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Interpretation of a Jaghut Huntress by Corporal Nobbs

The Jaghut [Ja-goot][1][2] were a non-human Elder Race[3] and one of the four founding intelligent races of the Malazan planet.[4]

The Jaghut were known to humans mostly in legend. Temper recalled tales of Jaghut plying their targets with subtle arguments and poisoned gifts. The phrase "dealing with a Jaghut" connotated deceit and betrayal.[5]

The term "Jaghut" had largely degenerated in human use to "Jhag" or "Shurl" according to the scholar Mammot, although the latter term does not appear to have been used again in the books.[6] Dorin Rav described having heard Jaghut referred to as "Jag" in stories.[7]


Interpretation of a Jaghut by McDev

They were solitary, powerful beings who once dominated much of the world after the eradication of the K'Chain Che'Malle. The younger Jaghut race was said to have once been ruled over by the K'Chain Che'Malle much as the Jaghut Tyrants later had ruled over the Imass.[8]

Mammot informed his nephew Crokus Younghand that three races had struggled for dominion in the early days of the world. The first to bow out and disappear were the Forkrul Assail. The other two races were the Jaghut and the T'lan Imass, who warred endlessly. The Jaghut ultimately failed because they were a race of individuals who fought each other as much as their racial enemies.[9]


The Jaghut were taller and broader than humans, with tusked lower jaws. Their skin was grey-green and hair was generally grey. Their fingers were longer and possessed more joints than a human finger.[10] As confirmed in The Bonehunters, the Jaghut possessed two hearts, and possibly duplicates of other organs, in a manner similar to that of the Thelomen Toblakai. The Jaghut were extremely long-lived (essentially immortal in the sense that they would not die except through violence or accident), and capable of inter-breeding with humans and Thelomen Toblakai. Whether the offspring were viable was unknown. They were adapted to living in a cold climate, and generally preferred an Arctic environment.


The Jaghut primarily used the Warren of Omtose Phellack,[11] an Elder racial Warren that allowed them control over vast areas and was generally tuned towards the magics of ice, cold, stasis and preservation. The Warren could also produce effects like 'stagnation', isolating whole continents from the rest of the world. In one case, this prevented the magic of the continent of Lether from evolving for over 300,000 years.


The Jaghut did not gather in locations or create communities. They saw "community" as leading to power over others (by the civic leaders), leading to dominance, hunger for power, slavery and a downward spiral into tyranny over all other living things. Instead, they preferred solitary towers as dwellings, usually living with only their closest family. Despite this tendency towards isolation, their parental instincts were very strong, which resulted in a scaling up of conflicts with the T'lan Imass — if a parent was attacked, their spouse and children would come to fight with them, and vice versa. This could result in considerable devastation due to the scales of sorceries involved.

The exception to the rules of isolation were the rare Jaghut known as Tyrants, for whom conquest and rule was an unslakable thirst. These individuals would use their powerful magical capabilities to enslave and dominate other races. In Toll the Hounds, it was hinted that Jaghut had once had great civilisations. The reasons for their fall and why the Jaghut lived in solitude were voluntary, after discovering the ills of civilisation itself.

As a result of the Tyrant Raest's actions in this regard, the Imass underwent the ritual of Tellann and became undead, and were thenceforth known as the T'lan Imass. For the battle between the T'lan Imass and the Jaghut, there was never any quarter given — if any trace of the Jaghut was found by the Imass, a pogrom was raised in which several clans converged on the site until all of the Jaghut were slain or the T'lan Imass army was wiped out.

In extreme circumstances, the Jaghut practised a ritual disavowment of family ties known as the Sundering of Blood.[12]


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

Interactions with the Malazan Army[]

During the main events of the "Malazan Book of the Fallen", Jaghut were almost unknown except as legends. The rare individuals who had survived the pogroms of the T'lan Imass existed in solitude and hiding, using Warrens other than Omtose Phellack or restricting their activities to other realms where the T'lan Imass could not find them.

