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Literature: The Chronicles of Magravandias
Come rise, come unto me...The Chronicles of Magravandias
is an epic fantasy
trilogy with occasional undertones of Affectionate Parody
by British author Storm Constantine
. It consists of:
- Sea Dragon Heir (1998)
- The Crown of Silence (2000)
- The Way of Light (2001)
There is also a collection of stories set in the same world The Thorn Boy and Other Tales of Dark Desire.In a World
where the elements battle through human armies, the sea dragons and their worshipers, the Palindrakes
, have lost to Cassilin Malagash
, the king of fire, and his god Madragore
. Cassilin takes the Palindrake heir, Valraven, and makes him swear fealty to him and to Madragore, banishing the sea dragons and their power from Caradore. The Palindrakes are forced to forget their heritage
and Caradore becomes a state of Magravandias.
Two-hundred years later, Magravandias is a vast empire
and still expanding with the help of Caradorean nobles leading their armies. Pharinet Palindrake, twin sister to Valraven V, begins to learn the truth of her family and her country's history and wants to revive the power of the sea dragons. This is complicated when she becomes insanely jealous of her best friend, who is destined to marry Valraven
and become the sea wife
, a role she wants for herself
The personal drama of Pharinet's love for her brother meets the historical, political, and cultural drama of tensions between Caradore and Magravandias. Tragedy strikes, resulting in the deaths of the Palindrakes' friends and spouses Ellony and Khaster Leckery. Then we abandon Pharinet's narration
for Valraven's second wife
, and this is just the beginning of the story.
The Chronicles of Magravandias provides examples of:
- Abdicate the Throne: Gastern is forced to abdicate after he goes mad. His son is also quietly pushed aside.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight and subverted with Valraven's wives. Ellony is madly in love with him. Varencienne instead falls for Khaster.
- Ancient Tradition: Everything to do with the sea dragons. Also everything to do with the Crown of Silence.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: The Leckerys being such a big family have a few cases of this.
- Khaster generally finds Merlan irritating as a child.
- Ellony resents having to bring Niska along on outings.
- The Apprentice:
- Shan to Taropat
- Nip to Thremius
- Arc Words: "It will happen regardless of what you think or do."
- Arranged Marriage: As most of the characters are nobility, almost all marriages work this way. Most noteworthy being Varencienne's marriage to Valraven, who is over ten years older than her.
- Attempted Rape: Bayard tries to force himself on Tayven. Khaster intervenes.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning
- Badass and Child Duo: Rav and his bodyguard Garante.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Queen Neferishu, in contrast with the willowy standards of beauty of the Mewtish people. Bayard has apparently said "she's the only weighty woman he'd ever consider taking to bed."
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Malagashes take the cake here. The emperor has a dozen children who all dislike each other and two of them openly challenge the heir's claim to the throne. The other brothers join whichever brother they most admire or most fear. Not to mention Tatrini implies that Leonid's mother offed his older brother so Leonid could inherit.
- Bittersweet Ending: Valraven becomes king of Magravandias and Caradore and the states of the Magravandian Empire become independent countries again, but he and Varencienne will never live in Caradore again. Also Tatrini lives, but all of her sons have been murdered.
- Black and Gray Morality: The designated heroes are not particularly heroic. Just the villains of the story are worse.
- Black Sheep: Almorante, who is the only dark-haired Malagash in generations. In adulthood he pulled away from his family, becoming interested in the mystic arts, and dressing, as his mother describes, like "a brigand lord" rather than a prince. He would probably be the best candidate to succeed his father, but he just doesn't have a talent for inspiring strong feelings in people like Bayard or the legitimacy of position that Gastern has.
- Black Widow: Tatrini is widely believed to have killed her husband. She does not deny that she did, if mostly because no one would dare say it to her face. Subverted. Not only did she not kill him, but she was with him at the end and said that was the closest she came to loving Leonid.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: The Malagashes are famous for their blonde hair.
- Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: When Ellony marries Valraven, an old wound reopens and bleeds all over her gown. Played with in that women wear red wedding dresses and Pharinet first thinks the color of the fabric has come off on Ellony's hand.
- Born Lucky: Palindrake men are immune to assassination attempts. Also they will always triumph on the battlefield. The Malagashes love them for exactly this reason.
- Break the Cutie: The entire Leckery family gets a taste of this, but Khaster and Ellony get it the worst.
- Break the Haughty: Tatrini gets this hard at the end when all her sons are murdered.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Valraven and Pharinet. Bayard and Varencienne also talk about marrying each other, but this is more to protect Varencienne from marrying someone she doesn't love.
- Byronic Hero: Valraven. He takes a step into Villain Protagonist territory for a while when he's possessed, but considering how hard he fights against it, he still comes out of it as heroic as the series allows. Played with in that the reader knows all about his Dark and Troubled Past but his second wife doesn't.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Several.
- Tayven makes a nameless appearance early on delivering a letter, long before he has a real role in the story.
- Varencienne is mentioned dismissively before Valraven's first wedding, but becomes the POV character and Valraven's second wife.
- Tatrini's first mention is also dismissive and her name isn't used. She becomes a major player later on.
- The Chessmaster: Darris Maycarpe.
- The Chosen One: Lampshaded and subverted thoroughly with Shan's story. Shan was actually Taropat's back-up choice since the real chosen one was killed by the Magravandians. Taropat decided to Screw Destiny and create a new hero to defeat Magravandias. Further taken apart by Shan ultimately not being the hero of the story anyway, even if he plays a key role; he is the Warrior, not the King.
- The City Narrows: The Soak is the worst part of Magrast.
- The Clan: Any of the noble families, but the Malagashes and Palindrakes in particular.
- Closet Key: Tayven for Khaster.
- Corrupt Church: The worship of Madragore.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: Many of the problems in Caradore could have been avoided by the Palindrakes and the Leckerys not marrying in the first place.
- Court Mage: The Malagashes have mages in their employ. Khaster is likely this at the end.
- Creepy Twins: Valraven and Pharinet, especially in their youth when they are very close. Rav and Elly also have their moments.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Madragore. The Magravandians spread this faith to free others from "pagan superstition."
- Cynicism Catalyst: Ellony's death triggers a very nasty shift in Khaster. It could have been healed, except then Tayven happened and it got worse.
- Dead Guy Junior: When Varencienne gives birth to twins, the boy is named Valraven, nicknamed Rav, as is family tradition. The girl is named Ellony in honor of Ellony Leckery, Valraven's first wife. She names her third child Leonid in honor of her father.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The court in Magrast.
- Death of the Old Gods: The church of Madragore dissuades and sometimes outright bans local religions. Foy is the most notable example.
- Decoy Protagonist: Arguably everyone who isn't Valraven, who doesn't get POV chapters until The Way of Light. Shan is this in particular as he is the POV character through the majority of The Crown of Silence.
- Demonic Possession: The dragons daughters possess several people over the course of the story.
- Demoted to Extra: Most notably Shan between The Crown of Silence and The Way of Light. Merlan goes from being a fairly important side character to falling off the face of the earth. Storm tends to toss her characters aside when she no longer needs them.
- Depraved Bisexual: Bayard. His lovers can't even be mentioned in polite company half the time.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Khaster Leckery.
- Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Painfully averted.
- Shan is gang-raped by soldiers, an act so traumatic that he forgets how to talk.
- Tayven is nearly assaulted by Bayard before Khaster steps in, and is raped by Bayard later while drugged. Actually Tayven was not that affected by the drug and reveals to Bayard that he could have killed him during that encounter. He would probably have killed Bayard if he didn't have other instructions.
- Driven to Madness: Bayard, by the end.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Khaster's response to Ellony's death.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Almorante throws himself in front of Bayard's sword to protect Valraven.
- Dysfunction Junction: All of the major characters go through major trauma so that by the end of the series they can really only function together by deliberately setting all their issues aside until later.
