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Kingdom of Tortall
Tortallan Universe place
Location Coast, borders Scanra, Galla, Tusaine, and Tyra
Terrain Mountainous, desertland, fertile fields
Climate Humid continental climate (very cold in winter, very hot in summer)
Main Industry Fishing, agriculture, mining
Location information
Residents The Tortallans, the Bazhir
Capital Corus
Government Feudal monarchy
Head of State King Jonathan & Queen Thayet (co-rulers)
Bibliographical information
First mentioned '
First appeared Alanna: The First Adventure
Last appeared '
Latest appearance Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

Tortall (pronounced tohr-TALL) is a large country in the Tortallan Universe. It is the main setting of most books in the universe.


Location and climate

Tortall is a country in the Eastern Lands. It has a humid continental climate, for the most part, and is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

It borders the Emerald Ocean at the western border, and the Great Inland Sea on its southern border. This gives it many miles of coastline, but also many contentious borders.

Landforms and bodies of water

3rd century Tortall map

Tortall and Surrounding Kingdoms in the 3rd century HE[1]

Tortall hosts a number of landforms and bodies of water

Rivers & Lakes

Mountain ranges

Other landforms



The current ruling family of Tortall is House Conté. Tortall is a constitutional feudal monarchy and is ruled by a king and/or queen, although there are no known Conté queens who have ruled in their own right. It currently is ruled by Jonathan IV of Conté and Queen Thayet, who are joint rulers of Tortall. Tortall has a prime minister and several councils. The Council of Lords, the Council of Commons[2], and the king's private council. The monarch has a significant amount of power, but they must listen to their councils and their prime minister. The monarch does not have absolute power, and thus is not autocratic. During the reign of King Jonathan IV, Sir Gareth serves as the king's prime minister and chief adviser.

Laws and justice


There is organized crime in Tortall and the surrounding lands, namely the Court of the Rogue. The Rogue is a group that criminals have to join and pay homage to, and not all criminals are members of the Rogue. The Rogue, or the King/Queen of Thieves, protects those under their care, keeps them away from law enforcement, and helps them if they are caught and punished. What the Court does and does not condone and whom the Court does and does not protect depends quite a bit on each individual ruler. Many times, the Court will punish its own members if it feels that the criminal did something reprehensible or traitorous.

Law enforcement

The law in Tortall is kept and upheld by the Provost's Guard, which was founded in the second century of the Human Era. Lawbreakers are subjected to a trial in front of a magistrate to decide punishment. It is unknown how much punishments differed in the 5th century from the 3rd century for specific crimes.

The law enforcement's relationship with crime organizations like the Court of the Rogue has fluctuated quite a bit over time. In the 3rd century, law enforcement and the Court had a tentative truce, and the Court would pay bribes in order for the law to overlook a few of their minor crimes. In the 5th century, the relationship between the two organizations had changed drastically. There seemed to be no sort of amnesty policy, and the Court operated in secret.

Known punishments:
During the 3rd century

  • sentenced counterfeiter was boiled in oil
  • someone who knowingly kept counterfeits in circulation had his or her hand lopped off.[3]
  • punishment was very strict when a guardsman or guardswoman was attacked or if children were harmed


Slavery and the slave trade

Slavery was prohibited in the 3rd century by decree of King Roger II, after his son was was kidnapped and enslaved[4]. Before the ban, slavery was completely legal, although there were already progressive inclinations to ban it and to forbid illegal slave auctions—which were only illegal because they didn't pay the demanded taxes to the Crown. People holding slaves were responsible for their doings and could be imprisoned when their "vicious slaves" did any harm[5]. After the ban, it is unknown what the punishment for slave trading was, but it is presumably quite high.

Women's rights

Tortall exemplifies the fluctuation of women's rights. In the third century and prior to that, women were able to enter the workforce. Noblewomen also had the prerogative to become knights. There was still a high amount of misogyny and sexism that was rampant, but women were able to work in occupations that were dominated by men later. By the 5th century HE, women had lost those rights. In many places, women were considered the veritable property of male members of their family.

