|Ruled by||Prime Aqasix Yanagawn the First|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”You underestimate your importance. Azir's Oathgate will be vital, and you are the strongest kingdom of the west. With Azir at our side, many other countries will join with us.
Azir is a land-locked state in southwestern Roshar, in the geographical region known as Makabak. The largest Makabaki state, it covers an area of roughly 1,343,000 km2, making it the seventh largest nation on the planet. To the southeast, it is bordered by the nation of Emul along a river that serves as Azir's only way to access the sea. The smaller nations of Tashikk, Yezier and Desh lay to the west, while in the north, it shares a long border with Yulay.
Like most of Makabak, Azir is rather dry and warm compared to the rest of the continent, though it is still cooler than Iri. There are broad plains and few rivers. A vast mountain range stretches across the country's northern and northeastern edge, with a wide pass leading due north to Yulay. The tower-city of Urithiru is not far from Azir, in the peaks directly east of Azimir.
- Notable locations
- Azimir - the capital city of Azir. The Makabakam Oathgate is located there.
- Bronze Palace - the seat of Azish government and home of the Prime Aqasix, in Azimir.
- Zawfix - a large city on the northern border, known for having shanty towns inside old mines.
- Zodruf - a town upriver from Azimir.
- Owd - a town near the Emuli border.
- Mazzu - a town in northwestern Azir.
Origins and Sadees' occupation
”They say that when the Sunmaker rode out of the passes and into Azir, he had one unexpected problem. He conquered my people too quickly, and didn't know what to do with all of his captives.
Not much is known about the ancient history of Azir. During the Silver Kingdoms era, it was part of Makabakam, the largest of the Silver Kingdoms. Azimir was likely Makabakam's capital, as it contains an Oathgate. At some point, that country splintered into dozens of states that comprise modern Makabak, including Azir.
Sadees the Sunmaker, the infamous Alethi warrior, conquered Azir as part of his bid to take over the entire continent during the reign of Prime Aqasix Snoxil. The occupation was extremely violent: up to ten percent of the country's population died, many of them due to Sadees seemingly seeking to eradicate the Azish. In some areas, Sadees ordered a certain number of executions a day. In others, he declared all men with hair at a certain length to be killed. Sadees rationalized this by claiming that the Azish were uncivilized since they did not use eye color as a basis for their social hierarchy.
Following Sadees's passing, his kingdom was split between his sons. Without a true leader, the empire became stretched too thin, and the Azish regained their independence.
Era of Solitude
In the centuries since Sadees's conquest, Azir rose to the position of the cultural and political center of Makabak. Many of the surrounding Makabaki nations became client states to it, leading to the formation of the Azish Empire — a semi-formal name for the group of states led by the Prime Aqasix in all international matters.
The peace of the empire was broken in the final year of the Era of Solitude, as the Assassin in White killed two Primes in a row, leaving the country in a succession crisis as all prospective candidates attempted to avoid the position. This ended the night that a group of thieves, including Lift and Gawx, attempted to rob the Bronze Palace. After Gawx was seemingly killed, Lift revived him using her nascent Surgebinding power of Regrowth. To the assembled courtiers, unaware of Lift's involvement, this was a miracle that proved that Gawx was the Prime they were looking for. Thus, he was crowned as Yanagawn the First.
As in the rest of Roshar, the Azish Parshmen awoke from slaveform following the arrival of the Everstorm. Initially, they followed the example of their bureaucratic former masters—instead of going to war with the government, they sued it for back pay. The Azish began negotiations, although they had no intention of giving in—rather, they sought to buy enough time to fortify their cities.
At the same time, Azimir was exchanging messages with Dalinar Kholin's budding coalition in Urithiru. With Sadees's conquests still a sore memory, the Azish were initially unwilling to unlock their Oathgate or allow the Alethi armies into their city. However, after the talks with the singers fell through, they finally agreed, and ended up joining the coalition. The failure with the singers might have been influenced by the arrival of the Fused, who organized them into an army and took them south to Marat in preparation for the attack on Thaylen City.
