The Crimson Guard - C I V I L W A R final 2

'Civil War', Shimmer on a book cover simulation by Corporal Nobbs

"Pretty damn scary."
―Kyle, describing Skinner[src]

Skinner was an Avowed within the Crimson Guard. He had founded and once commanded the Ninth Blade of the Guard.[1] A tall man, he wore a magical suit of long, black iron mail with articulated gauntlets given to him by Ardata, which he never removed.[2][3] Over his armor he wore a surcoat of an almost black, shimmering cloth dusted by flower petals displaying Ardata's heraldry. He wielded a greatsword whose blade was "mottled black in corrosion".[4]

Skinner had reddish-blond hair and a face marked by scars.[5]

In Midnight TidesEdit

After Iron Bars killed the preternaturally skilled Emperor of the Tiste Edur, Rhulad Sengar, he remarked at how good and fast with the sword his enemy had been. With another five years of experience, he noted, the emperor would have been skilled enough to give Shimmer, Blues, or even Skinner trouble.[6] When the young emperor awoke on the island of the Crippled God, the god marveled that an Avowed of the Crimson Guard had unwittingly aided their cause. He told Rhulad to be glad it had not been Skinner or Cowl for surely they would have taken more notice of the emperor and that would not have been a good thing.[7]

In The BonehuntersEdit

The Soldier of High House Death and Hood's other servants searched for Skinner. The mounted Seguleh warrior was hot on Skinner's trail when Hood intervened and temporarily sent him to a monastery of D'rek in Seven Cities. After conversing with Cutter and Heboric, the enraged Soldier opened a portal and departed shouting, "Skinner! Hear me, you damned Avowed! Cheater of death! I am coming for you! Now!"[8]

In Toll the HoundsEdit

(Information needed)

In The Crippled GodEdit

(Information needed)

In Night of Knives Edit

The Malazan First Sword Temper mentioned that Skinner was the only Guardsman reported to have survived a clash with Dassem Ultor.[9]

In Return of the Crimson Guard Edit

Skinner and Cowl by Shadaan

Skinner and Cowl by Shadaan

Skinner was a key figure in the defense of the Guard's holdings on Stratem during the Malazan invasion. He claimed to have nearly taken Kellanved in the fighting before Dassem Ultor's intervention. Afterwards, he supported the Diaspora that scattered the Guard across the world. Skinner spent at least some of the intervening period with his new patron Ardata on Jacuruku.

With the end of the Diaspora, the Crimson Guard gathered at Fortress Haven on Stratem where Skinner was expected to lead them if the missing Duke K'azz D'Avore was not found. Shimmer met with Skinner for the first time in nearly a century and Kyle thought she "looked shaken" afterwards.[10] She no longer recognized the man she once knew and thought it strange that he never removed his new patron's armour, even to sleep.[11]

Unbeknownst to most of the Guard Skinner and Cowl had secretly betrayed K'azz D'avore, trapping him in the Dolmens of Tien. The pair murdered fellow Guard Stoop when he questioned their indifference to locating their missing leader, and blamed the crime on Kyle, the new recruit who had witnessed the attack.[12]

The Guard, now reunited under Skinner's leadership, made haste towards the Malazan imperial capital at Unta. Skinner led a select squad of Avowed to the Malazan Imperial Palace, but was disappointed not to find Empress Laseen in residence.[13]
Skinner vs Dassem

Interpretation of the fight between Skinner and Dassem by Enaglio

When a clash between the Crimson Guard and the Malazans on Quon Tali became inevitable, Shadowthrone and Cotillion struck a deal with Dassem to counter Skinner's influence on the battlefield, which would have been deadly for the Malazans during the impending clash.[14] During the Battle of the Plains, Skinner and five of the Avowed faced Temper and Ferrule, who were joined at the last moment by Dassem. The three remnants of Dassem's First Sword successfully countered Skinner and his Disavowed, and finally repulsed them; in the fight between Skinner and Dassem, Skinner taking a heavy wound to his neck. Skinner and the remaining Disavowed retreated through the Crippled God's warren.[15]

