Koriathain motives, & Extended life

originally posted by Brian K Mulvey

I have two inquiries I'd be happy to get answers to if no one minds taking the time to respond.

I've been reading The Wars of Light & Shadow since its debut in 1994, but as I don't reread books because I prefer to keep reading new ones, my mind has misplaced the answers to these questions over the years between installments:

(1) Why are the Koriathain so hellbent on stirring up trouble with the Fellowship sorcerers, Arithon, and in general? They seem to cause nothing but problems with their doings; problems not only for others and the land, but, through their actions, potentially trouble for themselves as well, as a result of their meddling. What motivates them to cause such a ruckus? Were they slighted by the Fellowship at some point? Are they oblivious to the harm they cause? Or do the answers maybe just pertain to their current leader, and the rest of them are bound to follow the leader's instructions? Were they a kindly order prior to the current leader?

(2) I can understand clearly why the Fellowship sorcerers have such unnaturally long lives. But why do Arithon, Lysaer, and Elaira live so long? Do humans who practice any form of magic, or utilize inborn gifts, just automatically live a long time as a result?

Thanks in advance!

originally posted by Clansman

Firstly, man, you have to do a re-read of these books. Your questions in #1 are so fundamental to one of the major plots of the series that it would take multiple pages of explanation. I can understand wanting to read new books, but if you have to ask that question, your missing a big part of this series. I can't sum up an answer for you, so you really should do a re-read.

Secondly, Arithon and Lysaer have had their lives extended by virtue of their sipping from Davien's Fountain on edge of the Red Desert world, just before they came into Athera through the West Gate. It's right near the beginning of Curse of the Mistwraith. As for Elaira, she went through the Koriani rituals needed to extend her life, because the Prime wanted her kept active, due to her link with Arithon.

Again, these are pretty basic underpinnings of the series, so you are waaaaay overdue for a reread.

Just on that topic, I only re-read certain books. Janny's are so bloody good, and so bloody complex, they have to be reread. I am in the midst of a re-read of Grand Conspiracy right now.

originally posted by Annette

Actually a very important point about Elaira is that her longevity is not the same as the high ranked Koriani. Morriel thought she had Elaira under her finger when she gave permission for Elaira to have her life extended through crystal resonance realignment. Luhaine stepped in and stopped it, Elaira's longevity bindings are the same as Dakar's (Arithon and Lysaer's are still a bit of a mystery), a more natural binding according to Fellowship precepts. She will live the same number of years as Arithon, and suffer none of the ill affects the long lived Koriani do.

Selidie/Morriel found out how she had been deceived in Initiate's Trial, so she now knows she can only control Elaira through Elaira's oath on the Skyron focus stone and use of the Prime's master sigil, which frankly does not seem to be working out that well.

I also would recommend re-reading the entire series, you will notice different aspects as you re-read, which will probably change your thinking about some things. Also re-reading the earlier books knowing what happens later will give a different perspective. And they are definitely worth re-reading. The more you read the books, the more suspicious you are going to get as you notice new things, but Janny is going to keep you in suspense for a bit yet. The final mystery is probably not going to be unveiled till the final book. But I am just dying with curiosity to see how in Destiny's Conflict, she manages to give us the story without letting the cat out of the bag. She is going to have to unveil a lot of things we have been guessing about all these years, how is she going to keep the big mystery a secret?

originally posted by Brian K Mulvey

Thanks, Annette and Clansman, for the information on longer lives. When I read what you both wrote, it all came rushing back to me. I just needed a memory jog–I've read approximately 300 to 400 novels since Mistwraith was released, so it's easy (for me anyway) to misplace details.

As per rereading books, which book would fill me in on the information I sought about the Koriathain? Curse of the Mistwraith?

Other than my two inquiries, I seem to have enough of a grip on the story to where, when I read each new installment, I am following everything. It's been an 18-year journey for me.

At this point in my reading of books I have decided to only read fantasy series when they are already complete (though I am looking forward to A Memory of Light next year, having started that series in the '90s). Patrick Rothfuss' series I have placed on hold until it is done.

You gotta wonder what brand-new tale Janny has in store for us after The Wars of Light and Shadow comes to its finale. Although, I gotta say, she may need a rest after that 11-novel haul!

originally posted by Annette

Elaira got her longevity in Ships of Merior, so that would be the one to check. The background info on the Koriani motives are spread all over the place, you would have to read the entire series to see how it unfolds and is still unfolding. I would love to know who named the order when they arrived on Athera, their name is very interesting.

I think half the fun of the series is trying to pick apart the clues and work it out before Janny tells us the answer. It is not going to be half as much fun just reading it. Although I suspect not having ever thought about it maybe there would be no chance the answer could disappoint.

