The Queen's Riders, often referred to simply as "the Riders," is a cavalry organization in service to the Tortallan Crown. It was established by Queen Thayet to defend the less accessible places of Tortall, enforce the law, and teach defense to locals. The Queen's Riders is considered a fighting force of irregulars. It accepts both men and women of any social class into its ranks and uses ponies as mounts. The Riders often works in conjunction with the King's Own, knights, and the army. Their smaller fighting unit size and use of ponies allows them to act as scouts and to cover more difficult terrain. Their headquarters is located in the capital city, Corus, between the palace and the Royal Forest.
The Queen's Riders is divided into fighting units called groups. Each group is made up of six to nine men and women, with at least one member who has the Gift. In Wild Magic, six Rider groups have been established in a seven year period. At the time of The Realms of the Gods, there are at least seventeen known Rider groups. Each group is officially known by its number, although many groups have created alternative names for themselves and these have become equally well used for identification.
- First Riders Group - "The First"
- Second Riders Group - "Ghostwind"
- Third - "Webspinners"
- Fourth - "Queen's Rabbits"
- Fifth - "Clouds"
- Sixth - "Thayet's Dogs"
- Seventh - "Nightbreath"
- Eighth - "Soft Lightning"
- Ninth - "Ogre Bane" (entire Group killed in Wolf-Speaker)
- Tenth - "Royal Arrows"
- Eleventh - "Trollwatch"
- Twelfth - "Spiderdeath"
- Thirteenth - "Razors"
- Fourteenth - "Gret's Shadows"
- Fifteenth - "Stickers"
- Seventeenth - "Group Askew"
The Riders utilizes a looser, less traditional command structure than Tortall's other military forces.
- Commander: the head of the Queen's Riders (in the Protector of the Small Quartet, it's Buri).
- Second in Command: also called assistant commander, a nominal position under the Commander, usually held by a Group Commander.
- Group Commander: the leader of a Rider group, supported by a group second in command.
- Training Master: oversees the training of new recruits, called trainees.
- Horsemistress: responsible for the Riders' ponies, including acquisition, instructing trainees in their care, and general management. The position is filled by a civilian expert and is often accompanied by an assistant (in Wild Magic, the Horsemistress was Ouna, and her assistant was Daine).
- Others: additional civilians such as healers and tailors who work for the Riders by educating trainees and acting as support staff.
Commanders and Officers
- Thayet jian Wilima: founder and original commander of the Riders.
- Buriram Tourakom: second-in-command/co-commander of the Riders since its creation and handled the day-to-day operations under Thayet. She was promoted to full Commander during the Immortals War when Thayet's duties as queen kept her too busy. Also group commander of the Seventeenth Rider Group.
- Evin Larse: group commander and former assistant commander to Buriram Tourakom. Evin became Commander in 460 H.E. during the Scanran War when Buri resigned the position in anticipation of her marriage to Raoul of Goldenlake.
- Sarge (aka Musenda Ogunsanwo): training master
- Onua Chamtong: horsemistress
In order to join the Queen's Riders one must be at least fifteen years old, be healthy and in possession of all body parts, be single and without a spouse or children, have good reflexes, and be able to read and write. Those who can't read or write will be provided with interim employment in the palace until they can do so. The ability to ride is not required.
Training starts at the March full moon at the Rider headquarters. Each trainee is provided with two ponies, which they select themselves from the available herd. Training involves morning and afternoon workouts, evening academic lessons, meditation, and chores. The training curriculum includes poisons, medicines, edible plants, tracking, hunting, terrain, cartography, battle tactics, weapons, hand-to-hand-combat, teaching combat and tactics, veterinary medicine, field medicine, and magical training for those with the Gift.
Trainees participate in a summer training camp at an alternate location in Tortall. At the end of the fall they are placed into Rider Groups and begin their trial year. At the successful completion of their trial year, trainees are assigned to permanent Groups.
Uniform and Insignia
The Queen's Riders' emblem is a crimson horse rearing on a bronze field.
Uniform for the Riders consists of a brown tunic and trousers or breeches, white shirt, and riding boots. The badge on group commanders' uniforms is circled by a crimson ring. Group second in commands have a crimson ring with a narrow black stripe in the middle. The Commander's badge is circled by a gold ring.