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What follows here is a compilation of questions that have been forwarded to the author regarding the world of Arborell. I have found these particular questions most interesting and believe they provide additional information about the nature of Arborell that others may also find informative. If you have a question regarding this gamebook series you can contact me at the email address given above, or through the chroniclesofarborell yahoo group.

Question Links

The Astronomy of Arborell
Sharyah and Gold
Obedience to the Code
Hammer and Darkness consistency
Random question about the Hordim

The Astronomy of Arborell

From: Dark [ Thursday 19 July, 2012 ]


A recent visit to a science museum with a discussion of extra solar planets of binary star systems got me thinking about Arborell. I know from various references that the two moons, elana and Shabal each have their own phases and times of rising and setting, however the same does not seem to be true of the Suns, which always seem to rise and set together, and which seem pretty much to act as one. Indeed, the two suns don't have names or distinctions, unlike the moons. This seems slightly odd given what we know about binery star systems, sinse a planet would orbit one sun while the entire system orbited the other sun. This would mean that from one sun there would be a conventional day and night cycle, but the other sun would have a far more variable position and roll quite independent of what the first sun was doing.

In Brian Aldis Heliconia series for example, the planet Heliconia and it's star orbit a much larger sun, and the planet's seasons which last for hundreds of years depend upon the orbit of the Helicon sun around it's primary star which is extremely slow, thus meaning during heliconian summer you would actually see two suns in the sky, and it never got completely dark at night accept at the very far polls.

Of course, Arborell, as a kingdom of magic doesn't have to actually obey the laws of physics or indeed be said to take place within the context of a planetary system at all. yet, even if we assume the world of arborell is more like the flat world mentioned in viking mythology, (similar to middle earth before the fall of Numenor), it still seems rather odd for the suns to act so exactly as one.

In fact, in a lot of places in the Chronicles it seems that the suns are of very much secondary importance beside the two moons, both in the creation mythology of the Oera'dim, and more generall in place names and rituals, though the trel might have thought different given that they did construct a temple of the suns specifically, is this another reason the Oera'dim pay so little attention to the suns, being reminders of their creators?

I know there is to be an almanac of Arborell, so perhaps this is a matter covered there, though if you could shed any light on this I'd be interested to know, sinse the fairly uniform mentions in the text of the suns has sometimes seemed slightly strange given the detail paid to other aspects of the world of Arborell.

All the best,

My Reply:

Hi Dark,

Thanks for your email and your question regarding the astronomy of Arborell. You have put forward a number of interesting questions here and I will endeavour to answer them in order. The first question you raised asks about the possibility of how two suns can act in tandem rather than follow the usual pattern of binary systems regarding orbital mechanics and attendant planetary systems. I must agree that if I was writing a sci-fi series I would have paid much greater attention to this aspect of the world I have created but having said that, there is a reason why the astronomy of Arborell is portrayed as it is.

The physical landscape of Arborell as a part of the larger world of Emur is in effect a physical representation of the creation mythology expressed within the story of the Sorrows of Gedhru and Aume. The moons are named Shabel and Elanna to mirror the role played by them as Daughter-Gods within the story of the Sorrows and the suns of Arborell are actually Gedhru and Aume, the Father and Mother Gods of that creation myth. I guess you could say that the world is a reflection of that story and as a fantastical world has only one set of rules that apply, that being the rules of creation established by Gedhru and then acted upon by his daughter Elanna. The suns move in tandem not because they are a binary star system but because they are the Creator-Gods themselves looking down upon their creation, inseparable lest they lose each other in the Great Void beyond.

If this is the case it then brings to notice the second part of your question about why the suns of Arborell are not named within the storyline, (at least not as yet). To the Men of Arborell the suns that warm the world are just as they appear, suns. Just as we do not in normal conversation give our own sun a special name so it is with the human inhabitants of Arborell. For the Oera'dim however, things are completely different. The Oera'dim know exactly what the suns of Arborell are and have named them accordingly as Gedhru and Aume. The reason why they do not openly express these names is because they cannot. Just as we do not give God a name as such so the Oera'dim do not openly identify Gehdru or Aume by name. In their context it is disrespectful. Elanna and Shabel are wholly different however. As Daughter-Gods they are viewed by the Oera'dim as intermediaries and all the rituals and worship that flows to them are messages that the Oera'dim believe will be passed by the Daughter-Gods to the Creator Gods.

One point that firms this belief with the Oera'dim is the fact that an Oera'dim cannot look directly at the suns of Arborell without blinding themselves. This is taken as an article of faith that to look upon the Creator-Gods and to speak their names in direct communication is an affront that brings with it dire consequences. If an Oera'dim wishes to send a message to the Creator-Gods then it must be done through Elanna or Shabel. They can be looked upon directly and given the prayer or ritual face to face. This is very important to the Oera'dim. Messages are always sent by Messenger, never simply written down and forwarded. An Oera'dim can sense the sincerity of a message by standing face to face with the Messenger who speaks it. In the case of Gedhru and Aume they cannot do this. With Elanna and Shabel they can. Hence the Daughter-Gods and the Moons that represent them have a greater visibility than the suns.

I will provide more info on all this later in the development of the Chronicles. I hope this answers some of your questions on this.


From Dark


Thanks for the answers, all of that makes a great deal of sense and indeed sheds light (quite appropriately), on various aspects of Arborell, indeed once again I'm absolutely amazed by the completeness of the series and world.

