The Sorcerer's Conspectus:

A comprehensive view of Andre Norton's Witch World

by Lotsawatts

Races of Witch World ~ Old Race


The Old Race are among the first races thought to have inhabited the Witch World. In fact there are many races, both Light and Dark, that owe their existence (or at least their presence) to various Adepts of the Old Race. They are assumed to be among the natives of the world since they have no legends of coming through a Gate.

Appearance: The Old Race have black hair and gray eyes. Their faces are oval with high cheek bones. They have pale "ivory" skin that tans but does not become ruddy.

Living Area(s): EstcarpEscoreArvon and before the Horning, Karsten

Life Span: The Old Race is very long-lived, not even showing outward signs of aging until death is only a few years away. Exactly how long-lived the Old Race can be is never really stated, but Kaththea met Utta who had been with the Vupsall for several of their generations and Kethan's sword teacher in The Jargoon Pard was among those who had walked into Arvon when the races retreated from the south (possibly a thousand years ago!). Strangely, none of the Old Race in Estcarp seem to share this same extreme longevity (or if they do they don't mention it). The constant attacks from Alizon seem to have taken their toll on the Old Race.

Power: They are naturally inclined to have the Power which allows them a connection with the land around them. Witches, in Estcarp, by far have the largest amount of training and talent (at least among females). They can cast illusions, cause shape-shifting and (quite literally) move mountains, though using the Power exerts a great cost. In Arvon and Escore both males and females are trained and use the Power. It is unclear how or why the Witches in Arvon became their sole magic users.

Other: For the past thousand years only women were thought to have (or trained in the ways of) Power, at least within Estcarp. With the coming of Simon Tregarth and the reopening of Escore, however, more and more males seem to be coming into the Power again.
In Witch World the Old Race is noted to be able to mate with the Sulcar due to some tie with the sea (Yonan is a child of this pairing: Trey of Swords). In later books the Old Race is shown to be able to mate normally with those of the Dales (Elys & Jervon: Songsmith), Falconers (Old Toad), those of Karsten (Ciara's parents: Ciara's Song), Were-Riders (Hyron & Eldris, Herrel & Gillan: The Jargoon Pard), the Green People (Songsmith), and even Alizonders (Darkness Over MirholdThe Circle of Sleep) and most famously, humans from Earth (Simon Tregarth & Jaelithe Three Against the Witch World). Of the Tregarth children only Kemoc has no offspring by his chosen mate, so it's possible the Krogan are too far removed for natural reproduction with the Old Race.

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Formatted and Edited by Jay Watts ~ May, 2022

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