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4/01/2021 6:04 pm  #1


I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

I'm a little bit frustrated. Atevi are supposed to be completely alien to us and yet are they really? They don't see so. Why exactly is it impossible for human and atevi to get along? I thought the sole reason we even went to war was because, humans were doing what humans do best and start trouble. 

We never get the POV of the average Atevi. All we get are Atevi nobles who would not think anything like random people.  Or is it just Bren is afraid humans will destroy Atevi society by meddling in their affairs?

Do the Atevi have a military? Wars? Do they have any actaul weapons or is it just conscripts?

How do the Atevi actually feel about us?

How do the island humans feel? 

Is it just solely due to the fact Atevi language is impossible to most humans?  

Is there only one Atevi Language? One culture? 

I'm almost done with the latest novel and feel nothing about the Atevi culture has been actually explored. It's just politics. Honestly, the Atevi aren't even that alien. They're literally Imperial Japan to a T. 

 

4/01/2021 10:28 pm  #2


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

Hello Vangelis. Welcome in.
My first question is, have you read the series from the start? There's a lot of info for the Common Ateva hidden in the earlier books. They have the biological imperative of "manchi"--something no human has the hard-wiring to comprehend. Author makes much of this concept throughout the series. It's one of many points of difference between humans and atevi.. These differences made for a large misunderstanding that resulted in the War of Landing.  
Atevi don't have a military, as current humans would think of such, There's only 2 Tribes that are quite peaceful--but will turn aggressive is pushed too far (Gan and Edi). They have the Assassins Guild who moderates a good deal of such actions before they get our of hand (they are lawyers, judges and--if called for--executioners). If it's one thing Atevi have--and always had-- it's weapons. Armies: not so much. Mostly personnel retainers and associates that will fight for any given lord. It can make for very tangled affairs, such as the one just looked at in Resurgence, for instance. As for how the Atevi feel about humans: that's also taken up on various topics throughout the series: there's the outraged Atevi confusion of the original War of Landing that almost got all humans wiped out entirely, the difference in politics because humans don't feel "manchi" (and can't) which Atevi just can't get their minds around and most recently: the cooperation seen between Atevi and humans on the space station--with social release valves to remove anybody that can't get along together up there. How do the humans feel about Atevi?  Afraid. Very afraid. They are hyper aware that the Atevi almost wiped them out--even 200 yrs after the event. There a group that resemble the WAP/WASP ideas of today (Human Heritage Party in the books) and they just don't get it: that world is *not* theirs, never was and never will be. Humans are mentally/socially more flexible than Atevi society because of evolutionary and biological differences. Atevi tempers are their reaction to too much strain on their inherent biological/mental constraints.
And yes, Atevi have Wars. All the time, even--and especially--among themselves.
No, Atevi (Ragi) language is not "impossible" to humans--just woppingly difficult because it takes into account a whole lot more factors/elements (mathmatics) than any human language ever has. That's why a human who can manage the social and language twists to Atevi (Ragi) culture are hard to develop. There's also the fact that the Mosphieran humans are largely sheep-like: they have jobs, but everything is easy and--relatively--handed to them by their society. In true human fashion, the average Mospherian doesn't worry too much about the Atevi finishing the job on eliminating them because it'd interfere with their time on the Coast vacationing.
There are a whole lot of Atevi languages and different cultures scattered around. The books spent most of their time with the Ragi because that's the major governing body in this series. A few books back, there was a brief ouster by another clan/culture, so it can be done. The author can only juggle so many characters at a time too.
And yeah, it's a lot of politics, because that's what make a world go round. Bakers and stone masons just don't have a lot to do with Atevi government--unless the lords get to fighting or the lords prove to be not for the good of their people/associates. That's part of the reason for the Assassins Guild: to keep the little people from becoming collateral damage. It's happened in their historic past. That said, pay attention to the interactions with the serving staff, there's tidbits of info there.
And yeah, Imperial Japan is right up there (and there's differences there, too) because the author is very fond of things anime, cats and language structure (she's been an English teacher in her time).
Might one suggest going back through and look for some of these things. It'll explain much for you. Sometimes these details take a good re-read to jump out at you. Lots of us here re-read the series frequently for just that reason.
Hope this helps you out some.

