- "I admit, Mappo, I feel close this time. Very close."
- ―Icarium, seeking his past
Icarium [ick-kair-ee-um] was a mixed-blood Jaghut — a Jhag — who suffered from a constant state of amnesia. His fractured mind sometimes recalled incomplete events from centuries ago while other times forgetting his actions of the past few days entirely.
He was known under many names: Lifestealer, the maker of machines, the chaser of time, lord of the sand grains, slayer of the ten thousand, and the maker of time. Fiddler recalled the legend of "a Jaghut-blood wanderer around whom swirled, like the blackest wake, rumours of devastation, appalling murders, genocide".
Icarium was described as seven feet tall, but not excessively muscled. His hairless skin was grey, turning to an olive-green colour under intense sun. His skin was usually dyed to disguise its colour. He had a lined, weather-worn face with grey eyes whose pupils were vertical. His canines were prominent, almost tusks. He had long, braided grey hair which he kept dyed black at times. The resemblance between him and his father was unmistakeable.
Icarium was known across the Malaz world as The Slayer, a dangerous being whose rage signified unconstrained destruction. He carried an ancient single-edged longsword sheathed in a bronze-banded boiled-leather scabbard, as well as an antlered hornwood longbow with Warren-etched stone-tipped arrows, capable of killing even a dragon. When enraged, Icarium was able to draw on his anger as a form of power, making him lightning fast, tireless, able to withstand extremely powerful magic attacks, and forcing him to kill relentlessly until all around him was lifeless. This fate befell the city of Shikimesh, for example. When the Jhag was on the verge of raging he emitted a deathly high-pitched keening sound and his sword began to take on a strange shivering blur.
His destructive abilities also brought about the annihilation of the city of E'napatha N'apur, a major city in the Seven Cities. A misfired arrow took the life of his travelling companion, enraging him and Icarium killed everyone within the city.
In Deadhouse Gates
Icarium and Mappo traveled to the Pan'potsun Odhan on Seven Cities ostensibly in search of Icarium's ever elusive past. There the two stumbled upon the dangerous convergence of Soletaken and D'ivers known as the Path of Hands. They narrowly avoided a confrontation with Ryllandaras before encountering the Trell's old friend Messremb. Icarium thought the answers promised at the end of the Path might apply to him as well.
By accident they discovered the gate sought by the shape-shifters within Tesem, a temple of Shadow occupied by High Priest Iskaral Pust. Pust schemed to keep the gate hidden and he manipulated the Jhag and his companion into serving as its powerful guardians. They were soon joined at the temple by Fiddler, Apsalar, and Crokus. Icarium and Mappo sought to reunite Apsalar with her father Rellock and promised to lead Fiddler and Crokus to the Azath House Tremorlor. Along the way, they passed through the ruins of an ancient First Empire city that still contained one of Icarium's mechanisms. The Jhag was astonished to discover that the device was 94,000 years old, and Mappo could not bear to tell him that Icarium had been responsible for the city's ruin. Ultimately, Mappo revealed to Icarium his history of destructive rages and the Jhag came to believe that imprisonment within the Azath would be a just punishment for his crimes.
Arriving at Tremorlor, they fought their way through hordes of Soletaken and D'ivers with the aid of the Hounds of Shadow. All the while Mappo struggled to keep Icarium from raging or from becoming imprisoned by the house. After entering the house and passing into the Azath Warren, Icarium and Mappo were separated from the others and soon found themselves near the village of Balahn on the Aren Way. Icarium no longer remembered the events of the last few days or Mappo's admission, and so they headed westward into the Jhag Odhan on their never-ending search for answers.
In Memories of Ice
The High Alchemist Baruk of Darujhistan sent a bhokaral servant to Quick Ben while the Seven Cities rebellion was ongoing offering his assistance and alliance. Among the string of words the inarticulate beast shouted was "Danger! Azath! Icarium!"
In House of Chains
As Karsa Orlong traveled through the mountains on the western edge of Raraku he was hunted by a score of Ryllandaras' wolf forms. The D'ivers eventually gave up the chase, but warned the Teblor of two men further up the trail. It noted that if Karsa were to come to blows with one of them, the world would regret it.
Karsa soon came upon Icarium and Mappo at the site of an ancient city built on the side of a mesa. Mappo invited Karsa to eat by the fire while Icarium picked through the rubble that partially buried the city. The Trell spoke of Convergences while preparing for the inevitable clash between Icarium and Karsa. Icarium recognised Karsa as one of the fallen Teblor then apologised to Mappo for what the Trell was about to witness and drew his sword.
