(#55, Version 5.0)
The city of Ko-ro-ba is the first Gorean city we encounter in the Gor novels. In Tarnsman of Gor, Tarl Cabot is first brought to this city when he is taken from Earth by a ship of the Priest-Kings. It will become Tarl's first Home Stone and is one of the High Cities of Gor. Despite its initial importance, the books actually do not describe Ko-ro-ba in much detail. We know only a few of its citizens. We also know little of what has transpired in Ko-ro-ba during much of the latter part of the series.
The word "Ko-ro-ba" is an archaic expression for a village market, thus likely showing the age of this mighty city. It is also known sometimes as the City of Cylinders or the Towers of the Morning. The latter designation was given to it by an ancient poet, one who sung the glories of many different Gorean cities. These names show that the cylinders of Ko-ro-ba seem to be impressive, maybe even more so than the cylinders of other cities. As most Gorean cities consist of cylinders, there must be some reason why Ko-ro-ba is named so.
Ko-ro-ba lies high in the northern temperate latitudes, not too far from the Thassa shore. The Sardar is located over one thousand pasangs away. Ko-ro-ba is located northwest of Ar, on the other side of the Vosk River, and the Thentis Mountains. A tarn from Ko-ro-ba could reach the city of Thentis in one day though a wagon would take the better part of a Gorean month. It also takes about three days by tarn to travel from the Vosk River to Ar. Northeast of Ko-ro-ba is the city of Laura that is about two hundred pasangs inland of the Thassa shore. These distances and travel times help us to determine the general location of Ko-ro-ba.
Ko-ro-ba sits in the midst of hills, a few hundred feet or so above sea level. This is not a mountainous area, but one of gently sloping rises. The road to the city does wind up a rather steep ascent to a series of ridges. This steepness does bother some merchants and others who must traverse this road with heavy burdens. The road is also marked by cylindrical pasang stones each inscribed with the sign of Ko-ro-ba and the approximate pasang count to the city walls. There are grain fields some pasangs away from the city located toward the Vosk and Tamber Gulf.
White walls surround the city, enclosing the myriad cylinders and towers. These cylinders and towers are of varying sizes and colors, joined by narrow bridges that arch between them. None of the bridges have railings and some may be as high as one thousand feet off the ground. By day, this is a colorful vision almost like a multi-hued spider web. At night, the city is also as colorful. First, there would be peasant fires lit in the areas surrounding the city. Then, there would be large beacon fires on the city walls to mark the passage for tarnsmen. Within the city, there would be lanterns on the bridges. The cylinder compartments would also have lit lamps of a hundred colors burning brightly. Lamp codes may be used to tell others of the latest news and gossip.
The present Administrator of Ko-ro-ba is Matthew Cabot, the father of Tarl Cabot. Matthew was once the Ubar of Ko-ro-ba and became the Administrator around 10108 C.A. Matthew was born on Earth over six hundred years ago. He was brought to Gor by the Priest-Kings and would have been one of the first generation to receive the Stabilization Serums. He is the oldest known person on Gor. Though a few other Goreans are noted as looking old, their actual ages are never given. Matthew is tall, red-haired and appears to be in his 40s. He has been working for the Priest-Kings for a long time. They were the ones who told him to name his son Tarl. Tarl's mother was from Earth and she went to Gor to be with Matthew. Gor scared her though and Matthew had her returned to Earth out of his love for her. Matthew has a small Home Stone in his personal chamber that encloses a handful of dirt he brought from Earth.
Tarl Cabot, the center of much of the Gorean series, is Matthew's son and was born on Earth in Bristol, England. His mother died when he was about six years old and he never knew his father during his youth. After his mother died, Tarl was raised by his aunt. He eventually went to the University of Oxford and graduated decently though not superlatively. In his search for a job, he opted to become an English history teacher at a small liberal arts college for men in New Hampshire. (It is interesting that this was a male only college) Tarl has red hair and blue eyes. He is also tall, well built, and fair-skinned. One of Tarl's interests was in fencing. During his first Christmas vacation, he decides go camping in the White Mountains despite a lack of experience in such matters.
