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Urko Crust was a Napan who, along with his brother Cartheron and fellow Napan, Surly, was recruited into the Old Guard. Urko and his brother both became Admirals of the Malazan Navy, along with Nok.

Urko was described as a huge man with skin so dark as to seem black. He was heavily muscled, and his arms, shoulders, and torso were said to resemble taut ropes. He had a scar-mottled mostly bald head and sported a thick, grey-shot beard.[1] He had a blunt face with small eyes and thick, wiry eyebrows.[2]

Urko was renowned for his brawn and brute strength.[3] Capable of shattering an opponent's skull with the heel of his hand, he often fought without a weapon.[4] Among the Moranth, he was known as Shatterer for once crushing a Moranth's torso armour in a bear hug.[5] Temper, one of Dassem's First Sword, recalled Urko once dismembering an enk'aral with his iron sword during the campaigns in north Falar.[6] Gesler once saw Urko collapse the side of mudbrick house with three or four blows.[7]

After Laseen had Kellanved and Dancer assassinated, both Urko and his brother were said to have drowned, which was rather suspicious given that both were known to be excellent swimmers.[8]

He was said to have been born in a quarry, a fact his mother claimed shaped his character.[9] This may have had some relation to his interest in paleontology and stone artifacts.[10][11]

In Memories of Ice[]

Whiskeyjack spoke of retiring after the Pannion War and wondered if he would have to drown like Cartheron and Urko did to slip Empress Laseen's grasp.[12]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Urko Crust.

In House of Chains[]

Urko and his brother, Cartheron, had been members 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. They had joined the group after fleeing the conquest of the Napan Isles by the Kingdom of Unta.[13]

See also: Keeper

Interpretation of Urko facing Karsa by Dolmen aka Shadaan

Karsa Orlong and Torvald Nom stumbled upon the supposedly-dead Napan just off the shore of the Otataral Sea, in the A'rath Forest in Seven Cities near Ehrlitan. At that point, he was called Ba'ienrok locally, which translated as Keeper, and dabbled in paleontology. At one point during the visit, Urko knocked Karsa unconscious with a single punch when Karsa commented that sticking together fossils was pointless and stupid. He nevertheless provisioned them with a bag of coins when they left, waving aside any protest saying that he had emptied half of Aren's treasury the day before his tragic drowning.[14] The true identity of the keeper was not confirmed until the next book, however.

In The Bonehunters[]

Urko was visited by Apsalar whom he had not met before. He recognized that she had a connection with his old acquaintance Dancer from the way she walked. He told Apsalar that he had once tried to drown Dancer because he was annoyed by him. Apsalar, drawing on Cotillion's memories within her, recalled that Urko had been drunk at the time. Urko denied this and Apsalar wondered if Cotillion's memories reflected a less depressing version of the truth. Urko told her that he was aware of Cotillion and Dancer being one and the same.[15]

Urko laced Apsalar's tea with a substance which temporarily numbed her lips and tongue. When she managed to convey that her connection to Cotillion had been that of a possession, Urko immediately gave her an antidote. During their conversation Urko mentioned that so many of the Old Guard disappearing by drowning had been their joke, a pact amongst them and that nobody 'got it'. He confessed to always having liked Dancer, despite the man being an assassin, especially for his ability to keep his mouth shut. Urko reassured Apsalar that Dancer was a man of his word.[16]

Whilst Urko and Apsalar were talking, her two ghosts, Telorast and Curdle came across several small reptilian skeletons and promptly possessed one each. Seeing the skeletons animated made Urko realize that he had previously put them together incorrectly. Grateful for this new insight he told Apsalar that Telorast and Curdle were welcome to keep their new bodies.[17]

"...ghosts don't belong here, that's why they're ghosts!"
―Urko about Telorast and Curdle's presence at the beginning of Apasalar's visit[src]

In Reaper's Gale[]

Throatslitter's father had been present during the Malazan conquest of Li Heng. After Emperor Kellanved's Logros T'lan Imass had defeated The Protectress and captured the palace, three "madmen" named Urko, Cartheron, and Nok had brought the Malazan fleet upriver.[18]

In Return of the Crimson Guard []

Interpretation of Urko vs Ryllandaras by Enaglio

Urko, along with a few other surviving Old Guard members, made an alliance with the Moranth, the Seti, and a few Talian noble houses, to form the Talian League and overthrow Laseen for her perceived incompetence as Empress.

Urko recruited two thousand Gold Moranth infantry soldiers and at least several hundred horsemen from the Falari Isles and Seven Cities, bringing them all to Quon Tali on hundreds of ships.[19][20] Urko operated from a flagship named Keth's Loss during this time.[21]

Urko's army made port at Cawn and then proceded overland to Li Heng where the rest of the League had the city besieged.[22] When Empress Laseen arrived at Li Heng with the Malaz 4th Army, Urko was in charge of reserves while Toc the Elder and Choss led the League's left and right wings respectively.[23] After the Seti betrayal and death of Toc, the Malazans broke the League and Urko was forced to surrender.[24] Afterwards Laseen left Urko's soldiers to the mercy of the man-jackal Ryllandaras until Urko pledged her his loyalty.[25]

The following day Urko was placed in charge of the combined Malazan/League Army's right wing in the battle against the Crimson Guard.[26] He fought unarmed within the ranks and slew several of the Avowed with his bare hands.[27] He survived the battle despite efforts by the Guard to specifically find and kill him, but slipped away before he could be recaptured by the Empire.

Urko then joined the hunt for Ryllandaras along with Amaron, Temper, Ferrule, Braven Tooth, Hurl, Rell, and Liss. Liss used magic to compel and hold Ryllandaras while the others attempted to kill him. At one point, Urko held the beast in a powerful chokehold. They were ultimately successful, and Urko disappeared once again.[28]

In Deadhouse Landing[]

(Information needed)

In Kellanved's Reach[]

(Information needed)

Notes and references[]

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