However, you said that the Oera'dim do not name Gedhru and Aume or address them directly, yet, the Enkara does just this, with each verse seemingly addressed to one of the deities of Arborell. of course, the "How has it come to this" might be a purely metaphorical question rather than a literal one, ---- though this seems to imply rather too much license in the "not addressing" rule than I'd usually assume in a matter of Oera'dim religion.

All the best,

My Reply

Hi Dark,

The enkara is a song of regret and as a way of communicating with the Creator-Gods is only a recent addition to their liturgy. Most of what the Oera'dim believe about the nature of their world has come from direct contact with the Three Powers, especially the Silvan Tree and her emissaries the Caer'dahl. What they know is in effect truth, given to them by the Silvan Tree as a part of the process of maintaining balance in the world that is necessary for the ongoing health of Emur.

The enkara is very different from all other religious activities conducted by the Oera'dim however. Only introduced amongst the Hresh after the Horde Wars forced the Oera'dim into the desolation of the northern wastes, it is a reminder for all Oera'dim of what they have lost in their wars with the Four Nations of Men. It is the one part of the Oera'dim belief system that they have developed for themselves, but in doing so have still maintained the rules of contact that have existed since the first Caer'dahl made themselves known to the Hordim.

The enkara is only sung at the setting of the moons and only when a warband is on mission against the Four Nations. The singing of the enkara at the setting of the moons is also a powerful symbol for them of how things lost can be regained, and one that is proven with the rising again of the moons in the east the folowing night.

It is true that the names of all the deities of Arborell are mentioned in the song, but again there is no direct communication with Gedhru and Aume and so far no consequences have flowed for doing so.

I hope this answers your question.


Sharyah and Gold

From: Dark [ Wednesday March 21, 2012 ]


I like the new Arborell blog, but I just had a couple of questions about the top ten.

First, you mention that a person can only hold three different Sharea at once, yetin Torchlight (the arborell game we've seen most of the Sharea thus far), gathering all six is given as a game objective, indeed I gave that a try myself last year. Has this rule changed with the game revision? or are the deep guild simply experienced enough in handling Sharea for it not to matter, where as it would to a normal individual.

Secondly, as to gold, we've already seen a lot of instances of people wandering around with quantities of gold quite free of dragon molestation, indeed I rather got the idea that by the time of the arrival of humans in Arborell that the rift dragons, while not actually extinct, were less than common even in the rift mountains, and anyway unlike the Moon Dragons of the ancient world wouldn't be inclined to attack a walled city such as Millers crossing much less Maenum. Indeed by the time of the four nations, I'd sort of assumed that the surviving dragons were those who were intelligent enough to know that attacking an entire army of humans just to steel their pay wasn't a good idea. Is it more the case that rather like the American wild west, cities in Arborell have a bullian deposite or a bank where most currency is stored, nd when transported cross country it's taken under extremely heavy guard, not just because of bandits but because of the chance of a marauding dragon?

On a related note, you mention that in Arborell there is a considderable amount of dangerous wildlife. this is true according to what we have seen thus far with Sandlirkers, Araknari, reavers etc (a name I find doubly amusing sinse last october i got a guide dog called reever who is about as far from a fierce predator as you could imagine).
However, thus far we've only seen the northern border lands of arborell, even in Blood and Iron, I got the idea that Callenfree was pretty far to the north, perhaps only a couple of hundred miles from the rift mountains. Rather like the way the British nearly exterminated all the lions from Africa when it was colonized, and the Russians did! exterminate the ciberian Tiger, I rather did assume that the more dangerous creatures would pretty much thin out to northing as you got further south, and there were parts of Arborell where people had never heard of them or even of the Hordim. Though southern dragons are mentioned, we don't yet know how common these might be. Of course, sinse most of the Chronicles we've seen so far have been concerned exclusively with the hordim and their wars with the four nations, it's quite possible I'm incorrect on southern Arborell, and when titles like Honour amongst Thieves and The messenger are published we'll find out differently.

Still I thought I'd ask.
All the best,

My Reply:

Hi Dark,

Thanks for your questions. I'll go through each of these topics in turn.

Firstly about the Sharyah. You are completely correct in your observation regarding the number of Sharyah that have been given as a game objective in Torchlight. With the evolution of the history of Arborell the nature and usage of these talismans has changed and I have gone back to both the card-based game and the text version and changed this aspect of the game to reflect the new rules regarding Sharyah. I was planning on doing something about this but your question gave me the nudge I needed to do the changes properly. All the appropriate changes have been made and have been reflected in the Torchlight online version, the text download files and the original card-based game. It took a bit but it is now all done. Good catch on that one.

Your second question regarding gold is an interesting one. In Arborell gold is a death sentence. To carry it knowingly upon the roads, or to have it stored in any above ground repository leads to Dragon attack and the destruction of anything that stands between it and the gold. Humans learned this very early in their settlement and gold is left in the ground or buried in vaults such as the Deep Vault so that it might pass beyond the notice of the Dragons. All coinage used in the Four Nations is silver rials and all precious objects are made of metals other than gold. In the mythology of Arborell only one artifact has ever been made with gold and that was the Orncryst, its gold inlay designed to draw the Ell'adrim from Ul'ashma so that they might be destroyed.

You are correct that the Rift Dragons are little seen but they are still in existence and still active in the world. You might remember that in Blood and Iron Mallen Cael and Gremorgen Hedj have a close encounter near the tpesh at the edges of the Forest of Meshaal and when Gremorgan uses the Gatheringstone to follow its journey he sees its wide range across the western and northern borders of the world. In the upcoming release of A Murder of Crows there is another encounter with Rift Dragons that is precipitated by the discovery of a gold artifact by Tansen'Delving. Needless to say when finding the item you have a choice of keeping it, or throwing down a very deep hole.

