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Type Empire (country)
Location Southern Lands
Size Vast
Terrain Deserts
Climate Warm
Landforms Demai Mountains
Bodies of water River Zekoi
Coastline on Emerald Ocean and Great Inland Sea
Marine Life
Zoology Bright, colorful birds
Location Information
Established Ancient times (state in Thanic Empire)
Official Language Common
Other languages
Religious Head
Residents Carthakis
Religion Tortallan Universe pantheon
Patron God Graveyard Hag
Law Enforcement
Major Events Destruction of Imperial Palace
Capital Thak City
Port Cities
Major Cities
Major Roads
Notable Buildings
Government Absolute monarchy
Head of State Ozorne Tasikhe (442—451 HE)
Kaddar Iliniat and Empress Kalasin (451 & onward)
Wars Immortals War (unofficial, Carthakis participating were renegades)
Allies Tortall (under reign of Emperor Kaddar)
Main Industry Gold
Trade Partners Copper Isles
Bibliographical information
Tortallan Universe place
First Mentioned Alanna: The First Adventure
First Appeared Emperor Mage
Latest Appearance Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales
Last Appeared '
Only Appearance '
Last Mentioned '
Only Mentioned '

The Empire of Carthak (pronounced KAHR-thak) is an ancient and powerful country in the Tortallan Universe. It has been around for a long time, but it was already considered a powerful country in the 200s HE[1].


Location and political borders

Carthak is located to the south of the Great Inland Sea, which makes up its northern border. Across the Inland Sea to the north lies Tortall, to the northeast likes Tyra, Maren, and Sarain. To the northwest lies the Copper Isles. It is an empire, and holds many conquered countries in the Southern Lands and even up to the Roof of the World.

Nations conquered by Carthak include Siraj, Ekallatum, Amar, Apal, Zallara, Shusin, and Yamut[2].

Landforms and bodies of water

The capital, Carthak City, is built on a delta. The River Zekoi flows near the palace. The southern part of the empire is made up of almost entirely desert, except for quite a few oases.

The Demai Mountains are a range further south of the capital. The ancient dragon known as Kawit slumbered in the mountains for more than a millennium.



The empire is an absolute monarchy, which means that the monarch, called an emperor or empress, wields considerable and almost absolute power throughout the realm. Although councils of different classes of people are employed, the emperor regnant does not always have to listen to them. This is especially true in the case of Emperor Ozorne, who often vetoed motions from his councils, and refused to listen to them altogether in many cases. Emperor Kaddar, his nephew and successor, is assumed to be a little bit more diplomatic. There are also feudalist elements to the society, and aristocrats wield more power throughout the realm than commoners, or peasants.

Dynasties of Carthak

So far, there are only two known dynasties of Carthak:

House Tasikhe
By all accounts, House Tasikhe was well established as rulers of Carthak before passing to a cadet branch. Only two known Tasikhe emperors have ruled:

    • Mesaraz Tasikhe, a previous emperor before Ozorne.[3]
    • Ozorne Tasikhe, known as the Emperor Mage. Upon his birth, he was seventh in line for the throne.[4]. By the time he turned 16, he was second in line for the throne.

House Iliniat
A cadet branch of House Tasikhe in the female-line. The inheritance passed through Ozorne's sister Fazia Iliniat to her son. So far, Emperor Kaddar has been the only Iliniat emperor to rule Carthak.



The empire is a slaveholding nation, and has many slaves. Quite a few slaves are from states that Carthak has conquered, and other slaves are captured from other realms, such as Tortall. The slaves have no legal rights and are considered the property of their human owners. Before leaving the country, Veralidaine Sarrasri asked Kaddar to consider making life better for slaves, and to think of even removing the practice altogether. Kaddar said he would make the first steps to do so, but that he would have to go slowly in order to avoid civil conflict.


The inheritance to the throne of Carthak is semi-agnatic, as no woman seems to be able to ascend the throne. It is not fully agnatic as the inheritance can pass through a woman to her male issue.[5] This is the case with Fazia Iliniat, the sister of Emperor Ozorne Tasikhe. Even though she is the closest living relation to the emperor—and would be the next in line in standard male-preference primogeniture—the throne passes to her son.

Other laws

Members of the army, who are not palace guards, are forbidden from entry on the palace grounds. Kaddar, while he was still a prince and his uncle's heir, explained to Daine that this was because the army had a long history of mutiny and rebellion in the empire.

