Deathwatch Guard

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Author: Atarah al'Norahn


The Deathwatch Guard, more colloquially referred to amongst themselves as “the Guard” (CoT, Ch. 4), is a military group from Seanchan whose directive is to serve and protect the Crystal Throne, the Imperial family, and anyone appointed by the Empress (TSR, Ch. 1; CoT, Ch. 4), although loyalty to the Empress and the Crystal Throne supersede all (TPoD, Ch. 23). For those who are chosen to join the Guard, this directive becomes their sole purpose for living, and members are expected to willingly give their lives if circumstances require it (TPoD, Ch. 23). Only those who are very important are attended by Deathwatch Guards (AMoL, Ch. 31). The Guard was formed when Luthair Paendrag died and the first Guards swore to protect his son (CoT, Ch. 4).

The Deathwatch Guard is comprised of humans and Ogier. While the Ogier members of the Guard are referred to as “Gardeners,” the human members are not given a specific moniker within the Guard. Human Deathwatch Guards are da'covale and are property of the Empress (KoD, Ch. 34). They were born as da’covale and chosen at a young age to serve the Empress as a Guard (TGS, Glossary). Furyk Karede was chosen to begin training at the age of 15 (CoT, Ch. 4). The Gardeners, however, are not da’covale (KoD, Ch. 34).

The Deathwatch Guard are utterly loyal to the Empress and the Crystal Throne. While she lives, they answer only to the Empress (TPoD, Ch. 23). When another succeeds to the Crystal Throne, they are expected to serve that person, no matter who it is, “with a whole heart and a whole faith.” Because of this, they are “not supposed to form attachments to those they were sent to guard” (CoT, Ch. 4). Despite the fact that the Gardeners are not da’covale, they are “as fiercely loyal as the human Deathwatch Guards” (TGS, Glossary). Karede thinks to himself that while the “Ogier Gardeners were not marked or owned, […] that was between the and the Empress” (TPoD, Ch. 23). There has never been treason committed by the Deathwatch Guards, and Karede is horrified at false rumours that the Deathwatch Guard was involved in Tuon’s disappearance (CoT, Ch. 4). Tuon notes that if she dies, the humans amongst her personal Deathwatch Guard will also die, but the Gardeners won’t (WH, Ch. 14).

Despite being da’covale, Deathwatch Guards hold a great deal of status and are considered to be “The embodiment of the Empress” (TPoD, Ch. 24); Karede notes that “where they appeared, they appeared as her hand, a visible reminder of her. Even members of the Blood will rarely disturb a Deathwatch Guard, and are often “uneasy” around them (TPoD, Ch. 23) and take “note of them” (TPoD, Ch. 24). When a Deathwatch Guard holds the same rank as an officer who is not of the Guard, the Deathwatch Guard is actually ranked more highly; Karede notes that “Ranks in the Deathwatch Guard stood half a step higher than those outside.” A Deathwatch Guard can thus “co-opt” the command of an otherwise equally-ranked officer outside of the Guard, but would be expected to have very good reasons in order to avoid being executed for it (KoD, Ch. 34)).

Deathwatch Guards are given special exceptions due to their duty to protect the Imperial family. When the Empress enters a room, they are the only ones who do not have to prostrate themselves because they are excepted to keep “their eyes up, watching for danger” (ToM, Ch. 47). They will often attend Tuon even while she is bathing. While Mat is embarrassed to be walked in on by Musenge after he and Tuon have spent a night together in the garden, Tuon is not bothered because Musenge’s “face is averted,” and she is used to being guarded at all times (AMoL, Ch. 17). Although many even among the Blood do not understand why those of the Imperial family allow their soe’feias so much license, the Deathwatch Guard do (WH, Ch. 14).

The Deathwatch Guard are exceptional fighters, considered to be “the swordhand of the Empress.” While their primary duty is to protect the Empress and the Imperial family, according to Karede “war had always been a second calling for the Deathwatch Guard,” and they are always in the thick of any big battle (CoT, Ch. 4). Mat says that he has heard that 100 men and 20 Gardeners could come out even against most forces that are 5 times their own (KoD, Ch. 36). They will kill themselves if they are commanded to (CoT, Ch. 4), and they will carry out assignments no matter the cost (KoD, Ch. 34). Other officers normally watch the Deathwatch Guard with “wariness often tinged with admiration” (KoD, Ch. 34).

