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T'lan Imass

Page history last edited by Egwene 8 years, 4 months ago Saved with comment

The T'lan Imass


Appearance: brown skin, dried flesh, high cheeks, pronounced brow and chinless jaw (GotM, UK Trade, p.202) ,in life, Pran Chole has "smooth, gold skin" with eyes "a startling amber in color."


"Life is fire... With such words was born the First Empire. The Empire of Imass, the Empire of Humanity."

- Onos T'oolan - GotM, US HC, p.239



The T'lan Imass are one of the four founding races.  Also known to some as the Silent Host, the T'lan Imass are the remnant of a large number of Imass who achieved immortality through the Ritual of Tellann approximately 300 000 years prior to the main events of the Book of the Fallen. They appear as undead with withered skin.


The immortality wrought by the Ritual of Tellann of  300 000 years ago have resulted in damage and decay to most of them. T'lan Imass can disintegrate into dust (which is what they would be had the ritual not taken place) and travel with the aid of their Tellann warren, allowing them to cover vast distances and remain hidden. 


Physical Description


The Imass are the forebearers of humanity. In their prime, they had smooth gold skin and amber eyes, with high cheeks and pronounced brows. Though they look to be undead, they have simply been preserved through the Ritual of Tellann. The T'lan Imass have outlived their gods.


'The skin that stretched across the squat man’s robust bones was a shiny nut brown in colour, the texture of leather. Whatever flesh it had once covered had contracted to thin strips the consistency of oak roots – such muscles showed through torn patches here and there. The creature’s face, what Toc could see of it, bore a heavy chinless jawbone, high cheeks and a pronounced brow ridge. The eye sockets were dark holes.' - (GotM, UK Trade, p.202)


'The mud was transmogrifying, coalescing into the shapes of figures. Flint blades appeared, some grey, some the deep red of chalcedony. Bedraggled fur slowly sprouted, riding broad, bony shoulders. Bone helmets gleamed polished gold and brown - the skulls of beasts that Felisin could not imagine existing anywhere. Long ropes of filthy hair were now visible, mostly black or brown. The mud did not so much fall away as change. These creatures were one with the clay...All wore furs except one, who was smaller than the others and last to appear. It was bedecked in the oily, ragged feathers of colourful birds, and its long hair was iron grey streaked with red. Shell, antler and bone jewellery hung from its rotting hide shirt, but it appeared to carry no weapons.' - (DG, UK MMPB, p.375)


'Their faces were withered, the bones underneath close to the surface and robust. The sockets of their eyes were black pits. The wiry remnants of beards remained, except on the silver-haired one...' - (DG, UK MMPB, p.375)




The Imass developed tools of flint and had a connection with nature through their Bonecasters, their magic users. They wear clothes of fur and hide.  Their weapons can cut through the finest armor.


T'lan Imass bond with  Soletaken and D'ivers


'There is a bond between the T'lan Imass and Soletaken and D'ivers, a mysterious kinship that was unsuspected by the dwellers of this city - though they claimed for themselves the proud title of First Empire. That would have irritated the T'lan Imass - assuming such creatures can feel irritation - to have so boldly assumed a title that rightly belonged to them. Yet what drew them here was the ritual, and the need to set things right.' -Heboric -( DG, UK MMPB, p.517)


The T’lan Imass, had they found Dejim, would have acted without hesitation:  dragging forth those seven demonic souls, binding them into an eternity of pain, their power bled out, slowly and incrementally, to feed the T’lan bonecasters in their unceasing wars against the Jaghut. - (The Bonehunters, Prologue) 




T'lan Imass Customs and Rituals


The Ritual of Tellann


Silverfox:'The last Gathering...was hundreds of thousands of years ago, at which was invoked the Ritual of Tellann – the binding of the Tellann warren to each and every Imass. The ritual made them immortal...The life force of an entire people was bound in the name of a holy war destined to last for millennia...Logros and the clans under his command were entrusted with the task of defending the First Throne. The other armies departed to hunt down the last Jaghut strongholds – the Jaghut had raised barriers of ice. Omtose Phellack is a warren of ice...a place deathly cold and almost lifeless. Jaghut sorceries threatened the world . . . sea levels dropped, whole species died out – every mountain range was a barrier. Ice flowed in white rivers down from the slopes. Ice formed a league deep in places. As mortals, the Imass were scattered, their unity lost. They could not cross such barriers. There was starvation...As Tellann undead, our armies could cross such barriers. The efforts at eradication proved . . . costly. You (Dujek Onearm) have heard no whispers of those armies because many have been decimated, whilst others perhaps continue the war in distant, inhospitable places.’ - (MoI, UK Trade, p.88-9)


