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Onos T'oolan, also known as "Tool", was a clanless, or unbound, T'lan Imass warrior,[2] though he had originally been part of the Tarad clan.[3] All the others of his clan had perished in the 28th Jaghut War.[4] He was over three hundred thousand years old, having been born in the autumn of the Bleak Year, the ninth son of his clan whetted as warrior in the Sixth Jaghut War.[5]

Onos was a massive, squat man with robust bones. Like other T'lan Imass, his leathery skin was a shiny nut brown, and his thinned flesh had the consistency of oak roots. His muscles had torn patches and at least one of his hands looked skeletal. Onos had a heavy chinless jawbone, high cheeks, a pronounced brow ridge, and his eye sockets were dark holes.[6] His skull was half bare of flesh with his nose missing and the dried flesh of his lips and cheeks drawn back from his stained and permanently grinning teeth.[7] His head creaked when he moved it. He dressed in rotting furs and wore the skull-cap of a horned beast as a helmet, one horn broken off at its base.[6]

His voice was described as being born of stones and dust.[8]

He bore a long heavy sword worked from one immense shard of brown flint in his skeletal arms.[9][10] It had been invested with magic to prevent it from being broken or chipped, could cut through wards effortlessly, and no Warren could resist it.[11] The T'lan Imass Warren being Elder, Tool was impervious to the effects of Otataral.[12]

In the language of the Imass, "Onos" meant "clanless man" and "T'oolan" meant "flawed flint".[13]

In Gardens of the Moon[]

Interpretation of Tool by jeanfverreault

Onos T'oolan was first encountered on the Rhivi Plain when he burst from the ground during an attack by Ilgres Barghast on the party of Adjunct Lorn and killed one of the attackers by impaling him on his sword. Although with the help of Toc the Younger, Onos had saved the Adjunct's life, Lorn was angry with him. The T'lan Imass who was an integral part to Lorn's mission in the area was supposed to have made contact with her days earlier and the Barghast had likely been in the area in response to his presence. After having introduced himself, Onos contemplate the barrow nearby whilst Toc administered first aid to the Adjunct's injured arm. Onos told Lorn that the barrow had 'yielded truth' and that they were on the right path. Lorn explained to Toc that Onos would make his own way to Pale.[14]

Interpretation of Onos T'oolan by Yapattack

When Onos rejoined the Adjunct in Pale, she called him 'Tool', a name he said he would accept given that it was suitable to his situation of a new beginning. He then told Lorn more about the history of his people than she knew to be in the Empire Annals. Amongst other things, he told her that he was the only one of his clan to have survived the twenty-eighth Jaghut war and the only one unbound to Logros. She supposed that it might be because of this that he was more loquacious than the other Imass she had met. Upon questioning, Tool also confirmed that he had indeed met the Emperor but that he was unable to tell her about the First Throne due to a binding imposed on all Logros T'lan Imass as well as Kron T'lan Imass after the Emperor's death.[15]

Onos had joined the Adjunct to release a Jaghut Tyrant from his barrow in the Gadrobi Hills in Darujhistan. As they journeyed there, he created a barrier around them for protection. At one point they witnessed a massive conflagration in the distance which Tool stated to be within that barrier and which involved the opening of a multitude of Warrens, amongst which he recognised Elder Warrens. Tool sensed that although the source had been destroyed, something had been born within.[16] He also sensed some of the attacks Hairlock was directing at Crone and when Lorn disregarded the possibility of a threat, taught her a lesson about being too complacent.[17]

Lorn voiced misgivings about their mission to free a Jaghut Tyrant from his barrow--amongst them, doubts as to how they might find the barrow. Tool told her that he would be able to locate it as Tellann and Omtose Phellack were of 'the same flavour'. He also explained more about why he was chosen for the mission, boiling down to him being thought expendable, and shared some of his knowledge of Anomander Rake with her.[18]

Interpretation of 'The First Sword' by Artsed

Once they had found the barrow,[19] Tool squatted for a long time seemingly unmoving before the standing stone marking it.[20][21] He eventually rejoined Lorn and after binding a wound of hers, told her that it was time to open the tomb. He led her inside, past the residue of numerous wards dispersed by Tool’s Tellann power. Seeing the wards of his people, Tool told Lorn that he thought he now knew the name of the tyrant and that he shared her misgivings about freeing it but, like her, was compelled to do so. He also informed her that once their task was completed, due to the residual power of the Jaghut, he would be free of his vows. He would go in search of answers and he told her that she would be welcome to accompany him. Lorn, however, avoided giving a response to the offer.[22] Once in the tomb, they located the Jaghut's Finnest and Tool warned the Adjunct not to hold on to it for too long.[23]

