The Imperial Warren was claimed by the Malazan Empire for its own usage, although its ruined wastelands were evidence of an ancient history.
The Warren was used by the Empire's mages and Claw assassins to secretly and speedily travel around the world. As no gods or other creatures had claimed the Imperial Warren for themselves, travel through its environs was considered much safer than that through any other Warren.
The following observations about the appearance of the Imperial Warren were made by Ganoes Paran upon his first encounter with the Imperial Warren when he travelled from the Itko Kan region to Unta, an overland journey of some 300 leagues:
- A curtain in the air tore open, spilling dull yellow light. Within, a greyish pathway, humped on either side by low mounded walls and vaulted overhead by impenetrable ochre-hued mist. The air swept past into the portal, revealing the pathway to be of ash, as invisible currents stirred and raised spinning dust-devils.
- Upon entering, the portalway closed behind them and in its place a continuation of the path. The world they had entered was barren, deathly. The banked mounds lining the trail proved to be more ash. The air was gritty, tasting of metal.
- The horizons beyond the banked heaps of ash were close, a vague blending of ochre sky and grey-black ground.
- No shifting of light marked the passing of hours. A number of times they came upon places where the ash embankments had been disturbed, as if by the passage of something large, shambling; and wide, slithery trails led off into the gloom. In one such place they found a dark encrusted stain and the scatter of chain links like coins in the dust. Paran's thoughts were that the Warren was possibly not as secure a road as Topper wanted him to believe.
- They arrived at a recently constructed stone archway made of Untan basalt. Beyond the arch was darkness. Upon passing through, light and colours exploded outward. They had arrived at their destination, the throne room of the Royal Palace in Unta.
- The whole journey had only taken a few hours.
The Imperial Warren was a place of perpetual dusk, filled with a sourceless light that left no shadows. Underfoot was a mixture of ash, bones, and shattered ruins. This debris was at least six arm-spans deep and its compacted layers revealed "past variations in the temperature and ferocity of the fires that had incinerated this land." Kalam Mekhar suspected the Warren contained the remains of millions.
In Gardens of the Moon
Ganoes Paran was escorted through the Warren to travel from Itko Kan to Unta by Topper.
In Deadhouse Gates
Kalam passed through the Imperial Warren in an attempt to safely speed his trek across the Seven Cities continent during the Whirlwind Uprising. He was accompanied by the Malazan refugees, Captain Keneb, Minala, Selv, Kesen, and Vaneb. The group avoided groups of Soletaken and D'ivers using the Warren to pursue the Path of Hands while being unknowingly followed by Pearl and Lostara Yil. Amidst the destruction, Kalam noted the collapsed dome of a fallen palace or temple bearing the deeply carved sigil of a crown. He recognized it as the symbol from Kallor's standard from when the Malazan Empire clashed with the High King and Caladan Brood at Blackdog Forest.
In Memories of Ice
The Imperial Warren was created 119,736 years before Burn's Sleep. At that time, the Elder Gods Draconus, K'rul, and the Sister of Cold Nights gathered on Jacuruku to liberate the subjects of the cruel tyrant Kallor. But Kallor had prepared for their arrival by spitefully incinerating the entire continent and killing his seven million citizens. The Elder Gods cursed the High King and K'rul created a new Warren into which the three gods swept the ruins of Kallor's empire. K'rul was left forever broken and diminished by the process.
In House of Chains
Pearl and Lostara Yil traversed the warren once again as they sought a shortcut across Seven Cities. Searching for an exit gate, they discovered a steeply sloped pit littered with the bones of an army. The ground collapsed beneath their weight sending them sliding to the edge of a vast chasm. Above them, they glimpsed a pocket warren containing the crucified form of an otataral dragon. The pair continued on, using the same exit portal as the dragon's captors.
In The Bonehunters
- Devaleth: "The Imperial Warren? What arrogance. So may the fleas of a dog name the dog the Fleas' Dog."
- Rillish Jal Keth: "You say we are trespassers here?"
- Devaleth: "Less than that. Cockroaches invading the abandoned house of a lost god. Maggots wiggling across a corpse claiming it as theirs..."
- Rillish: "I get the idea."
- ―Devaleth mocking Malazan hubris[src]
Notes and references
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.39-42 - example
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 7, US HC p.135
- Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 8, US HC p.154
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.39/40
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.332-334
- House of Chains, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.469
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 13, US HC p.362
- Memories of Ice, Prologue
- House of Chains, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.469-474
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 2