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"I like killing people. It is the one thing I am very good at."
―Korbolo Dom[src]

Korbolo Dom [Kor--lō Dom][1] was a half-Napan[2][3] Fist in the Malazan Army, stationed in Halaf. Like other Napans, he had blue skin. His hands were pudgy and he had thick lips.[4] He had an expression of cool disdain.[5] He was shaved hairless, and his dusty, blue skin was latticed with scars.[6]

Kalam Mekhar remembered Dom as a superb tactician who had replaced Whiskeyjack after Raraku and in turn was replaced by Dujek Onearm. Empress Laseen had considered him too bloodthirsty for the position and relegated him to garrison duty in Halaf.[7] When the Malazan 7th Army required new leadership she passed over Dom in favour of Coltaine ensuring he would advance no further in the Imperial command.[8]

Dom despised the gods as well as magic and its practioners. He preferred a world in which mortals made their own fate, a world where Dom could be its master.[9]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

After marrying the daughter of Halaf's last Holy Protector, Dom turned renegade during the Whirlwind Uprising. According to Captain Keneb, in the process Korbolo Dom had to execute half his own legion who refused to desert the Malazan Army. The other half joined the rebellion as the Whirlwind Legion[10] with Korbolo Dom the Commander of the Odhan army.[11] It was this army which attacked Orbal and remnants of which hit the civilians and soldiers who escaped, Keneb and his family amongst them.

Dom showed no mercy to his enemies. While heading south from Raraku to Aren, Kalam came across Dom's army encampment. It was surrounded by three rows of crucifixes bearing the nude bodies of thirteen hundred Malazan children.[12]

High Mage Kamist Reloe's failure to destroy Coltaine's Chain of Dogs in a series of battles between Hissar and Ubaryd created an opening for Dom. He took over command of the entire Army of the Whirlwind, joining Reloe's force to his own then chasing Coltaine's lead forces to the River Vathar. Although he could have crushed the small group of Wickan cavalry, he chose to make the battle personal, and waited for the arrival of the man who had superseded him.[13]

At the Battle of Vathar Crossing he used treachery to slaughter twenty thousand refugees and decimate the 7th Army. Afterwards he relentlessly pursued the disintegrating 7th Army to the gates of Aren where he slew Coltaine and his soldiers in view of the city's gates.[14] Dom's fellow traitor Mallick Rel then used trickery to deliver High Fist Pormqual and the ten thousand soldiers protecting Aren into Dom's arms. Dom crucified his prisoners along the entirety of Aren Way, a distance of three leagues.[15]

Despite his successes he failed to take the city and was ordered to move his forces to the Holy Desert by Sha'ik Reborn in anticipation of the Malazan punitive army expected to land in Aren.[16]

In House of Chains[]

Back in Raraku, Korbolo's army was renamed the Dogslayers after they destroyed the Chain of Dogs.[17] Dom argued that the Army of the Apocalypse should be sent out to contest the approach of Adjunct Tavore Paran's Malaz 14th Army in pitched battle. But Sha'ik was content to await their enemy's arrival.[18] The former Malazan Fist bided his time overseeing his soldiers in training exercises conducted in the Malazan style.[19]

In reality, Dom had larger goals than the victory of the rebellion. He schemed with Kamist Reloe and Mallick Rel to pit the Apocalypse against Tavore's army and destroy them both. Then he would retake Seven Cities and return to the capital at Unta as a hero. From there, it would be easy to usurp Laseen's place on the throne.[9] After Sha'ik ejected Mallick from Raraku, the Jhistal priest headed south to Aren to surrender himself and play his role in the scheme. Despite their collusion, Dom had no intention of repeating Pormqual's mistake and trusting Mallick.[20]

Apocalypse High Mage Bidithal sought to spy on Dom's activities and found a way to install his follower, Scillara, as his rival's lover. Dom kept Scillara intoxicated on Durhang, but she developed a level of resistance to the drug that left her more aware than he suspected.[21] Twice she had become pregnant with his seed, but Bidithal supplied her with bitter teas to flush the child from her body.[22]

Dom claimed the title of "Master of the Talon" and cultivated eleven appallingly skilled killers from his Dogslayers. Five were former personal assassins to the Holy Falah'dan. One was the archer who slew Sormo E'nath.[23][24]

On the eve of the Battle of Raraku, he made his move against Sha'ik even as she attempted to replace him with Leoman as head of the army. He sent his assassins against L'oric, Bidithal, Heboric, and Felisin Younger, and sent Fayelle and a company of Dogslayers against Leoman.[25] Then he sent his messenger, Duryl, with a conciliatory message to Adjunct Paran.[26]

Before the night was over, he was abducted from his camp by Kalam Mekhar and Quick Ben, while protesting his plan had been to deliver Sha'ik and Seven Cities to Empress Laseen.[27] Kalam handed off the bound and unconscious renegade to Pearl and Lostara Yil who delivered him in turn to the Adjunct after her confrontation with Sha'ik.[28][29] Although none of his assassins succeeded in killing his mortal rivals, Korbolo's Talon did succeed in slaying the Whirlwind Goddess.[30]

In The Bonehunters[]

Korbolo was returned to the Empress and promoted to the rank of High Fist. She also granted him the title of First Sword of Empire, giving him complete control of the Malazan Armies.

