Malazan Wiki
Malazan Wiki
Spoiler safe

"As sour-tempered a writer as I've ever had the displeasure of reading."

Gothos [goth-ōs][1] was a Jaghut[2] and the author of Gothos' Folly, his best known literary work, which was occasionally cited throughout the series.[3] He was also the author of A Life in Mists.

He was over seven feet tall and gaunt, with greenish skin and long grey hair which he wore tied back. His huge tusks curled from his lower jaw on either side of a wide, thin slit mouth. A pronounced brow ridge hid his eyes, which were the colour of dirty ice. He spoke in a low, rumbling voice.[4][5]

Mappo Runt argued that "Gothos's curse was in being too aware--of everything. Every permutation, every potential. Enough to poison every scan he cast on the world. It availed him naught, and worse, he was aware of even that."[6]

In Gardens of the Moon[]

Bellurdan stated that as a Thelomen he was of Jaghut descendant though he thought that, of course, Gothos would deny this.[7]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

Fiddler, Apsalar, Crokus Younghand, and Rellock traveled through the Azath warren from Tremorlor to the Deadhouse. There they met Gothos, who turned out to be the House's guardian. Gothos expressed his annoyance that the group had failed to orchestrate his son, Icarium's, imprisonment in Tremorlor before quickly apologizing. He explained that Icarium's problems with memory were a result of the Jhag's failed attempt to free his father from the Azath. His son did not understand that he enjoyed the peace and solitude of guardianship, and as a result of the attempt Icarium was forever scarred and no longer even remembered his father. Fiddler thought that Gothos' resemblance to Icarium was unmistakeable. Gothos offered the group a healing drink before asking them to vacate the house.[8]

In Memories of Ice[]

It was hinted that Gothos had an estranged relationship from his brother Gethol. First, the Crippled God spoke of a time when Gethol had failed Gothos when his brother had called upon him. Gethol interrupted the god before he could go into further detail.[9]

Later, Kallor referred to Gothos as the smarter brother and said he must be laughing at Gethol's misfortune. Gethol countered by saying his brother never laughed, but Gethol did whenever he thought of the place where his brother languished.[10]

In House of Chains[]

It was revealed that the Azath House from which Icarium attempted to free his father was located in the Jhag Odhan. Icarium had mortally wounded the House before being struck unconscious by his Toblakai companion of the time. The site of this Azath House was the same place as where the Jaghut, Phyrlis, now resided.[11]

In Midnight Tides[]

Gothos unleashing Omtose Phellack by Shadaan

Shortly after the sundering of Kurald Emurlahn, Gothos observed the invasion of the Malazan world through a violent rent by the combined armies of Silchas Ruin's Tiste Andii and Scabandari Bloodeye's Tiste Edur. After the invaders defeated the army and Skykeeps of the K'Chain Che'Malle and Scabandari betrayed Silchas, Gothos prepared to work a ritual of Omtose Phellack. He was interrupted by the Elder God, Mael, who bargained with the Jaghut to preserve the destruction within a layer of ice. In return Mael would owe Gothos a debt. Mael also made an alliance with Kilmandaros from the other side of the invaders' gate to bring down Scabandari and scatter his people. Gothos warned him to be quick about it as he sensed Anomander Rake awakening to the threat.[12]

Unexpectedly, Gothos' ritual had a severe and long lasting impact on the lands that would one day be known as western Lether. The ice sealed the pathways of the dead, freezing out the Death Hold so that it was unknown on Lether and causing the dead to loiter as ghosts, shades, and undead.[13]

In The Bonehunters[]

Icarium's new companion, Taralack Veed, informed the amnesiac Jhag of the true nature of his condition. Icarium had attacked an Azath House to free his father not realising his Gothos had chosen to become a Guardian of the Azath of his own free will. The Jhag's terrible rage had been born in the attack, which destroyed the House and shattered a wounded warren. Veed said the House's death freed a host of demonic entities.[14]

In Reaper's Gale[]

Millennia ago, as Gothos' ritual to seal northern Lether under the ice of Omtose Phellack settled in, the Jaghut followed the sounds of battle to where Mael and Kilmandaros had defeated and subdued Scabandari Bloodeye. The Jaghut mused on how he had once naively believed that "all of existence was under the benign control of a caring omnipotence". He warned the Elder Goddess that her children in this realm had lost their way and appeared thoughtful when the indifferent goddess suggested he do something about it.

