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"To break Shadow is to release it into every other world. Even in its birth, it had been necessarily ephemeral, an illusion, a spiral of endless, self-referential tautologies. Shadow was an argument and the argument alone was sufficient to assert its existence. To stand within was a solipsist’s dream, seeing all else as ghostly, fanciful delusion, at best the raw matter to give Shadow shape, at worst nothing more than Shadow’s implicit need to define itself – Gods, what is the point of trying to make sense of such a thing? Shadow is, and Shadow is not, and to dwell within it is to be neither of one thing nor of any other."
Endest Silann, about Shadow[src]

Kurald Emurlahn [Ker-ahld Em-er-lawn][1] was the Elder warren of Shadow and ancient home of the Tiste Edur. Some referred to it as the Broken Realm.[2] The realm had been shattered[3][4] and abandoned by the Edur hundreds of thousands of years before the series began.[5] Since then, many pretenders had tried to claim possession of the Warren, but none had succeeded for long.[6] The realm's most recent rulers were Ammanas and his companion, Cotillion, who ruled from Shadowkeep.

According to Silchas Ruin, Scabandari Bloodeye, Father Shadow himself, was to blame for the Warren's shattering.[5] Despite being unable to return, the Edur were still able to use various fragments of the Warren for their sorcery.[4] Known fragments were located in the Cloud Forest, the Nascent, Raraku, Tremorlor, Drift Avalii, and several on the Lether continent. The remaining fragments were of varying size and power and believed to be ruled by false kings and gods.[7][4] The last full unveiling of Kurald Emurlahn had been performed by Father Shadow before the warren's sundering.[7]

According to Quick Ben, the true Warren of Shadow had been inaccessible (likely meaning to humans) for millennia until 1154 BS,[8] which was around the time that Ammanas and Cotillion had appeared. Though generally inaccessible to humans, the Elder Warren was said to be riven through with the human Warren of Shadow, Meanas.

Shadow was a Warren known for breaking the rules and for slipping its boundaries.[9] It held uncounted layers and its fragments were far more extensive than one might expect.[10] Its landscape was ever in motion and ever changing, although not when one was actually looking at it.[10][11] Its night sky was never darker than slate grey and its air was turgid and warm.[10] From time to time small pieces of other worlds were captured and kept by Shadow.[12]

The native Demons seemed to pay little attention to the realm's current rulers, instead focusing on feuds and raids with their neighbors.[11] Although, Cotillion believed Ammanas could command them if he chose.[11] Both Ammanas and Cotillion seemed capable of ordering the realm's guardians, the Hounds of Shadow.

Although there was no distinct Azath House in Shadow, virtually every permanent feature held some anonymous demon, ascendant, revenant, or wraith in unbreakable chains. Such prisons were tied to menhirs, tumuli, ancient trees, stone walls, boulders, or even buried in the dust.[13]


In House of Chains[]

It was revealed that the Whirlwind Goddess had taken possession of the fragment of Kurald Emurlahn that formed Raraku as the base for her own power. The Crippled God schemed to take control of the fragment and make it the heart of the new House of Chains.[17][18]

In Midnight Tides[]

Kurald Emurlahn was sundered hundreds of thousands of years before the events of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Silchas Ruin claimed the rivening had happened at Scabandari's own hand. Scabandari and his people fled Kurald Emurlahn's rivening and joined Silchas Ruin's army to invade the Malazan world and claim a new realm.[19]

During Emperor Rhulad Sengar's war against the Kingdom of Lether, he intervened in the war between two groups of Shadow Demons, the Kenryll'ah and the Korvalahrai. In order to gain Kenryll'ah troops for his army, Rhulad sent the Chirahd River through a rent destroying the Korvalahrai fleet and flooding the fragment of Kurald Emurlahn known as the Nascent.[20]

Warlock King Hannan Mosag claimed that Tiste Edur survivors were scattered following the loss of Father Shadow and remained in some of the warren's fragments. Many had forgetten their pasts or been subjugated by whatever powers now controlled their fragment. Emperor Rhulad made plans to build ships to sail the flooded Nascent to quickly travel to gates between fragments and rescue their kin.[21][22]

The Errant claimed the history of the Edur's path of sorcery was tied to the succession of disasters that befell the First Empire.[23]

In The Bonehunters[]

It was in Shadow that Apsalar discovered and freed the two Soletaken mischief makers Telorast and Curdle, who had been captured attempting to steal the rumoured riches of the Shadowkeep.[24]

Edgewalker followed Cotillion to a stone circle in the Shadow Realm where the three Eleint, Ampelas, Eloth, and Kalse, were chained. The Eleint revealed that they had long ago attempted to seize the Throne of Shadow and heal the sundered warren, but were stopped by the vengeance of Anomandaris and his Tiste Andii. Their attackers were thorough in their destruction of Kurald Emurlahn, insisting the throne remain unclaimed, and resulting in the imprisonment of the three Eleint. One of the Eleint also revealed the the sundering of Kurald Emurlahn continued to this day and that the fragment claimed by the usurper Ammanas did not contain the true throne.[25]

Eloth went on to reveal that Scabandari had murdered the royal line of the Edur, spilled draconean blood in the heart of Kurald Emurlahn, and opened the first fatal wound that led to the Warren's demise.[26]

