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Toc the Elder had disappeared during Empress Laseen's purges of the Old Guard at the time of the old Emperor's death. When the Imperial Adjunct, Lorn, told his son that she had known the former commander and that the Empress regretted his death, Toc the Younger told her that he did not believe that his father had died.[1][2]

"She raised her gaze at this. 'I knew your father,' she said. Her smile returned. 'Also a great bowman.'...'He was a fine commander too.'"

In Gardens of the Moon[]

Toc the Younger recalled that his father had called Dujek Onearm a friend and had spoken much of him.[3]

In Deadhouse Gates[]

The Imperial Historian Duiker recalled how he had been plucked out of the ranks of the Malaz 1st Army by Emperor Kellanved and given over to the tutoring of Toc the Elder, whom Kellanved called a "soldier with a brain." Toc the Elder taught Duiker to read and write alongside his own young son, Toc the Younger.[4]

Duiker recalled that after Laseen assassinated Kellanved and Dancer, Toc the Elder had disappeared and was said to have "drowned" at the same time as other members of the Old Guard.

"What happened to Toc the Elder, I wonder? Vanishing after the assassinations..."
"Both Crust and Urko were the Emperor's men.' Duiker explained. 'It seems they shared the same fate as most of Kellanved's companions, including Toc the Elder and Ameron. None of their bodies were ever found, either.'"

In Memories of Ice[]

Toc the Younger told Envy that he was born on a ship and that his mother had been the sister of Cartharon Crust. Due to Crust's famous temper, it had been a few days before Toc the Elder had stepped forward to acknowledge his fatherhood.[5]

In Reaper's Gale[]

When Hood came to claim Toc Anaster's soul after the Battle of Q'uson Tapi, he told the soldier his own claim superseded that of Togg and Fanderay because Toc the Elder had long ago pledged his son's soul to Hood. In this Toc the Elder had remained loyal while Dassem Ultor had not. Toc Anaster cursed out Hood for rewarding his father's loyalty by killing him, but Hood assured him his father still lived.[6]

In Return of the Crimson Guard[]

Upon his reappearance, Toc the Elder was described as balding with the remaining grey hair brush-cut and barely visible over his tanned nut-brown scalp. He had a thin mouth, framed by a grey goatee and a long face. In his guise of a Seti warlord, Toc would wear a plain ringed leather hauberk over a quilted undershirt and sported a battered blackened helmet. He was not actually born a Seti, rather he was "the son of a nameless speck of a hamlet in Bloor", but he had developed a strong affinity for the plains people.[7][8] He had been responsible for negotiating the Empire's treaties with the Seti tribes, had fought for their interests with Kellanved, and had led thousands of Seti lancers in battle across Quon Tali and Falar.[9][10] During the war to bring the Tali under control of the Empire, Toc served as flank commander under Dassem Ultor at Valan and scoured the Nom Purge.[11]

Toc's Seti double recurve black bow was famous.[7]

Toc resurfaced from his presumed death at Fort Saran north of Li Heng, leading the Seti army on behalf of the Talian League. He and his fellow Old Guard planned to retake the Empire from Empress Laseen, who they saw as failing it. The Seti were brought into the fold with the promise they could take Li Heng when the civil war had been won. During the war they served as the League's scouts and cavalry.

But the Li Hengan defenders' release of the man-jackal Ryllandaras dashed Toc's plans. Just as the climactic Battle of the Plains between the League and the forces of Empress Laseen began, the Seti refused to fight. With their old patron Ryllandaras free, Seti leadership had been seized by the White Jackal shaman Imotan who told Toc the Seti now had no further need for him. Toc chased after the retiring horsemen until Imotan set his men upon him, stabbing Toc with their lances. As he lay dying, Toc was approached by his aide, Captain Moss, who revealed he was a spy working for the Empress. He expressed his admiration for Toc as he watched him die. Toc drifted away to join his beloved plains.[12]


Toc the Elder had been one of Kellanved's family, the group of people who had coalesced around Kellanved and Dancer to conquer Malaz Island from Mock the pirate and form the Malazan Empire.[13]

Apart from Toc the Younger, Toc also had two older sons Ingen and Leese. Their mother was never mentioned but given Toc the Younger's thoughts about his own mother, she was likely another woman. Toc the Elder raised his three children among the Seti people, spending many years with them.[14]


"Because mages can't hold territory. In the end, it always comes down to leather on the ground--the plain spearman or army regular. They win the wars."
―Toc the Elder, explaining why soldiers were still needed[src]


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