April 13, 2014 at 1:08 am #5392
It’s probably old hat to you all but I never caught the reference in WB&RM to how wealthy the FHQ made the Pure Horse People:
“The tribe swore allegiance without further question and almost overnight changed from savages into clever middlemen across a rich trade route. They acted as escorts and guides through their territory, collected tolls and storage fees and ruthlessly ambushed any caravan haughty enough to ignore them. Towns grew up around the warehouses, lodging and temples built for foreigners. The road between towns was deliberately kept broken and there were no paths leading to this road. Customers were also forced to rent the Breeders’ herds at a high price.”
If this is still true, then first and foremost it challenges culture-bound assumptions that because the Grazers are not in themselves urbanized or even fixed in their address, they are really pathetically dependent on the vendref for everything they need, and that without the captive townies they would be as poor or poorer than their distant cousins in Pent or Prax. Maybe they spent all their money and their local trade monopoly is defunct. But even so, they should have at least some of the trinkets they bought: heirloom iron, baubles, interesting magic. After all, I can’t find a reference to Rich Post ever being looted, so a lot of that treasure should still be there.
And the Grazers evidently still welcome caravans because Queen’s Post, Rich Post and North Post still trade. They are getting filthy rich off this and they love it.
We know that the Grazers had their own trade partners because their route — really a proprietary bulk cargo pony express, as it were — was apparently a wholly separate enterprise from the sleeker Sartar roads. Why mess with the tolls if the nice road through Boldhome takes you where you want to go? The answer is that it doesn’t always. And we know that both systems emerged at roughly the same time because the birth of trade among the Grazers is tied to the rise of the first FHQ, herself a near-contemporary of Sartar himself. The two networks may have been potential competitors early on, but the royal alliance (more than “merely” symbolic) created a mercantile symbiosis that enriched both cultures.
Sartar’s roads rolled from Alda-Chur down to Karse and the sea, and then over to Pavis (arguably as a courtesy to the colony there).
To be profitable in its own right and not redundant, the Grazer “road” must have ultimately veered west toward Esrolia proper, possibly raising questions of whether the FHQ’s earth connections are more complex than (again) culture-bound assumptions may indicate. Sartar gave Sairdite goods an outlet in Hendrikiland, possibly for religious reasons; the FHQ opened a way that led more directly to Nochet and so created a link to the long Trader Prince route. Perversely, this might mean that the Grazers actually have better access to iron than the Sartarites since they’re just a bit incrementally closer to Seshnela, but that’s hypothetical at best.
Unless someone has found a way to cart through Grazer territory without paying their tolls or worse in ransom, I suspect her route is still the way to go for some merchants. You pick your channel and plan accordingly.April 13, 2014 at 7:05 am #7552
The Feathered Horse Queen’s Earth connections are extremely significant. The FHQ is not just a priestess of the Horse Goddess, although she is that, but a priestess-devotee of the Earth Queen. As the Guide says:
The Feathered Horse Queen is a powerful Earth priestess who incarnates imposing powers for her worshipers and is the embodiment of sovereignty for all Dragon Pass. Even Orlanthi revere her as a living spirit of Ernalda, calling her the “Desired One”.
Although the Feathered Horse Queen came out of the cult of La-ungariant, she went “deep into the earth and returned with powers which were not recognized by their foes. One of the weapons was the claim of inherent sovereignty of the land, based upon the consciousness of working with the goddess within it.” She is generally accorded the status of being Highest Earth priestess of Dragon Pass by both Sartarites and Tarshites, and that status is often acknowledged even by the priestesses and queens of Esrolia (who are outside of Dragon Pass of course).
And yes, that Grazer route goes from Tarsh to Esrolia. And since Nochet is the most cosmopolitan commercial center in Glorantha, that’s a darn lucrative route.April 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm #7559
Thanks for the confirmation that the Grazers are still “rolling in bling” as the kids say. The more we learn about these trade routes, the more the world makes sense on all levels and the more room there is for adventure and even deeper mystery. In fact I’ve cut a few paragraphs of woolgathering reply here about the Earth Road and the FHQ as religious as well as commercial genius to save for when I know more.
But to put the Issaries hat back on, it finally hit me that for about 600 years the Praxian caravan route — while unspeakably dangerous and inconvenient — must have been extremely profitable for well-capitalized specialists as well as freelancers because the route doesn’t actually end at the Paps, it ends in Teshnos. And saffron and pepper are light enough to make any trader who can survive the long trek to Teshnos a true prince. This must have been incrementally great for the Praxians, who would have gotten a cut of the iron and other metal coming eastward as well as a taste of whatever came back. (I would pay them in baubles but need to re-read my Biturian to confirm.)
Six hundred years of that. And now that the sea is open, the hot money pulls out and only the Lunars seem remotely interested — but not really, because they already have the northern route to Kralorela — so the Prax caravan trail no longer even appears in the Guide. Dead caravanserai, ruins. Meanwhile, for the last 40 years or so, a sour generation grows up and dies and covets the old fine things in Prax. No wonder they’re having a bit of a religious upheaval of their own over there and why the horde musters when the White Buffalo comes. They remember better times and have the fat stored up for a big adventure.
Dumb questions, when was the Monkey Ruins *really* abandoned and was there a sister merchant base at Kang’s Palace once? Did the baboons somehow control the Praxian route once before meeting a bitter end? Were they even baboons then? A lot can happen in 600 years.
And why are the Lunars so famously fevered in their efforts to find a warm-water naval outlet? There must be some strategic drive here to go alongside the religious mandate to teach the storm people manners, but what do their smart people *want*?
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