Fiddler was a member of the 9th Squad of the Bridgeburners under Sergeant Whiskeyjack.[4] He and Hedge were the squad's sappers.[5]

He was described as a wiry little man[1] with bandied legs,[6] lank red hair[7] and beard, with massive wrists and pale blue eyes.[8][3] He usually wore a mismatched uniform with a leather helmet[7] or cap.

Ganoes Paran considered Fiddler to be only a few years older than himself (see Speculations for more on Fiddler's age). Pockmarks from explosive detonations covered Fiddler's hands and face. His armour was a mixture of foreign accoutrements over a threadbare stained uniform. He carried a shortsword in a cracked wooden scabbard and a broken, scorched fiddle was strapped to his back, hence his name.[9]

Fiddler and Hedge were "as close as brothers. When together, they [were] mayhem. A conjoined mindset more dangerous than amusing most of the time. As legendary as the Bridgeburners themselves."[3]

On one occasion, unbelting his sword, Fiddler told Whiskeyjack that he hated the thing and was told 'not to forget it like last time'. A short while later Dujek noticed the sword lying in a puddle. As Fiddler ran to retrieve it, the High Fist commented that 'the man's a hopeless legend'.[10]

He was an adept at reading the Deck of Dragons. He used the Deck mostly in drinking or card games when money was on the table. He created new rules for the game every time he dealt the Deck, which guaranteed his winning. Each game started with no rules, and with every card dropped, he made a new rule.

He proved himself knowledgeable about the old-style magic that Bottle used.[11]

Fiddler often had 'bad feelings' that forewarned him and others that something was about to happen.[12]

In Gardens of the Moon Edit

Splr GM In 1154 BS, Fiddler and his Commander Whiskeyjack encountered a young Ganoes Paran on the walls of the Old Keep on Malaz Island during the Mouse Quarter riots. It was mentioned that Fiddler leaned beside Whiskeyjack with the ease of long familiarity.[13]


Fiddler, by Toraneko

Nine years later in 1163 BS, some of the Bridgeburners survived the cave-in of the tunnels at the end of the Siege of Pale due to Fiddler having one of his bad feelings.[1] He had another bad feeling about the time of Ganoes Paran being stabbed by Sorry, which prompted Tattersail to call him a natural Talent, something very rare.[1]

Fiddler and his squad mates were assigned a covert mission to Darujhistan to pave the way for Dujek's forces. Just prior to departing, Fiddler told now-Sergeant Whiskeyjack that something was going to be unleashed that night and that it would be messy – an apparent foreshadowing of the Hound of Shadow's deadly visit later that night.[14] 

Having been dropped on the northern shore of Lake Azur by Black Moranth Quorl, Fiddler and Hedge took delivery of a consignment of Moranth munitions, delivered by Green Moranth, making them 'two happy sappers', according to Kalam.[15]

Before crossing the Lake via fishing boat also supplied by the Moranth, Whiskeyjack told them that he had changed the official plan as that would get them all killed. He divided the squad into two teams, one to be led by Kalam and the other by the sergeant himself. Fiddler would be in Whiskeyjack's team. Kalam told Whiskeyjack that he was concerned for Fiddler, Hedge, and Trotts, who had all shifted a lot of earth in the tunnels at Pale. Trotts was trying to get the boat into the water and getting no help from the others. Seeing this, Whiskeyjack told him to sit in the boat and ordered the others to push it into the water. He also said that it was the kind of thing he would expect from Fiddler and Hedge. Fiddler and Sorry were sent out to cut wood for a mast in the meantime.[16]

Sappers by slaine69

Fiddler in his role as sapper, by slaine69

Less than an hour after their midnight landing in Darujhistan, Fiddler and Hedge somehow acquired a waggon full of cobbles enabling them and the rest of the squad to pose as road maintenance workers and mine the intersections of the city's streets with munitions. At the proper time the munitions could be fired to bring down buildings and block intersections and sow chaos and confusion amongst the city's defenders.[17][18]