Rud Ellale to Olar Ethil : “Bonecaster,"  Ryadd said, adding a faint bow to the title,  "I know your name.  I know you are the Maker of the Ritual of Tellann.  That without you, all the will of the Imass would have achieved nothing.  The One Voice was yours. You took a people and stole from them death itself." (DoD)


Torrent to Olar Ethil : He stared.  "Spirits of the earth!  It was punishment!  Olar Ethil – that Ritual – you were cursing them!  Look at you –"

She spun round.  "Yes!  Look at me!  Do I not choose to wear that curse?  My own body, my own flesh!  What more can I do –"

"But wear you remorse?"  He studied her in horror.  "You miserable, pathetic thing.  What was it?  Some offhand insult?  A jilted love?  Did your man sleep with some other woman?  Why did you curse them for all eternity, Olar Ethil? Why?"(DoD)



 "Of course, the word 'smell' had acquired new meaning for the T'lan Imass in the wake of the Ritual. Mundane senses had for the most part withered along with the flesh. Through the shadowed orbits of his (Onrack's) eyes, for example, the world was a complex collage of dull colours, heat and cold and often measured by an unerring sensitivity to motion. Spoken words swirled in mercurial clouds of breath - if the speaker lived, that is. If not, then it was the sound itself that was detectable, shivering its way through the air. Onrack sensed sound as much by sight as by hearing." - (HoC, UK MMPB, p.324)



'Too shattered to remain with their kin, they had been left behind, as was the custom of their kind. Failure's sentence was abandonment, an eternity of immobility. When failure was honourable, their sentient remnants would be placed open to the sky, to vistas, to the outside world, so that they might find peace in watching the passing of eons. But for these seven, failure had not been honourable. Thus, the darkness of a tomb had been their sentence.' - (HoC, UK MMPB, p.36)


'The power was shorn from him (Onrack)– the Vow had been broken, ripped away from his body. He was now, he realized, as those of his fallen kin, the ones that had sustained so much physical destruction that they had ceased to be one with the T’lan Imass...


Onrack: 'If my kin were present...they would complete the necessary rites. They would sever my head from my body, and find for it a suitable place so that I might look out upon eternity. They would dismember the headless corpse and scatter the limbs. They would take my weapon, to return it to the place of my birth.’ - (HoC, UK Trade, p.324-5)


Melding Body Parts from another T'lan Imass

 'Onrack knew his list of crimes, of outrages, had grown long, and this last theft of the body parts of another T’lan Imass

was the greatest abomination, the most dire twisting of the powers of Tellann thus far.' - (HoC, UK Trade, p.581)


Ritual of Binding

'Their kin had marked this place of internment, with carved faces, each a likeness, mocking the vista with blank, blind eyes. They had spoken their names to close the ritual of binding, names that lingered in this place with a power sufficient to twist the minds of the shamans of the people who had found refuge in these mountains...'- (HoC, UK MMPB, p.37)



'We can cross bodies of water...But we can only find our shapes on land' - (DG, UK MMPB, p.377)


T'lan Imass 'Dusting'


'Hentos Ilm tilted her head back, then began dissolving, the dust of her being spinning in place. A moment later it spiralled upward...'(DG, UK MMPB, p.378)


Toc the Younger: ‘When you fall to dust the way you do ...are you entering your Tellann warren?’

Onos T'oolan: ‘No. I simply return to what I was meant to be, had not the Ritual taken place.' - (MoI, UK Trade, p.284)


T'lan Imass 'Dissolution'

 'The roiling waters...offered true oblivion. Dissolution was the only escape possible from this eternal ritual...Onrack knew of kin who had chosen that path.'- (HoC, UK MMPB, p.322)


The Clanless among the T'lan Imass

 'With his (Onrack's) link, born of the Ritual, now severed, he could only communicate with these T’lan Imass by speaking out loud.' - (HoC, UK Trade, p.330)

Onrack: 'I am unburdened. Freed from the Ritual’s Vow. This has resulted in a certain . . . liberation of thought.'- (HoC, UK Trade, p.579)



T'lan Immass and death 

'T’lan Imass. No room for doubt – their undead faces stare out at us,from all sides, skulls and withered faces peering out from wreaths ofcrystallized bark, the dark pits of their eyes tracking our passage. Thisis a burial ground, not of the flesh-and-blood forebears of the T’lan Imass, but of the deathless.' creatures themselves.


'At the war’s end, the survivors came here, carrying those comrades too shattered to continue, and made of this forest their eternal home. The souls of the T’lan Imass cannot join Hood, cannot even flee their prisons of bone and withered flesh. One does not bury such things – that sentence of earthen darkness offers no peace. Instead, let those remnants look out from their perches upon one another, upon the rare mortal passages on this trail . . ' - (DG UKTpb, p.549)




 The 2nd Ritual of Tellann


"A thing that dies to us is not necessarily dead,"  Nom Kala replied.  "We do not have that power."