On February 3, he found a strange letter and ring. The letter was an envelope of a strange metal with a place for a thumb print. It opened when he placed his thumb against that spot. The letter was dated February 3, 1640 and was from his father, Matthew Cabot. The ring was a red metal bearing a simple crest "C", his father's crest. At this point, Tarl is in his early twenties, no more than twenty-five years old. Tarl then enters a spaceship, passes out and wakes up on Gor, within a chamber in Ko-ro-ba. Tarnsman of Gor does not give an Earth year for this occurrence but on Gor the year is 10110 C.A.
It is the second book in the series, Outlaw of Gor, that provides us with the clues to approximate an Earth year for the timeline of the novels. After the events of Tarnsman of Gor, Tarl is sent back to Earth against his will. He returns to Gor at the start of Outlaw of Gor and it is now 10116 C.A. on Gor. Soon after he returns to Gor, his friend Harrison Smith receives a manuscript that would eventually become Tarnsman of Gor. In general, it takes one to two years for a book to see publication. Tarnsman of Gor was published in December 1966 thus Harrison Smith likely received the manuscript in February 1965 or 1966. That would then place the events of Tarnsman of Gor in 1959 or 1960. The year 2000 A.D. would thus translate to 10149 or 10150 C.A.
When Tarl first came to Gor, he was trained as a Warrior and taken into the Red Caste. He was groomed for a dangerous mission, to steal the Home Stone of Ar. He was successful and Marlenus, Ubar of Ar, was ousted from the city and the Initiate Caste took control. Pa-Kur, a Master Assassin later forcefully captured Ar but he was soon after overthrown by Tarl and forces from Ko-ro-ba and Thentis. The Warrior Kazrak was made the temporary Administrator of Ar while Marlenus was officially exiled from the city. Marlenus then went to the Voltai Mountains with a group of loyal men. Tarl then Companioned Talena, the daughter of Marlenus, and returned to Ko-ro-ba. But after his wedding night, the Priest-Kings returned him to Earth.
When Tarl returned to Gor, he found that the Priest-Kings had destroyed Ko-ro-ba and decreed that no two people of Ko-ro-ba should reunite. The citizens of Ko-ro-ba were now scattered all over Gor. The city had existed for about another year after Tarl's return to Earth. Then there were fire signs that indicated the city was to be destroyed. Tarl journeyed to the Sardar to confront the Priest-Kings. After the events of Priest-Kings of Gor, Tarl reunited with his father and other Koroban citizens. Matthew still possessed the Home Stone of Ko-ro-ba and the city was permitted to rebuild.
There are two other prominent Koroban citizens mentioned in the novels. One is also named Tarl, sometimes referred to as the Older Tarl, and the other is Torm. The Older Tarl was Tarl's instructor in the warrior arts. He is a blond-haired, blue-eyed giant of a man. He has a beard over his craggy face. He is commonly cheerful and proud, though not arrogant. He disdains the use of the crossbow and long bow believing they are weapons almost beneath a Warrior. Torm is a Scribe of Ko-ro-ba and taught Tarl how to speak, read and write Gorean. Torm has sandy hair, pale blue eyes, a sharp needle of a nose and a slight build. He does not take care of his clothes and is a messy housekeeper. He seems to be always cold. He understands English, has a phenomenal memory and a true love of education. He is an eccentric man with a good sense of humor.