Icarium shattered Karsa's Ironwood blade at the hilt, causing the furious Teblor to knock out the Jhag with a punch to the face. Mappo ended the battle by striking the Teblor in the back of the head with his mace. As both combatants still lived, Mappo was pleased with the results. When Karsa awoke, he discovered that Icarium's work on the landslide had revealed an enormous statue of a seven-headed dog.
Karsa later encountered the Jaghut, Cynnigig and Phyrlis, in the Jhag Odhan. As a child, Phyrliss had been impaled upon a T'lan Imass spear that had been driven into the earth unknowingly amidst the ruins of the Azath House mortally wounded by Icarium millennia ago. Before it died, the House's life spirit had joined the spear and Jaghut into one immense and eternal tree. With no memory of his previous actions, Icarium periodically returned to the tree to receive wood for his bow and arrow shafts. Phyrlis rejected his requests for her heartwood, with which the Jhag would create a time mechanism, because the loss would have resulted in her death.
Later, a band of Tiste Liosan led by Seneschal Jorrude traveled through Seven Cities in pursuit of a band of thieves who had trespassed in Kurald Thyrllan. Lost and bewildered by the strange world they found themsleves in, they sensed the proximity of Icarium, an "old friend" of their people. Jorrude sought out Icarium so the Jhag could "acquaint us with the rigours of this world".
In Midnight Tides
During the Tiste Edur invasion of the Letherii Empire, Trull Sengar led fifty of his soldiers across the Katter River at Narrow Chute. The "bridge" over the river was in actuality an enormous and ancient mechanism. It moved almost imperceptibly as if it were a timepiece. Trull's captain, Ahlrada Ahn, discovered a stone panel carved with arcane symbols. He recognised the language as that of the Tusked Man, a mysterious grey-green figure with white tusks sighted now and then by the Den-Ratha over generations on the northern ice.
In The Bonehunters
Icarium and Mappo explored the western shore of the new inland sea now covering Raraku. The Jhag remembered when the same sea covered the land thousands of years ago. Deciding on their next destination, Mappo had to reluctantly reveal that many of the cities Icarium recalled in the region had long since turned to dust.
Later in their travels, they discovered a vast chasm that had recently been exposed by a shifting of the sand. The two explorers climbed to the chasm's bottom where they found a K'Chain Nah'ruk mechanism, still containing the corpse of its pilot, within a pool of melting Omtose Phellack ice. Mappo realised they had found the entrance to a K'Chain Nah'ruk Skykeep that had mistakenly travelled through a gate into solid bedrock. The Trell found the skykeep's entrance and the pair explored the alien structure. In the skykeep's immense hollow centre, was a fortress floating in space, reached only by a single stone span. Inside the fortress they found the crucified remains of Sorrit, the Eleint aspected to Serc. Neither knew who killed the dragon, but Icarium recognised the ice as the work of Ganath.
Some time after leaving the skykeep, Icarium and Mappo were ambushed by Dejim Nebrahl. The fierce T'rolbarahl had been unleashed by the Nameless Ones to destroy Mappo because the Trell had broken his vow to the cult. Icarium was gravely wounded and Mappo seemingly fell to his death while driving Dejim Nebrahl away. The Nameless Ones' handpicked replacement for Mappo, the Gral Taralack Veed, ministered to Icarium's wounds and convinced the amnesiac Jhag that they had always been companions. Icarium was none the wiser. While Mappo recovered, he learned from Ardata that it was the Nameless Ones who had honed Icarium's terrible power and that they intended to use the Jhag for some unknown purpose.
Taralack Veed prepared Icarium to become the Nameless Ones' weapon using the words the cult gave him. He informed the Jhag he had lost his memory by destroying a House of the Azath to free his father, accidentally releasing a host of demonic entities onto the world in the process. He also emphasized the Jhag's supposed sense of harsh justice and the many grim and unpleasant deeds it required. The Nameless Ones were his benefactors, sending companions like Veed to guide the Jhag's fury to a moral end. But now there was a new enemy that only Icarium was powerful enough to oppose and their other tasks had to be set aside. The Gral brought Icarium to the shores of the Olphara Peninsula where the sea was filled with the ships of the Third Edur Imperial Fleet. About the same time, Cotillion told Mappo that the Nameless Ones sensed all the Azath Houses were failing and the cult was driven by desperation. Through Icarium they planned some final act that Cotillion and Shadowthrone thought would only lead to more chaos and dissolution. The god said the death of the Azath House had burned an infection of Chaos into Icarium's soul, causing the discontinuity in his mind. Therefore, the two gods planned to intervene in the cult's plans by helping Mappo heal the Jhag of his torment.
