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Bayaz, also known as "The First of the Magi" and the "First Magi", is an enigmatic ancient wizard with eyes and ears seemingly everywhere. Having lived in isolation in his library for centuries, he's now considered a legendary figure in The Union, famous for founding the realm. He has a major role in the First Law trilogy of grimdark fantasy books, and also appears in The Heroes.
Bayaz and the fall of Juvens and Kanedias
Long ago in the Old Time, Juvens took Bayaz as his first apprentice, and trained him in the principles of the High Art. But soon after, his master took another, a boy from Kanta called Khalul. From the beginning they argued, too proud and jealous of one another, even as Juvens took more apprentices; twelve in all - the Order of the Magi.
After the horror of the war with Glustrod, Juvens interceded in the feud between Bayaz and Khalul, lest they kill each other. He sent them away to the great libraries he had built; Bayaz to the north and Khalul to the south. Juvens hoped it would cool their tempers, but it only made it worse and they each plotted revenge. Desperate for more power, Bayaz sought another master — Juvens' brother Kanedias.
Bayaz’ skill in the High Art was useful to Kanedias in his work, but the Maker was far more jealous of his secrets than Juvens. Bitter at what the Maker would not teach him, Bayaz hunted for them on his own, and he found the Maker’s greatest secret—his daughter Tolomei. She was alone, having never spoken to another person. She was created to help her father with his work, handling materials only his blood could touch. She was beautiful too, and she and Bayaz became lovers.
She told him the Maker’s plans. He had gathered items from far and wide, fragments from The Other Side, left over from the time of Demons. He wanted to tap their power and fold it into his machines, and had found some success. But, he was breaking the First Law, and after the ruin of Glustrod, Bayaz felt compelled to tell Juven. However, fearing for Tolomei, he delayed. When the Maker returned and found them together, Bayaz fled, barely escaping with his life.
Bayaz found refuge with Juvens, who would not turn him away, despite his betrayal. Kanedias followed and the brothers fought. When Bayaz returned, Juvens was dead; killed by Kanedias with The Divider - at least according to Bayaz. Swearing vengeance, Bayaz gathered the Magi from across the world and made war on the Maker; all of them, but Khalul who blamed Bayaz himself for Juvens death, and refused to come. They laid siege to the House of the Maker, but with all their Art could not breach the gates. In the end, Bayaz tried to persuade Tolomei to open the door, and the naive girl agreed.
The Magi fought Kanedias chamber by chamber, with Zacharus and Cawneil badly injured, and Anselmi and Brokentooth killed. In the end, Bayaz confronted Kanedias alone on a bridge high in his tower. They fought. Kanedias threw his own daughter off the bridge to her death, but then Bayaz cast him down in turn; at least according to Bayaz. Afterwards they buried Kanedias and Tolomei in the shadow of the House, and Bayaz took the key.
Bayaz and the Union
Many years after Kanedias’ death, Midderland was made up of many petty kingdoms, often at war with one another. Harod was the ruler of one of these kingdoms. Bayaz came to Harod’s throne room, and offered to help him become King of all Midderland. Harod initially did not believe him, until Bayaz broke his long table with his Art. Harod agreed to accept the advice of the Magus, and he became Harod’s most trusted counsellor, advising him to make his capital in Adua, to make peace with certain neighbours, and war with others, when and how to do it. In time Midderland was unified, Harod became its first High King of The Union. In nurturing The Union, Bayaz was emulating the way his master Juvens had cultivated the cradle of civilization, in The Old Empire.
Upon the death of Harod, Bayaz left the Union, but swore an oath to return one day. He ordered a seat on the King's Closed Council to be left vacant for him. However, Bayaz has continued to secretly influence The Union under assumed identities ever since, to keep the great nation stable. After the civil war under King Morlic, Bayaz helped King Arnault succeed to the throne, through a vote in Open Council. He then served as his Lord Chamberlain using the name Bialoveld. In King Casamir’s reign, he assumed the name Zoller, and acted as Arch Lector of the Inquisition. Meanwhile, Bayaz has also indirectly influences The Union, as the secret owner of Valint & Balk, the Union's most influencial banks; using their vast wealth his influence stretches very deep.