Before Kilmandaros could deliver a killing blow to Scabandari, Mael intervened, asking Gothos to place Scabandari's soul in a Finnest. Otherwise, with Gothos' ritual in place, Scabandari's soul would remain after death with nearly as much power as before. Gothos refused the request without first securing a debt from Mael and Kilmandaros, which he immediately invoked to acquire possession of the Finnest once it was occupied. The Jaghut was pleased to have tricked the gods even as Kilmandaros threatened to send her children after him. He promised to use the Finnest for something "curiously unpleasant".[15] The Jaghut brought the Finnest to the Refugium and gave it to Ulshun Pral in the form of a flint dagger. The Jaghut told him that Silchas Ruin would one day come to claim it--an idea Gothos found amusing.[16]

Thousands of years later, during the time of the Tiste Edur's rule of the Letherii Empire, Gothos' ritual lost its hold on the ice in Lether's north. A maelstrom of ice and bergs broke apart and moved south, devouring the coast of the Reach and filling the waters around Second Maiden Fort. Glaciers in the northern Bluerose Mountains began to rapidly shrink and move once more, threatening the destruction of Andara and releasing carcasses and artifacts kept trapped for millennia.[17][18][19]

When the Errant saw Icarium disembark in Letheras, he referred to the Jhag as the "dear son of Gothos and that overgrown hag."[20] He wondered whatever became of the author of Gothos' Folly. Presumably the multi-volume suicide note had concluded at some point, though he suspected it contained a hidden message too obscure for anyone but a Jaghut to decipher.[21]

In Toll the Hounds[]

Interpretation of Gothos by Simon Underwood

Nimander Golit and his party of Tiste Andii kin and Kallor, on their way to Bastion in central Genabackis, came upon a ruined tower that Gothos was then inhabiting. During their conversation, Gothos told them that he had in the past been allied with the Kron T'lan Imass, the clan of Bek'athana Ilk, to capture Raest, one of Gothos' own offspring. He had not mourned the fall of the obnoxiously arrogant Tyrant. The T'lan Imass then turned on their allies and Gothos killed the forty-three hunters and one Bonecaster.[22]

Having taken tea with Gothos, Nimander accidently fell through a 'gate' inside the ruined tower into a Warren-like realm where he met Elder, a mason who built Azath Houses. Elder was essentially a prisoner of Gothos - being kept in this place to which only Gothos normally had easy access. Elder and Nimander talked and Nimander learned that - in the past - Elder would build Azath Houses, but Gothos always managed it so that he, not Elder, would vanish with the newly completed House - leaving the mason behind. This explained how Gothos, unlike other Azath guardians, managed to travel to other Houses and from there to their realms. Nimander finally figured out a way to circumvent this practice of Gothos. Elder then built a new Azath and this time the mason vanished from it when it was finished - leaving the new House behind. This finally freed Elder and allowed him to build Azath Houses where and when he pleased.[23]

In Blood and Bone[]

Gothos had occasion to be in residence as guardian in the Deadhouse in Malaz City when he was found there by Osserc - who had gone to the Azath House hoping to extract answers to questions that had been bothering him. Gothos, however, refused to give straight answers to Osserc's questions and the two Ascendants settled in to see which of them could out-wait the other. The resulting extended silences were periodically broken by philosophical exchanges between the two on a range of tangential topics. Gothos' unresponsiveness aggravated the Tiste Liosan but finally - after an extended period of time - resulted in Osserc realizing that he needed to cease trying to get answers out of Gothos but, instead, to look inside himself for the enlightenment he craved.[24][25][26][27][28]

In Forge of Darkness[]