"What does your name mean?"  Ulag asked,

"Knife Drip."

"How did the ritual fail?"

"The wall of ice fell on us.  We were all killed instantly.  The Ritual was therefore uncompleted."  She paused, and then added,  "Given the oblivion that followed, failure seemed a safe assumption – were we capable of making assumptions.  But now, it appears, we were in error."

"How long ago?"  Ulag asked her.  "Do you know?"

 She shrugged.  "The Jaghut were gone a hundred generations.  The K'Chain Che'Malle had journeyed to the eastern lands, two hundred generations previously.  We traded with the Jheck, and then with the Krynan Awl and the colonists of the Empire of Dessimbelackis.  We followed the ice in its last retreat." (DoD)



T'Lan Immas and Warrens


'The Warrens of the Imass are similar to those of the Jaghut and the Forkrul Assail – Elder-, blood- and earthbound –' G(otM, UK Trade, p.204)


'...Kurald Emurlahn, fragmented or otherwise, was not amenable to the T'lan Imass. Without a Bonecaster beside him, Onrack could not extend his Tellann powers, could not reach out to his kin...' - (HoC, UK MMPB, p.322)





The T'lan Imass are divided into several armies with each army taking the name of its leader. Within each army are many clans which denote bonds of family and kinship. Each clan has a leader, but the clans have names independent from the leader.


T'lan Imass Armies:



The Logros was tasked with remaining at the site of the First Empire and guarding the First Throne against any threats. Shortly before the founding of the Malazan Empire, the catatonic Logros were awakened by Kellanved when he located and took control of the First Throne. They served the Malazan Empire until shortly after the Emperor's death whereupon they traveled into the Jhag Odhan to hunt newly discovered Jaghut.  During this time Logros commanded that some of his warriors should hunt the Seven of the Dead Fires (The Unbound) who, as servants of the Crippled God, were charged with seeking out the First Throne.


The Logros T'lan Imass is also the army to whom belong the First Sword, Onos T'oolan and the First among the Bonecasters, Olar Ethil.


Known Clans of Logros:

- Tarad (Onos T'oolan and Kilava Onas' clan, of whom the rest were killed by Kilava just before the Ritual)

- L'echae Shayn (of whom Legana Breed is the last)


'..the Logros - Guardians of the First Throne itself -'- (HoC, UK MMPB, p.322)


Throatslitter : “This, son, was the awakening of the Logros T’lan Imass.  The Emperor’s undead army.  I was there, on the streets, and saw with my own eyes those terrible warriors with their pitted eye-holes, the stretched, torn skin, the wisps of hair bleached of all colour.  They say, son, that the Logros were always there, beneath Li Heng.  Maybe in the Crevasse, maybe not.  Maybe just the very dust we walked on every damned day and night -- who can say?  But he woke them, he commanded them, and I tell you after that day every ruler on Quon Tali saw a skull’s face in their silver mirror, aye. (RG)


'Olar Ethil, Kilava Onas, Monok Ochem, Hentos Ilm, Tem Benasto, Ulpan Nodost, Tenag Ilbaie, Ay Estos, Absin Tholai . . . the bonecasters of the Logros T’lan Imass.'- (HoC, UK Trade, p.577)




The Kron T'lan Imass were the only army to attend the Second Gathering en masse. At the behest of Silverfox, they opposed the undead K'Chain Che'malle in the Pannion War. Following the Battle of Black Coral, they undertook to travel to Assail to liberate the Ifayle trapped upon the continent.


Known Clans of Kron:

- Nashar (Kron's own)

- Bek'athana Ilk


'They call themselves the Kron T’lan Imass..their warriors...number perhaps fourteen thousand.’ (MoI, UK Trade, p.244)


Gothos : "You might wonder, what I was doing when the wolf god found me.  I was fleeing.  In disguise.  We had gathered to imprison a tyrant, until our allies turned upon us and resumed the slaughter.  I believe I may be cursed to ever be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"T'lan Imass allies,"  Kallor said.  "Too bad they never found you."

"Kron, the clan of Bek'athana Ilk who dwelt in the Cliffs Above the Angry Sea.  Forty-three hunters and a Bonecaster.  They found me." (TtH)



Olar Ethil: '‘The four remaining clans of Bentract T’lan Imass are on Jacuruku, I believe, yet trapped within the Warren of Chaos. I searched there, Summoner, without success' - (MoI, UK Trade, p.596)


This is now known to be incorrect - see Refugium



Roughly eight months prior to the Second Gathering, the Kerluhm entered into a war against human opposition on the continent of Assail. The army has since been annihilated and it is believed that Lanas Tog, sent by Kerluhm to the Second Gathering, is the last of them.