Preda Tomad Sengar's fleet was one of several Tiste Edur fleets terrorising and killing their way across the world while searching for champions to bring back to Letheras to face Emperor Rhulad Sengar in mortal combat. Veed convinced the Edur to take Icarium, but the Preda soon began to regret the decision. The Jhag became withdrawn aboard ship, spending his time clutching himself and weeping at the thought of killing the Emperor. The Preda declared that Icarium's martial prowess would soon need to be tested or else he and the Gral would be tossed overboard to the sharks. Veed attempted to focus Icarium by pointing to the Edur's evil deeds. The Letherii Empire was an abomination ruled by a madman who deserved Icarium's justice.
Icarium's test came when he was included in the Tiste Edur assault of Drift Avalii to help them take the Throne of Shadow. It was intended that the Jhag face Traveller, the Throne's formidable protector, but when the Edur arrived the Throne lay in shambles and its defenders were nowhere to be found. The outraged Edur determined to redirect their anger on an assault of the First Throne of the T'lan Imass. Only Icarium realised the wreckage of the Throne was an illusion, and he smiled and nodded at the hidden Shadowthrone as the group departed.
The cavern of the First Throne was defended by Minala and the child soldiers of the Company of Shadow as well as Trull Sengar, the Demon Apt, and the T'lan Imass Monok Ochem, Ibra Gholan, and Onrack T'emlava. Just before the assault began, Icarium warned Taralack Veed he no longer trusted him, suspecting the Gral was merely using him as a weapon for his own ends. At first the Jhag refused to fight children, but he was soon overcome by his own battlerage. A terrible keening sound and buffeting winds of sorcery accompanied his attack. He defeated Onrack before he became turned around and began killing friend and foe alike, wading through dozens of Edur warriors and Letherii archers. He was brought to a temporary standstill by Trull Sengar's preternatural spearsmanship, however the Edur was forced to withdraw when Icarium shattered his weapon. Apt and Ibra Gholan quickly fell to Icarium's blade. The Throne's final protector was Quick Ben, who found himself unexpectedly brought before Icarium by Shadowthrone. The High Mage held his own for a time before he too fell. Only the intervention of the Eres'al ended the slaughter, as she touched his hip and rendered the Jhag unconscious. The last two remaining members of the Edur force, Taralack Veed and Varat Taun, carried Icarium back through the magic gate leading to the fleet.
When Icarium awoke, he felt more refreshed and hopeful than he had ever been, his mind now healed by the Eres'al's touch. He no longer needed Veed to tell him who he was. And the Letherii aboard ship looked on him with adoration as someone who could free them from their mad emperor. On another vessel in the same fleet was Karsa Orlong, another of the Edur's champions. When his companion, Samar Dev, learned that Icarium the Slayer would be Karsa's rival in Letheras, the terrified scholar tried to convince the Teblor that they should quietly slip overboard the next time the ship neared land. But Karsa was pleased by the news, relishing the opportunity to face the Jhag again after their first unsatisfying confrontation.
In Reaper's Gale
Icarium's spirits remained high during the journey across the sea, and he spent his time on ship sharpening his sword, oiling his bow, and checking his armour for flaws. By the time the fleet finally arrived in Letheras, Taralack Veed was sick with worry at the thought of the destruction to come. When the Jhag first set foot on Letherii soil, the earth shook sending thousands of birds to flight and collapsing Scale House deeper in the city. Veed claimed that Burn herself had flinched at his step, but Yan Tovis refused to believe him.
Spying from nearby, the Errant was shocked by Icarium's presence, seeing the threads of the Nameless Ones' ritual woven about the Jhag. Elsewhere in the city, Bugg was staggered where he stood. He recalled Icarium's first visit to this land, when the Jhag had come striding from the sea as a refugee from a realm he had destroyed. He had come looking for his father, who had already gone to the Azath, and K'rul in his temple could give him nothing. Icarium only vaguely recalled having once been on the site of Letheras long before the city was founded.
Once ensconced in the compound housing the gathered champions, Veed became more convinced the Nameless Ones were misguided, involving him and Icarium in a war among the gods to whom they meant nothing. He was no longer sure that Mappo's choice to betray the cult in favour of his friend had been an act of evil. He was sure that the battle between Rhulad and Icarium would reduce the city to rubble and slay all its citizens. However, Veed vowed he would stay to meet his fate. Icarium assured him it would be some time before the duels began as Emperor Rhulad was afraid.
