Rillish Jal Keth was a noble-born Grisian officer originally in the Malaz 6th Army. As a Lieutenant, he followed the 6th Army to Korel where he served under Greymane, but his command was shattered in a naval battle by the Mare.[1]

His family owned many large estates in Unta, including one on the Grisian border along the Gris River that took longer than a day to cross by horse. They also had an off-season house in Haljhen.[2][3]

In Return of the Crimson Guard Edit

Rillish was reassigned to a fort on the Wickan frontier as part of the Malaz 4th Army which soon saw rising tensions Wickans and Malazan settlers. Over seventy Wickan elders and children took shelter at the fort before a settler mob surrounded and besieged it. Rillish refused to turn the Wickans over to the mob, and after several weeks the fort fell. Only a suicidal ritual conducted by the Wickan elders to open a magic gateway allowed the soldiers and children to escape.[4]

The Wickan children led the soldiers to the sacred Golden Hills where they were joined by teen sorcerers and veterans of the Chain of Dogs, Nil and Nether. They revealed that one of the rescued children was Coltaine reborn, and they were determined to take advantage of the chaos Malazan civil war to invade Unta province and force a renegotiation of the Wickan treaties. A moved Rillish joined them as their military adviser.[5] Rillish also began a romantic relationship with Corporal Talia that resulted in a pregnancy.[6][7]

After sacking D'Avig and Fortress Jurda, Nil and Nether decided they instead needed to make a more notable and lasting effort to strengthen their bargaining position.[8][9] The sorcerers, Rillish, and a force of one thousand Wickans travelled through the Abyss to Li Heng where they proved to be the decisive factor in the Empire's victory over the Crimson Guard at the Battle of the Plains.[10]

Afterwards, Rillish was unwelcome back in his homelands and he returned to Talia.[11]

In StonewielderEdit

Rillish retired from active service and married fellow Malazan veteran Talia. They settled with their toddler son Halgin outside of the hamlet of Halas west of Cawn. After Rillish chose to side against the Empress during the Wickan pogrom he had lost the rights to his Untan estates and the small farm was all they could afford.[12]

Talia was several months pregnant when Rillish, now fifty, was approached to return to active duty to serve on the Malazan Expeditionary Force for new Emperor Mallick Rel. In return for bringing the now renegade 6th Army to heel, Rillish would be forgiven his past indiscretion and his lands would be returned. Talia and Rillish argued when the former officer accepted the offer.[13]

Returning to Korel once more, he served as a Divisional Fist alongside Khemet Shul and with Captain Peles, under Greymane's command. Rillish was anxious about serving under Greymane because his testimony as a naïve junior officer had helped drum Greymane from service during the first Korel expedition.[14] His preferred style of leadership during battle was to lead from the front, which made him a popular commander.[15]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Rillish Jal Keth.

Rillish was placed in charge of the Malazan 4th Army. During the Expedition Fleet's assault on the Marese blockade around Fist, Rillish adopted the unconventional tactic of boarding and commandeering the superior Mare vessels.[16] Arriving late to the amphibious assault at Aamil in Skolati, Rillish was treated coolly by High Fist Greymane. Peles later took Rillish's side warning that Greymane risked inciting the very disloyalty he expected.[17]

Afterwards, Greymane sent Rillish and Adjunct Kyle along with an advance force of three thousand soldiers from the 4th Army towards the border with Rool. Rillish quickly seized the key bridge at the Ancy River below the fortress at Three Sisters, but fighting soon bogged down into a stalemate. The 4th Army was prevented from crossing by Enesh-jer's opposing force of forty thousand Roolians, six thousand Malazan 6th Army veterans, and Commander Borun's one thousand Black Moranth heavy infantry.[18] Even the arrival of Greymane's reinforcements and the mage Devaleth could not break the impasse. Like many of the soldiers, Rillish contracted dysentery during the stalemate and lost much of his weight.[19]

Rillish was later tasked with leading a delegation to parley with elements of the Roolian nobility who were looking to declare their neutrality.[20]

Finally, internal divisions within the 6th Army led to the withdrawal of the superior Moranth troops, and Greymane quickly broke into Rool. While the rest of the army pursued Overlord Yeull 'ul Taith to Korel Island, Rillish and Kyle were left behind with four thousand soldiers to garrison the city of Banith. Rillish felt utterly humiliated.[21]

Rillish learned he had not been dismissed out of spite, but rather at the request of Greymane's old comrade, the priest Ipshank. Rillish, Ipshank, Kyle, Ipshank's companion Manask, and two squads of Malazan heavies under the command of Sergeants Goss and Twofoot undertook a secret mission to Thol. They were sent to destroy one of the pieces of the Crippled God, who was revered by the Korelans as 'The Lady'.[22] They reached the mountain where the relic was hidden and had to navigate the tunnels and catacombs that crisscrossed it as well as the ambushes laid by the Stormguards defending the piece. When they finally reached their destination, they found the relic to be in a box held by a girl with a coterie of priests and a troop of the Stormguard protecting it. The group fought their way through, and Rillish rushed to save the girl who had been enthralled, only to become unsteady under the box's influence and an aghast Peles watched Rillish teeter off the cliff and down into the Fist Sea below.

Manask tossed the box into the waters soon afterwards to be destroyed by teeming Stormriders.[23]

Later, he was shown to have somehow survived the fall and emerged from the Ocean of Storms south of Malaz Island many days' travel away (likely at the hands of the Stormriders). Pulled from the water by a fishing boat, he requested they take him back to Unta. From there he made his way back to Halas where the much aged veteran was finally reunited with his family, including his two newborn twins Nil and Nether (not to be confused with the Wickan shamans of the same name).[24]


Rillish joined the Malazan Army as the son of a Grisian noble house and was made an officer. In his second command as a lieutenant he led a fleet to Korel in an attempt to reinforce the Malazan 6th Army. His fleet was intercepted by Mare war galleys and barely more than a fifth of his vessels were able to make it to shore.[25] During this disastrous battle he met Sergeant Chord who would continue to serve under him until Rillish retired.[26]

His command gone, Rillish and the survivors were folded into the 6th Army. Rillish was placed into the 11th Company under Captain Jalass. After some time on Korel, Jalass put together a fleet of four Skolati trading vessels under Rillish's command. He was to await her at False Point north of Aamil, but she never arrived. Instead, after five days Rillish opened his orders to discover that he was to deliver a packet of communications to the Malazan High Command in Unta. Instead of facing the Mare fleet again he sent his ships east across the Bloodmare Ocean towards the Imperial holdings in Genabackis. Two vessels completed the journey arriving at an island off the Genabackis coast to take on water. Unfortunately this was the Island of the Seguleh. A band of Seguleh children set one of his vessels on fire and killed thirty marines before they were able to escape. Ultimately, Rillish succeeded in returning to Unta and completed his mission.[27]


"Not many Fists lead a charge against a shieldwall."
―Peles complimenting Rillish after storming an enemy ship at sea[src]
Su: "And what of you? How many children have you now?"
Rillish: "Another on the way."
Su: "Very well. At least you are good for something still."
―Su greeting Rillish[src]
Significant plot details end here.

Notes and referencesEdit

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