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The Rhivi [Riv-ee][1] were a pastoral nomadic human society in the central Rhivi Plain of Genabackis.[2] They were described as small in stature with brown skin. The Rhivi lived off the herds of bhederin and antelope that populated the plains, following them in a seasonal cycle. Some bhederin appeared to have been semi-domesticated as they allowed the Rhivi to walk among their herds and even ride them.[3] The Rhivi were even known to bring herds of the animals along with them in their travels.[4] They also kept domesticated goats[5] and dogs.[6]

Rhivi were usually on the move,[4] capable of walking long distances without any seeming regard for the heat.[7] They built no walls of stone or brick,[4] and lived in tents held in place by unique tent pegs designed to withstand the fierce prairie winds.[8] Their belongings were transported by thick-wheeled wagons built to overcome high grasses and muddy sinkholes.[9] The Rhivi used bhederin dung to fuel their fires.[10]

The Rhivi were not a warlike people by nature,[11] but when they did fight they were said to hold the Spear of War.[4] They considered the hills north of Pale to be sacred, resulting in frequent clashes with the farmers there.[4] The Rhivi fought with long spears and sling-stones.[12][13]

Their clothes were primarily tanned hides. Some individuals ran stitches of red and black thread through their cheeks and jaws. They fought with knives and lances and spoke in a quick lilting language.[14] Men wore their hair in braided strands laden with grease.[15] The Rhivi often smeared the skin around their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth with an unguent made of grease and the crushed seeds of lemon grass to ward off flies and biting insects. The same unguent in stronger form was used on the bhederin.[16]

Some Rhivi were born with the ability to be a reader of bones, capable of holding "the people's entire repository of memories -- every lineage, reaching back to the Dying Spirit's Tear".[4]

Rhivi shouldermen and women often travelled in their dreams. The eldest sometimes encountered the spirits of wolves they called ghost-runners in their farthest travels. Always running, the joyful ghostly spirits were led by a single, living wolf who possessed eyes of life. Glimpsing them was seen as a sign of great fortune.[17] The shamans, as their name suggested, were also capable of reading divinations from the burned shoulder bones of animals.[18]

Marriage occurred when a man placed a half-braid of grass outside the entrance to an eligible woman's tent. The woman was free to accept by entwining her own braid into the offering.[4] Some claimed a wife's spirit-blessed duty was to produce sons.[4] Once married women were free to bed anyone they wished without tribal sanction. Silverfox claimed that male Rhivi were terrible gossips and the women gave them much to gossip about.[19]

They created copper ornaments that were worn around the wrists and ankles and imbued with minor tribal wards to stave off aches in the bones.[20]

Running the back of four spaced fingers across the eyes was a Rhivi gesture of sad departing.[21]

The Rhivi took great care to properly prepare the dead for burial. They believed that spirits were born of spilled blood, and could be twisted into nightmare visions filled with spite without proper propitiation. When the Tiste Andii did nothing to mourn or ritualise their fallen, the Rhivi did so for them.[22][23] When slaughtering an animal, the Rhivi invoked a propitiation ritual to call upon the animal's spirit asking for its understanding. In turn, the animal quietly accepted its fate and did not cry out.[24]

The Rhivi believed that spirits worked through adults who possessed the minds of children. These Rhivi were often tasked with preparing the dead allowing the spirits to comfort the fallen and guide them into the world of their ancestors.[25]

Rhivi spirits were capable of physically harming the living. The necrotic grasp of a spirit could infect the body with a withering illness that slowly spread through the body for months. Only the intercession of a god could stop the victim's inevitable death.[26] Malign Rhivi spirits hid among the ashes of Rhivi Burn Grounds.[27]

In Gardens of the Moon[]

Under the command of Caladan Brood, they opposed the invasion of the Genabackan continent by the Malazan Empire. They were allied in this war with, amongst others, the Tiste Andii. At the time when Toc the Younger was about three days ride out of Pale, on the Rhivi Plain, about ten days or so after the end of the Siege of Pale, Moranth reports placed the Rhivi far to the north and east of his position.[28]

Just like the Wickan people, they were familiar with an Elder sorcery process that enabled rebirth. A fetus could become the vessel of a soul that had not yet passed through Hood's Gates.[29] Silverfox was born this way to her Rhivi mother, a Mhybe.

