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Alethkar

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Alethkar
Locator Alethkar.png
by User: Otto didact
Ethnicity Alethi
Capital Kholinar
Ruled by Queen Jasnah Kholin
Occupied by Singers
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive

We've got a noble heritage, Kal, darkeyes and lighteyes alike. That’s why the best warriors have always been from Alethkar.

Alethkar is the largest and most prominent of the five Vorin nations on Roshar. People from Alethkar are known as Alethi, and their royal colors are blue and gold.[2] Prior to the True Desolation, they were engaged in the War of Reckoning against the listeners.[3] At the present, vast majority of their territory is under control of the Voidbringers.[4]

Geography[edit]

by Isaac Stewart
Map of Alethkar. Alethi territories (barring the Shattered Plains) are marked in purple.

Borders and Territories[edit]

Alethkar lies in eastern Roshar, stretching across the entire continent, from the Steamwater Ocean in the North to the Tarat Sea in the South-West. To the East, it leans on the Unclaimed Hills, while to the South, it reaches the nationless Frostlands and the Shattered Plains, the latter of which it has recently claimed for itself. In the West, Alethkar has a long and long-disputed border with Jah Keved, which currently follows two rivers and the bend of the Sunmaker Mountains. In North-West, Alethkar borders Herdaz across a stretch of land decided through a few years of border wars.[5][6]

Besides the mainland, the Alethi have a number of territories off the coast. On the Steamwater Ocean, Alethkar has Akak and a number of surrounding islands, giving it complete control over the Bay of Elibath. On the Tarat Sea - more specifically, a region of it called Mevan Bay - it controls a number of small islands in the delta of Deathbend River, near the city of Karanak.[7]

Interior[edit]

At the tail end of the Era of Solitude, Alethkar is the largest state on Roshar, covering around seven million square kilometers of land.[8] Despite the fact that it is far more exposed to the highstorms than any country further West, large swathes of it are lush with animals and vegetation.[9] It has numerous rivers crossing it, the two major ones being Windrunner and Deathbend. The Windrunner River runs East to West, from Unclaimed Hills to the Bay of Elibath, and has numerous tributaries across the northern half of the country. The Deathbend River likewise starts in the Unclaimed Hills, though it turns South, ultimately ending in the Mevan Bay, with one of its major tributaries being an enormous lake called the Sea of Spears. The North and South of Alethkar are divided by a long, cross-shaped masiff called the Sunmaker Mountains.[7]

Notable cities[edit]

History[edit]

Alethkar was founded as Alethela in the Silver Kingdoms Epoch. It survived the Desolations, but fell under the sway of the Hierocracy until the Sunmaker led the kingdom in a successful revolt against the Vorin rule. After the Sunmaker's death, his ten sons could not agree on one of their number as his successor. With none of them willing to forego their claim to the throne, they split the kingdom into ten princedoms, which they ruled individually as Highprinces, with no unifying government.

Several centuries later, in approximately 1158, Gavilar Kholin--inspired by the Sunmaker--sought to conquer and unite the highprinces, which he achieved by about 1163. He was then crowned king and his brother Dalinar Kholin became highprince to the Kholin Princedom. Hower, due to the lineage of each Princedom going back to the Sunmaker and his sons, the Highprinces were loathe to surrender their autonomous power to a supreme ruler. The integrity and unity of Gavilar's kingdom is therefore questionable, as evidenced by the ferocity with which the Highprinces resisted his military approach to unification and continued to strain against his rule. The most severe instance of this was the rebellion in Rathalas, where Gavilar eventually had to send troops led by Dalinar and Sadeas in order to quench the revolt, as political means had resulted in a failure.

When Gavilar was assassinated by the Parshendi in 1167[10], his son Elhokar Kholin became king and declared war on the killers. Each of the highprinces joined the Vengeance Pact and they set out into the Shattered Plains to besiege the Parshendi in the War of Reckoning. However, the siege took much longer than was expected, and was still active by 1173. It eventually ended when the Parshendi summoned the Everstorm, beginning the True Desolation during the Battle of Narak. Afterwards, some of the Highprinces -- Dalinar, Aladar and Sebarial -- along with their remaining forces, took refuge in Urithiru, while others remained on the Shattered Plains, slowly taking over the abandoned warcamps of those who left and consolidating their power base there.

