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Malazan Wiki

For the demon, see Pearl (demon).

For the merchant of Quon, see Pearl (merchant).

Pearl was a Mockra mage[1] and an agent of the Claw.[2] Almost effeminate in appearance, Pearl was tall and handsome with dark skin and a lean face "too sharp-featured to be called friendly". Pearl had green eyes[3] and was fond of dressing in green silks and bedecking his long fingers with rings of glittering[4] green-hued gems.[5] He was one-quarter Tiste Andii and three-quarters Human.[6] Under his half-cloak he wore a belt across his chest containing throwing stars. Below his left arm was a brace of throwing knives.[7]

For a time he had been Topper's favorite Claw lieutenant.[8] Pearl admired the ex-Claw Kalam Mekhar as the finest killer the Claw had ever had.[9]

Pearl had a taste for fine wine and owned a majority stake in a vineyard located in Gris.[10]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

At the time of the Whirlwind uprising, Pearl was in Seven Cities for unrevealed reasons. While there he stumbled upon a suspicious opening in the Imperial Warren and discovered Lostara Yil of the Red Blades following Kalam Mekhar. Pearl teamed up with Lostara to trail the assassin.[11][12]

Their progress was interrupted when Empress Laseen sent Pearl to assist Fist Coltaine of the Malazan 7th Army against the Semk godling, Pearl mentioning to Lostara that he was the "last surviving operative". Pearl and Lostara were nearly killed by the Semk demon in the attempt, but were saved by the timely intervention of the demon Apt.[13]

Arriving in Aren, Lostara was arrested and imprisoned along with the rest of the city's Red Blades whom High Fist Pormqual wrongly suspected of treason.[14] Pearl then arranged to travel with Kalam to Unta aboard the Ragstopper under the pseudonym "Salk Elan". Although Kalam had figured out that Salk Elan was not who he pretended to be, Kalam was unable to decipher Salk Elan's motives. On the trip, Pearl ensorcelled both the ship and its Captain with his mind magic, eventually redirecting the ship from its original destination to Malaz City instead.[15]

Pearl as Salk Elan by Harkalé Linai

Once in the Malaz City harbour, Pearl entranced Kalam and the ship's crew - preventing them from moving - stabbed Kalam (though not fatally), and then threw him into the shark-infested water. As Pearl threw the helpless Kalam overboard, Pearl told him that while he expected the man to actually make it to shore, there would be several Hands (i.e., groups of five assassins) of the Claw awaiting him in the city. At that point, Apt and Panek materialized on board the ship and attacked Pearl before he could kill the captain and crew (which Pearl was preparing to do). Pearl was forced to unleash a Kenryll'ah demon and to then flee via Warren. Pearl having left in this fashion, the captain and crew were all released from the spell that had been holding them immobile.[16]

Kalam succeeded in slaying many Claws on his way to Empress Laseen at Mock's Hold - where the two of them talked and, to an extent, cleared the air between them. Afterwards, Topper, angry at the death of so many of his Claws, wanted revenge on Kalam, but was forced to promise Laseen that he would, instead, take out his frustrations on Pearl.[17]

In House of Chains[]

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

Lostara Yil and Pearl by dejan delic

On the outs with the Empress and Topper, Pearl returned to Aren where Lostara Yil and the other Red Blades had been released after Pormqual's death. Upon the arrival of Adjunct Tavore and the newly-formed Malazan 14th Army, Pearl sought out the Red Blade to make her his aide. The two were secretly assigned by Tavore to search for the Adjunct's sister, Felisin Paran, in return for knowledge regarding the existence of the Talon. Pearl hoped to return to the Empress' good graces by capturing Baudin and rolling up his organisation.[18]

During this assignment, Pearl and Lostara became lovers.[19] In tracking down Felisin Paran, they revisited the site of Lostara's assassination of Sha'ik Elder and theorized that Felisin had in fact become Sha'ik (i.e., Sha'ik Reborn) in order to be able to take revenge against her sister, Tavore, and the Malazan Empire for sending her to the Otataral mines.[20]