At least if you are familiar with the books and the most obvious clues, you are going to be prepared for some of the things in the next book. Otherwise you might be in for a bit of a shock. :smiley:

originally posted by Brian K Mulvey

Hmm, well as I do have a firm grip on the story and characters in general, I guess what I am really hoping for here–without having to reread novels to find out–is the PRIMARY reason for Koriani animosity toward the Fellowship and Arithon. It will likely be something that has simply slipped my mind over the 18 years since I began reading the story, and when I hear it I will probably think "oh yeah!" like I did when I got the answer for the long-life question. It's really the only thing left that plagues me in terms of being confused by a story element.

originally posted by john herrmann

if i recall correctly, the koriathain were originally a force for mercy and compassion, with an overriding desire to make sure the human race endured and thrived. when humanity fled to athera the koriathain were forced, along with the rest of humanity, to abide by the compact, forcing them to set humanity 2nd after the paravians. the koriathain, through the waystone, have access to all the technology and history of the human race which they are not allowed to use to uplift humanity out of the squalor of non-technology. that's at least part of it.

originally posted by Brian K Mulvey

By Janny Wurts on Sunday, March 07, 2010 - 10:57 am:

"You've probably lurked long enough to know I don't answer questions unless asked directly by name."

I did not know this!

So, Janny: Why are the Koriani so grumpy? Have I read the reason before (in the books) and forgot? Or is it in fact an ongoing mystery for us readers and I am late to the question?

Or am I going senile! Or maybe just missed/overlooked something?

originally posted by Annette

The basic reason the Koriani are so grumpy is they never got a say in the compact that proscribed the knowledge they are protecting. They have been trying ever since they arrived on Athera to gain their freedom from the compact. But still you really need to re-read the series before Destiny's Conflict if you want to understand what is happening enough to form an opinion of your own before the conflict is settled.

To understand any origins of an order supposedly based on mercy and compassion, the short story Sundering Star would be a good start. Or you can just look at what they get up to in the main books to get a picture of what they really are. In Intitiate's Trial we are given a look at how they became so powerful and some of what they did to gain that power.

If the order ever stood at the right hand of any government it would have been without their victims knowledge and it was most likely to start a war. My opinion is if the research group that ended up becoming the Fellowship provided the knowledge that destroyed their home worlds, it was probably a secretive order of power hungry manipulators who controlled how it was used. The Fellowship have changed their ways, the Koriani have not. Selidie/Morriel does not care what she has to destroy to get what she wants. If she has a good reason for wanting the orders freedom, she has lost the plot by being willing to do it no matter the consequences.

Now others might read the series and form a different opinion, it depends on how you look at it as to what conclusion you might jump to.

originally posted by Annette

And on extended lives. Ath's Adepts could potentially live a very long life if they wanted to. And the Biedar seem to have a much longer life span than any other group of humans, Asandir hinted at that with Teylia's very long life (249 years) which was prolonged by no arcane means.

originally posted by Brian K Mulvey

Thank you, Annette, for that awesome interpretation about Koriani, that is exACTly what I wanted to hear. I had been snooping around the forum here and reading this and that, and also remembering things and forming my own views about the subject, but what you put down really tied it together.

You gotta kinda wonder if, prior to Arithon and Lysaer's arrival, the Koriani had received their own vision/prophecy as to the way things should unfold, or received instructions from some form of agency, and whether the way the Fellowship is doing things goes against that. Maybe Janny will spring some new twist on us later…


originally posted by Annette

I believe the Koriani want to restore what humanity lost, the civilisation that spanned the stars. And perhaps underlying it might be a bit of guilt for their part in the downfall of their civilisation. We have yet to actually get to that part of things, but if the Koriani have not changed their ways, they were likely involved in it.

Or perhaps they were given a vision of their eventually destiny. It seems some of the other groups might know something of their eventually destiny. And there must be some reason why the dragons chose to leave Athera, maybe they also are expecting to gain what they want eventually.

Brian Mulvey - you asked.

The Order of the Koriathain were, originally, a secret society formed for the purpose of resistance of oppression. They arose at a time when various (massive) political and economical interests were destroying cultures wholesale for exploitation or convenient expansion.

Initially, this group was founded upon principles of aid and compassion. They fought entrenched corruption and sent aid to the oppressed - at first they worked under cover to send aid, then to shelter refugees, then, as they grew, they took on the task of 'saving' cultural archives/preserving the scope of threatened human knowledge.

As an activist/resistance group working under the radar, and facing enormously powerful odds, increasingly, they resorted to using tactics of desperation; and also, in the course of 'saving' the eradication of at risk cultural knowledge, they encountered their first awareness of arcane power. They found it useful, used that influence to further their ends, and began to seek out ways to incorporate such power into their order.