An important cylinder within Ko-ro-ba is the Chamber of the Council, a building common to most Gorean cities. It is here where the elected representatives of the High Castes hold their meetings and other important functions. It is the widest cylinder in the city and its ceiling is six times higher than a normal ceiling in a residence would be. The ceiling is said to be lit "as if by stars" though that is not explained. Possibly there are tiny holes in the ceilings and the light is shown through them. The walls are painted in horizontal stripes of color, using the five High Caste colors. Benches of stone surround the room in five tiers. The wall behind each tier is a different color representative of the Caste assigned to that particular tier. The bottom tier belongs to the Initiate Caste and the other tiers follow the normal Caste ranking, from Scribe to Warrior. In the center of the room is a throne for the city ruler, the Administrator in Ko-ro-ba. No weapons are permitted in this room except when a new Warrior is being inducted into the Warrior Caste. In that case, the entrant will be the only one with weapons. It is likely that citizenship ceremonies also occur here.
Like all Gorean cities, Ko-ro-ba has its enemies and allies. Ar is a hereditary enemy of Ko-ro-ba. Prior to the events of Tarnsman of Gor, Matthew Cabot tried to form an alliance of cities against Ar, worried about Ar's empire building. The fiercely independent cities though rebuffed his offer, actually whipping his diplomatic envoys with a slave whip. Matthew chose not to go to war over that insult only because such a war would only benefit Ar. Ko-ro-ba knew that it had only a comparative handful of tarnsmen in comparison to Ar. This is why Ko-ro-ba chose to steal the Home Stone of Ar to ruin its enemy. The loss of their Home Stone would have a devastating effect. Later in the series, during the Cos/Ar war, nothing is really said about Ko-ro-ba's stance on this matter. It is doubtful they would support Cos but also may not give much, if any, aid to Ar.
Raiders from Treve were once a threat to Ko-ro-ba. The raiders would hit them at the harvest season and steal much of their grain, burning what they did not take. The tarnsmen of Ko-ro-ba are on par with those of Treve. But, the problem was detecting the raiders before they reached the city. Matthew Cabot found a way though to stop those attacks and Treve no longer raids their fields. Matthew constructed a series of beacons, outside the city, set into fortified towers. Each manned beacon would give alarm if a raider or invader were detected. The beacon would light a flame. At night, the flame would be easily visible by the next beacon that would also light a flame. During the day, green branches would be used on the fire to make a white smoke. T he men also have a system of signals to communicate with each other and the city. This early warning system would allow the tarnsmen of Ko-ro-ba to quickly mobilize against any danger. Once this system was in place, Treve stopped raiding the city.
Ko-ro-ba is now allied with Thentis. After allying with Thentis to stop Pa-Kur from seizing Ar, the two cities continued to maintain the alliance. Ko-ro-ba does not have any other known allies. Most Gorean cities are very independent and such alliances are rare.
The books also contain a mix of small items concerning Ko-ro-ba:
War Call of Ko-ro-ba: This is mentioned very briefly. It appears to be a summons to war for the warriors of the city. We do not know if it is a specific signal or if this is simply a generality.
Tharlarion: No one in the city maintains or breeds tharlarions. Tarns are the preferred mode of travel.
Free women: The women of Ko-ro-ba are some of the most free of all the Gorean cities. They have less restrictions on their mobility. Many Free Women in other cities are not permitted to leave their home without the permission of a male relative or Free Companion. This is not true in Ko-ro-ba. They may even attend the theater unattended. It is thought that this is due in part to Matthew Cabot's liberal views on women. Family is very respected in the city as well.
Street of the Field Gate: This broad avenue leads to the southernmost gate of the city.
White walls: The rebuilt Ko-ro-ba has white walls, a similar color to those of Ar. The color is intended to reflect light back at any potential invaders making their attack more difficult.
Public slave pens: The city has such pens that are available for rent to visiting Slavers. State slaves are also housed here. This is basically only a boarding facility and any training must be found in the private pens.
Selnar: This is the third month of the Gorean calendar, known in Ar and other cities as Camerius.
Coinage: The gold tarn disk of Ko-ro-ba is a well respected coin over much of Gor.
Kaissa: Open and well-known Kaissa tournaments are held in Ko-ro-ba.