Malazan Wiki
Malazan Wiki

Otataral [Ō-tat-uh-rahl][1] was a rare, reddish ore which negated magic.[2]

It also prevented mages from accessing or opening their Warrens and prolonged exposure to refined ore could drive them insane. It is not clear if this was due to the Otataral itself or to the lack of access to their Warren. Even after long exposure, mages might be able to regain their powers as long as they were removed from the Otataral source, especially if the Otataral was of low quality.[3][4][5]

The attempt to access a Warren or use magic on an individual holding Otataral caused the magic to fail in a gust of chilly air.[citation needed]

The effects of Otataral could be circumscribed somewhat through encasing the metal in a dense material (such as a basalt box)[6] or a weapon's sheath. Iron and bronze were favoured materials for the scabbards of otataral swords as they negated the ore's effect.[7]

Elder racial Warrens such as Kurald Galain and Tellann were immune to the effects of Otataral.[8]

Some non-mage individuals who were in the presence of the ore for a long enough period, such as by carrying an otataral weapon or inhaling or absorbing otataral dust through skin, might experience unpredictable side effects, one of which appeared to be a transfer of the magic-deadening properties.[9]

Another side effect seemed to be an increased rate of healing. This was rather beneficial as it helped make up for the fact that a person thus affected by Otataral might be immune to the magic-based healing ministrations of a Denul healer.[10][11][12]

Otataral ore was not forged directly into weapons. Instead, most weapons were forged as normal, then quenched in Otataral dust at a late stage after their iron had lost its glow. Blacksmiths had quickly learned not to expose otataral to direct heat. The effect of Moranth munitions, particularly burners and flamers, on otataral was a closely guarded secret among the Malazans who survived its use. Attempting to counter magic with hot Otataral could cause catastrophic explosions.[13] If not for its magic-deadening properties, Otataral was also not an ideal metal for weapons. Otataral blades were slightly rough and made ragged cuts. They needed constant sharpening even when not in use, and grew brittle over time.[14]

The Imperial Adjunct traditionally wielded an Otataral sword.[15]

The characteristics of Otataral were well known in Seven Cities but less so elsewhere.[16]

Mining and control[]

The Malazan Empire tightly controlled the mining and sale of Otataral.[17] It was usually found in powder form in layers, like sandstone.[18] The most prominent source was the mine at Dosin Pali, at the edge of the Otataral Desert just off the coast of the Seven Cities. The mining of Otataral there resulted in contact with several giant jade figures. Such contacting shafts were immediately closed as spending time in the jade figures' presence inevitably caused death.[19]

Otataral was mined from the Tanno Hills on Seven Cities.[2]

Other sources of Otataral were speculative, including the Teblor's mountain range in northern Genabackis. The Teblor used a red-rust powder scraped from cliffsides in their Blood-oil.[18] Had the Malazan Empire discovered these sources, it would have probably immediately moved to control them.[17]

Before the Malazan conquest, otataral supplies had been even more highly regulated by the highborn of Seven Cities. They had mostly used the ore in their armour.[14]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Otataral.


Otataral could be formed due to the passage (or the portal) of the giant jade statues that periodically impacted the Malazan world. The ore appeared to act as a scab, isolating or minimizing the effects of these statues.

In Memories of Ice, it was indicated that the ritual at the end of the First Empire to create Soletaken went out of control, tearing a Warren to pieces and turning the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery.[20]

In The Crippled God, Ruthan Gudd revealed that Otataral was aspected and not merely an ore that devours magic. The dragon to which Otataral was aspected was named Korabas.[21]

In a conversation with Kalam, Quick Ben said that the Otataral was created "pouring as much magic into one place at one time as you possibly can, and if you’re lucky a threshold is crossed – a firestorm that burns everything out, making... otataral", in the same way the otataral dragon was created: "what happens when ten thousand dragons and a few hundred Elder Gods decide to get together and do the same thing?". The same that happened with the Otataral Island as well.[22]

Otataral was created when the magnitude of sorcery unleashed devoured all the energy it required, the resulting substance defying non-Elder sorcery in its surrounding area.[23]

Author Steven Erikson has said the creation of otataral "relates to extreme amounts of magic, if the magic gets strong enough it will actually devour itself and produce otataral...That's why you've got mines, because you've got huge areas that have been subjected to sorcery in the deep past and those areas are permanently damaged, and that's what otataral is. It's the residue of that damage."[24]

Significant plot details end here.

In The Bonehunters[]

Mappo Runt and Icarium explored a K'Chain Che'Malle Skykeep that had been trapped underground. Inside they found Sorrit impaled to a Blackwood cruciform by an iron spike streaked with otataral. They theorised that the Eleint had been killed by the Tiste Edur.[25]

Ganoes Paran gave Adjunct Lorn's otataral sword to Karpolan Demesand as payment for the Trygalle Trade Guild accompanying him to the Nascent. The sorcerer shattered the sword and allowed Paran to keep a finger-sized shard.[26] Paran used the shard to pin the goddess Poliel to the world to keep her from fleeing before the Deragoth could tear her apart.[27]

In Dust of Dreams[]

Sag'Churok told Kalyth: "Otataral is the opposite of magic. Negation to creation, absence to presence. If life is your god, then otataral is the other god, and that god is death. But, please understand, it is not an enemy. It is the necessary manifestation of a force in opposition."[28]

Author comments[]

Author Steven Erikson was coy when asked by an interviewer regarding the connection between otataral and magic. "I don't know how much of that I should even give away. There is a relationship between otataral and magic...they're not mutually exclusive and they're not the opposites. Now, Cam and I explored that in our gaming, but for some reason I don't think either of us has taken the storylines that we write in that direction, where we have somebody actually examining those aspects of otataral...I guess we both held that secret close to our chest and neither of us has revealed the relationship between otataral and magic. And my instincts tell me to hold on to that--as a secret, as a mystery."[29]

Notes and references[]

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