Karse is a kingdom in the world of Velgarth. Its neighbors include Valdemar and Hardorn in the north, Rethwellan in the west, and Seejay and Jkatha in the south. Although it has a royal family, it is mainly ruled by the Sunpriests.
Karse is considered a tough country, with rocky soil and dangerous terrain. The kingdom was plaged by demons summoned by the Sunpriests at night. It had been at war with Valdemar since Vanyel's time. It wasn't until Solaris became the Son of the Sun, and the kingdom was threatened by the war with Hardorn, that the fighting stopped and an alliance was formed.
Karse is a land plagued by hatred - Especially towards magic and those who use it. It has been a long practiced tradition that those wielding any sort of magic, including Gifts, were burned by the Sunpriests in the name of their deity, Vkandis. In Exile's Honor, Alberich, was only saved from the fires by his Companion who Chose him after their escape. This went on for centuries until Solaris ended the practice.
Solaris was the first female to lead the Priesthood since the beginning of Karsite history, and her position was backed by the presence of her Firecat, Hansa. Aside from getting rid of the practices put in place to control the people, such as setting demons loose on the coutryside, Solaris also purged the priesthood of the corrupt priests and ended the long-standing war with Valdemar.
To keep the peace, Solaris accepted Talia, Queen's Own of Valdemar to become a Sunpriest, and in return sent her own Envoys to Haven; the Sunpriest Ulrich, and his apostle Karal; the latter was also granted the companionship of another Firecat, Altra.
Although there is a King of Karse, the King is described as being a person who is little more than an impotent figure who did not rule so much as preside over a do-nothing court of wealthy aristocrats and would-be aristocrats who had nothing better to do than vie for positioning amongst themselves.
The true rule of Karse is a theocracy, the Son of the Sun is the ranking theological official of the followers of V’kandis Sunlord, which is the state religion in Karse, and all of the powers of government belong to the Son of the Sun and their Sunpriests. The “Royal Court” is described as being little more than an elaborate social club.
The Son of the Sun is chosen out of the ranks of the upper echelon of the current priesthood, and the new Son of the Sun is allegedly selected by the hand of the deity Vkandis Sunlord, himself. During the time of corruption, Sunpriests with Mage Gift created the illusion of Vkandis' involvement.
In the late fourteenth century since the Founding of Valdemar, Vkandis Sunlord deigned to personally crown a Sunpriestess as the new Son of the Sun, and bestowed a Firecat upon her as her guide and protector, so that none may question her reign. Shortly after her ascension to power, the new Son of the Sun implemented sweeping new changes, to the whole of the Karsite lands and the ruling priesthood - the Fires of Purification were made illegal, and the summoning of demons was declared anathema. Similarly, the propagandist rhetoric of the corrupt, power-mad priesthood was also prohibited from being carried forward into the future of the nation of Karse.
Additional reforms included the reassigning of all village priests to new villages with the exception of the ones whose reassignment orders drew significant protest from the villagers themselves.
No longer would the Gifted be forced into involuntary testing in Karsite villages by Karsite Sunpriests enforced by Karsite soldiers, and no longer would the Gifted be burnt at the stake or forced into the Priesthood. However, if parents want their child to be tested, they must take their child to the village priest, to in turn summon a Priest-Mage.
The Karsite army is called the Sunsguard.
The life of an officer of the Karsite military is spent half in defeating the enemies of Karse, and half in watching his own back, and it is clarified that officers in the Karsite military are chosen by a Voice of Vkandis Sunlord, these being Sunpriests part of whose duty is to find suitable officers. It is believed that one must be trained to be an officer to ever be allowed the rank of an officer, and as such, the Voices look for exclusively-male children who are “quick of mind” and “strong of body,” to be schooled into officers. It is believed that the average conscript is unable to be trusted, and as such officers are never drawn from the ranks of the conscripted men, because the belief is that they would abuse the authority of an officer’s rank, if they were given to the opportunity to do so. It is also specified that an even half of chosen officers are legally required to be lowborn, so that they would be “appropriately grateful” to the Voices for the opportunity to rise in rank and station.
All throughout the years during which the Karsite leadership is held by a corrupt priesthood, military law strictly forbids any ordinary fighter from marriage on the grounds it would constitute a distraction, though they are permitted to make use of prostitutes; conversely, only Karsite officers may be legally married. In the period when Karse is ruled by corrupt priesthood, pairings of two of similar gender are described as “not to be thought of,” but far commoner than the sunpriests of the time admitted. Prostitution is preached against strictly, but is still permitted.
Furthermore, in Karsite society, the roles of females in Karse were very clearly defined in the time preceding the rise of the first female Son of the Sun, and those roles did not include fighters, under any circumstances.