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(#42, Version 4.0)
To the west of the massive Gorean continent lies Thassa, a vast ocean. No one knows where Thassa ends or what might lie beyond it. The "World's End" is a term used to describe the area of Thassa that lies beyond the islands of Cos and Tyros. There are only a few small, close islands west of Cos and Tyros. It is a legendary place as no one has ever sailed there and returned. Some say that Thassa is endless. Others claim that it is protected by clashing rocks, monsters, and by mountains that can pull the nails from ships. Others say the end of the world is sheer and a ship might plunge over the edge, falling for days through emptiness, until fierce winds break it apart. In the maelstroms southwest of Tyros, shattered ship planking is sometimes found which adds to the mystery.
All of the islands of Gor are located on Thassa. There are about a dozen named islands and numerous small, unnamed islands as well. Most of the named islands are exchange islands, or free islands, whose ports are administered by the Merchant Caste. These exchange islands include Anango, Asperiche, Farnacium, Hulneth, Hunjer, Ianda, Scagnar, Skjern, Tabor and Teletus. Few of these islands are described in any detail. Other ports and islands are not managed by the Merchants but by magistrates appointed by the city council.
Exchange Islands
Anango: This exchange island is located very far south of the equator, almost beyond the ken of most Goreans, and close to the shore of Thassa. They do speak Gorean. The jungles of its interior serve as the setting for many fanciful stories of strange races, mysterious plants and fabulous animals. The famed "magicians of Anango" are well known everywhere except on Anango. Their wizards can supposedly cast great spells, such as turning someone into a turtle or creating invisible items. But, remember that these are stories only and not the truth. There may be some rarer creatures and plants there but true magic does not exist on Gor.
Asperiche: This island is located south of Teletus and Tabor. Nothing else is said about this island in the books.
Farnacium: Nothing else is said about this island in the books.
Hulneth: Nothing else is said about this island in the books.
Hunjer: This island is located far to the north, in the cold reaches near Torvaldsland and the lands of the Red Hunters. The rare Hunjer long whale receives its name from this island. It is a toothed black whale that eats cuttlefish. It would be similar in some ways to the orcas, killer whales, of Earth. Nothing else is said about this island in the books.
Ianda: This island is located north of Anango and close to the shore. It has a number of shipyards on it. Special dancers come from this island who use their hands and beads in their dance. They form certain figures with their hands and beads that have symbolic meaning. Nothing else is said about this island in the books.
Scagnar: This island is located far to the north. The Jarl of this island is Thorgard. He owns a warship called the Black Sleen, the swiftest ship in the north. Nothing else is said about this island in the books.
Skjern: This island lies west of Torvaldsland, in the northern latitudes. Their people seldom venture south or as far inland as Ko-ro-ba. Nothing else is said about this island in the books
Tabor: This island is located south of Teletus. It is named for the drum it resembles. It fears the island of Tyros, its powerful neighbor. Their merchants are famed for the accuracy of their accounts. Nothing else is said about this island in the books
Teletus: This island is north of Asperiche and Tabor. Nothing else is said about this island in the books
Cos and Tyros
The two major island powers on Thassa are Cos and Tyros. Both islands are about four hundred pasangs west of Port Kar, another major maritime power. Cos is located a hundred pasangs north of Tyros. They both engage in piracy and raiding. Pirates paint their entire ships green, including green hulls, sails, oars and ropes. They do this because in the bright sun reflecting off the sea, green ships are nearly invisible. This allows them to more easily close with merchant ships.
Cos and Tyros often fight between themselves. But, they also threaten to unite and attack Port Kar. For over a hundred years, they had never united until the events of Raiders of Gor. The naval warfare had seldom involved more than a few dozen ships on a side. This arrangement was almost sanctioned by tradition. They saw the risk of engaging fleets as being too great. Their raids, smuggling and trading had become a profitable way of life. But, with spies and traitors within Port Kar, the navies of Cos and Tyros decided to join together to attack and hopefully loot Port Kar. The navies of Cos and Tyros were basically even and each matched the navy of Port Kar. Outnumbering Port Kar, and with their inside men, they hoped to easily take the coastal port.
