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Deadhouse Gates is a novel by Steven Erikson. First released in 2000 in Great Britain and Canada, it was published by Tor in 2005 for the United States. It is the second book of ten in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

According to Erikson, he wrote Deadhouse Gates over the course of eight months whilst working at the Toyota Head office in Redhill, UK, with Gardens of the Moon due out early the following year. He wrote during lunch breaks at the nearby mall and stop at Café Rouge on the way home to write a bit more. As of January 2018, he still has the Psion 5mx and its memory card which still contains the entire Deadhouse Gates novel.[1][2]

Publisher's Summary[]

In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha'ik gathers an army around her in preparation for the long-prophesied uprising named the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in its size and savagery, it will embroil in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known: a maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust that will shape destinies and give birth to legends…

In the Otataral mines, Felisin, youngest daughter of the disgraced House of Paran, dreams of revenge against the sister who sentenced her to a life of slavery. Escape leads her to Raraku, where her soul will be reborn and her future made clear. The now-outlawed Bridgeburners, Fiddler and the assassin Kalam, have vowed to return the once god-possessed Apsalar to her homeland, and to confront and kill the Empress Laseen, but events will overtake them too. Meanwhile, Coltaine, the charismatic commander of the Malaz 7th Army, will lead his battered, war-weary troops in a last, valiant running battle to save the lives of thirty thousand refugees and, in so doing, secure an illustrious place in the Empire’s chequered history. And into this blighted land come two ancient wanderers, Mappo and his half-Jaghut companion Icarium, bearers of a devastating secret that threatens to break free of its chains…

Front matter[]


This novel is dedicated to two gentlemen:
David Thomas Jr,
who welcomed me to England
with an introduction to a certain agent, and
Patrick Walsh,
the agent he introduced me to.
There has been a lot of faith shown over the years,
and I thank you both.


With deepest gratitude I acknowledge the following for their support: the staff at Cafe Rouge, Dorking (keep the coffees coming....); the folks at Psion, whose extraordinary 5 Series was home to this novel's first draft; Daryl and crew at Cafe Hosete; and, of course, Simon Taylor and the rest at Transworld. For my family and friends, thank you for your faith and encouragement, without which all that I achieve means little. Thanks also to Stephen and Ross Donaldson for their kind words, James Barclay, Sean Russell, and Ariel. Finally, a big thank-you to those readers who took time to write their comments on various Web sites--writing is a solitary, isolating activity, but you have made it less so.



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Publisher Format/Edition First published Pages ISBN-10 ISBN-13 Notes
UK and Commonwealth — Deadhouse Gates
Bantam Trade paperback 2000 684 0593046226 xxx First edition
Cover by Steven Stone
Bantam Hard cover 2000 684 0593046218 xxx ISBN assigned but never printed
Bantam Mass market paperback xxx xxx xxx xxx
United States — Deadhouse Gates
Tor Hard cover Feb 2005 604 0765310023 978-0765310026 Cover same as UK edition
Tor Trade paperback Feb 2005 604 0765314290 978-0765314291 Cover same as UK edition
Tor Hard cover, Science Fiction Book Club xxx xxx xxx xxx
Tor Mass market paperback xxx xxx xxx xxx
Subterranean Press Hard cover Aug 2012 720 xxx xxx Limited numbered/lettered editions
Illustrated by J. K. Drummond
List of illustrations
  1. "He came shambling into Judgement's Round... A misshapen mass of flies"
  2. Iskaral Pust annoys a Jhag
  3. In the wake of a dragon (lettered only)
  4. "And over it all, the butterflies swarmed"
  5. Felisin

Appeared in other languages under the following titles[]

  • Bulgarian/Български - Дверите на скръбния дом
  • Czech - Dům mrtvých
  • Dutch - De Poorten Van Het Dodenhuis
  • French - Les Portes de la Maison des Morts, La Chaîne des Chiens (published in two installments, republished in one installment)
  • German - Das Reich der Sieben Städte, Im Bann der Wüste (published in two installments)
  • Hungarian - Tremorlor kapuja
  • Italian - La dimora fantasma
  • Polish - Bramy Domu Umarłych
  • Portuguese - Os Portões da Casa dos Mortos, O Caminho das Mãos (published in two installments)
  • Serbian - Dveri kuće mrtvih
  • Spanish - Las puertas de la casa de la muerte