Pearl and Lostara followed Felisin's trail to Sha'ik's camp in Raraku. On the eve of the Battle of Raraku between the armies of Sha'ik and Adjunct Tavore, he crept into Sha'ik's camp looking for the Master of the Talon. He slew the mage, Henaras, leaving a pearl upon her corpse and opening a path for Kalam and Quick Ben to confront the self-styled leader of the Talon, Korbolo Dom. After the Bridgeburners took Dom captive, Kalam struck Pearl nearly senseless in repayment for their last meeting in Malaz City. Then the Bridgeburner left the bound and unconscious Dom in Pearl's hands.[21]

Pearl and Lostara Yil brought Korbolo Dom to Adjunct Tavore moments too late to stop her from slaying Sha'ik Reborn. Pearl spirited away Felisin's body before Tavore could learn her true identity. He returned to Lostara in time to see the floodwaters fill the Raraku basin.[22]

In The Bonehunters[]

Pearl and Lostara Yil remained with the 14th Army as it followed the Whirlwind army to Y'Ghatan. They continued their edgy dance around each other, unable to decide if it was based in desire or spite.[23] Meanwhile, Pearl's presence made Kalam wary and Fiddler suspected an untrusting Laseen wanted the Claw to keep an eye on Adjunct Tavore.[24] He made no effort to hide himself from Kalam and wore a sly smile whenever he was around.[25]

At the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan, Pearl was piqued when Adjunct Tavore refused to send him into the city alone to finish off Leoman and end the war. Lostara told him that the Adjunct was right to mistrust him, and the Claw cruelly mulled the possibility of informing the Adjunct of Sha'ik's true identity. Lostara and Pearl argued, and the Claw released her to participate in the siege.[26] When Lostara did not return from the battle, Pearl was convinced that she had died in the fires, and alternately blamed Adjunct Tavore and himself for the death of "the only woman he had ever loved."[27][23] He quietly slipped away from the army before they embarked for home with Admiral Nok's fleet.[28]

Pearl returned to Malaz City where he soon learned that Mallick Rel was quietly building influence from his comfortable "cell" in Mock's Hold. Rel's agents made it known among the people that he was the true hero of Aren. Pearl thought of killing the Jhistal, but knew he would not survive the attempt.[29] His own investigations revealed a shadow organisation rivaling the Claw that was isolating High Mage Tayschrenn in his tower in Mock's Hold and marking for assassination those who threatened their plans, such as Banaschar.[30] Pearl desperately wished to speak to Topper before it was too late, but the Clawmaster was missing in the Imperial Warren.[31][32]

Empress Laseen came to Mock's Hold to await the return of Adjunct Tavore and the 14th Army from Seven Cities. After watching the Adjunct's flagship arrive in the harbour, Pearl was disgusted and confused to learn the Empress had released Korbolo Dom and Mallick Rel, appointing them High Fist and advisor, respectively. Brought before the three as they awaited Tavore, he sensed an unspoken power struggle and advised the Empress to listen well to her Adjunct. But still he blamed the Adjunct for Lostara's death and was willing to let her face the consequences. When Mallick ordered him to have Banaschar slain, he briefly thought of killing both men, but left to obey the Jhistal's command. The Empress had brought six hundred Claws to Malazan City, and for now he was their de facto Clawmaster.[33]

Tavore's conversation with the Empress did not go well, and the Adjunct, accompanied by Kalam and T'amber, attempted to flee back to her ships. The Empress appointed Pearl Clawmaster and tasked him with killing all three. Mallick further ordered that the Claw eliminate Nil, Nether, and Fist Keneb aboard the Adjunct's flagship. Although Pearl had finally achieved the ultimate rank within the Claw, he knew it was only because Kalam had just turned the Empress' same offer down.[34]

Pearl had become fixated on killing Kalam, convinced there was not enough room in the world of assassins for both Kalam and himself. But when the Bridgeburner cut his way across the city full of hundreds of Claw assassins, Pearl was left deeply shaken by his display of skill.[35] Despite the Empress' warning not to pursue his own vendetta, he concentrated on Kalam while Tavore and T'amber escaped. Their final run-in occurred on the roof of a derelict tenement in the Mouse Quarter. Pearl sent in two Hands of Claw assassins carefully chosen to fight in Kalam's same bruising style. When only one Claw remained alive, Pearl vindictively shot Kalam from behind with a quarrel dipped in Kartoolian Paralt. The spider venom was considered so dishonourable for the manner of its painful and protracted death that the last remaining Claw threw down his weapons and quit in disgust. As the man turned away, Pearl shot him in the back with a regular poisoned quarrel, pleased to eliminate the only witness. He collected Kalam's long-knives as trophies and left to gather the remaining hands.[36]

