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Seven Cities

Y'Ghatan [yeah-gah-tan][1]was a city in the north of the Seven Cities sub-continent, and was the birthplace of both the First Empire[2] and the Apocalypse.[3] Also known as the City of the Olive Groves and the city of the sweet oils,[4] it was known for its production and vast stores of olive oil.[5] Its people were known as Y'Ghanii.[6]

The city sat atop a steep tel with ramped roads leading to its outer gates.[7][8] The city walls were whitewashed and uneven, a messy series of tiers built in successive eras of construction. The most recent series was "Malazan-built in the classic sloping style, twenty paces thick at its base." Roofed towers stood at the wall's corners and a dozen Malazan-built ballistae were spaced along the wall at equal intervals.[8][9][10]

Inside, the city was a maze of twisting streets, alleys, and tracks. No passage ran straight for more than thirty paces, and in many places the buildings above them came within an arm's length of touching each other, nearly blotting out the sky.[11] Its foundations had been built over on top of each other many times in succession going back ten thousand or more years.[11] The city had risen from the dust of its destruction many times over the millennia.[5]

The ruling Holy Falah'd usually sat in the Palace of Y'Ghatan. Central to the city was the Temple to Scalissara, Matron Goddess of Olives, though it was now dedicated to the Queen of Dreams after the Malazan conquest. The eight-sided temple was monstrously buttressed and the gold leaf and green copper tiles of its inner dome were painted by bird droppings. Seven lesser temples dedicated to each of the seven Holies encircled the central temple.[5] The flanking compound walls had been dedicated to the Malazan gods with friezes, metopes, caryatids, and panels.[12]

The roofs of the buildings in Y'Ghatan were mostly bleached, many festooned with clothes drying in the sun or awnings rippling in the wind. Numerous cylindrical, flat topped storage buildings, called Maethgara, housed the vast produce of olive oil that Y'Ghatan was famous for.[5] The Grand Maeth was attached to the palace.[13] The great statues of Scalissara that had once stood at the corners of the city's outer walls had fallen during the last conflagration and only their pedestals remained.[5]

The start of autumn was the end of crushing season, when oil was extracted from the olives and the city was crowded with merchants, grovers, potters, barrel-makers, wagoners, and caravans.[14] A road paved with stones led to the coast.[14]

Deep pits on the flats outside the city once produced clay for the city's potters, but had long ago dried up when the water table fell. Now they were used to dispose of refuse and the bodies of paupers wrapped in burial cloth.[15]

Notable residents[]


Y'Ghatan was the self-proclaimed First Holy City[16] of the subcontinent and its name derived from "Yareth Ghanatan",[17] the first recorded town in history of mankind.[4] Legend held that the city had been built atop the forge and bones of a blacksmith of The Abyss.[4]

An early account from before the time of the First Empire named the city "Yath-Ghatan". On the Nineteenth day of the Month of Leth-ara in the Year of Arenbal a battle had been fought with the Sar Trell south of the city. Only the will of future emperor Dessimbelackis spurred the failing legions to victory. From that success was born the First Empire.[2]

The poem Bones in the Walls, dating back to the First Empire, talked about Yareth Ghanatan being the crone as well as the child of the First Empire.[17] Over its history, there were seven great cities of Y'Ghatan, each built on the bones of the last.[4]

The first Holy City was said to have died during the Great Slaughter of the First Empire by the T'lan Imass. Every building was left standing, not a stone taken, to be buried by the sands.[18]

Siege of Y'Ghatan[]

The event know as the Siege of Y'Ghatan occurred just before Laseen took over as Empress in 1154 BS, and was the one led by Dassem Ultor. His barrow and that of his First Sword were located just outside the city.[19] By battle's end, the city had burned to the ground and eight to ten thousand Malazan soldiers had perished.[3] They were buried in sixteen massive barrows made of limestone blocks a half league south of the city.[20]

Sometime during the Malazan rule of the city, the murderous Gryllen had tormented the populace as a D'ivers rat swarm until the Malazans had flushed him out of the city by fire.[21]

In The Bonehunters[]

After the Whirlwind rebellion had overtaken Seven Cities, the rebels had assailed the Malazan temples, tearing down their statues and friezes and slaughtering hundreds of their priests. But they had battered futilely at the walls of the Temple of the Queen of Dreams in their attempt to drive out her foreign cult. Unsuccessful after six days, they "concluded the Queen was not their enemy after all, and had thereafter left her in peace."[22] Karpolan Demesand and the Trygalle Trade Guild then made a delivery of altar stones for the temple's holy pool.[23][24]

Leoman of the Flails and Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas fled to Y'Ghatan with the remnants of the Army of the Apocalypse when the Battle of Raraku ended with Sha'ik Reborn's death. Below the city walls, Leoman killed Vedor, Y'Ghatan's ruling Falah'd, and proclaimed himself the new Falah'd.[25] He forcibly evacuated the city's residents to Lothal in the northwest.[26]

Last Siege of Y'Ghatan Battle Map by Steven Erikson

Adjunct Tavore Paran, hot on their heels and pursuing with the Malaz 14th Army, tracked the rebels down to Y'Ghatan and laid siege, in what became known as the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan. After breaching the walls with Moranth munitions and entering Y'Ghatan, the 14th Army walked into Leoman's trap. While Leoman's four thousand fanatics[27] engaged the Malazans in street fighting, the city's stores of olive oil, which Leoman had hidden throughout the city, were set ablaze. Thousands of Malazan soldiers were trapped in the resulting firestorm while Leoman and Dunsparrow escaped with the aid of L'oric and the Queen of Dreams.[28]

An assorted collection of Malazan soldiers fled the flames to the temple where Corabb still sheltered. Fiddler's squad mage, Bottle, was able to sense rats fleeing the fires through the ruins below the temple. The Malazan soldiers used a Sharper to blast into the tunnels and escaped the same way.[29] Thousands of 14th Army soldiers were not so lucky.[30]

The firestorm was so intense that the city was left "a misshapen mound melted down atop its ragged hill" with rivers of melted lead, copper, silver, and gold bleeding from its edges.[31] The Warrens had been burned through down to The Abyss where Y'Ghatan stood and its ghosts had all been burned into nothing. Thousands and thousands of years of locked memories were gone.[32] Those elemental spirits who survived the flames were driven insane by the agony of the Malazan wounded. The spirits cursed the Malazans for creating the vast wound upon the land.[33] Nil declared that the city would not rise again from the ashes as it had done many times in the past.[34]

List of those who escaped via tunnels under the city[]



Badan Gruk referred to Helian as 'Stormcrawler' in reference to her escape from Y'Ghatan. It is not known if the term was in wider use.[35]

Notes and references[]

  1. Ten Very Big Books podcast As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 01:06:28
  2. 2.0 2.1 Midnight Tides, Chapter 20, Epigraph
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.199
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.135
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 The Bonehunters, Chapter 6
  6. The Bonehunters, Glossary
  7. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.365
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.236
  9. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.234
  10. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.283
  11. 11.0 11.1 Chapter 6, US SFBC p.228-229
  12. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.230
  13. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.225
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.136
  15. The Bonehunters, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.431
  16. House of Chains, Glossary
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, Epigraph
  18. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.342
  19. Night of Knives, Chapter 4
  20. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.234
  21. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 14, US HC p.195
  22. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.230-231
  23. The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.119
  24. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.314
  25. The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.180-182
  26. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.228
  27. The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.230
  28. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.303/313-316
  29. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.322-372
  30. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.327
  31. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.346/365
  32. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.357
  33. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.306/347-348
  34. The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.349
  35. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 5, UK HB p.177
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