Plot summary[]

Deadhouse Gates
Dramatis Personae Prologue
Chapter 1 Chapter 2
Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7
Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chain of Dogs
Chapter 11 Chapter 12
Chapter 13 Chapter 14
Deadhouse Gates
Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18
Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22
Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Epilogue Pagination

Spoiler unsafe

The following summaries contain spoilers
Please access individual chapter summaries via the Chapter infobox

Deadhouse Gates begins a few months after the conclusion of Gardens of the Moon, though few characters and almost no settings bridge the two novels. The main action of Memories of Ice, the third novel in the series, partially overlaps that of Deadhouse Gates.

Prologue and Book One: Raraku[]


He swam at my feet,
Powerful arms in broad strokes
Sweeping the sand.
So I asked this man,
What seas do you swim?
And to this he answered,
'I have seen shells and the like
On this desert floor,
So I swim this land's memory
Thus honouring its past,'
Is the journey far, queried I.
'I cannot say,' he replied,
'For I shall drown long before
I am done.'

Sayings of the Fool
Thenys Bule

Felisin Paran is caught up in a cull of the nobility by Laseen. On the march to the transport ships, she meets fellow prisoners Baudin, a thug, and Heboric, an excommunicated High Priest of Fener who has been punished by the removal of his hands. The three are sent to the Otataral mines off the coast of the continent of Seven Cities where Felisin offers her body to the slaves' self-appointed leader Beneth in exchange for protection for the trio, and becomes addicted to narcotic durhang.

Icarium, whose wantonly destructive past has been removed from his memory to protect the world, travels in the company of Mappo Runt, a Trell warrior, who is secretly charged with monitoring and, ultimately, controlling Icarium's rage. They are caught up in a battle between shapeshifters who follow the Path of Hands to Tremorlor, an Azath House in the Holy Desert Raraku, that may offer Ascendency and ultimately godhood. The two make their way through the battle to shelter in the temple of Iskaral Pust, a High Priest of Shadow, who may be mad.

The Wickan warleader Coltaine takes command of the Malazan Empire's 7th army, with orders to escort Malazan civilians in the area to the imperial regional capital, Aren, hundreds of leagues away, to protect them from the expected rebellion of Seven Cities inspired by the Raraku based prophetess Sha'ik. The continent's High Fist, Pormqual, orders the naval fleet, which offered some protection, to withdraw to Aren. The Imperial Historian, Duiker, accompanies the 7th.

Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus, and Apsalar, following the events of Gardens of the Moon, land in Ehrlitan. Their intent is to return Apsalar to her home village but Kalam and Fiddler plan to kill Empress Laseen en route. They want to use the Seven Cities' Rebellion as a cover for Kalam to work his way to her. Fiddler meets a Tano Spiritwalker who offers a song of power that may grant ascension to the Bridgeburners whom he believes fought honorably in their empire’s dishonorable war to take Seven Cities. Kalam, a native, makes contact with the local rebels and agrees to deliver Dryjhna's Holy Book to Sha'ik in Raraku, which will unleash the rebellion's Apocalypse, further undermining Laseen's power. He delivers the Book of the Apocalypse and receives the gift of an aptorian demon bodyguard. A troop of Red Blades who uncovered Kalam's mission, use him to lead them to Sha'ik. They kill her after Kalam departs, despite her guardians Leoman of the Flails and Toblakai. The Red Blade Lostara Yil picks up Kalam's trail.

As Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar travel separately through Raraku, Apsalar's memories gradually confirm that the Rope, the patron god of assassins, who possessed her as Sorry, was the previous Emperor Kellanved's assassin Dancer, and that Kellenvad and Dancer must have escaped Laseen's assassination efforts by ascending to godhood over the new Warren and House of Shadow.

