Our exploration of the geography of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan world continues.
Jacuruku is said to be the smallest of the world’s continents, although some instead claim it is the largest of the world’s islands. The continent is located west of Korelri, south-west of Quon Tali and far to the east of the Letherii continent. It is located in the White Spires Ocean, but its shores are also bordered by the Horn Ocean to the north and the Sea of Storms to the north-east.
The continent lies relatively close to the shores of western Korelri – in ancient times Jacuruku was called the “sister continent” of Korelri – but is separated from it by vast floes of ice. These ice floes make the continent almost impossible to approach from the east or north, forcing would-be visitors to swing far to the south and west instead. Given the relative isolationism of Jacuruku and the lack of resources on the continent, it is rarely visited and its peoples rarely visit other lands.
Early in its history, Jacuruku was colonised by the K’Chain Che’Malle. After their demise, Togg and Fanderay used the lush continent as their hunting grounds. After this time Jacuruku became home to the tall, physically powerful race known as the Thel Akai. When humans came to the continent is unclear, but it may have been in the earliest days of their history, before even the rise of the First Empire on Seven Cities. The Thel Akai, then in decline, tutored and mentored the humans. The Elder God Ardata arrived on Jacuruku at some point and became a ruler and deity to some of the human tribes.
It is known that, at some point, the human warrior, soldier and tactician Kallor Eidermann Tes’thesula arrived on Jacuruku (or may have been native to it; the histories and legends are entwined and confusing) and conquered the entire landmass in a fifty-year campaign. He even forced Ardata into submission. He slaughtered the Thel Akai when he realised they were helping his opponents stand against him. Styling himself the High King, Kallor established an empire spanning both Jacuruku and other landmasses, possibly including parts of neighbouring Korelri. He ruled over an empire of twelve million souls, seven million of them on Jacuruku. This took place approximately 121,000 years ago.
Kallor’s rule was harsh and tyrannical. A group of eight mages chose to stand against him. Known as the Circle, they joined together on the continent of Korelri to seek out a source of magic which could overcome and destroy Kallor. During their reachings, they found the entity known as Kaminsod, a god of another world in another universe altogether. They summoned Kaminsod through a rent or wound in space, believing his utterly alien sorcery could overcome the High King. They miscalculated. Kaminsod fell screaming to the earth as a vast fireball which shattered on impact, shattering Korelri and devastating a vast region. Kaminsod subsequently became known as the Crippled God. The destruction was immense, its reverberations shaking even the warrens.
Furious at the consequences of Kallor’s tyranny, the gods and Ascendants known as K’rul, Draconus and the Sister of Cold Nights joined their power to destroy him. However, Kallor had performed a ritual that burned the continent of Jacuruku down to its bedrock, killing all seven million inhabitants in the process. This mass-sacrifice empowered Kallor to resist the three gods; instead of killing him they cursed him to life unending, barring him from ever ascending and always living in failure. Kallor responded by cursing the three gods to different, unpleasant fates.
Rather than leave the continent uninhabitable, K’rul drew on his power to pour the ashes and ruins of the empire into a new warren (later claimed by the Malazan Empire to become the Imperial Warren), leaving behind an uninhabited wilderness which would recover given time. Fresh human settlers – some of them possibly from the now-devastated colonies on Korelri and perhaps others fleeing the growing chaos in the First Empire – landed on Jacuruku and settled it. A mageocracy took power in the north-west of the continent, also known as the Circle, possibly named in honour of the group that brought about the Fall of the Crippled God.
Whilst the mages assumed control of north-western Jacuruku, the goddess Ardata reasserted her domination of the jungle tribes of the east and independent tribesfolk arose in the desert wastelands of the south-west, resulting in a rough stalemate of power which – it is believed – has endured for thousands of years to the present day.
The continent of Jacuruku is small, but still large enough to enjoy a variety of different climates and landforms. The continent’s battered history – surrounded by ice floes resulting from ancient Jaghut rituals, devastated by the Fall of the Crippled God, immolated by Kallor, healed by K’rul – has left it a somewhat strange and unusual land, its rocks and ancient trees hinting at the trauma that has been visited upon it.