Last edited by Griffinmoon (4/01/2021 10:31 pm)

 

4/01/2021 11:00 pm  #3


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

Thanks! Its been a long time since I started. I still gotta read the latest book. My question is then how could the Atevi exterminate us? Do the Islanders not have any military or weapons? Would the Atevi really just up and decide to genocide us for no real reason? 

But, Tabini and even Cajeri seem very open and have a genuine desire to form an association with humans. They're doing a lot to prevent any war. I mean even though Cajeri finds the humans strange he finds them fascinating and even had followers. Are Atevi like Tabini and Cajeri the exceptions because they're aiji? Even on the ship atevi at least attempt to cooperate. Is there at least a decent chance one day atevi and humanity could be allies? 

But, the Atevi are not nearly as blood thirsty as imperial japan was. I mean I dont see Atevi bodyguards going around killing people for no reason other then boredom. I dont see gangs of ex-soldiers roaming around killing people or Aijis ordering entire cities burned. Atevi seem way more tolerant.

Do Atevi have prisons or are all crimes met by execution? Atevi don't steal or do random crimes?

Do Atevi like have freetime? Like what do they do for rec? They surely have companions they associate with like going hunting or fishing or whatever? 

Manchi is impossibe to fathom? But, yet, is it really? It's a lot like loyalty. You're devoted to your leader and you have others you are loyal too and trust. We don't understand why they're loyal to each other. It's just man'chi, right? 

My question in regards to the common folk is I just wondered if they were more open to reason or if most were fairly conservative. Surely, they could understand humans=/-atevi and they would have to react differently? Or is it just atevi are incapable of adapting as humans do? 
 

Last edited by Vangelis (4/01/2021 11:06 pm)

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4/02/2021 7:47 am  #4


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

the islanders don't have the wherewithal to exterminate the Atvie for several reasons:  1) humans are vastly outnumbered and are confined to an island.  2) almost all of the resources needed to make weapons, etc., are on the continent, controlled by the aiji.  3) I believe that the War of the Landing scared a lot of humans into realizing just how easily they could be destroyed.  The Heritage Party notwithstanding, most of the people on Mospheira seem to be of the attitude "out of sight, out of mind".  If it doesn't impact their daily lives, they're not all that worried.  It's the rabble-rousers like Gaylord Hanks who keep fueling the fires of distrust.


"Those who can give up essential liberties in order to purchase a little extra security deserve neither liberty nor security." - Benjamin Franklin
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." - Marcus Aurelius
 

4/02/2021 8:57 am  #5


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

We have some glimpses of the "common people". During the lead-up to a celebration in Shejidan, there were mentions of street parties, some drinking too much, etc. But alas, we don't see them often. We really see only the elites on all sides (the the young Gentlemen's 3 assoicates and their families being a notable exception).

The key conceit of the series is that humans and Atevi are almost compatible, but the remaining gap can be very, very dangerous. We see some evidence when Bren tries to "protect" his guards. To which Jago (later) states she will shoot him herself if he ever does it again. Other than that and a few other hints, Bren's super-competence obscures the fundamental problem. It would be fascinitating to get another human POV from someone that just can't leap that gap, and maybe can't even see the gap (and not a Heritage party nut, I want it from an otherwise "good" person).

A book I would like to see is a single-volume "War of the Landing", culminating with the first pahdi. 

Last edited by Aja Jin (4/02/2021 9:04 am)

 

4/02/2021 10:30 am  #6


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

The Atevi's social organization are almost like a military organization. If you want to do anything, you must go through the lords. The typical Atevi's daily interactions are almost exclusively with their own lords and people who are also attached to the same lord. Any interaction with an ordinary person with another ordinary person who has a different lord is inherently dangerous. So they tend to be very formal and rule driven in those situations. The exception with this are the guild. Atevi in the guild are trained to interact with other people but even then guild interacts with guild most of the time. 

