Gruntle was the captain of a group of caravan guards for hire, which included Stonny Menackis and Harllo. He had been in the trade for over twenty years, earning respect among his peers as well as a high rate for his services. Unlike most in his profession, he had received a formal education some time in his past, which gave him what he called a healthy scepticism. He had a weathered, roughly chiseled face that had lived hard years, although there were well-worn laugh lines around his eyes. His cheeks were bearded.
Gruntle despised the military and its discipline. He also disliked titles, only calling himself captain in order to charge more for his caravan services.
He and Stonny exchanged insults like a married couple who had known each other too long. The two had slept together on a few drunken occasions, but afterwards were largely too embarassed to talk about it. Gruntle was also friends with a suicidal caravan guard named Buke in whom he saw much of himself.
In Memories of Ice
The Road to Capustan
At the opening of the book, Gruntle served the merchant Keruli, escorting his caravan along the main road between Darujhistan and Capustan. Despite his usual distaste for traders, he considered the man to run against the grain enough to threaten Gruntle's long-cherished disgust for merchants. Also, he considered that Keruli might not even be what he was showing, but rather an important person in disguise.
While the caravan was waiting to pass near a bridge destroyed by the freed Jaghut Tyrant Raest two months prior, Gruntle met Emancipor Reese, the manservant of the infamous necromancer duo, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. Reese requested Gruntle meet his masters which Keruli encouraged, interested in what the pair were up to.
Bauchelain led him into the hills where Broach awaited them by the remains of the tomb which had once held Raest. Filled with both unease and fear in the pair's presence, he turned down their request to accompany them inside. After quizzing the guard captain over recent events involving Moon's Spawn and forestalling Broach's desire the kill him, Bauchelain sent Gruntle back to camp. Gruntle sensed Keruli's distant observation and advised that they stay clear of the two necromancers.
The necromancers later hired Gruntle's friend, Buke, as a guard and Gruntle tried to warn him off. Buke was sure Broach was behind a series of murders in Darujhistan and sought to bring the pair to justice and thus refused to heed Gruntle's advice.
Gruntle's caravan arrived in Saltoan where Keruli organised a meeting with the city's crimelords. The merchant advised of the Pannion Domin threat and suggested ways of combatting its influence among the citizenry. Gruntle was surprised to hear that Saltoan had recently seen its own spate of strange murders, supporting Buke's theories.
On the road between Saltoan and Capustan, the caravan encountered the White Face Barghast Hetan and her two brothers hunting for demons rumoured to be in the area. They joined the caravan and the lusty Hetan soon bedded Gruntle. The caravan then encountered the abandoned wreck of the necromancer's carriage. Searching inside, Gruntle found Broach's blood-slicked 'child', proving Buke's suspicions. The necromancers and Buke soon returned reporting that they had been attacked by one of Hetan's demons.
For safety's sake, the two groups continued on together, but before the caravan reached Capustan, the demons struck. They turned out to be undead K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunters. Six attacked the caravan, and Gruntle was severely injured. After their rescue by Grey Swords and an army of T'lan Imass, he was force healed and brought to Capustan. There Stonny tearfully informed him that Harllo had perished in the attack. Gruntle remembered Harllo throwing himself between his captain and an attacker to save his life.
Gruntle descended into a state of constant drunkenness, ignoring Stonny's admonishments and the Pannion Domin's encirclement of the city. Buke brought Gruntle back to his senses with the healing ministrations of the Grey Sword Destriant Karnadas, and Stonny revealed that Keruli had used his magic to save nearly everyone in the caravan during the attack. Gruntle refused to assist Buke in his efforts to stymie Broach's nocturnal hunts, but passed along a potion to Buke from Keruli that would aid him.
Gruntle's indifference was ripped from him with the start of the Siege of Capustan. As the fighting began, he made his way to the city's Port Gate where Stonny had volunteered to serve with the Grey Swords. He found the woman holding her own, but was enraged to discover she had been raped by an enemy Seerdomin. He soon joined the fight with a vengeance.
Travelling to the North Gate, he rallied an ad hoc militia of Capanthall, caravan guards and citizens to turn back the Urdomen and Seerdomin attackers. Then he ambushed a mass of Urdomen and Scalandi assaulting Lestari House. An unnamed Lestari seargeant joined him to help organise his growing number of followers. Reports began reaching Itkovian, leader of the city's defence, of a foreigner and his militia reinforcing and delivering the defenders at the city's West Gate. Gruntle used the bloodied tunic of a Capan child eaten by cannibal Tenescowri to bring the warriors of Tular Camp into the fight and relieve Jehbar Tower. The tunic became the standard of Gruntle's troops.