International relations

Carthak is a powerful political and economic player. It is not known to play nice with the neighbors, and has conquered many lands and has started feuds with many countries. From 449—451 HE, it started to attack Tortall by sending pirates to kidnap Queen Thayet and her children while they were staying with Alanna the Lioness at Pirate's Swoop[6]. It also got involved with other treasonous plots to overthrow the Tortallan monarchs, including the one involving Yolane of Dunlath and Tristan Staghorn[7]. In 451 HE, it came out of the woodwork as the main perpetrator[8]. With the fall of Emperor Ozorne from power, however, Carthak's involvement is again put undercover, as Kaddar took the reigns. Carthakis still joined Ozorne during the Immortals War, a huge war that involved Scanra, the Yamani Islands, and the Copper Isles,[9] but the Carthakis who joined were considered renegades, as their emperor did not condone their actions.

After Ozorne and Uusoae, the Queen of Chaos, were defeated, Kaddar got his country back under his wing. To improve relations with Tortall, he married Princess Kalasin, the eldest daughter of the King and Queen of Tortall.

Kaddar's old friend and Chief Healer, Zaimid Hetnim, married Saraiyu Balitang, the elder sister and heiress presumptive of Queen Dovasary of the Copper Isles. Although this is a notable marriage, it is unknown if it would be used as a marital alliance in order to improve relations even further.



Carthakis worship gods from the usual pantheon, including Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess. Their patron goddess is the Graveyard Hag, a trickster goddess who is on par with Kyprioth. She is the daughter of the Black God and is considered the ruler of Carthak in all matters divine. Although she is a minor goddess everywhere else, her divine brothers and sisters defer to her judgment in matters concerning Carthak.

During the time of Emperor Ozorne, it was forbidden for humans to show too much praise and deference to the gods, as he believed himself a god among men and the only person who really deserved worship. Many priests believed this would anger the gods, and they were right. The Graveyard Hag plotted to have him dethroned. This, of course, was not the only reason that the Hag goddess wanted him gone, but a catalyst.

They have a few more gods who primarily preside over matters pertaining to Carthak, such as Hekaja, the Carthaki goddess of healing.[10]


Many Carthakis speak fluent Common, the language of the Eastern Lands. In conquered lands, there are more diverse languages. Common is also the main language used by the imperial court.

Education and learning

Carthak is known for its very prestigious university. The university classes are taught by some of the most well-known masters of magic and other subjects. It is a storehouse of learning, sophistication, and culture[1]. Emperors Ozorne and Kaddar, Numair Salmalín, Lindhall Reed, Tristan Staghorn, Gissa of Rachne, Alamid Mokhlos, and Varice Kingsford, were all graduates of the university. The university is attached onto the main Imperial Palace of Carthak, which is famed for its splendor and beauty.


Due to the heat, Carthakis dress in loose garments that do not represent the clothes of the north like Tortall and Galla. Wealthy Carthakis wear many jewels to show their splendor.

Women's clothing

Court dress is very fine and sumptuous in Carthak, although loose and airy to deal with the heat. Noblewomen wear floor-length gowns, and it's usually up to the woman in question on how many jewels and accessories are used. Princess Mahira, Ozorne Tasikhe's late mother, wore a black gown for mourning, with gold chain set with grey and cream pearls as a belt. She wore a gold hairnet under her sheer black veil—also worn for mourning.[11]


Pre-conquest Carthak was a part of the Thanic Empire, the huge country that had territories among the Eastern Lands and across the different seas. This would explain the use of the language called Common, and their calendar.


  • In c. 441 HE, Emperor Ozorne banished Numair on grounds of high treason
  • From 449 HE and onward, Carthak became involved in several plots to dethrone King Jonathan and Queen Thayet of Tortall
  • 451 HE, Ozorne pardoned Numair
    • A Tortallan delegation was sent, including Daine
    • After a few events, Ozorne had Numair's simulacrum executed, believing that it is truly the mage
    • Daine destroyed the imperial palace by waking dinosaur skeletons
    • Emperor Ozorne turned into a Stormwing and thus was forbidden to rule Carthak, the reign passed to Kaddar

Known Carthakis

Please see Characters from Carthak and Carthaki citizens for more information about specific people.

Real life connections

Carthak may be based on Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Rome, for its conquests.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Terrier, Glossary (p. 576; Random House paperback)
  2. Emperor Mage, Chp 7 (Scholastic hardcover)
  3. Not named as official predecessor, as the books do not show Ozorne succeeding Mesaraz. More information will probably be in the next two installments of the Numair Chronicles trilogy. Another heir could potentially succeed Mesaraz before passing to Ozorne.
  4. Tempests and Slaughter
  5. Outside of Tamora Pierce's books, this is historically known as Salic law.
  6. Wild Magic (Scholastic hardcover)
  7. Wolf-Speaker (Scholastic hardcover)
  8. Emperor Mage (Scholastic hardcover)
  9. Realms of the Gods (Scholastic paperback)
  10. Tempests and Slaughter, Glossary
  11. Tempests and Slaughter, Ch. 8 (pg. 141; RH hardcover)

See also