- "Command does not come from consensus. I deliver the orders and my officers are to obey them. They should be relieved that is the case, for all responsibility lies with me and me alone. No-one else shall have to answer to the empress."
- ―Tavore Paran
Tavore Paran [Tah-vōr Pah-ran] was the second child of House Paran and sister to Ganoes and Felisin. She was a year younger than her brother, so was most likely born in the 1143rd year of Burn's Sleep, presumably in Unta where the family was based.
In 1161 BS, Tavore was described as being almost as tall as Ganoes, plain with pale eyes, a slash of bloodless lines comprising her features, with reddish hair trimmed shorter than was the style. Three years later in 1164 BS, she was described as "tall, somewhat broad in the hips, her breasts slightly oversized for her frame" with "unyielding, unprepossessing features", unremarkable eyes, and her cropped, reddish hair now streaked with grey. When not arrayed for battle her "clothes were well made, but plain and virtually colourless."
Ganoes implied that Tavore had been in the habit of making up for him, assuming the burdens of his failures. He thought her cold and canny as a child, unable to accept defeat, and somehow able to avoid the habit of self-pity that he had inherited from their parents. He also noted that she had no care for her standing amongst the nobility, but highly valued her professional reputation in the eyes of the Empress and her court. Paran described her as cold-eyed, pragmatic, free of sentimentality, and brutally rational. Felisin thought her older sister had never known a playful moment as a child.
Tavore was regarded as being 'cold iron'. At the age of nine, she had claimed her brother's toy soldiers to recreate historical battles between the Kingdom of Unta and the rebelling House D'Avore, working through every possible sequence of tactics as she sought victory where Duke Kenussen D'Avore had failed.
In Gardens of the Moon
When Ganoes came to Unta to report to Adjunct Lorn he visited the family estate and met Tavore there. She indicated that due to their father's failing health, she had taken over managing the family's affairs.
In Deadhouse Gates
Tavore had become Adjunct to Empress Laseen in the 1163rd year of Burn's Sleep after the death of Adjunct Lorn. In her new position, she assisted Laseen in her cull of Unta's noble families. To prove her loyalty to the Empress, she renounced her house and included her family in the cull. She sent her younger sister Felisin with the other nobles to work in the Otataral mines. According to Gamet, the Paran's loyal guard captain, she had ordered the arrests of her parents prior to their deaths by natural causes.
Tavore's renunciation of her house had not been as absolute as it seemed. It transpired that she had arranged for Baudin, who seemed to be a Talon, to be sent to the Skullcup mine alongside Felisin. He was to protect her and arrange for her escape, but Felisin succumbed to fatalism and Baudin could not rescue a person who did not want to be rescued. When the Skullcup prison camp was overthrown in the early days of the Whirlwind rebellion, Felisin and Baudin disappeared, their fates unknown.
After the Whirlwind spread across Seven Cities, Tavore was sent to Aren with the Malazan 14th Army to lead the punitive response. She was accompanied by Gamet as well as her personal aide T'amber, who was assumed to also be her lover. The army arrived at Aren shortly after the fall of Coltaine and Mallick Rel's betrayal of High Fist Pormqual.
In Memories of Ice
When High Fist Dujek Onearm informed Ganoes Paran of his family's fate back in Unta, he also noted that Tavore had managed to save the Paran holdings in the city, their outlying estates, and most of their trade agreements. He further pointed out that noble children too young to marry had all been slain by unofficial order and that Tavore's actions had likely spared her sister's life. He thought her well suited to the role of Adjunct.
Ganoes knew in his heart that Tavore would find a way to rescue Felisin from the otataral mine and likely had sent a guardian or two to protect her. But he was sure that the Felisin she rescued would no longer be the child they knew. He wished Tavore had found another way, and thought that the new Adjunct would someday pay dearly for her decisions.
In House of Chains
Tavore readied the Malaz 14th Army at Aren to crush the Seven Cities rebellion. Gamet, now promoted to Fist, served as her advisor and liaison to the survivors of Coltaine's Malaz 7th Army and Aren's defenders. At the same time she quietly arranged for Pearl and Lostara Yil to seek out the fate of her sister Felisin. To entice the disgraced Claw's cooperation, she revealed Baudin's links to the Talon. Pearl hoped to return to the Empress' good graces by capturing Baudin and rolling up his organisation.
