The Gurkish Empire is a massive realm that dominates almost the entire the Southern Continent of Kanta. It is ruled by Emperor Uthman-ul-Dosht from the capital city in Shaffa. There is little separation of church and state in the realm, and the religious leader, The Prophet Khalul, has a considerable, if not dominant, role in government. It is one of the two great empires in the Circle of the World, the other being The Union.
After Khalul was exiled to the south by his master Juvens, lest he and Bayaz kill each other in their rivalry, Khalul walked the deserts of Gurkhul and showed his great power to the people by walking naked through a rain of arrows and emerging untouched. The Emperor of Gurkhul eventually abased himself before Khalul as God's Right Hand. He became the religious leader of the Church of Gurkhul and took the title of The Prophet. Khalul nurtured the nation of Gurkhul into the Gurkish Empire, emulating the way Juvens had cultivated The Old Empire.
The Empire is ruled by a hereditary Emperor in a centralised manner. The Emperor is an absolute monarch, both the Head of State and Head of Government; thus his power is technically unlimited. The current Emperor is Uthman-ul-Dosht, who became Emperor about one year before the events in the trilogy. As the youngest son of the previous Emperor, he strangled his own brothers in order to succeed to the throne.
Although the Emperor seems all powerful, he is being manipulated by the Magus Khalul, who has made himself the religious leader of the Gurkish, with the title of The Prophet. He has manipulated the Gurkish Empire for centuries through his priests and Eaters, including Mamun the first apprentice of Khalul. His bitter rival Bayaz has done much the same in The Union, although he uses money rather than religion.
Territory and Geography Edit
The Empire takes its name from the founding nation of the empire Gurkhul. It consists of this nation, and almost all the surrounding countries on the Southern Continent of Kanta, including Kadir, Dawah, Yashtavit, Shamir, and Sikkur, as well as smaller nations Taurish and Muntaz.
The Empire is held together by brutal force. At the start of Uthman’s reign a number of regions rebelled including the people of Kadir, thinking the death of the previous Emperor might be their chance to leave the Gurkish Empire. Uthman crushed these rebellions, and took the people as slaves in punishment.
Important cities include:
- Shaffa, the capital of The Gurkish Empire and largest city in the Circle of the World;
- Sarkant, the mountains fortress temple where Khalul has his stronghold, and probably the Great Southern Library of Juvens;
- Ul-Safayn; a city in Gurkhul known for its extreme heat.
- Bizurt, a city in Gurkhul;
- Alubat, a city in Gurkhul;
- Ulrioch, the city in Dawah that was sacked by The Union during the First Gurkish War;
- Ul-Nahb; a city in Dawah;
- Ul-Khatif, a city in Kadir;
- Daleppa, a city in Kadir.
The Gurkish Empire is one of the hottest regions in the Circle of the World. The region is semi-arid and dry, and features the notorious desert of the Badlands.
Culture and Religion Edit
The Gurkish are a dark-skinned people, who speak the Kantic language which is incomprehensible to those who speak the Common Tongue. Men of quality wear sweeping white robes and tall headdresses or skullcaps; women wear long silk dresses in the Kantic style. They love tea, and trade in spices, carpets, and fine cloth. It is loosely inspired by an Ottoman Empire that had absorbed a whole range of Middle-Eastern and African cultures, producing names like Uthman-ul-Dosht, Khalul, Mamun, and Ferro Maljinn.
Gurkish society is heavily reliant on slavery, and defeat in conflict with the Gurkish usually results in the enslavement of its people. Slaves often endured brutal treatment, and are used for everything from manual labour, servants, slave soldiers, bed-slaves and even to food for the army of Eaters of the Prophet, The Hundred Words.
The Gurkish are devoutly religious, to the point of fanaticism. Khalul seems to have corrupted an original monotheistic religion, which is still worshipped by the Dagoskans. Khalul is referred to as The Prophet, the Right Hand of God, that when he speaks it is with the voice of God.
The Gurkish Empire has a large army, possibly equal to that of The Union. It is made up of a mix of citizens soldiers and slave soldiers. The basic division of the army is the legion of roughly 4000 soldiers, each with its own standard.
The army make good use of catapults and siege-craft, which is superior to anything in The Union. It has also started using gunpowder as an effective weapon.
They have historically had no significant navy, and The Union are the power at sea. However, since defeat in the First Gurkish War, they have been secretly creating a large fleet.
The Gurkish Empire and The Union are in conflict, due to a personal rivalry between the Magi manipulating both realms; Khalul and Bayaz. The First Gurkish War occurred in Gurkhul, some nine years before the events in the trilogy. Both side had victories during the war, The Union at the siege and sack of Ulrioch, the Gurkish at the bridge where Colonel Glokta was captured and imprisoned. The war is considered a victory for The Union. Dagoska was annexed by The Union during the war.
Two years after the end of the war, there was an exchange of prisoners, including Glokta. The prisoners had endured brutal treatment and torture.
Uthman-ul-Dosht became Emperor about one year before the events in the trilogy. One of his first actions was to declare his intention to recapture Dagoska.
The Trilogy Edit
The Emperor sends soldiers to recapture Ferro Maljinn, a notorious escaped slave, however the Magus Yulwei helps her escape to Adua with his High Art. As they journey, Yulwei observes the Gurkish preparations for war, as well as their secret navy fleet.
The Gurkish forces put siege to Dagoska, and eventually capture it, although only after significant losses. Afterwards, the Emperor sends an ambassador to The Union to sue for peace, contrary to Khalul's wishes; things between the church and state are not as rosy as they might seem. However, the ambassador fails and is hanged for the alleged murder of Crown Prince Raynault.
Gurkish forces land in Midderland near Keln, and put siege to Adua in the Battle of Adua. They intend to put Lord Brock on the throne as an autonomous kingdom within The Gurkish Empire, and to bring the Magus Bayaz to justice. The war ends in a Gurkish defeat, with costly losses on both sides. Most of the captured Gurkish soldiers are left to starve to death.
In Best Served Cold, Khalul's rivalry with Bayaz continues in Styria, where he tries to overthrow Grand Duke Orso's rule of Talins and soon the whole of Styria; Orso is supported by Valint & Balk and Bayaz. He sends his messenger Ishri to supports Grand Duke Rogont of Ospria and Monza Murcatto in their plan to bring down the Duke of Talins. They succeed in overthrowing Orso, but Grand Duchess Monza of Talins refuses to side with either Khalul or Bayaz.
In The Heroes, the Prophet again shows an interest in the war between The North and The Union. He sends Ishri to advise King Black Dow of the Northmen, mainly scouting the Union Army positions. In the end, when Dow agrees to a dual with his rival Calder, she despairs at the foolish savage Northmen, and leaves.