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The Tsurani are a race of humans in the Empire Trilogy novels by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts. In the series, the feudal Empire of Tsuranuanni is located on the fictional world of Kelewan. The social and political institutions as depicted show a clear influence both of feudal Japan and Imperial China, while some of the characters have clearly Nahuatl-influenced names.
The Empire of Tsuranuanni, spanning three continents on the world of Kelewan, consists of the following provinces: Dustari, Ambolina, Neshka, Szetac, Hokani, Lash, Coltari, Honshoni, and Sweto.
Tsurani culture is based on a feudal hierarchy. Every individual is born into a specific station with the main hereditary classes being slave, freeperson, and lord/lady. Social status is extremely important to the Tsurani culture and there are many fine divisions within these class distinctions. Great Ones, magicians of the Greater Path, can be drawn from any class, even slaves, based on any observed talent towards magic.
The Empire of Tsuranuani is divided into provinces, each province divided into many estates, the hereditary homes of Tsurani Lords/Ladies. Lords and Ladies have soldiers, field workers, and household staff who have sworn fealty in return for protection and shelter, as well as slaves who are considered property. A sub-class of Tsurani that falls beneath even a slave is that of the grey warrior, former soldiers and servants of dead or disgraced Lords and Ladies, who as a debt of shame to their former house, are not permitted an honorable death.
Lords and Ladies of the Empire are allied by Clan and political party affiliation. Lordship and Ladyship within a family is hereditary via agnatic primogeniture, that is if there are no direct male heirs to become the next ruling Lord, a female heir may become ruling Lady.
Tsurani culture places a high value on tradition, family values, and honor. The Tsurani always strive to appear and act honorably, though shady dealings including murder and sabotage are not uncommon and are condoned so long as there is no proof of wrongdoing. However, public revelation of dishonorable behavior, such as discovery of plans to assassinate another Lord/Lady or cowardice on the battlefield, can force a ruling Lord or Lady to commit ritual suicide (or even obliteration of their entire family) to retain their House's honor.
Great Ones, or Black Robes, are magicians on Kelewan who practice magic of the Greater Path. They form the Assembly of Magicians, which resides in The City of Magicians in the northern Ambolina province. Great Ones are considered outside the law, allowed to act largely as they see fit in the name of serving the Empire and even the Emperor cannot overrule a decision made by a Great One. Although the Great Ones usually avoid meddling with the day-to-day running of the Empire, there have been certain instances in which their intervention has affected the evolution of the Empire.
Only one of every five persons inducted into training to become a Great One makes it to this ultimate goal and takes his place in the Assembly of Magicians, while those who fail die in the process. Women are not permitted to become Great Ones, female children that display any magical ability are abruptly removed from their homes by the Assembly and subsequently murdered, unbeknown to the rest of the Empire.
During the Last book of the Empire Series, Mistress of the Empire (Co-written by Janny Wurts), the Great Ones become bound by the Law and are no longer outside it under the taking of the throne of the Light of Heaven by House Acoma. During this final confrontation, Cho-ja spellcasters face off against six of the magicians of the assembly including Hochopepa and Shimone to try to stop the Black Robes from destroying their empire inadvertently.
The High Council, consisting of the lords and ladies of Great and Lesser houses, has ruled Tsuranuanni for thousands of years. The Lords of the Five Great Families, the oldest Houses in the Empire, can be elected Warlord by consensus of the High Council. The Warlord is then the leader of the High Council. Political machinations usually play the biggest part in the nomination of the Warlord, with murder not unheard of during the election.
The Emperor, known as the Light Of Heaven, is viewed as a living god, revered by all Tsurani. The Light of Heaven is seen as more of a spiritual leader who rarely enters public sight, let alone exercises his power. He spends most of his time in spiritual contemplation, praying for the welfare of the Empire. The Warlord tends to rule the Empire in the Emperor's stead, commanding supreme political and military authority, like a medieval Prime Minister of sorts.
The Warlord is the supreme commander of the Tsurani military as well as leader of the High Council. They are traditionally elected from among the lords of the five Great Families, as those families are descended from the brothers of the first Emperor and thus the founders of Tsuranuanni, a fact not known to many other than imperial scholars. Although the power and influence of each of the five families (and their clans) waxes and wanes with each generation, they are held to be among the most powerful in the Empire.
Although political parties exist, houses can join and leave parties as they wish, often using their party affiliations to gain an advantage over a rival or rouse support for a Lord/Ladies's own agenda. Political parties can also join together in alliances, as was the case during the Riftwar. The War Party and the Blue Wheel Party joined forces in the Alliance for War, though the Blue Wheel Party withdrew four years into the Riftwar, greatly weakening the then Warlord's position within the High Council.
Clan affiliations are based upon blood relation, though they are often quite loose and usually do not have a huge impact on voting within the High Council. However, if Clan Honor is called, every House in the Clan must support the agenda of the House who has called Clan Honor. As Clan Honor could potentially drag the entire Empire into civil war, the Great Ones can intervene and forbid any fighting between Clans or Houses, even going so far as to use magical powers to enforce their will. All Clans nominate a Warchief, who commands the military forces of a Clan. The Lords of the Five Families can also be elected Warlord, the supreme military commander of Tsuranuanni. The Warlord is second-in-command only to the Emperor, but the Warlord is usually more powerful due to the Light of Heaven rarely engaging in political or military matters.
