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Liss, or Lissarathel, was a mage, seeress, and healer in the city of Li Heng. She was described as an old hag with hands all gnarled and disfigured with arthritis, with a dark, wide mouth full of rotten stumps, and who stank of fish.[1] She was a fat woman with matted greasy ropes of hair who wore tattered layered skirts and a stained muslin wrap.[2]

Silk knew her well and revealed that she had once been a shamaness of the White Sand tribe of the Seti. She had also been a Sun Dancer. But as a young woman, she was raped by a Jackal shaman and subsequently exiled from the tribe. As a result Liss, the reborn vessel of Baya Gul, Seti goddess of divination, pronounced a vow (or curse) upon the Seti.[3]

Liss saw visions of true and possible futures. When she first met Hurl she greeted her as the "Builder". When she first met Rell she hissed her breath in something that may have been awed admiration.[4]

Liss' Vow / Curse[]

The legend among the Seti was "that the original Liss was exiled as a seductress and disturber of tribal accord. Upon leaving she vowed that the Seti people would wander lost for ever without knowing their true path and that they would never find it again until they welcomed her back into their hearth circles. And […] until they begged for her forgiveness."[5]

In Return of the Crimson Guard[]

Liss was one of the Li Heng city mages, like Silk and Ho, who had served The Protectress before the city had been conquered by the Malazans.

When the Talian League tried to orchestrate a coup in Li Heng, she assisted Silk and Malazan captain Storo Matash's efforts to stop them. Their intervention prevented the League from capturing the City Temple and consolidating their control of the city.[6] The League was then forced to beseige the city.

In the early days of the siege, Liss attended a meeting between the city's defenders and representatives of the League which included Toc the Elder, and Seti shamans Imotan and Hipal. The two shamans angrily denied her claims to be the Liss of legend, but Toc was unsettled by the knowledge of her curse.[7]

During the siege, she counseled against the recruitment of former city mages Ahl, Lar, and Thal who she considered abominations. She also fought against the decision to release the man-jackal Ryllandaras. In both cases she was overruled.[8]

After the League was defeated by Malazan forces at the Battle of the Plains, Liss accompanied Hurl and Rell on the hunt for Ryllandaras. They were soon joined by Urko Crust, Amaron, Braven Tooth, Temper, and Ferrule. Liss used her surprisingly graceful Sun Dancing to compel Ryllandaras to appear and remain near a blazing fire while the others tried to kill him. In the end, Rell stabbed Ryllandaras, forcing him through a magical gate created by Liss, and both man-jackal and seeress disappeared.[9]

In Dancer's Lament[]

(Information needed)

In Kellanved's Reach[]

Liss summoned Silk, and the city mage knowing in his gut that she was more than a mere crazy witch, went to meet her. He discovered her among the muddy pilings where the Idryn River ran low for the season and was taken aback to realise that the old hag dressed in rags stood taller than himself when she stood up straight. Liss warned him that she sensed "a storm approaching" and "a time of great upheaval" that might "cost [Silk] in particular a great deal." The city mage was skeptical and Liss warned that the danger was very ancient and "even the Elders" were threatened. More she could say only at her own peril. Silk scoffed, but left to consult Ho.[10]

Later, when fellow city mage, Koroll, resigned his position to leave the city, he too warned of an unknown danger approaching. Silk thought immediately of Liss' words.[11] Unknown to either city mage, Li Heng was about to fall at the hands of the T'lan Imass and Silk was to be cast into a long period of exile.[12]


"Here’s a tip, lass. Things only have the power people are willing to give them."

Notes and references[]