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"Caithdein" is the Paravian name for the High King's first counselor, translated as "shadow behind the throne". The responsibility of a caithdein is to understand and test the mettle of High Kings, with their very life, if necessary.

The traditional colors of a caithdein are black with a silver interlace. Maenalle s'Gannley can be seen wearing these colors at the west outpost banquet in Curse of the Mistwraith, and then a second time when meeting with Jieret in Ships of Merior. Black is symbolic of the fact that the true power of governance lies in the High King's crown, and not the caithdein.

The plural of Caithdein is Caithdeinen.


Successors to the role of caithdein are designate, a conditional appointment by a council of elders. When the High King's royal line could fall into jeopardy and crown rule might fall to the caithdein, selection is performed instead by the Fellowship.[1] The traditional Naming ceremony for a caithdein's heir would involve feast, celebration, and a reunion of far-flung clans. A Fellowship sorcerer (generally Asandir) would trace a rune on the forehead of the heir, changing that person's given Name. The mark fades after a month.

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from Traitor's Knot.

There can never be two caithdeinen at the same time. In Traitor's Knot, when Sulfin Evend swears the caithdein's oath, he does not supplant the legitimate, sanctioned caithdein of Tysan. The oath allows him to ask for Fellowship intercession, as a caithdein might, if the land and the people who are in harmony with the terms of the compact are jeopardized. It does not give him any power to claim authority under Tysan's crown charter, and it certainly does NOT elevate Lysaer's status to crown heir in any shape or form. He would not wear black, which signifies "shadow behind the throne" or perform the office of royal conscience for even a potential s'Ilessid heir.[2]

Ceremony of Investiture

The caithdein's feal service to the Compact does not begin until their ceremony of investiture. (When the caithdein is Fellowship-selected, this ceremony is a formality). A person who is designate as caithdein but has not yet undergone their ceremony of investiture is subject to royal justice through Charter Law rather than Fellowship intercession through the Compact.

Loss of Royal Lineage

If a royal lineage ends (such as the s'Ellestrion family of Melhalla), the caithdein would continue to administer crown justice as a permanent Steward of the Realm, but would not become a High King or receive the High King's Royal Gifts.

Notable Caithdeinen

Spoiler warning: Contains plot elements from multiple books in the series.


  • Custom dictates that caithdeinen are forbidden from marrying into royal families.


  1. Author's FAQ
  2. Forum Post, August 18, 2005