Elder was a gigantic, roughly 'four stories high' being who built Azath Houses.[1]

The massive mason had an oddly child-like face; a mass of almost white hair; round, smooth cheeks; thick lips; a pug nose; bright yellow skin and emerald-colored eyes — when he smiled he displayed dagger-like fangs and he spoke with a soft voice. Elder spoke the language of the Tiste Andii when conversing with one.[2]

Elder was essentially a prisoner of the Jaghut, Gothos — Elder being kept in a Warren-like place to which only Gothos normally had access.[3]

In Toll the HoundsEdit

Nimander Golit and his party of Tiste Andii kin and Kallor, on their way to Bastion in central Genabackis,[4] came upon the ruined tower which Gothos was then inhabiting. Having taken tea with Gothos, Nimander accidentally fell through a 'gate' inside the ruined tower and ended up in a hostile Warren-like place where he met Elder.[5]

Nimander and the Builder by Autumn Tavern

Nimander and Elder by Autumn Tavern

The huge mason said that he was "an Elder" and that the hostile spirits, who were his fellow inhabitants, had named him "Elder". When asked if there were any other makers of Azath Houses like himself anywhere else, Elder answered that he did not know. Nimander then learned that, in the past, the child-like Elder had regularly built Azath Houses but Gothos had always managed it so that he, not Elder, would vanish with the newly completed Houses — leaving the mason behind.[6]

Nimander finally figured out a way to confound this practice of Gothos. Elder told Nimander — in a "deep, warm voice" — that "I am different...when I build". Elder built an Azath House — with the help of Nimander — but this time Elder vanished when it was finished, freeing the giant builder from Gothos. This freeing of his prisoner by the Tiste Andii angered Gothos who upbraided Nimander for the deed.[7]

This time spent with the "giant mason" — being full of unanswered questions — continued to prey on Nimander's mind long after he was able to rejoin his travelling companions.[8]


"You are the mason, the maker of the houses. It is your task."
―Comment made to Elder by Nimander Golit[src]
Gothos: "You damned fool...I was saving that one (i.e., Elder) for later. And now he's free."
Nimander: "You cannot just collect people! Like shiny stones!"
Gothos: "Why not? My point is, I needed that one. There is now an Azath in the blood of dragons—"
Nimander: "The spilled blood — the blood of dead dragons—"
Gothos: "And you think the distinction is important? Oh, me and my endless folly!"
Gothos upbraiding Nimander Golit about the freeing of Elder by Nimander[src]


A number of readers have wondered if the Builders in Fall of Light; Maker at the Shores of Creation in Orb Sceptre Throne; and Elder in Toll the Hounds, are the same individual/entities at widely different places and times or are closely related in some other way. There might possibly be interconnections of some sort, especially since the names used are more descriptive than specific. However, despite similarities, there are distinct differences amongst them as well, and the issue remains speculative.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.268-269
  2. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.268
  3. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.269
  4. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.258-259
  5. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.260-264/268
  6. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.268-269/272
  7. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 8, US TPB p.269-270/271-274
  8. Toll the Hounds, Chapter 10, US TPB p.334
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