Noblewomen could inherit land, but not titles, and were passed over if they had male siblings[6][7]. They could not become knights, and no woman could enter the military or the Provost's Guard.

In the mid-5th century, King Jonathan and Queen Thayet did what they could to ameliorate life for women. In the 450s HE, there was a large amount of activism, mostly on the part of the temples of the Great Mother Goddess, to end violence against women in Tortall. There were still quite a lot of problems in cases involving noblemen and commoner women, as the courts automatically swung in the favor of the nobleman.

International relations

Tortall's relationships with its neighboring countries has fluctuated immensely over centuries. In the mid 200s HE, there were no wars and most of the strife was internal. Many wars took place in the 300s during the reign of King Jasson III—who was known as the Conqueror. Even King Roald I's reign is blemished by war, even though he was known as "The Peace-maker"—although that epithet was mostly due to his peace-making in the conquered lands of his father.


In the 200s HE, a marital alliance between Galla and Tortall was attempted when King Roger II married a Gallan princess, Alysy. As Queen of Tortall, she was extremely unhappy and depressed because of her husband's philandering. She died of breast cancer.


After Queen Alysy died, King Roger II married a Barzunni princess, Jessamine. Their marriage was more successful and they created a strong alliance with Barzun, especially because Queen Jessamine encouraged King Roger II to take a stronger role in politics as King of Tortall, and she gave him an heir, Prince Gareth, who would later become a well-remembered king in Tortallan history as "Gareth the Strong".

The Barzunni alliance did not hold a very long time as nearly a century later, it was conquered by King Jasson III, despite his Barzunni heritage. Of course, perhaps Jasson felt even more fit to rule Barzun because of his royal blood from that country. Jasson also conquered the lands outside of Tortall, expanding Tortall's borders well into Scanra and Tusaine.


Tortall's relationship with Tusaine suffered during the early 400s, when the Tusaine War broke out in a fight over the valley surrounding the Drell River. The Tortallans were the victors and they drafted a treaty that would force Tusaine to never lay claim to that territory again.

The Bazhir

King Jasson III conquered the Great Southern Desert without a thought for the people already living there, the Bazhir, and at first the tribes were immensely hostile to Tortallans. There was peace between them when King Jonathan became the Voice of the Tribes while he was still the crown prince of Tortall. Once king, he allowed Bazhir men to enter into page training to become knights of the realm.

Alanna the Lioness succeeded in ridding the Bazhir of the Ysandir, deadly immortals who feasted on the souls of humans. This created the first bridge between the Tortallans and the Bazhir tribes who were still hostile to the northerners.

Raoul of Goldenlake also helped matters in recruiting Bazhir for the King's Own. Quite a few men joined, and Lord Raoul is rather beloved of the Bazhir tribes and welcomed with the highest hospitality[8].

Yamani Islands

Although originally rather hostile to each other, the Yamani Islands and Tortall forged a marital alliance between their two countries. The emperor of the Islands sent a second-rank princess Shinkokami to marry Crown Prince Roald, King Jonathan and Queen Thayet's eldest son and heir.

The Tortallans also received military aid from the Islands in the Immortals War. They did not seem to receive troops from the Islands for the Scanran War, but it would not be surprising if they received monetary aid.

Copper Isles and Carthak

Tortall has a historically bad relationship with the Copper Isles and Carthak, as slavers would capture Tortallans and sell them in their countries. This was relatively the same for Scanra, which often conducted border raids. In the late 440s HE, the Immortals War broke out. The belligerents were Ozorne Tasikhe and his Stormwings, Copper Isles, Scanra, and some rebel Carthakis, against Tortall and the Yamani Islands. Tortall did not receive aid from Galla, Tusaine, or Maren.