Apsalar came upon the scene after Pearl departed. Cotillion had given her a list of people to assassinate and Pearl was her final target.[37][38] The Apparition of the Claw murdered by Pearl still remained by his corpse. He told her how Kalam had died and said he had stayed outside Hood's Gate long enough to give her the quarrel that poisoned Kalam for use in her vengeance on Pearl. She carefully picked up the still poisoned quarrel, and followed after Pearl.[39]

Apsalar killed her way through twenty Hands to reach Pearl, leading the terrified Clawmaster to believe he faced Cotillion himself. He tried to flee via Warren, but found the magic refused to answer. She brutally attacked him with her knives, slicing through his Achilles' tendons, hamstrings, and elbows, thus rendering him immobile. Apsalar proceeded to further maim Pearl by slicing off his tongue, breaking his face, left arm, and hip and then finally, fittingly, sticking him deep in the stomach with the same poisoned quarrel that Pearl had used on Kalam — leaving Pearl to an inevitably prolonged, agonising demise. Apsalar whispered to Pearl that she had intended to make his death a quick one, but changed her mind on hearing how Pearl had killed Kalam. Then she said Kalam had played his part in Pearl's death as well—the Clawmaster could not open a Warren while carrying Kalam's Otataral blade.[40] Pearl's dying thoughts were of Lostara Yil, whom he expected to meet at Hood's Gate.[41]

After Apsalar's departure, the child Grub led Lostara Yil to the dying Pearl, and urged her to put an end to his terrible suffering. He explained that "he thought you were dead...He'd given up. On everything. Except revenge. Against the Adjunct." Grub refused to tell her who had attacked Pearl saying, "Pearl hungered for vengeance, and vengeance was repaid him. That's all." Lostara mercifully (although very reluctantly) stabbed her knife straight into Pearl's heart.[42]


Pearl's mother was a beautiful half-blooded Tiste Andii with white hair from Drift Avalii. She left him with his father as soon as he was weaned and he had no memory of her.[43]


Erikson's inspiration for the repartee between between Pearl and Lostara Yil came from close to home. "A lot of their dialogue and their interchanges is snatches of conversation that I have with my wife...they're almost verbatim. We've matched some of those conversations word for word." Much like Yostara Yil, his wife's "patience regarding my endless puns and jokes and all the rest--it's been getting progressively shorter as the years go by."[44]


"I am sorry, Kalam Mekhar. But you… I cannot accept… your existence. I cannot…"
―Pearl after shooting Kalam with a poisoned quarrel[src]

Notes and references[]

  1. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.537
  2. Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.18
  3. House of Chains, Chapter 5, US TPB p.183
  4. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.391
  5. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US TPB p.513
  6. House of Chains, Chapter 20, US TPB p.517
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.339-340
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.581
  9. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.537
  10. House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.229
  11. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.303
  12. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.339
  13. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.339-341
  14. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 13, UK MMPB p.575-578
  15. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US TPB p.512-514
  16. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.536-540
  17. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.580-581
  18. House of Chains, Chapter 5, US TPB p.189-190/192-193
  19. House of Chains, Chapter 20, US TPB p.518
  20. House of Chains, Chapter 20, US TPB p.514-516
  21. House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.793-794/814
  22. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.829-830/831/845
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.711
  24. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.99
  25. The Bonehunters, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.523
  26. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.273
  27. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US HC p.683/685
  28. The Bonehunters, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.636
  29. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.711-714
  30. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.754-756
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.714
  32. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.849
  33. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.845-851
  34. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.897-908
  35. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.753-754
  36. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, UK MMPB p.1143/1144
  37. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, UK MMPB p.1152
  38. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.760
  39. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.758-759
  40. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.754
  41. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.759-760
  42. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.764-765
  43. House of Chains, Chapter 20
  44. Ten Very Big Books podcast - House of Chains - see 1:16:20
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