Now centuries old, Bayaz lives in semi-retirement in the Great Northern Library, spending his time studying. He also trains apprentices, including Yoru Sulfur, Shenkt, and currently Malacus Quai. Bad blood has since developed between Bayaz and Shenkt.
In recent year, he has helped the ambitious chieftain Bethod rise to power in The North, with four gifts: the sun in winter, a storm in summer, and two things he could never have known. In return, Bethod has given Bayaz just one favour.
The Blade Itself
Bayaz sends his apprentice Malacus Quai to find the infamous warrior Logen Ninefingers, somewhere in the wilderness of The North, and bring him to the Great Northern Library. When Logen finally arrive, he is followed shortly afterwards by Calder, youngest son to Bethod, new King of the Northmen. Calder demands that Bayaz attend his father and recognize his dominion over The North. The Magus laughs at the petty kingling and with a wave of his hand chokes off his air, before releasing him and propelling him from the library with a message; he will not take instructions from underlings.
The next morning, Bayaz announces to Logen that Bethod is coming himself. He offers the uneasy Northman a weapon. In the weapons room, Logen settles on a simple sword which was made by Kanedias, the Master Maker. The King of the Northmen arrives with his eldest son Scale, and his sorceress Caurib. Bethod demands to know where Bayaz stands in his planned war with The Union. After some verbal foreplay, Bayaz rejects Bethod’s overtures of friendship. Bayaz has made an enemy this day.
Soon Bayaz, Logen, and Quai depart the library heading south. However, Bethod's Carls, sent to hunt them, ambush them on the road. Bayaz gets annoyed and makes the trees around them exploded with his Art. The Magus is left trembling with exhaustion from his fireball.
They arrive in Adua, which leaves Logen dumbfounded by its size. After taking them to a theatrical outfitters so they can dress the part, the Magus attends his meeting with the Closed Council. Bayaz demands the traditional seat on the council reserved for the First of the Magi. He is left bitter and resentful at the distrustful reception he receives; "I gave them freedom, and this is the thanks I get?"
One night, Logen wakes and encounters a mysterious woman in their chambers and an icy cold. Suddenly, the room explodes in searing light, leaving the woman gone and a gaping hole in the wall. Bayaz enters unsteady after using his magic, musing it was probably an Eater sent by Khalul, before promptly falls asleep. The next day, Inquisitor Glokta comes to investigate the break-in. After some verbal foreplay, Glokta openly accuses Bayaz of falsifying his claim to be the First of the Magi. Bayaz just smiles, impressed by the Inquisitor's honesty, and dares him to prove his theory.
Bayaz, Logen, and Quai sit in the stands, waiting for Jezal dan Luthar and Bremer dan Gorst to face-off in the final of The Contest. Bayaz offers Logen a gentleman’s bet that Jezal will win. Despite Quai’s warning to never bet against a Magus, Logen agrees. During the bout, Bayaz manipulates Jezal’s performance with his Art, allowing him to rally and win, while Logen sneers at the foul play.
Arch Lector Sult and Glokta plot to discredit the supposed Magus at Jezal’s victory banquet. Sult challenges Bayaz directly to prove his identity by performing magic or producing the key to the House of the Maker. Bayaz casually removes a key from under his robe, and promises to open the ever closed House tomorrow. Then, without disturbing anyone’s food, he uses his Art to makes the Arch Lector’s chair collapse beneath him.
Bayaz takes Logen, Jezal and Glokta to the House of the Maker. As the four men approach, all but Bayaz are crippled by an overwhelming sense of dread. The Magus inserts the key and unlocks the House like so much clockwork. The door opens to reveals a massive creepy space inside. Before they leave, Bayaz gives Logen a disconcertingly heavy box to bring out with them.
Soon Brother Longfoot, a renowned Navigator, joins their party, as they prepare for a journey to Shabulyan. And later, the penultimate member of their group arrives, Ferro Maljinn, accompanied by the Magus Yulwei. To test her, Bayaz presents two stones and asks her to choose the blue. She chooses one, but Bayaz reveals them both to be red, proving that Ferro cannot see colours. Having been tricked, Ferro promptly breaks Bayaz’ nose. However, Bayaz just finds it rather funny. Bayaz and Yulwei then excuse themselves to discuss matters in private. Yulwei admonishes Bayaz for the dark path he intends to follow, but faced with Khalul's two hundred Eaters, Bayaz sees no other choice than to use The Seed. Logen and Ferro are part of his plans, the former to commune with the Spirit, and the later to carry The Seed. Their conversation complete, Bayaz asks Ferro to accompany him, eventually convincing her that it’s her best chance for revenge against the Gurkish.