The overwhelming nature of a Dragon's addiction to gold means that no walled city or fortification would be safe and no traveller would take any gold item with them onto the roads. Even the smallest trace of its would bring attention to that traveller and because of this the precious metal has lost all value.

You mention that there are lots of instances where people are wandering around with gold. Please let me know where this has been stated so that I might review those circumstances. Unfortunately in nineteen years of writing the Chronicles there may be things that I have overlooked. It has happened before and I'm sure it would not be the last time.

On your third point you are correct that human settlement has changed the natural balance of Kalborea and the other nations. Just as in the real world settlement, farming and the laying of transport infrastructure in Arborell has changed the environment for predators and prey alike. Whereas the open plains and farmlands of Arborell may be relatively bereft of dangerous wildlife, the mountains, ruins and all the dark places of the world remain just as dangerous and if you add in the dangers of contact with the Oera'dim just as much in need of caution.

I am thinking that when I get the time I might make up a text version of the Atlas of Arborell and fully describe all sixteen major maps that chart the entire environment of Arborell. What can be seen in those maps is a huge continent, the majority of which still lies outside of the influences of human settlement and within which can be found creatures that as of yet have not been encountered or properly described.

Thanks again for asking these questions Dark. As always you have made me focus on the consistency of the world setting and that is always an interesting and productive exercise.

Re: Sharyah and Gold

From: Dark [ Fri March 23, 2012 ]


Glad the questions were interesting. As regards gold, I am fairly certain I saw it mentioned as currency in Windhammer and inquisitor's lament at one time, but a look through lament now suggests that you changed this in the last draught, sinse the only place gold is mentioned is when Lovar finds a "gold colored" amulet housing a Sharea, which presumably isn't actually made of gold.

I've not yet checked windhammer as yet, but I'm guessing you'll have changed this in there too and the only gold that appears will be the gold in the King's vault. Presumably this, being deep in stoneholm is out of the perception range of most dragons, ----- though perhaps it does bare the question that if this is the collected treasure of the dwarvendim kingdoms, why is it stored as gold not as silver?

As I said though, other than the ambiguity of the vault it's quite possible the mention of gold was in a much earlier version of windhammer, indeed the version I first read in 2007 when I discovered the chronicles originally still implied that the Hresh and Jotten were sometimes referd to as Orcs and trolls, ----- something I was quite pleased to see edited out, sinse the Oera'dim are vastly different from our usually concepts of such creatures and it's not really helpful to associate the readers' thoughts with them, ----- plus of course it makes arborell look far too much as if it's a copy of other standard fantasy elements which it is not.

My Reply:

Hi Dark,

I have been thinking about the points you have made regarding the gold in Stoneholme and the inconsistencies you have found with the handling of Sharyah. I have formulated an answer to each of these issues and have included a blog post at the Authors Blog that I think covers most of your questions. To address these issues I have also included new pdf and download files for both the Torchlight game and the Windhammer Core gamebook at the Chronicles download page and included the same revisions on the online versions as well.

Wayne Densley

Obedience to the Code

From: Dark [ Fri May 14, 2010 9:29 pm ]

I'm really pleased Murder of Crows is now being released, and it was great to get a full explanation of the life and honour of the Jotun. there were however several points about the code that I found slightly odd.

The understanding both of systems of insult, honour and dueling made sense, particularly the idea of a miner duel with knives for a miner insult which is expressly designed not to be fatal (thus keeping matters in scale and insuring that not too many Jotun get killed at random in duels). I also was interested to learn how regulated the system of life and trade betwene the various groups was, and the position and duties of the household Arbiter. My one major question of the code concerns the authority of the chief.

Presumably, sinse the chieftainship is hereditory (or at least as close as the Oera-dim can come to hereditory), there is no chance of any Jotn not part of the chief's immediate household becoming chief himself, though I did get the impression of the code that other positions of rank such as Aldan or Arbiter were open. This means however, that there has been a succession of the same Jotun holding political power for several thousand years. Furthermore, sinse a chief can be challenged neither physically nor politically, this power is absolute. While I do understand that all of the chiefs' sons are open to challenge, and indeed must meat these challenges in order to become chief, once chief, there seems absolutely no check on their power.

What is to stop a chief ordering that the Jotun build him a palace, personally and singly attempt to attack the southlands, or indeed having those Jotun he didn't like executed on a whim. Such personal and selfish behaviour might not be particularly typical of the Oera-dim, but clearly the individual members of the hord aren't all alike, and it's thus possible for some to be as foolish, selfish, or generally unpleasant as it is for any human despite their adherence to the code.

Also, in the actual behaviour of his Companions to Tansen, though he is clearly in command, there is an expectation by the other Jotun that their in put and suggestions and advice would be taken seriously and considdered, and though tansen does indeed have the final word, i do rather get the impression that if he did, for instance, decide to attack the hundred Hresh alone, the other Jotun would try at least to desuade him. I do find it surprising that there is no way essentially to propose a vote of no confidence in a chief, or indeed question a chief's judgement over a certain issue even if the chief does have the final say.

Also, while the Oera-dim's focus on honour and personal achievement through the arts of combat and what position they win makes a lot of sense when set against their original creation as slaves, i find it slightly difficult to comprehend how a group of beings created originally as slaves under masters with absolute authority, now existing un der yet more absolute masters, would chose! yet another absolute ruler of their own free will. Or is this because they have no conception of any other sort of rule? rather the way the Russian pople went from the absolute monarchy of the Zar, to the authoritarian state under Stalin, and only more recently have started adhereing to different forms of government.