Book Two: Whirlwind[]


I have walked old roads
This day
That became ghosts with
Coming night
And were gone to my eyes
With dawn.
Such was my journey
Leagues across centuries
In one blink of the sun

Pardu epitaph

Baudin and Heboric arrange, with Duiker's help, to escape from the mines during a slave mutiny and give Felisin the chance to go with them, and she agrees. En route to the coast, Heboric finds an enormous jade pillar that turns out to be merely the finger of an enormous figure, and touches it with his stumps of hands, which draws his god Fener into the mortal realm. Fener flees and Heboric's hands become tangible, mixing his Denul warren with the magic-deadening properties of otataral. Duiker sends the mage Kulp on a Malazan boat to retrieve the trio from the otataral island, but the company's drawn into a mad mage's watery warren where they board the Silanda on which they find headless Tiste Andii oarsmen still capable of accepting commands and probable Tiste Edur corpses in the captain's cabin. Soon they encounter Logros T'lan Imass warriors under Bonecaster Hentos Ilm pursuing an unnamed quarry who inform the humans that they are in Kurald Emurlahn, the Tiste Edur Elder Warren. One of the T'lan Imass sacrifices himself to heal the breach in the warren, and the Imass take one of the heads, but they leave the humans behind to find their own way out.

Pust tells Icarium and Mappo that Sha'ik will be resurrected, as an enormous wall of deadly whirling sand surrounds Raraku and the winds within reveal buried roads, structures, and evidence that the desert was once coastal. They leave to seek her out and find instead Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar, who've made their way through storms, rebel pursuers, and the ongoing shapeshifter battle. The  company returns to Pust's temple, where his servant Servant turns out to be Apsalar's father, transported he knows not how clear of the Shadow Hound attack at the beginning of Gardens of the Moon. Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar, and Servant set out for Tremorlor, which may offer a path to the Deadhouse, the corresponding Azath house in Malaz City, where Laseen rules.

Coltaine defeats the rebel army of Hissar, the city where he takes command of the 7th, and begins the march to Aren, which comes to be known as the Chain of Dogs. Kamist Reloe, a High Mage of the empire, rebels to lead a second army against Coltaine's refugees. Coltaine's Wickans defeat one of Kamist Reloe's tribes, though outnumbered seven to one, thus convincing Duiker that Coltaine means to do more than merely flee the rebellion. When the refugees are caught at a wide river between two armies, Coltaine insists on giving the Malazan nobles under Nethpara no special treatment, despite their protests, and it turns out that he insisted on sending the wagons of wounded across the river first in order to conceal the laying of a road under the water that his sappers then detonate when the peasant army starts to cross it behind the fleeing refugees, while Coltaine leads his forces to defeat the army ahead of the refugees. Coltaine's warlocks, led by Sormo E'nath, defeat a Semk tribal god by loosing the spirits of the land against it.

Kalam heads south toward Aren, accompanied by Apt and pursued by Yil. He learns of a traitor Jhistal within Pormqual's camp in Aren from rebels he affects to join as he travels, and joins a Malazan family fleeing toward Aren after he helps them defeat the rebels, including Captain Keneb and his wife's sister Minala, both warriors.

Book Three: Chain of Dogs[]


When the sands
Danced blind,
She emerged from the face
Of a raging goddess


Mappo reveals to Fiddler that he and Icarium have found carvings in Pust’s temple that resemble the Deck of Dragons, but with ancient Holds rather than modern Houses, and suspect that the shapeshifters’ Path of Hands may end at the temple itself and that Pust hopes that he and Icarium will defend it. Servant leaves for the suspected site of Sha’ik’s rebirth and Icarium, Mappo, Fiddler, Crokus, and Apsalar pursue him, suspecting that Pust, Shadowthrone, and Cotillion may intend Apsalar to replace Sha’ik as the rebellion’s prophetess in order to draw in and kill Laseen.