But, Port Kar was able to prevail in the great naval battle. First, Tarl got the people of Port Kar to accept a Home Stone. This gave them a major reason to fight to defend their city. He also hired a mercenary to help him place tarns below decks on ships. In the midst of battle, the tarns were released and aided substantially in the combat. Port Kar defeated Cos and Tyros, destroying much of their naval forces. Port Kar, Cos and Tyros continue to remain in a state of war. They have returned though to smaller naval engagements, like what had occurred prior to the war.
There are certain free coastal ports that allow commerce with Cos and Tyros to be possible. Bazi, Lydius, Helmutsport, and Schendi are such cities. Cos and Tyros and freely make port at those cities without worrying about repercussions. Port cities like Brundisium and Port Kar are not free ports and Cos and Tyros would not dock there. Their ships might likely be seized in such ports.
Tyros is a rugged, mountainous island with mountains. It is famed for its mazes of vart caves. Varts are blind, batlike flying rodents. Some can become the size of a small dog. They can strip a carcass in minutes and some are rabid. They commonly hang upside down in their caves like bats. Some people of Tyros train varts, primarily to use them as weapons. The cherries and red olives are Tyros are also famed throughout Gor. Family is also important on Tyros.
Kasra is the capital city of Tyros and the only other major city is Tentium. The Ubar of Tyros is Chenbar of Kasra, also known as the Sea Sleen. He is of lowly origin but has gone very far. He is a lean, large-eyed man with nervous hands. It is thought that he is intelligent and highly skilled with weapons. During the war with Port Kar in Raiders of Gor, Chenbar was captured by Port Kar. A civil war resulted in Tyros over the choice of a successor with five families battling over the position. But, Chenbar would be freed by men from Torvaldsland during the events of Hunters of Gor. He then returned to Tyros and retook his position as Ubar. Sullius Maximus, once a Ubar of Port Kar, is now a minor courtier at the court of Chenbar. Sullius had to flee after the war with Port Kar as he was one of the traitors. Little else is said about Tyros in the books.
Cos is a mountainous island, even loftier than Tyros, though it does have some level fields to the west. There are many terraced areas of Cos and Ta grapes are grown on many of them. Like Tyros, family is very important on Cos. The Cosian color is blue. There are a series of northern islands near Cos. They are numerous but small, extending in an archipelago like a scimitar northeastward from Cos. The islands are not united and their governments are usually no more than a village council. They commonly do possess any sea vessels larger than clinker-built skiffs and coasters.
The seamen of Cos refer to the left side of a ship by its port of destination and the right side by its port of registration. This changes when both are the same. Then, the left side is considered the "harbor side." The exact expressions "port" and "starboard" do not exist in Gorean though there are equivalent expressions.
The capital city of Cos is Telnus, a port city. The harbors of Telnus are vast and wall-encircled. There are two, high, round towers guarding the entrance to its harbor. The three other major cities on Cos are Selnar, Temos and Jad. The Ubar of Cos is Lurius of Jad. Lurius is corpulent, sagging man, like a great bag of meat. He is said to have a daughter from a long-dissolved free companionship. He was once to be companioned to Lady Vivina, the ward of Chenbar of Tyros, but she was captured by Tarl Cabot and enslaved.
The famed Ta grape, is usually associated with Cos though it is also grown in various locales in similar latitudes. Some of these grapes can get as large as a small plum. If eaten, they may often be peeled. They can also be used to make Ta wine. There is no description in the books as to the color or taste of Ta wine. It is likely that like many other wines, it comes in a variety of colors and tastes. The best Ta wines probably come from Cos though some other areas make good Ta wine as well.
The Cosian wingfish is found only in Cosian waters. It is a blue, delicate, four-spined fish. It is about the size of a tarn disk when curled in one's hand. There are larger varieties of wingfish found farther out to sea but this smaller variety is found only near Cos. It has three or four slender spines in its dorsal fin that are poisonous. It can hurl itself from water and glide through the air for brief distances on its stiff pectoral fins. It generally does this to evade sea-tharlarions who are immune to their poison. It is also sometimes called the songfish because of the whistling sound it makes in courting rituals. Both the male and females thrust their heads out of the water to whistle at that time. The wingfish is considered a great delicacy, especially its liver.