As the last member of their party, Bayaz choses Jezal dan Luthar. He asks High Justice Marovia to order the young nobleman to a meeting in the Agriont. The First of the Magi invites Jezal to join his great adventure to the Edge of the World. Marovia makes it clear that Jezal has no choice but to agree.
With the journey prepared, Ferro goes missing, and Bayaz sends Ninefingers to track her down. The two return, shattered and bleeding, having been chased all over the Agriont by Practicals of the Inquisition. However, the Practicals have tracked them to Bayaz' chambers, determined to arrest Ferro. That is until Bayaz turns one of them to pink mist, making the others flee. The Magus orders the group to help Logen to his feet, and leave now.
Before They Are Hanged
Bayaz and his band of heroes reach the city of Calcis in The Old Empire. Governor Salamo Narba summons the new arrivals in his city to his hall, concerned about their presence. When Bayaz explains his plans to journey beyond the river Aos, Narba argues that the bridges are inaccessible due to infighting between rival warlords and self-proclaimed Emperors; Sabarbus, Scario and Goltus. Wanting to keep Calcis neutral, he demands that Bayaz leave the city within three days, but Bayaz gets pissy and insist he’ll leave immediately.
Bayaz’s crew leave Calcis toward Darmium. Out on the plain, Ferro presses Bayaz for their destination, and on the First Law, Khalul, and The Seed. Barely hiding his annoyance, Bayaz refuses to give specifics, only saying The Seed is her route to revenge against the Gurkish. Ferro grows to trust the First of the Magi even less.
As they journey, Bayaz pompously lectures Jezal on the importance of history and the nature of ruling, which Jezal finds all together boring. Meanwhile, grumbling out loud, Logen laments the lack of meat. Ferro promptly brings down a trio of birds in flight with her bow with superb ability. Logen is stunned but Bayaz explains Ferro’s acumen is due to the Devil-Blood in her veins; she is a distant descendant of Demons.
Eventually, Bayaz announces that rather than Darmium, they’ll divert and cross the river Aos at the infamous city of Aulcus. No one is amused.
Later, Ferro spies riders following them. They hides in some ruins as the riders pass, but later they find a massive log in their path. The riders emerge, insisting that they must come with them to Darmium and Emperor Cabrian. Bayaz gets annoyed and with a ripple of the air, men go flying, until he suddenly loses control. The world bends around Bayaz, then rights itself, leaving the battle ended, but Bayaz unconscious. Quai explains that using the Art is always a risk, and Bayaz will recover... probably.
Logen steps up and offers leadership to the wayward party, as they continue towards Aulcus, with the Magus in tow. While Bayaz is comatose, Logen and Ferro are forced to deal with the remains of the riders, although Jezal is badly hurt during the fight.
Later, Bayaz awakes after weeks of torpor, looking older than ever. As they reach the outskirts of Aulcus, a battlefield littered with dead bodies rises around them. The Magus Zacharus strides toward them, claiming the dead are the work of his protégé Goltus. Zacharus tries to deter Bayaz from his course, even offering to join him in fighting Khalul — the Magi united. However, Bayaz rebuffs the offer, that time is gone. It is The Seed or nothing. Zacharus fears for the outcome, and hopes he fails.
Soon they arrive at Aulcus, the city stunning them, the jewel of cities, but nothing lives there, not even birds. Before continuing, Bayaz tells them of a hill south of the city with a temple, the Saturline Rock, which will be their rendezvous should they be separated. They ride through the city in silence, brought on by the desolation. When they reach the Maker’s bridge, Ferro balks at crossing, pressing Bayaz again for answers about The Seed. Bayaz names The Seed the thing that turned Aulcus into a wasteland. Only one with devil- blood like Ferro can safely touch it. Ferro smiles as she contemplates turning Gurkhul into a wasteland.
