Mayene is a city state, surrounded by the Sea of Storms to the south and the Drowned Lands to the north. It is ruled by a leader styled “The First”, for first lord or lady. Originally there was also a second, but that tradition changed and now there are usually many people who act as second, as many as nine at one time on occasion. The ruling family claim descent from Artur Hawkwing, through a daughter he sent to lead an expedition to conquer Shara .
Most modern historians and geographers name only the fourteen other kingdoms of the modern day, counting Mayene either as independent city-state (along with Falme, Far Madding, and Tar Valon) or as part of Tear. However, Mayene controls more territory than those other city-states, including most of the peninsula it sits upon, which extends for a hundred miles or more from the mainland.
The Mayener peninsula forms the eastern and southeastern edge of the Bay of Remara, and is cut off from the mainland by the Drowned Lands, a hostile swamp impassable to large armies. The peninsula does not appear to be easy to invade by sea either, forcing any attack to come through the city itself, which is defended by stout walls and formidable defences.
Mayene is located at the southern tip of the peninsula on the Sea of Storms, and is the easternmost city of the Westlands, as well as the closest city to Shara, the enigmatic land beyond the Aiel Waste. Fishing shoals rich in oilfish lie somewhere to the east of Mayene, but the location is a closely-guarded secret. Mayene also lies close to the Sea Folk island of Cindaking. A combination of its location on key trade routes to the Sea Folk isles and Shara, plus its dominance of the oilfish trade, make Mayene extremely wealthy and coveted in the eyes of Tear. Mayener oilfish oil is highly prized, often valued more than Tairen olive oil, adding to the competition.
Mayene is ruled by a lord or lady named the First of Mayene. The First is a hereditary ruler. As with Andor, internal realignment and power struggles may result with ruling Houses being displaced and new ones rising, but the First must be a direct-line descendant of the founding ruler, in this case Tyrn sur Paendrag Mashera. The First is advised by a council of Seconds, who each have a responsibility for a different branch of the government. There are also guilds and merchant groups, who are influential.
It was recently revealed that Mayene has a strong relationship with Tar Valon. Due to Tear's antipathy towards Aes Sedai, this relationship was kept secret from them. The First enjoys the counsel and wisdom of an Aes Sedai adviser at almost all times, and is schooled in the arts of rule in a similar manner to the Daughter-Heir of Andor, regardless of her ability or inability to channel. The First is also given martial training and is taught how to avoid assassinations and knife attacks. A combination of these factors makes the First both an unusually canny and personally dangerous ruler.
The First and Mayene are both defended by the Winged Guards, an elite military formation who are noted for their skill at arms and promotion through merit. Given the extreme remoteness of Mayene, it is a tribute to the Winged Guards' performance as part of the Grand Alliance during the Aiel War, and more recently their service to the Dragon Reborn, that they have built up an impressive reputation for martial prowess.
The First's primary duty is to keep Mayene independent from Tear. Mayene's independence despite these claims relies on the Mayener's knowledge of the location of the secret oilfish shoals, the oil from which is highly valued and competes with similar products from Tear, Illian, and Tarabon. Oilfish are taken in nets, precluding any conjectural identification of them with whales.
Another tool the Mayener rulers once used to maintain Mayene's autonomy was a ter'angreal in the shape of a twisted redstone doorframe which took them to the land of the Aelfinn. Anyone may enter this doorway once in their life; on the other side, they are allowed to ask any three questions, and will receive three true answers. These answers were a great aid to the Firsts in maintaining Mayene's independence, but one young First named Halvar, who had already stepped through the doorway in his lifetime, eventually bargained it away to Tear.
The list of names below come from Mayener characters created specifically for the Grey Tower.
- Male names: Alric, Ayden, Darek, Feo
- Female names: Caithlan, Daneine, Kesiera, Tamora
- Family names: Mordel, el'Galina, Liard, Trevalion