In Gardens of the Moon[]

One of the first interactions with the Malazan Empire came with the awakening of a bound Tyrant by the Imperial Adjunct and the First Sword of the T'lan Imass, Onos T'oolan. The pair roused the Tyrant in an effort to produce mutually assured destruction between Raest and the lord of the Tiste Andii, Anomander Rake.

In Memories of Ice[]

A psychologically abused Jaghut led the Pannion Domin against the free cities on Genabackis and was contested by Caladan Brood's Host and the outlawed 2nd Army of the Malazan Empire. This conflict devastated most of the 2nd Army. Ganoes Paran and Quick Ben of the Bridgeburners made contact when reuniting this Jaghut with his sister.

In Midnight Tides[]

The Jaghut were unknown to the people of the Kingdom of Lether although they were represented in a very stylized form on the Tiles of the Holds for the Hold of Ice. Tehol Beddict thought the images resembled "frog-like midgets".[13] Yet the actions of Gothos many thousands of years before had radically changed Lether from the rest of the Malazan world. After Silchas Ruin and Scabandari and their Tiste Andii and Tiste Edur legions invaded the world they fought and defeated a massive army of K'Chain Che'Malle. Mael asked Gothos to preserve the destruction of the battlefield beneath the ice. Gothos' Omtose Phellack ritual accidentally sealed the pathways of the dead, freezing out the Death Hold so that it was unknown on Lether and causing the dead to loiter as ghosts, shades, and undead.[14]

The city of Letheras appeared to be built atop the ruins of a former Jaghut settlement. Surrounding the city's Azath Tower were several abandoned Jaghut towers.[15] Beneath the city were many ancient tombs for Jaghut who had elected to surrender their place in the world. They hoped to escape the T'lan Imass by leaving their bodies in the tombs in a death-like status while their souls traveled to the Hold of Ice. The Forkrul Assail attempted to be impartial arbiters in the conflict and carved cursed wards into the tombs' doors. This was not good enough for the T'lan Imass and whenever the Letherii entered such tombs they were empty.[16]

A living Jaghut Huntress appeared in a quarry near Letheras when a work crew inadvertantly breached a cavity where she had long ago imprisoned a Khalibaral Demon. Bugg helped the irritated Jaghut find another place to safely hide away the demon.[17] Later, she returned the favour by helping to freeze an enormous Demon spirit-god within Settle Lake.[18]

In The Bonehunters[]

Karsa Orlong and Samar Dev found an ancient tree toppled on the Olphara Peninsula whose roots appeared to be fused with the body of a Jaghut corpse. The body's chest appeared to stretch up into the heart of the tree while the bones beneath the flesh had continued to grow as wood. Remembering Phyrlis, Karsa noted that the Jaghut's spirit may have remained alive within. Samar Dev suspected that the sorcery involved belonged to D'riss. [19]

In Reaper's Gale[]

Jaghut society may not always have been a solitary one. Letherii historians theorised that a complex of three ancient Jaghut towers in Letheras were from a pre-dispersion era. It was believed that Jaghut culture disintegrated in a sudden, violent diaspora.[20]

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

In Toll the Hounds[]

It was revealed that the Lord of Death, Hood, was a Jaghut.

Significant plot details end here.

In Dust of Dreams[]

A group of fourteen undead Jaghut were discovered to be travelling eastward across the Wastelands of Lether. Along the way they killed fifty to one hundred K'Chain Nah'ruk. These undead Jaghut often laughed at the grim humour that they found in war and death.[21][22][23]

In The Crippled God[]

The fourteen undead Jaghut were present at the Battle of the Spire in Kolanse, where they fought alongside the T'lan Imass as allies. Both undead races were reborn and rejuvenated by the blood of the war deity, Fener.[24]

In Night of Knives[]

Jhenna, the Jaghut guardian of the Deadhouse, claimed that the Jaghut had raised humans "out of the muck" and served as their teachers. They shielded humanity from the K'Chain Che'Malle and gave them fire.[25]

In Assail[]

A Jaghut matriarch was discovered to be the distant ancestor to many of the humans on Assail. Their mixed blood made them legitimate targets for extermination in the eyes of the Kerluhm T'lan Imass.

