Earl of the North

originally posted by Damian

Janny (or anyone who knows),

can some one tell me what region the Earl of the North 'looks after'? I notice that different Earls usually look after a princedom (eg. Alland) however it is not mentioned that i remember whether Steiven or his heirs look after Deshir or another area.

Another question can anyone explain how the Chieftain systems work. Persumably i would have thought that a kingdom in absence of a High King would be looked after by the Cathdein, however when Shand is mentioned in the books it seems the destiny of the clans is ruled by a council of chiefs.

Its funny but i'm thinking of a few questions now . How do the drifters relate to the Clans people. Are they resistent to the Paravian presence or are they similar to the townspeople but only 'drifters' as the name suggests.

I also notice that the present Cathdien of Rathain does not have a title. All cathdienen mentioned so far are Earls, (Alland, of the West, of the North)

Cheers in advance

Damian - You Asked.

The title "Earl of the North" is a historical reference that has ties to the ruins of Penstair. The territory appertains to the Free Wilds of Deshir. At the time of this manuscript, the titled lineage for Halwythwood is vacant - therefore, the two domains are loosely "connected" - Halwythwood looks to s'Valerient, and the caithdein for King's Justice in the absence of am actively endorsed ruler.

Originally, each lineage in a clan had an Elder - appointed by concensus, or claimed, by right of aware power. These Elders form the council. Many decisions for the clans are human ones, not rooted in Paravian Law. The council and chieftain therefore handled such matters, by vote or unanimous concensus - which way depended on the gravity of the issue.

The drifters are clan based, and do inhabit the free wilds - just not a forest landscape.

The appendix in the US edition of TK clearly defines how power descends…the title of Caithdein does not necessarily follow the earl's line of inheritance. Often, it might. You are viewing the rare circumstance when the power is split between Barach and Jeynsa - the reason Why is detailed in that appendix…if you don't have access to the appendix, it's a logical extension of what's happening in the historical setting of the story.

originally posted by Blue

As an addendum, if I may, I was under the impression that the Caithdein did not rule with absolute authority in the absence of the High King. It always struck me that the sitting Caithdein was aware that the whole of the clans were sharing the risk occupying the kingdoms without the protection of the High Kings, and the chieftains would be speaking up for their subordinates to offer advice or constructive criticism on the course of action the Caithdein had chosen. This way, the Caithdein knew which way the wind blew, so to speak, amongst the individual havens of clansfolk.

Which brings up a question Janny, if the clans were unhappy with the Caithdein, could someone appeal to the F7 to challenge the appointment or even remove an unsatisfactory Caithdein?

originally posted by Damian

Thanks alot Janny, sorry i did not mention this already, but i'm enthralled by your books!

Things are much clearer now. I am in Australia so i didn't have the appendix as mentioned in you post.

Thanks for clearing this up!

Blue -

You Asked Also.

Much of your question is also covered in that US edition based appendix. (A sidebar note for me here - for ME to write my editor and ask if it can't be included in another UK edition…)

There are a few points I may both reiterate AND clarify:

Caithdeinen are appointed as "designate" by the chieftain & council of Elders. In this instance, the ceremony of Investiture carries a point of testing initiation. There would be a Presence involved - either Fellowship OR - and this is an extremely important fine point: a Crowned High King, initiate to all four of the elements. Crowned High Kings were a long step! from what you know as "Sanctioned Crown Prince" - the story in all likelihood will illuminate this difference in due time.

A Caithdein appointed by Fellowship auspice would Never be displaced.

Post investiture - a Caithdein would Never be displaced.

The selection process itself IS an exacting process that weeds out the likelihood of a corrupted candidate.

If - and I say IF - there occurred an impactful event that COULD shift a caithdein from right principle - I would postulate that the Fellowship Sorcerers would carry the ultimate responsibility to take the authority back.

The Shadows Behind the Throne acted in force, as the King's conscience. It was they, who could overthrow a crowned sovereign, or council, not the other way around.

