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In the world where she had come of age that had been the norm. That world, of the Domination, had demanded ruthlessness and cruelty. It had forgiven neither kindness nor compassion.

Croaker, Soldiers Live, ch. 68

The Domination was the empire which was established and ruled by Dominator in the northern continent. It lasted for an unspecified number of generations (possibly roughly one century[1]) and was finally overthrown about 407 years before the events of The Black Company. The Domination was infamous for its cruelty, violence, and the Dominator's absolute despotism. The favored ethnic group of this empire was TelleKurre, even though neither the Dominator nor his father-in-law Baron Senjak belonged to that race; after the Domination ended, the TelleKurre language became extinct (as did its regional vulgates, including UchiTelle). Three hundred and seventy years later, the Lady – the Dominator's wife who had been interred with him – liberated herself and established a successor empire which would extend past the boundaries of the Domination and would become the setting for many of the events of the Books of the North.

According to Port of Shadows, the capital of the Domination was the city of Dusk, where the Dominator ruled from the Grateful Tower of his imposing fortress, Grendirft.

Several short stories of the On The Long Run arc revealed some long lost history of the Domination, and that the Domination had been active in the distant western wilderness.

The Dominator's reign[]

Few details of the Domination were recorded by Croaker in his Annals, as he believed many of the stories were tainted by later propaganda of the White Rose. The surviving reliable facts are as follows:

Marriage and the Ten Who Were Taken[]

Starting his reign of terror, the Dominator entered into a political, unconsummated marriage to a beautiful sorceress known only as the Lady. He then defeated, captured, and performed the Rite of Taking on his ten most powerful rivals, the wizards who then became known as the Ten Who Were Taken. Although the Dominator himself performed the Rite of Taking, the Lady also knew all of the names of the Ten, forcing them to be equally loyal to her. The first to be Taken was Shapeshifter. The oldest was the Howler. Another of the Taken was the Lady's own sister, Soulcatcher, who personally reveled in the "pomp and dark glory" of the Domination.

Forehead jewels for officers[]

Officers of the Domination had jewels permanently pressed into their foreheads. This resulted in a characteristic triangular inset on their skulls that would be immediately identifiable by antiquities diggers centuries later.[2] The subordinate King of the TelleKurre, Broke, had a ruby forehead jewel.[3]

Mass execution of collected enemies[]

As his wife would recall centuries later during Dreams of Steel, the Dominator assembled a gathering of his enemies and somehow murdered them all at once. This occurred early in the Domination and was "one thing my husband had done to secure his rule". It succeeded "wonderfully" and served as the direct inspiration for Lady's Massacre at Khadi Junction.

No-mercy war in the west[]

"Those Who Went Before" – a short story of the On The Long Run arc – revealed that an unnamed civilization fought against the Dominator "very early on" in the Domination era. This "no-mercy war" took place in the western wilderness and resulted in many thousands of fatalities for the targeted people. High-magnitude wizards from that civilization then created the resilient, sorcery-charged Grand Memorial to Our Honored Dead to honor their fallen.

Forging of the Carqui sword[]

In the "younger days of the Domination" the Carqui sword was forged. Though Lady referred to this as a "storied" and "ancient and consecrated blade" she did not disclose further information about it in her Annals.[4]

Torture of captives[]

As Soulcatcher would recall in Soldiers Live, the Dominator had glassblowers create glass displays into which some of his "most important enemies" were deposited in public. Trapped, they were "kept alive and fed until they drowned in their own ordure". Also, as Lady would recall in Shadow Games, the Dominator had a man named Gastrar Telsar of Novok Debraken flayed for speaking out publicly against him.

Restrictions on magic[]

The Dominator consistently destroyed every magic talisman and enchanted relic he could find, as the Howler would recall centuries later during Dreams of Steel. He did this to prevent his Taken from becoming too independent.