Members of the Deathwatch Guard are expected to always remain calm (TGS, Ch. 35). They are said to be able to see almost anything (CoT, Ch. 4), and are ashamed when anything slips by them (AMoL, Ch. 15).


Individual members of the Imperial Family have their own personal contingents of Deathwatch Guards, headed by a leader. Tuon’s has at least 500 human members and 2 dozen Gardeners (WH, Ch. 14), and is headed by Musenge (CoT, Ch. 4). Within Tuon’s personal bodyguard, the Gardeners are led by an individual who holds the rank of First Gardener. In the series, this is Hartha (KoD, Ch. 34). However, despite the fact that Musenge is the head of Tuon’s bodyguard, it is Karede’s “duty,” as the “highest-ranking member of the Guard this side of the Aryth Ocean,” to locate Tuon when she disappears. As Karede was raised to the rank of banner-general for his success in fighting the Asha'man, this means no one holds a rank higher than this outside of Seanchan (CoT, Ch. 4).


The members of the Deathwatch Guard, human and Ogier, wear armor that is coloured blood-red and a green so dark it is almost black (TPoD, Ch. 23); (WH, Ch. 14). Karede notes that many actually refer to the green as black (KoD, Ch. 34). Their helmets and shields are lacquered in the same dark green, and their weapons have black tassels (TSR, Ch. 1); TGS, Glossary). Their helmets bear “half-concealing cheek-pieces” (WH, Ch. 14). Mat thinks that they look like beetles (AMoL, Ch. 15). Human members of the Deathwatch Guard have been seen to carry swords (KoD, Ch. 37) and spears (TSR, Ch. 1), but Gardeners carry “long-hafted, black-tasseled axes” (KoD, Ch. 34).

As property of the Empress, human Deathwatch Guards have ravens tattooed on their shoulders, which they are very proud of and often flaunt (TSR, Ch. 38); (TPoD, Ch. 23); KoD Glossary, “Seekers”). As they are not da’covale, Gardeners do not have the raven tattoo (TPoD, Ch. 23).

It is frequently noted that the Deathwatch Guards are incredibly stoic and show little emotion. Even an act such as shuffling is “a sign of great discomfort” (ToM, Ch. 47), and Karede notes that acts such as sighing have been trained out of him (KoD, Ch. 34).


Note: All of this information is included in other relevant sections of this article, but has been collected here, for ease of reference, for those looking for information on the Gardeners.

The Gardeners are the Ogier members of the Deathwatch Guard. Like the human members of the Guard, they wear armour coloured blood-red and a green so dark it is almost black (WH, Ch. 14)). They carry ““long-hafted, black-tasseled axes” (KoD, Ch. 34).

Unlike humans in the Guard, Gardeners are not da’covale. They are nonetheless “fiercely loyal” to the Empress, and are even more feared than the human Guards (TGS, Glossary). Karede thinks to himself that while the “Ogier Gardeners were not marked or owned, […] that was between the and the Empress” (TPoD, Ch. 23). Tuon notes that if she dies, the humans amongst her personal Deathwatch Guard will also die, but the Gardeners won’t (WH, Ch. 14).

The leader of the Gardeners within Tuon’s personal bodyguard holds the rank of First Gardener. In the series, this is Hartha (KoD, Ch. 34).


Timeline of Appearances

Note: appearances of individual Deathwatch Guards such as Karede and Musenge can be found on their individual pages. Listed here are those incidents which involve, or can be assumed to have involved, more than one Deathwatch Guard.

