Temper [temp-er] was a Kanese master swordsman who spent over a decade as a member of Dassem Ultor's retinue of guards, known as Dassem's First Sword. He was sworn to protect the life of the First Sword of the Malazan Empire, who specifically chose him for his "conspicuous pig-headedness".
He was a huge man with close-cropped hair and a sickle moon scar that curved down his left temple to his chin. While serving under Dassem, he wore a gilded bronze helmet with an unusual design. Later he used a blackened steel helmet with mail coif, lobster tail, and cheek guards closed into a T-shaped vision slit. He was skilled with dual swords which sheathed behind his back, over each shoulder. He also kept short, blunt fighting daggers tucked beside each hip as back up weapons.
In Night of Knives
As a member of the Sword, he was present at the fall of Y'Ghatan during the subjugation of the Seven Cities. He held his ground and survived the final fight outside the city against its holy champion Surgen Ress, much to his own and everyone else's surprise. Coming to, Temper found out that Dassem was recovering in a tent surrounded by the Claws. He and Ferrule proceeded to the tent, and protected a comatose Dassem from the Claw assassins charged by Surly to kill them. Temper woke up a comatose Dassem by placing him in immediate danger, then witnessed Dassem dispatch most of the Claws almost single-handedly.
After Surly's betrayal, he, Ferrule, and Dassem Ultor quietly disappeared and travelled together for a while, eventually going their separate ways.
Temper ultimately wound up serving with the garrison on Malaz Island. While there, he was heavily involved with the events on the night of the Shadow moon, when Kellanved and Dancer ascended to the Shadow realm and became its masters.
After encountering several dangerous entities including one of the Hounds, he was drawn to Mock's Hold, where he encountered Possum and some other Claws. After sending the Claws running, in order to save his friend, Corinn, he made a pact with Dancer, and was forced by Pralt, the leader of Shadow cult, to become a distraction for the Azath House, helping Kellanved enter the Deadhouse. There, he held his own against the brute strength and the mental wiles of the Jaghut, Jhenna, in the process becoming the new guardian to the Deadhouse.
In The Bonehunters
By the time of The Bonehunters, Temper was described as an old yet still formidable man—an obvious veteran. He was huge and wide, with a hairless pate marked with liver spots, and scars seaming every part of his body. He was known to frequent Coop’s Hanged Man Inn, which lay across the street from the Deadhouse. One night at the Inn, he joined Banaschar and Braven Tooth as the Master Sergeant drank red-vine tea to mourn the loss of friends at the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan.
On the night Adjunct Tavore Paran arrived in Malaz City with her Malaz 14th Army to meet with Empress Laseen, Temper was working behind the bar driving a spigot into a cask. Foreigner called him over to stay with Bottle while Foreigner went to gather his things. Temper said any veteran of the 14th was safe in the bar as they knew the 14th well.
Later, Shadowthrone and three Wraiths of Shadow delivered the nearly dead body of Kalam Mekhar to the Deadhouse. Once their task was complete, the god was forced to leave quickly as Temper, fully dressed in archaic armour, burst out of the Inn's front door across the street. Seeing no one, he greeted the arriving Braven Tooth and both reentered the bar behind a Kanese woman.
In Reaper's Gale
During the Malazan invasion of the Letherii Empire, Corporal Tarr recalled his early training under Braven Tooth. The Master Sergeant had named him Tarr to emphasise the need to hold the line in battle as if tar under his feet held him fast. To help him remember his name, Braven Tooth told Tarr the story of Temper, another soldier with tar under his feet, who stood with Dassem Ultor outside Y'Ghatan when the First Sword fell. Tarr thought such a man could only exist in the Master Sergeant's mind, although he thought Temper "a damned good name. Almost as good as Tarr."
Temper later turned up under the pseudonym of Master Sergeant Temp as one of several old Malazan officers, including Braven Tooth, who came to the Empire's aid during the Malazan civil war. He traveled to Unta after it was attacked by the Crimson Guard and trained the ragtag elements of citizen militia, guardsmen, and soldiers of the Imperial Army, transforming them into an effective fighting force.
At the subsequent Battle of the Plains against the Talian League he fought under Braven Tooth, who commanded the army's left flank battle group, which was the only one not to break during the fighting.
After the first day's fighting he was reunited with his fellow Sword-mate Ferrule. On the second day's fight, now against the Crimson Guard, The two of them squared off against five of the Guard including Skinner, forcing Dassem Ultor to slip to their side and lead the attack on the five Disavowed. The two of them more than held their own, defending Dassem's back while Dassem went up against Skinner. Having beaten the Avowed, they returned back to the ranks as if nothing had happened, denying Dassem's existence to any onlookers.
After the battle was over, Temper joined Urko Crust, Amaron, Braven Tooth, and Ferrule on the hunt for the man-jackal Ryllandaras. Together with the magic of the seeress Liss they battled Ryllandaras to a bloody standstill until the Seguleh Rell appeared to deliver the killing blow, knocking the creature through a magic gate. Temper was sorely injured in the fight.
In Blood and Bone
In The Crippled God
- "Another bastard waiting...for something. Only, with him, I suspect it’d be a bad thing if it ever arrived"
- ―Banaschar, contemplating Temper, who was ordering a tankard of Coop’s Old Malazan Dark
Notes and references
- Night of Knives, Chapter 2, US TPB p.45/57
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5, US TPB p.249
- Night of Knives, Chapter 4, Transworld Digital ebook p.272/273
- Night of Knives, Chapter 3, Transworld Digital ebook p.170
- Night of Knives, Chapter 4
- Night of Knives, Chapter 4, UK HB p.175/176
- Night of Knives, Chapter 3, US TPB p.100-101
- Night of Knives, Chapter 4
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5
- Night of Knives, Chapter 5
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.682
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.709-711
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.923
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.955-957
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.513-514
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 2, US HC p.313
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3, Chapter 2
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 5, UK PB p.679-686
- Stonewielder, Chapter 1, UK TPB p.114-115
- Blood and Bone, Chapter 10, UK large PB p.591
- The Crippled God, Chapter 18, US MMPB p.669-671