When the coalition leaders assumed that the Voidbringers would attack Jah Keved, the Azish agreed to send five battalions of their troops there to aid in repelling the attack. Later, when Thaylen City was pinpointed as the true battle site, they moved their fleet to the nearby shores to intercept the Voidbringer forces. However, following the translation of the Eila Stele and the revelations that it spurred, the Azish backed out, along with their ships. Their resolve to abandon the others was strengthened when they saw Alethi attacking the Thaylens, as they were not aware that the Alethi forces in question were Amaram's forces under the influence of Nergaoul.
After the Battle of Thaylen Field, Dalinar explained to them via spanreed what truly happened. The Azish were willing to renegotiate their participation in the alliance on the condition that Dalinar was able to prove that he could control his troops.
A year after the Battle of Thaylen Field Azish armies, with the help of Alethi strategists, had recaptured some ground in northern Emul. After Dalinar's decision to launch a major offensive in Emul several battalions of Alethi troops and some number of the troops of Jah Keved traveled to Azir via Oathgate accompanied by the Windrunners and the Alethi high command. After the defection to Odium by the troops of Jah Keved, Dalinar's army augmented by the troops of the Azish fought and eventually defeated the Veden forces.
”Traditionally, the Azish Prime claimed to be emperor of all Makabak—a region that included over a half-dozen kingdoms and princedoms. In reality, he was king over only Azir, but Azir did cast a long, long shadow.
The Azish Empire, despite its name, is closer in nature to a confederacy of states. It is composed of nine member countries: Tashikk, Yezier, Emul, Steen, Alm, Desh, Marat, Tukar and Azir itself. While all of those nations consider the Prime Aqasix to be their emperor, other than Azir, they are subject in name only. However, leaders of nations within the Empire do follow certain traditional customs; for example, they cannot marry without the Prime's permission. In practice, the states typically follow Azir's lead when dealing with international politics. Historically, Tashikk and Yezier are the closest to the Azish throne.
The Azish government is a bureaucracy, composed of several levels of scribes. One may join the public servant caste by passing a written exam. Though the test is nominally open to all citizens, it's difficult and usually requires expensive formal education; most government officials are therefore people whose social status was already high.
The highest-ranking members of the government, other than the Prime Aqasix, are the viziers. They serve as advisors to the Prime, with enough political pull to force their decisions on them, and are responsible for selecting a new Prime following the death of the previous through an application review process. Their high status and broad knowledge means that each Prime will often be a former vizier, as they can make their applications the most convincing.
The Prime Aqasix
The Azish believe that they are never without a Prime. When a Prime dies, the election of a new one is considered as a search for the person who is, and always has been, a Prime. Any person, except for religious leaders known as scions, can apply for the position; however, the process requires many forms and essays, which are reviewed by viziers. The Azish pride themselves on this method, as it avoids succession wars.
The Prime is considered to belong to the public. Citizens can enter a lottery to watch the Prime sleep, eat, and perform other daily tasks. They can also collect and keep relics from the Prime, such as a nail clipping or a strand of hair.
When the Prime issues a mandate to the public, citizens have one month to make their grievances known before being forced to comply. These grievances are often displayed as logical arguments and protests.
The Azish Empire has access to foot soldiers, cavalry and fleet. Their army, though smaller than that of Alethkar or Jah Keved, is still fairly impressive, and their fortifications are noted as difficult to breach. Azish soldiers are equipped with bows, spears or poleaxes, and greatshields. They are armored with plated mail and colorful caps. Their army is divided into battalions, which have both numbers and name designations, such as Red and Gold for the Thirteenth Battalion. A single battalion is comprised of about one thousand soldiers.
The Azish soldiers have excellent discipline, but their individual soldiers do not fight as well as Alethi. Although their pike blocks are less mobile than Alethi, they are extremely well coordinated.
