Imass- Life, warmth, craft by Shadaan

Interpretation of an Imass by Shadaan

The humanoid mortal Imass [ee-mass][1] were one of the Founding Races. They were described as having smooth, almost hairless, gold or honey-coloured skin.[2][3] They had brown or amber eyes, with high cheeks and pronounced shelf-like brows.[3][2][4] They were short with broad shoulders, overlong arms, and masses of muscles.[2] 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.[2]

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.[5]

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.[6]

The giant wolves known as the Ay were their beloved companions.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] To seek solitude from one's fellow Imass was nearly a crime, as separating the group weakened it.[11]

They matured faster than Humans, taking mates, leading hunting parties, and joining their voices to the night songs of the clan at an age when humans were still considered children.[9]


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 war 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.[12][13][14]

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.[12][15]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Imass.

In Reaper's Gale and The Crippled GodEdit

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.

Significant plot details end here.


For a list of known Imass words and phrases as well as translations please visit the Imass Language page.


In response to a fan question, author Steven Erikson described the Imass as "archaic hominids...Neanderthal, with Denisovan variants."[16]

Notes and referencesEdit

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