So in an oblique way, your supposition was partially right.

originally posted by Blue

Thank you, Janny! :smiley:

originally posted by winter

Janny, how frequently did Caithein actually have to overthrow a Crown High King?

originally posted by Hunter

Conspiracy theory #345, consider the following:

  1. "Shadows Behind the Throne" = caithdeinen
  2. "Master of Shadows" = Arithon

Þ Arithon = Master of those behind the Throne

As of today, Arithon already in reality represents the hopes of caithdeinen of four kingdoms - his own Rathain, Tysan, Shand and Melhalla - and Eldir would arguably be more disposed to Arithon than Lysaer. And Arithon could add Havish should Lysaer invade Havish and displace Eldir.

Þ Arithon = High King of Athera (all five kingdoms)

The five Kingdoms of Men were established as part of the Compact. Paravian royalty existed since their arrival, but it is not clear at all whether there was one Paravian Kingdom or several, or where the kingdom boundaries may have been. If the Compact is sundered, the Five High kingdoms of Men cease to have relevance and it's a battle of survival between the old behind Arithon and the townborn under Lysaer…

winter - You Asked.

Let me see how to answer this one. If I dumped out a boxful of notes and napkin bits and thumbed through a bunch of notebooks, some with Paravian in the margins…I might provide you a number.


The fact, besides taking time to compile - the fact alone would be horridly misleading!
HOW MANY TIMES is too general an answer.

Each one was highly individual. And your word "overthrow" implies - well - revolution in the form of a 'power play' - which the caithdein's office was specifically formulated to PREVENT!

Under a Caithdein's formal action, a High King might retire, step down, consent to a re-evaluation by the Fellowship, or possibly be dethroned and supplanted, but in this case, it would NOT be in a fight - the circumstances would be OBVIOUS to many eyes…the story will reveal some angles of this in Stormed Fortress, if you look clearly enough to see it…

How much should I reveal - the issue is complex because the Atheran High Kings did not hold "office" under the same power structure you may be presuming, derived from Earth based feudal culture.

There is Certainly short story material here! Appendix and fun with backhistory area. To approach even a shallow summary of the "reasons" such a change might happen - would take pages! on this chat. To nail even one of them, in clear depth, would touch on many other areas that will be unveiled directly by story…so.

It Happened. Often enought that it wasn't 'rare' - but not often enough that it was 'common' or even, presumed to occur as a matter of course.

How often is a world leader assassinated??? It happens. Not entirely rarely, but not expected as a daily matter of course. One feels the shock. The happening does not become just another item of news. There is no parallel here (High King to assassinated figures of state, NOT!) - just an effort to show you that these events happen occasionally, are possible always, but never occur as a matter of course.

For a caithdein to challenge a high king was SERIOUS. Everything stopped until the matter was resolved - as you saw, already, in Fugitive Prince. Both in Earl Jieret's behavior, in the gravity of the manner in which he handled it before anything, and in the severity of Arithon's response, to clear the issue AT ONCE.

There are other refs. to "the testing of princes by caithdein" - look again at the chapter in Ships of Merior, following Arithon's sword battle with Erlien. And at the same volume, when Maenalle challenges Lysaer, before her "arrest" - and look again at what the s'Brydion sent to Etarra as Alestron's ambassador felt about that event, written in Warhost.

These notations in the text would not have been spurious - but would have had historical precident.

originally posted by winter

Thanks Janny, it's food for thought.

I guess Arithon would be aware of all the historical precidence and custom as part of his role as Masterbard. Lysaer on the otherhand might be woefully ignorant of much of it. By the end of Traitor's Knot he is clearly learning more and more about what the clans are and what their role was, he's probably unaware of a fair bit. I tend to forget that Lysaer would have no knowledge beyond Dascen Elur (and even less knowledge of that world than Arithon probably had) and having spent most of his time with townborn, probably has a lot dimmer understanding of Athera's nature and history than Arithon does. I wonder if Sulfin Evend won't continue what he's started and fill Lysaer in.

originally posted by Hunter

You raise an interesting observation winter that it seems on Dascen Elur that historical knowledge and mage training seemed to go together exclusively, rather than wide knowledge of historical contexts being pervasive with magecraft knowledge a separate entity.

