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Seven Cities

Steven Erikson's hand drawn map of Ehrlitan environs

Ehrlitan was one of the Seven Holy Cities[1] and a busy port on the Ehrlitan Sea in the northeast of the Seven Cities sub-continent.[2] Its people were known as the Ehrlii.[3]

The thousand year old city was built of white stone on and around a vast flat-topped hill known as the Jen'rahb, which was said to contain the compacted ruins of an ancient city nine times that age. Even the elaborate "new" temples, estates, and towers built atop the Jen'rahb's summit had long since collapsed and been abandoned. Only a tumbled maze of shattered limestone, bricks, sinkholes, pools of standing water, and leaning towers remained.[4][5] Lizard hunting Meer-rats lived amongst the rubble.[6]

Below the Jen'rahb was the still vibrant 'Lower City' where tortuous tracks passed for streets. The Merykra Round was an open space amidst a market district that could be crossed in about ten minutes on foot. Beyond were quiet residential areas of modest but clean dwellings.[7] Dust from the nearby sandstone hills was often carried into the city by wayward winds, coating everyone and everything in red.[8]

Before leaving the city, traders assembled in a square a hundred paces inside of Caravan Gate.[9] Beyond the city wall, just south of the harbour, was a vast sprawl of caravan camps with market tables and tents. Just inside the wall the streets were mobbed with market-bound citizens as well as "hawkers dragging burdened mules, carts crowded with caged songbirds or slabs of salted meat or casks of oil or honey. Old men laboured beneath bundles of firewood, baskets of clay."[10] The caravan camps were ordered along paths and thoroughfares with merchants constantly coming and going, along with their wagons, horse-warriors, herd dogs, and camels.[10] High status merchants occupied the caravan city's centre, while lesser merchants occupied the outer fringes.[10]

One caravan route from the city lead southwards to G'danisban requiring a week's travel by horse.[11] Travellers could reach the village of Salik, a distance of eight leagues, by midday.[11]

A league south and inland if the city were the hills of Arifal, home of the Gral tribes.[11]


The city was controlled by the occupying Malazan Empire and governed by an Imperial Fist living in a keep that had been the home of the city's last Holy Falah'd. The Fist's Keep "rose dark and misshapen above a well-lit compound, like a clenched hand rising from a bed of coals." Malazan troops maintained a barracks within the keep and at outlying garrison forts strategically placed around the city's circumference.[12]

Order was maintained on the streets by the Ehrlitan Guard.[13]


It was common practice before the arrival of the Malazans for tribes to cast out their unwanted children at the age of five. Families sometimes paid an intermediary to take the child to another part of the city to be abandoned. Consequently, the city had a large population of street urchins until Malazan family laws ended the custom.[14]

Ehrlii burial practise was to draw the corpse's knees tight to the chest with the arms wrapped tight about them.[15]


Before the Malazans conquest, the city had been the home to many mystery cults and their temples. It was common to see acolytes of the temples run down and trap the city's many street urchins and abandoned children with nets and pole-ropes. Lucky children were brought back to the temples to begin lives of servitude or become acolytes themselves. Not so lucky children had their lifeless bodies tossed into the sea in the dead of night once the cults were finished with them. The Malazans purged the cults, and new family laws ended the supply of young victims.[16]

For a time the Cult of Rashan was spared the purge because it was a religion familiar to the Malazans. At some point this changed, and Emperor Kellanved ordered the cult destroyed.[17]


The local form of currency was the "crescent". Two crescents were worth a base "clipping" of an Imperial silver jakata and were enough to purchase a meal of meat and fruit.[18]

Surrounding area[]

A raised coastal road lead south following the line of the bay. It had been constructed of cobblestone by the Malazan occupiers who regularly patrolled it from the outposts built alongside it. One such site was Ladro Keep.[9][19] Situated along the coast north of the city were the marble quarries whose stone had been used for its construction.[4]


The ancient city on which Ehrlitan was built was believed to be one of the world's first cities. It was said that the compounded rubble of Jen'rahb contained a chamber housing a ring of seven raised daises, known as the Throne of the Seven Protectors, each sanctified by one of the Ascendants who founded Seven Cities.[4] This may have been the Falah'd Crown once referred to as having collapsed there.[20]

One of the early Falah'd of Ehrlitan tried to build temples, estates, towers etc. as well as his palace on top of Jen'rahb to honour the old city. Large blocks of ten-ton white marble were shipped in from the quarries to the north. About three years after the completion, the immense weight of the new buildings caused subterranean chambers to collapse and led to large scale subsidence of the new structures. The collapse caused the death of over thirty-thousand people, including the Falah'd himself. Of the three thousand palace staff only one young cook's helper survived. Convinced that the beaker he had dropped moments earlier had caused the catastrophe, he stabbed himself in the heart standing in Merykra Round. A sacred paving stone with fading script commemorated the event.[21]


