The rope by slaine69

The Rope - Interpretation by slaine69

Cotillion also called The Rope,[3] was the companion of Shadowthrone and the Patron God of Assassins.[4]

Cotillion was tall (taller than Ammanas)[5] with dark hair, at times worn straight and loose, also described as almost ragged. Another time it was described as 'a shock of black hair cut short'.[6] His features were described as plain and even, although he had a strange hatch pattern of scars below his right eye. Karsa Orlong judged Cotillion to be pale as if unfamiliar with sunlight and with eyes that shifted colour in sunlight, blue to grey, to green and perhaps even brown, reflecting a cascade of indecision that matched his expression on that occasion.[7]

He was usually garbed in gray or black, tightly wrapped around his limbs, with a hood loosely covering his head. Cotillion's weapons of choice included a rope and a dagger.

Ammanas sometimes called him 'old friend'.[8]

Note: SE and ICE books are listed in order of publication.

In Gardens of the MoonEdit

As part of a plot to gain revenge on Empress Laseen and to cause the collapse of the Empire she ruled but had never earned,[9] Cotillion possessed a young fisher girl from a village off the coast of Itko Kan.[10] Meanwhile, Shadowthrone sent the Hounds of Shadow to kill every possible witness in the area, including an entire regiment of the Itko Kanese 8th Cavalry. The girl, named Sorry by Cotillion,[11] joined Onearm's Host on Genabackis[12] eventually ending up with the Bridgeburners.[5]

Adjunct Lorn and Captain Ganoes Paran set out to investigate the Itko Kan Massacre. Paran traveled to Pale where Cotillion, in his guise as Sorry, murdered him[9] to draw Lorn into the fray[13] and to stop Paran from interfering in Sorry's work. As Cotillion approached Paran, an icy wind washed over the captain.[14] Paran revived only due to Oponn's intervention.[15]

Cotillion accompanied the Bridgeburners to Darujhistan where he sought out the Coinbearer, the agent of the meddling Oponn. His attention first focused on Kruppe, who he followed to the Phoenix Inn. There he discovered his true quarry, Crokus Younghand.[16]

Cotillion followed Crokus into the Gadrobi Hills, but before he could murder the young man, he was forced to relinquish his hold on Sorry after Shadowthrone was threatened by Anomander Rake.[17] He and the Hound Rood later tracked down Ganoes Paran after Simtal's Gedderone Fête. Cotillion admitted his plan with Sorry had been flawed and he would have to try something new against the Empress. Paran offered him the sword, Chance, and Cotillion accepted.[18]

In Deadhouse Gates Edit

Sorry, now known as Apsalar, traveled with Fiddler, Kalam, and Crokus to Seven Cities. There she experienced memories from the life of the god who had possessed her. From her account, they managed to work out Shadowthrone and Cotillion's true identities.[19]


Interpretation of Cotillion by Aranict

From his memories, she said Cotillion was an assassin who had not killed for coin, but for more honourable reasons. Cotillion saw himself as a man who fixed things in the most brutally efficient manner for the greater need. In fact, the assassin possessed some measure of sympathy for Laseen, who herself had made a calculated decision against Kellanved and Dancer for what she perceived as the best interest of the Empire.[20]

Later Cotillion met the demon Apt and her adopted child Panek in the Shadow Realm. Introducing himself as Uncle Cotillion he expressed regret that the boy remembered his crucifixion and assured him that the punishment had not been the boy's fault. Cotillion was stunned to discover that the boy was able to see walls, trees, and other parts of the old places of the Shadow Hold that he could not. He asked the boy to teach him what he saw. Then he admitted to Apt that when he Ascended "it was to escape the nightmares of feeling...Imagine my surprise that I now thank you for such chains". When the boy asked him if he had any children, Cotillion revealed that he had a daughter of sorts. But they had a falling-out and she would need to forgive him for them to be reconciled.[21]

In Memories of IceEdit

Ganoes Paran told Silverfox that it was rumoured that Emperor Kellanved and Dancer had found a way into the Deadhouse in Malaz City. She shocked Paran by revealing that the pair had then ascended and taken control of High House Shadow as Shadowthrone and Cotillion. A thirst for vengeance explained why the two Ascendants had been trying to destroy a mere mortal such as Laseen. Silverfox theorised that although the Deadhouse was aspected to Death, Hood already occupied the position of King of High House Death. Since every Azath House led to every gate and Warren, Kellanved and Dancer had chosen Shadow as that House and throne had been empty. Afterwards, the House of Shadow had taken its place in the Deck of Dragons.[22]

During the Pannion War, Dujek Onearm tried to put Empress Laseen's recent actions into context for Whiskeyjack. The average Malazan soldier believed that Whiskeyjack had been stripped of his rank to eliminate a potential rival to the throne.[23] But Laseen had purposefully inverted the command structure so that "the right people would be there at ground level when Shadowthrone and Cotillion made their move."[24]