The Magus guides them to a massive domed structure, the Imperial Senate. As they explore, Logen smells something and recognizes the stink of Shanka. They flee as more and more flatheads emerge from the shadows. About to be overwhelmed, Bayaz reaches into The Other Side and causes the buildings around them to collapse. It helps Bayaz, Jezal, Quai, and Longfoot escape, but Logen and Ferro fall into a rent in the earth.
Bayaz and the others make it to rendezvous. Although it seems unlikely that Logen and Ferro have survived, the pair are spotted in the distance, very much alive.
Reunited, Bayaz leads them from Aulcus, over the Broken Mountains, to the Great Western Library. Inside, the Magus Cawneil welcomes them, and invites them to dinner. However, the food is poor and the company rancid. Cawneil reminds Bayaz of his failings, of when he left her for Tolomei, and when his actions led to Tolomei’s death. Bayaz calls her a fool for hiding at the edge of the world. There is a long and sordid history between these two. Finally, Bayaz asks about the boat that will take them to Shabulyan, a duty commanded of Cawneil by Juvens.
Bayaz’ group sail to the desolate rocky island of Shabulyan. They find a cave, and huddled around a meagre fire, Logen drinks some liquor to draw the Spirit. It arrives and offers Ferro the stone from its stomach that Juvens gave it centuries ago. Its duty done, the Spirit fades away. Bayaz investigates the stone and flies into a rage; this is not The Seed, but a trick of Kanedias to keep the power for himself. Bayaz declares the journey a failure.
Last Argument of Kings
On returning to Adua, Bayaz begins the meticulous process of weaving a mythology around Jezal dan Luthar, spreading rumours of his supposed heroics in The Old Empire. He even loudly and publically proclaims Jezal’s righteousness, when he intercedes on behalf of a beggar being abused by some city guards. When they part, Bayaz suggests, with a knowing smiles, they may collaborate again.
Bayaz meets with Yoru Sulfur, and tells him to trigger the next part of their plan. Soon, a peasant revolt flares near Keln, led by The Tanner. Bayaz then arrange for the Closed Council to send he and now Colonel Luthar to quell the rebellion. They meet the leaders of the revolt; The Tanner is none other than Sulfur in disguise. The Tanner quickly accepts the meagre concessions offered, and Jezal returns to Adua to a hero’s welcome, as Bayaz planned. As Jezal is welcomed by King Guslav, the King slides from his throne, dead as a doornail.
Bayaz is in the Open Council for the election of the new King of the Union. Bayaz interrupts the polling to reveal the existence of an illegitimate son of King Guslav, none other than Colonel Luthar. Despite protests from Lord Brock, various Lords vote for Jezal; clearly having been bribed by Bayaz. Even Sult throws his votes for the young fool, undeterred by Glokta's warning that Bayaz has planned this all along. Luthar is promptly elected the new High King; Jezal the First.
Even at the pinnacle of power in the realm, Bayaz dominates Jezal, even convincing him to put aside his lover Ardee West, and marry Princess Terez of Talins. Soon war breaks out, with the Gurkish invading Midderland and putting siege to Adua in the Battle of Adua. Before the fighting begins, Bayaz and King Jezal meet with the Gurkish emisarries, General Malzagurt and Mamun. After Bayaz and Mamun quarrel over their centuries old conflict, they offer terms including the handing over of Bayaz in chains, so he may be conveyed to Sarkant, for judgement by the Prophet Khalul. When King Jezal rejects the terms outright, the Gurkish bombardment begins.
Bayaz determines to go to the House of the Maker again, to get weapons to fight the Gurkish Eaters. While the others go get The Divider, Ferro explores the map and the series of moving rings above. In the centre, she finds The Seed. While Bayaz orders her to take it to the palace, Quai reveals himself to be Tolomei, the supposedly dead daughter of the Maker; she killed Quai and took on his appearance before the journey to the edge of the world. While Yulwei and Tolomei fight, Bayaz and Ferro flee. Despite promising to go back for Yulwei, Bayaz locks him and Tolomei in the Maker’s house.
Bayaz prepares the ritual in the Square of Marshals. As the Gurkish breach the Agriont, Bayaz orders Ferro to take The Seed out of the box. When the Eaters enter the square, Bayaz summons forth the power of The Seed, and blithely sweeps away Eaters and Union men and buildings alike. Bayaz, drunk on the power, seems unwilling to end the tumult.