On the night of the Gedderone Fête, Fiddler and the other Bridgeburners posed as guards at Lady Simtal's estate. When the gathering was attacked by the Jaghut Tyrant Raest, Fiddler pulled Whiskeyjack to safety from the rubble.[19] Afterwards, he and Hedge raced away to set off their charges, but they were stopped by the appearance of the demon Lord of Galayn. The delay saved the city as it gave time for Kalam to stop the plan that would have unknowingly touched off the city's enormous gas reserves.[20][21]

When the Bridgeburners broke off from the Malazan Empire to join High Fist Dujek Onearm's renegade forces, Fiddler did not go with them. Instead, he and Kalam announced that they would escort Apsalar back to her home in Itko Kan, saying they felt they owed it to her. They said they would return, if they could.[22] They left on a tradecraft making for Dhavran.[23]

In Deadhouse GatesEdit

Splr DG Fiddler, Kalam, Crokus and Apsalar had taken passage as crew on a Blue Moranth trader from Genabackis to the imperial port of Karakarang. They then travelled on the Tano pilgrim route from Karakarang across the Talgai Mountains down to Rutu Jelba all the time trying to keep a low profile. Sailing along the Ehrlitan coast, Fiddler suffered greatly as he was prone to seasickness.[24]

Arriving in Ehrlitan, Fiddler, disguised as a Gral tribesman, saved two granddaughters of the Tanno Spiritwalker Kimloc from the clutches of a hunchbacked pimp. When he returned them to their home, the captain of the house guard asked Fiddler for his trader name so they might honour him in their prayers, and Fiddler gave him his true name, the one he was born with. As a reward, Kimloc gave Fiddler a conch shell imbued with powers of protection.[25]


Fiddler by Yapattack

Afterward, Kalam broke from the original plan, traveling into the Raraku desert with the holy Book of Dryjhna to start the Whirlwind rebellion. Fiddler was not pleased with Kalam's decision, but continued on with Apsalar and Crokus disguised as a Gral tribesman and two young pilgrims.[26] They traveled south through the Pan'potsun Odhan, dodging angry tribesmen and Whirlwind rebels until they became caught up in the battles between the Soletaken and D'ivers of the Path of Hands. Even the sapper's supply of munitions was not enough, but they were rescued and brought to Tesem by Icarium and Mappo.[27]

It transpired that Kalam had plotted with Quick Ben to assassinate the Empress as revenge for her attacks on the Bridgeburners. He traveled to Seven Cities to seek the Azath House Tremorlor and use its gate to travel instantaneously and undetected to the Deadhouse in Malaz City.[28] From there it would be a short trip to the Imperial Palace at Unta. Quick Ben would serve as Shaved Knuckle in the Hole through an ensorcelled rock that Kalam could use to summon the mage once they were in the halls of the palace.[29][30]

Fiddler quickly grew to enjoy the company of the Jhag and Trell. When High Priest of Shadow Iskaral Pust manipulated Apsalar into following her father to Tremorlor, Fiddler, Crokus, Icarium, and Mappo followed. Along with Pust and the Hounds of Shadow, they fought their way through the maze surrounding the Azath house. About to be overwhelmed by the horde of rats comprising the D'ivers Gryllen, Fiddler fired his final munition. However, what he took for an explosive was actually Kimloc's conch shell. The shell's magic activated and destroyed the D'ivers.[31]

The group entered Tremorlor and passed into the Azath Warren. Pust, Icarium, and Mappo soon disappeared. Fiddler, Apsalar, Crokus, and Rellock found themselves in the Deadhouse where they met Gothos, its Jaghut guardian. Exiting the house into Malaz City, they were reunited with Kalam by the shadow demon Apt. To Fiddler's surprise, Kalam informed him that he had spoken with the Empress and their feud was over. Given the choice of returning to the Bridgeburners, Fiddler instead opted to enlist in Adjunct Tavore's Malaz 14th Army.[32]