The Adjunct's efforts nearly came to a disastrous end before they even began. At the 8th Legion's initial muster, Captain Keneb's adopted son, Grub, slipped the grasp of his nurse and appeared beside the Adjunct pointing a human thigh bone at the assembled soldiers. This sparked fears of a bad omen that Fiddler was determined to turn to the army's own benefit. At his suggestion, a human bone became part of each soldier's uniform. Tavore endorsed the veteran's idea and further bolstered it by incorporating a bone into the 14th Army's official standard.
Adjunct Tavore led the 14th Army from Aren along the trail of the Chain of Dogs, but in reverse. Sha'ik did not contest the Malazan advance, preferring to hold her army within her Raraku sanctuary protected by the Whirlwind Goddess. Before reaching Raraku, the army was stung several times by attacks from Leoman's desert raiders. Tavore prepared a successful ambush for their opponents using the historical tactics of Dassem Ultor.
At Raraku's border, she drew her Otataral sword of office and the Whirlwind withdrew, allowing the 14th Army entrance. Tavore positioned her legions around the enemy's camp at the Pan'arak Oasis, but the Battle of Raraku did not proceed as expected. On the eve of battle, the Army of the Apocalypse's entrenchments were assaulted by an army of ghosts and Korbolo Dom's Dogslayers were killed. Internal conflicts among the rebellion's leaders led to the deaths or disablements of Sha'ik's High Mages.
The next morning, Sha'ik Reborn challenged Adjunct Tavore, the sister she believed had abandoned and condemned her, to single combat. As Felisin was clad head to toe in armour, Tavore was unaware she faced her own sister. The two squared off, but Sha'ik's patron, the Whirlwind Goddess, was slain elsewhere by Korbolo Dom's assassins. Felisin was now no longer the Goddess' avenging Chosen, but merely a noblewoman with no sword training. Tavore easily slapped aside her sister's weapon and killed her with a single sword thrust, never realizing who she really was.
- "I just wanted to know, Tavore, why you did it. And why you did not love me, when I loved you. I--I think that's what I wanted to know. Heavy. So very heavy...Oh, Mother, look at us now."
- ―Felisin's dying thoughts
In the aftermath of Sha'ik's fall, Leoman ordered his warriors to scatter and flee. Pearl and Lostara Yil had learned of Felisin's identity as Sha'ik but arrived too late to save her. They did, however, conspire to keep the fact that Tavore had killed her own sister from the Adjunct, and Pearl spirited her body away to be secretly buried on a hillside. Pearl also delivered an unconscious Korbolo Dom to Tavore to face the Empress' justice. Gamet was discovered to have died overnight in his sleep and Tavore promoted Keneb to replace him. The Raraku desert was also deluged by water to form an inland sea. Once the 14th Army was able to reorganise, it readied to follow Leoman and finish their task.
In The Bonehunters
After the Battle of Raraku, Leoman led the Army of the Apocalypse westward towards Y'Ghatan and the 14th Army followed. Meanwhile, Dujek's Host and Admiral Nok's fleet concentrated on reinforcing garrisons and pacifying the cities of the north.
Distrust was rife among the commanders of the Malazan forces in Seven Cities. Tavore kept in regular contact with Dujek, but the High Fist also held secret meetings with Tayschrenn, Quick Ben, and Kalam Mekhar behind the Adjunct's back. Soon after, Tavore sent Quick Ben, the army's only High Mage, and Kalam on a mission away — an action Kalam understood as a signal their secret meetings had not gone unnoticed. Pearl remained as a spy in Tavore's camp, which Fiddler took as a sign of the empress' lack of trust in Tavore. T'amber continued to serve Tavore, but she was not held in respect by any of the Adjunct's officers. Even the Adjunct's own Fists, Blistig and Tene Baralta, were so angered and alarmed by Tavore's secrecy and seeming incompetence on strategy that they attempted to enlist their fellow officers in a plot to corner the Adjunct and force some answers.
