The humanoid mortal Imass [ee-mass] were one of the Founding Races. They were described as having smooth, almost hairless, gold or honey-coloured skin. They had brown or amber eyes buried in epicanthic folds, with high cheeks and pronounced shelf-like brows. They were short with broad shoulders, overlong arms, and masses of muscles. They had long, black hair and their voices were thick with oddly truncated vocal ranges. Their throats appeared to lack the flexibility of a normal man's.
They had developed tools of flint and had a connection with nature through their Bonecasters, their magic users who used the Warren of Tellann. Bonecasters could spiritwalk to see visions of the present and future, and hear whispers from the earth to locate their clan mates or prey.
The Imass wore clothes of fur and hide. Their stone weapons could cut through the finest armor. They made their homes in caves and hide tents.
The Imass once worshipped the spirits that existed in all things. "Earth and rock and tree and beast and sun and stars and antler and bone and blood", according to Lady Envy. At night the adults of clan raised their voices in song recognisiing that the return of darkness was a reminder that death waited at the end of life's path.
It was a crime amongst the Imass to capture the likeness of a person in art. Doing so, it was believed, trapped that individual in time for eternity. To seek solitude from one's fellow Imass was nearly a crime, as separating the group weakened it.
History[edit | edit source]
When the Imass first emerged as a race, they were forced to live in small numbers in the shadow of the tusked Jaghut. A handful of Jaghut Tyrants took advantage of their compassion and faith by portraying themselves as gods in order to enslave the Imass and force them to complete unspeakable acts. It took generations for the Imass to discover the deception. With the aid of sympathetic Jaghut, they waged the Jaghut Wars against the Tyrants across many thousands of years. But the war proved devastating to the weaker but relentless Imass. Vast Jaghut ice flows of Omtose Phellack isolated and starved them. The Imass came to the conclusion that no Jaghut could be trusted and all must die to prevent the rise of new tyrants.
Out of desperation, the Imass attended the First Gathering where they invoked the Ritual of Tellann. Those who took part in the ritual became the T'lan Imass, incapable of starvation, able to travel past the barriers of ice, and capable of pursuing the enemy for eternity.
The Eres were implied to have been the predecessors from which the Imass evolved. Humans were thought to have, in turn, evolved from the Imass. The Barghast and Moranth were also said to be descendants of the Imass who failed to arrive in time for the First Gathering.
Language[edit | edit source]
For a list of known Imass words and phrases as well as translations please visit the Imass Language page.
In Memories of Ice[edit | edit source]
After the events at Coral, Onos T'oolan appeared before Silverfox within the Mhybe's dream-world and successfully convinced the Bonecaster to free the T'lan Ay of their curse. Then he dropped his sword at her feet and asked to be freed of his own. She returned him to mortal life as an Imass.
In Reaper's Gale[edit | edit source]
Hedge opined that the Jaghut Wars were a backwards kind of vengeance where the Imass had hurt themselves more than their proclaimed enemy ever had. There had only been a few Jaghut Tyrants, and those had quickly earned the wrath of their kin before any T'lan Imass army arrived. When the Jaghut used ice against the Imass, the Imass underwent the Ritual of Tellann to make their hearts colder and more lifeless than any glacier.
Some notable T'lan Imass were eventually returned to their mortal state. These included Onrack and Onos T'oolan.
There was a small population of Imass living at the gates of Starvald Demelain in the Refugium. These Imass included Ulshun Pral the son of Kilava and Onrack, who also joined him there. Other residents included Udinaas and Rud Elalle.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- In response to a fan question, author Steven Erikson described the Imass as "archaic hominids...Neanderthal, with Denisovan variants."
- Erikson has written the essay The Use of Tool: Neanderthals, the Malazan World and Deep Time regarding the creation of the Imass as an homage to the Neanderthals.
Notes and references[edit | edit source]
- Read for Pixels 2016 Interview As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 54:35
- Midnight Tides, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.477
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.319
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.993-994
- Memories of Ice, Prologue
- House of Chains, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.587
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 7
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.323
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 19, US SFBC p752
- House of Chains, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.563/566
- House of Chains, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.563
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 8
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 15
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.82
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 10
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.958-959
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 12, US HC p.309
- Reddit AMA 2012
|Founding Races||Forkrul Assail (WateredH → ShrivenH) • K'Chain Che'Malle (K'Chain Nah'ruk) • Jaghut (IcebloodsH • JhagN) • Eres → Imass (T'lan Imass) → [ Barghast • Humans • Moranth ]|
|Thel Races||Thel Akai (Fenn / Tarthenal / Teblor / Thelomen Toblakai / TrellN)|
|Tiste Races||Tiste → [ Tiste Andii (Bluerose) • Tiste Liosan • Tiste Edur (Rulhun'tal ven'or) • ShakeH ]|
|Demons||From Aral Gamelon: Galayn • Kenryll'ah / Kenyll'rah • Korvalahrai From Kurald Emurlahn: Aptorian • Artorallah • Azalan • Dinal Others: Khalibaral • Sirinth • Venath|
|Other Races||Azathanai • Deragoth • Eleint • Great Ravens • Jheck • Stormriders • T'rolbarahl|
|( ) = Sub-set of parent race → = Evolved into H = Human hybrid with parent race N = Non-human hybrid|