Karsa Orlong took to practice sparring with his fellow champions. When the Teblor was challenged by the Seguleh Twelfth, all of the other champions came to watch, including Icarium. The Jhag thought Karsa familiar from a half-memory of a duel that had been interrupted. When Veed asked if he planned to resume the duel, Icarium quietly shook his head. Another potential challenger was the masked Senior Assessor, whose Mocker sect worshipped Icarium as a god. He stalked Icarium from afar, refusing to draw too close even when the Jhag tried to call him over. Icarium thought his worship delusional. Senior Assessor could only wonder at the idea that he was the only living Cabalhii to have seen his people's god with his own eyes.
While waiting for his day to challenge the Emperor, Icarium explored the city with Veed at his side. Karsa angrily accosted them in the street, tossing the Gral aside and grasping Icarium by the forearm. The Teblor feared Icarium would defeat Rhulad in the arena since his bout was scheduled first. Icarium cheerfully offered his spot to Karsa, but Karsa was not mollified until he looked Icarium in the eyes and recognised the Jhag bore Toblakai blood. Then Karsa knew the Jhag would keep his word.
When only Icarium and Karsa remained of the original challengers, Icarium slipped away from the champion compound and made his way into the city, secretly trailed by Taralack Veed and Senior Assessor. He travelled to the remains of Scale House which stood over the remains of an older city where he had long ago created a machine. This was the same machine whose mysterious pieces and patterns had obsessed Rautos Hivanar and Taxilian. The machine sensed Icarium's approach and its various pieces toppled buildings as they stirred to life throughout the city. Taxilian waited near the door that opened at the machine's nexus, saying, "This, Icarium, is your day." Then the Jhag disappeared through the open breach that would forge his new beginning--one in which he would regain his sense of self and no longer be exploited. The Gral would be his last companion. The machine exploded with white liquid fire that obliterated the neighbourhood. Taxilian was incinerated, Taralack Veed and Senior Assessor were killed by falling masonry, and Rautos Hivanar's memories were stripped bare before he too was burned by the white fire.
In Dust of Dreams
The ancient mechanism into which Icarium disappeared, was later thought to have been devised to re-structure the Warrens when activated, causing unpredictable reactions when mages accessed their Warrens on Lether. Icarium reappeared in an ancient K'Chain Che'Malle skykeep during the pivotal battle between the Nah'ruk and the Che'Malle, helping to destroy numerous Nah'ruk skykeeps and seal the portal through which the Nah'ruk were attacking, leaving them trapped to die.
In The Crippled God
After the battle, Icarium was found unconscious and pinned to the ground by the Forkrul Assail, Sister Calm. She intended to use him as a weapon of last resort to cleanse the world of all human life. Mappo was killed by Sister Calm when he came within sight of his friend. Icarium was saved and released by Ublala Pung, who defeated and killed Sister Calm. He left with Ubala Pung and Ralata, after staring at the body of Mappo and stating in a voice heavy with emotion that he had remembered something.
He was the son of the Jaghut, Gothos. Little was known about his mother whom the Errant referred to as 'that overgrown hag', possibly implying that Icarium might have been the son of Kilmandaros. But Karsa Orlong recognised Toblakai in Icarium's lineage, suggesting his mother was someone else. Raest was his half-brother.
Little was known of Icarium's history. He had wandered the world for millennia. In his early youth, his father the Jaghut Gothos, voluntarily took up residence inside a House of the Azath. Icarium, abandoned and not understanding his father's actions, first wandered into the place that would become the city of Letheras. He met K'rul, but did not find answers that would lead him to his father. Later, he assaulted the Azath House in the Jhag Odhan where his father was. It was at that time that Icarium's legendary rage was unleashed. Icarium mortally wounded the Azath and would have freed his father if his Toblakai companion of the time had not struck him unconscious. Icarium's efforts left him in a delirious state.
- "It is less a curse, than a…residue. The death of an Azath House releases all manner of forces, energies – not just those belonging to the denizens in their earthen tombs. There is, burned into Icarium’s soul, something like an infection, or, perhaps, a parasite. Its nature is chaos, and the effect is one of discontinuity. It defies progression, of thought, of spirit, of life itself. Mappo, that infection must be expunged, if you would save Icarium."
