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Night of Knives
Dramatis Personae Prologue
1. Portents and Arrivals
2. Assignations
3. Hounds of Shadow
4. Old Enemies, Old Friends
5. Feints and Fates
6. Resolutions
Epilogue Pagination

Portents and Arrivals[]

Malaz Island[]


Temper is standing watch on the walls of Mock's Hold. As he watches the approach of a message cutter, he reflects on the arrival of a Malazan man-of-war three days earlier. With hundreds of others, he had observed the Imperial official disembark. As he had been watching, he had remembered his own time aboard such imperial vessels. He had then seen cloaked figures exiting the ship who seemed all too familiar and had wondered if they were from Unta and possibly after him.

He hears his superior Lieutenant Chase coming up the ramparts. Chase chastises him for not having turned, inferring that Temper had been unaware of his approach and he could have been one of her own.

The mentioning of the Claw causes Temper to recall what he saw of them during the taking of Ubaryd when all over the palace they had found the Claw's victims. They had eventually reached the private chambers of the Holy Falah'd who was being subjected to the most horrific torture by the Claw. Dassem Ultor had rushed past Temper and Point to behead her and thus had put an end to her suffering.

Returning to the present, Temper thinks that Chase after all only sees him in the role he has created for himself - that of an incompetent, broken-down soldier who never even made corporal.

Now off duty, Temper joins a room of guards listening to yet another story of an engagement, this one against the Crimson Guard, told by Larkin. Temper confronts Larkin who is deliberately sitting on a cloak belonging to Temper and, after tensions rise, grips him by the wrists. During a short wrestle, Temper slices Larkin's arm with the man's own knife. Temper leaves the room, fearing he has brought bad luck upon himself as he has just seen drops of blood drip onto a set of Bones, hitting Soldier, Maiden, King, and Obelisk.


Kiska is clandestinely observing the Imperial message cutter docked in the wharf. She comes to the conclusion that the crew are not regular sailors but guards. She ponders whether to report the suspicious activities to the Claw but remembering the way they treated her a few days earlier decides against it. She had sneaked onto the roof of a government warehouse in the military wharf to watch the docks and had been thrilled to see the Imperial warship Inexorable anchored in the harbour. She had observed a short, cloaked figure surrounded by six bodyguards depart the ship and had rushed ahead to observe them from another vantage point along their route to Mock's Hold. There she had been discovered by a Claw, a Napan, who had interrogated her. Satisfied that she posed no threat, he had been totally disinterested in her aspiration to be hired and her request to meet his commander to state her case, instead had advised her to speak to the local Commander, Sub-Fist Pell.


Temper reaches the gatehouse to Mock's Hold and is stopped by Lubben and a Claw. Temper remembers that the last time he had stood this close to a Claw had been a year ago and that they had been trying to kill him. Lubben who knows him, vouches for Temper to be allowed through and the Claw grants him passage. He walks down from the hold to the city, pondering the decay of the once prosperous city and the meaning of the arrival of the first message cutter he has seen here.


Kiska is still wallowing in her resentment. She feels that she has a natural talent for intelligence work, something her aunt, Agayla agrees with and is desparate for a chance to get off the island. The previous year she had been denied the chance as Agayla had locked her away when the attempt of visiting troops to enforce the Regents new edict against magery had spiralled out of control, ending in riots and slaughter. She now watches as a man of medium height, surrounded by four others leaves the message cutter. Waiting to give her quarry space, she is taken by surprise when she sees another man step out from hiding closely in front of her. She concludes he was using Warrens to hide himself, and decides to tail him as he is following the earlier group.


Temper is walking down Cormorant Road and spots old Rengel. He helps him free a shutter and they speak briefly. Rengel warns Temper that the night will be a Shadow Moon and tells him to remain indoors, saying "fiends and worse will rule this night." Rengel also asks if Temper knows about the Return but he doesn't. Temper continues onward to Coop's Hanged Man Inn. He notices two men standing outside the doors acting strangely, and as he enters the common room, he realizes there are far more people present than usual. Coop waves him over to an empty table. Temper asks after Corinn whom he has become fond of over the last month but Coop does not know where she is. Seeing a familiar tattoo on the arm of the man occupying his usual seat, Temper identifies him as a Bridgeburner. Shortly afterwards he heads to his room and concludes that the ex-Bridgeburner and the others are Jakatan pirates.