Little is known about their cavalry. Units are led by officers called cavalrylords, who wear uniforms with vivid red trousers.
The Azish do not maintain a fleet of ships, as they are a land-locked country. However, Tashikk has a number of ships that are staffed partially by Azish troops and thus serve the Empire as a whole. There seem to be no battalions dedicated wholly to ship-side service; rather, select battalions rotate some of their soldiers in and out of the navy.
In times of peace, the fleet's duty is to patrol "the grand waterway" — an unspecified body of water that may correspond to the river between Azir and Emul — but they are capable of further excursions, all the way to Thaylenah. The fleet possesses both smaller outriders, called scouts, and bigger warships, among them troop carriers. The Prime Aqasix has his own dedicated vessel, smaller than the navy units.
Azish generals wear robes and typical Western hats. The position requires passing a number of tests, and Dalinar theorizes that the officers with practical expertise tend to fail them on purpose so that they may retain field command. Azish military leaders have a poor reputation in Alethkar and are considered little more than military historians and theorists. However, the generals are actually highly practical people, and their advice is usually astute.
Their army fights well against the singers and their disciplined infantry is a complementary addition to the Alethi's flexibility and tactics.
Fabrials and Shards
Azir is known to have very few Soulcasters, the most famous of which has the ability to Soulcast bronze. Many buildings in Azimir have bronze domes, and the Prime's palace even has decorative Soulcast bronze trees. The country also has several Shardblades, known as the Imperial Shardblades. It is unknown how many of them are there or who wields them, but they can be loaned out to the Empire's member states for various services. The city of Yeddaw in Tashikk was created using Imperial Shardblades. Though it can be presumed that the Empire also possesses Shardplate, it is unknown how many sets of it are in their hands.
Azimir is the site of ancient Makabakam's Oathgate. Presently, the gate's platform serves as the city's Grand Market, though it has been reopened by Lift during Dalinar Kholin's visit and returned to its prior function.
The Azish do not divide their population into lighteyes and darkeyes. In the Vorin countries, it is speculated that this is because there aren't enough pale-eyed Azish to form a self-sustainable social caste. Rather, the Azish social hierarchy is based on education and elevation through the bureaucratic governmental system. Viziers and scribes are among the highest-ranking members of society. Scribes are stratified by level and then circle, with the person's particular rank being indicated by patterns on their clothing. Regular citizens who are not members of the government are known as discrete.
Order in the country is kept by travelling lawkeepers called constables. Constables typically wear black uniforms with a double row of silver buttons in the front, and thick gloves with long collars. They seem to have the authority to capture, try, and even execute criminals. However, they cannot act against the viziers, and are not allowed to requisition the Imperial Shardblades.
”Alethi liked to joke about them—insult one of their soldiers, it was said, and he'd submit a form requesting an opportunity to swear at you.
Azish people belong to the Makabaki ethnic group, members of which can be found across the entire Makabak region. They are described as being short and having dark skin — deep brown, but not true black like some parshmen. They have a smooth accent, like the Emuli. Very few are light-eyed. Among the Heralds, Shalash looks like an Azish woman.
The stereotype of the Azish is that they are peaceful, prefer education to war, and adore their bureaucracy and paperwork. The Azish themselves consider the latter a point of pride, as the structure of their government has for many centuries prevented any major internal crisis. They are, however, focused on being respectful and polite. In Azir, one should not raise their voice when talking, and should always remain calm, even when angry. Particular care is taken never to offend a guest, though this does not mean the Azish can be pushed around. As a result, they are known for talking around the matter a lot when disagreeing with something, and never saying "no" outright.
Language and Writing
”Azish, a funny language made of little markings that looked like cremling tracks.
The people of Azir speak Azish, the most widespread of the Makabaki languages, though it is possible that other languages from this family are also present. Azish or Azish-adjacent words can often be recognized by the letters "x" (Kadasix, Snoxil) and "q" (Prime Aqasix, Unoqua), which are far rarer outside of Makabak.