The Ifayle joined the Kerluhm in the war on Assail and, as of the Second Gathering, there are a small number of them unable to withdraw from the engagement.



Three broken clans - Six hundred and twelve warriors and three damaged Bonecasters are left, having fled The Spires.  


Olar Ethil:'Of the Orshan, the Ifayle and Kerluhm, I report my failure in discovering any sign. It follows that we must conclude they no longer exist.’ - (MoI, UK Trade, p.596)


Tool :  When all the others halted their steps, six Bonecasters emerged, continuing their approach.

He knew three.  Brolos Haran, Ulag Togtil, Ilm Absinos.  Bonecasters of the Orshayn T'lan Imass.  The Orshayn had failed to appear at Silverfox's Gathering.  Such failure invited presumptions of loss.  Extinction.  Fates to match the Ifayle, the Bentract, the Kerluhm.  The presumption had been erroneous. (DoD)


T'lan Imass Army from the Second Ritual of Tellann


Brold T'lan Imass


"Profound indeed,"  Ulag said.  "First Sword, they are T'lan Imass of a second Ritual.  The descendants of those who sought to follow Kilava Onnass when she rejected the first Ritual.  It was their failure to determine beforehand Kilava's attitude to being accompanied.  But when there is but one hole in the ice, then all must use it to breathe."

"My sister invited no one."

"Alas.  And so it comes to this.  These three are Bonecasters of the Brold T'lan Imass.  Lid Ger, Lera Epar and Nom Kala.  The Brold number two thousand seven hundred twelve.  The majority of these remain in the dust of our wake. Our own Orshayn number six hundred twelve – you see them here.  If you need us, we shall serve."

Tools thoughts on these Bonecasters : The remaining three were wrong in other ways.  They were clothed in the furs of the white bear – a beast that had come late in the age of the Imass – and their faces were flatter, the underlying structure more delicate than that of true Imass.  Their weapons were mostly bone, ivory, tusk or antler, with finely chipped chert and flint insets.  Weapons defying the notion of finesse: intricate in their construction and yet the violence they would deliver promised an almost primitive brutality. (DoD) 



The Jaghut Wars 


The Imass were enslaved by the Jaghut Tyrants.  In answer to this tyranny the Imass warred with the Jaghut and were ruthless in their hunting even following them to the edges of existence.  There were many different wars against the Jaghut, usually distinguished by numbers, i.e. 'The 33rd Jaghut War'.  All of these conflicts fall into the category of one macrowar against the Jaghut. Their quest - a crusade to eliminate the Jaghut.


In their efforts to evade the Imass the Jaghut used their warren of ice to create huge ice fields as a barrier.  The Imass could not cross these for lack of food and water and as a counter-strike they enacted the Ritual of Tellan, which would turn them to dust - dust that could drift across these fields of ice and so allow them to continue their slaughter of the Jaghut.


The Jaghut played games with us.  They painted themselves in the guises of gods.  It amused them.  Our indignation stung to life became a rage of unrelenting determination.  But it was misplaced.  In our awakening to their games, they had no choice but to withdraw.  The secret laid bare ended the game.  The wars were not necessary.  Our pursuit acquired the mien of true madness, and in assuming it we lost ourselves … for all time.

The Jaghut were the wrong enemy.  The Ritual should have been enacted in the name of a war against the K'Chain Che'Malle.  They were the ones who hunted us.  For food.  For sport.  They were the ones who saw us as nothing more than meat.  They would descend upon our camps sleek with the oils of cruel, senseless slaughter, and loved ones died.

Indignation?  The word is too weak for what I feel.  For all of us, who were victims of the K'Chain Che'Malle. - Kalt Umanal - (DoD)





General References


T’lan Imass: one of the Four Founding Races, now immortal - (GotM, Glossary)


'Among the Malazan Empire, the T’lan Imass were also known as the Silent Host.' - (GotM, UK Trade, p.234)


'T’lan Imass, who travelled as easily as dust on the wind' - (GotM, UK Trade, p.46)


'The fur humped over its shoulders came from some kind of bear, the hairs were silver-tipped.' - (DG, UK MMPB, p.375)


Irynthal : "I am Dev'ad Anan Tol, of the Irynthal Clan of the Imass, who once lived on the shores of the Jhagra Til until the Tyrant Raest came to enslave us." (TtH








Return to Non-Human Sentients

See also Imass First Empire

Comments (2)

Imperial Historian said

at 10:56 pm on Jan 20, 2009

Imass have been seen on seven cities, quon tali, genabackis, assail and jackuru, so saying they are found on just two continents is more than a touch misleading.

Apocalypse Now said

at 10:49 pm on Jan 21, 2009

Ah. Well, that's what the original article said, so I didn't think much of it, though it did look suspicious.

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