In Memories of IceEdit

Splr MI

Fiddler by artsed-d8ust25

Fiddler by Artsed

When Whiskeyjack entered Caladan Brood's command tent to cement their alliance against the Pannion Domin, he was surprised by the sight of Brood's map table. He recognised the warped and misshapen table as the one built by Fiddler and Hedge while fighting in Mott Wood. It had been the scene of many heated Bridgeburner card games until their camp was overrun and it was stolen by the Mott Irregulars.[33]

Later, Whiskeyjack mentioned Fiddler several times when he told Anomander Rake the story of the forging of the Bridgeburners. At the time of the pursuit across Raraku, Fiddler wore an ornate, oversized helmet knocked from the head of a Seven Cities Holy Protector by Dassem Ultor. Fiddler carried on his back a fiddle he had purchased on Malaz Island, but his poor attempts at learning to play led to Hedge putting his fist through the instrument. At the time, Whiskeyjack inadvertently gave him his nickname by addressing the soldier as "sir Fiddler". During the Bridgeburners' pursuit of Adaephon Delat, it was Fiddler who figured out that their guide, Kalam, was secretly in communication with their quarry; and when the soldiers had finally run Quick Ben to ground, it was Fiddler and Hedge who kept Kalam at bay with their crossbows.[34]

Shortly after the Siege of Capustan, Quick Ben collected munitions from the Bridgeburners' supplies and contracted the Trygalle Trade Guild to deliver them to Fiddler in Seven Cities. This was the shipment Fiddler received at Tremorlor in Deadhouse Gates.[35]

In House of ChainsEdit

Splr HC Motivated by revenge,[36] Fiddler re-enlisted as "Sergeant Strings" in Adjunct Tavore's army, the 14th, to aid in the attempted retaking of Seven Cities.[37] There he was the sergeant of the 4th squad Marines, which included Corporal Tarr, Cuttle, Koryk, Smiles, and Bottle. His alias did not disguise him for long among his fellow sergeants and squadmates, but his superior, the arrogant Lieutenant Ranal, suspected him only of being a former deserter.[38][39][40]

Fiddler prevented the army's mission from ending in failure even before it left Aren. At the 8th Legion's first muster, the boy Grub had appeared at Adjunct Tavore's side pointing a human bone at the gathered soldiers. It was Fiddler's idea to turn the dire omen to their advantage by making the bones a symbol of the army and a portion of their uniforms.[41]

The veteran Bridgeburner proved to be an able mentor to the raw recruits that formed the majority of the army. He counseled Temul on the best way to deal with his insubordinate command.[42] He also guided the teen with nonverbal prompting to cement the army's alliance with Gall and the Khundryl Burned Tears.[43] Fiddler could often be found in the company of Chain of Dogs veteran sapper, Cuttle.

Fid-solo by Matt Smith

Fiddler by Matt Smith

But the news of the Bridgeburners' deaths at Coral left him in despair.[44] Disillusioned by the soldier's life and fearful of the responsibilities of command, Fiddler considered deserting until Gesler talked him out of it.[45]

As the army marched, Fiddler began regularly hearing a low, mournful, atonal singing. The spirit of Sormo E'nath appeared to tell him that he had to go to Raraku to join his Bridgeburner kin.[46] The voices of spirits threatened to overwhelm him until the intercession of Bottle and the Eres'al.[47]

Fiddler organised a desert Scorpion fighting competion between the 9th Company's three marine squads after a stinging series of attacks by Leoman and his desert warriors. Fiddler's, Borduke's, and Gesler's squads wagered on the competitors with Fiddler's squad entering a Birdshit scorpion named "Joyful Union". Fiddler cleaned up on the betting when his scorpion proved to be a con that handily defeated its competitiors.[48]

