Map Li Heng

Li Heng

Map Quon Tali

Quon Tali

Expecting the Night - Li Heng by Shadaan

Interpretation of Li Heng in Return of the Crimson Guard by Shadaan

"Strong as the walls of Heng"
―Common saying in Quon Tali[src]

Li Heng was an inland Quon Talian city situated just north of the Dal Hon Plains on the Idryn river. It straddled the famed Trunk Road trade route connecting Unta in the east to Quon Tali in the west making trade its lifeblood.[1][2]

The city was famous for its titanic walls which could be seen from as far as a day's travel away.[3] The walls divided the city into concentric rings known as Rounds. Each Round was walled, with the height of each crenelated wall growing as one moved closer to the center of the city. From a distance this made the city resemble a "layered plateau."[4] The outermost wall was "ten man-heights high"[5]

The innermost Round was known as the Inner Focus and contained the Palace / City Temple complex at the center. Moving outwards, the next Round was the Greater Immediate Round, which housed the city's aristocracy, government officials, and wealthy merchants, followed by the Lesser Immediate Round, which was the city's center of commerce. The final Outer Round was filled with crowded tenements, factories, corrals, and ghettoes.[6]

There were four main gates in the city's outer wall, the Gate of the Dawn to the East, the Gate of the Dusk to the West, the Gate of the Mountains to the South, and the Gate of the Plains to the north.[7] Locals believed the outer wall had once been ringed by a moat, but test digs by Malazan engineers revealed only the presence of a ditch littered with rubbish and animal carcasses.[8]

Gates between Rounds were staggered for defensive purposes, preventing invaders from taking a single straight passage to the heart of the city. The increasing heights of each wall provided safety to the inner Rounds if the outer Round ever fell. The Idryn river's path through the center of the city was straddled by several thick portcullis-bearing River Gates blocking water traffic from passing between the city's Rounds.[9]

In the entirety of the city's existence, its walls had never been breached by invaders. Even its Malazan conquerors had been forced to use non-traditional means.[10]

The area surrounding the city was cultivated for grain and spotted with market gardens, and peasants raised sheep, hogs, and cattle.[3] Animal manure was used as fuel for heating and cooking as the plains were largely barren of trees.[11]

Under Malazan administration the city was governed by a Ruling Council of Magistrates.[12] The City Temple had been re-sanctified to the Malazan gods, heroes, and guardians spirits.[13]

The terms "Hengan" (plural form "Hengans") or "Hengese" were used to describe people or objects related to the city.[14][15] Hengans elongated their vowels in speech.[3] Heavy mouths were a physical characteristic typical of Hengans.[16]

The city's patron deity was Burn.[17] Not far east of the city was the Great Sanctuary of Burn, the continent's largest monastery until it was eventually destroyed by an earthquake.[18]

In areas of the city, a raised boardwalk fronted by inns and bars ran along the Idryn waterfront. During dry summers, the river lowered exposing the boardwalk's pilings and revealing expanses of thick mud and sewer filth.[19]


Li Heng was one of several major city-states to rise on Quon Tali, and was once the third most powerful such state on the continent.[20] Sometime before the rise of the Malazan Empire, but still within living memory, it had formed the despotic Li Heng League.[21] In addition to contesting with the region's other major city-states, Li Heng was also at constant war with the Seti and their man-jackal god, Ryllandaras. The city's great walls were built to keep them out.[20] Those peasants outside the walls were forced to seek shelter in bolt-holes made of fieldstone scattered amongst the farm fields.[3]

The city fell to outsiders for the first time about a century before the events depicted in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. During the reign of Li Heng's legendary Protectress Shalmanat, Malazan Emperor Kellanved brought his undead warriors, the T'lan Imass, and Dancer assassinated the Protectress in her throne room.[22][23]

During this time it was also mandatory for mages to announce themselves upon entering the city. Of course many ignored this rule and fond other ways within its walls.[citation needed]

Unlike most cities conquered by the Malazans it was not needed to outlaw any existing assassins guilds as there were none in operation at the time, rather individuals who might hire their services to criminal organisations.[citation needed]

Notable residents Edit

Places of interest Edit

Notes and referencesEdit

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