One of the most famous people to come from Cos is Centius, a Master Kaissa Player. He is a gentle, soft-spoken man who looks old and gray haired. It is said that the stabilization serums did not work on him until he was fifty years old. Centius loves Kaissa for its beauty and he seeks the perfect game. He is one of the seven or eight top players on Gor though some believe him to be the best player of all time. In 10125 C.A., Centius beat the famed Scormus or Ar in a riveting match at the Sardar Fair. At the present time, he is likely still going from tournament to tournament.
The Chatka and Curla is a large paga tavern in Telnus. It was built on four levels. It has a large open court with a wooden floor. There is an encircling dais, some twenty feet deep, and over the dais are two encircling balconies, each ten feet deep. The place is dimly lit by wagon lanterns, paneled with red glass. They hang on chains from the ceilings and balconies. Over one hundred slave girls work there and each is garbed as a slave of the Wagon People. They all wear the curla, chatka, kalmak and koora. The entire décor of the tavern suggests the lands of the Wagon Peoples. There are painted scenes of hunting, raiding, bosk herds, and the city of Turia. The girls are taught to say to patrons "A girl would rejoice if she were permitted to please you in an alcove." Some patrons bring their own whips or quirts to the tavern so the girls must ensure they do not offend the patrons. Free women may come here, if they are escorted. The tavern sometimes has dancers and they may be displayed in the center of the red wooden floor within the painted yellow ring of the slave circle. The tavern is not an open place though so the girls cannot just leave it. Double iron gates bar the entrance.
The Vosk River has been long an area of contention between Cos and Tyros and their enemy Ar. All of them claim the southern shore of the river as their own. As Ar is landlocked, the Vosk River is very important. Most of the Arian ships were wharfed at Ar's Station. Cos and Tyros must transport their ships to the continent and then carry them overland to the river. Cos and Tyros used to support Vosk pirates against Ar. But, the formation of the Vosk League has ended much of the piracy on the Vosk.
Port Cos, one of the primary cities on the Vosk River, was founded by settlers from Cos over a century ago. It is a colony whose ties to Cos are largely historical and cultural. It possesses its own Home Stone and is independent from Cos. Many officers of Port Cos were once native Cosians, mercenaries or veterans of the Cosian navy, on detached duty. During the events of the Jason Marshall trilogy, the Gorean books #14 to #16, Port Cos became a member of the Vosk League. Ar would not let Ar's Station become a member of the Vosk League because they did not want to lose their influence on the Vosk River.
The events of Players of Gor begin to detail a grand war between the forces of Cos and Tyros against Ar. Once again, traitors within their intended victim, Ar, help Cos and Tyros in their efforts. Cos is the primary leader in this attacking force. The naval forces land at Brundiniusm and conquer that city. They then begin their movements toward Ar. Cos eventually attack's Ar's Station. Cos is repelled by elements of the Vosk League but Ar claims their Home Stone and takes it to Ar. It is claimed that Ar's Station collaborated with Cos and are traitors. About 50,000 troops of Ar are sent to the Vosk Delta seeking Cosians but this is an elaborate trap. About 45,000 of those men perish in the delta on a wild goose chase.
At this time, Marlenus is in the Voltai on a punitive strike against Treve. The regent of Ar is now alleged to be a tyrant and he is subsequently deposed in a military coup. Cos is welcomed into Ar for helping to deliver them from the regent's tyranny. Again, the traitors within Ar aid Cos. Talena, one of the traitors, is now made Ubara of Ar. The military forces of Ar are disbanded and Cosians take their places, sometimes wearing Ar uniforms. The citizens of Ar are disarmed and even the walls surrounding Ar are destroyed. Cos effectively ends up in control of Cos though some rebellious elements remain in Ar. Marlenus is still missing and the future of Ar looks dim.
Unfortunately, this is how the Gorean series ends. The next proposed book, Witness of Gor, allegedly deals with Marlenus and Treve. It is unknown if Marlenus will return to Ar or if the rebellion within Ar can oust Cos. Even the Priest Kings may wish to interfere at this point. The Priest Kings do not want any single city to control too much of Gor. They stopped Ar early in the series when it appeared Ar was getting too large. Another unknown matter is whether Cos has had support from the Kurii. The Kurii have been strangely silent in the later novels and may very well be behind this attack by Cos. We can only hope that new Gorean novels do get published and the ultimate fate of Cos and Ar becomes known.