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Fisher kel Tath, or simply "Fisher", was a long-lived poet and bard and a regular at K'rul's Bar in Darujhistan. His poems were featured in many of the epigraphs preceding chapters in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. The 'Kel' part of his name was spelled with both, lower as well as capital first letter throughout the Malazan books.

He befriended the historian, Duiker.

In Memories of Ice[]

High Fist Dujek Onearm and Whiskeyjack referred to a Fisher poem on the Chaining as a source of information on the Crippled God. Dujek recalled hearing bits and pieces of it spoken by bards in taverns.[1]

In Toll the Hounds[]

Fisher had become close to the retired Bridgeburners at K'rul's Bar. He convinced the morose Duiker to tell the story of the Chain of Dogs as a poem instead of recording it as a historic account, something Duiker found himself incapable of doing well on his own.[2]

Fisher was present at K'rul's Bar when Seba Krafar's assassins attempted to eliminate the retired Bridgeburners as per Humble Measure 's contract. The bard killed at least four of the assailants on his own, unscathed.[3]

He later became romantically involved with Lady Envy.[4]

After the attack of the Assassins' Guild, Fisher tracked down Seba Krafar and managed to "buy out" the contract against the owners of K'rul's Bar, and thus guarantee their safety. Following the exchange, he was given a message by Iskaral Pust, from Shadowthrone, advising him to "find the Eel".[5]

In Orb Sceptre Throne[]

He assisted Spindle in an attempt to break the magical circle protecting Majesty Hall in Darujhistan.[6]

It transpired that Fisher knew Caladan Brood. When Brood asked him what he was doing in Darujhistan, Fisher responded "You know how I feel about witnessing things."[7]

Fisher also met Iceblood mercenary Cull Heel, who told Fisher it was time to come home. He had been away too long.[8]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Fisher kel Tath.

In Assail[]

Fisher traveled to Assail where it became apparent he was a native and part Iceblood, and had grown up in the far north of the continent. Like many natives, this meant he carried Jaghut blood.

At Holly he joined a band of foreign treasure seekers, including Enguf the Broad, Malle of Gris, and Marshal Teal, who had come to the continent following rumours of newly discovered gold fields. He also found and helped the amnesiac Tiste Andii, Jethiss, to recover his true identity.[9]

Leaving the treasure hunters, Fisher discovered old friends Coots and Badlands in a cave deep in the chasm guarded by Yrkki, the bonewright. They said they had had a falling out with their brother/cousin, Stalker, and were in no hurry to go home. Fisher convinced them to escape with him and Jethiss and head north back to the Lost family holding.[10]

Fisher was later present when the four races (Forkrul Assail, T'lan Imass, Jaghut, and Tiste Andii) pledged a new founding of peace in the Salt Mountains.[11] At the time, it was also revealed that Fisher had a familiar relationship with Kilava Onass.[12] Afterwards, he and Jethiss planned to travel to Coral on Genabackis where the Tiste Andii hoped to meet an old friend.[13]

In The Kharkanas Trilogy[]

Fisher appeared in the framing sequence of these prequel novels which recalled events that took place thousands of years before the events of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. In Forge of Darkness, he sat with the Tiste Andii poet, Blind Gallan, to hear the tale of Anomander Rake and the early history of Kurald Galain.[14] In Fall of Light the story continued. Presumably, Galan concluded the tale in the still to be published Walk in Shadow.


Fisher's mother was an Iceblood native of the fallen Fanyar Hold in northern Assail. She was taken in by the Iceblood clan at Myrni Hold where she raised Fisher. As a half-blood, Fisher found he was not welcome in either his adopted home or in the human lowlands. Disgusted by the blood-feuds and bigotry of his adopted home, he renounced the Myrni and swore never to return. Despite his oath, he returned from time to time, the last time after a gap of 30 years.[15]

Significant plot details end here.


One of his better known works was the epic poem Anomandaris. Other poems included:

Poems published as simply "Fisher"[]

Anonymous poem attributed by some to Fisher Tel Kath[]

It is not known if the spelling was deliberately skewed or a printing error.


"Light, shadow and dark —
This is a war unending.
"And it is this moment, my friends,
When you must look away,
As the world unfurls anew
In shapes announced both bright
And sordid, in dark and light
And the sprawl of all existence
That lies between.
―Fisher kel Tath[src]
"And he knew to stand there
Would be a task unforgiving
Relentless as sacrifices made
And blood vows given
He knew enough to wait alone
Before the charge of fury's heat
The chants of vengeance
Where swords will meet
And where once were mortals
Still remain dreams of home
If but one gilded door
Could be pried open
Did he waste breath in bargain
Or turn aside on the moment
Did he smile in pleasure
Seeking chastisement?

(See him still, he stands there
While you remain, unforgiving
The poet damns you
The artist cries out
The one who weeps
Turns his face away
Your mind is crowded
By the inconsequential
Listing the details
Of the minuscule
And every measure
Of what means nothing
To anyone

He takes from you every rage
Every crime…
Whether you like it
Or you do not…
Sacrifices made
Vows given
He stands alone
Because none of you dare
Stand with him)
―Fisher's challenge to his listeners, breaking the telling of The Mane of Chaos[src]
"Madrun and Lazan Door—
from distant lands they hail.

One day Door did announce:
'Tis time my hair to cut<.br>
Yet no shear would tear
No blade would part
No scissor snick nor sever

And so it grew—
this bounteous mane.
Wenches plotted
Knives were sharpened
Yet no helm nor hat could tame
These willful, prideful curls

When last Door heard
His hair had fled
Fighting pirates off far Elingarth!
―Attributed to Fisher[src]

Notes and references[]