Meet the Cast: Adhanor

Adhanor is the King of Hendar, the second monarch of the Ecthelos Dynasty. He succeeded his father on the throne in the year 444, immediately before competing at the Tournament of Oron Amular, and he was still on the throne 42 years later when the events of Starbane begin. This is the backstory of one of the most powerful men in Astrom.

Adhanor was born in the year 401 to King Idunar and Queen Raneltia. Idunar was only the third independent King of Hendar after the dissolution of the Silver Empire, and he was on the throne for over a century before his childless marriage finally bore fruit. By the time Adhanor was born, Idunar’s power had declined. He had suffered multiple severe illnesses, one of which led to his brothers ruling the kingdom for five years through a Regency Council, and ever since that time the power of these brothers grew. Duke Dencaril of Nalator and Duke Rumoril of Malator were the two greatest magnates of the realm, between them controlling over half of Hendar with enormous wealth and influence.

Although born in the capital city of Kalator, Adhanor spent most of his childhood in Arventum on the River Goralar in the household of his formidable grandmother, Lyrina. He had no brothers or sisters, and was starved of companionship until, at the age of 10, he was entrusted to the guardianship of the Count of Koros. By this time his father was seriously ill again, and his uncles ruled again with a Second Regency Council for 12 years until King Idunar at last recovered. The great dukes wanted the heir to the throne safely out of the way, but in the household of the Count of Koros Adhanor finally found friendship. Chief among these friends were Xavion, son of the count, and Reubun, heir to the Dukedom of Lalator, both of an age with the prince.

Koros was in a tranquil corner of the country. As well as gaining friendship, Adhanor learnt to hunt and became well-versed in literature, taught by erudite masters. He was much influenced by his time in Koros, which at this time was a flourishing centre of the arts, home to many artists, painters and philosophers who had recently been driven out of nearby Lalator. The latter was one of the five ducal cities of Hendar, located on the border with Aranar. It was a renowned centre of learning and trade, but a new generation of intolerant clerics and hard-nosed merchants had risen to power there and were challenging its permissive culture, which resulted in an exodus of many of its greatest luminaries. These were the men and women who were thriving in Koros just in time for Adhanor’s adolescence.

Adhanor took these experiences back to Kalator in 423 when his father recovered somewhat, and now the young prince found himself embroiled in court politics. Old King Idunar was never well again, and although the Second Regency Council disbanded, Dukes Dencaril and Rumoril continued to dominate affairs of state. Supported by a growing faction of young noblemen and favourites, Adhanor strove to assert himself. In this he had only limited success, for by the time his father finally died in 444, the crown was still largely held in check by the power of its over-mighty subjects.

Scarcely had Adhanor come to the throne than the invitation to Kulothiel’s tournament at Oron Amular arrived. To the shock of many, both home and abroad, Adhanor himself travelled to Kalimar to compete, guided by the urbane and knowledgeable Bishop Nurvo. He left his uncles to govern in his stead, but this was a dangerous time for all concerned, for Adhanor barely survived this reckless foreign adventure, while for the great dukes the succession was in grave doubt without an obvious heir.

Yet survive Adhanor did, returning in triumph in the autumn of 444. His reputation among the people was much enhanced by this daring exploit, and his kingship entered into a brief honeymoon period. At the Council of Nations in Hamid in 445, Adhanor supported Curillian of Maristonia’s overtures for a grand alliance against the threat of Urunmar, but Hendarian involvement was prevented by the opposition of his uncles, and the alliance came to nothing. Only two years later the first great raid came through the Haunted Pass, ushering in a new era of threat and fear for Hendar.

Yet the great invasion predicted by Kulothiel never came, and so the aroused vigilance of Hendar was short-lived. Fears receded, and Adhanor was left to continue his power-struggle with his uncles, which fluctuated back and forth for many years. It took another great raid in 467 to bring the Hendarians to their senses. This was a much greater raid, almost a small invasion, great enough to lay siege to the mighty northern fortress of Tor Kenfer and spread panic throughout the realm. Although it was eventually beaten off, it exposed the poor state of Hendar’s army and northern defences. Adhanor and Duke Dencaril came together to rebuild the fortresses and recruit new regiments for the army, aided by Bishop Nurvo, who proved himself adept at using the magical coin of Oron Amular to finance the great endeavour.

Adhanor himself cuts a fine figure as king, square-jawed, blue-eyed and handsome, with tousled blond hair and a keen eye for fashion. He is quite short but strongly built, a product of his Jalatai heritage, where his forebears had dwelt for centuries in the mountainous south of Hendar. The king was a keen dancer and an eager patron of the arts, giving commissions to many illustrious painters, sculptors and musicians who raised Kalator to fresh heights of splendour and beauty. He delighted in hunting, hawking and grand balls. His entertainments in the capital, both social and sporting, were lavish, beloved by some and despised by others. Adhanor was very fond of male company, almost scandalously so in court gossip, but though he kept his favourites close and well-rewarded, he was faithful to his wife, Queen Breicelle, whom he married in 460. She was the young sister of an influential count, who helped Adhanor extend his authority north along the Gorathar, but the couple remained childless and without an heir.

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Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

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