  • The Deathwatch Guard is formed after Luthair Paendrag’s death in order to protect his son (CoT, Ch. 4).
  • During an attempt on Tuon’s life when she is an infant, there are only three Deathwatch Guards survivors, Karede among them (CoT, Ch. 4).
  • Deathwatch Guards, Karede among them, serve the Crystal Throne during the Muyami Uprising and the Jianmin Incident some years before the Hailene (CoT, Ch. 4).
  • There is another attempt on Tuon’s life when she is a young girl, which requires the Deathwatch Guard to protect her (CoT, Ch. 4).
  • Deathwatch Guards accompany High Lord Turak from Seanchan to Toman Head as part of the Hailene. Karede is one of them. Karede has been “tasked to watch the Blood for over-ambition” so that they don’t betray their far-away Empress (CoT, Ch. 4).
  • At least 12 Deathwatch Guards attend Suroth after she successfully rallied the Seanchan troops at Falme (TSR, Ch. 1).
  • Karede and 2 other Deathwatch guards are in the mountains of Altara inspecting outposts when they and the 2300 men with them are attacked by Rand’s Asha’man (TPoD, Ch. 23). While the fighting is going on, several Deathwatch Guards attend Suroth when she visits Captain-General Kennar Miraj at his camp a dozen leagues to the east of Ebou Dar (TPoD, Ch. 24).

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  • 2 dozen Gardeners and 500 human Deathwatch Guards accompany Tuon from Seanchan to Ebou Dar. Every single one asked to be in her guard (WH, Ch. 14).
  • Tuon’s Deathwatch Guards have begun patrolling the streets of Ebou Dar and crime rates—which were already low under the regular Seanchan soldiers—drop even lower (WH, Ch. 18).
  • 2 Deathwatch Guards occasionally follow Tuon around in the Tarasin Palace (WH, Ch. 18). It would be more if she wasn’t wearing the veil and was attended as the Daughter of the Nine Moons would be (WH, Ch. 14).
  • Mat sees a squad of Deathwatch Guards march by the Mol Hara Square after he leaves Setalle’s inn, having just tested the a'dam on Joline and Setalle (WH, Ch. 29).

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  • Rumours have spread that the Deathwatch Guard were involved in a plot to murder Tuon. Someone has been impersonating her, and her impersonator is attended by two or three soldiers impersonating Deathwatch Guards (CoT, Ch. 4).
  • When Almurat Mor tells Karede of his suspicions about Suroth and the White Tower being involved in Tuon’s disappearance, and of the rumours that the Deathwatch Guard is involved, Karede sends a message to Musenge. The next day, he meets Musenge outside of Ebou Dar to begin a search for Tuon. With them go 100 human Deathwatch Guards, 21 Gardeners (led by Hartha), a group of sul’dam, and six damane (CoT, Ch. 4).

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  • Since Tuon has disappeared, Suroth has become even more uncomfortable around the Deathwatch Guards that attend her (KoD, Prologue).
  • With Semirhage’s prompting, Suroth sends Elbar and an army to track down Karede and his Deathwatch Guards, hoping that they will lead her to Tuon. She plans to send 100 men for every Deathwatch Guard Karede has with him, 50 to account for the skill of each Guard and 50 for the damane with them (KoD, Prologue).
  • Almost 4 weeks after leaving Ebou Dar in search of Tuon, Karede , 80 human Guards, and the 21 Ogier Gardeners ride into Gamel Loune’s camp in east central Altara. The remaining 20 human Guards wait with the sul’dam and damane in the nearby forest. The soldiers and officers in Loune’s camp appear to believe the rumours that the Deathwatch Guard was involved in Tuon’s disappearance. Karede speaks with Loune, wanting to know about “difficulties” he has heard about in Altara, so that he knows what he and his Guards will encounter there (KoD, Ch. 34).
  • Leaving Loune’s camp, Karede and the Deathwatch Guards with him go northeast towards the Malvide Narrows. Karede thinks they can reach it in four days, and hopes to reach it before Tuon and her captors do (KoD, Ch. 34).
  • Karede and the Deathwatch Guard finally catch up to the Band of the Red Hand about two leagues from the Malvide Narrows. Karede, Ajimbura, Melitene, Mylen, 2 human Guards, and Hartha with 2 other Gardeners ride into the camp. The rest of the party holds back in case it is a trap. Karede tries to bluff, saying that he has 10,000 men with him. Mat calls his bluff, and Karede is shocked when Mat says that he will let Tuon go with the Deathwatch Guard in order to protect her from the Ever Victorious Army, which is searching for Tuon in the belief that she’s an imposter (KoD, Ch. 36).
  • When Vanin rides into camp to tell Mat that there is a Seanchan-led army of 10,000 nearby searching for Karede and offering 100,000 gold crowns to whomever kills Tuon, Mat comes up with a plan: while Tuon and Selucia escape with the majority of the Deathwatch Guards, Karede is to leave a dozen human Guards and some of the Gardeners with Mat so that the enemy thinks the Band of the Red Hand is Karede and his men (KoD, Ch. 36). Thirteen human Guards, including Musenge, and 7 Gardeners, including Hartha, remain behind with Mat (KoD, Ch. 37).
  • Mat sends Vanin out with Hartha, 1 other Ogier Gardener, and 2 human Guards to draw Chisen’s army towards them; Musenge, 5 Gardeners, and 10 human Guards remain behind with Mat (KoD, Ch. 37).
  • After the battle against Chisen is won, Hartha and the other 6 Gardeners go to search amongst the dead for who might have betrayed Tuon so they can bring his head back with them (KoD, Ch. 37). They find Elbar, who is loyal to Suroth (KoD, Epilogue).
  • Musenge and the Guards with him catch up to Tuon, and give her Elbar’s head (KoD, Epilogue).
  • Tuon, attended by Karede and his Deathwatch Guards, returns to Ebou Dar. When Tuon confronts Suroth, the Deathwatch Guards precede her into the room to make sure it is safe. When Tuon strips Suroth of her titles and makes her da’covale, Tuon orders that Suroth will serve the Guard however they wish until her hair has grown out and she can be sold (KoD, Epilogue).