There was a 'split' that occurred: the lower initiates still acted on the ground floor as compassionate healers, in service - the administrative levels took on the deeper knowledge, and also, steered the greater picture. Administrative levels ARE STILL SECRET; as are the more forceful uses of power - the higher one rises in the pecking order, the more one truly knows of the Order's purpose.

At this time in History, however, due to the compact, there are secrets ONLY privy to the Prime.

The Sundering Star short story is a PRE-ATHERA snapshot picture of the order at the point where it began to shift focus: where politics came into play, and the steps taken turned the corner to where the means justified the ends…where the top level administrators began to seek and grasp for greater arcane power and began to meddle directly in politics.

When the faction of Koriathain came to Athera as part of refugee humanity, they could only settle IF they agreed to the compact. Being an 'underground' society for much of their history, they easily resumed that role - and yes, Annette is correct, they STILL preserve a massive amount of knowledge taken from offworld human cultures - some by fair means, and some, by means most foul. Much of that 'library' is proscribed on Athera.

The bind they now face: they cannot use what they have, they cannot disseminate it, they cannot LEAVE with it by technological means (yes, they could have exiled at one time in Athera's history through South Gate, but neither Marak nor its interconnected splinter world held the necessary properties to make their arcane knowledge work, and they refused to relinquish their grasp on THAT manipulative power, their order now depends on it - so THE BIND INTENSIFIED: now, having LIVED and experienced the use of their magic on a 'high resonance' world, where their use of their craft has vital teeth - they are covetous of the location…On Athera, what they know is MORE POWERFUL than elsewhere - and the Fellowship's compact stands in their way.

Koriathain's moral high ground claims "humanity first" - where the Compact prioritizes and values the world's order differently (the books reveal this, and more to come). The sisterhood's aim is to USE the planet for a staging ground to revive human culture and rebuild the wrecked empire/reseed and bring back the lost glory of the past - what they perceived as the pinnacle of human diversity and achievement - this is the covenant they defend, and have at their secret heart, for thousands of years.

The price tag for what they want: Paravian survival/and beside that, some other things they don't consider valuable. For them, the goal they seek must be reached at all costs - and they are, to say the least, growing desperate.

The books will take you there in technicolor as the conflict heats up further. I do recommend you read the prequel short stories for more illumination. I hope to have them available in e format soon.

But here's your bare bones 'recap' with none of the subtleties you'd find if you re-read. YES, these books are designed to be reread - because the ENTIRE contour of the story and conflict WILL change outlook - you will see things all the way back to vol I that you COULD NOT see, on the first run. It turns into a far far richer story, the further you go along. Guaranteed you will see things in an entirely different light, and there will be tension and conflicts you had no idea were there - it will read like a different story, on more levels than you ever imagined.

I dearly wish this aspect was more widely recognized.

originally posted by Brian K Mulvey

Wow, Janny, thanks for taking the time to richly explain that!

Something I observed/interpretted: Koriathain could care less about the Paravians, it would seem. That is very callous/selfish of them. They come to an entire world that already had inhabitants, and disregard them. That seems borderline evil. Their motivation seems to have merit, but their method of achieving it…ouch.

In the current climate, the Fellowship seems to be trying to establish peace and prosperity, whereas the Koriathain are fomenting discord through their self-important actions.

On the surface there would seem to be good vs. evil, but the motivations/reasons the two orders follow make it go beyond just your simple version of good vs. evil. This of course adds the depth that lead many to say that this story is elevated above such stories as, say, Wizard's First Rule.

And now, whereas before, I was the type to not want to reread, I find myself turning my head back toward the previous installments of the tale in curiosity.

"I dearly wish this aspect was more widely recognized." --But how does one advertise such a thing to the fantasy/fiction-reading populace, making them aware of such a deep story? It seems like writers have to just throw their stories to the dogs and hope for the best, whereas, say, movies, get to have commercials, trailers, and giant billboards.

originally posted by Annette

Thanks for the detailed explanation Janny. :smiley:


Brian K Mulvey

Something I observed/interpretted: Koriathain could care less about the Paravians, it would seem. That is very callous/selfish of them. They come to an entire world that already had inhabitants, and disregard them. That seems borderline evil. Their motivation seems to have merit, but their method of achieving it…ouch.

The Koriani do not seem like the type to have had any contact with the Paravians, even if the outbred clan blood most would have could have protected them, their beliefs seem very limiting, not something likely to survive an encounter with a Paravian. The Prime probably made sure none of hers ever came any where near any Paravians.