Rose of the Prophet
|Author||Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis|
|Cover artist||Larry Elmore|
|Published||1988 – 1989|
|No. of books||3|
- Volume 1: The Will of the Wanderer (1988)
- Volume 2: The Paladin of the Night (1989)
- Volume 3: The Prophet of Akhran (1989)
The world of Sularin
The Rose of the Prophet series is set in Sularin, a fictional world ruled by a slate of twenty gods, each a facet of the central god, Sul. In the normal course of events, common to fantasy literature, the values of the gods balance each other out; however, as the series begins, the gods have turned away from the Sul and the world is in peril of falling apart.
The immortals, including the djinn who serve the royalty of the desert nomadic people (and often provide comic relief), have their own struggles as they try to maintain balance between the people they must obey and their master, Akhran, God of the Desert.
On the worldly realm, the wandering God, Akhran, commands two of his nomadic tribes to unite by the marriage of the children of the Sheiks. This is unfortunate, as the two tribes have been warring with each other for as long as memory; the bride Zohra must be tied up and gagged to wed the falling-down-drunk groom Khardan, and the wedding night notably involves the bride stabbing her would-be husband. Nonetheless, the people must unite to defeat more sinister forces. Getting mixed up in these events is an outlander wizard Mathew, who poses as a woman to save his life and ends up as Khardan's second wife.
- Abul Qasim Qannadi: "The Amir", General of Quar and King of the city of Kich.
- Achmed: Khardan’s brother and follower of Akhran.
- Auda ibn Jad: Dark Paladin of Zhakrin; slave-trader.
- Feisal: Known as "The Imam", priest of Quar and fanatical mujahideen.
- Khardan: Calif of the horse-herding Akar and son of Sheikh Majiid, prophet of Akhran.
- Mathew: Young wizard and follower of Promenthas.
- Zohra: Daughter of Sheikh Jaafar, of the sheep-herding Hrana, follower of Akhran.
- Asrial: Immortal of Promenthas, also Mathew’s guardian angel.
- Fedj: Djinn of Akhran devoted to Jafaar al Widjar, Zohra's father.
- Kaug: 'Efreet of Quar and main Immortal antagonist. He is sealed inside a mountain by Pukah and Asrial.
- Pukah: Djinn of Akhran, Pukah is the young and impetuous servant of Khardan.
- Raja: Djinn of Akhran, he serves Zeid al Saban, Sheykh of the Aran
- Sond: Djinn of Akhran, he serves Majiid al Fakhar, Khardan's father.
- Usti: Djinn of Akhran, he serves Zohra.
In the world of Sularin, there are 21 gods: Sul (the Truth) is the light of truth, and the other 20 are facets of the Truth. The nature of each god is informed by an icosahedral jewel composed of 20 triangular facets the 12 vertices of which represent divine philosophies (Good at the extreme closest to Law, Mercy, Faith, Charity, and Patience; then Evil with Chaos, Intolerance, Reality, Greed, and Impatience). This structure creates three categories of god: Good (the five facets with Good at one vertex), Evil (the five facets with Evil at one vertex), and Neutral (the other ten facets). The powers a god has depends on how many followers that god has as well as their level of devotion. Every god has his or her own plane of existence that resembles who they are. Akhran, the god of the desert nomads, mostly rides on his mighty horse in a desert he made himself. When a god grows less powerful, his plane of existence also starts to disappear.
Many of these gods seem to be patterned after the gods of various Earthly cultures.
- The center of the 20-sided jewel, of which each god is a facet. Also used to mean the Sun, the Universe, the Jewel, and the God of Truth.
- Nomad-God of Chaos, Impatience, and Faith. The series centers on his followers, who live more or less bedouinesque lives. Akhran wears practical riding gear and disdains formality. His realm seems to reflect a blend of Central Asian and Arabian nomadic cultures: his followers play baigha, which bears a striking resemblance to buzkashi, and drink qumiz, commonly transliterated kumis (fermented mare's milk), and their language contains basic elements of Persian (e.g., bale = yes, spahi = a kind of horseman), Arabic (e.g., use of the honorifics Hazrat and sidi to refer to respected figures), and more. His plane of existence is a desert. When the belief in him has faded, he lost his plane of existence and was forced to enter the planes of other gods in order to communicate with them.
