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"Twilight, Watch and Rise. Guarding the Shores of Night"
―About the Shake, Deadsmell[src]
"To be Shake was to know grief"

The Shake were a subjugated people within the Letherii Empire, who were the original inhabitants of the empire's central west coast and a number of islands off shore.[1].[2] They were hated and feared by both the Letherii and their tribal neighbours, and their population dwindled in numbers.[3] Many of the Shake had interbred for so long with the Letherii that they retained only remnants of their original Shake blood.[4]

The Shore[]

The Shake religion was known as "The Shore"[5] and the Shake people were known as "of the shore" or "children of the shore."[6] They believed the world began with only the sea and would one day return to the same. The sea's thirst was endless, gnawing at the shore, endlessly rising, and devouring all. The Shake were but helpless witnesses to the inevitable. Their god was the shore who was engaged in daily battle with the sea. Unlike the other tribes conquered by the Letherii, they had raised no army against the invaders as their belief in the shore held no vast power. It was a belief in the mutable and in transformation. Their god had no face but every face. Their temple was the shore where land and sea waged war eternally--an endless cycle of building and dissolution. It was the same battle fought by the Shake.[7]

The high-cliffed island of Second Maiden Fort was known to the Shake as "The Isle" and was their sacred place, desecrated by the Letherii prison that now occupied it. It had once been connected to the mainland until the sea had risen to isolate it in the Katter Bight.[8]

The Shake calendar was based on the Year of the Isle with the events of Reaper's Gale taking place approximately in the 2113rd year of that calendar.[9]

The word "Shake" could also be used to precede the given name of someone who was of the Shake.[2] For example, the man named Brullyg could be referred to as "Shake Brullyg".[2]

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


The Shake appeared to be descendants of a small number of Tiste Andii refugees who had hidden among the local Human population after the fall of the K'Chain Che'Malle and Scabandari Bloodeye's betrayal of Silchas Ruin, although this knowledge had been lost to them.[2] Their royal titles, based on the stages of night between sunset and sunrise, originated from the Andii and retained their names from the Andii language.[2]

The Shake bloodline was also impacted by the K'Chain Che'Malle as some children were born with features reminiscent of that lizard-like race. The children thus marked who were not killed at birth were trained as witches and warlocks.[10] Deadsmell theorised the Shake guarded the Shore because that was where the newborn K'Chain Che'Malle not claimed by a Matron came from.[2]

The Coven[]

The two hundred Shake shoulderwomen (or witches) who remained were known as the coven and keepers of the Old Ways.[11] Although the Shake were nominally ruled by their royal family, true power lay with the coven.[12] Their magic came from demons of the sea who had once faced a war of slaughter. Determined to survive, these demons had cast their seeds into the waves and tidal pools where they sought the right mother. From time to time they found a woman's womb where a child was already growing and stole its fate. A child thus born was considered demon-kissed and possessed true power from even a single drop of demon blood in their veins. Often such children possessed taloned hands and feet and they were brought into the coven to learn the Old Ways. But for most the taint was deeper, giving the infant scaled, elongated faces, twitching blunt tails, and lurid green eyes. These were seen as abominations and cast from the cliffs on the Isle as gifts of mortal blood to the thirsty sea.[13] Male warlocks were much fewer in number than their female counterparts because male infants were more likely to possess acceptable demonic traits and be thrown to their deaths.[14] Individually they were prodigious casters of curses, but untied together they could "work nastier rituals."[15]

Their practices did not endear the Shake to their neighbours. The Tarthenal viewed them with horror and the Nerek hunted their people in the forests. The Faraed thought them child-snatchers and left husks of bread for them on tree stumps as if they were malignant crows.[16] The Letherii had launched a pogrom to exterminate the coven seeing them as a seed of resistance. But the coven remained.[17]

Shake witches and warlocks were able to communicate with each other long distance through a method known as "cob to web."[18]

Notable Shake[]

The queen of the Shake was Yan Tovis, or "Twilight", who had been an Atri-Preda in the Letherii Empire before she absconded and returned to the Shake to claim her throne. Her brother, Yedan Derryg held the titles of Prince and Watch of the Shake.

House of the Shake[]

Despite their subjugation, the Shake maintained a matrilineal royal line.[19] There were several positions that were occupied by members of royal blood. Their titles the stages of night between sunset and sunrise and their names came from the Tiste Andii language.[2] The Queen appeared to choose the Rise.[2]

  • Twilight, Queen of the Shake (Yan Tovis)
  • The Rise, King of the Shake (unoccupied)
  • The Watch (Yedan Derryg)
  • Awakening Dawn (unoccupied)

In ancient times a 'Sister of Cold Nights' used to stand by the Queen of the Shake. Korlat offered to fill that role and Yan Tovis accepted her into the House of the Shake.[20] This tradition may have been based on repeated appearances of the Elder Goddess Sister of Cold Nights amongst the Shake.