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  • The day after Tuon’s return to Ebou Dar, she is attended in her audience hall in the Tarasin Palace by 2 dozen human Deathwatch Guards and 6 Gardeners. Lately, they are especially protective of Tuon. When Tylee Khirgan arrives to inform Tuon that she believes Trollocs will attack Ebou Dar, bearing several Trolloc heads as evidence, the Deathwatch Guards close in around Tuon in defense (TGS, Ch. 19).
  • Deathwatch Guards attend Tuon when she meets with Rand. They are tense when Rand arrives with Nynaeve and 2 Asha’man. Tuon reminds them to be calm, even though they know to do so and such a reminder causes them shame, because she can’t risk an altercation. When Rand stands suddenly partway through their conversation, one Guard draws his sword, and Karede has to motion for him to sheathe it (TGS, Ch. 35).

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  • Deathwatch Guards attend Fortuona while she watches damane training. The Guards are troubled by the revelation of Traveling, as it means that Tuon could be attacked anywhere (ToM, Ch. 47).

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  • When Mat returns to Ebou Dar, there are Deathwatch Guards at the inn The Winter Blossom; Mat chooses not to enter the inn because he wants to avoid potentially running into Karede (AMoL, Ch. 11).
  • When Mat sneaks into the Tarasin Palace to find Tuon, he takes care to avoid the Deathwatch Guards on duty (AMoL, Ch. 15).
  • When Mat finds Tuon in the gardens, she is attended by a squad of the Deathwatch Guard. A Gray Man attacks, and the Deathwatch Guards do not see him. After Mat attacks the Gray Man, three Deathwatch Guards tackle Mat, thinking that it was Mat who was trying to kill Tuon. Tuon orders them to let Mat up and find the real attacker. The Guards are ashamed that they did not see the Gray Man. Someone fetches Karede, and Karede tells Tuon that he and the Guards who attended her will kill themselves once a new squad of Guards arrives to take their place. Tuon refuses to let them kill themselves, since the Gray Man “assassin was not of natural birth, but a creation of the Shadow.” She orders that Mat will teach the Guards how to spot Grey Men (AMoL, Ch. 15).
  • After the incident with the Gray Man, Tuon orders the Deathwatch Guards to seach the perimeter (AMoL, Ch. 15.
  • Musenge and Musicar report back to Tuon on their search for the Gray Man. They have not found him, but Musicar informs Tuon that they have captured another “assassin” trying to sneak into the Tarasin Palace—who turns out to be Rand. When Tuon realizes who it is, she orders Musicar to run to bring her damane. Karede, a sul’dam, and a damane arrive. Everyone with Tuon is amazed when Rand makes the surrounding trees sprout leaves and blossoms (AMoL, Ch. 17).
  • When Min visits the Seanchan to bring a message from Bryne, there are Deathwatch Guards at the tent she is brought to, where Mat and Galgan await to hear her message. When Min accidentally lets her ability slip in Tuon’s presence, telling Mat that she sees “A death lily” around Tuon, 2 Deathwatch Guards seize her. When Fortuona names her a “Doomseer,” they let her go and move to protect Tuon. One of the Guards “pull[s] his gauntlets off and tosse[s] them to the ground” and “wipe[s] his hand against his breastplate, as if trying to clean his skin of something” (AMoL, Ch. 27).