In the late 450s trouble started brewing on the Scanran border when killing devices started appearing and wreaking havoc. War was officially declared in early 460 HE. The war ended officially in 464. It is unknown if any treaties were signed, but Tamora Pierce mentioned that King Jonathan was looking for a Scanran princess for his second son Prince Liam, and that would suggest that he is interested in forming a marital alliance between Tortall and Scanra.


The nobility wields a large amount of power throughout the kingdom. They are allowed to call upon noble privileges, which have political power as well as cultural power. With noble privileges, aristocrats cannot be arrested when they have sanctuary on their own property, they can get away with more in terms of crime, etc.

They wield considerable power over their own property and the tenants who live on that property.

Ruling Monarchs of Tortall

The following is a list of known rulers of Tortall:

Of course, the amount of rulers is probably far larger than this. Unlike Queen Lianne, Thayet was mentioned because she is co-ruler of Tortall with her husband and shares equal power, as opposed to just the wife of the ruler of the country.

The Conté family had been ruling Tortall for centuries, yet it is unknown when and how they came to power.


Armed forces

Tortall has many different branches of armed forces to protect the country:

  • The Standing Army—Led by several Generals. As Vanget haMinch is the General of the Northern Armies, there is likely a General of the Southern Armies whose identity is unknown. The standing army responds to crises like the declaration of war and open battles. They rarely do reconnaissance and chases that require speed.
  • The King's Own—Used to be a rather useless branch until Raoul of Goldenlake shaped them up and recruited from the Bazhir and the common factions of Tortall. Prior to his leadership the King's Own acted as a comfortable way for second sons to spend time and carouse while avoiding other duties. By the mid 400s, the King's Own is a formidable battle troop. They are used for reconnaissance, forest work, and open battles. They are generally the first responders to a crisis such as an immortal attack.
  • The Queen's Riders—Founded by Queen Thayet, the Riders are able to reach less accessible places of Tortall, like in the mountains or in heavily wooded areas, unlike the standing army. The Riders accept both men and women into their ranks, unlike both the standing army and the King's Own. They are also charged with teaching defense and fighting skills to locals.
  • Knights—Taught a variety of fighting skills and offensive and defensive skills. Knights are usually given command of troops or forts. When working with the standing army, however, they are given less power unless they are older and more seasoned. The appointment of a newly created knight to a command position is rare but not unheard of—as is the case with Keladry of Mindelan.

Wars and conflict


Several wars have occurred throughout the reigns of the Conté kings.

  • Major conquests: King Jasson III conquered many lands, expanding Tortall's borders. The king completely conquered Barzun in 378 HE.
  • Immortals War, took place during the reign of Jonathan IV, the son and successor of King Roald I. Major war between Tortall and Carthak, Scanra, and the Copper Isles. The latter three countries joined together with Uusoae, Queen of Chaos and several other unsavory types of Immortals, thus giving the war its title. Tortall and its allies were the victors.
  • Scanran War, took place in the early 460s between Tortall and Scanra. Maggur Rathhausak wished to conquer well into the northern Tortallan border and used metal monsters dubbed as killing devices to accomplish this goal. Tortallans were the victors.

Conflicts and events


Farming and fishing along the coastlines, are the main sources of food and wealth in Tortall. Corus and Port Legann are also trading centers. Tortall is considered to be a prosperous nation, even with its various poor.


The main units of currency in Tortall are the gold crown, gold noble, with gold bits, silver nobles, copper nobles, and copper bits as lower denominations.


240s HE

  • In the 240s HE a gold noble valued ten silver nobles and a hundred copper nobles. Four gold bits also made up a gold noble.[9]
  • A gold bit equaled two silver and ten copper nobles[10].
  • One copper noble equaled ten coppers while ten copper nobles made up one silver noble.[9]

In 247 HE, fresh bread cost two coppers before the Bread Riot and three coppers each after the riot.[11] The baker Garnett took a bribe of five copper nobles from the customers who had accidentally paid him with false coins.[12]

In the third century of the Human Era the profile of King Roger was on the front of the silver noble coins, with the country's emblem, a sword with a crown, on its back[13]. The coin's appearance probably changed throughout the years to match the current ruler of the realm.

