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Grub was the adopted name of an orphan boy adopted[1] by Captain Keneb from among the survivors of the Chain of Dogs.[2] He was placed in Keneb's care by another survivor, Duiker, the Imperial Historian,[2] and raised by Keneb in the company of the Malaz 14th Army.

He was a toddler with a tangled shock of blond hair and a deeply tanned, cherubic face.[2] His face was often smeared with dirt.[2][3]

Grub was unaccountably attuned to the mystical aspects of the world, though he had not been trained as a mage.

In House of Chains[]

Grub first appeared as a dire omen before Adjunct Tavore Paran and the 8th Legion in Aren as the Malaz 14th Army readied to march against the Army of the Whirlwind in Raraku. As the Adjunct reviewed her troops, the boy slipped the supervision of his nurse to stand in Tavore's footsteps carrying a human bone in his hand. The troops were shocked into silence.[4]

"There was no doubt among them concerning the meaning of the omen, and Strings was inclined to agree. A child leads us to our deaths. A leg bone to signify our march, withered under the curse of the desert sun. We've all lived too long, seen too much, to deceive ourselves of this one brutal truth: this army of recruits now see themselves as already dead."
―Strings explains the Legion's reaction[src]

It was up to Fiddler and the other veterans to turn the omen to their advantage by making the bones a symbol of the army and a portion of their uniforms.[5]

By the time the army reached the Whirlwind encircling Raraku, Fist Gamet had decided to end his life for fatal mistakes made during an engagement against Leoman's desert warriors. Before he could walk into the Whirlwind's fury, he was unaccountably intercepted by Grub. The child told Gamet that he spent too much time thinking about things there was no point in thinking about. Then he said Keneb was looking for Gamet and went to tell his father he found him. When Keneb found Gamet soon after, Keneb told the Fist he had not seen the boy and had never heard him speak before.[6]

Gamet saw Grub again on the eve of the Battle of Raraku. The boy woke Nil and Nether to observe the spirits of the dead gathering on the battlefield. Then the boy told Gamet to join the cavalry forming on the battlefield's centre.[7] After Gamet and the spirits of the dead attacked and destroyed the opposing Dogslayers, it was revealed that Gamet had died in his sleep back in camp.[8]

According to the Epigraph for Chapter 19 in House of Chains, Grub eventually became the First Sword of the Late Empire period.

"It was said the captain's adopted child - who at that time was known by the unfortunate name of Grub - refused the wagon on the march. That he walked the entire way, even as, in the first week beneath the year's hottest sun, fit and hale soldiers stumbled and fell.

This is perhaps invention, for by all accounts he was at that time no more than five years of age. And the captain himself, from whose journals much of that journey and the clash in which it culminated is related in detail, writes very little of Grub, more concerned as he was with the rigours of command. As a result, of the future First Sword of the Late Empire period, scant details, beyond the legendary and probably fictitious, are known.
―Lives of the Three

In The Bonehunters[]

Sinn was frequently found accompanying him. He was also accompanied by the Hengese lap dog, Roach, and Wickan cattle-dog, Bent. Sinn, whom many assumed to be either mute or dumb, did speak to Grub, however, normally only when out of earshot of others.

Adjunct Tavore Paran used Grub as a messenger to call impromptu staff meetings.[9] When Quick Ben spoke the boy's name he made a warding gesture and indicated to Fiddler that there was more to Grub than he appeared.[10]

A few days after the 14th Army had been resupplied with troops, Grub gave Keneb some of his cryptic answers, amongst them saying that 'she is our last hope' but not naming 'she'.[11]

Keneb thought of Grub's comments as a 'disordered host of peculiar observations'. Amongst those observations, Grub seemed to hint at glory or maybe infamy to come for Temul, in whose company the boy was often found.[12]

When Sinn managed to make a firebreak for the soldiers trapped in Y'Ghatan, Grub told the Adjunct exactly how many were coming through, even as they appeared in the distance.[13]

After the fall of Y'Ghatan, Grub again gave Keneb cryptic clues, seemingly displaying knowledge of the soldiers tunneling beneath the city as well as other things to come.[14]

Grub told Keneb to delay the boarding of the ships by one day as otherwise they would all die two days after leaving the Sepik Island. Amongst other things, Grub also said that he found a bone whistle and would keep it for him who would want it back.[15] Keneb admitted to Tavore that he caused the delay on Grub's advice just as the survivors who tunneled their way out of Y'Ghatan arrived down the road.[16]