Has anyone come across the reasons why people might have been exiled or voluntarily journeyed through West Worldend Gate to Mearth and through to Dascen Elur. It seems those who wanted to follow proscribed technology were sent through South Gate mostly. Why would people be sent through West Gate?

Clearly the exiled heirs weren't the only people who ended up on Dascen Elur - the heirs couldn't populate such a world. If so, why would these people have accepted the exiled heirs as their rulers? Or did the exiled heirs, by force of character, perhaps not dissimilar to what Lysaer did on Athera, use force of personality to assume the leadership of the kingdoms on Dascen Elur?

originally posted by max

Maybe the folk who went thru the Westgate just needed to explore. They went to Dascen Elur for the same reason people sailed to America. Looking for land, for knowledge, for freedom. I don't think they had to be exiled there. Must have been alot of people who maybe decided that the rules on Athera were just not for them. I still have an intense curiosity of what the Northgate and Eastgate are for??!! [smiling at ya]

originally posted by neil

Each gate was a release valve (each presumably for different factors adversely affecting Athera that the paravians did not approve of / could not support.

FAQ "splinter worlds" now seems to have more hints than the last time I read it…humanity's politics seem to have been more complex than we have yet seen…)

Apart from technology (South gate), I wonder what other reasons there were / are. What would have happened to the "spaceships"? Would they have been destroyed? Is there ever an agenda for leaving Athera? Or is mankind marooned until e can learn "paravian like" perception?

Do we know whether Dascen Elur was populated before the rebellion? I think it was - from board discussion - but I don't think it's mentioned in the books…cursth of meath is apparently yet to be explained…

Presumably elemental powers given at birth wouldn't really be encouraged on Athera.

"If the Compact is sundered…" isn't the fellowship forced to *act*? Maybe they won't have the resource? Save the planet *then* deal with mankind…?

Dari argued with Sethvir during training. Does this mean that she did not agree with certain things as a human compared to F7 enforced compact behaviour? Is Arithon ever going to have to act to protect mankind's survival *against* the Fellowship (I'm still not sure their agendas completely match but so far yes…Arithon seems to appreciate the correctness of Fellowship philosophy if not all their actions i.e. interventions against his free will) whilst Lysaer is causing havoc…

If the compact does go…then humanity has to go no? Arithon won't sit there and "take it", I imagine…

originally posted by Hunter

Or Puritan religious nutters looking for a different flock to fleece after getting kicked out of Europe…

The question is I think certainly one of free will. There's nothing stopping an Atheran resident going through West gate (prior to it being closed), my question is whether anyone was forcibly exiled for transgressions of the Compact somehow.

originally posted by winter

This thread has a lot of answers to your questions Neil. Janny doesn't explain exactly why people went to Dascen Elur, but let's you guess at it.


Somewhere else I think Janny said that elemental mastery wouldn't happen on Athera, that's the reason why the gate had to be sealed. Dascen Elur had to develop a system of law and morality which was different than the one imposed on Athera by the compact. These different laws allowed for Arithon and Lysaer to exist and fufill the prophecy.

If you think about it, Athera is somewhat oppressive in that it proscribes a lot of things.
Lysaer is taken aback when he finds out that the clans see land ownership as being absurd and immoral, when in Amroth land ownership is a cornerstone of society. I don't have the book with me so I can't find the exact quoting, but if I remember correctly he felt that a farmer should have the right to hold exclusive deed over his land. I think a lot of Lysaer's philosophies/politics is based on how Amroth worked (which in turn is probably a lot like Earth Western society), which makes the Compact look very oppressive. And for no reason since to Lysaer the Paravians are long gone (and he clearly doesn't think they're coming back). I imagine if you dropped a person from Earth Western society who values land ownership, a free market, a fully democractic government, etc. onto Athera and told them that they had to agree to a Compact that forbade or limited all of that, they'd balk. Maybe the people who went to Dascen Elur simply objected to a Compact that they had no say in crafting and ran counter to the way they believed was right.
Which of course is all part of Janny's plan I think. Make Lysaer's thought process close to how most Westerners think but make you sympathetic to his opposite.

