Seanchan (pronounced SHAWN-chan) is an empire located on the continent of the same name. It was founded after the Trolloc Wars, and recently began an assault on Illian to reclaim the main continent in what the Seanchan know as the Return. This assault was probably stopped when the Empress made an arrangement to fight in The Last Battle with the Dragon Reborn.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Recent activities
- 4 Government
- 5 Culture
- 6 Flora and fauna
- 7 Towns/cities/regions
- 8 Parallels
- 9 Notes
- Main article: Seanchan (continent)
Seanchan is located on a continent west across the Aryth Ocean. Its nearest shores are over 5,000 miles to the west of the Westlands. It is divided into two landmasses separated by a wide dividing channel, and is longer north-to-south than east-to-west, although it is split by many fissures and fjords. The Morenal Ocean separates Seanchan from Shara to the west.
A thousand years after the Trolloc Wars, after unifying the Westlands, 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 they came, and was presumed lost. The fleet had actually made it across the ocean to arrive in Seanchan. By pitting 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. The Consolidation is revealed to have taken nearly eight hundred years, as Seanchan General Miraj says he missed the Consolidation by only two hundred years and had to stop numerous rebellions. Luthair's heirs continue to rule the Empire. During this time the Seanchan began to use animals from this continent. With the use of these creatures they killed all of the Shadowspawn on the continent. Due to the fact that Shayol Ghul is not in Seanchan, the populations of Shadowspawn never recovered, and modern Seanchan people believed for centuries that they were simply a myth, until they encountered them in the Westlands during their invasion.
Recently, the Seanchan Empire has engaged in a concerted effort to retake the continent from which the Empire's rulers' ancestors hailed, known as the Return. The Seanchan planned this for at least twenty years, but needed a long time to build ships for the effort and marshal troops. The Seanchan made their first attempt, seizing the city of Falme and surrounding lands, but were driven back. Later, the Seanchan were successful in taking Tarabon and Amadicia, and continued their advance, taking Ebou Dar and southern Altara. They were then halted when the forces of Rand al'Thor fought the Seanchan to a standstill. With the arrival of the main Seanchan fleet and the Daughter of the Nine Moons, the Seanchan were poised to make further advances. As the Last Battle approached, Rand al'Thor, who had been unable to convince the Seanchan to join him, decided eventually to annihilate them using the Choedan Kal sa'angreal, but could not bring himself to cause the sort of catastrophic collateral damage that such an action would entail. Shortly after re-integrating his memories and thereby curing himself of his madness, he convinced the current Empress, Fortuona to join the Dragon's Peace with the empire's current borders secured (Tarabon, Altara, Amadicia and half of Almoth Plain).
The rule of Seanchan is provided by an Empress or Emperor who has absolute power. He or she reigns from the Crystal Throne at the Court of the Nine Moons, located in Seandar; the throne itself is a ter'angreal, inspiring awe and wonder of the person who sits on it. 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 Seanchan empire has a rigid class structure. At the highest level are the Blood who trace their lineage back to Artur Hawkwing by way of his son Luthair. Below them are the free men and women. Lower still are slaves. There are a number of sub-classes within these three groups.
The interactions of members of different classes are extremely regimented. For instance, it is forbidden to look someone of a higher class directly in the eye. Also, someone of high rank will generally not speak to someone of significantly lower rank; instead they will communicate with the inferior by using a slave (called a Voice) to relay their message.
Slavery has a long history in the Seanchan empire. Slaves are known as da'covale, or "those who are property." The majority have menial jobs as maids, cooks, etc. However, not all slaves hold low rank in Seanchan society. Those that hold powerful positions as servants to the High Blood or the Empress make up a subclass of slaves called so'jhin, and are considered to have higher rank than free men and women.
Damane are also considered da'covale. Many of them belong to the Empress herself, with the Empress being the single largest holder of damane in the empire. Due to their association with the One Power, they are considered to rank even below common house slaves, and akin to animals. Damane are ranked so low, despite being one of the Seanchan Empire's main methods of maintaining power, that sexual attraction to damane is considered perversion, similar to how bestiality would be regarded in other cultures.
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.
The Blood are divided into two groups, the Low Blood and the High Blood. Members of the Low Blood have their hair cut into a bowl-type cut with a tail in the back and lacquer the last one or two nails on each hand. The High Blood shave the sides of their heads, leaving a long crest running along the top of their heads and lacquer the first one or two nails on each hand, depending on their rank (two is higher than just one). Members of the Imperial Family shave their heads bald and lacquer all of their fingernails.
The Seanchan Empire has a large military called the Ever Victorious Army, responsible for keeping control of the nation, preventing rebellion, seeking out traitors, and conquering new territory. Until the Return, controlling uprisings has been the main duty of the military for quite some time.
