Malazan Wiki
Malazan Wiki

Spiritwalkers were the priests or elders of the Tanno people. They were distinguished by their bright orange robes.[1][2]

Spiritwalkers were mages of a form, but their sorcery was sung.[3] They were devoted to peace, but the power of their songs was said to be immense. The Spiritwalker Kimloc claimed the power to destroy Malazan armies and to potentially raise an individual to Ascendancy. A Spiritwalker only had to touch someone to know their story or history. They could also store some of their power in an inanimate object so that it could be retrieved later even by a non-initiate.[4] Tanno sorcery was elliptical, so a Tanno song was like a serpent eating its own tail.[5] They were also said to possess the power to "quest through a hidden world--not a true warren, but a realm where souls are freed of flesh and bone."[6]

A Tanno tutor who was a Spiritwalker, once told his pupil that the Spiritwalkers believed that wisdom was depthless and that staying ignorant kept people in the shallows. According to him, every Tanno one day took a final spiritwalk and cut the last tether, meaning the soul could not go back. When that happened, the other Tannos mourned, because they knew that the Spiritwalker had drowned.[7]

The Tanno cult claimed a direct descent from the cult of the Nameless Ones and the Spiritwalkers maintained that their power was based on the original patterns created by their predecessors' rituals. It was believed that those patterns criss-crossed the entire sub-continent of Seven Cities and remained to the present day.[8]

Karakarang was the Tanno cult's Holy City.[9] Spiritwalkers often accompanied the drakes bringing pilgrims to Rutu Jelba, the start of the pilgrim route to Karakarang.[10]

Notable Spiritwalkers[]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

The Spiritwalker Kimloc asked Fiddler for the story of the Bridgeburners so he might create a Tanno song for them. He told the Falari that such a song had never been created before (possibly meaning for such a large group of people) and that the song had the potential for Ascendancy. Kimloc said that it would only require for him to touch Fiddler briefly but the latter declined the offer. Kimloc briefly touched Fiddler's shoulder as they said good-bye.[13]

A conch shell, imbued with Kimloc's power and given to Fiddler as a thank you gift, saved the sappers life when he accidentally threw it at pursuing D'ivers instead of a Cusser.[14]

In House of Chains[]

It transpired that Kimloc had indeed created a song for the Bridgeburners. But for it to come into its full power and be sanctified, it was necessary for one of the regiment to return to Raraku, which was the beginning of their song.[15] This happened when the Malaz 14th Army clashed with the Army of the Whirlwind in the Holy Desert and Kalam Mekhar, Quick Ben, and Fiddler returned to Raraku.[16]

In The Bonehunters[]

Taxilian attempted to flee the Bluetongue Plague ravaging Seven Cities by taking a drake pilgrim ship to Rutu Jelba. Two days west of the city, they were surrounded by ships of the Third Edur Imperial Fleet. The drake's Spiritwalker attempted to communicate and negotiate with the Tiste Edur before the Edur unleashed their Chaos sorcery upon him. The Spiritwalker lasted much longer under the assault than the Edur expected, causing much consternation. But eventually he fell and all the pilgrims but Taxilian were cut open and thrown to the sharks.[10]

Some time afterwards, the Tanno Spiritwalkers placed Otataral Island under self-imposed isolation. Once the plague was broken, they lifted the order and merchants from Rutu Jelba made their way to the mainland. They brought basic staples to trade, but found mostly empty villages.[17]


In his first appearance, Icarium was wearing a faded Tano Telaba.[18]

It is likely that the origin of the Tanno cult is connected to the history of the ghost named Tanno who appeared to Kalam.[19]

Notes and references[]