In House of ChainsEdit

Apsalar, Cotillion and Crokus by Puck

Interpretation of Apsalar, Cotillion and Crokus by Puck

Cotillion personally met with the Red Blade, Lostara Yil, asking of her a favor that would benefit the Malazan Empire and Laseen in turn.[25]

Cotillion by Dejan Delic

Cotillion by Dejan Delic

Cotillion sent Cutter and Apsalar to Drift Avalii in order to protect the Throne of Shadow.[26] He arrived in the nick of time to save Cutter from the Tiste Edur, displaying amazing skill with his Rope and killing the rest of the Edur, then dismissing the cowering Blind, who had for some reason, been tamed and dismissed by the Edur, in disgust. He told Cutter to give the sword, Vengeance to Traveller and later sent the two to Iskaral Pust's temple. He and Shadowthrone stayed behind to mourn the loss of Hawl, who had died in the fight with the Tiste Edur. They then discussed their next move.[27]

Apsalar asked him to stay away from Cutter and agreed to do his work herself in order to prevent Crokus from becoming a killer, to which Cotillion agreed.

In Night of KnivesEdit

Dancer by spin drift

Interpretation of Dancer by Spindrift

The book described the events of the night of Dancer and Kellanved's disappearance. During the night of the Shadow Moon in 1154BS, both Kellanved and Dancer had returned to Malaz City after having disappeared from the human realm for two years, during which time Laseen had assumed the role of the steward of the Empire. In these years, the two had been exploring the Azath Houses. Upon their return they were targeted by Laseen for assassination at Mock's Hold. Laseen used Otataral powder to counter Kellanved's magery, forcing Dancer to protect them both against dozens of the Claw including Possum and Topper. The two managed to retreat out of the window, seemingly falling out over a cliff and into the sea to their deaths.[28]

In reality, Dancer and Kellanved had used Laseen to stage their deaths. They went to the Deadhouse, an Azath house on the island, and ascended to High House Shadow and took control of its Throne as Ammanas and Cotillion.[29] It has been theorized that Shadow was wandering over the physical realm like another layer of reality and that the night of the Shadow Moon was the convergence of the physical locations of Shadowkeep and the Deadhouse. In this way, they could ascend from the Deadhouse to the Shadow House.

Temper: "You two mean to retake the throne?"
Dancer: "We're not here for a lark; you know that. But even from the beginning we didn't want such an unwieldy entity. A kingdom, an Empire. These are just symbols. Kellanved and I see much further. We've always been after greater things."
Temper and Dancer in Mock's Hold[src]

In The BonehuntersEdit

Clouds closed fast by Cadmean

Cotillion and Apsalar by Cadmean

Cotillion met Mogora after she healed Mappo Runt, commenting that she was one of Ardata's followers. Afterwards, while Shadowthrone sent the Hounds of Shadow to kill Quick Ben, Apsalar decided to save him, performing a Shadow Dance. She injured the Hounds enough to keep them away from Quick Ben. Since her Shadow Dance was similar to Cotillion's, he was blamed for the Hounds' failure in killing Quick Ben in G'danisban.[30]

Cotillion visited the cavern where Minala and the children of the Company of Shadow had been protecting the First Throne. Some of the children had grown to become young men and women, but Cotillion saw that even they were "too young in truth to be soldiers". Many had died horribly at the hands of Tiste Edur raiders, and Cotillion berated himself for not making the time to check on Minala and the children sooner. Minala confronted him about the losses. Cotillion could not offer much assistance, but he asked Shadowthrone to heal the many injured children.[31]

In Return of the Crimson GuardEdit

Cotillion - The Rope by shadaan

Cotillion - The Rope by Shadaan

Shadowthrone and Cotillion pulled Traveller, Kyle, and their companions into the Shadow realm. Once they were in Shadowkeep, Shadowthrone proposed to help Traveller find his "quarry" in return for "a mere service." Before he could elaborate, he detected an emergence from Kyle's sword which was revealed to be Osserc. A Hound of Shadow arrived and a confrontation seemed inevitable until Hethe, Shadowthrone's monkey-like servant, defused it. Osserc departed and Traveller bid Kyle farewell. He had accepted Shadowthrone's offer without revealing what it was.[32] Soon after, Traveller appeared near Li Heng during the Battle of the Plains to defeat Skinner whose Crimson Guard threatened the existence of the Malazan Empire.[33]

In Toll the HoundsEdit

The Rope by Ylva Ljungqvist

The Rope by Ylva Ljungqvist

Shadowthrone and Cotillion met Traveller and provided him with supplies and the Hounds as guides. They also confronted Karsa Orlong and warned him to stay out of Traveller's way.

