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Pathetic Weakling.
~ Kanali to Uhuru, during their first fight.

Kanali is a Pale One and a second-in-command of sorts for The Pale Ones. He is a sub-antagonist and arguably endures more abuse from from Vireka than any other character in the book.


Kanali's past is not explored, however he was likely born somewhere within the guard caste for the Pale Ones. He was either promoted or inherited his position as head guard. Of the three head guards in the Black Mountains, Kanali is Vireka's "favorite" thus interacts with the White lion the most.

In Forges of Dawn he meets Uhuru when she trespasses in their lands and quickly becomes her rival for the book when he beats on her and she retaliates by ripping off his ear and destroying one of his eyes. Lord Vireka makes comments at his expense over this, but otherwise doesn't care. Kanali is the lion who informs the White Lord of Uhuru, particularly of her red eyes, fur, and general likeness to the storied lioness slated to bring their rule to an end. He mistakenly comments on Vireka's red paw, earning him a beating, and is commanded to bring Uhuru to Vireka, which he hastily does in fear of further beatings.

Later, as Uhuru—now named Uru—makes her way back to Vireka to overthrow them, Kanali is ordered to personally oversee the hunting and capture of Uru's sister, Oni. He is disturbed by the madness and somewhat deteriorated state of his Lord and briefly considers killing the Lyon while his back is turned. However, since Vireka makes use of blood magic, the spilled crimson would give Vireka free reign to use some of his nastier, more painful magic. Kanali isn't sure if he can perfectly pull it off, and ultimately chooses to simply obey and leave. To his fear, Vireka knew exactly what the other lion was planning, softly commenting on how wise it was that Kanali didn't go through with it.

Later, he needles Vireka about the approach of a Red lyonesse and an undead army a few days out from the Black Mountains. Vireka doesn't listen however, only focused on his marriage to his new, red lioness: Oni. Seeing no help from his quarter, Kanali takes things into his own hands, preparing for the impending war. When the sparks finally do fly, he is ready with a army of hounds and goes after Uru, commenting that her armor, mask and general appearance aren't so scary up close. The two lyons duel, Kanali losing his remaining eye and being stabbed through the skull with Uru's claw gauntlets in short order, dying.



Kanali was a white lion, but not a true, "pure" white lion: he had cream and silver highlights to his fur that stood out in certain lighting. His eyes were ice blue, his face hard and unfeeling angles, and his mane stood up in a ridge along his neck. Kanali had ritual scars on his face, denoting him as a Head Guard. After his encounter with Uhuru, he is lacking an ear and an eye, making his face and head appear lopsided.


Kanali is a cold-hearted and sadistic lion, though unlike Vireka, it is more reactionary and reserved for enemies versus anyone on a whim. He bullies and berates those in stations lower than his and even tries this on those in higher stations. Kanali is a bigot like most Pale Ones and is a generally ill-tempered and irritable animal.


  • Kanali means "Colonel" in Swahili.
  • Kanali isn't a true white lion, he has "Chinchillism", a variation of Leucism that makes some of the fur appear pale cream of silver in certain lights.