In Reaper's Gale[]

After returning to Lether from her voyage around the world with the Third Edur Imperial Fleet, Yan Tovis left Letheras with her company of Shake to return to Fent Reach.[21] At Boaral Keep, she learned from Pully and Skwish that her mother had died, making Yan Tovis the new Queen of the Shake.[22] When she simultaneously discovered the Malazan invasion of Lether and reunited with her half-brother, Yedan Derryg the Watch, she abandoned her post in the Letherii Army to return to the Isle and take her throne.[23]

Already at the Isle was Shake Brullyg, who sought to claim rule over the Shake as its Rise, using the Malazan invasion as a pretext to call for independence.[2] When Adjunct Tavore Paran sought to make Second Maiden Fort her headquarters at the start of the invasion, her advanced squads isolated Brullyg in his rooms, effectively holding him prisoner. Both Adjunct Tavore and Yan Tovis reached the island at nearly the same time, and negotiations for its future began. Yan Tovis was convinced not to have Brullyg thrown out a window and the Malazans were encouraged to depart and support Shake sovereignty over the Isle.[2]

As Queen of the Shake, Yan Tovis broke from tradition and refused to bend to the will of the coven. No more would the witches and warlocks be their peoples' secret rulers, nor would theirs be the sole decision on the choice of the next Rise.[24] At the same she needed the witches on her side to maintain control over the Isle's large population of Letherii criminals, who had freed themselves during the Tiste Edur invasion. Without the witches to bolster her as queen, she was just another hated Letherii officer.[25]

Some time later, Clip arrived to escort Nimander Golit and his Tiste Andii relatives off the Isle. The Mortal Sword told Nimander that the Shake were their kin--a mix of Andii, Edur, Human, and possibly even Tiste Liosan blood. But he argued the Shake were not ready for this knowledge and perhaps never would be.[26]

In Dust of Dreams[]

Following the chaos brought by the Malazan defeat of the Letherii Empire and the destruction of their homeland, the Shake were forced onto the mainland where they were brutally attacked by the inhabitants. Yan Tovis made the decision to save her people by attempting to find their ancestral homeland, hidden somewhere within a Warren. Along the way, they were accidentally pulled into another Warren protected by a group of Tiste Liosan. Narrowly defeating the group, the remnants of the Shake continued their journey.

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

The Shake eventually reached the city of Kharkanas, also the ancestral home of the Tiste Andii. While there, Yan Tovis and Yedan Derryg learned the truth of their people's past when it was revealed that it was actually the Shake who were born of the intermingling between Light and Dark. This was represented by a shore near Kharkanas, vaguely remembered and referred to by the Shake as the Shore.

Significant plot details end here.

In The Crippled God[]

(Information needed)

In Forge of Darkness[]

Long ago the Shake were a sect of the Tiste that worshipped the spirits of the land in Kurald Galain and appeared to be relatives of the Deniers. They lived in monasteries divided into two segments--Yan, Sons of the Mother and Yedan, Daughters of the Father. Many Sons and Daughters were lifebound mates of each other, a bond somewhat similar to marriage.[27]

The great temple at Kharkanas was once dedicated to the river god, Dorssan Ryl, who was worshipped by the Shake. Since then the sect had devolved into a cult of asceticism and self-abnegation that conflated suffering with faith.[28] The Azathanai, T'riss, claimed that the Shake killed the river god by chaining him to their fountains before she broke the bond and resurrected the god.[29]

The monks' holy language was called 'Shake', also referred to as 'Yedan' dialect.[30]

The Shake population was so devastated by the wars against the Forulkan and the Jheleck that the monks resorted to child theft to increase their numbers.[31]

In Fall of Light[]

(Information needed)

Notable ancient Shake[]


"Open to them your hand to the shore, watch them walk into the sea.
Press upon them all they need, see them yearn for all they want.
Gift to them the calm pool of words, watch them draw the sword.
Bless upon them the satiation of peace, see them starve for war.
Grant them darkness and they will lust for light.
Deliver to them death and hear them beg for life.
Beget life and they will murder your kin.
Be as they are and they see you different.
Show wisdom and you are a fool.
The shore gives way to the sea.
And the sea, my friends,
Does not dream of you.
―Shake Prayer[src]

"The sea is blind to the road
And the road is blind to the rain
The road welcomes no footfalls
The blind are an ocean's flood
On the road's shore

Walk then unseeing
Like children with hands outstretched
Down to valleys of blinding darkness
The road leads down through shadows
Of weeping gods

This sea knows but one tide flowing
Into sorrow's depthless chambers
The sea is shore to the road
And the road is the sea's river
To the blind

When I hear the first footfalls
I know the end has come
And the rain shall rise
Like children with hands

I am the road fleeing the sun
And the road is blind to the sea
And the sea is blind to the shore
And the shore is blind
To the sea

The sea is blind...
―Riddle of the Road of Gallan
Shake chant[src]

"She was dying but we carried her down to the shore. There was light stretched like skin over her pain, but it was thin and fast fraying. None of us dared note in any whisper of irony, how she who was named Awakening Dawn was now fading in this morning's wretched rise.

  Her weak gestures had brought her down here, where the silver waves fell like rain and the froth at the curling foot was flecked crimson. Bodies bloated and pale fanned limbs in the shallows, and we wondered at the fitness of her last command.

  Is it suit to face your slayer? Soon enough I will answer that for myself. We can hear the legions mustering again behind the flowing wall, and the others are drawing back to ready their rough line. So few left. Perhaps this is what she came to see, before the killing light dried her eyes.
Shake fragment, Kharkanas, Author unknown[src]

Notes and references[]