  • At some point, Mat tries to bribe the Deathwatch Guards to help him hide some of his regular clothing, which Tuon wants burned. Their response “made him think that if he tried it again, he’d end up with his face in the mud” (AMoL, Ch. 28).
  • 100 Deathwatch Guards go with Tuon to the battlefield in Arafel. Karede leads them (AMoL, Ch. 29).
  • Deathwatch Guards accompany Min when she goes to inform Egwene that Mat suspects Bryne to be a darkfriend (AMoL, Ch. 31).
  • As Mat prepares for Battle at the Field of Merrilor, Gelen and some other Deathwatch Guards are searching for him; Tuon is looking for him because she wants him to hear the case of a soldier asking for Tuon’s mercy for a crime he has committed. Mat is trying to avoid the situation and the Guards. The Guards finally corner Mat, but just a moment later, Mat senses that the Shadow’s armies have arrived, and Mat sends Gelen and the other Guards to alert everyone (AMoL, Ch. 36).
  • There are Deathwatch Guards in the command tent with Tuon and Mat (AMoL, Ch. 37).
  • When a Gray Man and Sharans attack Mat and Tuon in the command tent, Deathwatch Guards fight to protect them (AMoL, Ch. 37).
  • Tuon must punish those Deathwatch Guards who have now let assassins near her twice. Karede is one of these. Although she does not blame them, their honour requires it. She commands all of the Deathwatch Guards who were on duty when the Grey Men and Sharans attacked to directly attack the Sharan channelers. She fully expects that it is a death sentence, but Karede is relieved that with his death, he will be able to continue serving the Empire (AMoL, Ch. 37.
  • Mat convinces Karede and the other condemned Deathwatch Guards to help him figure out what Demandred is doing. Since they’ll still be going to the frontlines, the Guards will not be betraying Tuon’s order (AMoL, Ch. 37).
  • Karede and the condemned Deathwatch Guards move with Mat around the Field of Merrilor as he coordinates forces (AMoL, Ch. 37).
  • Mat learns that Ogier Gardeners have been fighting alongside Ogier from the Westlands (AMoL, Ch. 37).
  • Mat and the condemned Deathwatch Guards with him are engaged in the fighting against Sharan soldiers (AMoL, Ch. 37).
  • Mat, Karede, and the condemned Deathwatch Guards fight alongside Tam, Loial, and the Ogier against the Trollocs (AMoL, Ch. 39).
  • At last some of the condemned Deathwatch Guards survive the Last Battle, Karede among them (AMoL, Epilogue).


“The Deathwatch Guard served only the Empress and her chosen representatives, and they would kill or with equal fervor, whichever was necessary.” (Suroth; TSR, Ch. 1)

“For the Deathwatch Guard, what must be done, would be done. Even to catching the wind.” (Karede; CoT, Ch. 4).

“He had not considered taking his own life, either, though the shame cut him keenly. It was for the Blood to resort to the easy way to escape disgrace; the Deathwatch Guard fought to the last” (Karede after Tuon disappears; CoT, Ch. 4).

“I have heard it said a Deathwatch Guard can see a butterfly’s breath.” (Almurat Mor; CoT, Ch. 4).

“He walked off, then turned to look at the palisade being erected and caught sight of a handful of Deathwatch Guards walking along the rows of working people. Like wolves among the sheep.” (Mat; AMoL, Ch. 36).

“He nodded agreeably to some Deathwatch Guards. They grunted in reply. For Deathwatch Guards, that was downright talkative” (Mat; AMoL, Ch. 37).