In the fictional world of Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time, Illian is a powerful merchant nation north of the Sea of Storms, with a capital city of the same name. It is a center of commerce specializing in fishing, shipping, shipbuilding, and smuggling. Political deadlock often leaves residents free to pursue their mercantile ambitions without official interference. Illian has a thousand-year rivalry with its eastern neighbor, Tear.


Illian has three governing bodies: the Crown, the Council of Nine, and the Assembly. In theory, the king, the lords of the Council, and the representatives of the Assembly share power. In practice, little gets done but squabbling, leaving Illianers freer than most - especially Tairens, one reason Tear is held in such scorn. The seal of Illian bears nine golden bees.

After the Forsaken were released, Sammael seized control of Illian under the assumed name Lord Brend. After the Dragon Reborn's invasion, the Council of Nine offered him the Laurel Crown, since King Mattin Stepaneos den Balgar had disappeared. This fulfilled the prophecy which foretold that the Dragon would wear "a crown of swords." Several barbs protrude from the crown in all directions; the crown is a sharp reminder of the monarch's responsibilities.

Military Forces

Illian's elite formation is known as the Companions. The Companions enlist and promote on the basis of merit without regard for national origin; foreigners can even become Captain-General. They are placed wherever fighting is heaviest, and follow the king into danger. Rand al'Thor's father Tam was the Second Captain of the Companions during the Aiel War.

Language and culture

The dialect of Illian is distinct: Illianers use the emphatic tense of nearly every verb, shun the progressive tense, and use "no" in place of "not." Thus, "that man doesn't serve the Dragon Reborn" becomes in the dialect of Illian "that man do no serve the Dragon Reborn." "He made sure every stick of bread went to the army" becomes "he did make sure every stick of bread did go to the army."

Illianer men typically wear beards, but with shaven moustaches, creating a face-framing, circular effect.

Swearing and benedictions both invoke Fortune in Illian, e.g. "Fortune prick me" or "Fortune favor you."


The nation of Illian grew outward from the city after the War of the Hundred Years. The nearly circular anchorage at the city of Illian is considered "the greatest."

Whenever the Great Hunt for the Horn is called, would-be Hunters seek the blessing in the Great Square of Tammuz in the city of Illian. A new Hunt has been called in Illian, the first in many years.

Illian fought alongside Altara and Murandy against the Children of the Light in the Whitecloak War. Illian and her allies won the war, although King Mattin Stepaneos was captured and had to be ransomed back.

Similarities to our world

Illian corresponds to the historical Republic of Venice in nearly every particular. Like Venice, Illian is defended from invasion by swamps and its navy. Canals criss-cross the cities, the wider ones dividing the cities into quarters. Maritime trade is vital to both and smuggling is common. Illian's government consists of an elective monarchy checked by a Council of Nine and an Assembly of merchants, whose squabbling prevents the government from intruding on commoners; Venice's elected Doge competed against a Council of Ten and a parliamentary Great Council for authority.

The names of many characters from Illian appear almost Greek; the name 'Illian' itself is probably derived from Iliad, which is derived from the Classical name for Troy, "Illium".

Alexander the Great's cavalry bodyguard were known as the Companions. Their duties were the same as the fictional Companions of Illian.

See also

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