Malazan Wiki
Malazan Wiki

Jan and Palla by Tida Kietsungden

The Seguleh [Seh-goo-leh][1] were a warrior people inhabiting an island to the southwest of the continent of Genabackis. Trained in combat from their youths, the Seguleh gained a reputation as some of the finest swordsmen in the entire world. Although rarely sighted outside of their native island, Seguleh expeditions were known to have occurred on occasion.

Seguleh seemed to be of similar appearance — medium height, whip lean, wearing light armour and a white, enamelled mask.[2][3]

Notable Seguleh[]

Seguleh Society[]

Seguleh society was a hierarchy exclusively based on the martial prowess of the individual. All Seguleh who successfully survived to adulthood donned a mask with a number of markings signifying their position within the Seguleh hierarchy.

The substance used to mark a mask was described in one case as a mixture of charcoal, saliva, and human blood.[7]

  • The overall commander was the Seguleh First and he had no marks on his mask, the Seguleh Second was second-in-command with one mark on his mask, and so on. The top ten in rank were known as the ruling Ten, or Eldrii.[8]
  • The Agatii - In order to advance within the society, a warrior of a lesser rank had to defeat a Seguleh warrior of a higher rank, in single combat, thus acquiring that warrior's position within the society. The 1,000 highest ranked Seguleh were known as the Agatii, or Honoured Thousand.[8] A high ranking Seguleh could take the role of Yovenai, which roughly translated to some combination of patron, commander, and teacher.[9]
  • Initiate Levels - The lowest level warriors were First Level Initiates known as Blackmasks.[10] The exact number of possible levels was not mentioned, however, Senu was an Eleventh Level Initiate, which had taken him fourteen years to achieve.[11] There were likely at least three to four hundred Level Eleven warriors.[12]

The Seguleh saw fighting as "a form of religious dedication and expression." They were committed to perfection of form and technique. At the highest level, duels could be fought without bloodshed, the winner to be determined based on a judging body's appraisal of speed, technique, and execution. To question the judges' ruling was to risk being expelled from the martial order.[13]

The Seguleh rarely spoke, communicating instead via body language. They asserted dominance with posture, faint gestures, stance, and head tilts.[14] Seguleh of a lower rank were required to act humbly and to be servile towards members of higher rank, lest the former provoke a disciplinary attack by the latter. If a lower ranking warrior wished to challenge one of higher rank, he could do so by acting superior towards the one whom he wished to challenge.

Sustained eye contact was considered a challenge,[15] and visible unease was treated as submission.[14] The Seguleh were an intelligent society, despite the culture of ritual combat as a form of advancement in 'political' rank.

Not all Seguleh were fighters. Some were farmers, craftsmen, or servants. But these members of society were forbidden to wield weapons and were at the bottom of the social ladder.[16]

When encountering non-Seguleh, verbal communication was handled by the lowest ranking member present and was considered a shameful act. If an outsider attacked or merely possessed a weapon in a Seguleh's presence they would be slain, regardless of whether they were aware of Seguleh custom. If an outsider was able to defeat a Seguleh, they gained their opponent's rank just as if they had been a Seguleh themselves and were subject to the same right of challenge.[17] The Seguleh did not fight women unless attacked.[18]

The Seguleh also had provisions for outsiders who helped them. They were classified as Eshen-ai, outsiders with countenance, as Sall described it. It meant that they were willing to protect the person who was under their patronage, as evidenced by Lo and Sall as they fought Dernan and his army to protect Yusek and nurse her back from cold so that they could continue their search for the monastery.[19]


Seguleh currency resembled ridged bars.[20]


'Blacksword visits' Interpretation of Anomander Rake amongst the Seguleh
by Shadaan and Tinyshiloh

Not much was known to outsiders of the Seguleh, save that they were very fierce warriors and tended to keep to themselves. It was said that Anomander Rake had visited the island and, due to his perceived arrogance, provoked countless attacks by the Seguleh present. A skilled swordsman, Anomander defeated numerous Seguleh warriors, unknowingly advancing through the hierarchy and achieving the rank of Seguleh Seventh. Frustrated and uncomprehending, Anomander left the island without taking the mask of his rank, an act which angered all Seguleh and persisted into the modern Malazan period of history as this was considered an insult to their customs and traditions.

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

The scholar, Samar Dev, thought the Seguleh were likely descendants of the First Empire as the word meant "The Anvil" in that civilisation's language. She surmised the Seguleh had been a fragment of an army from the empire's colonial period when variations on such names had been common among the First Empire military. It was not uncommon for such a remnant clan to settle on a pleasant island as reward for some great victory.[21]

The Seguleh had had a historical rivalry with the Moranth from the past. The two societies fought each other almost incessantly, their fights being brutal. At some point, the Seguleh were forced into an exile, leaving Darujhistan's environs, and settling down at an island that came to be known as the Seguleh Island.[22]

The society of the Seguleh was created by the last Tyrant of Darujhistan, to act as his personal guard.[23]When the Tyrant went to war with the Moranth, occupying Moranth colonies and offering no terms or conditions, the Moranth lost their colonies to the Seguleh.[24] After the Tyrant had been defeated and interned in the barrow, the Seguleh were exiled,[25] and that is how they came to live in the Island. The origins of the Seguleh was an ancient knowledge known only to the original First (the First during Jan's earlier time as Second) and this knowledge was lost when the First went missing.[26]

Significant plot details end here.