My reply

Hi Dark,

Thanks for your post. Once again you have provided a series of questions that point directly to the centre of the concepts that rule the behaviour of the Oera'dim and in this case the Jotun.

Before answering the specific questions you have posed I should give a more in depth explanation of one aspect of the Oera'dim as it will give a better context to what I put forward. The first thing to say is something we already know, and that is that the Oera'dim started their existence as slaves. Designed firstly as weapons but then as servants to serve the needs of the Trell'sara, they were designed in all their facets to perform in two specific ways, the first to perform their designated function efficiently, the second to do it without question.

Aggeron in designing the first Hresh understood that a weapon can be used both by its creator and anyone who might gain possession of it, and went to some lengths to ensure that his Hresh would be obedient to all Guardians but above all else to himself. He did not only make his creations obedient, he built into them a hard-wired acceptance of the Word of Command, and specifically to an unthinking obedience to whomever uttered that Word. We know from the mythologies already presented that he was the Utterer of the Word and with that absolute command of his creations ruled the world for more than one hundred millenia.

With the breaking of the Word of Command the Oera'dim looked to Qirion'Delving for leadership. His time as First Hammer of the World lasted many centuries but with his passing there came a time when the Oera'dim on their own could remain neither civil or organised. Without an overiding authority they quickly fell into chaos and it was only the institution of The Code and the Utterance of the Word of Command once again by the Mutan of the Clavern'sigh that brought the Oera'dim back under control.

Although the Mutan may have reuttered the Word to gain control of the world for themselves the day-to-day existence of the Oera'dim is governed by the tenets of the Code. That Code is both complex and unchangeable and a lot more involved than the general overview given in the appendix, Blade and Hammer. It can be said that the Code is like a set of immutable laws, but as will be seen as A Murder of Crows progresses all laws have their loopholes.

Your first question regards the position of chief within the Kraals of the Jotun of the West. What must be said to start is that the Jotun are not human, they do not have the same moral code as the Men of the South might, and their concept of Honour is entirely different from our own. For a Jotun honour is about obeying without question and getting the job done. If the task is to burn a village to the ground and kill everything that lives within it then the honourable thing is to do it. To obey and to be efficient in your function is the concept that guides Jotun life. What the Code does is formalise everything that might provide dispute within a Kraal and between Oera'dim in general. What it also does is spell out in fine detail exactly what a Chief can do, and the things that can be done of his behalf.

A Chief cannot be a tyrant in the way we might concieve it because every Jotun knows what the Code says about what a Chief can and cannot do. He may be unassaible in all matters but he is above all else an Oera'dim himself, and the Code is the rule he must live by as well. The concept of transgressing those rules is outside of the paradigm of their existence. The check on their power is the rules set out in the Code. They may be incompetent, ruthless or ambitious but a Chief will be all those things within the boundaries that the code allows.

A point that must be made is that although the same Jotun bloodline may hold power essentially forever, it is in name only. A Jotun may arise from the Horns of Gorgoroth with the marking necessary to identify them as a Brother-Chief but they are individual Beings who have been marked so and are more than likely simply the next Jotun in line to be returned to the World Above. If a new Brother-Chief is required by a Kraal it will be provided by the Dreya Tree and it is essentially pot luck as to the spark of existence that will be reborn into the World to fill that need. How that Jotun then fulfils their position will determine what happens to them when they are returned to the Underworld at their End of Days.

I guess the acceptance the Oera'dim have of their social structure is determined by their design and their expectations. An Oera'dim has a different perspective on both honour and the concept of freedom. The slaves of the Trell'sara rose up so that they might throw off the tyranny of Aggeron and in doing so take control of their own destiny. For the Oera'dim however, freedom is a notion completely different from our own. In the Kraals of the Oera'dim there is no free speech, no democracy and certainly no notion of equality, only a struggle for survival and the rule of the Code that allows redress for any wrong done against an individual. For the Oera'dim the Great Insurrection gave them the opportunity to rule themselves and it is the history of the chaos that followed after Qirion's End of Days that moulded the social structure they have today. To survive they must have clear and absolute leadership otherwise they fall quickly into anarchy.

Your question regarding the role of the Brother-Chiefs in A Murder of Crows is interesting. At the time of this story Tansen is a Favoured Son but still only a Brother-Chief like his brothers. Until such time as he ascends to be Chief he is the same as his brothers and the leadership they grant him is based on the expectation of him becoming Chief. When he finally takes that position he will then be unquestioned and none of the Brother-Chiefs will do anything but provide advice. If he did try to attack one hundred Hresh alone Glydenhaal would probably beat him to the ground and restrain him. It is a part of his duty to his current Chief that he keep his brother alive.

One small point not yet mentioned in A Murder of Crows is that it is the Chief that chooses what role a Brother-Chief takes on. Glydenhaal has been chosen as First Hammer and Tansen as Favoured Son, their other Brother-Chiefs to be content as leaders of their respective Households alone. If a Brother-Chief dies another is born into the Horns at Gorgoroth and that Jotun is either given the vacant household or made a Favoured Son or First Hammer if that position is vacant as well. Once a position is given though it remains that Jotun's until they die. The Household Arbiter is chosen also by the Chief and usually from the ranks of the Aald'en. This is done for political reasons and allows at least one of the nimirim to gain entry to the leadership group. The Aald'en themselves are chosen only by fate. The oldest Jotun in any single nimirim becomes Aald'en until such time as they die to be replaced by the next oldest in turn.