Kulp manages to open a rent from Kurald Emurlahn to his own Meanas warren, drawing the attention of an undead Soletaken dragon, which grants Kulp the power to heal the rent. The dragon leads the Silanda into a fire warren, and Kulp, Heboric, Baudin, and Felisin fall or leap to safety in the mundane world near Raraku as the ship moves between warrens, on fire. Stormy, Truth, and Gesler, Kulp’s escorts, are trapped on the ship. Baudin’s heroic saving of Felisin during their flight makes Heboric and Kulp suspicious, and he admits that he is a Talon assassin sent by Tavore to protect Felisin. The company takes refuge in a cave network to avoid Raraku’s whirling sand and finds a First Empire city of T’lan Imass destroyed in hours by the outbreak of conflict between the Soletaken and D’ivers and signs in a Deck of Holds that the Beast Hold throne is empty. After leaving the city they meet a mage who identifies himself as Nawahl Ebur but turns out to be the Soletaken Gryllen. Gryllen consumes Kulp, but Baudin wounds him and Gryllen flees. Baudin is critically injured, and Felisin and Heboric leave him behind, only to come across Leoman and Toblakai guarding Sha’ik’s corpse; they recognize her as Sha’ik reborn, a  mantle Felisin accepts.

As water grows scarce and raiders harry the refugees, Coltaine’s group approaches the river P’atha. His warlocks Nil and Nether at one point open a tunnel into a raider encampment to destroy it, incidentally revealing water underground, and learn that a Semk tribesman has a piece of the destroyed Semk god sewn into him. At P’atha crossing, Nil and Nether sacrifice a mare to gift Coltaine’s heavy cavalry with strength enough to charge up Kamist Reloe’s artificial ramp, and they’re helped by the wayward sappers who hid themselves in the ramp the night before; the marines ably guard the wounded and a Wickan band guarding the refugees destroys its attackers, though not without losses of refugees, and attacks the flanking tribes’ flanks to drive them away.

Kalam and company use a stone Quick Ben gave to Kalam that puts them into the Imperial Warren, which is full of bones and ash, to bypass Korbolo Dom’s additional army of the rebellion. Laseen’s Claw Pearl detects the breach and meets Yil there. Apt, at Kalam’s behest, removes thirteen hundred Malazan children crucified by Korbolo Dom’s army to the warren of Shadow and saves one child, Panek, to ride on and merge with her, then trails Pearl and Yil into the Imperial warren and follows them as Pearl challenges the Semk-bound warrior and Apt kills it. Kalam and company exit the warren in Aren to learn that Salk Elan, who claims to be Kalam’s friend, is waiting for him with a ship, and though Kalam’s suspicious he has little choice but to investigate. Arriving in Aren, Yil’s detained with the other Red Blades on suspicion of treason. Keneb joins the city’s garrison.

Book Four: Deadhouse Gates[]


Coltaine rattles slow
across the burning land.
The wind howls through the bones
of his hate-ridden command.
Coltaine leads a chain of dogs
ever snapping at his hand.

Coltaine's fist bleeds the journey home
along rivers of red-soaked sand.
His train howls through his bones
in spiteful reprimand.
Coltaine leads a chain of dogs
ever snapping at his hand.

A marching song of the Bonehunters

'Awakening the Whirlwind'
Toblakai, Sha'ik and Leoman of the Flails
Interpretation by Grimhilde