So let's say that two farmers who have different lords have a dispute. The way to deal with it is that each farmer goes to their own lord. The lords talk to their guild people. The two sets of guild talk to each other. Then the two sets of guild talk to the farmers one at a time. Then the guild presents a compromise to the lords who present it to the farmers. This goes back and forth for a while until the situation is settled. The two farmers don't generally talk to each other at any point without either their lords or the guild being present. 

There are a few things which point out this in earlier books. One example I can think of is where two ordinary Atevi with different lords somehow ended up closely associated with each other because they were sexually attracted to each other. In human terms they were lovers. But because they had different lords this caused all sorts of problems for the lords in question. Atevi households require secret holding. There are a lot of situations where both sides know what's going on but not officially. Atevi Lords sometimes must ignore things to keep the peace. But an unofficial connection between the two households can force lords to notice things they should not be noticing. In this case, Bren was officially a lord and he was closely associated with both lords. Any of the secrets that these two people knew didn't involve him so if he found out it didn't matter. So he offered to take both of them. He was now their lord. It fixed a delicate situation. In the worst case scenario if Bren hadn't stepped in their own lord might have been forced to throw them out of the clan or even file on them if they couldn't be allowed to leave the clan if the situation had gotten too disruptive. 

I think what happened before the war of the landing was that humans were making "friends" with all sorts of ordinary Atevi. They started introducing Atevi to each other who never should have been introduced. Lords started having problems with each other because of these inappropriate relationships. Fighting broke out between Atevi lords which started spreading into outright war. They tried to tell the humans to cut it out but many humans didn't understand and many didn't want to understand. Finally the Lords stopped fighting each other and allied to fight the humans. 

 

 

4/02/2021 10:30 am  #7


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

The original War of Landing had pacifistic humans vs sheer numbers of angry Atevi. Humans didn't have weapons of mass destruction--such  as is common to today's thinking. Humans in that story were specifically chosen, no doubt, for their compliant attitudes to the ruling commandants of the original spacefaring--witness the attitudes of the ship human commanders to their colonists/Reunioners. Also, any attempt on the Atevi part to eliminate humans entirely wouldn't be "for no reason". Just because a human can't see a reason, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. True even in RL of today.
Would Mospheirans have a military/weapons? Probably, but not like we would think of such in today's terms. I think their "military" would be more like amped up police with an international flavor (witness all the snooping Toby did/does for Mospheira), but no SAS/Green Berets/SEALS/etc because they don't have the need for such among Mospheirans--and there's no sliding such past Atevi.
Allies? Eventually, maybe. The space station is proof of the concept working. But there will never be a human take over of the world: it's not theirs.  Atevi are possessive, irritable and very good at war themselves. And they now have current Mospheirans tech to play with and modify--something the author has mentioned they do for both passive and aggressive things.
Yeah, Atevi societies are better adjusted than Feudal Japan was. There's philosophical differences going on there as well as biological ones.
Prisons/crime. There's one prison and last we readers knew, only one prisoner in it. Execution isn't the only sentence for crimes but then, there's not a lot of Atevi criminals. Unlike the case of any human culture, real or fictitious. That said, what we would currently consider "criminal" happens all the time in Atevi culture. The difference being the reason for it and who's doing it. There's commentary about the Assassins Guild courts being tied up in all sorts of Filings. Note that there's also mention of those Courts being the social valve for tempers to cool off and Filings be withdrawn--with some deliberate stalling/dithering by the Court itself to gain exactly such a result. Spying, for instance, is an Atevi pass-time: done for the lord's reasons--and only the lord is held responsible, not necessarily the spy (depending on the actions of the spy). Humans don't think like that. Mospherians don't have the need for crime: their society doesn't make for haves/havenots nor were they originally selected for the mental inclination.
Yeah, Atevi get "freetime". It's mentioned in various spots. Not usually conducive to plot continuance though.
Human "loyalty" is as close a concept as humans can come to "manchi". Author states that plainly. Humans can change a "loyalty" easily. Atevi have a hard time changing their "manchi" because it's hard-wired into them. Yeah it can and does happen but it causes all sorts of mental/emotional uproar in the Atevi going through such a change. It also changes for very deeply felt reasons. Unlike humans who change their minds at the least little whim.
The Atevi commons. Why should they be interested in understanding humans? By Atevi reasoning, Atevi culture(s) are just fine--and if they're not, they go find another lord that will promote the common good. Humans don't do that. Never have. One of the points in this series is that human "reasoning" isn't the only "reasoning" around. Look around: even in the current RL humans don't "reason" the same among ourselves and create conflict because of it. There's not a lot of common "reasoning" shown between the Ship humans and Mospheirans--and there's only a 200 yr disconnect between them.
 

