Hannan Mosag [Han-an Moe-sag] was a Tiste Edur mage who was known as the Warlock King. He managed to wrestle control of the six Tiste Edur tribes of northwestern Lether during the War of Unification. He maintained his rule of the confederation by holding the subjugated chieftains' firstborn sons as hostages and apprentices, forming what he called his K'risnan.
The Warlock King was unprepossessing in appearance. He was of average height and build, with even features and skin a shade paler than most Edur. His wide cast eyes gave him a look of perpetual surprise and he wore clothing typical of an Edur warrior minus the trophies indicating martial prowess. Mosag's true strength lay in his rich, deep, commanding voice, and in his skill at wielding the power of Kurald Emurlahn.
Visions guided Hannan Mosag since he was a child, and he carried blood memories back to the Dark Times of Kurald Emurlahn's rivening.
One sign of Hannan Mosag's magical prowess was the hulking Shadow wraith that served as his bodyguard. It carried two long and indistinct blades and wore what appeared to be shadowy plate armour, gauntlets, and a helm. The wraith was silent, never sleeping, and ever vigil.
He had no wife and owned no slaves. His home was sparse and severe in its order. He wore the clothing of an Edur warrior but without the trophies typically earned in raids or battle. The K'risnan were trophies enough.
In Midnight Tides
Hannan Mosag's unification of the tribes was but the first step in his plan to make his people unassailable. Some actions were obvious such as choosing Fear Sengar to arm and train a powerful new Edur army. Mosag also agreed to a Great Meeting with a delegation from the Kingdom of Lether to gain a measure of their rapacious neighbors to the south. When Trull Sengar reported that a fleet of Letherii ships were illicitly harvesting the Edur's Tusked seals, he promised a "full unveiling" of Kurald Emurlahn to destroy the culprits, the first since the days of Father Shadow and the warren's rivening. Trull suspected Mosag had stumbled upon some previously unknown fragment of the warren.
But the power the Warlock King possessed really came from a secret bargain with the Crippled God. With the god's power, Mosag summoned an enslaved Demon spirit-god to horrifically slaughter the fleet's sailors and destroy the waterfront of Trate from which the ships had come. Uruth Sengar was alarmed by the display and revealed the secrets of the Stone Bowl to her sons. Father Shadow had long ago been killed and his soul trapped by the Elder Gods. Mosag had somehow found the bowl and discovered these secrets, and she feared he sought tainted power at any cost for some as yet unknown purpose.
The Crippled God sent the Warlock King a vision of a gift to be found on the ice fields to the east. Mosag sent the Sengar brothers to retrieve it with the explicit instructions not to let the gift touch their skin. The brothers discovered the Crippled God's cursed sword frozen in a spar of ice, and despite Mosag's warning, Rhulad Sengar wielded the sword against an ambush of Jheck. When Rhulad was slain, the sword refused to be taken from his hands.
The Warlock King was furious when the Sengar brothers returned with his prize and demanded Rhulad's hands be severed to retrieve it against the wishes of the boy's parents. Before a decision could be reached, Rhulad awoke accusing Mosag of weakness. He claimed the Warlock King had always intended to betray their mutual patron, refusing to seek out conquest as the Crippled God demanded once his power was received. Rhulad declared himself emperor of the Tiste Edur in Hannan Mosag's stead and forced the Warlock King to kneel and serve him.
Hannan Mosag served at Rhulad's side as the new emperor launched a war against the Kingdom of Lether. He ever sought to guide and manipulate the emperor as Rhulad struggled between sanity and madness, surrendering his throne but not relinquishing his ambition to rule. His K'risnan were spread amongst the various Edur armies and fleets to allow them communicate back to their emperor.
At the Battle of Brans Keep, the Warlock King and his K'risnan unleashed towering columns of Chaos magic upon the Letherii Army, reducing them to shattered bones. Even Rhulad was horrified by the slaughter and only the intervention of his slave, Udinaas, likely saved Mosag's life. When the emperor's army entered Letheras, Mosag cast another massive display of magic to slay the soldiers guarding the path to the Eternal Domicile as well as the spectators and buildings around them. Elsewhere in the city, Ceda Kuru Qan, Bugg, and a Jaghut Huntress captured and imprisoned Mosag's demon god within Settle Lake.
In the hall leading to King Ezgara Diskanar's throne room, Hannan Mosag and his K'risnan dueled Kuru Qan. The Ceda slew the K'risnan and was on the verge of overcoming the Warlock King when Trull killed the Ceda with his spear. Mosag's use of the Crippled God's magic left him almost unrecognizable, his body twisted, bent, and broken. As a further act of cruelty, he ordered two large sacks at his feet opened before Ezgara. They contained the equally twisted bodies of Queen Janall amd Prince Quillas through whom he had channeled his magic during the duel. After Ezgara died of poison and Brys Beddict incapacitated Rhulad, the Warlock King attempted to take the throne for himself. But when the Guardian of the Names killed Rhulad, paving the way for his next resurrection, his claim came undone.