It is true that a major flaw in Oera'dim society is their incapacity to question the decisions of their leadership. It is a weakness that has led to many failures on their part and given an amount of predictability to their actions. It will be seen as the Chronicles of Arborell progress that the most dangerous of the Oera'dim will be those that think for themselves.

You are absolutely right that the Oera'dim have no concept of democracy and know absolute rule as their only option for viable government. They were made to obey and lived in the grasp of tyranny for countless millenia. For the Oera'dim it is all they know, and all that they can conceive of.

Having said all of the above I will say that the Mutan of the Clavern'sigh do not follow the Code. Apart from the power they hold with the Word of Command and their participation in the Treaty of Araheal that allows them to harness EarthMagic they are considered dishonourable and worthy only of contempt. How they have come to rule the world of the Oera'dim is a story still to be uncovered.

I hope this answers your questions.

Wayne Densley

Re: Obedience to the code

From: Dark [ Tue May 18, 2010 10:01 pm ]

Hi, Thanks again.

This once more highlights the thing that I find most interesting about the Oera'dim, the fact that they are essentially alien beings. Whether from their own point of view, or in their laws and customes, or even seen through the eye of others (as in Windhammer), there's a distinct difference about the hord. from a literary point of view this is fantastic, sinse so many created fantasy races devolve into standard sterriotypes or humans with some exaggerated characteristics.

On the mythological side, I'm actually now very much looking forward to more tales of the time after the fall of the guardians and how both the code ad the rule of the Mutan came about, as well as how the Oera'dim lost so much to the men of the south, but I know these are planned for future installments of the chronicles.

Hammer and Darkness consistency

From: Dark [ Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:21 am ]


Well, I've just finished reading the new mythology, and I deffinately appreciated it considderably. It certainly answered some of my questions about the Trel and the word of command, and from a purely literary stand point, I like the irony that the Trel actually doomed themselves through their own fault by using Hordim as assassins, rather than the word being broken by some external agency (as I originally thought). I do however have a couple of questions, which also concern the consistancy of the chronicles. These are not meant as cryticisms, just points i'd apprciate some clarrification on.

First, Aggeron. I thought I recognized the name from the Book of Scars, so I went and checked. There, the Arbitar of the pillars of dissolution claimes to be Aggeron, second to Hamulkuk and architect of the breaking of the word of command. While I can clearly see how Aggeron was instrumental in breaking the word, the Architect is obviously a Jotun, not one of the Trel, and it would seem a very strange position for a Trel Tyrant to be granted, especially given what the position of the rest of the Tre is said to be in the Underworld. then obviously, who is this Hamulkuk? sinse it appears from the mythology that Qirion was the chief player in the insurrection.

Then, I have a couple of questions concerning Kraal assignment and the Word of Command.

In answering my previous post about the Hordim, you stated that new Hordim had a Craal assigned to them when they first arrose from the Horns of Gorgoroth. This was later confirmed in the start of the Hammer and the Darkness, when describing how the word of command took possession of hordim leaving the birthing grounds. While I understand that the spark of life is what is actually immune from the effects of the word, thus conferring that immunity on successive generations, if Kraal assignment is based on which ever Kraal happens to need warriors, how is it that all the immune Hordim end up in certain Kraals, such as the Denma?

I know that the next Jotun gamebook is the Horns of Gorgoroth, so if these sorts of questions are answered there, fair enough. Stil, I do wonder if perhaps the Kraals of the Hordim are more than what I initially thought, groups the Hordim use to give their existance meaning, but essentially creations of their society, and without significance outside it.

I'm also finding myself curious now about how the Mutan reinstated the word, and what reaction they got, especially from the free Hordim, also how they are able to maintain power when planely a signficant number of hordim are in fact immune from the words' effects.

Congratulations on getting the Hammer and the Darkness finished, I'll be looking forward to playing Murder of Crows soon.

My Answer

Hi Luke,

Thanks for your post. It is great as an author to have readers such as yourself that notice these types of questions and then take the time to put them forward. In a series such as mine consistency is everything and your questions certainly got me thinking.

In relation to your first question regarding Aggeron's place as Arbiter in the Pillars of Dissolution you are absolutely right. The Three Powers are not that forgiving, the use of Aggeron's name having slipped in around 2005 but it should have been removed. This is a mistake on my part that thankfully is easy to correct. I used the name Aggeron once in the Book of Scars but the name should have been Ghered, and I have taken steps to correct it. I took the opportunity to also update the Book itself and make a few minor changes. The updated version can be found on the download page at the Chronicles.

You are also correct that Qirion is the chief instrument of the Great Insurrection but he is not the only Hero of Oera'dim legend. Hamulkuk remains as the greatest of all Oera'dim legendary figures even though as a character he has only been mentioned in passing at this stage. His place as the greatest of all warriors relates mostly to the fate of the Dragons of the Ancient World. You might remember from some of the tales told by Gremorgan as he travelled with Mallen Cael that the Oera'dim were not the first creatures created by the Trell'sara. In their attempts to defeat the Forgotten Ones they first designed creatures, which we would call Dragons, to use as weapons against their enemies. These Dragons proved to be less than reliable and became a threat, one that had to be removed although the Trell were certainly had no intention of doing it themselves. It was then that the Trell'sara built the first Hresh with the specific purpose of using it to kill all the Dragons. This first Hresh's name was Hamulkuk and the story of how he was able to subdue most of the Dragons of the Ancient World is the greatest of all Oera'dim stories. With his success the Trell'sara refined their work and created the Hresh in their hundreds of thousands to overwhelm the Forgotten Ones. The rest is history.