- Eccentric Mentor/Cynical Mentor: Taropat is a quirky and cranky mentor at the best of times and nearly insane at the worst.
- Elemental Embodiment: What the dragons and their underlings like the dragon daughters really are.
- The Empire: Magravandias. In the past it was Cos, and before them, Mewt.
- The Emperor: Cassilin in the prologue, Leonid during most of the present-day events.
- End of an Age: The fall of the Palindrakes in the prologue.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Bayard is without a doubt the worst of the emperor's sons, but probably the only one who actually respects and cares about their mother.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Tayven Hirantel is so beautiful, he gets Khaster to fall in love with him.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: In a rare male example, Tayven. At least, he starts out this way.
- Evil Matriarch: Most people believe Tatrini to be this. She encourages them.
- The Evil Prince: Bayard.
- The Fair Folk: The elden. It's much more complicated than that.
- False Widow: Pharinet is still married because Khaster isn't dead. Not that she knows that.
- Fallen Angel: Azcaranoth the peacock angel is likened to the myth of Prometheus with a touch of Satan.
- Famed in Story
- The Malagashes, being the royal family
- Valraven is widely known and very popular.
- The events of "The Thorn Boy" are referenced as an old story in The Crown of Silence
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
- Mewt is based on Ancient Egypt.
- High Hamagara appears to be inspired by Tibet.
- The Fellowship Has Ended: Rather angrily, when Taropat learns Sinaclara intends to crown Valraven.
- Fiery Redhead: Sinaclara
- Fish out of Water: Shan is often out of place wherever he goes, whether among the mages in Bree or the royal court in Mewt because of his uneducated peasant background.
- Fisher King: Shan meets the king who lives and dies for the land in a vision. The True King is supposed to be this.
- Foil: Most every character has a foil somewhere in the story. Often they have more than one. For example—
- Valraven has Khaster, Bayard, and Almorante
- Pharinet has Ellony Leckery and Elly Palindrake
- Four Element Ensemble: The four dragons of the elements.
- Foy: Queen of the Waters
- Efrit: King of Fire
- Paraga: Lord of the Air
- Espereth: Lady of the Earth
- Functional Magic
- The Fundamentalist: Gastern, to the point that everyone but the church is terrified of him succeeding his father.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Gastern faces the darkness of humanity. His mind doesn't survive.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: The response to anyone who knows a thing or two about Empress Tatrini. Even the response of her own sons.
- Good Parents: There are a few, strangely enough.
- The Leckerys, particularly Saska, whose worst flaw is being a busybody.
- Shan has nothing but fond memories of his father.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Ellony, as fitting The Ingenue.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Nip believes her grandfather was an eld. Shan is highly skeptical of this theory.
- Half-Identical Twins: Valraven and Pharinet.
- Happily Married: Oddly enough, this does happen in this trilogy. Montimer and Saska were very happy together, Valraven IV and his wife Lerenie were in love, and Everna was very happy with Thomist.
- Haunted Castle: Old Caradore. Or at least that's how everyone treats it. It's really just a little rundown from being abandoned for two-hundred years. If it's haunted by anything, it's human imagination.
- Hellhole Prison: The Skitterings.
- Here There Were Dragons: All over the world, but most notably Caradore and the sea dragons.
- Heroic BSOD: Khaster, after Valraven won't help him save Tayven.
- Hidden Depths: Tayven appears to be nothing more than a pretty bauble. He is however Almorante's personal spy, later a trained assassin, and deeply and genuinely in love with Khaster.
- High-Class Call Girl: Khaster visits a courtesan to forget sexual tension with Tayven. It doesn't work.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: What Tayven appears to be, though played with in that he's very concerned about his own survival.
- Hot Witch: Lady Sinaclara.
- Identical Stranger: Shan looks uncannily like a younger Tayven.
- Ligrana Leckery also inexplicably resembles Pharinet.
- Infant Immortality: Subverted. The emperor's youngest three sons are only children, but they die in the end all the same.
- The Ingenue: Ellony Leckery. This ultimately goes very badly for her.