At the Battle of Raraku, Fiddler realised the song crafted for him by Kimloc and calling him to Raraku signalled the ascension of the Bridgeburners.[49] In the aftermath of the battle, Lieutenant Ranal led the 4th squad in pursuit of rebel horse warriors fleeing Raraku. Against Fiddler's advice, Ranal ordered the squad to continue the chase into an approaching sandstorm.[50] Using the sandstorm as cover, Corabb's warriors turned and ambushed their pursuers. Corabb stumbled into Fiddler in the maelstrom, accidentally pulling free the sapper's entire supply of munitions and triggering their fuses. The ghost of Hedge knocked Fiddler to the ground as Ranal was killed in the huge explosion that followed. The blood-spattered Cuttle reported the Lieutenant's death to Fiddler, saying that he was 'wearing' Ranal.[51]

Afterwards, Kalam and Quick Ben located Fiddler amongst the 14th Army for a heartfelt reunion.[52]

In The BonehuntersEdit

Splr BH Fiddler continued his service in the Bonehunters army and took part in the disastrous Last Siege of Y'Ghatan. He and several others managed to escape the firestorm that went through the city by digging their way through underground ruins.[53] Upon rejoining the Bonehunters, the Adjunct told him to stop his pretense as Strings because the fact 'that his name was Fiddler was the worst kept secret in the 14th.'

In Malaz City, Fiddler visited the armourer Tak, who supplied him with a new crossbow model.[54] Fiddler also bought a fiddle from Tak and later played a song for all the fallen that echoed like a dirge throughout the city.[55][56]

In Reaper's GaleEdit

Splr RG

Invasion of letheras by slaine69

Invasion of Letheras by slaine69 left to right: Bottle, Corabb, Fiddler

Fiddler led the 4th squad of marines in the invasion of the Letherii Empire. His was one of the first squads to reach the capital and among the only ones to come through unscathed.

Fiddler was present at the death of Trull Sengar. After Trull's murderer was banished to a place of eternal torment, Quick Ben forbade Fiddler to pity the killer.[57]

In Dust of Dreams Edit

Splr DD Fiddler reluctantly conducted a reading of the Deck of Dragons that unleashed chaos on Letheras and the Warrens. He accompanied the Bonehunter army east and survived the battle with the K'Chain Nah'ruk.

In the novel, it was acknowledged that Fiddler as a figure held the entire army together.

In The Crippled God Edit

Splr CG

Day 2 tranquil by shadaan

Fiddler in retirement by Shadaan

Fiddler was made Captain[58] of the surviving marines and heavies of the Bonehunters and was answerable only to the Adjunct.[59] He lived through the trek across the Glass Desert. Before the final battle for the body of the Crippled God, Fiddler reconciled with Hedge. They both survived the final battle. He played one of Fisher's songs on a fiddle given to him by Whiskeyjack, Mallet, and Trotts, and summoned Whiskeyjack's spirit so that Korlat could see him again.
Hedge and Fidd by slaine69

Hedge and Fiddler by slaine69

In the book's epilogue, Fiddler went fishing off the docks of Malaz City about a year later[60] and talked with a young boy there who dreamt of becoming a soldier. Rather than discouraging the lad, Fiddler wished him luck and revealed the details of his life in retirement: Fiddler had taken up playing music for the surviving veterans at a magically hidden bar across from the Deadhouse. He fished not for food but to converse with the demon beneath Malaz Harbor.[61]


Fiddler 2-1

Fiddler by Corporal Nobbs

Fiddler said he was born in an alley in Malaz City and learned the stone-cutting trade breaking into barrows up on the plain behind Mock's Hold.[62] At one time, he had been apprenticed as a mason.[63]

At a young age, before joining the army, Fiddler and Whiskeyjack abducted the latter's half-sister, Dunsparrow, from Hood's Temple. Quick Ben thought of Fiddler as having been practically 'her uncle'.[64]

Fiddler claimed to have named Braven Tooth after a brawl in which the Master Sergeant left a tooth in the young soldier's shoulder.[65]

The sapper spent fifteen years fighting Imperial Wars by the time of Deadhouse Gates. He saw service at Li Heng when Emperor Kellanved fought both Treach and Ryllandaras.[66] During the Malazan campaign to conquer Seven Cities, Fiddler often rode with Wickan scouts and was familiar with the continent's different tribes and their customs.[67]

Readings of the DeckEdit

In one game during which Adjunct Lorn was present, he predicted her demise. She did not know about his powers until he predicted her death (apparently an Obelisk turned upside down meant she would die very soon). As Fiddler grew older he became more reluctant in using the Deck of Dragons.