In Memories of Ice[]

Interpretation of the Seguleh fighting a K'ell Hunter by Artsed

The Pannion Domin provoked the Seguleh by sending priests to their island in an attempt to convert them. The Seguleh tasked their Blackmask initiates with killing the intruders. Eventually, the incessant arrivals began to interfere with Seguleh discipline and mindfulness. When threatened with an invasion, the Seguleh welcomed battle, even offering gifts to the Pannion Domin to assure the conflict would take place. But the Pannion Domin was insulted by the offer. Tired of the tedious discourse, the Seguleh sent a punitive army of three (Mok, Thurule, and Senu) to slay the one sending his priests to the island.[14] The three Seguleh proved more than able at slaying the Seer's undead K'Chain Che'Malle K'ell Hunters.[27]

In The Bonehunters[]

The undead Seguleh Second, Soldier of High House Death, appeared before Cutter and Heboric on Seven Cities. Like Hood's other servants, he chased after Skinner. The talkative and emotional Second was nothing like his living kin, and his knowledge of their society appeared rooted in antiquity. When Cutter marveled at the Second's loquaciousness, the Second lamented that "the fever zeal" must still grip his idiotic kin. Much to Cutter's confusion, the Second seemed to believe that the Seguleh race served as the army of Darujhistan's Tyrant King. When Cutter reported that the Seguleh lived on their own island, the Second reasoned that they were being held in readiness for the Tyrant's return.[28]

In Reaper's Gale[]

The Seguleh Twelfth was among the champions the Tiste Edur fleets brought back to Letheras to face Emperor Rhulad Sengar in mortal combat. She had been found near dead on a storm-battered scow south of Callows.[29]

In Return of the Crimson Guard[]

A ship of Seguleh boarded the slaver Ardent to commandeer supplies and steal slaves to serve as oarmen. Iron Bars and his squad of enslaved Crimson Guardsmen were ignorant of the Seguleh's reputation and Tillin was killed when he moved to attack them. Iron Bars then challenged the lowest ranked Seguleh, Leal, to a duel in order to save his soldiers. He barely defeated the Seguleh, thereby earning her rank.[30]

The supremely talented swordsman Rell, who served among Storo Matash's squad in Li Heng, was ultimately revealed to be a Seguleh in self imposed exile.[31] His skill at defending the city from the armies of the Talian League and the man-jackal Ryllandaras was so notable that some citizens proclaimed him the new Protector.[32][33][34]

In Orb Sceptre Throne[]

(Information Needed)

In Deadhouse Landing[]

Shear was a Seguleh[35] in the very early days of the formation of the Malazan Empire. She "held a rank among the most skilled" of the Seguleh — probably being one of the Agatii[36] as she wore a half-mask which was "brightly painted".[37]

Shear — for some reason not given — had been spending some time in Quon Tali, and had become a famous "caravanserai guard and fighting champion" there. She had signed up with a large caravan conducted by Horst Grethall[38] which travelled the north-south overland trade route across the Kanese lands.[39]

Just south of Li Heng, Shear encountered Dassem Ultor[40] and the two of them spent time as evenly-matched sparring partners.[41] Having taken her leave of Dassem, Shear then intended to make her way to Quon Tali's central southern coast so as to return — by sea — to her people.[42]

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

Ranked Non-Seguleh[]

If an outsider defeated a ranked Seguleh in combat, they were granted rank among the Seguleh just as if they were a native. These foreign Seguleh were subject to the same rights of challenge as any other Seguleh and could rise or fall in the Seguleh rankings without limit.

  • Anomander Rake, technically held the rank of Seguleh Seventh, which was passed to Dassem Ultor when he defeated Rake.
  • Dassem Ultor, achieved the role of Seguleh First[43]
  • Iron Bars, technically held the rank Leal previously held
Significant plot details end here.

Author comments[]

Author Ian C. Esslemont says magic is not one of the Seguleh's (or the Moranth's) strengths, saying "its there, but they chose to pursue other tools and put their time and resources and intellect to other purposes." But he says, "it could be argued that there is some channeling of that magic into their supernatural, almost, abilities with their chosen weapon. You could argue that. That's why they are just so good. That's where they're putting all their energy." Seguleh martial ability could be enhanced by an unconscious channeling of their warren.[44]

Notes and references[]

  1. Not A TSACast: Fireside Conversations with Steven Erikson Ep#3 podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 1:40:00
  2. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 1, UK Bantam Press edition p.263
  3. Memories of Ice, Chapter 1
  4. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 2
  5. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 20
  6. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 13, US TPB p.441
  7. Memories of Ice, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.72
  8. 8.0 8.1 Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 10, US HC p.303
  9. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 1, UK PB p.267
  10. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, UK MMPB p.187
  11. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, UK MMPB p.188
  12. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.326
  13. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 2, US HC p.578
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Memories of Ice, Chapter 5
  15. Memories of Ice, Chapter 1
  16. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 2, US HC p.578
  17. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 1, UK PB p.263-267
  18. Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.930
  19. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 8
  20. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 7, US HC p. 176
  21. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.171
  22. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 2
  23. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 15
  24. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 19
  25. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 2
  26. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 2
  27. Memories of Ice, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.326-327
  28. The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.158-162
  29. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, UK BCA edition p.175
  30. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 1, UK Bantam Press edition p.263-267
  31. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 2, UK PB p.578
  32. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 3, US HC p.347
  33. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.450
  34. Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.480
  35. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 13, US TPB p.250
  36. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 13, US TPB p.250/252
  37. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 8, US TPB p.157
  38. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 8, US TPB p.155
  39. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 15, US TPB p.280
  40. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 8, US TPB p.157
  41. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 13, US TPB p.249
  42. Deadhouse Landing, Chapter 15, US TPB p.287
  43. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 20
  44. Spoiler Chat: Orb Sceptre Throne with Ian C. Esslemont - A Critical Dragon - See 12:30
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