This peculiar character is nicely described in Field Guide to Monsters of the World:
First described in AD 77 by the elder Pliny in his masterpiece, Historia Naturalis, their name is Latin for â€˜shade-foot.â€™ Also known as Monoscelans or â€œmonopods,â€ these humanoids featured in stories told by Medieval writers such as Thomas de Mandeville, and they regularly appeared in illustrated religious texts, bestiaries and maps of the world. Their native region is often stated as Ethiopia, though theyâ€™ve been reported as far off as Libya, and theyâ€™re known for their habit of reclining at midday and using their single huge foot as a parasol against the blazing sun. As they keep cool in the shade, the sun bakes their soles into hard, black leather.
Tough soles aren't a drawback, though, as the Sciopods' feet are subject to a lot of punishment as they hop around the countryside. Being one-footed doesnâ€™t slow them down, either. A Sciopod's leg is enormously powerful, and the long hops it
makes can propel it faster than a horse and rider, and almost as fast as gazelles. That strong leg and hardened foot is useful in combat, too; a Sciopodâ€™s kick can kill an armored man or break through a brick wall.
Travelers donâ€™t have to worry about being chased down and kicked to death by these people, though; unlike some of the more savage humanoids, the Sciopods are entirely non-violent except as a last resort in self-defense. Not only are they vegetarian, but they donâ€™t even kill plants. Instead, the Sciopods get all their nourishment from the aroma of the living fruit-plants they all carry. Should a Sciopodâ€™s plant die or be taken from him, the powerful but delicate one-legged man will perish soon after.
Well it's about time to pick it up again. Or better yet the whole series. There is much in the Chronicles that is written for adults; I've read the whole series a number of times (each of the books can be finished on a Sunday afternoon) and something new hits me every time.
They were under a curse of invisibility.
It's been twenty years or so since I read that book; amazing, how quickly it comes back.