Corabb was the sixth son of a deposed chief among the Pardu, and spent most of his life as wanderer, trader, or worse. He was extremely lucky during battle, constantly having narrow escapes out of the most hopeless situations.
He preferred axe-like weapons with hafts long enough to grasp with two hands. He disliked bladed weapons whose sharp edge ran all the way to the hilt near his hand. In his first appearance, he carried a long-hafted weapon that was half sword, half axe.
He wore a necklace made of scarab shells to ward off evil. In times of stress, he would hold a half-dozen of the shells in his mouth.
In House of Chains
Corabb had met Leoman when the latter found him being dragged behind the horses of three Gral warriors. Leoman had purchased Corabb and then brought him to be healed by an old tribeswoman. After that, Corabb decided that his loyalty to Leoman would be absolute and was ready to die for the man if need be. He became a fanatical follower of the Whirlwind.
After their victory over Coltaine and Pormqual's forces at Aren, Sha'ik Reborn withdrew the Army of the Whirlwind back to the Pan'arak Oasis at Raraku. Leoman chafed at allowing Adjunct Tavore Paran's Malaz 14th Army to advance unmolested towards the Holy Desert. He convinced Sha'ik to allow him to lead 1,500 desert warriors on a scouting mission of the enemy's disposition. Leoman took Corabb with him and had no intentions of honouring his promise not to engage the Malazans.
Corabb took part in the resulting ambushes and skirmishes, and experienced a number of miraculous escapes. During a surprise pre-dawn attack on the Malazan camp, Corabb raced his horse through the Malazan tents. Borduke's squad grabbed their crossbows and prepared to fire as one on Corabb, but Maybe fired early, foiling his squad's attack. Corabb was struck across the cheek and knocked from his horse, but was able to remount once the horse finished rolling through a Malazan tent and escape.
In a counter-ambush, Corabb was bull rushed and knocked off his feet by Koryk before Cuttle amused himself by leaving a lit Sharper in Corabb's lap. Corabb quickly clamped a helmet over the bomb, bounced into the air with the force of its explosion, and then ran off.
Once the Malazan army reached Raraku and the Battle of Raraku neared, Leoman used Corabb to run a message to Sha'ik and Mathok. Corabb quickly discovered that Korbolo Dom's assassins had slain Leoman's previous messengers before they could reach Sha'ik's tent. An enraged Sha'ik sent Corabb back to fetch Leoman to replace Korbolo Dom as commander of her army.
In the aftermath of Sha'ik's death and Korbolo Dom's defeat and capture, Leoman ordered his warriors to flee to Y'Ghatan. Corabb led a score of desert riders acting as the retreat's rearguard. They were pursued by Malazan Lieutenant Ranal and his three squads of Marines. Corabb led Ranal's 4th squad into a sandstorm for cover then turned and ambushed their pursuers. Corabb stumbled into Fiddler in the maelstrom, accidentally pulling free the sapper's entire supply of Moranth munitions and triggering their fuses. Ranal was killed in the huge explosion while Corabb escaped once again.
In The Bonehunters
After the Battle of Raraku, Leoman, with Corabb as his Second, led the Army of the Apocalypse westward to Y'Ghatan and the 14th Army followed. Leoman slew the Holy Falah'd of Y'Ghatan, installed himself in his place, and named Dunsparrow, captain of the city's Garrison, his Third. Corabb, the fanatical idealist, looked to Leoman to bring them a glorious death, although Leoman kept him in the dark on the specifics of his preparations. Corabb quickly grew to hate Dunsparrow, who took a place in Leoman's bed and in his confidences.
The pursuing Malazan army assaulted Y'Ghatan and swiftly breached the city's walls. 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. As Y'Ghatan burned, Corabb discovered that the panicked Leoman planned to flee for his life with the help of the Queen of Dreams. Leoman cursed Dryjhna and the rebellion, swearing he did not intend to live the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. He offered Corabb the chance to leave as well, but feeling betrayed Corabb refused, insisting on dying gloriously in the name of something greater than himself.
During the ensuing chaos, Corabb stumbled on a group of abandoned children inside the Queen of Dream's temple, further cementing his resolve. Corabb, the children, and a few of the 14th Army's soldiers were then trapped inside the temple by the raging fires all around and were forced to try to effect their escape by going underneath the city. During this subterranean odyssey, they were forced to rely on each other in order to survive, with Corabb dragging the gravely wounded Fiddler behind him to safety. This, compounded with Leoman's abandonment of his followers, had a profound effect on Corabb as he began to doubt his former loyalties and he renounced fanaticism as a poison of the soul. Fiddler welcomed him into his squad and Corabb was surprised to learn he did not have stick a babe with his spear as part of a Mezla initiation ritual. His invective at Dunsparrow shocked Fiddler, when he recognised her as Whiskeyjack's half-sister.