Skinner was disavowed by K'azz D'Avore for his conduct leading up to and during the Battle of the Plains,[16] after which he allied himself with the Crippled God and claimed the title of King of the High House Chains.[17]

In StonewielderEdit

Skinner led Mara, Shijel, and others of the Disavowed to assault the Sky Tower and seize the fragment of the Crippled God that the Stormguard kept as their holiest relic. As they were making their escape by warren, they were approached by their former comrades Blues, Shell, Fingers, Lazar, and Iron Bars. Skinner took the opportunity to mock Bars over the deaths of his command before making his exit.[18]

In Blood and BoneEdit

Skinner the avowed by luztheren

Skinner by Luztheren

Skinner and the other Disavowed turned up on Jacuruku, ostensibly as mercenaries in the employ of the Thaumaturg expedition against Jakal Viharn. Instead, Skinner pursued several fragments of his patron, the Crippled God: one at the Dolmens of Tien,[19] a second on a wrecked city of Meckros,[20] and a third within the Stormwall on Korelri.[21] Results of these searches were mixed, and it was revealed that Skinner actually sought the power of the fragments for his own purposes.

During his travel in the Jungle of Himatan, he and the other Disavowed fought against Ardata's sons and protectors. Afterwards, Rutana and Citravaghra showed themselves to taunt Skinner with the idea that K'azz was also in Jacuruku and that Ardata had made him her new consort.[22]

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

When Skinner later found K'azz with Ardata at Jakal Viharn he attempted to challenge K'azz for control of the Guard. Before the two came to blows, Ardata asked Skinner to "reconsider my offer and stand here by my side". When he declined, Ardata reclaimed the magical armor she had given him, which turned into a swarm of spiders that consumed Skinner down to his bones.[23]

Significant plot details end here.

In Kellanved's ReachEdit

In the very early days of the creation of the Malazan Empire, Skinner was the commander of his own troop of mercenaries. At the time that Malle served as the ruler of Gris, Skinner and his troop had been hired by Duke Baran of Baran to slay as many Wickans in the Wickan Plains as possible and to then bring the scalps of the slain to the Duke. It was because of this sort of characteristic activity that Skinner had 'earned' himself his nom de guerre: "Skinner".[24]

Skinner and his troop - some four hundred strong - were notorious. The mercenaries and their commander were commonly considered to be the "worst of the worst" of all the then existing mercenary groups. Many people thought that Skinner and his troop were no more than "hired bloody-handed murderers and killers".[25]

Skinner, at this period, was a tall, powerful-looking man, clad in a long mail coat with a two-handed sword belted at his side. His hair was blond, long and thick, and it and his thick beard were both curled. Others tended to think that Skinner seemed to be "too self-satisfied and smug", with a rather sardonic manner. Surprising many, the Crimson Guard under Courian D'Avore - usually considered by many to be mercenaries who were "paragons of merit" - recruited Skinner and his troop. Thus, Skinner and those he had brought with him, became Crimson Guardsmen. Both Courian's son, K'azz D'Avore, and Surat - the Guard's reigning champion - were greatly troubled and made uneasy by this inclusion of Skinner and his troop into the ranks of the Guard.[26]


"An old man emerged from the ditch, a creature
Of mud and wild autumn winds capering
Like a hare across a bouldered field, across
And through the stillness of time unhinged
That sprawls patient and unexpectant in the
Placewhere battle lies spent, unmoving and
Never again moving bodies strewn and
Death-twisted like lost languages tracking
Contorted glyphs on a barrow door, and he
Read well the aftermath, the disarticulated script
Rent and dissolute the pillars of self toppled
Like termite towers all spilled out round his
Dancing feet, and he shouted in gleeful
Revelation the truth he'd found, in these
Red-fleshed pronouncements—'There is peace!'
He shrieked. 'There is peace!' and it was
No difficult thing, where I sat in the saddle
Above salt-rimed horseflesh to lift my crossbow
Aim and loose the quarrel, skewering the madman
To his proclamation. 'Now,' said I, in the
Silence that followed, 'Now, there is peace.'
The Lay of Skinner
Fisher kel Tath[src]

Notes and referencesEdit

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