- In Love with Love: Khaster convinces himself he loves Pharinet, though Pharinet has clearly stated on more than one occasion that they are friends whose families would like them to marry.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Niree is swimming naked when Shan and company find her. She doesn't seem to mind.
- Ironic Echo: The duel at the end of The Way of Light to Valraven and Bayard's first duel in Sea Dragon Heir.
- Keeping the Enemy Close: Valraven, the emperor's most valued general, is married to Princess Varencienne for this purpose.
- Kill 'em All: What most people think needs to happen to the Malagashes. The Malagashes are all murdered in the end.
- King Bob the Nth: Valraven Palindrake is the fifth of his name. Emperor Leonid II.
- King on His Deathbed: Leonid spends much of the trilogy dying, and it makes everyone very nervous.
- The Kingdom: According to legend, Caradore and Magravandias were once like this. The characters question if matters were ever that ideal.
- Lady of Black Magic: Tatrini is a woman of many talents.
- Lampshade Hanging: Happens frequently, though not enough to make the series a deconstruction and not quite enough for the characters to be Genre Savvy. The characters just, unknowingly, question normal fantasy novel actions and logic.
- Left for Dead: Tayven.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Ellony and Pharinet respectively. Highlighted by their rivalry over Valraven.
- A Lighter Shade Of Gray: The Leckerys are probably the only family that consistently strives for decency.
- Like a Son to Me: Taropat claims Shan as a son in The Way of Light.
- The Lost Woods: The Forest of Bree.
- Loving a Shadow: Varencienne has an affair with Khaster's brother Merlan because of his resemblance to Khaster. Made even worse by the fact that she's never met Khaster but believes herself in love with him anyway.
- The Magic Comes Back: But not in the way the characters expect it to.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: A few instances.
- Almorante's dark hair leads people to believe he is not actually a Malagash.
- Invoked when Pharinet jokes that she wouldn't believe Rav was a Palindrake if he wasn't a twin.
- There are subtle hints that Valraven is not the father of Varencienne's third child.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Nip and Niree
- Mandatory Motherhood: Varencienne has no desire to have children, but she must in order for Valraven to have an heir.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Pharinet is surprised that both Valraven and Khaster are sexually experienced. She wonders when and how they gained that experience. The only male character who loses his virginity on the page is Shan.
- Master Poisoner: Lord Pimalder, who is both Tatrini's perfumer and poisoner.
- Mind Rape: The Dragon Daughters drive Gastern mad.
- Missing Mom:
- Pharinet and Valraven's mother dies giving birth to them.
- Shan's mother dies when he's very little.
- The Mourning After: Tatrini closes her heart to her children after her third son dies very young.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Pharinet's belated reactions to her terrible treatment of Ellony are of this nature. Particularly after Ellony dies.
- No Man of Woman Born: The initial spell cast on Valraven I states that so long as he bears the mark of Madragore, he cannot rise up against Magravandias or Caradore will burn. so Valraven V simply removes the mark.
- No Periods, Period: Mostly played straight; the only time periods are mentioned is when a character notices she's stopped bleeding and might be pregnant. Subverted in The Way of Light when Varencienne tries to figure out how to handle her period in the wild.
- Not So Different: Behind a lot of the conflicts in the series. Most of the rivals in the series e.g. Valraven and Bayard, are very similar.
- Offered the Crown: Valraven is offered the Magravandian throne and people plot to put him in power long before this offer is made.
- Old Maid: Everna seemed doomed to being a spinster until finally marrying at the late age of twenty-eight. She is widowed not long after and becomes the Maiden Aunt to her brother's children.
- Older Than They Look: Thremius already an old-looking man, but Nip remarks that he's older than Shan's great-great grandfather would be if he were still alive.
- One-Gender School: The college in Magrast is for boys only.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. Children are named for parents and ancestors often.
- The Ophelia: Ellony becomes increasingly unstable after joining the Sisterhood of the Dragon.
- Opposed Mentors: Taropat and Sinaclara for Shan.