In The Bonehunters
After Rhulad's ascension to emperor, he sent Ahlrada Ahn and a company of Arapay warriors in search of the betrayers, Fear and Udinaas. When they came back empty handed, Rhulad was enraged and would have ordered them all executed but for the intervention of Hannan Mosag. The Warlock King was able to impose some control on the emperor, explaining that there was a great need for Tiste Edur warriors in the new empire and even more would be needed for the vast expeditions that were being planned.
In Reaper's Gale
Hannan Mosag's battle with Kuru Qan left his spine twisted and his shoulders so hunched that he could touch the ground and pull himself along as his gait was reduced to painful, awkward steps. He took to wearing a threadbare cloak that failed to disguise the ridge of each of his protruding vertebrae. Mistrusting his rival for the throne, Rhulad made the former Warlock King his Ceda, but regularly humiliated him, declaring he must crawl on his belly whenever in the emperor's presence.
Mosag launched multiple conspiracies in an attempt to reclaim the throne for himself and further the agenda of the Crippled God. He directed his K'risnan and soldiers to capture the missing Fear Sengar and Udinaas, who sought the Finnest of Father Shadow with Silchas Ruin. The Ceda planned to use the men as leverage against Rhulad. Ruin turned on their pursuers, sending the K'risnan Ventrala back to Letheras with a warning for Mosag: "A god in pain is not the same as a god obsessed with evil. Your Warlock King's obsessions are his own. It would seem, alas, that he is...confused."
The Ceda found Sukul Ankhadu in the ruins of the dead Azath Tower freeing Sheltatha Lore from her barrow. He offered to guide the two women to Silchas Ruin so they could destroy the Tiste Andii and allow the Crippled God the use of Scabandari's Finnest. Mosag also discovered Feather Witch in her hiding place beneath the Old Palace. He proposed an alliance to destroy Emperor Rhulad, which would send the Edur back to their tribal homelands. He also began trying to weaken the icy prison of the Nameless Sea God frozen in Settle Lake.
Mosag revealed his true plan all along had been to restore Kurald Emurlahn using the power of the Crippled God to bind the Elder Warren's scattered fragments in chains and heal it with Chaos. The Fallen One was only a means to an end. The Warlock King would have sat on the Throne of Shadow but for Rhulad's betrayal. He called upon Mother Dark and Father Shadow to help him reunite the Tiste Edur, Tiste Andii, and Tiste Liosan as one people. He invested a hidden chamber beneath the Old Palace with pure Kurald Emurlahn. Using the holy space he sent Bruthen Trana's spirit on a journey to find Brys Beddict, believing the Letherii could serve as the Mortal Sword of Emurlahn and once more defeat Rhulad. Mosag betrayed Bruthan Trana and killed his abandoned body as soon as his spirit was gone to seal the sacred life of the temple. Then he searched Bruthen's body hoping to find Brys' severed finger that the warrior had reclaimed from Feather Witch. But Bruthen had somehow taken it with him.
Rhulad's empire began to falter under the threat of economic collapse wrought by Tehol Beddict and the invasion of Adjunct Tavore Paran's Bonehunters. With dangers approaching from all sides Rhulad allowed Hannan Mosag to counsel him once again. Mosag used the opportunity to drive a wedge between the Emperor and Chancellor Gnol, revealing how the chancellor had kept Rhulad fed with lies.
By the time the Malazans invaded Letheras itself, Mosag had sent his people back to their homes in the north. He anticipated the full power of purest Kurald Emurlahn would soon return to him and he would heal his broken body. Rhulad could remain behind as emperor of nothing. All that remained was to bind the Nameless Sea God to his power once more. He would crush the Malazans and their ships and no one would be able to stand against him. Ursto Hoobutt and Pinosel witnessed the Warlock King drag his body to Settle Lake to await the demon's escape, but the Jaghut Huntress broke his neck and the demon was not freed.
Steven Erikson says, "I never saw [Hannan Mosag] as a bad guy at all, but, you know, all his plans went awry, and at that point he had to sort of plan on the fly, as it were, and take advantage of whatever situation you can. I mean he had a fair idea of what he was going to do once he got that sword. Would he have been better with that sword than Rhulad? Maybe in some respects no, much worse.
- "There is a spear of ice, newly thrust into the heart of the land. The soul within it yearns to kill. He who grasps that spear will know death. Again and again, he shall know death."
- ―Hannan Mosag's Vision
Notes and references
- Critical Conversations 05: Midnight Tides Chapter 19 with Steven Erikson - A Critical Dragon - As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 32:20/44:25
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.34/40
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.45-46
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.41
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.46
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.54
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.46
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.41
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.274
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.168
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.39
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.49/54
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.49
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.563-564
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.94-97
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.183-186
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.101/112-119
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.54-55
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.256-261
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.279-280
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.274/290
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.342-346
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.414-415
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.569
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.466-467
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.673-683
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.715
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.730-736/740-742
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.753-755
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.685-686
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.117
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.75
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.105-106
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.134-136
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.171-172
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.294-295
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.439-440
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.295
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.440-442
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 18, US HC p.527
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.624
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.786-787/789-790
- Critical Conversations 05: Midnight Tides Chapter 19 with Steven Erikson - A Critical Dragon - See 41:30