In the second book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Deadhouse Gates, Gesler is a soldier of the Malazan army:

'I know you by reputation, Gesler. Once a captain, then a sergeant, now a corporal. You've got your boots to the sky on the ladder —'

'And head in the horseshit, aye, sir.'

There's a scene where Corporal Gesler is considered for promotion:

[Captain Lull] addressed Gesler again. 'As for you and Stormy -'

'If you promote us, sir, I will punch you in what's left of your face. And Stormy will likely kick you while you're down. Sir.'

Hilarity and violence ensue. At the end of the meeting:

Bult glared about until he found Gesler. 'Ready your ship, Captain.'

At the time, I thought that was Gesler being promoted to Captain. But, later on:

'Fener guard you all,' Gesler said.

Duiker looked up to meet the man's eyes. 'Deliver our wounded, Corporal.'

He's also addressed as Corporal in the preceding paragraphs, as well as in the succeeding few until his departure.

So, when Bult addressed him as Captain, was he referring to Gesler being Captain of the Silanda, or was it a very brief promotion? Was he ever promoted in the series?

I have only read till the third book, Memories of Ice.


Gesler most likely did not get promoted here (if he did, it didn't last long), but he will get promoted eventually.

The conversation began with Bult starting to hint about promoting Gesler and Stormy; Gesler's rather inappropriate response is what prompted Coltaine to punch him in the first place. Gesler's subsequent remark:

I guess I'll take that promotion now

was almost certainly more of his irreverent humor. It's not likely that Coltaine would actually promote someone who had shown the attitude Gesler did unless absolutely necessary, and at the time, there didn't seem much need for another Captain (Captain Lull was already with them.)

For the remainder of Deadhouse Gates, not only does Duiker continue to refer to him as Corporal, but so do both Captain Lull and Commander Bult (the one who tried to promote him in the first place). If his rank of Captain was legitimate, this would have been rather improper of them both.

Even more importantly, Gesler reappears in book 4, House of Chains, where he has been promoted to sergeant in the 5th squad. That would have been a demotion from Captain if he really took on that rank in Deadhouse Gates.

As far as why Bult addressed him as Captain, there's a few possibilities:

  • He was being a smartass, continuing to play along with the promotion conversation.
  • He was referring to Gesler's role as ship captain (I find this unlikely, though, as he didn't use the term any time before or after that one remark).
  • It's just a continuity mistake; perhaps Gesler originally did get promoted and Erickson changed his mind, but this line slipped past.
  • It was that last possibility which prompted me to ask this question. It's true they had Captain Lull, but note that Gesler will be tasked with bringing the wounded to Aren on his ship, so an increase in captains shouldn't be a problem - he'll be going soon enough. I wouldn't say Bult tried to promote him "in the first place", that was a reaction to Gesler's threat that I quoted in the question. Coltaine did, somewhat arbitrarily, promote one of sappers inspite of their general attitude (though I suppose he needed a face in charge). House of Chains is the fifth book (unless you meant next..
    – muru
    Oct 14 '15 at 0:46
  • ... in relation to the last book I'd read.)
    – muru
    Oct 14 '15 at 0:47
  • *fourth book. Dammit.
    – muru
    Oct 14 '15 at 0:53
  • I did mean "next book you'll read" but I'll clarify anyway.
    – KutuluMike
    Oct 14 '15 at 12:21
  • Finally got to House of Chains and checked that. Now I can accept in peace.
    – muru
    Nov 13 '15 at 0:25

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