Cameron is the sole human delegate allowed among an alien race known as
the atevi. The atevi, a technologically advanced -- but not yet spacefaring
-- species, were the victors of a long-ago war with human colonists that
had landed on their planet. The colonists, who were abandoned by their
ship, became a province in the atevi Western Association. Bren's job as
the paidhi, the translator, is to be the ambassador to the atevi and to
slowly introduce technology to the atevi so that the atevi and humans can
become space-bound. An assassination attempt is made on Bren's life, threatening
this goal as well as putting the entire relations between humans and atevi
in jeopardy. Bren must smooth the way between the two species while simultaneously
trying to stay alive in a society where registered assassination is a legitimate
method of law enforcement.
friends. Atevi can't be friends. They don't like you. They're not
capable of liking you. The wiring isn't there. Never forget
it. Never expect it. Start building that construct to satisfy your
needs and you're dead. Or you'll be dead. And the peace will be in
T E V I - H U M A
N H I S T O R
The Pheonix is a colony ship exploring
uncharted space. Her mission: Build a station at a suitable star to be
used as the first jump point in a bridge of stations toward new planets
rich in resources. The Pheonix is forced to cut short her voyage due to
a computer malfunction. The crew locates a nearby yellow star with a suitable
planet. There, a landing party makes First Contact with a native alien
species, the Atevi.
After First Contact was made, the
officers of the Pheonix abandoned the human colonists on the planet. The
Pheonix left to search for precious resources. The officers belonged to
the Pilots Guild, hard core spacers who were of a very different background
from the Station-builders who were colonists at heart. The colonists established
relations with the atevi.
War then broke out between the two
species. Neither side had been intentionally hostile toward the other,
but biological factors involving atevi and human emotion (see Culture of
the Western Association) made misunderstanding between the two species
inevitable. The atevi won the war in spite of superior human technology.
The humans and the atevi segregated
themselves completely with the humans taking up settlement on the island
of Mospheira. Mospheira is technically a province of the atevi Western
Association, but in most matters, it is a sovereign state.
A Treaty was struck and the office
of the paidhi was created in order to prevent another war. The paidhi is
the sole human allowed on Atevi land. He (or she) is a neutral translator
between the humans and the atevi. His duties include the gradual introduction
of human technology into Atevi society in order to advance atevi technology
at a controlled pace. (The ultimate goal for the advancement of atevi technology
is the building of a ship that would allow the humans and atevi to travel
The Western Association is the largest
atevi political entity and the only one that has any dealings with humans.
The Western Association benefits from the human technology passed on by
the paidhi for an advantage over the other weaker Associations. Any attack
on the office of the paidhi would constitute a risk to the power of the
aiji of the Western Association. Such an attack would not be against an
individual, but against an entire atevi social structure.
H E W E S T E
R N A S S O C
I A T I O N
Although the atevi are an intelligent
species and capable of strong emotion, their emotions and thinking processes
differ greatly from humans. Such differences, not surprisingly, are seen
in all aspects of atevi culture from their political structure to their
One difference between the two species
is the atevi tendency to separate emotion from their physical features
as opposed to human's instinctive facial expressions based on mood. The
emotions atevi do have are never evident on their faces.
An even more jarring difference between
atevi and human culture is the concept of friendship versus association.
The concepts of Love and Friendship are not known to the atevi. The two
words do not exist in the atevi language.
Instead, they have man'chi, an instinctive
need to follow a leader or association, a biological loyalty based on evolutionary
herd instincts. The atevi obviously care for their own, but such feelings
are reserved only for those of the same man'chi who are loyal to the same
leader. (This can be very difficult for human paidhiin who often feel socially
isolated due to the fact that their feelings of affection toward the atevi
are not reciprocated.)
Atevi political structureis based
on these associations rather than geographical boundaries. Therefore, the
Western Association, the largest of the atevi political entities, cannot
be designated on a map.
Another difference between atevi
and humans is evidenced in the atevi language, Ragi, which is based heavily
on complicated mathematics. The atevi are a species biologically evolved
to be excellent with numbers, and numbers pervade not only their language,
but their spiritual beliefs as well.
(Unfortunately, a full discussion
of the fascinating Atevi language and their belief system would be far
too extensive for this site. Read the novel!)
H E A S S A S
S I N ' S G
U I L D
In the Western Association, assassination
is legal if one files Intent to fairly warn the intended victim of feud,
and if one uses a licensed member of the Assassin's Guild as his registered
agent. Such agents are commonly used in Bloodfeuds between Associations.
(When Intent has been filed on an ateva of import, such as a Lord or official,
all Guild members must meet and vote to decide whether or not the Guild
will accept the request for Intent.)
Such killing on a small scale has
served to prevent many large-scaled wars. Atevi officials are, understandably,
hesitant to act rashly since their opponents may file Intent to feud. Any
killings that have not been properly registered are considered illegal
murder, subject to dishonor and punishment by the aiji.
The Assassin's Guild is composed
of atevi who have passed a strict training regimen to obtain a license.
Only the best are accepted, and they must follow a strict honor code. All
assassinations must be performed with finesse, meaning no one other than
the intended victim is to be harmed or killed: no random shootings at innocent
bystanders, no wanton destruction, no wholesale murder.
Assassin's Guild members often serve
as personal security guards for atevi Lords, so they are not only assassins,
but defensive bodyguards as well.
F E W A T E V
I T E R M S
= lord of a central assocation
= singular of atevi
= finesse in removing obstacles
= human language
= an atevi's primary instinctive loyalty to a leader of association
= animals which the atevi ride
= provincial lords
= plural form of paidhi
= the culture of the Western Association
= another name for the Western Association
= a dragon-like flying creature