Letherii emperor, Rhulad Sengar, allied with the Crippled God and directed many attacks against the Tiste Andii defenders of the Throne of Shadow on Drift Avalii. One of those raiders, Ahlrada Ahn, called the Throne the Seat of Shadow and the soul of Kurald Emurlahn. If the sundered realm was ever to be made whole again, then the Edur would need to control the Throne. Once returned to what it once was, the warren would seethe with power for the Edur and could perhaps remove Rhulad's curse. Shadowthrone used his magic to trick the Edur into thinking the Throne had been destroyed. Ahlrada Ahn's group found only its shattered remains, but this was an illusion.[27]

In Reaper's Gale[]

Kurald Emurlahn was the first realm born of the conjoining of Light and Dark. It was sundered and torn into fragments in its death-throes during a period of civil wars when too many powers, too many betrayals, and too many all-consuming crimes by its inhabitants proved too much for the realm. Scavengers descended on world as it fell apart, tearing away fragments for their own private places. Those pieces not claimed would heal around themselves, disappear, or die.[28] The Elder Goddess Kilmandaros sought to save the world while others like Mael saw no point in bothering. Kilmandaros claimed "the death of one realm is a promise to every other realm."[29]

Kilmandaros briefly left Kurald Emurlahn during this period through a rent to pursue and slay Scabandari Bloodeye. When she returned to the rent to make the journey back, she found Anomandaris Purake awaiting her. She told Rake he was unwelcome in Kurald Emurlahn, but the Tiste Andii offered his help since Edgewalker was "committed elsewhere". Kilmandaros relented when Rake agreed that the Throne of Shadow must stay unoccupied and the two made a pact to drive the pretenders from the realm. As they readied to pass back through the rent and cleanse the ravaged world, Kilmandaros declared, "If Kurald Emurlahn must die, then let it do so on its own."[30]

After the defence of the First Throne, Cotillion and Shadowthrone brought Minala and the Company of Shadow back to Shadow. Shadowthrone used his Shadow wraiths to lay claim to a long house, farm, and assorted livestock that had been stolen from another realm as place where they could recuperate.[31]

Discussing Shadow with Cotillion, Quick Ben observed that the House of Shadow was itself an Azath construct that had usurped the original gate of Kurald Emurlahn. The House existed both as its true physical manifestation and its cast shadow, forming a nexus where the two were indistinguishable. It had managed to accomplish this at a time when Kurald Emurlahn had been shattered and dying. Quick Ben wondered whether the Azath served as some kind of immune system to heal the fragmented Elder Warren.[32] Quick Ben later told Trull Sengar he believed Shadow was dying as its every border was an open wound.[33]

In Night of Knives[]

Edgewalker was an ancient inhabitant of the realm who also sought to keep mundane battles from 'bleeding in'.

In Return of the Crimson Guard[]

Kyle had a dream in which Liossercal and Anomandaris argued over the fate of a newly born crystal structure they termed a house (possibly an Azath House or house of Shadow). Anomandaris claimed the "house is of Emurlahn and Emurlahn exists as proof of the accord between our Realms. Threaten one and you threaten all."[34]


Speculated fragments include Mappo Runt's travel sack and the Crippled God's tent.

Author's comment[]

In a 2020 interview, author Steven Erikson said "the Shadow Realm, of course, exists everywhere. The thing is, it's extremely random when you show up. So the risk is always that you step into that warren and you may be on land here on the Malazan world and you can step into the middle of an ocean over's the most unpredictable of all the warrens, is Shadow,'s once removed from its own reality. If you think of what shadow is, I mean a shadow on the ground, it requires a light source, an object of some kind of material geometry to it, but the shadow itself is simply a casting of an absence of light. So it doesn't really exist. It is the most ephemeral of all the warrens, so the rules that apply to Shadow don't apply necessarily to anywhere else."[35]


"In [the Shadow Realm], as you know, things can be in two places at once, or begin in one yet find itself eventually manifesting in another. Shadow wanders, and respects no borders."
"Shadow is something of the rubbish heap of time. Over the ages whatever others want hidden, or buried away, into Shadow it goes."

Notes and references[]

  1. Ten Very Big Books podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 01:18:35
  2. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 8, US HC p.154
  3. Stonewielder, Chapter 8, US HC p.399
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.41
  5. 5.0 5.1 Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.22
  6. Night of Knives, Chapter 3
  7. 7.0 7.1 Midnight Tides, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.49
  8. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.132
  9. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.110
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.50
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.71
  12. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 8, US HC p.189
  13. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.64
  14. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.693
  15. 15.0 15.1 Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.569
  16. Midnight Tides, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.638
  17. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.283/290
  18. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.783
  19. Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.22
  20. Midnight Tides, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.635-638/644
  21. Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.569-570
  22. Midnight Tides, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.644
  23. Midnight Tides, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.607
  24. The Bonehunters, Chapter 1
  25. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.76-78
  26. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.78
  27. The Bonehunters, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.814/816
  28. Reaper's Gale, Prologue, US HC p.20
  29. Reaper's Gale, Prologue, US HC p.22
  30. Reaper's Gale, Prologue, US HC p.23-24
  31. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 8, US HC p.188-189
  32. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 8, US HC p.190
  33. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 10, US HC p.257
  34. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 3, UK PB p.358
  35. Gardens of the Moon - Chatting with Steven Erikson, part 2 - See 1:59:10
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