The Azish have their own system of writing, separate from the various Vorin scripts. It is described as looking like little markings that resemble cremling tracks to non-speakers. Additionally, the various patterns that the Azish put on their furniture, decorations, and clothing all have distinct meanings, which can be read and understood by a trained scribe.
The Azish religion focuses on the worship of the Heralds, known there as the Kadasixes. Chief among them is Jezrien — Yaezir in local parlance — who bears the title of the Kadasix of Kings. He is the patron of the Azish government, and the Prime Aqasix is considered his emissary to the world. The Primes themselves have some religious significance: per the Azish doctrine, a person is born a Prime, and the election process serves merely to find who the current Prime is and give them their rightful place.
The Azish priests, called scions, are government officials. Both men and women can become one. Their main duty appears to be taking care of the spiritual side of the bureaucracy's day-to-day workings — they are seen blessing formal meetings and interpreting omens and events to discern the will of the Kadasixes. They also serve as clerks and scribes. Scions can be found in all ranks of the bureaucracy, with the most influential ones serving as the members of the Prime's circle of advisors along with the viziers.
Scions typically travel across the country, blessing settlements and towns. For this reason, a scion cannot become the Prime Aqasix, although they are intimately involved in the selection process. During the holy conclave that chooses a new Prime, they are called upon to ensure the spiritual purity of the selection, provide theological viewpoint on the process, and assist the viziers in picking the best candidate.
In contrast to the Vorin countries of the East, the Azish do not seem to practice a notable division between sexes. Women do not have safehands, and both men and women are seen holding high-level military and political positions with no indication that this is unusual. However, also in contrast to Vorin states, the Azish have a stricter views on relationships. In a homosexual couple, one member is expected to apply for "social reassignment", and should thereafter behave — and be treated as — a member of the opposite gender.
The Azish are known for wearing vibrant, colorful clothing. They are usually seen in robes or wraps, and wear large hats, making them seem over-encumbered. Each article of clothing has traditional large patterns on it. Every pattern has a meaning of its own, and a trained scribe can read a person's clothes like a language. Their fashion is heavily influenced by civil servant outfits.
Despite their garish appearance, Azish fabrics seem to be quite popular even in the East. Among others, Dalinar Kholin's childhood home was decorated with Azish rugs, and Alethi fashion folios feature Azish designs. A distinctive type of mineral dye from Azir is used to color their clothing, and is known in other nations.
The best-known Azish produce is truthberry, which can be made into jam. According to a local legend, those who consume the berries speak only the truth until the next sunset. The fruits themselves are harmless, but the leaves and stalks of truthberry plants can be burned, which makes people intoxicated and euphoric. Shallan Davar implies that there is also an aphrodisiac effect, mentioning that they could have been called "birthberries" instead.
- Prime Aqasix Yanagawn - the ruler of Azir and the Azish Empire.
- Noura - senior vizier in Yanagawn's court.
- Ethid - a scion, Veristitalian, and friend of Jasnah Kholin, who studies the lives of powerful men and, later, the Knights Radiant. She participates in the Prime selection process, and gives the opening blessings to the meeting that results in Yanagawn's crowning.
- Unoqua - the religious leader of Yanagawn's court. Along with other scions and viziers, he advises against continued alliance with Urithiru.
- Sigzil - a Worldsinger serving in Bridge Four, and one of Kaladin's squires.
- Warren - master Skybreaker under Nale.
- The Azish view of homosexuality is based on some middle-ages Indian societies, wherein the gay person would be "socially reassigned" and be expected to exist and act as the opposite gender.
- The Azish government is partially based on the Chinese Confucian system.
- The Azish script might be similar in appearance to cuneiform.
- Compared to Earth countries, Azir is only slightly larger than Peru, and a bit smaller than Mongolia. The Azish Empire as a whole, on the other hand, covers about 4.455 million square kilometres of land, which would make it Roshar's third largest state after Alethkar and Jah Keved, and about a million square kilometres bigger than India.
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