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PostSubject: Seanchan   Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:38 pm

Seanchan is the name of a continent, the empire that occupies it, and the people that live in the empire. The capital is called Seandar

The continent, empire and culture are described in The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Chapter 17.



During the time of the Trolloc Wars, the people of Seanchan used Portal Stones to reach alternate worlds and return with such creatures as grolm, torm, lopar, corlm, raken, s'redit, and to'raken. Integrating these creatures into their armies, the people of Seanchan were able to drive back the Trollocs. The Blight in the north of Seanchan is slightly less dangerous and much smaller than (about two-fifths) the one on the "main continent," and thus thanks to the use of these introduced alien creatures in eradication measures, Trollocs and Myrddraal are unknown in Seanchan (though Draghkar and other shadowspawn still exist).

A thousand years later, after unifying the southwest corner of his own continent, Artur Hawkwing sent a vast fleet led by his son, Luthair Paendrag Mondwin, across the Aryth Ocean. Luthair's fleet never returned to the continent from which it came, and so it was presumed lost. In actuality, the fleet had successfully made it across the ocean and arrived in Seanchan. Furthermore, by playing the native nations against each other, Luthair and his descendants eventually subjugated and unified the continent into the Seanchan Empire, a process called the Consolidation. Luthair's heirs continue to rule the Empire.



Recent events

Recently, the Seanchan Empire has engaged in a concerted effort to retake the continent from which the Empire's rulers' ancestors hailed. This campaign is known as the Corenne in the Old Tongue or simply the Return. The Seanchan made their first attempt in The Great Hunt, seizing the city of Falme and surrounding lands, but were driven back. Later, the Seanchan were successful in taking Tarabon. In A Crown of Swords, the Seanchan continued their advance, taking Amadicia and Altara. They were then halted in The Path of Daggers when the forces of Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, fought the Seanchan invasion of Illian to a standstill.

With the arrival of the main Seanchan fleet and Tuon, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, the Seanchan are poised to make further advances. Locked in an uneasy stalemate, Rand al'Thor sought to make a truce with the Seanchan in Crossroads of Twilight. In the next book in the series, Knife of Dreams, it is revealed by the Forsaken Semirhage that the Seanchan Imperial Court and Empress Radhannan back in Seanchan have been murdered, leaving the entire empire in chaos---as fighting breaks out for succession of the throne. The High Lady Suroth plots to take the throne for herself by having Tuon killed. However, thanks to Mat and the Band of the Red Hand, Tuon made her way back to Ebou Dar and exposed Suroth as a traitor, proclaiming her da'covale.



Geography

Seanchan is a large continent, stretching from the northern ice cap nearly all the way to the southern cap (World, 146). Though much longer than the eastern (or "main") continent on which most of the action of The Wheel of Time takes place, it is narrower and is split by many fissures and fjords; consequently, its landmass is less than one and a half times that of the eastern continent. It is divided into two landmasses separated by a wide dividing channel, and is approximately four thousand leagues north-to-south and sixteen hundred east-to-west at the widest point.



Fauna and Flora

Being a continent of such vast size, Seanchan has a great diversity of terrain and climate. There are many striking creatures on Seanchan not found elsewhere in the world, animals that seem to belong only in children's fairy tales. Because the Seanchan use many of these animals in war, the peoples of the eastern continent are now coming into contact with them through the Seanchan invasion.



Beasts of burden

In Chapter 18 of World, Jordan describes torm, corlm, lopar, grolm, raken and to'raken.

A torm is approximately the size of a horse, and looks like a cross between a cat and a lizard. It has bronze scales, six-clawed feet that can grip stones in a road, and three eyes. The Seanchan consider it the most intelligent of their creatures, being well above that of a very bright dog, and can come close to human levels in certain areas of problem solving, such as maze tests.

Torm bear live young, and nurse them. Most torm do not reach adulthood, however, as fights for dominance between torm typically result in the death of one of the animals. Training by animal handlers prevents these fights for dominance.

Finding a rider for a torm is no easy task. Torm will turn and attack rider after rider, until it accepts one for no apparent reason. Once a torm has accepted a rider, no other may mount that torm. It is very difficult to get a torm to accept another rider after its own has died.

Early moratítorm sought to use these intelligent animals as trackers. But each torm quickly made it clear that it hunted only what it wanted to, and nothing else. A torm is primarily carnivorous; it can survive on only plants for several days, but becomes increasingly difficult to control as it attempts to hunt for food.

A torm's primary function is that of conveyence for scouting, rather than in protracted combat. It is faster than a horse, with better endurance as well. However, if in battle for too long, a torm will suffer from fighting frenzy. It rarely will turn on its rider during one of these frenzies, but will strike at anyone else within reach. Regardless of the length of combat, a torm will immediately attack any corlm within reach. Because of these factors, the risk of losing a torm in combat is too high considering their rarity and value.



Politics

The Seanchan Empire is led by an Empress who has absolute power. She reigns from the Crystal Throne at the Court of the Nine Moons; the throne itself is a ter'angreal, inspiring awe and wonder of the person who sits on it. According to the Seanchan version of the Prophecies of the Dragon, the Dragon Reborn must kneel to the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don. Below the Empress and those of her immediate family is the Blood, the noble class of the Empire. The elite guard around the throne is provided by the Deathwatch Guards, while the Seekers for Truth hunt Darkfriends and act as a secret police.

The power of the Seanchan Empire is based around the enslavement of damane (literally "Leashed Ones" in the Old Tongue), women who can channel the One Power, through the use of collars called a'dam (in actuality, a type of ter'angreal). The handlers of damane are called sul'dam, or "Leash Holders".

The nation of Seanchan is ruled by a rigid class structure. The lowest class of people are the da'covale, "those who are property." However, not all servants hold low rank in Seanchan society. The hereditary servants of the Imperial family hold higher rank than free men and women. So'jhin, literally "a height among lowness" in the Old Tongue, are the upper servants who may hold positions of power.

The highest tier of Seanchan society is held by those who are of the Blood. Initially, it was only the descendants of Luthair and his armies who were of the Blood, but over time others have been raised to the Blood. Being raised to the Blood, while exceptionally rare, is the greatest honor possible for one who was born a commoner.



Culture

At the center of Seanchan culture is the concept of honor or sei'taer, literally "straight eyes" or "level eyes" in the Old Tongue.

Seanchan coins have the image of the Empress on one side and the Crystal Throne on the other.

Robert Jordan has said that they speak with a Texas like drawl[citation needed], while audiobook narrators Kate Reading and Michael Kramer use a more sibilant, hissing accent.



Cultural references

Seanchan's culture and people show many correspondences to the culture and people of East Asia---especially China---as well as the Ottoman Empire. (The people depicted in World show markedly Mongloid features.) The Seanchan continent is also similar to Asia in its vast reach. However, the people of Seanchan do not all possess an Asian physical appearance, since some have been mentioned as having blonde hair, and others with African features; due to its size, Seanchan is home to a wide range of ethnicities.

The Seanchan military forces are called the Ever Victorious Army, which was an appellation for the British and Chinese armed forces of Chinese Gordon. What we know as the Spanish Armada was nicknamed, if rather tauntingly, la Armada Invencible ("the Invincible Navy") by the British (the Spaniards never used the name themselves).

The vast system of slaves, especially their use as dancers and acrobats for entertainment, their transparent clothing or nakedness, their being chosen for their physical attributes and appeal, their use as attendants to the nobility, their use almost as decorative furniture, etc., resembles that of Ancient Egypt.
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