In StonewielderEdit

Cotillion met Shadowthrone at the site of the Tiste Liosan Army of Light's victory over the Chaos Whorl in Kurald Emurlahn. He complained that Shadowthrone was wasting his time monitoring the situation and that they were too busy to waste time on what was never a threat.[34]

In The Crippled GodEdit

Cotillion spoke with Ampelas, Kalse and Eloth who were chained in Shadow Realm and offered them freedom in exchange for their help. He began to despair about the Bonehunters' fate and was chastised by Shadowthrone for his lack of faith.

After Korabas was chained, Cotillion appeared behind the Crippled God and stabbed him in the back, sending him back to his followers.

In Dancer's LamentEdit

(Information needed)

In Deadhouse LandingEdit

(Information needed)

In Kellanved's ReachEdit

(Information needed)

Empire History Edit

Cotillion was named Dancer during his mortal life, prior to ascendancy, and was the Master-Assassin and the bodyguard of Emperor Kellanved before his ascension. He was the Emperor's chief advisor.[35] Dancer's name was derived, at least in part, due to his ability to perform the Shadow Dance, which was an expression of the martial art of assassination although the connection was lost in some places where the dance was practised.[36]

Throne of Shadow by Shadaan

Key figures of the Warren of Shadow (Rashan and Meanas).
Interpretation by Shadaan (clockwise from the left) Gear, Cotillion, Shadowthrone, Edgewalker, Shan and Apsalar

Back when Kellanved was running a tavern on Malaz Island, Dancer and Kellanved partnered with the aim of taking over the island's criminal organizations and overthrowing the local pirate ruler, Mock. They employed a young boy, Dujek. Nok, Hawl, and Amaron - all Napans - were in hiding on the island after Nap was conquered by Unta, but were discovered by Dujek and taken to his new employers. The scheme expanded further after Dancer bolstered their numbers by recruiting other Napan refugees who had fled their island, such as Cartheron and Urko Crust and Surly. Shortly thereafter, Toc the Elder, Dassem Ultor, Tayschrenn, and Duiker also joined. With this family, Kellanved and Dancer conquered Malaz Island.

During the rise of the Malazan Empire, Dancer created and headed the Talon, an assassin organization that predated the Claw.

Much later, during the Malazan invasion of Seven Cities, Dancer had journeyed to Aren to view the slaughter caused by the T'lan Imass. There he discovered the massacre had been ordered by the Clawmaster Surly and the two argued.[37]

After his ascension Cotillion had visited the Temple of Rashan at Ehrlitan, along with two others, likely Ben Adaephon Delat and Shadowthrone himself, to wipe out the cult of Shadow. Only two people, Lostara Yil and Bidithal, were spared.[38]

Those who abandoned their service to Ammanas faced retribution from Cotillion or one of Ammanas' disciples as "to begin the Path of Shadow and then to leave it is rewarded by the Rope."[39] Such a fate was somehow eluded by Quick Ben when he burned his vestments and left Shadow's service.[40]

Of her shared memories with Cotillion, Apsalar revealed that Dancer had only ever trusted two people in his life, Dassem and Kellanved. This was not true of the ascended Shadowthrone.[41]


A Cotillion is a type of real world dance and the name was likely a subtle clue to the connection between Cotillion and Dancer.

Gallery Edit


Cutter: "Do— do you regret what you did?"
Cotillion: "...Regret? Yes. Many, many regrets. One day, perhaps, you will see for yourself that regrets are as nothing. The value lies in how they are answered."
―Cutter questioning Cotillion before agreeing to an assassination[src]
Shadowthrone: "You are too sure of yourself."
Cotillion: "My confidence has gotten us where we are."
Shadowthrone: "As has my wariness and paranoia! At least I think so..."
―Shadowthrone and Cotillion[src]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. House of Chains, Glossary, UK MMPB p.1016
  2. Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.705
  3. House of Chains, Glossary, UK MMPB p.1016
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.20
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.16
  6. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 6, UK HB p.169
  7. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 14 UK HB p.525
  8. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.17
  9. 9.0 9.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.124
  10. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.19
  11. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.18
  12. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.32
  13. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.125
  14. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.123
  15. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.135-140
  16. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, US HC p.265-269
  17. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 15, UK MMPB p.474/483
  18. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 23, US HC p.461-462
  19. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.129-130
  20. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 16, US HC p.438
  21. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.534-536
  22. Memories of Ice, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.145-146
  23. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.523
  24. Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.770
  25. House of Chains, Chapter 8
  26. House of Chains, Chapter 6
  27. House of Chains, Chapter 12
  28. Night of Knives, Chapter 4, US TPB p.203-209
  29. Night of Knives, Epilogue
  30. The Bonehunters, Chapter 15
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US HC p.555-557/560/563
  32. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 6, US HC p.487-493
  33. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 2, US HC p.620-622
  34. Stonewielder, Epilogue, UK TPB p.629
  35. Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p. xiii
  36. House of Chains, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.392
  37. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.129
  38. House of Chains, Chapter 8
  39. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 12
  40. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 12
  41. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.130
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