In Forge of Darkness[]

The ancient Jaghut homeland was the Jaghut Odhan of the Jaghut Realm, an area to the far west of Kurald Galain,[26] the home of the Tiste and of the city of Kharkanas.[27] The Jaghut had once inhabited a grand city, Omtose Phellack, located in the center of the Jaghut Odhan, which had out-shone anything like it in the rest of the existing realms. The Jaghut, however, eventually came to the conclusion that their city and their civilization were a bad mistake. The Jaghut had been led to this "brutal truth" by the Lord of Hate who had made clear what he felt to be the inevitable societal dead end that the Jaghut faced. This resulted in the Jaghut - except for the Lord of Hate - abandoning the city of Omtose Phellack and to the majority of the Jaghut dispersing far and wide.[28] A number of Jaghut still remained in the Jaghut Odhan, however, residing in their ancestral keeps and holds.[29]

It was said that, up until this point, the Jaghut had never fielded an actual army because they thought armies were "anathema" and they had no "taste for war". When threatened by would-be enemies, the Jaghut temporarily banded together in the number deemed necessary, then dealt with the situation as deemed appropriate. The Jaghut then disbanded when the threat had been removed.[30]

In Fall of Light[]

Subsequent to the events chronicled in Forge of Darkness, three Jaghut paid a visit to Gothos, the Lord of Hate - the purpose of the meeting being to argue the pros and cons regarding the Jaghut joining the army of Hood, whose aim was to wage war on death. At the end of an extended discussion, the three Jaghut were not only sure that they had successfully met every argument Gothos might have had, but were also sure that Jaghut were the obvious officers to serve in the army under Hood's command.[31]

Returning to the Jaghut Odhan encampment of Hood's army, the three Jaghut shared with Hood these developments, assuring him that they, themselves, amongst other Jaghut - would march with Hood when the "time" arrived.[32]



The visual appearance of the Jaghut (green skin, tusks) was inspired by the Green Martians that appeared on the covers of the John Carter of Mars books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs that Steven Erikson read as a boy in the 1970s.[33]

Notes and references[]

  1. The Grim Tidings Podcast as pronounced by Steven Erikson at 47:09
  2. Steven Erikson Q&A See question 15
  3. Memories of Ice, Glossary, UK MMPB p.1183
  4. Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.705
  5. Night of Knives, Chapter 5, US TPB p.235-239
  6. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.370
  7. Dancer's Lament, Prelude, US TPB p.4
  8. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15
  9. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, US HC p.263-264
  10. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US MMPB p.561
  11. Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.707
  12. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 20
  13. Midnight Tides, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.603
  14. Midnight Tides, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.602-604
  15. Midnight Tides, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.152-153
  16. Midnight Tides, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.372
  17. Midnight Tides, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.377-378
  18. Midnight Tides, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.710-711
  19. The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.570-571
  20. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 5, US HC p.122
  21. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 13, US HC p.412-415
  22. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 17, US HC p.534-537
  23. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 22, US HC p.723-724
  24. The Crippled God, Chapter 23, US HC p.761-762/766/780
  25. Night of Knives, Chapter 5, US TPB p.255
  26. Map, "Kurald Galain", Forge of Darkness US HC p.xii
  27. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 3, US HC p.51-52
  28. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 3, US HC p.55
  29. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 7, US HC p.182
  30. Forge of Darkness, Chapter 3, US HC p.58
  31. Fall of Light, Chapter 6, US HC p.146-150
  32. Fall of Light, Chapter 6, US HC p.157-160
  33. Gardens of the Moon - Chatting with Steven Erikson, part 2 - See 53:13
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