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The Books must be brought back into this world to help us bring on the Year of the Skulls. The first Book is the most important. I don't know its title. But by the time I finish writing it down I will be able to read it and to use it to bring forth the other Books. I will be able to use those to open the way for my mother.

–The Daughter of Night, She Is the Darkness

The Books of the Dead were three huge leather-bound tomes created by the Deceivers, the followers of the goddess Kina, for the purpose of bringing about the Year of the Skulls. The knowledge within them could empower Kina's cult priests to free her from her prehistoric prison beneath the glittering plain. Ensuring that the Books of the Dead could never be put to use became one of the primary goals of the modern Black Company, which ironically was the exact opposite goal of that same organization's founders.

Before Croaker's Annals[]

After the Books were written, Rhaydreynak, emperor of the land that is now Taglios and the Shadowlands, launched a crusade against the Deceivers, killing them wherever they could be found. Some Deceiver survivors escaped onto the plain, to protect themselves and preserve the Books of the Dead, and eventually the Deceiver saint Mahtnahan dan Jakel killed Rhaydreynak with a silver rumel. However, no one in the homeworld who knew where the Books were hidden survived Rhaydreynak's slaughter, so the Books were considered lost. Each of the three books was placed on its own lectern in a particular temple-like chamber below the fortress with no name at the center of the plain (and farther underground than the cave of the ancients). The narrow passageway to access the room was loaded with more than a dozen spring-loaded booby traps. There, they remained for hundreds of years, utterly forgotten by everyone, even the next generation of Deceiver priests.

She Is the Darkness[]

During the Siege of Overlook, the Daughter of Night (Kina's living instrument) was trapped with Narayan Singh, the chief Strangler jamadar. She received the revelation from Kina that her hand would be guided to write the first Book of the Dead. She painstakingly worked to transcribe the first Book, which was the only one that needed to be written down. Once the first was written, it could be read aloud and used bring forth the others with sorcery.

The Daughter nearly completed her new copy of the first volume of the Books of the Dead. It was bound in tan vellum. But, this copy was stolen from Overlook by the Howler. It was next appropriated secretly by Uncle Doj, who concealed it within a camouflaged Shadowlander cemetery.

Water Sleeps[]

Sleepy, the Annalist and highest-ranking member of the Black Company in Water Sleeps, intuited correctly that her ally Uncle Doj had hidden the stolen copy of the first volume of the Books of the Dead. He eventually agreed to give it to her, and together they retrieved it from the fancy tomb where he had squirreled it away. (About 5 years later, this location would become the site of the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery in Soldiers Live.) Sleepy handed the book over to Narayan Singh at the Grove of Doom in exchange for the golden pickax.

The ancient, original copies of the Books were eventually incinerated by Sleepy and Willow Swan when the Black Company reached the nameless fortress to free the Captured. This did not destroy Kina, but dealt a serious blow to her ability to extend her psychic influence.

Soldiers Live[]

The scriptures are no good locked up inside me. They must be out, in written form, to assume their full power. They must be there so that the cantor priests can sing from them continuously during the time of resurrection.

–The Khadidas, Soldiers Live

Although the originals were destroyed, the entire text was perfectly memorized by Kina's demon servant, the Khadidas (an entity which possessed the body of Goblin). When Tobo's Unknown Shadows discovered and reported this, the threat of the Books being rewritten was understood to be very real. Though the Khadidas and the Daughter escaped to the Grove of Doom after the Battle of the Middle Ground, they had no writing supplies to transcribe the Books.

The content of the Books of the Dead was lost forever (and their power was rendered worthless) when the Khadidas was neutralized long enough for Croaker to orchestrate his final assault upon Kina.