After the survivors rejoined the 14th Army on the coast of the Kokakal Sea, Gesler and Stormy were given back command of the Silanda. They requested that Balm and Fiddler's squads serve as their crew. Corabb spent much of the time on ship seasick.
The Adunct's fleet travelled to Malaz City where Empress Laseen awaited Tavore in Mock's Hold. The Silanda joined Tavore's flagship, the Froth Wolf, to moor at the city pier while the rest of the fleet remained anchored in the harbour. The entire city seethed with magically induced anger against the 14th Army and the soldiers of the Silanda prepared to defend their ship from the mob after the Adjunct was escorted away. Corabb volunteered to join Tarr and the heavies who formed a shield wall to take the brunt of the mob's attack. Untrained in Malazan tactics and bearing only a cutlass and round shield, Corabb struggled to retain his position in the line. Smiles had to step in to assist him and force him back into place.
When Leoman arrived before the Queen of Dreams she was disappointed to find Corabb was not with him. She told Leoman that Corabb had been chosen by Oponn, that he was the 'Beloved of the Lady', which explained why Corabb was so lucky.
In Reaper's Gale
Corabb participated in the Marines' invasion of Letheras, earning the ire of his squad as he collected an excess amount of weapons from fallen soldiers "just in case." He was seconded to Bottle as the mage's personal guard.
Corabb stuck close to Tarr, protecting the man's weak side even though it meant disobeying Fiddler's order of guarding Bottle. He had decided to stick to Tarr as long as Bottle did not look to be in immediate danger. Tarr however thought that Corabb was trying to prove himself and outdo Tarr.
In Dust of Dreams
Corabb followed the Bonehunter army east, surviving the attack by the K'Chain Nah'ruk.
In The Crippled God
The once fanatical Corabb was shifted into the combined Marine/Heavy force and, after surviving the trek across the Glass Desert, stood with Fiddler and Hedge's squads as the Crippled God regained his body. As the Kolansii army continued to hammer the company, Corabb stepped into a breach in the lines to protect the Crippled God. Corabb lost his left arm to an axe blow, and was subsequently killed by a sword slash, finally finding his glorious death.
Corabb once tied up the four Gafan brothers, as they had been teasing him, and threatened them with the cookpot. Their father, Grunter Gafan, had shown up to reclaim them and as Corabb's own father, Canarab was still off in the wars, Corabb himself had faced Grunter. The encounter ended with the Grunter's head in the stew pot, likely due to Corabb shoving it in there. Corabb thought that it was the wasted stew which had made his mother cry. Grunter Gafan was eventually killed, sliding under a wagon. Corabb had kicked Grunter in the head a few times either causing the accident or finishing Grunter off and had been put on trial for this. He had told the court in his defence, that no one liked Grunter, which did not help his case and he was condemned to labour in the priest pits where he cut limestone. It was there that he had started listening to stories, especially those telling of freedom and the days before the arrival of the Malazans.
- Corabb's story was originally meant to end at Y'Ghatan in The Bonehunters. Author Steven Erikson says Corabb originally appeared in the books as "the more vocal foil for Leoman", a character whose thoughts were generally kept closed off, to "express, without any subtlety, the ideas behind fanaticism." He "sort of showed up not initially as a character I was going to follow" in the course of the series. But during the writing of the novel, Corabb "started just taking shape. And then, I think I probably had in mind that he wasn't going to make it out of the temple [of the Queen of Dreams]. He might not have even made it into the temple. And yet something held me back and just said, 'No, no don't kill this guy.' And so I had him sort of join up [with the 14th Army] and crawl through along with everybody else. And he became, I think, probably the most important character in that entire journey of the seventh chapter. And that can just happen. He just sort of came alive and he'll play a role through the rest of the series, which...was initially not something I anticipated, but sometimes you...realise that that's the case and you've gotta run with it."
- Erikson finds "Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas" to be "a mouthful of a name".
Notes and references
- House of Chains, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US TPB p.466-467
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US TPB p.481
- House of Chains, Chapter 19, US TPB p.498-499
- House of Chains, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.635
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.616
- House of Chains, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.758
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US TPB p.467
- House of Chains, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.479-480
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.615-617
- House of Chains, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.640-641
- House of Chains, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.758-760/768-769
- House of Chains,Chapter 26, US SFBC p.835-837/839-842
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.180-182
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.223-228
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.313-316
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.393-447
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.370
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.525-527
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.716/727
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.884
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.889-890
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, UK MMPB p.684
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17
- The Crippled God, Chapter 20, UK HB p.588
- The Crippled God, Chapter 20, UK HB p.588/589
- Ten Very Big Books podcast - The Bonehunters - See 18:15
- Ten Very Big Books podcast - The Bonehunters - See 18:30