"Thick-skulled idiot!"
―Mogora, appraising her future husband[src]
Iskaral's bane by Jeanfverreault

Interpretation of Iskaral Pust by Jeanfverreault

Iskaral Pust [isk-uh-rahl puhst][1] was an old Dal Honese[2] High Priest of Shadow,[3] and the Magus of High House Shadow who lived in Tesem, an abandoned monastery in Seven Cities.[4] He claimed to be Shadowthrone's chosen mortal and Master of Rashan, Meanas, and Thyr.[5]

Pust was a scrawny figure whose subtly misshapen tattooed head was hairless except for a wild curly grey and black tangle over the ears. He had a large hawk nose, tufts of a wiry grey beard, perfect white teeth, and skin like dark honey. His eyebrows beetled and knotted to match the battling emotions on the wrinkled face beneath them.[6][7]

He was accompanied by an unnamed manservant (who had one arm which was a different colour than the other), and had an obsession with sweeping his temple clean and free of spiders. He had a habit of speaking all of his thoughts aloud, but appeared unaware that anyone within hearing distance had full access to his opinions and schemes.[8]

The large number of bhoka'rala who shared his home worshipped him as a god, which enraged the priest who saw them as little more than vermin.[9] Pust's own face shared disturbing similarities with the creatures.[10]

His wife was Mogora, revealed to be a Dal Honese D'ivers witch who tranformed into spiders — possibly the source of Pust's phobia. Husband and wife each bore a startling resemblance to the other.[11] Pust spoke the secret Man's Language, which was admittedly gibberish designed to specifically confound women.[12]

As a High Priest of Shadow, he was an accomplished surgeon, healer, and alchemist, although he sometimes mistook poisons for healing elixirs.[13] He also possessed the power to disguise his presence within a deep cloak of shadow and could read the Deck of Dragons.[14][15]

Pust frequently referred to his cherished god, Shadowthrone, as being idiotic or insane.[16][17]


Pust possessed a "strange-looking" and seriously mysterious (sometimes black), (sometimes male), 'Mule', which was sometimes a mule but which was sometimes clearly something else. Pust rode it cross-legged using a high wooden saddle.[18][19][20][21][22] The mule usually seemed just as likely to bite Pust as it was to follow his commands.[23]

In Deadhouse GatesEdit

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Iskaral Pust.
Magi of High House Shadow - Iskaral Pust by Keezy Young

Iskaral Pust by Keezy Young

Iskaral Pust pursued multiple schemes in service of Shadow. It was the High Priest who planted the Path of Hands as a false trail for Soletaken and D'ivers to travel to Tremorlor.[24] This simultaneously led the dangerous creatures away from the true gate and set them up for imprisonment within the Azath House.[25]

Icarium and Mappo Runt stumbled upon Pust and the abandoned monastery, Tesem, which was now a Temple of Shadow, in their trek across the Pan'potsun Odhan in Seven Cities.[26] Invited inside, they explored Tesem and discovered the hidden gate which they deduced was sought by followers of the Path of Hands.[27] The presence of two powerful guardians served Pust's need to protect the gate.[28]

They were later joined by Fiddler, Apsalar, and Crokus who were making their own way across the Odhan.[29] Pust told Apsalar and Crokus that Fiddler sought the Azath House in the desert (also known as Tremorlor) to secure fast passage to Malaz City. Apsalar's father, Rellock, was revealed to be Pust's servant who made a bargain with Shadowthrone to serve High House Shadow in exchange for Apsalar's life and a new arm to replace the one he had lost. Pust used the relationship in an attempt to manipulate Apsalar into taking on the role of Sha'ik Reborn as well as maneuver Icarium to Tremorlor where the dangerous Jhag could also be imprisoned.[30][31] In both of these goals he was unsuccessful.

Pust accompanied the others to Tremorlor bringing the Hounds of Shadow to help eradicate the most powerful of the surviving Soletaken and D'ivers.[32] After the Path of Hands had ended, Pust returned home alone to discover that Mogora infested his clothing as a pack of spiders. After berating each other, he invited her inside to serve as his new cook.[33]

Significant plot details end here.

In House of ChainsEdit

Amorous intentions by Dejan Delic

Iskaral Pust, Mogora and the mule by Dejan Delic

Pust and Mogora were now married, a marriage Pust considered perfect because they had not seen each other for months. Pust hid in Tesem's shadows while Mogora stalked the halls hunting him.[34]

After Kalam Mekhar was nearly killed in the desert by a demon-possessed bull Enkar'al, Pust was brought to him by an Azalan demon. The High Priest of Shadow had been expecting the assassin as well as the bag of diamonds he carried. Pust brought Kalam back to Tesem and healed him with salves and magic.[35]

To speed Kalam on his way, Pust gave back some of the diamonds the assassin had delivered. Then they travelled by warren to the edge of the Whirlwind where Pust summoned the Azalan demon to carry Kalam inside undetected.[36] Later Pust welcomed Cutter and Apsalar back to Tesem[37] before riding out into the desert on his mule to return with Heboric, Felisin Younger, Scillara, and Greyfrog.[38]

In The BonehuntersEdit

Iskaral Pust vs Dejim Nebrahl

Interpretation of the clash between Pust and Nebrahl by Enaglio

Shadowthrone summoned Iskaral Pust before him and Cotillion at the Throne of Shadow and gave him instructions for the coming days. After sending Pust away, the two Ascendants agreed that Pust had significant drawbacks, but that he would "just have to do". Cotillion, in particular, felt that Pust's involvement was a bad idea.[39]