Grub appeared towards the end, during the clash in Malaz City, to inform Lostara that she was needed.[17] He led her to Pearl who was by then suffering a long drawn-out death, and persuaded her to kill him out of mercy, whilst at the same time, judiciously not telling her who killed Pearl, so that she would not seek revenge.[18] Grub then led her to watch as the Eres'al left the body of the dead T'amber, telling Lostara that she must never tell Tavore about this and agreeing that this and the secret about Tavore's sister were the only ones which she had to keep. He then asked her to join the Bonehunters and help Tavore.[19]

In Reaper's Gale[]

The Bonehunters followed the Tiste Edur fleet that ravaged Sepik across the sea back to Lether to invade the Letherii Empire. The army would have quickly dissolved without funds to pay the soldiers, but Grub somehow learned that Banaschar held the accumulated stolen wealth of D'rek's faithful and passed the information on to Lostara Yil. Grub spent much of the ocean voyage climbing the rigging of the Froth Wolf with his Nacht companions, Mape, Pule, and Rind, with whom he was able to communicate in someway.[20] He informed Lostara Yil that "the world is drowning."[21]

Fist Keneb's marines were spread in isolated pairs of squads across thirty leagues of coast. The marines moved forward into the Letherii countryside towards Letheras, the capital, with orders to kill Edur by night and stir the occupied Letherii into rebellion. Keneb followed in their wake with six squads of marines, while Faradan Sort and Beak attempted to keep lines of communication open between both groups.[22][23] Contrary to the Adjunct's expectations, the Letherii soldiers did not use the Malazan invasion to turn against their Edur occupiers.[24][25] Instead the marines saw intense action, and as they neared Letheras fighting became more desperate and their munition supplies dwindled.

The Malazan fleet bearing the Adjunct and the Bonehunters' main force sailed up the Lether River towards Letheras.[26] Some among the Bonehunters thought Keneb's troops had been sent to their doom,[27] and their fears seemed to be proved true. As they made landfall outside the city, those on the fleet saw a massive release of enemy sorcery near Fist Keneb's reported position near the city walls. Grub watched with Sinn on the Froth Wolf's foredeck, and begun dancing about the deck talking of candles. Lostara Yil thought him addled, but Adjunct Tavore had confidence that "Grub does not behave like a child who has lost a father."[28] Somehow Grub knew of Beak's sacrifice that had saved Fist Keneb and his soldiers.[29] The Bonehunters defeated the Letherii Imperial Brigade and the city fell.[30]

In Dust of Dreams[]

He and Sinn followed Bent and Roach into the dying Azath Tower in Letheras and disappeared into a Warren for a time, only to reappear at a crucial point in the battle between the K'Chain Nah'ruk and the K'Chain Che'Malle. Their intervention turned the battle in favour of the K'Chain Che'Malle.

In The Crippled God[]

Whilst riding with the K'Chain Che'Malle towards the Bonehunters, Grub asked Sinn to reach out with her mind to the Adjunct. Sinn told him that the barrier of the Otataral sword would not let 'them' in. This seemed to indicate that at this point Grub was able to use magic intentionally.[31] He finally parted company with Sinn and ultimately took command of the Letherii troops in battle against the Kolansii.


It has been speculated that Grub's three friends from Fiddler's Deck of Dragons reading in The Bonehunters were the three Nachts: Mape, Pule, and Rind.

Notes and references[]

  1. House of Chains, Dramatis Personae
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 House of Chains, Chapter 8, SFBC p.317
  3. House of Chains, Chapter 22
  4. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.317-318
  5. House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.318-320/341-342
  6. House of Chains, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.716-719
  7. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.799
  8. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.832
  9. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.122
  10. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.102
  11. The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, UK MMPB p.239/240
  12. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, UK MMPB p.288
  13. The Bonehunters, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.389
  14. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.419
  15. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, UK MMPB p.777/778
  16. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, UK MMPB p.815
  17. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.1136/1137/
  18. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.1159
  19. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.1160/1161
  20. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.354-357
  21. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.359
  22. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.363-364
  23. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.361-365
  24. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.410
  25. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.481
  26. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.693-694
  27. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.410-411
  28. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.752-753/755
  29. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.686-696
  30. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.748-752/812
  31. The Crippled God, Chapter 3, UK HC p.72
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