- Our Dragons Are Different: There are dragons for all the elements, not just fire. The sea dragons are the most prominent example.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The Ustredi.
- Pair the Spares: Maycarpe/Saska is teased in the final chapters of the series.
- Parental Favoritism: Leonid prefers his oldest son Gastern. Tatrini prefers Bayard.
- Parental Neglect: Partly because most of the characters are nobility and thus hire nurses to raise their children. Also many of the men are officers in the army and away from home most of the time.
- Despite spending time with her mother every day, Varencienne barely knows Tatrini and is convinced at one point that Tatrini doesn't remember her name.
- Leonid doesn't come off much better. The first and only time Varencienne touches her father or speaks to him personally is on her wedding day.
- Valraven and Pharinet's father was too wrapped up in grief to pay much attention to his children when he did have leave.
- Even when their mother was alive, Pharinet deduces from Everna's stories that their mother had little time for Everna.
- Parental Substitute: Oltefney becomes more of a mother to Varencienne than Tatrini ever was.
- Promotion to Parent: Several characters are raised by their siblings.
- Everna raised Valraven and Pharinet since their mother died giving birth to them and their father was often away from home.
- Queen Neferishu and Princess Helayna are also raised by their older brothers.
- Platonic Life Partners: Valraven and Varencienne's marriage.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Khaster begs Bayard to spare Tayven. It goes badly.
- Polar Opposite Twins: Twins Rav and Elly are opposites physically and mentally. He is golden like his Malagash relatives, bold, adventurous, and talkative. Elly is dark like the Palindrakes, gentle, quiet, and sensitive.
- Power Trio: The Brotherhood of the King—Shan the warrior, Taropat the magus, and Tayven the bard.
- The Quest: The seven lakes of Recolletine.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Taropat, Shan, and Tayven are the king's magus, warrior, and bard respectively. And then Merlan tags along, which sparks a lot of debate.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Holme is torn apart by soldiers, even though the villagers don't, and can't, put up a fight.
- Red Light District: The Soak.
- Religion Is Magic: The Sisterhood of the Dragon stands out in particular, though most religions work this way.
- Replacement Sibling: Not surprising that this happens in the Leckery family. In both cases, older siblings are idealists while younger replacement siblings are realists.
- Merlan resists any and all attempts people make to say he's like Khaster, even though they look almost exactly alike.
- Niska is widely recognized as looking like Ellony, but she is much more successful at working with the magic of the sea dragons.
- Rightful King Returns: Of course Valraven takes Caradore back. That's the whole point of stories that start with fallen dynasties.
- Royal Blood: The Palindrakes, Malagashes, and other royal families. The Mewtish people in particular are proud of their long history and ancient royal dynasty.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Ellony Leckery.
- Secret Relationship: Played with. Valraven and Bayard's relationship is not a secret in Magrast, but it is to the characters in Caradore.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Khaster and Valraven. By comparison, Valraven and Bayard respectively as well.
- Sibling Rivalry: The Malagash princes, but particularly bad are Gastern, Almorante, and Bayard.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Pharinet and Everna are not rivals, but where Everna is plain and quiet and dependable, Pharinet is visually striking, highly emotional, and even unstable.
- Soiled City on a Hill: Magrast. The city is pretty much the concentrated corruption of the entire Magravandian empire, the palace in particular.
- Spare To The Throne: Gastern has far too many younger brothers to do anyone any good.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Cassilin or Casillin? Is it Elly or Ellie? This often happens on the same page.
- Standard Hero Reward: Played with a lot. Valraven is indeed useful to Leonid and thus is rewarded with being married to Varencienne, but the marriage is also for the purpose of "keep your friends close and your (potential) enemies closer." Not to mention Valraven isn't intended to be in line for succession. He gets the throne anyway.
- Stay in the Kitchen: The Magravandians have this opinion of women.
- Student and Master Team: Shan and Taropat.
- Succession Crisis: The entire basis of the political plot.
- Switching P.O.V.: Happens frequently, especially in the last book which has several plot lines going on at once.