At Shadowthrone's command, Pust travelled by mule through the Warren of Shadow to the cliff where Mappo Runt and Icarium had been ambushed and grievously wounded by the T'rolbarahl D'ivers, Dejim Nebrahl. Pust used his magic to drive the murderous Dejim away from a passing caravan before locating Mappo's dying body pinned in a crevice. Mogora, who had secretly followed the High Priest, took over Pust's efforts to magically heal the Trell. As she did so, Pust retired to the tent and stone-ringed hearth that may or may not have been erected by his mule while the married couple argued.[40]

Cotillion found himself impressed by the power Pust unveiled in his clash with Dejim Nebrahl and told Pust that Shadowthrone had chosen his magus well.[41] The god told Mappo that he and Shadowthrone would assist the Trell in curing Icarium and thereby defeat the Nameless Ones' plans for the Jhag.[42] Pust joined Mappo on his quest to first find Icarium, but the High Priest seemed more hindrance than help, delaying their passage by choosing a dubious path through a marsh. When the Trell finally decided to turn around, they encountered a woman who introduced herself as Spite. She admitted to having worked with the Nameless Ones to free Dejim Nebrahl, but had since been outlawed by them and was relieved the T'rolbarahl had failed. She offered up her knowledge of the Nameless One's plans to help the Trell, and brought them to her ship saying they must cross half the world to find Icarium. Pust tried his best to dissuade the Trell from accepting Spite's help.[43]

A rowboat crewed by half a dozen bhok'arala brought them to where Spite's ship was anchored offshore. Somehow Pust's mule was already aboard when they arrived. The ship's deck and rigging were populated by an entire crew of bhok'arala whom Pust furiously recognised as the same beasts who occupied his home.[44] The High Priest also swore swore he could smell Mogora aboard and often searched the ship for his wife.[45] During their voyage he recognised the spirit conversing with Spite as the Eres'al and crowed to Mappo when the spirit broke Mael to her will.[46]

Later, when a dozen Jade giants fell from the sky above them near Otataral Island, it seemed to spell certain doom. Pust cried out for Mogora in a panic, demanding sex before he died. Mogora appeared from hiding to watch her husband fret and wondered why she had married "that pathetic creature."[47]

In Toll the HoundsEdit

Mule sees mule DA

'Mule sees mule...' by Corporal Nobbs

Iskaral Pust and his war mule by Enaglio

Iskaral Pust and his war mule - INterpretation by Enaglio

Iskaral Pust by Corporal Nobbs

Iskaral Pust by Corporal Nobbs

In the middle of a cobbled street in Darujhistan, Kruppe and Iskaral Pust engaged in a mounted mule charge against one another. Kruppe inadvertently punched Pust in the nose and Kruppe, Pust, Mogora (as spiders), and the Bhokarala all ended up toppling into a writhing heap upon the cobbles - a mass from which Kruppe somehow disappeared.[48][49]

While being the Magus, he also plotted against Shadowthrone.[50]


As a child, Iskaral Pust had lived with his tribe in Dal Hon. He had taken an interest in fishing with a rod, but the women and elders of the tribe preferred the traditional use of weirs, collecting pools, and nets. To Pust this was not fishing, but harvesting. He retained an interest in angling for the rest of his life.[51] The young Pust once ran away from home for a day and a half, accompanying a caravan to Li Heng until his great-grandmother found him and dragged him back kicking and screaming.[52]


"Shadowthrone… uh… my worthy Lord of Shadow… is thinking. Yes! Thinking furiously! Such is the vastness of his genius that he can outwit even himself!"
―Iskaral Pust[src]
"No mule can match wits with me. Oh yes, many have tried, and almost all have failed!"
―Iskaral Pust[src]
"None could guess my confusion, my host of deluded illusions and elusive delusions! A mantle of marble hiding a crumbling core of sandstone. See how they stare at me, wondering, all wondering, at my secret wellspring of wisdom…"
―Iskaral Pust[src]
"It's a fact that men don’t need words, but women do. We have penises, after all. Who needs words when you have a penis?"
―Iskaral Pust[src]


An image of Iskaral Pust painted by author Steven Erikson can be found here.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Ten Very Big Books podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 01:19:25
  2. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.342
  3. Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.17
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.111
  5. House of Chains, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.551
  6. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US HC p.59-60
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.75-76
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.295
  9. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.293
  10. House of Chains, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.459
  11. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, UK MMPB p.926
  12. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.419
  13. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.223
  14. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.224
  15. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 6, US HC p.164
  16. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.417
  17. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.70
  18. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.75/76
  19. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US HC p.334-335/336-338
  20. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US HC p.522
  21. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 3, US TPB p.89
  22. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 11, US TPB p.301/302
  23. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.413
  24. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, UK MMPB p.927
  25. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 16, US HC p.441-442
  26. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.75
  27. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 4, US HC p.115
  28. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.292
  29. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.221
  30. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.295-296
  31. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.554
  32. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 16, US HC p.442
  33. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.592-594
  34. House of Chains, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.459-460
  35. House of Chains, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.458-459
  36. House of Chains, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.551-552
  37. House of Chains, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.674-675
  38. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.847
  39. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US HC p.59-60
  40. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.413-420
  41. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, UK MMPB p.614
  42. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.509-510
  43. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.585-588
  44. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.649
  45. The Bonehunters, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.760/762
  46. The Bonehunters, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.759-760
  47. The Bonehunters, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.777
  48. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 23, UK HB p.860-862
  49. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 24, UK HB p.888/889
  50. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 23, US TPB p.771
  51. The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.455-456
  52. The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.456
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