Last edited by Griffinmoon (5/26/2021 11:18 am)

 

4/02/2021 11:50 am  #8


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

Griffinmoon wrote:

The original War of Landing had pacifistic humans vs sheer numbers of angry Atevi. Humans didn't have weapons of mass destruction--such  as is common to today's thinking. Humans in that story were specifically chosen, no doubt, for their compliant attitudes to the ruling commandants of the original spacefaring--witness the attitudes of the ship human commanders to their colonists/Reunioners. Also, any attempt on the Atevi part to eliminate humans entirely wouldn't be "for no reason". Just because a human can't see a reason, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. True even in RL of today.
Would Mospheikrans have a military/weapons? Probably, but not like we would think of such in today's terms. I think their "military" would be more like amped up police with an international flavor (witness all the snooping Toby did/does for Mospheira), but no SAS/Green Berets/SEALS/etc because they don't have the need for such among Mospheirans--and there's no sliding such past Atevi.
Allies? Eventually, maybe. The space station is proof of the concept working. But there will never be a human take over of the world: it's not theirs.  Atevi are possessive, irritable and very good at war themselves. And they now have current Mospheirans tech to play with and modify--something the author has mentioned they do for both passive and aggressive things.
Yeah, Atevi societies are better adjusted than Feudal Japan was. There's philosophical differences going on there as well as biological ones.
Prisons/crime. There's one prison and last we readers knew, only one prisoner in it. Execution isn't the only sentence for crimes but then, there's not a lot of Atevi criminals. Unlike the case of any human culture, real or fictitious. That said, what we would currently consider "criminal" happens all the time in Atevi culture. The difference being the reason for it and who's doing it. There's commentary about the Assassins Guild courts being tied up in all sorts of Filings. Note that there's also mention of those Courts being the social valve for tempers to cool off and Filings be withdrawn--with some deliberate stalling/dithering by the Court itself to gain exactly such a result. Spying, for instance, is an Atevi pass-time: done for the lord's reasons--and only the lord is held responsible, not necessarily the spy (depending on the actions of the spy). Humans don't think like that. Mospherians don't have the need for crime: their society doesn't make for haves/havenots nor were they originally selected for the mental inclination.
Yeah, Atevi get "freetime". It's mentioned in various spots. Not usually conducive to plot continuance though.
Human "loyalty" is as close a concept as humans can come to "manchi". Author states that plainly. Humans can change a "loyalty" easily. Atevi have a hard time changing their "manchi" because it's hard-wired into them. Yeah it can and does happen but it causes all sorts of mental/emotional uproar in the Atevi going through such a change. It also changes for very deeply felt reasons. Unlike humans who change their minds at the least little whim.
The Atevi commons. Why should they be interested in understanding humans? By Atevi reasoning, Atevi culture(s) are just fine--and if they're not, they go find another lord that will promote the common good. Humans don't do that. Never have. One of the points in this series is that human "reasoning" isn't the only "reasoning" around. Look around: even in the current RL humans don't "reason" the same among ourselves and create conflict because of it. There's not a lot of common "reasoning" shown between the Ship humans and Mospheirans--and there's only a 200 yr disconnect between them.
 