When they parted company outside, Tool told Lorn that he would observe the Jaghut but would not interfere, however, should she change her mind and wish to come with him still, he would be in the area for another ten days.[24]

Tool later appeared before the newborn Darujhistan Azath House, protecting it alongside Captain Ganoes Paran from the Tyrant's now animated Finnest. The pair weakened the source of Raest's power long enough for the House to imprison the Finnest within its grounds.[25]

In Memories of Ice[]

Interpretation of Tool looking at the Rent at Morn by Jeanfverreault

Upon being freed of the Warren of Chaos, Toc the Younger found himself at Morn. There he discovered Tool, who said he was waiting for Lady Envy, newly arrived after having been gone many years and now studying the Rent. Tool updated Toc on the fate of Lorn and the results of her mission in Darujhistan. The two men then joined Lady Envy's party, with Tool suggesting Envy could learn more about the Rent somewhere to the north.[26]

On their journey, Tool found himself constantly at odds with Envy's ensorcelled Seguleh companions. Each saw Tool as a challenge that must be tested. Tool defeated both Senu and Thurule with the flat of his blade, but Envy put the more accomplished Mok to sleep any time he threatened to draw swords with the T'lan Imass.[27][28][29]

Tool was befriended by Toc the Younger while travelling with Lady Envy's entourage. He was so touched by Toc's friendship that he came to think of the young man as a brother and named him Aral Fayle.[30][31] While in camp, Tool told Toc of how he had once been First Sword of the Logros T'lan Imass, but with the death of his brothers and his sister Kilava's refusal to attend the First Gathering, he abandoned the Logros. As someone who now walked alone he was committing the greatest crime of his people, but he sought to return to them at the Second Gathering. Encountering his sister he invited her to accompany him, but she angrily refused while also hinting that Tool's actions were manipulated by some higher power.[32] It was later revealed that Tool had spoken against the Ritual of Tellann at the First Gathering, but had acquiesced to the will of his people.[33]

Arriving at the Pannion Domin city of Bastion, Envy's party was ambushed by Anaster and his hordes of Tenescowri. During the chaos, Toc took his leave of his frighteningly powerful companions, but was later captured by the Pannion Seer and imprisoned at his fortress at Outlook.[34][35] Tool rode to Toc's rescue at Outlook atop the back of Garath, but the Seer escaped to Coral (city) with Toc in tow.[36]

'Toc and Tool' Interpretation by Junalesca

Tool followed the Seer to Coral, arriving amidst the Malazan siege of the city. He fought his way to the keep past the Seer's K'ell Hunters, attracting Picker and her squad to the safety of his wake.[37] Inside the keep, he found a physically broken Toc. Naming the young man his kin and brother, he gathered him into his arms and made to depart.[38]

Interpretation of Tool vs Mok by Enaglio

But their escape was interrupted by the arrival of Mok, separated from Lady Envy in the fighting and no longer under her control. The Seguleh Third finally had the opportunity for the duel he had long desired. Mok managed to strike Tool's sword from his hands, but before he could land the killing blow was ambushed and knocked unconscious by Tool's sister Kilava in her Soletaken panther form. Outraged that a mortal had defeated the First Sword of the Logros, only Tool's intervention stopped her from killing the Seguleh. Tool argued that it was a sign that their people's time had passed.[39]

Tool turned to gather Toc only to discover the man had died during the fighting. He and Kilava were soon joined by Lanas Tog, and Tool once again invited his sister to come to the Second Gathering with him. But Kilava angrily declined saying she sought the Seer. Tool requested she seek him out after she had found her redemption.[40]

Tool appeared before Silverfox within the Mhybe's dream-world and successfully convinced the Bonecaster to free the T'lan Ay of their curse. Then he dropped his sword at her feet and asked to be freed of his own.[41]

Later, the beast god, Togg, transferred Toc's soul to the empty body of Anaster as a reward for his service. The new Toc Anaster was approached by a man he did not recognise. He described him as "covered in scars - more scars of battle than Toc had ever seen on a single person before. Despite this, there was a comfort, there in his face - a gentleman's face, no more than twenty years of age, the features pronounced, heavy-boned, framed in long black hair devoid of any fetishes or braids. His eyes were a soft brown." The man confirmed that Toc was doing well before leaving with a smile on his face.[42]