- God of Reality, Greed, and Law. Quar, known occasionally as "the Lawful," wears stereotypical and ornate garb of a burnoose and silk turban. The main antagonist of Akhran. Can be analogized to "Babylon" per the Judaic tradition, with the connotation of moral and physical and material corruption. This god almost took over the entire world through his priest Feisal. The latter started an entire jihad in order to make Quar the only god in existence. He is also very opportunistic and cowardly. His plane of existence is a beautiful palace garden. When his powers are waning, the garden starts to rot away.
- God of Goodness, Charity, and Faith. Promenthas shares similarities with a standard Roman Catholic image of God: white beard, cassock and surplice, and hosts of angels and archangels. One of the few gods to encourage independence and study of the natural world by limiting personal contact with divine entities (such as Immortals). His plane of existence is a cathedral.
- God of Evil, Intolerance, and Reality. Seems to be killed by Evren at the beginning of "Will of the Wanderer." Later, however, it is revealed that Quar imprisoned Zhakrin's and Evren's essences inside two fish. Zhakrin's knights, the Black Paladins, got their hands on the fish and planned to restore Zhakrin's powers through a dark ritual. Mathew successfully stops the ritual, but the essences of both gods are freed.
- Goddess of Goodness, Mercy, and Faith. She seems to die from exhaustion (from killing Zhakrin) at the beginning of "Will of the Wanderer." Later, however, it is revealed that Quar imprisoned Zhakrin's and Evren's essences inside two fish. Zhakrin's knights, the Black Paladins, got their hands on the fish and planned to restore Zhakrin's powers through a dark ritual. Mathew successfully stops the ritual, but the essences of both gods are freed. It is revealed that Evren sends Asrial temporarily away from Mathew so the young wizard would end up at castle Zhakrin in order to free both gods.
- "The Thief" God of Faith, Chaos and Greed.
- Wealth-God of Faith, Mercy, and Greed.
- Warrior-God (attributes unknown) who wears animal skins and a horned metal helmet.
- God (attributes unknown) who sits in a tea-garden surrounded by cherry trees. Probably somewhat related to Buddhism.
- Meditative God (attributes unknown).
- Underwater Goddess (attributes unknown) of the seas. Sailors throw golden rings into the sea as sacrifices to her; dolphins are considered her daughters and sharks her sons. She and Inthaban feud and their fights cause storms, according to superstitious sailors.
- Water-God (attributes unknown) of distant seas. Sailors throw iron rings into the sea in order to appease him and his "sons," whales, so that he might not grow jealous of their treatment of Hurishta.
- Demon-God of Evil, Greed, and Reality, an enemy to Promenthas. He mostly resembles well-known depictions of Satan. His plane of existence is pure darkness. Some of his Immortals are called imps.
- Goddess of the Ravenchai who lives on a cloudy mountain.
- Law, Patience and Reality. God who ruled the Bas. Bas live like ancient Greeks. Focus on politics and technology, with a Government system of City-States. His Immortals were made into 'sub-gods', each for one aspect of human life, just like the Greeks had one god for wealth, another for war etc.
Impossibility of the pantheon
The descriptions of the gods require that certain attributes be represented by adjacent vertices on the underlying icosahedron. Faith, in particular, is adjacent to Goodness and Mercy (because Evren is the Goddess of Faith, Mercy, and Goodness), as well as Chaos and Impatience (Akhran), Charity (Promenthas), and Greed (Benario). Since Faith is adjacent to at least six other attributes, while a vertex of an icosahedron is only adjacent to five other vertices, the attributes ascribed to the gods are inconsistent with the implied global structure.