In 247 HE a large amount of counterfeit silver coins were in circulation, being produced by Pearl Skinner, with Hansevor Remy as the silver provider. Before the counterfeiting caused the value of silver to drop, ten silver nobles equalled a gold noble and ten copper nobles equalled one silver noble[14].

400s HE

Some currency values from the 400s HE in Tortall:

  • A top-quality horse—Upwards of 30 gold nobles[15]
  • Wage of a maid in the Royal Palace—One silver noble per month (plus room and board)[16]
  • Wage of the assistant horsemistress of the Queen's Riders—Two coppers per day (plus room and board)[17]

Note that the value of the coins probably dropped due to some sort of inflation, so we cannot assume that the same value from the 200s apply to the value of the 400s.


Known cities and towns


Most Tortallans worship primarily Mithros and the Goddess, along with any of the other Greater and Lesser Gods. Mithran priests are trained in the City of the Gods.

See List of Tortallan Gods for more information about religion in Tortall.


Tortallans primarily speak Common, the language of the Eastern Lands. The Bazhir have their own language, but they also speak Common.


Women's fashion

During the 420s in the royal court, women wore pastel colors that did not stand out[18]. Once Delia of Eldorne set the fashion for more bolder colors, women were more daring.

In the 450s HE, many of the trends set for women at court were set by Queen Thayet. In one instance, Thayet wore a deep black gown studded with jewels and silver embroidery, which was made by Lalasa Isran. The queen was known for being incredibly daring with her clothing.


Ancient history

Originally Tortall was only a state in the Thanic Empire. It became a sovereign nation 630 years before Alanna the Lioness's time, e.g. around 211 years before the year count of the Human Era began, the same time when the Tortallan Books of Nobility were begun.[19]

100s HE

200s HE

300s HE

  • Women lose all prior rights due to the cult of the Gentle Mother
  • Jasson III of Conté ascends the throne. King Jasson begins his conquests of neighboring territories.
  • In 378 HE the nation of Barzun was conquered[21]. Various other wars of conquests were also conducted around this time.
  • Roald I of Conté ascends the throne, and strives to create a peaceful era. His and his wife's inability to have more than one child created a succession crisis.

400s HE

During the mid 400s, the university of Corus was founded by Harailt of Aili. The university would later rival the Carthaki University in its expertise.


Tortall is featured prominently throughout the books, and is the reason why the universe is referred to as the "Tortallan Universe". Tortall is mentioned in every book of the Universe, and appears in almost all of them.

Notes and references

  1. Maps in Mastiff
  2. LK, Chp 6
  3. Bloodhound, September 7, 247 (p. 11)
  4. Mastiff, final chapters
  5. Bloodhound, September 8, 247 (p. 50)
  6. Lioness Rampant, Chapter 4 (pg. 129; Simon Pulse paperback)
  7. Dispute: Trebond discrepancy; Tamora Pierce mentioned that Trebond got annexed to Crown lands upon Thom's death because women could not inherit.
  8. Squire
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bloodhound, Glossary
  10. Bloodhound, September 15, 247 (p. 203; Random House hardcover)
  11. Bloodhound, September 9, 247 II (p. 79)
  12. Bloodhound, September 8, 247 (p. 36)
  13. Bloodhound, September 19, 247 II (p. 429)
  14. Bloodhound, Glossary (terms "gold noble" and "silver noble")
  15. ATFA, Chp 5
  16. Page, Chp 1
  17. WM, Chp 1
  18. In the Hand of the Goddess
  19. Random Buzz; "Random Tortall Questions..."; April 22, 2009
  20. Mastiff
  21. Tortallan timeline
  22. Squire

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