Meanwhile, the Alethkar homelands were besieged by the newly awakened singer forces led by the Fused, culminating in the siege and eventual fall of Kholinar.

After Elhokar was killed by Moash during the siege, and Adolin Kholin refused to take the throne after the Battle of Thaylen Field, Jasnah Kholin became Queen. The current heir to the throne is Elhokar's son, Gavinor -- however, he's still a child and a regency in his name was deemed too unstable and dangerous during the time of the Last Desolation.

Culture[edit]

by Grant Hansen
Jasnah Kholin, the current Queen of Alethkar

Dalinar had been around Alethi politicians so much that he found honesty an obscure thing, like a language he no longer spoke.

People[edit]

The Alethi people are generally tan -- darker-skinned than the Veden, but not as dark as the Makabaki -- with dark, typically black hair.[12] They are typically extremely tall, standing on average at least a foot taller than people living further West.[13] In the late Era of Solitude, the Alethi tan and black hair are considered the general standard of beauty.[12]

Like all Vorin nations, Alethi practice a division between the sexes. Women wear safehands, either as a buttoned-up sleeve, typical of lighteyes, or a glove, typical of darkeyes. They are discouraged from picking up weapons and fighting. By contrast, men are forbidden to read. As such, oftentimes a man and a woman will work together as a team in an important position that overlaps both their areas of responsibility, such as the military, with the woman acting as a scribe while the man issues commands.[14] The extremely militaristic nature of the Alethi further influences this divide, leading to most of Alethi rulers being kings, and women rarely, if ever, becoming highprincesses.[15]

Alethi discourage emotional openness and any show of what could be perceived as a weakness; an engaged couple keeping close in public is considered, while not obscene, at least extremely improper.[15] Men are encouraged to be combative and forceful; women, to be witty and always willing to engage in barbed banter. Unwillingness or inability to act in this way can often lead to a person being labeled as invalid or stupid.[16]

Caste system[edit]

The Alethi culture is divided into two major castes, the lighteyes and darkeyes, separated by, as can be surmised, the color of a person's eyes. The lighteyes form the upper case, with broader rights and priviledges, while the darkeyes are the lower, working caste. Furthermore, each caste is divided into ten ranks, with the lighteyed ranks being called dahns, while the darkeyed ones are the nahns. Some nahns and dahns are hereditary, or stable, while others can only be held by attaining a particular position.[17] The Alethi monarch, for example, is the only person in the country holding the first dahn.[18]

There are many ways for a person to improve their rankings, such as through marriage or military service. A soldier who becomes an officer will almost automatically be raised to a proper dahn or nahn, along with their children.[17] Holding land automatically entitles a lighteyes to at least the sixth dahn, regardless of their previous status, and becoming a Shardbearer demands at least the fourth dahn.[18][19]

Alethkar is generally a feudal nation. The Alethi monarch is served by ten highprinces, which have their own lower-dahn subjects, down to the citylords, who rule over individual settlements.[1] Shardbearers stand slightly aside from this system, although many of them are either highprinces themselves, or in direct service to one highprince or another.

Militarism[edit]

The Alethi culture is highly militaristic, stemming from their origins as Alethela. A soldier is considered the highest religious Calling, with the fight to reclaim the Tranquiline Halls being believed to be the greatest afterlife one could hope for.[1] The country is almost perpetually at war, if not between the highprinces, then with some external power. Children as young as twelve can and sometimes are recruited by raving armies to feed this endless war machine.[20]

Military service is one of the more reliable paths of social advancement in Alethkar. A soldier can expect to raise in dahn or nahn to match his military rank.[17] Moreover, many darkeyed soldiers go to war hoping to defeat a Shardbearer and gain ownership of their Shardblade, due to a widespread belief -- later proven correct -- that bonding a Blade would change their eyes to light-colored.[21]

Alongside this culture, the Alethi highly honor the Thrill, a form of battlelust that can sometimes encompass them when in combat. The Thrill is often considered a private thing, not to be shared with others; however, it's also highly desirable, with men often awaiting its arrival when in combat.[22][23] For many, it's downright addictive.[24]

Religion[edit]

The Alethi preferred to let the ardents deal with the Almighty, like he was some annoying parlor guest who could be safely distracted by servants offering a particularly tasty tea.