The Riftwar with the Midkemians heralded a sweeping change to the structure of Tsurani politics. Mara of the Acoma became disillusioned with Tsurani politics when a slave in her possession explained the structure of Midkemian society, which was similarly a feudal state but with no slavery and the ruling leadership held more accountable for their actions. Using every political advantage at her disposal, Mara managed to dissolve the position of Warlord, making the Emperor the supreme leader of the council, supported by the Lords of the Five Families. In a twist of fate, Mara was then adopted into the Imperial Family and her son Justin eventually became the 92nd Light of Heaven, though his father was the Midkemian slave Kevin, a fact not known to many outside of Mara's inner circle.
Known clans and families
Clans of the five Great Families:
- Kanazawai - Keda†, Shinzawai, Omechkel
- Omechan - Oaxatucan†
- Shonshoni - Minwanabi†, Sajaio
- Ionani - Anasati, Bontura, Jadi, Tonmargu†, Ukudabi
- Xacala - Xacatecas†, Matawa, Xosai
- Hadama - Acoma, Chekowara, Sutanta, Cozinchah, Poltapara, Pechta, Jinguai, Lujan
- Hunzan - Chichimecha, Chilapaningo, Wedewayo
- Nimboni - Hanqu
† One of the Five Great Families
With the destruction of House Minwanabi, House Acoma became one of the Five Great Families (and Clan Hadama one of the most powerful clans), although Clan Shonshoni continued to exist.
- Acoma - Green (shatra bird sigil)
- Anasati - Scarlet and yellow (triangular sigil)
- Bontura - Violet and white
- Ekamchi - Purple and yellow
- Hanqu - Scarlet and brown
- Inrodaka - Red
- Jinguai - Yellow and red trimmed with black
- Keda - Scarlet and grey (alt. - red and black)
- Lujan - Grey and green
- Minwanabi - Black and orange
- Pechta - Orange and blue
- Poltapara - Deep blue
- Shinzawai - Blue
- Tonmargu - Black and green
- Tuscalora - Pale blue
- Washota - Green and blue
- Xacatecas - Purple and gold (alt.- purple and yellow)
Known political parties
- Blue Wheel Party
- Golden Flower Party
- Imperial Party
- Jade Eye Party
- Party for Peace
- Party for Progress
- War Party
- Yellow Serpent Party
There are 20 orders (10 higher, 10 lower) that have priests and temples throughout Tsuranuanni. On the occasion of the wedding and coronation of Justin and Jehilia, they are called the "Twenty Higher Gods." The following chapter speaks of the "Twenty Gods of the Higher Heaven and the Twenty Gods of the Lower Heaven." Only a few of the Tsurani gods are listed in Raymond Feist's novels. They are as follows:
- Baracan: Lord of Swords. Singer of Battle. God of Honor.
- Chochocan: The Good God. The Healer. The Bringer Of Rest.
- Fa: The Sleeper. Master of the Night. The Retriever.
- Hantukama: Lord of Healers. Bringer of Blessed Health. Cloud Rider.
- Hilbantucan: The Architect. The Silent Builder. The Master of Works.
- Hilio: The Teacher. Master of Wisdom. Judge of Life.
- Jastur: Lord of War. Bringer of Terror. The Revenger.
- Juran: The Just. Master of Life. God of the Home. Father of Winds.
- Juru: Lord of Sailors. Father of Waves. Lord of Fish.
- Lashima: Queen of the Sky. Mother of Birds. Builder of Clouds.
- Milianxana: Goddess of Singers. Mother of Happiness. Mistress of Wine. Goddess of Love.
- Nictac: Lord of Thieves. Master of Assassins. Protector of Travelers.
- Oxalaca: The Master of Oceans. Builder of Ships. Master of Fishers.
- Salana: Mistress of Rain. Harvest Mother. Mother of Beasts.
- Sibi: Goddess of Death. Lover of All. Dancer in the Darkness.
- Thanaxaca: Master of Song. Lord of the Dance. Father of the Arts.
- Tomachca: Bringer of Peace. Lover of Children. Protector of Orphans.
- Turakamu: Brother to Death. Eater of Hearts. The Silently Waiting One. The Red God.
- Tuth: Master of Levels. Hewer of Stone. God of Builders. Lord of Laborers.
- Zamach: The Leveler. The Fountain of Knowledge. The Master of Justice.
Gods in addition to 20:
- Alihama: Goddess of Travelers.
- Indiri: No qualities mentioned. The unnamed mother of Hokanu of the Shinzawai is recorded as having taken service in Indiri's temple after her husband Fumita was taken by the Black Robes.
- Kelesha: Goddess of brides. Goddess of Mercy
- Lulondi: God of Farmers. Obscure priesthood.
- Sularmina: Shield of the Weak.
- Zurgauli: God of Ill Luck.
- Clan Warchief
- Force Commander
- Force Subcommander
- Force Leader
- Senior Strike Leader
- Strike Leader
- Patrol Leader
A rift is a pathway between worlds, often created by magicians. The Black Robes of Tsuranuanni have discovered a method to create rifts, but only Milamber (Pug as he is called on Midkemia), his son Magnus and Macros the Black have thus far mastered the ability to control the size and destination of rifts. The first rift to appear on Midkemia came from Kelewan, which led to the Riftwar.
- Mistress of the Empire, ch. 31.
- Mistress of the Empire, ch. 7.
- Servant of the Empire, ch. 16.
- Daughter of the Empire, ch. 7.
- Servant of the Empire, ch. 3
- Mistress of the Empire, ch. 9.
- Daughter of the Empire, ch.9, p. 233.
- Mistress of the Empire, ch. 18.