This is the dialogue between Croaker and One-Eye and the end of chapter one.

One-Eye stared at the thing in the cage, hating. I tried to ease him away. He shook me off. “Not yet, Croaker. I have to figure this.” “What?” “This isn’t the one that killed Tom-Tom. It doesn’t have the scars we put on it.” I turned slowly, studied the legate.. He laughed again, looking our way. One-Eye never figured it out. And I never told him. We have troubles enough.

What didn't One-Eye understand?

I've read the first two books - The Black Company and Shadows Linger.

  • I'm not sure if I understand you, but forvalaka had very strong healing factor
    – Mithoron
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 12:01
  • @Mithoron - In the last paragraph of the first chapter it's made clear that the forvalaka that attacked the Syndic's tower and the forvalaka caged on Soulcatcher's ship are different. I've edited the question details. I hope its more clear now.
    – Grey
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 16:28
  • Hmm, I think I read it too many years ago :(
    – Mithoron
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 18:05
  • I believe that the answer is stated in a later book.
    – LAK
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 20:54

6 Answers 6


Tom-Tom was not killed by a forvalaka, but by something wearing the shape of one.

Shapeshifter, if I recall correctly.

  • I've just restarted that series and I'm not certain the text is ever entirely clear on that particular point. It suggests one interpretation, sure, but one can also read it as saying the forvalaka serve that particular individual at the time you refer to. To the OP's original question, the forvalaka reappear during a specific battle, one where the Black Company serves a very ancient evil, one that later becomes a very experienced Lieutenant. And, IIRC, One-Eye is able to extract clear retribution for his loss. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 6:32
  • I re-read The Black Company about 6 months ago, so it was fairly fresh in my mind. I'll have to go look it up and see if I can find textual confirmation. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 13:24
  • 2
    It's very strongly implied that it was Shapeshifter though I don't think it was ever outright stated
    – sevvack
    Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 4:57
  • The series as a whole has a number of unanswered riddles like this - like how did Raven fake his death, both times? Where the things in the castle really in both castles? Did they move between them?
    – Oldcat
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 23:49
  • 1
    I'm currently rereading it, and in the 1st book of the south (shadow game), and Croaker explicitly states he is certain that it's shapeshifter who killed tom tom, even if he don't know why he knows it.
    – dna
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 13:54

If one would assume that Tom-Tom's deadly wounds could have healed then it would be no problem to accept that the real forvalaka's wounds could have healed as well. There ARE hints, though, that the forvalaka on the ship really IS the transformed Tom-Tom. During the combat Croaker is wondering several times why Tom-Tom isn't already dead. Also the already quoted end of this chapter hints to the Tom-Tom solution. There are also some subtle hints that the Legate with his black mask might have been the forvalaka in the Bastion. Is he (she?) the Shapeshifter? It would be the only other explanation why Croaker wouldn't have wanted to tell One-Eye. Another possibility is the Syndic. Has he been killed in his chest by the Captain's men? Croaker never knows. But perhaps he could have been transformed into a forvalaka, dead or alive. On the other hand the forvalaka on the ship is described as somethimes looking like an athletic woman of about thirty - so I guess we will never know unless it's made clear later or in a later book. Or unless someone asks the author ...


Shapeshifter was in forvalaka form when he killed Tom-Tom. The one in the cage was crucified on the battlefield at Charm. One Eye tortured it for days.

  • The only "weird" thing here, is that Shapeshifter is not mentioned in any way up to that point. None of the Takens are, but we only see one. If Shapeshifter traveled "subtly" there, to impersonate a forvalka really set loose in a city, that seems very much like a contrived coincidence. More on that, Shapeshifter never really meet the Forvalka
    – LamaDelRay
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 7:09

I'm re-reading the Black Company once again and I stumbled across this forum to see if anyone else had come to the same conclusion that I did. I don't buy the explanation that this is Shape-shifter. Croaker was not yet aware of Shape-shifter yet Croaker seemed to understand why this forvalaka was injured.

Tom-Tom may have become a forvalaka. This would explain Croaker's silence on the matter and why he commented that "we have troubles enough". Perhaps the forvalaka that killed Tom-Tom didn't survive its injuries and Tom-Tom had been transformed into a forvalaka in much the same way that a werewolf bite can turn someone into a werewolf.
This would explain why Croaker didn't share his musings with One-Eye.

  • I don't think this theory has any merit. I can't remember any talk about how the forvalaka reproduce. It is quite clear in the book that it was shapeshifter.
    – Thorst
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 7:17
  • The forvalaka in the cage isn't injured, which is why Croaker realizes it's not the one that they fought. There's no textual support for the Tom-Tom transformation theory. Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 22:36
  • Certainly Tom-Tom's brother, One-Eye has no such powers.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 23:46

I think the implication is that Croaker has figured out that Catcher has used some kind of magic, whether it be shape shifting or otherwise to kill Tom-Tom.

Croaker seems observant of Catcher’s response to Tom-Tom’s reservations about going north.

Compile that with his wondering if the slaughter at Bastion was what catcher meant by the “forvalaka serving its purpose”.

Then consider that of the Wizards only Tom-Tom is wounded when it charges into the four of them.

The line about “we have enough problems” reveals that Croaker has realized Catcher was responsible for the assault with the specific intention of killing Tom-Tom and possibly the Syndic in order to clear the path for the Company to go north.

There is a part of me that wants to believe it was Catcher herself, but that’s conjecture and probably wishful thinking on my part.


Exciting as it would be if true the Tom-Tom became a forvalaka theory doesn't have a shred of textual evidence. It's almost certainly Shifter although I guess an argument can be made for it being Catcher somehow. Either way, the real secret everyone overlooks is that Tom-Tom was likely assassinated along with the Syndic. Tom-Tom is the only one that really knows what awaits them if they go north, he's the only one speaking against signing with Catcher, and he's the only wizard injured when all 4 were as completely exposed as he was. It's unlikely he'd have talked the Company out of going north so there must be some reason Catcher wanted him gone. Of course we don't know the specifics of shape shifting. If it causes one to lose themselves, to become the animal, to any degree it could just be that Tom-Tom's attack on the forvalaka caused an animalistic response, and that Catcher didn't want him dead. Personally I think he was specifically targeted but either way he did not become a forvalaka himself, cool as that would be.

  • Please try and use paragraphs in future. A wall of text isn't very reader-friendly. Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 3:55
  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. I don't see an explanation of what happened to the forvalaka that killed Tom-Tom, since it apparently wasn't the same one as the one in the cage. The question wasn't if Tom-Tom became a forvalaka.
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 4:09

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