- ―Cotillion, speaking to Mappo Trell regarding how Icarium contracted his condition, and how it can be cured
The Jhag Odhan House's death weakened the Warren Kurald Emurlahn leaving it open for the destruction and shattering that was visited upon it. This act in turn wounded him mentally, causing him to lose his memory whenever he flew into a rage. He wandered the world suffering from amnesia constantly searching for answers to his past. Cotillion stated that Icarium could be healed through the help of his guide Mappo Runt.
The group known as the Nameless Ones decided that he was too dangerous to allow to wander unsupervised, and so had taken it upon themselves to recruit his "guardians", such as Mappo Runt the Trell and later Taralack Veed of the Gral. Their task was to protect Icarium from the world, and protect the world from Icarium. The Jhag had many companions over his lifetime and sensed that he had betrayed or killed them. The last before Mappo had taken his own life.
Some time during the Nameless Ones' stewardship of Icarium they began to subtly increase his power and deadliness, transforming him into a weapon that they could use toward their own hidden goals. When Icarium was recruited by the Tiste Edur as a Challenger to the emperor, en route, he assaulted the First Throne. There he came into contact with the Eres'al, who healed the mental damage/scarring from his wounding of Kurald Emurlahn.
Icarium was worshipped by the people of the Cabal Archipelago, who saw him as their One God.
He was obsessed with time and was responsible for creating many complicated mechanisms to measure it over the millennia. He was the builder of the Wheel of Ages in Darujhistan as well as a device found in the ruins of a First Empire city.
Icarium had once lived among the ancestors of the Teblor of the Laederon Plateau. Seeing the decline and degeneration of their bloodlines, the Jhag had given the Teblor the Laws of Isolation that were used to create their clans. Icarium also attempted to mediate the Spirit Wars on the plateau, but he arrived too late. The T'lan Imass victors knew too well the folly of trying to combat Icarium, as they had other mediators, and so did not try.
He was considered a friend by the Tiste Liosan, who knew him as "the maker of time" and "slayer of the ten thousand." Who exactly he slew was unclear.
The Azath House that sheltered Gothos and drove Icarium mad was the same House in the Jhag Odhan that transformed Phyrlis. The House's death led to a "weakening of the fabric" that was sufficient "for the warren to be torn apart". Previously, it had been speculated that the House was Tremorlor. Icarium's legends stated he came from Raraku, home of Termorlor, and Iskaral Pust claimed the House held together a knotted, torn piece of Warren.
- Responding to a fan question in 2020, author Steven Erikson said it was not possible to determine the identity of Icarium's mother from the text of series.
- When asked why an individual as powerful as Icarium had never ascended, Erikson teased that perhaps the Jhag had ascended multiple times and then forgotten, forcing him to repeat the process each time. "There's always an element of one's belief system shaping the reality around them," he added.
- "...could Icarium be killed? Could he die? He was not immortal, after all –although it could be argued that his rage was, the rage of the victim, generation after generation, a rage against injustice and inequity, and such a thing was without end."
- ―Taralack Veed's thoughts on Icarium
Fan art gallery
Notes and References
- House of Chains, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.568
- Reaper's Gale Chapter 10, Epigraph
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 18
- Ten Very Big Books podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 01:19:26
- Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.17
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, BCA edition p.871
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.221
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.292
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.42
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.78
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 7, US HC p.195
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.82/84
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.574
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, US HC p.34/36
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.514-515
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 4, US HC p.113
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.224
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, US HC p.36
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.74
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 4, US HC p.115
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.414
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 16, US HC p.440
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.776-777
- House of Chains, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.500-503
- House of Chains, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.506-509
- House of Chains, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.509-511
- House of Chains, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.583/587-588
- House of Chains, Chapter 16, UK MMPB p.676-677
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.472-473
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.81-85
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.148-154/162-167
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.265-267
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.399-401
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.458-459
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.491-494
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.508-510
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.687-690
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.813-818
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.960
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 24
- The Bonehunters, Epilogue, US SFBC p.980-981
- The Bonehunters, Epilogue, US SFBC p.979-980
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.160-164/168
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.162-163/167-168/170
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.164
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.219-220/226-227
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.292
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.220
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.292-293
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.430-431/436-437
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.435-437/444-445
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.771-772/795-799
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, UK MMPB p.898/899
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, UK BCA edition p.165
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.444-445
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, BCA edition p.165
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7
- House of Chains, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.587
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18, US HC p.472
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.574
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US HC p.100
- Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.xvi
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.414
- House of Chains, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.70-74
- House of Chains, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.78-85
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.417
- Amalgam Podcast - See 1:08:10
- Deadhouse Gates: A Chat with Steven Erikson, Part 2 - Claudia Iovanovici - See 14:30