In Memories of Ice[]

The Rhivi nation accompanied Brood as part of the coalition with Dujek Onearm against the Pannion Domin in the Pannion War.[4] The herds of bhederin that accompanied them were a key source of food for the soldiers. A well-aimed slingstone from one of the Rhivi skirmishers brought down Septarch Kulpath himself at the end of the Siege of Capustan.[30]

In The Bonehunters[]

After the Pannion War, Dujek's forces were recalled to Seven Cities to put down the rebellion and Brood's alliance broke up. The Rhivi and Barghast returned to their lands while the Tiste Andii settled in Black Coral. Meanwhile, the Crimson Guard, who had remained in the north, vanished without leaving word.[31]

Rhivi Spirits[]

The Rhivi worshipped eight spirits by name:[32]

When the tunnels leading to Darujhistan's gas supply were extended, eight hidden chambers were found carved from the earth by antler picks and decorated with scenes of a glorious past painted in spit, hematite, charcoal, blood, and snot. Each chamber contained a small pedestal upon which copper body ornaments were found. The artists had identified themselves (presumably by marking their works) as the Rhivi spirits and their identity had been verified by the finest seers in Darujhistan. Kruppe told the Mhybe the story of their discovery and gave her the ornaments to wear as a way to curb her pains. The Daru speculated that the spirits had been the first band of Rhivi when still mortal.[33]

Iruth seemed to be connected with the songs of Rhivi dawn rituals but it is not known in what way the Rhivi worshipped the spirits. A sample lyric: "Iruth met inal barku sen netral ... ah'rhitan! Iruth met inal..."[34]

Silverfox met with a band of about forty Rhivi spirits, men, women, children, and elders, she had brought to the dream realm she created for the Mhybe. She had intended the Rhivi spirits to take the place of the T'lan Imass' long forgotten gods, and was dismayed that the realm had instead been taken over by Togg and Fanderay. The Rhivi were not powerful enough to challenge the beast gods and considered serving the new masters. Silverfox left them to it. The spirits obeyed her last request that they should find her mother. Upon meeting them, the Mhybe held out a copper bracelet to one of the elders with the words "This is yours. I believe".[35] This may have indicated the spirits in the dream realm included the eight spirits named in the caverns of Darujhistan.



"A man who stirs awake the serpent is a man without fear. A man without fear has forgotten the rules of life."

Notes and references[]

  1. From the Cutting Room Floor: Steven Erikson Chat Fragment - A Critical Dragon - As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 13:15
  2. Gardens of the Moon, Glossary, UK MMPB p.705
  3. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 16, US HC p.350-351
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Memories of Ice, Chapter 3
  5. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.516
  6. Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.762
  7. Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.762
  8. Memories of Ice, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.734
  9. Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.758
  10. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.515
  11. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, US HC p.198
  12. Memories of Ice, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.432
  13. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.610-612
  14. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 16, US HC p.350-352
  15. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.495
  16. Memories of Ice, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.734
  17. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.495
  18. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.952
  19. Memories of Ice, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.729
  20. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.198
  21. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.952
  22. Memories of Ice, Chapter 3
  23. Memories of Ice, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.442
  24. Memories of Ice, Chapter 15, US SFBC p.516
  25. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.620
  26. Memories of Ice, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.385
  27. Memories of Ice, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.410
  28. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.267/268
  29. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.55
  30. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.610-612
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.520
  32. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.366
  33. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.367-368
  34. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.366-368
  35. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, UK MMPB p.1122-1128
  36. Memories of Ice, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.144/147
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