Ehrlii words and phrases:

  • Ba'ienrock - keeper[22]
  • E'ptarh le'gebran - literally "the vultures of violence", these were men who lusted for glory, but were only courageous enough to overpower and terrorize the helpless.[23]

House Nom[]

House Nom maintained a trading outpost in the city. They were the main trading partner of the Gral tribesmen there, brokering ransoms for the tribe's kidnapping business.[24]

Notable Ehrlitans[]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

Ehrlitan was bubbling with barely suppressed anger in the lead up to the Whirlwind Uprising of 1164 BS. The city's inept Fist could barely maintain order and had recalled most of the Malazan soldiers from the outlying garrisons back to the main barracks of his keep. Meanwhile, the fanatical pro-Empire Red Blades committed violent and brazen attacks on the citizenry.[26]

It was at this time that Fiddler, Kalam, Apsalar, and Crokus arrived in the city on their long journey from Genabackis to Itko Kan. During their stay, Fiddler made the acquaintance of Kimloc, a Tanno Spiritwalker, and Kalam came into possession of the Book of Dryjhna.[27]

In House of Chains[]

Preceding the events of Deadhouse Gates, the noble born Fist of Ehrlitan cowered in his keep awaiting reinforcements from the Ashok Regiment who were travelling from Genabackis. Malazan forces in the city captured Silgar and Damisk who claimed ownership of the slave, Karsa Orlong, despite his bearing no proper slave tattoos. All were imprisoned at the Malazan compound until the situation could be resolved.[28]

Karsa's friend, Torvald Nom, broke into the compound with the help of Gral tribesmen and agents of House Nom. Karsa was freed along with his cellmate, Leoman, a known insurgent. Leoman took Karsa to the Jen'rahb to escape the city through a hidden tunnel.[29]

It was also revealed that Emperor Kellanved had ordered the city's Cult of Rashan destroyed. He sent a disguised Quick Ben, who was followed by Dancer, to eliminate the cult members, including their leader, Master Bidithal. Quick Ben allowed Bidithal and a young Shadow Dancer named Lostara Yil to escape the massacre earning Kellanved's wrath.[30]

During the Whirlwind rebellion, several hundred Malazans from Ehrlitan, G'danisban, and Pan'potsun fled to the mountain fortress, B'ridys, near G'danisban. There they were besieged by the people of G'danisban.[31]

After the Siege of Coral on Genabackis, Dujek Onearm and his army rushed to Ehrlitan by ship to assist Adjunct Tavore Paran and the Malaz 14th Army put down the rebellion. He arrived in the city a week before the Battle of Raraku, but too late to assist Tavore.[32]

In The Bonehunters[]

Dujek's troops remained in Ehrlitan nearly two months before departing and leaving a garrison behind.[33] Malazan control also saw the return of the Red Blades, who arrogantly patrolled the city streets on horseback keeping order with tulwars at ready.[10] Malazan rule proved a blessing for commerce as goods and coin were once again free to flow.[10]

Apsalar made her way to Ehrlitan after abandoning Crokus at Tesem and drowned her sorrows at an inn below the Jen'rahb. Stepping into the Warren of Shadow she found a primitive but empty city of cobbled streets and two storey buildings nothing like Ehrlitan. In the area of the Jen'rahb she found the shades of Telorast and Curdle imprisoned after attempting to break into the Shadowkeep. The assassin freed both ghosts, bringing them to Ehrlitan.[34] Afterwards, she pursued her tasks from Shadowthrone and Cotillion to murder Mebra and other enemies of the two gods.[35]

In Reaper's Gale[]

The Third Edur Imperial Fleet menaced the waters of northern Seven Cities searching for champions to face Emperor Rhulad Sengar and capturing natives they thought might provide valuable intelligence. Among those they took back to Letheras with them were a number of denizens of Ehrlitan.[36]

Notes and references[]

  1. Deadhouse Gates, Glossary, UK MMPB p.938
  2. Deadhouse Gates, Map Seven Cities
  3. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 4, US HC p.109
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.84
  5. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.68
  6. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.55
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.85/86/88
  8. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.39
  9. 9.0 9.1 Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.139
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.111-112
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.108
  12. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.68
  13. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.60
  14. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.323
  15. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.688
  16. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.323-324
  17. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.324-325
  18. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.50
  19. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 6, US HC p.108
  20. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.50
  21. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.84/85
  22. House of Chains, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.189
  23. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 9, US HC p.230
  24. House of Chains, Chaper 4, US SFBC p.210
  25. 25.0 25.1 Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.19
  26. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.60
  27. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.63/70
  28. House of Chains, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.203/207
  29. House of Chains, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.210-212
  30. House of Chains Chapter 8
  31. House of Chains, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.345/347-348
  32. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.793
  33. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.41
  34. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.39-42/49-53
  35. The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.108
  36. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.171
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