In a way Hamulkuk was the prototype of the Hresh as a species and when Ghered proclaims that he was second only to Hamulkuk he is making a specific statement that he served as second in command to that greater warrior in the wars against the Forgotten Ones. Ghered also claims himself architect of the Great Insurrection and this is also correct. Qirion is the Hero of the Great Insurrection but he is essentially a tool used by the Silvan Tree to start a fire that is taken advantage of by a network of the Hidden already placed throughout the power structure of the Trell'sara. It was no accident that the Hidden where concentrated within certain Houses of the Trell, or that the Vardim, the hand-servants of the Masters, were able to act so quickly to stop any of the Trell'sara raising an alarm that might lead to another of their number invoking the Word of Command. If you look at the Great Insurrection like an intricately planned coup then there had to be a planner, somebody, or something that put it all together. In this case it was Ghered, acting on the direction of the Silvan Tree. The Silvan Tree was the power behind the Insurrection, but it was Ghered who worked out how to do it.

As a side-note to this, I already have the draft of the legend of Hamulkuk at hand so in December I'll put it all together and release it as another mythology. You'll see in the story of "The Moon Dragons" why Hamulkuk is the greatest of all Oera'dim heroes and get a better idea of how the Oera'dim came into existence. Although Hamulkuk's story is a far older story, the tale of Qirion and his role in the Great Insurrection has been told first because it is instrumental to what happens in A Murder of Crows.

You may ask the question with this in mind as to why, if Ghered is a Hresh of great import, how he turns up as a Jotun Arbiter in the Pillars of Dissolution? This is relatively straightforward. You will notice that when the True Witness travels through the Underworld that all he sees are Jotun. All the trials and the rewards of the Underworld seem to be undertaken only by Jotun and this is because of the nature of the place itself. The Underworld is not a real place, it is a construct of magic by which the Dreya Tree can fulfill her purpose to scrourge and make ready a Being to be returned to the world Above. Within this Underworld a Being will only see what it is that furthers the purpose of the Dreya, and to this end every Being you encounter is presented as one of your own kind. If a Morg is to enter then it will only be Morg that the Being will see. For a Mutan the same and so on. In truth it is only the Spark of one's existence that travels through the Underworld. How you experience that world is determined by what you were when you entered. How Ghered himself became Arbiter in the Underworld is another story, and one I'll leave for later.

Your question regarding Kraal designation is a good one and can be answered with further detail on how the Insurrection was planned. As we know the Oera'dim are created beings, designed as slaves initially for the Trell'sara. When a Trell needed a new worker, or miner or servant they would essentially order one and that creature would be forthcoming within the Horns of Gorgoroth. Because an Oera'dim spark of existence is eternal, it was possible in the Ancient World that an Oera'dim might start life as a Hresh, then be killed and their spark reused in their next life as say a Mutan or a Jotun. The Trell thought they were creating new beings each time they ordered a new worker but were in fact reusing the same sparks of life over and over again, if in their hundreds of thousands. It was neccessary for the Powers of the World to limit the number of Oera'dim created by the Trell because of the imbalance it caused in the world, and this led to a spark having many different forms over the long years of its use.

The Silvan Tree used the fact that the Trell were unaware of this reuse to plant the immune Oera'dim exactly where she needed them according to the plans of Ghered. Most of the Hidden ultimately fell into the positions required, and it suited their purposes that most of their number should be concentrated in the four Houses of Delving, Oldemai, Amdahl, and Denmar, those Houses that were closest at that time to the Utterer. The Vardim were a different matter and you will see in upcoming parts of the Chronicles that they have a big part to play in what happens to the world of Arborell.

It can be said that these four Houses became the four Kraals of the story that we know now and that since the destruction of the Trell'sara the Silvan Tree has maintained all Oera'dim in the forms that they are familiar with. A Jotun is now always a Jotun, a Hresh always a Hresh etc.

Your last question relates to the Mutan and how they reinstated the Word of Command. It was mentioned in passing during the Living Book's telling of the Hammer and the Darkness that they fell once again under the thrall of the Word of Command because they trusted too much in the integrity of the Mutan. As a supplement to one of the forthcoming Jotun of the West books there will be a full explanation of how this happened. Let us just say that betrayal and vengeance are the keys to that story. How they maintain power at this time has no mystery though. They maintain control of enough of the Horde to suppress the remainder, and you will see in A Murder of Crows exactly how the Mutan exert their control on the Jotun of the West.

If you have any more questions please post them here. I really enjoy answering them.

Wayne Densley

Re: Hammer and darkness consistency

From: Dark [ Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:18 am ]


I must admit, your answers this time were incredibly illuminating and quite a surprise. I assumed from the book of scars, that when the true witness found himself standing before the gates of halandraal he was given a literal, physical form and in a place populated exclusively by Jotun. Indeed, I did wonder what differences the process of scourging would involve for Muten, Hresh and Morg, sinse obviously their nature was different. this also makes it clear what the precise diference betwene the spark of creation of each individual Hordim, and it's relation to that Hordim's memories and personality work.

Previously, I assumed the sparks were rather like the Hindu or buhdist idea of an eternal soul which continues through a number of life times, ---- losing memories and previous identity, but retaining the same basic character and moral worth betwene differentlives. I now realize this idea was incorrect, and that the Hordim basic existance in the world is a lot more bleak and meaningless than it essentially appeared. Perhaps this would also have become clearer if I'd actually managed to make it to the pillars of disolution in Torchlight, but though I've set out several times I've not yet made it there.

