarcophagi flanked by two others, presumably Whiskeyjack and the dead guards were placed on the dais of the throne room of Moon's Spawn. Other sarcophagi lined the approach, displaying signs of sorcery present. When Paran paid his respects, he thanked and blessed the dead Bridgeburners. After he left, a mysterious new glow was evident in the chamber. Moon's Spawn then drifted off, eastwards over the sea where it would eventually sink beneath the waves.[40]

Those who survived the battle were officially logged as dead by Dujek Onearm, who disbanded the regiment. Dujek allowed Paran, too, to be counted amongst the casulties. Quick Ben however was promoted to High Mage and continued serving the Empire.[41]

The survivors, Antsy, Blend, Bluepearl, Mallet, Picker and Spindle retired to Darujhistan to run a bar whilst Paran moved into the Azath House on the former Simtal estate for a time.[42]

Interpretation of the Bridgeburners by slaine69


During the march of the Bonehunters to Kolanse, Hedge was given command of a group of recruits, with munitions being provided by Bavedict, a Letherii alchemist. Hedge proclaimed that the Bridgeburners were not dead yet.[43] The former Bridgeburner, Fiddler, was also a member of the 14th, which he had joined under the name of Strings, but was not involved with Hedge's group.


Through touching Fiddler for a split second, the Tanno Spiritwalker Kimloc obtained the knowledge of the Bridgeburners and created a Tanno Spirit Song about them which ultimately lead to their ascension. The Blessing which Ganoes Paran bestowed on them upon his visit to the interred Bridgeburners on Moon's Spawn may have had some bearing on that as well.

The ascended Bridgeburners were posted to Hood's Gate as guardians.[44]


Captain Ganoes Paran

Seventh Squad[]

Ninth Squad[]

Ninth Squad by JohntocaelpianoTop-down: Sorry, Quick Ben, Whiskeyjack, Kalam Mekhar, Fiddler, Hegde

Whiskeyjack thought of Quick Ben as the ninth squad's brains and Kalam their killer.[3]

Eleventh Squad[]

Twelfth Squad[]



Hedge's New Bridgeburners[]


"Dead is dead"
―Bridgeburner saying[src]


Notes and references[]

  1. Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.704
  2. Gardens of the Moon, Prologue, UK MMPB p.4
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.106
  4. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.300
  5. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.300-306
  6. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, US HC p.45
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.131
  8. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.306
  9. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.355-362
  10. 10.0 10.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.56
  11. 11.0 11.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.58
  12. 12.0 12.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.103
  13. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.122
  14. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.159
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.59
  16. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.104
  17. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.57
  18. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.134
  19. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.85
  20. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.115
  21. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.128
  22. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.150
  23. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.129
  24. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.149
  25. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.149/150
  26. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.150/151
  27. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.156-160
  28. 28.0 28.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.256
  29. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.259
  30. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.259/265/266
  31. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.258
  32. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.360-365
  33. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.248
  34. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.653
  35. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.660/661/674
  36. Gardens of the Moon, Epilogue, UK MMPB p.701-703
  37. Memories of Ice, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.97/98
  38. Memories of Ice, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.97-100
  39. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, UK MMPB p.1155
  40. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, UK MMPB p.1162-1166
  41. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, UK MMPB p.1170
  42. Memories of Ice, Epilogue, UK MMPB
  43. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 11, UK HB p.375
  44. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 13, UK HC p.432-434
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 45.4 45.5 45.6 45.7 45.8 45.9 Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.xii
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 46.4 46.5 46.6 Memories of Ice, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB
  47. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 11, US HC p.349
  48. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 13, UK HC p.432-434
  49. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 17, UK MMPB p.715
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