Fidd by slaine69

Fiddler by Slaine69

Fiddler's age was difficult to determine and varying descriptions of him, including one by Captain Paran, seemed to contradict the timeline of events, such as the forging of the Bridgeburners. In House of Chains, Fiddler thought to himself that for an old man, he neither looked nor felt old and put this down to Raraku having destroyed then renewed him, and that this renewal continued for himself and the other Bridgeburners, as if Raraku took something of their mortality and replaced it with something else.[68]

For a more in-depth discussion on the topic visit: Malazan Empire Forum


"The glory of battle, Koryk, dwells only in the bard’s voice, in the teller’s woven words. Glory belongs to ghosts and poets. What you hear and dream isn't the same as what you live— blur the distinction at your own peril, lad."

Fiddler: "Well, the idea is to aim and shoot, then bite a mouthful of dirt."
Cuttle: "I can see the wisdom in that, Fid. Now, you let us all know when you’re firing, right?"
Fiddler: "Nice and loud, aye."
Cuttle: "And what word should we listen for?"
Fiddler: "Duck. Or sometimes what Hedge used to use."
Cuttle: "Which was?"
Fiddler: "A scream of terror."
―Fiddler instructing his squad on using a crossbow to fire a cusser[src]

Fan art galleryEdit

Notes and ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK HB p.134
  2. The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.107
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.98
  4. Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p. xii
  5. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.256
  6. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK HB p.129
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK HB p.130
  8. The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.107
  9. Gardens of the Moon, Prologue, UK MMPB p.5
  10. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.147-149
  11. House of Chains, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.850/851
  12. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.134/148 for example
  13. Gardens of the Moon, Prologue, UK MMPB p.5-8
  14. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.129/148
  15. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.256
  16. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.258,264-266
  17. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.362
  18. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, US HC p.258-260
  19. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, US HC p.454
  20. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, US HC p.459
  21. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 23, US HC p.468
  22. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 24, US HC p.481
  23. Gardens of the Moon, Epilogue, UK MMPB p.701
  24. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.53-59
  25. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.61-65
  26. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US HC p.92/94
  27. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 7, US HC p.192-196
  28. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.225
  29. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, US HC p.46
  30. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.301
  31. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18, US HC p.482
  32. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.573-576/581-584
  33. Memories of Ice, Chapter 3
  34. Memories of Ice, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.301/304-305
  35. Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.775-776
  36. House of Chains, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.538
  37. House of Chains, Chapter 5
  38. House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.227/254-255
  39. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.319
  40. House of Chains, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.626
  41. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.318-320/341-342
  42. House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.421-424
  43. House of Chains, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.529-532
  44. House of Chains, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.420-421
  45. House of Chains, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.539-540
  46. House of Chains, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.540-542
  47. House of Chains, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.755-758
  48. House of Chains, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.624-632
  49. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.803/806-807
  50. House of Chains,Chapter 26, UK MMPB p.994-996
  51. House of Chains,Chapter 26, UK MMPB p.1001
  52. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.846
  53. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.393-447
  54. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.1067-1071
  55. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.1071/1072
  56. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, UK MMPB p.1123-1125
  57. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24
  58. The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.99
  59. The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.110
  60. See Tor article Steven Erikson (2014) Ask Steven Erikson Your Crippled God Questions!, Tor Blogs, Macmillan, Accessed: 16-12-2014, Available: <>, see Steven Erikson's answer to question 45
  61. The Crippled God, Epilogue 2, US HC p.907/908
  62. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.147
  63. House of Chains, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.539
  64. The Bonehunters, Chapter 13, UK MMPB p.640
  65. House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.252
  66. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.64
  67. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.124
  68. House of Chains, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.493
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