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EWoT: Shienar

"Peace favor your sword."
   —Shienaran warrior's blessing

Shienar (pronounced: shy-NAHR) is one of the four Borderland nations which lie on the threshold of the Great Blight. It is the easternmost of the Borderlands, lying between the Spine of the World and Arafel. The sigil of Shienar is a swooping black hawk. By tradition, the sigil of the reigning ruler is also a sign of Shienar.

Geography

Shienar stretches from the River Mora on the border with Arafel to the Spine of the World, and from the Blight to the River Erinin. The city of Fal Dara lies in the north-east of Shienar, near Tarwin's Gap, while the capital Fal Moran is further south.

Location within the Westlands

History

The nation of Shienar was formed early in the War of the Hundred Years. The governors of Hawkwing's five northern provinces met and agreed to form stable nations to preserve the peace and defend against the Blight. Merean Tihomar was the first Queen of Shienar.

Following the Fall of Malkier in 955 NE, Shadowspawn armies crossed into the northern parts of Shienar and Arafel. With the additional aid of Kandor, the two nations met the Shadowspawn armies at Stair of Jehaan and defeated them in the largest battle in the Westerlands since War of the Hundred Years.

At the height of the Aiel War, Shienar sent the largest expeditionary force of the Grand Alliance and fought in the Battle of the Shining Walls. The Aiel withdrew after killing Laman Damodred, and both sides considered themselves the victor of the war.

In 998 NE, Shienar faced an invasion by a Shadowspawn army. Hopelessly outnumbered and with no time to ask other countries for help, the Shienarans rode and faced the enemy at Tarwin's Gap, although they knew that they would almost certainly lose. However, the subsequent battle saw the Shienarans win a surprising victory thanks to the intervention of Rand al'Thor.

Government

The government body of Shienar is a monarchy. The throne is currently held by King Easar Togita. The throne is located in the capital, Fal Moran.

Although Shienar was founded by a woman who served as queen, Shienar's monarchy was exclusively male in the late New Era. If the king is married, his wife is called the Queen. When the king leads the armies into battle, it was expected that the Queen handled civil rule until he returned. The King was expected to surround himself with a council of nobles and representatives of the merchants and guilds, but was in no way constrained to take their advice, nor is his wife while her husband is away on campaign.

Fashion and culture

Shienaran men, especially warriors, typically shave their faces and wear their hair in a topknot. Like all the Borderlands, Shienar's culture is heavily martial due to the proximity of the Blight and the constant need for vigilance, and internal strife of the kind often seen in the southern countries is virtually nonexistent.

A Shienaran warrior by Jeremy Saliba.

In keeps, men's quarters are separated from the women's. A man needs to be invited into the women's apartments, and never goes armed unless the keep is under attack. On the other hand, bathing in Shienar is unisex, taking place in large, tilted pools. It is not considered shameless to see someone naked in the baths, but it is considered improper to be less than fully clothed outside the baths.

Economy

Shienar mines a considerable amount of gold, silver, and gems, especially firedrops, of which Shienar is the largest source. There is also some mining of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, as well as lesser stones. Timber and furs are both major exports.[1]

Towns/cities

Parallels

  • Shinar is an area mentioned several times in the Bible, meaning "two rivers" , possibly a reference to the two rivers, referring to areas of Mesopotamia.[2][3] In addition, another kingdom mentioned in Genesis 14:1 is Elasar, possibly transformed into Easar. The king of Shinar was Amrafel, possibly an inspiration in the naming of Arafel.
  • Shienar's culture is thought to mostly be based on Japan. There are communal, unisex baths, but modesty is very prized outside of bathing practices. The poetry from Shienar mostly resembles the haiku style, and the warriors wear topknots. Several names of Shienarans, such as Togita, Shinowa, and Yokata, bear linguistic similarities to Japanese names.[4]

Trivia

  • In the "Shienar" section of The Wheel of Time Companion, the country's flag is described as consisting of a black hawk on a background of blue and white stripes (which was also previously confirmed in The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time). However, in the "Black Hawk" section of the Companion, the hawk is instead described as being displayed on a yellow background when used as the flag of Shienar. The reason for this inconsistency is unknown.

Notes

  1. The Wheel of Time Companion, Shienar.
  2. Genesis 10:10 and 14:1
  3. Shinar
  4. According to the Wheel of Time F.A.Q.
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