*small spoiler ahead, sort of*
One big point for me was a mention (I can't recall what book/scene it was in) that Lysaer brought in slavery as a way to so demoralise the clans that they'd give up. His motivation wasn't to be wontonly cruel or pure financial gain, but to force the clans to assimilate (as oppose to simply commit genocide). In a perverted way, he was trying to save clan lives. Which makes me think that to Lysaer, the clans are clinging to an outdated system of law imposed by creatures that are no long around and don't look to be coming back. He hoped to break down their hope until they gave up and accepted that society had moved on. The problem is the Clans believe the Paravians will come back and they are what stands between humanity and its doom. So the Clans can't give up and assimilate without dooming humanity. Lysaer simply doesn't believe the Paravians still exist or what the implications are to humanity if the Paravians were really threatened. I think if he ever learned all that (and let himself believe it) that he'd change his tune.

Yikes, sorry for the long, rambling post. It's amazing that I can pull out all these little tidbits of information about a work of fiction but can't remember to pick up eggs and sugar on my way home.

originally posted by Hunter


What you've described as Lysaer's intent to the clans could easily be described as what every invading society has done to every indigenous population in the history of the world. The conquered are either assimilated or slaughtered. Either way, what they were no longer exists.

I disagree… Lysaer was deliberately, calculatedly and cold-bloodedly being extremely cruel as a method to break the clans. With several centuries of hot heads in merchant clans fuelling head hunter leagues, it didn't take much for Lysaer to convince the good burghers of Avenor that slavery of the clans something acceptable.

I do also wonder that should the Paravians return, whether the clans can appeal to the Paravians, under Paravian law and the Law of the Major Balance, to the re-assertion of the clans free will to not be persecuted. I also suspect that in chasing down clan fugitives, head hunters have entered the free wilds unlawfully. I would think the Paravians might act to forestall such illegal activities.

originally posted by Ellydee


What follows is a long, rambling list of random thoughts inspired by the last few posts. *Forgive me.*

One of the facets of this series I enjoy the most is the reality of cultures colliding: Lysaer cannot understand Athera; his views are more aligned with the townsmen. Arithon is more "right" in his treatment of Athera because he comes from a culture that is more like that of the clansmen, coupled with a training that helps him understand the grand mysteries and the rules that govern them. The townsmen do not; it's doubtful most are aware of the existence of these ideas at all.

The townsmen do seem to be very protective and defensive of their culture and way of life, and Lysaer champions it with heartfelt, if misguided, sincerity. However, the clansmen are just as staunch, and immovable, in their beliefs. When Arithon tries to get the S'Brydion clan, among others, to make peace with the towns, he meets strong opposition. One of the brothers (can't remember which now, sorry) says that to mingle with the townsmen would condemn their way of life - how could they maintain it separately?

It seems that the Fellowship's way of dealing with disagreements of this sort follows this line of thinking. A shard of deviant culture breaks off, the Fellowship offers a splinter world to contain that culture or way of life. However, when one runs out of splinter worlds, what can be done?

