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"Raraku changes all who stride its broken soil."

Seven Cities

The Heart of Raraku

Raraku [Rare-uh-koo],[1] also known as the Holy Desert, was a region west of the Pan'potsun Odhan on Seven Cities.[2] It lay in the northwest of the subcontinent between the cities of Ehrlitan and Karashimesh.

It was in Raraku that the Bridgeburners were formed[3] and later, where Sha'ik led her Whirlwind rebellion.

In the time of the First Empire, Raraku had been an inland freshwater sea couched in the lap of high mountains.[4][5] Salt water had seeped into the sea's northern end through the vast limestone escarpment separating it from Longshan Bay.[5] Conch shells and other evidence of long dead marine life could still be found along the ancient shorelines.[6]

When the winds blew hard enough to move the sands, they often revealed the remains of vast roads and the casualties and detritus of past battles.[7] The desert was littered with false trails laid by its inhabitants to lead invaders to their deaths.[8]

At night, the desert's heat quickly dissipated to be replaced by a chill wind. The desert came to life as Rhizan, Capemoths, Chigger fleas, and desert wolves came out to hunt and feed.[9]

Pan'arak Oasis[]

The Pan'arak Oasis was said to lay at the very heart of the desert and served as the base of operations for the Army of the Whirlwind. It had been the site of the last of the First Empire's island enclaves until the city had been violently destroyed by invaders who settled upon its remains. Now only endless ruins of a city characterized by spacious gardens, courtyards, pools, and fountains remained. The oasis' vast quantity of water and the agriculture it allowed was able to support the eleven tribes of forty thousand people and their animals who lived there.[10]

Amidst the ruins, the current residents built mudbrick homes, hide tents, yurts, horse pens, a market center, and a large library.[11][12] Neighbourhood markets stretched the lengths of streets protected from the sun by awnings.[12]

The huge, multi-chambered palace tent on the city's parade ground was the residence of Sha'ik.[11][13] It had no need for guards as the Whirlwind Goddess' presence was strongly felt. Somewhere inside the tent's maze of rooms was Sha'ik's throne room where stood a tall-backed chair of sun-bleached wood. Along the sides of the room were pillows for visitors. A permanent sorcery kept the room lit and warm.[13]

A quiet area of the city known as the Circle of Temples was home to the crumbling ruins of temples to forgotten Gods. The oasis' most pitiable, diseased, and destitute gathered there as a scattering of minor healers moved among them to cure what ailments they could. Until the arrival of Sha'ik Reborn, the area was also home to three thousand orphaned children who were preyed upon by the local pimps.[14] Leoman and Toblakai made their home there in a deep, octagonal, well furnished, brick-lined pit.[15]

Two vast kraals on the lower slopes of the hills outside the city penned goats and sheep. The animals were driven to pastures east of the ruins to forage for food.[12]

About a league to the west of the city were groves of bone-white trees petrified down to the smallest twig. Within one clearing lay a low altar made of flagstones where the Chosen One often went to read and wonder. Nearby, was another clearing where Toblakai kept a mason's chest and the necessary tools to carve the stone trees into sculptures. The grove was populated by large numbers of Flare-necks.[16]


The desert's true heart was the Azath House Tremorlor, which held together a torn and fragmented warren. Legend also said Raraku was the place from which Icarium emerged.[17]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

As the Whirlwind rebellion began, a towering sandstorm over a mile in width encircled Raraku.[18][19] In some places the winds were so forceful that the sand stripped the flesh of those attempting to pass through it.[20] After Felisin Paran arrived at the oasis to be accepted as Sha'ik Reborn the sandstorm retracted to create an immense golden column above her that could be seen as far as Vathar Forest, several hundred leagues away.[21][22]

In House of Chains[]

After the start of the Whirlwind rebellion, the population at Pan'arak Oasis swelled to nearly a hundred thousand people.[23] This included tens of thousands of warriors and their followers.[24]

Flooded Raraku by Corporal Nobbs

After the battle between the Whirlwind Army and the Malaz 14th Army, the desert was flooded by a rush of water. The 14th Army was left safely stranded atop the coral islands encircling the oasis.[25]

In The Bonehunters[]

Six months after the inland sea's return, Raraku's waters were silty and ochre-coloured with regular, choppy waves. Insects swarmed the shoreline and even the spirits of the deep springs had awakened. To those sensitive to such things, the sea seemed young, raw, and vulnerable.[26] Icarium and Mappo visited the warm shallows of the sea's western shore, recalling their last visit millennia ago.[27]

Later, the new Master of the Deck, Ganoes Paran, came to the sea's northern shore with Ganath. He performed a ritual that summoned hundreds of thousands of dead warriors including Humans, Trell, Barghast, Imass, and Jaghut. Among them were all the dead Bridgeburners, who he recruited to help him find the Deragoth.[28]

When Iskaral Pust walked the shores of the sea, he noted the first tiny fish to appear in the reborn waters. Mogora later stocked the sea with a half-dozen young freshwater sharks.[29]

Notes and references[]

  1. Ten Very Big Books podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 01:19:12
  2. Deadhouse Gates, Glossary, UK MMPB p.938
  3. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.131
  4. House of Chains, Chapter 14
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.84
  6. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.65
  7. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 6, US HC p.167
  8. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.131
  9. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.300
  10. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18, US HC p.477
  11. 11.0 11.1 Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18, US HC p.478
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.284
  13. 13.0 13.1 House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.301-302
  14. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.285
  15. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.285
  16. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.298-300
  17. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.417-418
  18. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 6, US HC p.166
  19. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 17, US HC p.465
  20. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 14, US HC p.374
  21. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 18, US HC p.481
  22. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 19, US HC p.492
  23. House of Chains, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.344
  24. House of Chains, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.281
  25. House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.844-845
  26. The Bonehunters, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.392
  27. The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.81-84
  28. The Bonehunters, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.392-397
  29. The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.412-413
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