Interpretation of Gothos by McDev

Gothos was known as the Lord of Hate, living in a nondescript building below the Tower of Hate. On the Night of Dissension, he had convinced the Jaghut that their civilization was a "misapprehension of purpose" and "a belated recognition of economic suicide." It was destined to advance until it collapsed. So the Jaghut civilization walked away from its future and broke apart into solitary individuals leaving Gothos as nearly the only resident of the once great Jaghut city of Omtose Phellack.[29] Gothos imprisoned Hood within his dungeon to prevent him from declaring war on the Azathanai after Errastas and Sechul Lath had killed Hood's wife, Karish.[30] He allowed Draconus to free Hood, but warned that Hood would declare a war on death itself.[31] Draconus left his son Arathan to help Gothos continue his work on his Folly.[32]

In Fall of Light[]

(Information needed)

In Dancer's Lament[]

Gothos by Corporal Nobbs

Gothos was currently residing in a tomblike underground structure on the Seti Plains, near the Great Cliff and to the south of the Idryn.[33] He called the structure his retreat. Pursuing Wu, Dorin Rav entered a small tunnel leading downwards into the structure, where they met Gothos, who was examining a casting of the Deck of Dragons which he had been unable to interpret for thousands of years, and a Nacht. A fit of annoyance threw Wu, Dorin, and the nacht to the walls with a burst of Gothos' power. Gothos released Dorin and Wu on the condition that they would take the nacht with them. After they left, Gothos briefly conversed with a Battered full helm, which accused Gothos of giving up too easily.[34]


Gothos and Kallor by Shadaan

"Memories are not the truth of the past. We sculpt them to suit our images of our present selves. And, in any case, the truth of then is not the truth of now."
―Gothos to Osserc in the Azath House of Malaz City[src]
"He is such a fool I fear my heart will burst."
―Gothos regarding Hood's war on death[src]
"He who rises shall fall. He who falls shall be forgotten."
Draconus: "How many volumes have you compiled thus far, Gothos?"
Gothos: "An even dozen stacks to match the one on the desk. Written in an execrable hand, every word, every line."
Draconus: "Not in Old Jaghut, I trust!"
Gothos: "Of course not! That would be... ridiculous. A language for the compilers of lists, a language for tax collectors with close-set eyes and sloping foreheads, a language for the unimaginative and the petty-minded, a language for the unintelligent and the obstinate--and how often do those traits go hand in hand? Old Jaghut? Why, I would have killed myself after the first three words!"
Gothos: "If only I had. I confess, Suzerain, I have indeed written in Old Jaghut."
―Draconus and Gothos on Gothos' Folly[src]


Gothos' name may be inspired by the Star Trek episode The Squire of Gothos as author Steven Erikson is a Star Trek fan. When asked directly by a fan if that was where the name came from, Erikson replied, "Possibly. The subconscious works in mysterious ways."[35]

Notes and references[]

  1. Gardens of the Moon - Chatting with Steven Erikson, part 2 - As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 2:01:40
  2. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.211
  3. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.93
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.574
  5. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 16, UK HC p.517
  6. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US HC p.100
  7. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 10, UK MMPB p.331
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.574-575
  9. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.295
  10. Memories of Ice, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.440
  11. House of Chains, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.587
  12. Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.24-25
  13. Midnight Tides, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.602-604
  14. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.491-494
  15. Reaper's Gale, Prologue, US HC p.20-23
  16. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 23, US HC p.729/739-740
  17. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 8, US HC p.192-193/201-202
  18. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 10, US HC p.263
  19. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.314
  20. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.162
  21. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.126
  22. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, UK HB p.282-285
  23. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, UK HB p.285-298
  24. Blood and Bone, Chapter 2, US HC p.97-99
  25. Blood and Bone, Chapter 4, US HC p.173-175
  26. Blood and Bone, Chapter 7, US HC p.278-282
  27. Blood and Bone, Chapter 13, US HC p.507-510
  28. Blood and Bone, Chapter 14, US HC p.540-541
  29. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 3, UK HC p.55
  30. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 11, UK HC p.322
  31. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 16, UK HC p.521
  32. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 16, UK HC p.520
  33. Dancer's Lament, Prologue, US TPB p.1
  34. Dancer's Lament, Prologue, US TPB p.3-10
  35. Reddit Ask Me Anything session July 2022
List of abbreviationsPaginationsHow to reference an article