Icarium finds one of his own time-measuring devices intact and 94,000 years old in the midst of a destroyed First Empire city, but accepts Fiddler and Mappo’s assurances that an ascendant or god must be responsible for the destruction. Apsalar and Servant lead Fiddler, Crokus, Icarium, and Mappo to the threshold of what Iskaral calls a knotted torn piece of warren to which his false Path of Hands has led the shapeshifters but they enter it because Servant can use what’s in it to take them home. Inside the warren they find the Azath house Tremorlor. Icarium can tell that the house is under siege by the shapeshifters and the damaged warren and plans to fight to defend it. Mappo fears that the Azath will take Icarium, which the Nameless Ones who chose him to guard Icarium would favor. Icarium senses his hesitation and tells Mappo he would die for him, and Mappo tells Icarium the truth about the First Empire city. Icarium tells Mappo to let the house have him if it takes him, even though it would mean eternal imprisonment. Shadow Hounds join them as they approach the House through the battle in its surrounding maze and try to take Icarium after he defeats some shapeshifters, but Mappo, Fiddler, and even Apsalar threaten to protect him, and Pust’s forced from his deal to give the Azath Icarium in exchange for not taking the Hounds. Fiddler’s conch shell with its Tano song and munitions delivered from Quick Ben by the Trygalle Trade Guild help to restrain the shapeshifters, as does Crokus’s bhoka’rala who turns out to be a Soletaken demon who becomes the guardian of Tremorlor after opening the door for the company. The interior of Tremorlor is like a map of all Azath Houses, and Pust and then Icarium and Mappo disappear to other parts of the world before Fiddler, Crokus, Servant, and Apsalar find their way to Malaz City, where the Deadhouse’s Guardian Gothos reveals that Icarium is his son and his crime was to wound a warren while trying to free Gothos from the Azath (though Gothos wanted to be there). (Pust, later en route home, finds the spider d’ivers Mogora hiding in his clothing but uninterested in the Path of Hands and sees the dragon T’lan Imass Bonecaster guardian of the real gate at his temple leave into a warren.)

Kalam meets Salk Elan to learn that the Ragstopper and the whole Aren fleet has been impounded and Admiral Nok arrested by Pormqual, who plans to flee by sea. Minala sneaks onboard a trader following the Ragstopper, which Pormqual puts in the charge of his treasurer. The treasurer turns out to be in league with pursuing “pirates” and Elan and Kalam work with the Marines on board to foil his plan. Kalam gets the sense that the captain is under a glamour not to tell him something important, so he contacts Quick Ben for help who says that the ship is indeed under a glamour of confusion and that he will try to get help to Fiddler and company as they approach Tremorlor due to the active warrens. The ship arrives at Malaz City and Elan reveals himself to be Pearl and that though the Empress wants to speak with Kalam the Claw takes care of its own business and stabs Kalam and throws him overboard to face three Hands of Claws in the city, and Minala catches up to him and helps. Apt and Panek appear to force Pearl to retreat before he can kill the captain and crew of the Ragstopper; the captain’s mate refers to him as “Carther” before the captain stops him. Kalam reaches Laseen’s audience chamber where she’s concealed as he accuses her of killing the Bridgeburners deliberately (she denies it), outlawing Dujek (it’s a ruse), killing Dassem Ultor (true but he threatened civil war), killing Dancer and Kellenvad (true but the Empire required it), and incompetence in the Seven Cities (revenge is afoot); he leaves after hearing her defense. Apt and Fiddler’s group appear as Kalam and Minala leave Mock’s Hold and Shadowthrone takes them all into Shadow to save them from the Claws that are still after Kalam. Apsalar, Crokus, and Servant ask to go to Apsalar’s home in Itko Kan; Kalam and Minala join Apt in the new Shadow warren home of the 1300 crucified children; and Fiddler re-enlists to join Tavore’s host.

