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Ruthan Gudd served as a captain in the Malazan 14th Army and was among the first list of officers to join that army.[1] His lieutenant was Raband, a Napan woman.[2]

He was a native of Strike Island[3] and sported a beard which he had the habit of grooming with his fingers.[4][1]

He was a man of few words and quite evasive of any questions regarding his past, preferring as he said "to keep his head down" while noting "it's not working".[5]

In The Bonehunters[]

Ruthan Gudd survived the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan and was among the group of commanding officers who stood with Adjunct Tavore Paran at the shore of the Kokakal Sea awaiting transport by Admiral Nok's fleet. Lieutenant Pores observed Gudd deep in conversation with Madan'Tul Rada, Gall, and Imrahl. Speaking in low tones, the captain recalled how thousands of years ago there had been a citadel on an island in the middle of the bay off the shore of their current position. Then the T'lan Imass had shattered a Jaghut enclave far to the north, melting the ice, and raising the sea levels. Water ate away at the island until nothing was left but the ruined pillars of the causeway that once linked it to the coast. Gall was skeptical, asking if Gudd was a historian as well as a soldier. Gudd replied that his knowledge came from old maps. Captain Kindly noted he did not look Falari.[3]

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

In Dust of Dreams[]

Ruthan Gudd had a brief affair with Shurq Elalle during the army's stay in Letheras.[6] She could not get him to leave her house when Tavore ordered Fiddler to read the Deck of Dragons. Gudd was afraid of being at the camp that night.[7]

His thoughts of having lost two lieutenants at Y'Ghatan seemed to indicate he had been with the Bonehunters for some time.[2]

Later on the march to Kolanse he became involved with Skanarow despite him having originally thought that he should avoid her, possibly due to her supposed fisherfolk descent.[8] Skanarow later suspected that Ruthan Gudd was not his true name.

In the period of the First Empire, Ruthan was trapped by Kallor on Jacuruku. Ruthan had been advised by Draconus to mind his own business, however he failed to heed such advice and became trapped in a seemingly eternal prison.

Gudd had memories of escaping an Azath House when it died amidst balls of fire descending from the sky. He had clawed his way out of the ground to discover a changed Jacuruku suggesting he had been freed by the destruction caused by the fall of the Crippled God.[9]

Ruthan Gudd as Stormrider by Dejan Delic

Gudd often "clawed at his beard, reminding himself of the stranger's face he now wore."[10]

Upon Draconus' return to the mortal realm, Gudd remarked that upon their next meeting one of them would die.[11]

Later, during the battle against the K'Chain Nah'ruk he took on the appearance of a Stormrider and charged the enemy lines alone, killing many before being overwhelmed.[12]

In The Crippled God[]

After the battle, Ruthan recovered the body of Bottle whom he had 'sniffed out', enabling the mage to gather his fragmented spirit and recover. He told Bottle that he had only been pounded into the ground by the K'Chain Nah'ruk as they had not been able to get through his armor. Together they set off to re-join the Bonehunters.[13] The Unbound T'lan Imass bowed to him and called him "Elder". When questioned by Bottle about being called Elder he denied being an Elder god saying "It's not what you think", as when appearing as a Stormrider, Ruthan says that he borrowed the power, implying it was not his naturally.

Significant plot details end here.

Ruthan later joined Adjunct Paran and a few others in attacking a Forkrul Assail commanding an army of Kolansii infantry seeking to destroy the Bonehunters.

In Stonewielder[]

Greymane made a passing reference to Ruthan, his former adjutant during the first Malazan invasion of the Lands of Fist. Greymane had been forced to relinquish his command and fled the army as a renegade. He always felt guilty about leaving Ruthan and his other soldiers behind and wondered if they still lived.[14]


Ruthan Gudd claimed to be a native of Strike Island. When questioned why he did not look Falari, he explained that he was descended from the island's original inhabitants. According to the legends of the Strike islanders, the more commonly known red- and gold-haired residents of the Falari Isles were actually invaders from across the eastern ocean.[15]

Gudd commented to Bottle that he wished for a dog and that given his childhood, wishing for a dog was an unfamiliar experience.[16]

He claimed to have served on the (second) Dhenrabi as part of Nok's fleet during the Malazan invasion of the Lands of Fist. He told Skanarow that the ship had slammed into the Stormwall and that of the two hundred and seventy-two crew, he was among the five survivors handed back to the fleet in a prisoner exchange.[17]

He was a friend and former adjutant of Greymane,[citation needed] who advised Ruthan to (unlike Greymane himself) keep his head down. He fought in the Thirteenth Army under Greymane. Later with the Thirteenth he went to Malaz City and joined up with the Adjunct Tavore Paran's army.[citation needed]


Ruthan Gudd's origins, including the possibility that he is a character that readers have seen elsewhere under a different name, are a hotly debated question among Malazan fans.[18]

Author's comments[]

In answer to a reader's question, Steven Erikson explained that fans should be able to work out more about Ruthan Gudd's identity by the end of the Kharkanas Trilogy. For his full response read his answer to question 9 of the Tor Q&A session.[19]

Notes and references[]