The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Lotsawatts

Races of Witch World ~ Torfolk

Torfolk live in the northern area of Estcarp on the boarder between it and Alizon. They have once aligned themselves with the Kolder but only under duress and truly seek to be neutral and left alone.

Appearance: Downy hair, long, thick arms, short neck, torso and legs. Women are more naturally proportioned than men.

Living Area(s): Tor Marsh, Tor Moor

Life Span: Their lifespan is unmentioned.

Power: The Torfolk seem to have their own form of Power. Simon, when held captive by them, sees them seemingly vanish from the building and reappear. They also summon Power in communal rituals filled with chanting and drumming led by the women. Some of their wise women have foresight and farsight and hold dreams as important. They could very well do other things, but it isn't mentioned. They were afraid of what the Kolder can do.

Other: Those of the Tor seem to be very ancient and whether they came through a Gate or not is debatable as they have no history mentioning it and claim to have seen other races rise and fall. They worship the being known as Volt who apparently found them when they were barely more than beasts1. They are quite lithe and graceful despite their ape-like appearance. It is not mentioned that they walk on all fours at any time, though potentially they could given the length and heaviness of their arms. It is not mentioned whether their feet are human or more ape-like in nature nor whether they may be of some avian decent or not.
In Sand Sister it is mentioned that those of Tor blood seem to be having trouble reproducing. Why this is the case is unknown, but it could be the race is slowly dying out. Torfolk live communally in clans, not taking husbands or wives. On certain times of the month/year, Tor women hold a fertility dance and choose a man to father a child with. It is up to the woman to declare the father of her child if she chooses but they don't form couples. Children are held as precious by all and the whole clan takes care of them, not just their birth mother. It's possible their fertility is dwindling due to inbreeding and need new blood to revive their race. They are able to produce children with other races; for example Koris is half Torfolk, half Gormians. He married Loyse who is Karstenian and they have a son, Simond. The Torfolk's infertility could also be some curse caused by their earlier actions with Simon and Loyse.

1. p50. Midwife: 'For the Torfolk were very old indeed. They spoke in their Remember Chants of a day when they had been near unthinking beasts (even less than some of the beasts of this old land) and how Volt, The Old One (he who was not human at all but the last of a much older and greater race than man dared to aspire to equal) had come to be their guide and leader. For he was lonely and found in them some spark of near thought which intrigued him so he would see what he might make of them." With their "downy" hair, it's possible Volt may have joined their mating rituals and his bloodline runs through their race. This may be why Koris was able to wield the Axe.

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ May, 2022

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