Welcome to the world of Varin, where the caverns are safe, the surface is wilderness, and how you see reality has everything to do with who you are.
To review: Varin has seven caste levels – which might seem like a lot, but is a lot easier to grasp than it might otherwise seem, because the castes have everything to do with what jobs you’re expected to do. Nobles do the work of governing. Officers keep everything in order, fighting fires, and enforcing boundaries. Servants are everywhere making the gears run smoothly: standing at the shoulder of the nobility, running the bureaucracy, the courts and prisons, even the local post office. Artisans are the ones who study, design and innovate, and keep the infrastructure from falling apart. Laborers brave danger to make sure people have the raw materials they need to eat and to make things. Merchants control the money and sell goods across the society. Undercaste takes the jobs no one else wants, making sure the cavern cities don’t choke on their own waste, or their own dead.
Today I’m going to introduce you to the Grobal, the noble caste. I had to do a lot of thinking about how to make them different from every other noble group you’ve seen in fiction since the dawn of time. Let’s face it – depicting powerful people is very popular!
The Grobal are very wealthy, to the point where they have very little concept of money’s value. They are meant to share these riches with each Lower caste according to need, following their guiding principle, the Grobal Trust. They run the government, and they distribute funds to many groups in order to help the country run.
The Grobal’s color is officially emerald green, also called “Grobal green,” but they are the only caste in Varin who are not required to wear a legislated caste mark. They can wear whatever they want, and generally they like wearing silk and velvet in jewel colors. They also don’t get any special caste-based greetings from other people. This allows them to pretend that caste is invisible.
The Grobal refer to themselves as “the Grobal Race.” They are the only Varin group that uses the term “race” in any way. It fits them because, genetically speaking, they are the only group that is fully cut off from every other group. The Grobal themselves set up the laws that state you are born into your caste, and that anyone who wishes to take a partner outside of their own caste must fall to the caste of the lower partner. However, now that these laws have been in place for about 400 years, the Race finds itself in an inbred decline. Genetic diseases are common, and health is considered the greatest fortune.
The Grobal divide themselves into twelve Great Families, extended families of around 800 people each, which are numbered from 1-12 in order of how closely they are descended from their founder, the Great Grobal Fyn. This obsession with blood purity, however, does not allow them to rescue themselves in the most obviously effective way, so they find other more unfortunate ways to try to stop themselves from being diminished.
Two of the main characters of Mazes of Power, Tagaret and his brother Nekantor, are both members of the Grobal Race. Tagaret believes in reviving the Grobal Trust, while Nekantor believes in power as his primary guiding force. I can’t wait for you to meet them.