The Kingdom of the Thaumaturgs
A powerful, if arrogant, mageocracy dominates the north-western quarter of the Jacuruku continent. Fortunately non-expansionist, the Kingdom of the Thaumaturgs dominates the most relatively temperate and moderate part of the continent. Large, well-cultivated fields feed a large population who in turn are subservient to their mage-rulers, who rule through an effective bureaucracy.
The kingdom is ruled by the Circle of Nine, led by the Prime Minister Surin. The capital city is Anditi Pura, located in the north of the kingdom. This is a relatively small city mostly reserved for the use of the mages. The economic heart of the nation is Isana Pura in the south, home to over one million souls (making it larger than Unta or Darujhistan).
The kingdom’s borders are held to be the sea to the north and west, the Gangrek Range to the east and the Canyon Lands to the south, a confusing assortment of ridges, canyons and hills which present an effective (but not impermeable) barrier to travel
The Adwami Desert
South of the Canyon Lands, the terrain becomes more hostile and unforgiving. The Adwami Desert is home to the horse-rearing tribes of the same name. The Adwami are noted for their internal squabbles and rivalries. They have an indifferent relationship with the Thaumaturgs to the north, although some rumours speak of rising tensions. If the Adwami united as a single army they would pose a significant threat to the Thaumaturgs, but their constant bickering and their lack of magical power have led to them being completely disregarded by the mages.
The Gangrek Range
The Gangrek Range, also known as the Gangrek Mounts, Fangs or Dragon’s Fangs, is the only significant mountain range on the continent. It runs from the Horn Ocean to the White Spires Ocean down the length of the continent, neatly splitting it between the more arid lands to the west and the dense jungle to the east.
The mountains are mostly limestone, with sinkholes ands lakes dotting their valleys. The mountains are not particularly impressive when compared to the vaster and taller peaks to be found in Seven Cities, Genabackis or the Great Fenn Range of Quon Tali, but form an effective barrier to easy travel across the landmass.
The Jungle of Himatan
The Jungle of Himatan makes up fully half of the continent, all of the lands from the Gangrek Range to the eastern coast. Fed by numerous rivers, the jungle is lush, verdant and bursting with life and dangers. This is the domain of Ardata, Queen of Spiders, and creatures which are extinct or unknown elsewhere in the world can be found there in impressive numbers. Some humans dwell in the jungle, worshippers of Ardata, but they are relatively few in number.
The Himatan is said to be part of the mortal world and part of the spirit realm, giving it an unearthly quality. The jungle itself is believed to be alive and ferocious in its defence of its goddess and its secrets.
Located in the north of the Himatan Jungle is the ancient city of Jakal Viharn, the seat of Ardata’s power. Little is known of Jakal Viharn but legend and rumour: the city is said to be paved with gold and jewels and protected by sorcery that prevents people from finding it through sorcery or travelling there by warren. The city’s true status is unknown.
The Dolmens of Tien
The Dolmens of Tien are a series of stone pillars, each about twelve feet tall and spaced five paces apart, located near the northernmost tip of the Jacuruku continent. Built in ancient times by humans, the pillars form a series of concentric arcs and circles centred on a large circular. An abandoned, ruined city lies nearby.
The Dolmens were originally built as a religious centre but have also served as a cemetery, observatory, prison and temple. Strange sorcery is bound into the Dolmens, enough so that it survived the Fall of the Crippled God, Kallor’s subsequent scouring of the continent down to its bedrock and K’rul’s traumatic healing of the land, all intact. The Dolmens are also known as the site of the First Chaining of the Crippled God, an event famed in history.
Credits: Based on the original maps created by Neil Gower. Extrapolated by D’rek at the Malazanempire forum. Placements and names adjusted by myself. Based on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Kharkanas Trilogy and Witness Trilogy by Steven Erikson, and the Malazan Empire and Path to Ascendancy series by Ian C. Esslemont.
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