It soon became apparent that Gruntle had been chosen as the Mortal Sword of Trake. Tiger barbs and stripes began appearing on his face and arms. His eyes "matched those of a tiger's now that the god's power was within his flesh and blood". They turned the colour of sun-withered prairie grass with vertically slitted pupils, and gained an inhuman acuity. He acquired a spatial sensitivity that made control of his body absolute. He could walk a forest in absolute silence or freeze, becoming perfectly motionless, shielding even the breath he drew. On a psychological level, instinctive decisions now lurked just beneath the surface and the violence residing in him was that of a killer -- cold and implacable, devoid of compassion or ambiguity. Itkovian saw him as a hulking, plains-hunting cat that possessed a silent, deadly grace. His twin cutlasses became bone-white with black barbs.
Gruntle's hundred followers joined him for a final stand in defence of a tenement in the Temple District. In awe of their commander, they fought as extensions of his will with combat skills they had not previously possessed and soon featured tiger stripes of their own. The resulting fighting drove the surviving defenders to the tenement's roof, leaving the floors below packed floor to ceiling with enemy corpses and the walls weeping with blood. They defended the building until the arrival of the Bridgeburners and their Barghast allies broke the siege. Gruntle recognised the Torcs on Picker's arm as his own and the Bridgenburner gladly gave them up.
In the aftermath of the fighting, Gruntle joined Itkovian and Bridgeburner captain, Ganoes Paran, at the Thrall. As Mortal Sword, he helped legitimise Itkovian's ritual punishment of the Mask Council traitor, Rath'Fener. He also accepted his role as Trake's Mortal Sword while proudly proclaiming his irreverence and lack of dedication to duty much to the astonished dismay of the Masked priest, Rath'Trake. Gruntle and Paran bonded over their unsought roles as representatives of higher powers, and the Mortal Sword advised Paran to officially recognise High House Chains despite the disapproval of the other Gods.
Gruntle and the followers he laughingly called Trake's Legion joined the alliance of renegade Malazan High Fist Dujek Onearm and Caladan Brood. He traveled with Brood's forces and struck up a friendship with Itkovian, fellow servant to a rival war god. Gruntle learned from Reese that Buke had left the necromancers' employ. Bauchelain asked Gruntle to relay the message to Buke that he was fired.
Brood and Dujek had a falling out when the Malazan army arrived at Coral days ahead of their allies without explaining their intentions. At Brood's camp, Gruntle awoke in the middle of the night sensing betrayal. He gathered his Legion and Trake risked the heart of his power to mould Gruntle and his followers into a giant, emerald tiger, almost like a reverse D'ivers. The enormous cat ran all the way to Coral to find Whiskeyjack betrayed by Kallor and his forces facing an army of eight hundred K'ell Hunters.
The tiger tore into the undead K'Chain Che'Malle, diminishing as the Hunters tore his soldiers away. By the time thousands of T'lan Ay came to assist, the tiger was dying. At battle's end, only eight Capan women remained of the entire Legion.
In the aftermath, Gruntle again begrudgingly accepted his role as Mortal Sword despite proclaiming his hatred of war and killing. He placed his torcs on the barrow of his friend Itkovian who had perished. Then he approached, Toc-Anaster, the newly named rival Mortal Sword of Togg and Fanderay. Wary at first, he soon found himself sharing ale with the young man and commiserating over their uncertain responsibilities.
In Reaper's Gale
The sole Malazan among the Awl on Lether, Toc Anaster thought of old friends like Gruntle back on Genabackis, with whom he had shared Saltoan wine or Gredfallan ale over a drunken evening. He considered the Mortal Sword one of only a handful of people he trusted.
In Toll the Hounds
Gruntle, after a disastrous caravan trip from Bastion, returned to Darujhistan with the battered remnants of a caravan owned by the merchant, Sirik – only half of the Kelyk cargo, half of the eight trader-wagons, none of the eight wagon drivers and none of the other eight caravan guards having survived an attack by one hundred raiders encountered on the Dwelling Plain along the way. Subsequent to getting paid by Sirik, Gruntle realized, that even with only half the Kelyk that the merchant had been expecting, Sirik would still make far more money from the caravan trip than Gruntle had made from his pay.
As he was walking homeward, Gruntle passed a newly arrived Trygalle Trade Guild carriage and horses – which got him thinking that, although Trygalle Guild caravan missions (utilizing Warrens for travel) were far more dangerous than the average caravan trip – still, the Trygalle Guild shareholders made far more money per trip because of their positions, not as employees, but as part-owners.
Gruntle, while in Darujhistan, visited the adoptive family (i.e., Bedek, Myrla, Snell, Mew and Hinty) of the boy, Harllo, to whom Gruntle acted as an uncle. Gruntle also visited his long-time friend and comrade, Stonny Menackis (Harllo’s biological mother), who upon hearing his idea of joining up with the Trygalle Trade Guild, told him that he must have a "damned death wish" to even consider a trip with the Guild.
Gruntle finally decided to sign up with Master Quell (a Trygalle Trade Guild pilot, navigator and sorcerer) for Quell's next trip with his Trygalle Guild equipage. Gruntle thus joined experienced shareholders: Faint; Reccanto Ilk; Glanno Tarp; Sweetest Sufferance – as well as three new shareholders: Jula Bole; Amby Bole; and Precious Thimble. Gruntle soon learned that the goal of this particular Trygalle Guild mission was to transport the Trell, Mappo Runt, to the continent of Lether (where Mappo hoped to catch up with his long-time companion, Icarium.