My own personal canon is that the Atevi universe is similar to the Alliance/Union universe. Humans have spread into space. Planets people can live on are rare but every solar system has lots of resources. So humans settle a system by building a space station, then a second, third, and so on. Once there are enough stations in a single solar system for a big enough economy, they start building at the next suitable star. And so on and so on. Living planets are rare. But there are many solar systems with millions or billions or trillions of humans on many space stations. Most humans live in space stations. Few live on planets.

So the Mospheirans are descended from many generations of space station dwellers. Space stations are delicate. Wide scale conflict kills space stations. Rioting kills space stations. Terrorism kills space stations. So human culture on space station changed over many generations. Successful space stations have a culture of cooperation and deferring to legitimate authority. It also provides peaceful ways to change government when most people don't consider the authority to be legitimate. So the typical human is a sociable non violent person. They are somewhat like Atevi in that violence tends to be either interpersonal (one person against someone close to them) or on a large scale (Lord vs Lord). The rare violence tends to be things like spouses getting into physical fights rather than a bar fight or road range types of problems. 

IMO on a space station, people who have violent tendencies aren't attractive to other humans. Violent people are just too dangerous. Too likely to kill everyone. Violent people tend to find themselves shunned. So if you want to have a girlfriend/boyfriend or any close friends you need to get help. After a few generations, personal violence just tends to fade away. 

The conflicts tend to be station to station and its more likely to be economic than military. The original settlers didn't have any weapons more than what police carry but there were many things that could be used as weapons. It would be like planes vs knights on horseback fight. 

 

4/02/2021 1:13 pm  #9


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

What's always surprised me is that the Atevi in general don't seem interested in Mospherian or even human history. In a race that has astronomers (who were admittedly shunned), I would have thought some would be more curious about what drives humans and made them the way they are.

Atevi are not necessarily the most trusting race after the war. But they relied on translators that Humans provided. I'd have expected at least an equal to the paidhi from the Atevi, one that the aiji himself could rely on without any doubts or reservations. If he weren't used to negotiate directly, he could at least gather relevant human history that could help in others' negotiations.

I understand that Atevi in general are less-adaptive than humans, but Atevi language being so much more complicated than Mospherian, it would seem easier for at least a few Atevi to learn the simpler Mospherian.

Last edited by Roci (4/02/2021 1:14 pm)

 

4/02/2021 1:40 pm  #10


Re: I'm confused on how Atevi society actually works.

Roci wrote:

What's always surprised me is that the Atevi in general don't seem interested in Mospherian or even human history. In a race that has astronomers (who were admittedly shunned), I would have thought some would be more curious about what drives humans and made them the way they are.

Atevi are not necessarily the most trusting race after the war. But they relied on translators that Humans provided. I'd have expected at least an equal to the paidhi from the Atevi, one that the aiji himself could rely on without any doubts or reservations. If he weren't used to negotiate directly, he could at least gather relevant human history that could help in others' negotiations.

I understand that Atevi in general are less-adaptive than humans, but Atevi language being so much more complicated than Mospherian, it would seem easier for at least a few Atevi to learn the simpler Mospherian.

Atevi are very clan oriented. Atevi don't even have a concept of murder for killing someone outside of the clan. If someone were to kill an outsider any guilt would be for causing problems to their lord. They just wouldn't be concerned about the actual killing. 

History is the history of the clan. Atevi's in general aren't interested in other clans history except how it affected their clan. If they read human history, most Atevi would be reading to see how humans viewed their clan. They really don't care that much about another clan's internal issues except where it conflicts with their clan. 

It just doesn't enter into a typical Atevi's mind to even consider where human's came from. Human's aren't part of their clans and anyone whose not in their own clan isn't really a person anyway. 
 

 

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