Dessembrae, also known as the Lord of Tragedy or the Lord of Tears, was Dassem Ultor ascended. Imperial Historian Duiker called Dessembrae the "Cult of Dassem", and it may have sprung up from the time when cults were common amongst the soldiers of the Malaz 1st Army under Emperor Kellanved.
The cult saw their god as male, but his grief as female.
Dessembrae knows the sorrows
in our souls.
He walks at the side of each mortal
a vessel of regret on the fires
Dessembrae knows the sorrows
and would now share them with us all.
Holy Book Prayer
(Canon of Kassal)[src]
According to the woman known as the Priestess, the Lord of Tragedy valued an open mind and disdained those whose sense of certainty kept theirs closed. Ignorance and hate were the enemy. Life was to be embraced and death rejected. Since death came for everyone, what mattered was how one lived, and non-violence was the way to honour life.
In Memories of Ice
In The Bonehunters
On the way to Y'Ghatan, Leoman and Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas discussed the fall of Dassem Ultor at the Siege of Y'Ghatan. Leoman claimed that Dassem had not died during the siege as everyone believed, but lived still. When Corabb asked where the First Sword of the Empire had gone, Leoman responded it was better to ask, "Who is he?" Corabb answered with an off-handed oath to Dessembrae, causing Leoman to choke with mirth and wonder. According to Leoman, Dassem Ultor had ascended to become Dessembrae, a reluctant god. But the god denied his nature and so wandered in eternal flight and perhaps in eternal hunt as well.
In Toll the Hounds
In Dust of Dreams
In The Crippled God
The mysterious Traveller freed the witch Sorrow from servitude amongst the Tiste Edur. The witch experienced an epiphany regarding Dessembrae and declared she would bring the truth to her people. Traveller recommended she take her message north as a pilgrim.
Hood spoke to Dessembrae in the aftermath of the Battle of the Plains through the skull of a battlefield casualty. Dessembrae was bearing witness to a fallen soldier, likely Ullen Khadeve, whose potential for greatness had been squandered in death. Dessembrae told Hood that he no longer had any expectations of death. To ask its purpose was to "impose expectations on mute existence--expectations it is in no way obliged to meet or even extend. And so I make no more, ask no more." A surprised Hood departed and Dessembrae promised he and Hood would speak again.
The witch Sorrow travelled by foot across the Southern Emptiness to Jourilan where she became known as the Priestess. There she taught the words of Dessembrae to peasant and noble alike. She spoke against the state religion that worshipped the Lady, and rejected death, hate, and ignorance. Instead she promoted polytheism and the embrace of life. Her words inspired the formation of the Jourilan Army of Reform to throw off the yoke of Imperial oppression.
Notes and references
- Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.705
- House of Chains, Glossary
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.290
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 6, US HC p.139
- Q and A with malazanempire No 1 (2003)
- Stonewielder, Chapter 1, US HC p.51-55
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 7, UK MMPB edition p.239
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 17, US edition p.489
- Stonewielder, Chapter 1, US HC p.52
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.276
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.135-136
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 4, UK PB p.160-162
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Epilogue, UK PB p.689-690
- Stonewielder, Chapter 4, US HC p.181
- Stonewielder, Chapter 1, US HC p.50-54