- There Are No Therapists: And it shows.
- The Three Faces of Eve: The three women in Valraven's life—Ellony (child), Varencienne (wife) and Pharinet (seductress).
- Ellony, Valraven's first wife, is innocent and virginal, unable to handle the harsh realities of the world and ultimately breaks over the harsh reality of her husband's nature.
- Varencienne, Valraven's second wife, is Valraven's life partner. He trusts her and respects her, and she does well in her role as mistress of Caradore, but their marriage is ultimately a partnership and not love.
- Pharinet, Valraven's sister, is the most sexually driven of the three, even portrayed by her husband Khaster as the archetypal black-haired vixen. It is the forbidden passion between her and Valraven that sets the tragedy into motion.
- This Is Reality: Valraven and Varencienne in particular like reminding people that they are not living in a grand, sweeping epic, no matter how much the lives they are living may resemble one.
- Title Drop: The titles of all three books are used in dialogue at one point or another because they are important in-universe objects or concepts.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Pharinet and Ellony.
- Training from Hell: Thremius apparently sometimes puts Nip through this. Once he hung upside-down and forced her to speak backwards to him for a week.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia:
- Shan forgets for a period of time that he was raped by soldiers.
- Tayven forgets his history for a time after he's left for dead in Cos.
- Ellony is implied to wipe unpleasant memories from her mind.
- Twincest: Valraven and Pharinet.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: All over the place.
- Elly physically resembles her aunt Pharinet, but mentally and emotionally resembles her namesake Ellony Leckery. Similarly, Pharinet is said to greatly resemble her ancestor Ilcretia Palindrake.
- Merlan is almost identical to Khaster.
- Niska is almost identical to Ellony.
- Tayven and his younger brother look a lot alike.
- Rav looks more than a little like a young Bayard.
- Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Rav and Elly. Varencienne hated being pregnant and giving birth so much that she was elated to realize she had a complete family in a single effort.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Valraven is often stated to have been much kinder as a child.
- Waif Prophet: Ellony receives visions after her marriage to Valraven, which get stronger as her physical and mental health deteriorate.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Shan to Taropat.
- What the Hell, Hero?: The characters do so many questionable things and disagree with each other so often than this is almost the status quo of the series.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Each book devotes one or more chapters to events that happened previously that the POV character was not witness to. Interestingly, all three of these flashbacks have to do directly or tangentially with the friendship of Valraven and Khaster.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Though details of character ages are mostly left vague, there are clues. And those clues don't always line up with the explicitly stated ages.
- At one point Almorante is stated to be thirty-six. Context clues would put his younger brother Bayard at thirty-five or so and at best Bayard and Mante have one (two if you count the son that died) brother between the two of them.
- Where exactly does Bayard fall in the line of succession? Good luck trying to figure it out, the number seem to change from sixth to fourth.
- Linnard's age makes no sense. In Sea Dragon Heir Tatrini explicitly states that Gastern is not yet married. By The Way of Light, four years later, he is married with a child, only Linnard isn't a toddler by any stretch of the imagination.
- The number of the emperor's sons never seems to change, even though in the beginning of Sea Dragon Heir when they were first mentioned, the youngest ones wouldn't even have been born yet.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ellony Leckery. This ends up biting her sharply.
- The Wild Hunt: Shan rides with the Hunt in a vision.
- Wizard Beard: Thremius has one.
- Wizards Live Longer: Taropat, Thremius, and Sinaclara are all older than any living person.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Tatrini. She takes this act very seriously.
- Would Hurt a Child: Master Dark.
- The X of Y: The Crown of Silence and The Way of Light.
- Yandere: Pharinet.
- Your Cheating Heart: All over the place. Pharinet and Valraven carry on an affair while married to the Leckerys, Varencienne sleeps with Merlan later Shan and Khaster, with the implication that one of them fathered her third child, Khaster takes up with Tayven while still married to Pharinet, Tatrini implies that she and Leonid both took lovers... basically a side effect of the arranged marriages.
- 0% Approval Rating: Gastern.