The business with Aggeron does make more sense, and I must confess I did wonder if this was simply a miner mistake of names made in the writing of a long series (one reason I thought it needed highlighting), but tere was also the possibility I was incorrect. With Aggeron being identified in the Hammer and the Darkness this also gives a clearer idea of what The word of Aggeron mentioned in shards of moonlight, which I also replayed recently actually is, Aggerons way of getting into the temple of the moons at Nemhaleen, and not a creation of the ancient Hordim as I initially thought, given the use of the name Aggeron in the book of scars. I also didn't realize that the first Hresh who wielded the Orncrist was actually called Hamulkuk, sinse his name doesn't appear in te tale about the orncrist's origins mentioned in Torchlight, I'll look frward to readng his story.

I find myself distinctly looking forward to murder of crows for more information on the Mutan. One thing I really admire in the Chronicles is there's no clear cut good or evil, just various factions with their different motivations and alliances. The Mutan do seem very close to being simply power hungry though, i'll be interested to see firstly how that power is maitained, nd secondly if there is in fact any reason to their domination of the hordim other than simply holding power for power's own sake. Then again, the accounts from people like the Living Book are essentially accounts from the Mutan's enemies, perhaps anaccount from the Mutan themselves would have a different swing on events.

I gather from the synopsis a full novel concerning the Mutan is planned, but sinse that takes place at the end of the Chronicles I expect it'll be a while a coming, and it'd be nice to find out sooner given the huge role the Mutan play in the Chronicles. I'll look forward to finding out more soon concerning the Vardem, sinse I am quite curious. I'm guessing though that like the Nomdrues of the south, the enemy of the old world and just about everything else answers will be revealed in due time.

One less pressing question, ---- which I admit is rather idel curiosty on my part and which I was sorry wasn't answered in the Hamer and the Darkness, is what precisely did the Trell, those ordinary Trel citizens who weren't quite as corrupted by Magic as Aggeron look like? While there are some races like the forgotten ones and the Vardem who's form is obviously mysterious, sinse we as readers haven't encountered them before, now that we have so to speak got a sight of the trel'sara, even by proxy it'd be nice to have some more mundane details about the Trel themselves, their civilization ad it's like, though once again, if the next mythology will concern the Hordim's creation by the Trel, I'm guessing information on this will be forthcoming soon as well.

Random question about the Hordim

From: Dark [ Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:16 am ]

Okay, alright, as I've been rereading and playing through all the chronicles stufff (really enjoyed blood and Iron, though it has left several mysteries), a rather random thought occurred to me reguarding the hordim. I'm not sure if this is because I'm strange, or because it's a topic of rather personal interest to me in fantasy in general. I was just wondering about the Hordim's gender.

I assume that the Hordim basically don't have a genda, and words like "he", "him", "brothers" and "sons" are used A,for linguistic convenience and older traditions of speech, sinse for a long while in English the masculine was! the only acceptable pronown, and B, because the culture of the Hordim, being incredibly warrior and honour based is more traditionally seen as masculine, either that or that's the way the people of the four nations see it as they seem fairly traditionally patriarchal themselves. The problem with thinking of the Hordim as basically genderless however, is that firstly in the Jotun's folk tale at the end of Shards of moonlight, a maiden is mentioned. Sinse this story supposedly took place long before humans arrived on arborell, I do wonder where the Jotun got the idea? Unless the Trell, the Vardem, or some other race we currently know litle about had a more traditional genda setup.

The other and more serious problem, is where do litle Hordim come from. From the Book of Scars, I sort of got the impression that Hordim just sprang up pretty much new formed from the Horns of Gorgoroth, however sinse the Hordim have sons, brothers and very important family relationships, this obviously can't be as simple as it appears. Also, where do "new" hordim come from? While I know from the Book of Scars, and references in blood and Iron and Shards of Moonlight that Hordim are directly reincarnated after undergoing trial or reward, some percentage of Hordim who die obviously are not reincarnated and become dreyadim, unless new Hordim were being directly created, this would mean each generation there were less Hordim, and eventually they'd die out.

Are a certain amount of new Hordim automatically created from the Shan'duil occasionally? Or are there indeed female Hordim, but the Hordim (unlike the men of the four nations), draw no distinction whatsoever betwene male and female and afford both the same status and duties to the extent where they don't even acknolidge the difference most of the time?

Appologies if I'm just thinking far too much here, I suppose it's a consequence of studdying philosophy, and I do admit gender and gender related sterriotypes are a bit of a pet subject of mine.

My reply

Hi Dark,

This is a great question and one that touches on the origins and nature of the Hordim. As you are aware the Hordim are manufactured beings designed firstly as weapons of war and then as the workers and engineers of the Ancient World. They have no gender, but because of the nature of the work they were designed for they have more masculine characteristics and therefore identify themselves in that manner.

Even though the Oera'dim are genderless the concept of male and female is known to them however. Their first enemy the Forgotten Ones had both genders and the Trell'sara who were modelled upon them also mirrored that distintion between the sexes. In the Elder Tongue that forms the basis of all the Hordim languages there are words for woman, mother, sister etc. and all are understood by the Hordim even if they are not represented in their own populations. The arrival of Humanity in Arborell only reminded them of those they had previously destroyed.

In your question you mention the maiden of despair and this touches on one of the major themes to be written into some of the future books in this series. The maiden mentioned in the folktale - The Unwary Traveller and the Maiden of Despair - is not a Hordim but a Shapeshifter of the Ancient World using the form of a Maiden to bring down the son of Braga. This Maiden is indeed a representation of a woman of the Ancient World, and may be either a Trell'sara or one of the Forgotten Ones. Who she might actually be is something that will be discovered later.