The Adjunct refused all but token assistance from Dujek in preparation for the Siege of Y'Ghatan, much to her own army's dismay. Plans to assault Leoman's entrenched defences appeared to proceed recklessly without backup. On the eve of battle, Tavore explained her reasoning to a stunned Fist Keneb. The core of Dujek's army was gone after the Siege of Coral and it was a spent force like its commander. Better that Tavore be disrespected for her seeming incompetence then for the 14th Army's hopes in Dujek be dashed, or their enemies across Seven Cities be emboldened. Both Dujek and Tavore agreed that the assault on Y'Ghatan had to begin immediately.
The Last Siege of Y'Ghatan began promisingly enough. Malazan sappers breached the walls with Moranth munitions and the Marines and infantry poured into the city. Once inside, the Malazans immediately came under attack from hidden archers and warriors. But when enough Malazans were engaged in street fighting inside the city, Leoman sprung his trap. The city's olive oil-soaked buildings were set alight and the streets quickly became an inferno. Although hundreds escaped, thousands of Malazans were killed. The Army of the Apocalypse was no more, but Pearl informed Tavore that Leoman was not dead and the Wickan warlocks, Nil and Nether, confirmed that he had escaped with the aid of the Queen of Dreams. Unable to pursue Leoman, Tavore stated that while Leoman "yet lives there will be no victory in the eyes of the Empress. Y'Ghatan will remain as it always has been, a curse upon the empire." The 14th Army dealt with the dead and wounded for two days before it was forced to march in the face of Poliel's rapidly approaching plague.
Tavore found herself at odds with the Empress, due to Laseen's betrayal of the Wickans and the 14th Army. She chose to leave the Empire and, along with Kalam and T'amber, cut through the Claw ambushes set up for them throughout Malaz City to reach the harbour where her now loyal army was waiting.
In Reaper's Gale
Tavore was stricken with grief by T'amber's death, although she tried to remain in tight control of her emotions so that it did not show. But Blistig, Withal, and the others aboard the Froth Wolf recognised her as a woman more dead than alive. By the time the fleet neared Theft to resupply, the 14th Army was demoralised and near mutiny with no home to return to. Lostara Yil stepped in to replace T'amber as Tavore's personal aide to manage the nearly eight thousand remaining miserable soldiers. She reawakened the Adjunct's spirit in a night-long argument in the Adjunct's cabin. Afterwards, Tavore called together the Fists and senior officers to deliver a speech defining the Bonehunters within the context of other storied Malazan armies and steeling them for the fight ahead. Despite being cast off by the Empress, they were still Malazan and Tavore held onto the title of Adjunct. It was at this point that the first hints of her plans were revealed and she mentioned the long "unwitnessed" journey to come.
In Dust of Dreams
Leading the Bonehunters and accompanied by the Army of Lether, Tavore guided the troops to the Wastes which would ultimately lead them to Kolanse.
As they proceeded through the Wastes, Tavore's army inadvertently crossed the path of an army of the K'Chain Nah'ruk who attacked them. The ranks of the Bonehunters were decimated. Tavore eventually fell unconscious but survived the battle, due in part to the efforts of Lostara Yil, among others.
In The Crippled God
Tavore finally revealed that her goal was to free the Crippled God. In this endeavour, her Bonehunters rendezvoused with the Khundryl Burned Tears, the Letherii, the Perish Grey Helms and the Bolkando, led by Queen Abrastal. While the Perish, Letherii and Bolkando marched south along the coast, Tavore ordered the Bonehunters to march through the Glass Desert — a reportedly uncrossable wasteland, according to Queen Abrastal.
The march was conducted mostly at night with rationed water, but even so, hundreds, perhaps thousands, died. Their pack animals dead, the Heavies were forced to pull the supply wagons while Tavore would not answer any question as to why they had to make such a crossing. After water ran out, the soldiers were forced to drink blood and urine, though their morale held up after uniting with the children of The Snake. Finally, when it was absolutely clear that the army would not make another march and Fist Blistig prepared to mutiny, Tavore used an enchanted dagger given to her by Mael to cut her hand open, raising a freshwater lake in the wasteland.
The army was then able to march into Kolanse and prepared a last stand against the northern Assail army while Tavore ordered the Heavies and Marines, barely a hundred strong, to defend against a legion of Kolansii where the Crippled God's body healed. Just before the battle, Tavore asked Lostara Yil to help her don her armor. After opening an ornate box with the Paran family seal on it Lostara removed a necklace with a lone ornament in the shape of an eagle's talon confirming that Tavore was involved with, likely a member of, the Talon.