A division within the Seanchan military, the Deathwatch Guards are perhaps the most honored and valued of the imperial da'covale. They are charged with the protection of the Imperial family.
They are easily recognized by both their dark green tasseled spears and dark green lacquered shields. The green on their armor is so dark that it is easily mistaken for black by those who do not already know. These fearsome warriors are known for their willingness to kill or die, as necessary, to protect the Imperial family. Sometimes a segment of the Deathwatch Guards is loaned, as an honor, to other nobles.
The most elite members of the Deathwatch Guards are never loaned, and are responsible for the life of the Empress herself and her immediate family. Some members of the Deathwatch Guards are Ogier; they are called the Gardeners and are not da'covale. These Ogier are more somber than their relatives across the ocean, and carry large battle axes taller than most men.
- Main article: damane
Women who can channel are regarded as animals, and are kept on a silvery metal leash, the a'dam, that allows control of their channeling by a trainer known as a sul'dam. The leashed women are called damane, meaning "Leashed One." Women who can channel but are not kept as damane are referred to as marath'damane, or "those who must be leashed." Most damane have been treated this way their entire lives, and tend to become hysterical at the very mention of marath'damane.
Damane are kept and treated as sentient pets, but are also used extensively in warfare by the Seanchan. They are trained in the art of using the One Power as a weapon, preferring fireballs and lightning to more indirect methods.
- Main article: sul'dam
A trainer of damane is known as a sul'dam, meaning "Leash Holder" in the Old Tongue. Like damane, only certain women can use the a'dam, but the reason for this is largely unknown to the Seanchan. Recent discoveries show that sul'dam have the ability to learn the use of the One Power, showing that the a'dam must be used by two women who can channel.
- Main article: a'dam
The a'dam is a silvery metal leash attached to a collar made of the same material, which seems to be made all of one piece. It is a specialized ter'angreal that actually creates a link between two female channelers.
The collar, at one end of the leash, must be fastened onto the female channeler's neck, and the other end clasps around the wrist of the sul'dam in the form of a bracelet. A leash is usually present between a damane and sul'dam, but it is not necessary for the ter'angreal to function. The sul'dam may then direct and guide the flows of the damane, or even block access to the One Power altogether. Commands may also be issued, and the damane is compelled to obey, even if the a'dam is removed from the trainer's wrist.
The a'dam has no effect on either end for men and women who cannot channel. At times, the Seanchan have been known to force a man to take the a'dam, sometimes with disastrous results. It is unknown whether this is related to a man's ability to channel, though it is assumed to be the case.
The Seanchan have very strong beliefs in finding many omens in nature. While some of these omens can be passed off as mere superstition, it is unclear whether some of them have some basis to truth. They are a central part of Seanchan culture, with many Seanchan characters being shocked that people in the Westlands are unaware of such things. Tuon uses omens frequently in regard to very important decisions and there has been some small evidence that they might provide some insight.
- Albatross - A symbol of victory.
- An owl hooting at dawn or hooting two times - A prediction of death.
- An owl hooting and not flying away when looked at - An omen indicating great care should be taken, that the next few days would be ones of important decisions.
- Birds circling overhead more than once - Signifies a storm approaching
- A bird entering indoors during the day - An extremely bad omen, the evil of which is averted by a night in prayer and contemplation
- Three porpoises rising only once - Stay on your chosen course.
- Two dead rats on their back, one with a tail in the other's mouth - A chillingly terrible omen, one of the worst.
- Lightning on a day without rain - Tread very lightly and be careful what you speak.
- A new spring rose dropping three petals - An omen of great victory.
- A hawk with a white head flying away - An omen of great power.
- Rain without clouds - Expect an unexpected visitor.
- A burst of wind revealing the skull of a rodent - Danger.
- Peach blossoms - The most powerful omen known.
- Putting a hat on a table - Extremely bad luck, the evil of which is warded off by a hand gesture involving folding under the middle two fingers and extending the other two stiffly.
- Clearing away a spiderweb before shooing the spider out - Results in the death of someone close to you within a month; even seeing a torn spiderweb with the spider still in it requires hand signals to ward off the evil.
- Blocking a line of ants in the middle and counting the seconds - The time it takes for the ants to regroup tells how many days of fair weather before a storm is to come.
Flora and fauna
A raken has a body considerably longer than a horse and is about equal in girth, with leathery gray skin and large powerful wings much like those of a bat. While the raken is not used as a weapon, it will often lash its tail in anger when perched or on the ground. It normally crouches rather than standing erect, and stands erect only when alarmed or preparing to fly. Raken are omnivorous, but are content with an all-plant diet.
They are ideal mounts for scouting and/or sending messages, as the raken can fly at approximately three to four times the speed of a running horse, and can actually be ridden up until the point it dies. A morat'raken is a Seanchan flier who rides the raken, and three out of four morat'raken are women.