While with the Trygalle Trade Guild, Gruntle had a series of 'interesting' adventures: in Hood’s realm, seeing all of the dead on the march; on a tropical island (where it was realized that the Trygalle Guild equipage had inadvertently picked up the undead Cartographer); through Mael's realm; in 'Reach of Woe', a community of wreckers, (and two Jaghuts); passing through the sword Dragnipur; and onward through Warrens to the Trygalle Guild caravan's final stop on Lether, to deliver Mappo.
In Dust of Dreams
Gruntle had survived the Trygalle Trade Guild's arrival in the Wastelands of Lether, but, like the other Trygalle Guild survivors, he found himself stranded there by the destruction of the Trygalle Guild equipage and the death of its pilot and sorcerer, Master Quell. They were soon found by Setoc of the Wolves, the twins Stavi and Storii, their half-brother, Absi, and an undead Ay named 'Baaljagg' - the two groups deciding to join forces, they all started walking eastward.
Later, Gruntle and Setoc saw a far-off cloud and knew it not to be a storm, but the result of a major battle involving "sorcery and worse". The group saw no reason to go in that direction, however, and so continued travelling to the east - meeting Torrent (and his horse) along the way.
In The Crippled God
Gruntle left the group of Trygalle Trade Guild survivors to go in search of his own ‘destiny’. While Gruntle was travelling through Warren after Warren looking for her, Kilava (an Imass Bonecaster who had been haunting Gruntle’s dreams) was in a cave in the Refugium that contained a sealed gate that led into Starvald Demelain (the Elder Warren of the Eleint), which Kilava was working to unseal, thus allowing the free passage of pure-blooded dragons through the gate.
Gruntle, finally finding Kilava in the Refugium cave, fought with her (with Gruntle in the form of Trake – a huge tiger, and Kilava in her Soletaken form of a large black panther) in a last ditch effort to prevent the opening of the Starvald Demelain gate. The fighting between these two left both combatants badly mauled by the other.
Then, as dragons began to pour into the world, Gruntle attacked a newly arrived Eleint, but after a fierce fight, was slammed by it into a rock wall, which shattered his body, causing Trake to flee his Mortal Sword as Gruntle died. Gruntle’s last thoughts were of Stonny. Kilava, although badly injured, survived, but deeply regretted that she and Gruntle had had to fight each other and that he had been killed.
Fan art gallery
<gallery navigation="true" hideaddbutton="true"> War Council by Shadaan.jpg|link=File:War Council by Shadaan.jpg|War Council by Shadaan Grun4.jpg|link=File:Grun4.jpg|Interpretation of Gruntle by McDev Gruntle by merlkir.jpg|link=File:Gruntle by merlkir.jpg|Gruntle by merlkir Gruntle 3.jpg|link=File:Gruntle 3.jpg|Interpretation of Gruntle by Yapattack Gruntle stalks by mattforsyth.jpg|link=File:Gruntle stalks by mattforsyth.jpg|Gruntle by mattforsythGruntle1 by mattforsyth.jpg|link=File:Gruntle1 by mattforsyth.jpg|Gruntle by mattforsyth
Notes and references
- Memories of Ice, Dramatis Personae
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 1
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 1
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.659
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.536
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.792/794
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.763
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.792
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 6
- The Crippled God, Chapter 2, US HC p.37
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.849
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 1
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 4
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.291-292
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.347-349/367-372
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.459-467/472-473
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.475-482
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.659
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.485
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.536/538
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.568/598-599
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.536-538
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.485/536-538/546/568
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.569-570
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.592/600-601
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.657-662
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.792
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.791-796
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.898-902
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.920-924/936-937/944
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.968-970/982-984/988-989
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.305
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.702
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 3, US TPB p.74-76
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 3, US TPB p.76-77
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 3, US TPB p.77
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 5, US TPB p.125-128
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 7, US TPB p.208
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 7, US TPB p.203-204/227-228
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 3, US TPB p.85
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 13, US TPB p.414-415
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 14, US TPB p.458-461
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 13, US TPB p.415-417
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 14, US TPB p.455-457
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 13, US TPB p.422
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 14, US TPB p.475-476
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 16, US TPB p.539-541
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 16, US TPB p.542-544
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 18, US TPB p.605-619
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 20, US TPB p.674-677
- Toll the Hounds, Chapter 24, US TPB p.786-789/791-792
- Dust of Dreams, Chapter 20, US HC p.655
- Dust of Dreams, Chapter 20, US HC p.651-664
- Dust of Dreams, Chapter 24, US HC p.813-814
- The Crippled God, Chapter 6, US HC p.156
- The Crippled God, Chapter 9, US HC p.238-239
- The Crippled God, Chapter 14, US HC p.383-384
- The Crippled God, Chapter 16, US HC p.456-459
- The Crippled God, Chapter 18, US HC p.536-539
- The Crippled God, Chapter 18, US HC p.539