I think that Davien (yes, I am coming to a point!) may have realized that for true peace to exist between humans, these cultures have to mingle and must be mutually understood and respected. This would make Athera unsuited for humanity - it seems that the Compact and the rules of Athera only support one culture optimally - Arithon's and the clansmen's. Would Lysaer and the townsmen be happy exiled to Dascen Elur? Most probably. Perhaps, since the Mistwraith's advent, the Fellowship has been too divided or too understaffed to carry out the exile. I am sure this is just one little issue in the midst of everything circulating in the background of this monumental story. Sorry about the huge post. I am in a Paradise Lost class, perpetual analytical essay mode. :smiley: Only writing about this is more fun.

originally posted by neil

thank winter - I had missed certain janny tidbits in the past… :slight_smile:

"Lysaer cannot understand Athera" - I disagree. I think he understands he just takes a top down appraoach. He believes he knows what's right but he is also cursed…

For the clans to "mix" with townborn seems to the clans a risk: to no longer have the capability to directly treat with paravians. The clans see themselves as "the grass roots of the compact"; an alternative system does seem imaginable to most clan we have met so far…Davien presumable foresaw an alterative…Arithon is a weapon to enable tis perhaps…

I don't think that the 4 gates were set up one by one as solutions to problems as they arose…the 4 gates were probably planned simultaneously as part of the initial "set up" - just a hunch…the fellowship/paravian seem much more capable of "planning ahead".

The "culture" in the 3rd age lasted 5000 years…this is actaully a long time as we see it…only not much has been revealed so far about this period in the books. Without the mistwraith I suppose it would have continued…Do the townborn slowly develop if they choose to be exposed a little to the higher frequencies…do most not do this by fee will ( is that the problem? Mankind left to it's own devices is not developing in a desirable way quick enough and the risks are too high?)

originally posted by Hunter

Neil - I think Janny has stated elsewhere that the four gates were setup as part of the conditions of the Compact. To date we've only seen/heard about people going via South and West Gates. Not North or East but I wouldn't be surprised if they had been used at some stage.

As a side point, I'm wondering a little why Penstair and Athir are ruins? They are Second Age ruins so they weren't destroyed during the uprising (I think). I guess I'm assuming the Paravian strongholds should have stayed whole rather than falling apart into ruins… especially as they were built by the Ilitharis Paravians and sung together? Or whether these were torn apart by drakespawn?

Ellydee - as Mearn s'Brydion explains to Talith in FP, the blood lines can't be mixed. I disagree with your comment that the humans need true peace and that the cultures need to mingle. Davien's point was that the structure put in place by the Fellowship was fundamentally flawed. What the Compact put in place was a structure whereby the High Kings and clans (being vibrationally sensitive) were the interface to the Paravians and the townsmen, being vibrationally insensitive, were given areas to live in that would not distress them nor break the Compact. And this ruling, really stewardship, was passed down in dynastic succession, to which Davien disagreed.

The townborn (read merchants) seemed to have grown mute if not completely deaf to the mysteries and the Compact I suspect came to represent to them tyrannical suppression that they had to overthrow. Davien's comment to Arithon that the rebellion was his version of the massacres at the Havens perhaps suggests Davien had a minor rebellion in mind, not a co-ordinated assault on the foundations of Atheran royalty, to raise the point that perhaps the current system needed revising.

If you look at the timing, the Mistwraith entered in Third Age 4993, the rebellion came in 5018, 25 years later. As I understand, the High Kings and others were at Earle for a large part of that 25 years. If so, would it have been the caitdeinen or someone else left to "run" the Kingdoms? In caretaker mode, probably nowhere near as strong as the High King… which gave the towns 25 years really to work out how to overthrow the existing government… which perhaps was Davien's point that the whole dynastic succession system was fundamentally reliant on the few select individuals rather than a more broad based, in possibly inclusive, model of governance.

Just rambling… :smiley:

originally posted by max

I read the site thread suggested above and couldn't believe how much more clear it is at this time than last year. [also startled me was the fact I had directly asked Janny the original question!!] as for people balking at having restriction on Athera, I say balk away. someone else's house, means someone else's rules. And if you are house sitting someone else's house while they are away, you don't start killing the plants because you don't believe they are not coming home.----I loved being reminded of what the splinter worlds and buffer worlds were for. Now if we could just hear about those other two gates, north and east!!! [smiling at ya]