The Bonehunters were cut down in their thousands while the Khundryl Tears launched their final charge with Warleader Gall. Tavore launched a desperate charge accompanied by Ruthan Gudd, Lostara Yil and Henar Vygulf. A band of regulars diverted from the main force to support them.
Tavore's army was eventually relieved by the forces of her brother Ganoes Paran from the east. As Tavore was reunited with her brother, she blamed herself for the loss of Felisin, though she was still ignorant to the full extent of her role in the former's death.
She was present at the barrow raising outside the Spire for the fallen.
Asked by a reader if Tavore's father had been a Talon, if Throatslitter had possibly acted on her orders and shielded Blistig from assassination attempts and if Tavore, and her father before her, had been the Head of the Talon Steven Erikson answered that it all sounded very plausible and "let's go with it". For the full question and answer see his answer to question 6 of the Tor Q&A session.
Steven Erikson wrote at length about why he portrayed Tavore the way he did. He deliberately created the leader of the Bonehunters to be a female. It was intentional that Tavore was a lesbian, that she was plain and that there was very little hint of her internal life. For his full comments read his answer to questions 43 and 53 of the Tor Q&A session.
Erikson says he kept Tavore's character at arms length from the readers by avoiding her point of view through most of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. This was a stylistic lesson he learned through his handling of Anomander Rake earlier in the series. Holding her at a distance was one of Erikson's "great joys of the writing of the series" and had the effect of keeping her "mysterious".
- Quick Ben: "Ganoes, tell me something."
- Ganoes Paran: "What?"
- Quick Ben: "Tavore. Can we trust her?"
- Ganoes Paran: "Tavore will do, wizard, what needs to be done."
- Quick Ben: "To suit her or her soldiers?"
- Ganoes Paran: "For her, friend, there is no distinction."
- ―Ganoes Paran on his sister, Tavore[src]
- "I am a child of the Emperor – what more is there for you to understand, Lostara Yil?"
- ―Tavore to Lostara Yil
Notes and references
- An Evening with Steven Erikson by Nerdaí Irish Nerds - As pronounced by Erikson at 31:17
- Ten Very Big Books podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 18:44
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.49
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.233
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.316
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.131-134
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.657-658
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.592
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.512
- House of Chains, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.591-592
- Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.48-50
- Deadhouse Gates, Prologue
- House of Chains, Chapter 5
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.287
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.589
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 24, US HC p.589
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.133
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.224
- House of Chains, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.238-245
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.316-320
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.408/409
- House of Chains, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.409
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.493
- House of Chains, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.412
- House of Chains, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.480
- House of Chains, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.621-624/632-644
- House of Chains, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.720
- House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.800-802
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.832-833
- House of Chains, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.795-797/813-814
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.822-828
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.826-828
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.829
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.829-831
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.829-830
- House of Chains, Chapter 26, US SFBC p.822/834
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.198-199
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.103
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.195
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.99
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.252
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.199
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.250-254
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.291-292/300-301
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.321/327
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.348-349
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.347
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.354-358/370
- The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.111
- The Crippled God, Chapter 24, UK HB p.860
- The Crippled God, Chapter 24, UK HB p.871
- Steven Erikson (2014) Ask Steven Erikson Your Crippled God Questions!, Tor Blogs, Macmillan, Accessed: 16-12-2014, Available: <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/11/steven-erikson-the-crippled-god-q-and-a>, see Steven Erikson's answer to question 6
- Steven Erikson (2014) Ask Steven Erikson Your Crippled God Questions!, Tor Blogs, Macmillan, Accessed: 16-12-2014, Available: <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/11/steven-erikson-the-crippled-god-q-and-a>, see Steven Erikson's answer to question 11
- Steven Erikson (2014) Ask Steven Erikson Your Crippled God Questions!, Tor Blogs, Macmillan, Accessed: 16-12-2014, Available: <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/11/steven-erikson-the-crippled-god-q-and-a>, see Steven Erikson's answer to question 43 and 53
- The Crippled Blog
- Books with Brittany - see 27:45
- Steven Erikson Talks Building Malazan, Facebook Post, & More - see 22:30