Alethkar is one of the five great Vorin Kingdoms, with vast majority of their populace worshipping the Almighty.[12] The worship is mostly carried out by the priests, called the ardents. The ardents, while influential, are not free -- rather, they are slaves to various lighteyes. Unlike most other professions, ardentia is open to both men and women, and to people from all social castes.[26] Ardents are considered genderless from a social standpoint, and as such, many of the Vorin taboos regarding gender and gender roles do not apply to them.[27] They are also the only people permitted to use Soulcasters.

Unlike other varieties of Vorinism, the Alethi are not required to be personally devout, or to perform religious ceremonies. While each citizen is supposed to pick their Calling and Glory -- their goal in life, and the aspect of the Almighty they wish to emulate[28] -- the actual religious part of the religion is handled by the ardents, who perform the requisite rituals and prayers for their masters, so as to reassure them of their righteousness.[29] The Alethi themselves rarely interact with the Almighty, save for an occassional glyphward or prayer.[25]

Language and Writing[edit]

The Alethi language is part of the Vorin language family, which includes others such as Veden (spoken in Jah Keved) and Herdazian.[30] It's particularly close to the former, making it easy to learn.[31] Known words from the language include dahn and nahn for the ranking system, numerous glyph pronounciations, as well as two terms for family members -- Mathana, a formal term for older sister, and Mashala, for aunt.[32][33]

The Alethi language can be written using two different systems. The Women's script, used broadly across eastern Roshar, is an alphabet, with twenty five letters, and at least two symbols -- a mark of maximum character height, at the start of a passage, and a small diactric denoting that a particular letter should be read as an "H".[34][35] This being said, the women's script is restricted for use by the female part of the populace, in accordance with Vorin cultural rules. Men are permitted to learn glyphs, a separate system where each symbol or pair of symbols represents a separate idea or concept.[12]

Politics[edit]

Princedoms[edit]

Alethi Princedoms

Though it is ruled by a single king, Alethkar is divided into ten princedoms, each ruled by a lighteyed highprince. Each princedom is named after the family controlling it, and each has its own military, independent of one another - a remnant of the times prior to the reunification. While the highprinces do work together, the king has limited control over them, maintained less through tradition, and more through sheer military power and access to amenities like Soulcasters.[36] In addition, the ruling House Kholin controls the largest territory, as apart from their own princedom, they also hold an underpopulated stretch of land called the Eastern Crownlands.[7]

The territories of Alethkar and their major settlements are:

Kholin princedom
In the east of Alethkar
Sadeas princedom
In the north-west of Alethkar
Aladar princedom
In the north of Alethkar
Roion princedom
In the north-east of Alethkar
Vamah princedom
In the north-west of Alethkar
Ruthar princedom
In the west of Alethkar
Thanadal princedom
In the center of Alethkar
Hatham princedom
In the west of Alethkar
Bethab princedom
In the south-west of Alethkar
Sebarial princedom
In the south of Alethkar
Eastern Crownlands
In southeast Alethkar

Military[edit]

Chain of command
Unit Soldiers Typical Commander
subsquad 6–8 sergeant
squad ~25 squadleader
platoon ~50 captain/captainlord
company ~100 companylord
battalion ~1000 battalionlord
division ~2000 general
army highprince
In companies made solely of lighteyes, the rank "lieutenant" is used as the equivalent of sergeant.

The modern Alethi army is one of the strongest military forces on Roshar with well over 100,000 troops[14] and over thirty Shardbearers.[37] The army employs most of its troops as spearmen and archers, as well as a very small amount of cavalry due to the rarity of horses on Roshar;[14] only the officers wield swords because, according to Vorin traditions, the sword is regarded as a lighteyed's weapon.[10] Soldiers are usually trained in one or two additional Skills, i.e. horse grooms.[38] Under most circumstances, military service is voluntary, though the leaders of the army has the right of conscription for darkeyes that do not provide an essential function to a community (e.g. a town's only surgeon) when they feel there is need for additional troops.[20] It is extremely rare for a darkeyed soldier to rise higher than the rank of squadleader.[39] Lighteyed officers that have the command of a branch of the army are usually referred by their duties (e.g. cavalrylord, infantrylord).[23]