According to Port of Shadows, it was illegal within the Domination to practice any form of magic without obtaining permission from officials in Dusk, and violating this law was punishable by death or worse. Necromancy was prohibited outright, presumably because uncovering the means to defy death would undermine the exclusivity of the Blessing, the arcane ritual the Dominator allegedly used to bestow semi-eternal life on his inner circle. The desire to be rewarded with the Blessing did much to ensure the loyalty of the Domination's most powerful and influential figures and keep the empire unified.

Shapeshifter's lover[]

During the Domination, a young woman who was Shapeshifter's lover carried on an affair with the Limper, another of the Ten. Outraged, Shifter transformed the woman into what became his infamous walking staff. He and the Limper carried an unmitigated hatred of one another for the rest of their lives. The staff would serve as a key focus of his power, and his reunion with the artifact in Shadow Games permitted the Black Company to survive being capsized in the needleteeth swamp on the great river.

Failure to defeat the Master[]

In an event which was erased from the historical record, the Dominator failed to kill (or Take) a sorcerer known as the Master, a rival at his own level of power who had his own group of Taken. Although the Dominator slew all but one (Blind Emon) of the Master's Taken, he could not conquer him. The Master escaped and remained in hiding afterward, independent for centuries after the Dominator's own downfall. This lost history was revealed to Croaker in "Shaggy Dog Bridge", a short story of the On The Long Run arc.

Consumption of mermaid flesh[]

As revealed in "Wet Dream Fish Story", the Dominator was aware that the consumption of a sufficient amount of river mermaid flesh resulted in immortality and superior health. Evidently the only place mermaids could be found was around an articial island deep in the immense western wilderness. To monopolize this, he sent a group of loyal men to become mermaid fishers, to process their flesh into jerky and send it back to the Dominator for whomever he saw fit to share it with. These men included the trio known as Adelin, Honra, and Eisen Fisher. After the Domination fell, the fishers became trapped on the island and their numbers dwindled as the mermaids hunted them for more than three centuries until only three remained.

Mermaid flesh being the source of the Dominator's gift of immortality to select few loyalists seems to conflict with the ritual sorcery known as the Blessing that was mentioned in Port of Shadows. The veracity of the Blessing is called into serious doubt in the epilogue of Port of Shadows; meanwhile it is certain that the mermaid flesh story is true.

End of the Domination[]

The White Rose Rebellion[]

Main article: White Rose Rebellion

The Domination was ended by the White Rose Rebellion, a popular movement led by a mysterious woman called the White Rose. She was the chief general of massive opposing armies operating out of the Great Forest. She achieved her hard-fought victory in a final battle while the Great Comet shone brilliantly overhead. Among the fatalities of this battle was King Broke of the TelleKurre, one of the Dominator's chief subordinates after the Taken. However, the White Rose was unable to actually kill any of the Domination's twelve chief sorcerers (the Dominator, the Lady, and the Ten), so she sealed them underground in a prison of sorcery called the Barrowland. Also imprisoned with them were the Dominator's "pets" (scores of demons) including Tracker and Toadkiller Dog. The dedicated ghosts of many of the White Rose's own soldiers were placed inside the Barrowland as eternal spirit guards. Finally, a dragon was installed around the Great Barrow itself, to consume any trespassers.

Aftermath of the Rebellion[]

After the Rebellion, the followers of the White Rose proved not to be gentle victors. They burned books and cities, forced migrations of women and children, and profaned ancient works of art and famous shrines. Even the language of the Domination itself, TelleKurre, became extinct. They also melted down any Domination coinage they could find. This made intact coins from the period incredibly valuable for collectors 370 years later, during a "Domination trend" in the lifetime of antiquities dealer Bomanz. After the immediate postwar violence, the centuries following the Domination were primarily peaceful.


  1. The Black Company ch. 4: the Lady's statement to Croaker "... you’ll be permitted to witness a rite unseen for five hundred years" is not meant to be taken as a precise calculation, but if it would be taken literally, it would mean the last of the Ten Who Were Taken was enslaved 93 years before the fall of the Domination.
  2. The White Rose ch. 3
  3. The White Rose ch. 14
  4. Dreams of Steel ch. 5