Barsavi was a professor of rhetoric at the Therin Collegium where had also established a betting shop in the Hall of Studious Reflection. He used his students as message runners. When he was caught he fled the city to Carmorr while the students arrested. At least one student also fled, Jaffrim Radanov, who became captain of the Dread Sovereign and part of the Council of Captains of Port Prodigal
Once Barsavi was in Camorr, he began to build his reputation. Prior to his rule, there were over a hundred warring capas. In under four years, Barsavi had killed all competition and assumed complete control over Camorr's underworld, with every gang answering to him alone. Garristas were required to give him a percentage of their proceeds each week, or else risk a rather uncomfortable demise. Any deaths within the Capa's gangs had to be purchased from him, and in return Barsavi would give the garrista in question a shark's tooth, known as a death mark. Barsavi orchestrated the Secret Peace with Duke Nicovante, which would protect members of the nobility, government officials, and members of the watch.