Despite Alethkar being a monarchy, the king has very little actual say in how the military is run and does not directly command any force other than the 250-strong King's Guard. The troops are sworn to and led by their individual highprinces.[37] In that sense, Alethkar army is not truly a unified army, but a loose coalition between ten smaller armies. Indeed, even in wartime, there is constant in-fighting between the highprinces' armies,[39] and cooperation between the highprinces themselves is seen as a weakness;[40] this is bolstered by the tenets of Vorinism that say the purpose of life is to prepare in order to join the Heralds in the fight to regain the Tranquiline Halls and Alethi belief that everything is a competition in life.[36]

Because of the immense size of the army and the difficulty of travel, Soulcasting plays a vital role in supplying the army with wood, metal, food, and many other necessities, as well as being used in building fortifications. The king controls most of the Soulcaster ardents; in fact, manipulating the highprinces with his Soulcasters is one of the ways that the king maintains a control over them.[36]

Recently, in an effort to truly unify the kingdom, Dalinar Kholin has been appointed as the Highprince of War by the king. This title was used in Alethkar before being fragmented into ten princedoms when each highprince was given the ultimate authority over one aspect of the governing of the kingdom. On paper, this gives Kholin authority over all war-related activities.[2]

According to offical records, Alethkar possesses more Shardblades than any other nation on Roshar, with only Jah Keved coming anywhere close.[3].

Notable Alethi[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • Alethi are modeled on half Asian and half Hawaiian people, and according to Brandon, picturing Alethi as looking east-Indian works very well.[41]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 16 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_16#
  2. a b The Way of Kings chapter 69 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_69#
  3. a b The Way of Kings chapter 23 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_23#
  4. Oathbringer chapter 120 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_120#
  5. Map of Roshar
  6. Oathbringer chapter 52 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_52#
  7. a b c Map of Alethkar
  8. Roshar Physical Characteristics And Areas
    — 17th Shard #
  9. Oathbringer chapter 5 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_5#
  10. a b The Way of Kings prologue Summary: The Way of Kings/Prologue#
  11. Oathbringer chapter 34 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_34#
  12. a b c d The Way of Kings chapter 3 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_3#
  13. Edgedancer chapter 10 Summary: Edgedancer/Chapter_10#
  14. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 6 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_6#
  15. a b Oathbringer chapter 122 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_122#
  16. Oathbringer chapter 66 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_66#
  17. a b c Tor.com The Way of Kings reread interview
    Arcanum - 2014-06-10#
  18. a b /r/Stormlight_Archive
    Arcanum - 2017-08-09#
  19. Oathbringer chapter 58 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_58#
  20. a b The Way of Kings chapter 44 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_44#
  21. Words of Radiance chapter 66 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_66#
  22. The Way of Kings chapter 12 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_12#
  23. a b The Way of Kings chapter 26 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_26#
  24. Words of Radiance chapter 29 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_29#
  25. a b Oathbringer chapter 15 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_15#
  26. Words of Radiance chapter 11 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_11#
  27. Words of Radiance chapter 44 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_44#
  28. The Way of Kings chapter 18 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_18#
  29. Oathbringer chapter 89 Summary: Oathbringer/Chapter_89#
  30. /r/Stormlight_Archive
    Arcanum - 2016-11-29#
  31. The Way of Kings chapter 5 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_5#
  32. The Way of Kings chapter 22 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_22#
  33. The Way of Kings chapter 60 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_60#
  34. Navani's Notebook Translation
    Timewasters Guide forum - Sep 20th, 2010Cite: twg/7882-0#
  35. General Reddit 2017
    Arcanum - 2017-05-02#
  36. a b c The Way of Kings chapter 15 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_15#
  37. a b Words of Radiance chapter 5 Summary: Words of Radiance/Chapter_5#
  38. The Way of Kings chapter 28 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_28#
  39. a b The Way of Kings chapter 47 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_47#
  40. The Way of Kings chapter 54 Summary: The Way of Kings/Chapter_54#
  41. Steelheart Portland signing
    Arcanum - 2013-10-08#
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