The now mortal Tool returned to Kilava after his visit with Toc. Together they began traveling to the Barghast Range to seek a quarry to replace his discarded flint sword. Along the way they encountered Hetan, who turned her attentions to the seemingly young Imass. Tool responded to her advances with obvious interest.[43]

In House of Chains[]

Onrack T'emlava recalled the days before the First Gathering when the Imass were still mortal. He had broken his people's unwritten covenant by capturing an image of his love, Kilava, in a painting on a cavern wall. The young First Sword, Onos, had looked upon his sister's likeness with wonder, awe, and a resurgence of an abiding love. When the time came for Kilava's kin to join the Gathering, she murdered all but Onos, who drove her away with a feat of extraordinary martial prowess. Afterwards, Kilava had fled to Onrack's arms.[44]

In Reaper's Gale[]

Tool married Hetan, adopted her twin daughters, and fathered a son of his own with her.[45] In the last days of King Ezgara Diskanar's reign, Tool joined the Barghast on their war canoes as they crossed the oceans to reach the shores of the Awl'dan on Lether. His father-in-law, Humbrall Taur perished at the landing in an unnamed tragic accident, and Tool took on his position as war leader. His marriage to Taur's daughter had helped his rise to rule, but his own wisdom and will led the Barghast to choose him.[46] The Barghast did not announce their presence, but disappeared into the plains to scout in the east.[47] Their canoes were later discovered by an expedition led by Preda Bivatt. The horrified Letherii counted the four to five thousand canoes and estimated they had carried as many as half a million people.[48]

Some time later, Atri-Preda Bivatt led the Eastern Army into the Awl'dan on the Awl Campaign to exterminate or enslave Redmask's Awl. During the war, both sides took note of unusual tracks, cairns, and votive offerings left behind by the Barghast without understanding who had left them.[49][50] It was only at the end of the Battle of Q'uson Tapi that some seventy thousand White Face Barghast, led by Onos T'oolan and accompanied by Hetan and Kilava Onass, exited the warren of Tellann to reveal themselves. The mercenary Grey Swords led by Tool's friend, Toc the Younger, had earlier been hired by the Awl as allies against the Letherii. When the Awl betrayed and abandoned them, the Grey Swords fell to the Letherii. When he learned of Toc's presumed death, Tool bided his time to seek vengeance--both against the Awl betrayers and the Letherii killers.[51]

As they approached the last of the fighting, Tool witnessed a single man fall defending the lives of a score of Awl children. He had every intention of ordering them slain until the Awl youth, Torrent, revealed their defender had been Toc the Younger himself. Tool fell to his knees howling in anguish before asking Kilava to lead his army into the battle. To honour his friend, Tool allowed Torrent and the children to live.[51] Tool had never revealed his true identity to Toc once the T'lan Imass had been restored to mortality. The game had long been a source of amusement for him awaiting the time for a revelation of the truth and now it was too late.[52]

Fiddler recalled that Onos had helped to negotiate the original treaty between the Malazan Empire and the Moranth alongside Aragan and Tayschrenn. From this alliance had come the Empire's supply of Moranth munitions.[53]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Onos T'oolan.

In Dust of Dreams[]

Fictitious 'War Council' by Shadaan From left:Brys Beddict - Dassem Ultor - Krughava - Onos T'oolan - Fear Sengar - Gruntle

Onos T'oolan married Hetan, the daughter of Humbrall Taur, Warleader of the Senan clan of the White Face Barghast.[54] Taur died in an accident while traveling to Lether from Genabackis,[55] and Onos T'oolan was unanimously chosen as Warleader.[56] He and Hetan had a son called Absi.[57] Onos T'oolan was also stepfather to her twins Storii and Stavi, whose father was Kruppe of Darujhistan.[58]

Because of his aversion to unjust battle, Onos T'oolan was considered cowardly by the the Barghast, who constantly schemed to depose him.[59][60] Although Onos was an Imass, he sacrificed his life to save his Barghast clan from attack by his strongest rival.[61] His family was torn apart as a result.[62] Olar Ethil forced Toc Anaster to block Tool from reaching Hood's gate where he could have embarked upon his afterlife.[63] He eventually met other T'lan Imass who had participated in the Second Ritual of Tellann. Onos led them to slaughter the Barghast he held responsible for the murder of his family.[64]

In The Crippled God[]

Onos Toolan and his family by Dejan Delic

Three days after the slaughter, Onos led the remaining three thousand towards the convergence surrounding the Crippled God withstanding the powers of Olar Ethil in doing so.[65] He lead his force to take part in the Battle for the Spire as allies to the elder races of the K'Chain Che'Malle and the Jaghut, as well as supporting the Letherii and some Tarthenal.