With the last of her strength, Ferro puts The Seed back in the box and closes its lid.
With the Gurkish forces routed, Bayaz looks younger and sharper, with even a few dark hairs in the grey beard. He has a callous disregard for the Union wounded, the spreading wasting illness, and even the madness that Ferro seems to have fallen into. Bayaz meets with Glokta in his home, and admits to owning Valint & Balk. He offers Glokta the Arch Lector’s ring and complete power over the Closed Council. Glokta has a new master.
In the end, Bayaz announces that he is leaving Adua, but he has one final directive for King Jezal before he leaves; the King is to obey Arch Lector Glokta in all things. King Jezal recoils at Bayaz’ impertinence, but the Magus crushes him to the ground with his Art. Bayaz hits him with some home truths: he is no descendent of Kings, but the son of a whore; and that deep down he is a coward. Blubbering in pain, Jezal agrees to abide by his orders. Bayaz walks from the Agriont, with Yoru Sulfur at his side carrying the dark metal box containing The Seed.
With the Union again at war with the North, Bayaz shows up in the Union camp. Though officially retired, he has come to “observe” Lord Marshal Kroy defeat the Northmen. He encourages Kroy to engage King Black Dow, rather than continue his cautious approach, and brings a new invention of his rudimentary cannons.
On the second day of the battle, Bayaz tests his cannons with the two old Adepti Denka and Saurizin. They hit the standing stones on the hill called the Heroes on their second attempt, killing Dow’s old second Splitfoot, and inflicting considerable injury and confusion. He orders the cannons to continue firing until they all break, injuring dozens of Union men; against the will of the Adepti.
Later, when Black Dow offers a peace parley, Bayaz insists on continuing fighting when he learns that the Gurkish agent Ishri is helping Dow.
On the third day, after the disasters of Mitterick’s cavalry charge on Clail’s Wall, and Jalenhorm’s assault on the Heroes, Lord Marshal Kroy sues for peace, despite Bayaz’ anger. After peace talks are agreed Kroy resigns as Lord Marshal. Kroy’s daughter Finree dan Brock angrily confronts Bayaz. But Bayaz, tells her that her husband is to be named the new Lord Governor of Angland; discovering the price of her ambition, she accepts.
In the end, Calder is abducted and taken to Bayaz, who explains to him his ulterior motives for engineering the fight over the Heroes. The entire battle and all the lives lost were just a pretext for Bayaz to rearrange the deck of leadership in the North. With Dow out of the way, Bayaz explains that Calder will serve as his puppet on the Northern throne, after killing his brother Scale.
A Little Hatred
Bayaz is still the true power behind The Union as well as The North. His great rival Khalul seems to have been thrown down in the south, but now he's having troubles with Zacharus and Cawneil in the west. Meanwhile his apprentice Sulfur seems to be intriguing everywhere, with Savine in Adua, with Calder in The North, and with Prince Orso in Valbeck. Bayaz travels to Adua himself to attend the triumph, arriving on the same ship as Rikke. King Jezal and Arch Lector Glokta are clearly still terrified on him; one warns his son never to defy him, while the other insists his daughter should refuse anything he offers.
At the start of the series, Bayaz comes across as a wise father figure, who guides our gallant knight and gruff barbarian in their adventures; in the classic model of Gandalf or Merlin. Seemingly, he has a noble purpose, to end Khalul's tyranny in the south. There are a few subtle early hints at his true nature: the Spirits comments that "[the Magi] are crafty too, and have their own purposes"; Logen's first meeting with Bayaz where he notices "a hardness lingered around his eyes"; and Bayaz' frequent temper tantrums.
Alas, by the end we see him for what he is – a power-hungry, self-obsessed, manipulative bastard. For all his fancy talk of a noble quest and righteousness, all he really cares about is his personal feud with a rival and satisfying his egomania. When the chips are down, he will break any laws without a second thought. His hunger for power and misplaced sense of self-righteousness, make him commit one atrocity after another, and in the end we see him as no different from his nemesis Khalul. Both of them ruthlessly use people and nations and old friends as expendable pawns in their meaningless squabbling.