Coltaine refuses the nobles’ entreaty to retake Ubaryd; Duiker believes that it’s because the approaching Korbolo Dom is an experienced general and greater threat, whereas Kamist Reloe was merely a mage. Coltaine makes the former slaves soldiers of the Seventh. When the Chain reaches the river Vathar, the Silanda is there, and Stormy, Gesler, and Truth take the most seriously wounded on board. One of Coltaine’s officers recognizes Gesler as a former captain and when Gesler threatens to punch him if he’s promoted again Coltaine punches Gesler and breaks his own hand; Nil concludes that Gesler, Stormy, and Truth are nearly ascended. Coltaine rejects an offer from Korbolo to let the refugees cross the river, but the nobles and refugees cross anyway and Korbolo sends archers on floating bridges to kill them. Coltaine’s sappers are among the refugees and save many, as does Sormo, who’s killed in combat; 20,000 refugees die all told. Coltaine promotes a particularly effective sapper to sergeant only to learn that he’s demoted their captain, but it sticks – and this scene proves that Duiker’s right that when you go on through the horror you find tears and smiles together. Past Vathar the column passes through the remains of a war between the Jaghut and pursuing T’lan Imass. The Trygalle Trade Guild arrives via warren to provide food and water from Dujek and friends in Darujhistan and a bottle for Coltaine to crush against his chest when the time comes (“never underestimate the Empress”), and all present realize that Dujek’s alleged treason is false and he fights alongside his former enemies against the Pannion Seer at the Empress’s behest. One of the three tribes facing the Chain attacks the other two and Dom’s army, defeating the tribes but not the army, but declares the Wickans the most powerful after they survive the multiway fight around them. The Chain continues south, harried by Dom’s forces; Coltaine sends the refugees to buy passage with a biddable tribe to Aren while the Wickans and even the wounded stand and fight to cover their retreat. Coltaine insists that Duiker keep the bottle Dujek sent him because it’s more important that the empire’s memory survive than its soldiers. Aren’s gates open for the refugees but Pormqual’s army does nothing to cover their flight. Kamist Reloe finally captures Coltaine before the city and crucifies him, but the archer Squint kills him from the city wall at Duiker’s urging and thousands of crows arrive to carry off his spirit. Mallick Rel urges Pormqual to sally to face Dom rather than wait a week for Tavore’s fleet, and the army is surrounded and surrenders at Rel’s urging. When Duiker refers to Rel as a Jishtal, Keneb recalls Kalam referring to a Jhistal traitor in Aren, and Keneb flees into Aren. Dom crucifies Duiker and 10,000 other soldiers. Icarium and Mappo later emerge from the Azath warren on the Aren way to find Stormy, Gesler, and Truth searching for Duiker’s corpse among the crucified, but Baruk’s bhok’arala servants from Darujhistan find him first and take the bottle with his spirit in it and his body. Icarium has lost memory of most of the events of the book and he and Mappo continue their journey.

Felisin and Heboric travel to Sha’ik’s oasis with Leoman and Toblakai, whom Heboric says carries chained souls. Felisin tells the others to open the holy book: Leoman sees nothing, Toblakai weeps, and Heboric refuses to touch it and disarms and throws Toblakai when he attacks him for it. Felisin dons Sha’ik’s clothing and using something of the goddess’s power she reads the thoughts of the High Mages: Bidithal abused Sha’ik as a child, Febryl tried to poison her thrice, and L’oric is an enigma, but all kneel before her with the crowd in the end. Felisin accepts the goddess’s power but doesn’t give herself up entirely and adopts a young girl and names her Felisin. The Whirlwind turns out to be a warren that Sha’ik’s armies can use to travel quickly. Felisin/Sha’ik and her army travel via the warren to learn that Dom did not take Aren and return to Raraku to await Tavore’s advance on their own terms.


Back on the Wickan Plains, a pregnant young widow learns from a horsewife that her child is an empty vessel without a soul. As she moves to drink the medicine that will abort the child, the sky suddenly fills with dark clouds. The horsewife, fear and hope on her face, stops the widow from drinking. The clouds descend on the widow revealing themselves to be thousands of crows. Within the widow's womb a child stirs.


  • Memories of Ice was originally meant to be the second book in sequence, following Gardens of the Moon. Erikson had already written about three hundred pages of the new book when they were lost to a computer failure. He went on to write Deadhouse Gates next instead, but Erikson said in the end, "it worked out fine, as inverting books two and three allowed me to do something with the end of Memories of Ice that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise." [3]
  • Deadhouse Gates was the most satisfying of the Malazan books for Erikson to write after the long process of getting Gardens of the Moon published. "It felt complete as a book, it did everything I wanted it to do". Erikson often listened to the soundtrack of Black Hawk Down while writing and found the track "Leave No Man Behind" particularly apt for the scenes below the walls of Aren.[4]
  • Erikson has an interest in wargaming and he "mapped out every battle that Coltaine engages in in the entire novel."[5]

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Notes and references[]