In the battle the blood of the war god Fener rained down upon Tool and the T'lan Imass warriors making them along with the Jaghut they fought alongside mortal again. After the battle T'oolan was reunited with his wife and children, and left to live with the newly rejuvenated Imass race.

Significant plot details end here.

In Kellanved's Reach[]

Kellanved and Dancer, in search of the First Throne, followed the path indicated by a stone artifact through a gate in Shadow to the Place of the Blooming Ice in the Warren of Tellann. There they found the Throne in a cavern on an island, but were shocked to discover the feared Witch Jadeen already seated upon it.[66] After Dancer attempted to strike her with a throwing knife, she summoned five warriors from the Army of Dust and Bone from the ground around her. The Bonecaster, Tem Benasto, introduced himself and the others--Onos T'oolan, Ay Estos, Ulpan Nodosha, and Tenag Ilbaie--as the Logros guardians tasked with protecting the Throne. The Witch soon put a stop to the pleasantries and ordered Onos to slay the two intruders. But when the T'lan Imass drew his sword, it found the witch's neck, decapitating her and sending her body tumbling from the Throne. Onos declared her unworthy before Kellanved stepped forward to claim the Throne himself.[67]

Kellanved sat and Ay Estos and the other T'lan Imass bowed before him as they considered whether he was worthy. When Tem asked the mage for his orders, Kellanved had none but for them to continue with whatever they had already been doing. The T'lan Imass were pleased and departed to search for their brothers and sisters. Onos told Kellanved they would return at his call. Afterwards, the mage theorised that those who sat on the Throne required the T'lan Imass' permission and could not issue just any command they desired.[68]


Adjunct Lorn: "Tell me Tool, what dominates your thoughts?"
Onos T'oolan: "I think of futility, Adjunct."
Adjunct Lorn: "Do all Imass think about futility?"
Onos T'oolan: "No. Few think at all."
Adjunct Lorn: "Why is that?"
Onos T'oolan: "Because, Adjunct, it is futile."
―Adjunct Lorn and First Sword Onos T'oolan[src]

Fan art gallery[]

Notes and references[]

  1. Memories of Ice, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.419
  2. Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.xv
  3. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.263
  4. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, US HC p.230
  5. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, US HC p.202
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, US HC p.202, UK MMPB p.273-275
  7. Kellanved's Reach, Chapter 15, US HC p.225
  8. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.275
  9. Kellanved's Reach, Chapter 15, US HC p.224
  10. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, US HC p.202
  11. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, UK MMPB p.180
  12. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.277
  13. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.311
  14. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.273-278
  15. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.318-321
  16. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 10, UK MMPB p.332/333
  17. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 10, UK MMPB p.344-348
  18. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 14, UK MMPB p.445-449
  19. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 14, UK MMPB p.453/454
  20. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 15, UK MMPB p.464
  21. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 16, UK MMPB p.486
  22. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 16, UK MMPB p.486-490
  23. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 18, UK MMPB p.554/555
  24. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 19, UK MMPB p.564
  25. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, US HC p.455-456
  26. Memories of Ice, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.50-58
  27. Memories of Ice, Chapter 1, US SFBC p.56-57
  28. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.158-161
  29. Memories of Ice, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.326-327
  30. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.263
  31. Memories of Ice, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.324
  32. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.263-264/268-272
  33. Memories of Ice, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.786-787
  34. Memories of Ice, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.343-346
  35. Memories of Ice, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.413-424
  36. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.556-559
  37. Memories of Ice, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.892
  38. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.913
  39. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.931/938-939
  40. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.938-939
  41. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.958-959
  42. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.993-994
  43. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.994-996
  44. House of Chains, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.563-564
  45. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.709
  46. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.703-704
  47. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.709
  48. Reaper's Gale, Prologue, US HC p.24-26
  49. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 10, US HC p.271
  50. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 19, US HC p.579
  51. 51.0 51.1 Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.703-709
  52. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.709
  53. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, UK MMPB, p.752
  54. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 4
  55. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 4
  56. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 4
  57. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 10
  58. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 4
  59. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 10
  60. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 12
  61. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 12
  62. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 15
  63. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 12
  64. Dust of Dreams, Chapter 24, UK HB p.868
  65. The Crippled God, Chapter 6, UK HB p.142-147
  66. Kellanved's Reach, Chapter 13, US HC p.198-209
  67. Kellanved's Reach, Chapter 15, US HC p.224-227
  68. Kellanved's Reach, Chapter 15, US HC p.227-229
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