Scillara managed to escape Dom's grasp shortly before the Battle of Raraku, but soon discovered she was pregnant with his child. She bore a blue-skinned girl in the tiny village of Barathol Mekhar, and quickly rid herself of the child leaving it in the hands of two different women named Jessa.[31][32][33]

In Return of the Crimson Guard[]

Back in Quon Tali, Korbolo saw himself and Mallick Rel as the behind the scenes rulers of the Malazan Empire while Laseen ruled in name only. He sought to destablise her rule through encouraging riot and dissent.[34]

Empress Laseen gathered her Imperial Council after the rebel Talian League quickly took possession of Quon Tali province and moved against Li Heng. With less than twenty thousand regulars to defend the continent, High Fist Anand recommended that Malazan forces be consolidated at Unta and then used to expand control outwards. Korbolo instead argued for an immediate attack.[35] Later, in confidence with Mallick Rel, he proposed sending the capital's eight thousand regulars to Gris or Bloor before either city could declare allegiance with the Talians.[36]

Korbolo was away from Unta when it was invaded by the Crimson Guard, but returned in time to join the Empress and the Malaz 4th Army on the journey to Li Heng to confront the Talian League and the Crimson Guard.[37]

As First Sword, his battle dress was layered iron-banded armour and iron-scaled sleeves and hose. His black jupon displayed the silver Imperial scepter while his mount was bedecked with black and silver trappings so long they brushed the ground.[38]

On the first day of the Battle of the Plains, Korbolo fought the League leading the van on horseback at the center of the Malazan lines.[39] Although initially successful, Korbolo's troops were the first to break for the rear followed shortly by Fist D'Ebbin on the right flank. Only Braven Tooth's battlegroup on the Malazan left flank held its place and prevented defeat.[40] After the Malazan victory, Korbolo approached the captive Urko Crust to brag about his victory over his fellow Napan. He also sought to torture Crust by informing him that he had ordered Crust's men left to the mercy of the man-jackal Ryllandaras. Laseen ultimately overruled his order to bring Urko and his troops over to the Malazan side.[41]

The following day Korbolo led the fruitless negotiations with Skinner of the Crimson Guard, demanding they disarm and depart or face crucifixion. In the subsequent battle, Korbolo once again led the Malazan center, this time on foot.[42] Korbolo's troops performed no better against the Guard and were soon broken. Korbolo himself made his way to the protected eastern redoubt where many of his troops had found refuge. He ordered them to attack the Guard's western flank while he remained behind.[43]

After the Guard had been defeated and the battle ended, he was betrayed by Mallick Rel. Mallick noted that Korbolo had retreated to the rear when his phalanx broke against the League. Korbolo countered that he had withdrawn to the rear to lead another unit into battle. The Emperor, however, interpreted this action as the capitulation of the entire Imperial force: once the First Sword was committed to the field, he did not retreat. Korbolo was imprisoned and led away, not to be seen again.[44]


"I have always found it convenient to keep someone around upon whom everything can be blamed."
―Mallick Rel explaining why Korbolo still lived[src]

Notes and references[]

  1. Critical Conversations 07: The Bonehunters Chapter 23 with Steven Erikson - A Critical Dragon - As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 10:25
  2. House of Chains, Dramatis Personae
  3. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.587
  4. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 4, US HC p.175
  5. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.587
  6. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.304
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.371/372
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 16, US HC p.428
  9. 9.0 9.1 House of Chains, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.406
  10. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.371
  11. Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.19
  12. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.299-300
  13. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 16, US HC p.428
  14. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 21, US HC p.428
  15. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22
  16. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.587-588
  17. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.282
  18. House of Chains, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.386
  19. House of Chains, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.390
  20. House of Chains, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.406
  21. House of Chains, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.611
  22. House of Chains, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.698
  23. House of Chains, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.607
  24. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.784
  25. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.765/769/771/776/778/781-782
  26. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.776
  27. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.793-794
  28. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.814
  29. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.829-830
  30. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.825
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.498-499
  32. The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.554/559
  33. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.642
  34. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 5, US HC p.197-198
  35. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 4, US HC p.172-173
  36. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 5, US HC p.197
  37. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 2, US HC p.287/314
  38. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.460
  39. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.423-424
  40. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 6, US HC p.505-506
  41. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 6, US HC p.521-522/528-531
  42. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 1, US HC p.541-544/553
  43. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 3, US HC p.634-635/654
  44. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 4, UK PB p.669
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