In answer to your question where do little Hordim come from the answer is that there are none. Hordim of all types arise in the world within the confines of the Horns of Gorgoroth, and they arise from the soil and stone fully formed and adult. As manufactured beings they have no concept of their own childhood, they are simply ready for life at the moment it is returned to them by the Dreya Tree. The Book of Scars outlines the process by which a Hordim is tested and then returned to the World Above. It is a cruel and lengthy proces and one that leaves nothing of the previous individuals memory intact. They arrive back in the world fully formed and are met by others of their kind who assign them kinship to those kraals and families that require new blood. A chief will have a new son assigned to him when one of his other sons has died but there is no actual blood relationship between them. What binds the hordim together is the honour code and duty each has to their allocated kraal. For the Hordim those ties are everything. For them there is nothing else.

In regards to the Dreyadim you make a good point. There should be less of the Hordim with each generation that passes through Hallen'draal as certain Hordim are found wanting in their previous life, but the Hordim number in their millions and the amount of time each individual spends in the Underworld can vary from years to millenia. At any one time the majority of Hordim may well dwell in the Underworld as they undergo the ritual scrouging of their Spark of Life and then enjoy the rewards of the honour earned from their previous existence. Those the Dreya Tree takes as her servants comprise only a very small percentage of the total Hordim population created by the Trell'sara.

In a way it can be looked upon as a rather tragic situation. The Hordim are sentient if cruel beings, fully aware of why they were made yet trying to give themselves meaning and purpose when their original reason for creation has long passed.

I hope this answers your question Dark. Most of the nature of the Oera'dim is still to be uncovered in the Chronicles and I welcome any opportunity to talk more about them.

Wayne Densley

Re: Random question about the Hordim

From: Dark [ Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:49 am ]


Thanks for the explanation. I do find the hordim fascinating, sinse there's a really alien quality about them which makes them feel considderably inhuman rather than (as happpens with many fantasy races), humans with a couple of add-ons or exaggerated characteristics. I actually find myself now being quite interested in the importance of the Kraal to the Hordim, not only in life but as it's part in the petrified forest of Halandraal if it is merely allocated. I did rather assume familial relationships betwene the Hordim, but this now raises even more questions, and actually makes the Hordim more admirable in a sense, sinse they are being loyal to an ideal they chose for themselves rather than their generation. I'd be interested to know also how the various Kraal relationships (partciularly those of the Jottun), came about and why they hold so much fascination for the Hordim, but I assume this will be explained in later installments of the Chronicles.

I did believe the Maiden of dispare must be a female hordim principly because of the way the Son of Braga reacted to her. I assumed that had she taken the form of one of the Trel or forgotten ones, he would have reacted differently, unless the fact that he let his guard down before an enemy was due to his general unwariness. I find the cruelty of the Hordim interesting as well. In many cases, such as the Hresh attack in blood and iron and the assaults on maenem, I get the impression that the Hordim are (quite justifyably), trying to reclaime that which they lost to the humans. In other cases, I actually get the idea that the Hresh and Jotten have different values for life and suffering than humans, not only the warrior's ideal of dying well, but also the idea that physical pain and suffering matters less to them, the behaviour of the warrior of the Denma Kraal who let himself be captured and tortured to death by the Morg was quite illuminating on this.

The only Hordim races I've seen thus far who actually seem to qualify as truly cruel and sadistic are the Morg, who seem to enjoy torture for it's own sake, and the Mutan, who use the pain of others as a method of control. I'd be interested though to learn more about them in future Chronicles installments, particularly why the Trel's former farm workers changed so drastically once they acquired freedom.

Regarding the Clavern'sigh I do have a direct question.

In Blood and Iron it's stated that only 11 lore masters of the Dwarvendim, and 11 Domini of the Clavern'si have the power to directly wield earth magic, and what is done by one is always countered by the other. I therefore presume that most of the other magic seen in the Chronicles, the explosive grane used by the Mutan shamans, the various magic barriers and traps in Stoneholm and so on, are simply naturally occurring substances or devices created at some ancient time which utilize Earth Magic, much the same way in the Modern world, comparatively few people are electricians, but everyone uses electricity. There do seem however, to be individuals such as the TaK Lovar, who have a sensativity to earth magic, and I would deffinately guess that the Dwarvendim temples trained quite a number of students. In fact come to that, there does seem to be a difference betwene the titles Maturi, used of a lore master, and shada.

If it won't spoil later Chronicles episodes, I'd be interested to know about this distinction and division of power.

My reply


You are correct that the importance of the distinction between Maturi and Shadar will be outlined in future books. The difference between the two is mostly a matter of who is chosen. At any one time there can only be 11 LoreMasters and only 11 Dominus of the Sigh. The Shan'duil demands a balance between the two or none can gain acces to EarthMagic. A Maturi is another title for a LoreMaster and a Shadar is the title given to a student of EarthMagic. Many Shadar may be trained but only when a Maturi dies is another chosen from them to become a member of the Grand Circle.

Shadar who are not chosen act instead in their lives as agents of the Grand Circle, wielding the lesser powers that come from the use of talisman's and the few aspects of EarthMagic that they are allowed to harness. As a LoreMaster can live a very long time there are very few Shadar who are ever chosen to join their ranks.

On your point regarding the Maiden of Despair I look upon the story as a folktale of sorts, one that tells a morality tale that reinforces the dangers of a soft and indolent life. To the Hordim the Maiden is a symbol of the decadence of the Ancients they destroyed and her transformation as a shapeshifter the proof of the dangers of letting down your guard. He was both unwary and undisciplines and met an unhappy end because of it.


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