Similar to their smaller cousins in look, the To'raken differ greatly in their far larger body size than the Raken, so much so that their use is vastly different as well. The To'raken are used for long flights rather than reconnaissance. Part of the reason for this is the size of the beasts, that their large size and bulk makes it very difficult for them to fly without a considerable effort in their take off, needing to pick up speed by running a distance before starting off.
Their size hampers their ability in flight as well, that unlike their smaller cousins, these animals cannot perform quick aerial maneuvers, though their size is ideal for carrying large amounts of cargo or supplies across a vast distance(known to exceed a thousand miles) in a relatively short period of time. The trainer and rider is named as the morat'to'raken and it is known that a single rider can have the To'raken travel the thousand miles easily, with the added bonus of the beasts being able to carry an additional thousand pounds an extra two hundred miles.
Weighing in at three hundred to five hundred pounds, grolm are the size of large bears, only with the gray green coloration and skin texture of very tough frogs. Like the torm, they have three eyes. They appear to be carnivorous scavengers, as their diet is known to include their own dead.
When walking, grolm appear almost awkward, moving with a waddling motion. All traces of awkwardness vanish when they run.
Grolm are used in battle, though normally only against lightly armored opponents to break holes in an enemy line which will then be quickly exploited by human soldiers. They are very useful against cavalry, as horses often panic in their presence unless specifically trained to tolerate the grolm.
They are extremely difficult to kill, given that nonfatal wounds seldom incapacitate them, and they heal rapidly. The best way to kill one is to shoot it directly in the "third eye" (the eye located in the center). They also have very good vision, a keen sense of smell, and are extremely territorial.
Corlm appear as large, flightless birds, perhaps similar to some prehistoric ostrich such as a moa.
The lopar is the main combat animal of the Seanchan. Its average weight is between fifteen hundred and two thousand pounds, with a leathery hairless hide which is dark brown or a pale reddish hue. Lopar have six toes on both front and rear paws, and all have large retractable claws. They have no visible external ears.
Lopar sometimes rear upon their hind legs when fighting, and can reach as high as ten feet. They are also armored similar to the style the Seanchan soldiers use.
A torm is a cross between a horse-sized cat and a lizard, it has bronze scales, six-clawed feet that can grip stones in a road, and three eyes.
The torm is the most intelligent of the Seanchan 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.
As riding animals their speed and endurance are superior to that of a horse, but they are particular about their riders. Once it has found its rider, the torm will not allow another to mount. If its rider dies, it takes some time to get a torm to accept another.
The torm suffers from fighting frenzy if in battle for too long. It rarely will turn on its rider during one of these frenzies, but will strike at anyone else within reach. Torm will also immediately attack any corlm within reach, making them additionally unsuitable for protracted combat. They are not widely available and are difficult to replace.
S'redit are used as war animals. They are massive, with thick gray skin. The bull s'redit have long tusks, but they are used mostly as large cargo animals. They are called by different names in other lands; Valan Luca calls them giant boar-horses to make them more pronounceable and interesting. They appear to be much like elephants.
Kaf is the Seanchan form of coffee, brewed from dark beans into a black liquid and drunk steaming hot, sometimes sweetened, but often not. It is known for its stimulating effect and bitter taste.
See also: Seanchan (continent).
Largest cities (ranked 1st to 11th):
- Seandar - the capital
- Noren M'Shar
- Imfaral - location of the Towers of Midnight
- Shon Kifar
Other towns, cities or regions:
- Abunai - on the Sea of L'Heye
- Aldael Mountains
- Ijaz Mountains - source of kaf beans
- Kaensada Hills
- Maram Kashor - an island at the southeastern tip of Seanchan
- Marendalar - an island
- Sen T'jore
- Serengada Dai
Seanchan has been likened to many imperialistic nations, such as Imperial China, Imperial Japan, the Persian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. The idea of an imperial monarch who cannot be gazed upon or addressed by commoners is borrowed from conceptions of pre-war Japan after the Meiji Restoration, and their lacquerwork is reminiscent of the innovation of porcelain by many East Asian cultures. Similar to the Ottoman Empire, Seanchan introduces kaf (coffee) to the Westlands. Tuon's original middle names are "Athaem," reminiscent of Athena, and Kore, which is Greek for maiden; she also owns a da'covale named Selucia, which is similar to the Selucid Kingdom, a Greek realm in Persia.
- The Path of Daggers, Chapter 24
- Crossroads of Twilight, Chapter 4
- Winter's Heart, Chapter 14
- Knife of Dreams, Chapter 27
- Towers of Midnight, Chapter 47
- Knife of Dreams, Chapter 8
- The Gathering Storm, Prologue
- The Gathering Storm, Chapter 35
- The Gathering Storm, Chapter 36
- A Memory of Light, Chapter 24
- Knife of Dreams, Chapter 11
- According to the Wheel of Time F.A.Q.