- This page is about the character Sethra Lavode. For the book, see Sethra Lavode (book).
Sethra Lavode is the Enchantress of Dzur Mountain, her home. She is undead, a vampire, a shape-shifter and could be the most powerful wizard and best military general ever living. She carries Iceflame, one of the Great Weapons, which is mystically tied to the power of Dzur Mountain itself. The only other person who is known to live there is Tukko, more informally known as Chazz.
Her figure is clad in as much mystery as the gods themselves. Those who know Sethra (with the possible exception of Chazz) speculate much about her, and those who don't, ruminate on legends and myths which vary according to the period. Though a figure of significant Dragaeran history, she has also and often been (falsely) portrayed as an evil enchantress. Whether a result of this or, possibly, simply because of her formidable reputation in both history an myth, many fledgling Dzur have taken to charging up Dzur Mountain to challenge Sethra to combat (it being the greatest pleasure in life of many Dzur to face overwhelming odds). Few have lived to tell the tale. Her age is rumored to be ten thousand years but really she is two hundred thousand - older than the Empire - so naturally she is a historic factor in the entire Imperial timeline.
Her House is unknown (Morrolan claims she's a Dzur but he could be wrong). The Dark Lady of Dzur Mountain commonly dresses in black, matching her hair. She appears as a rather tall Dragaeran with very pale undead skin which sharply contrasts with her dark clothing. Her facial features resemble, to a degree, a Dragon, but she possesses the upward slanting eyes suggestive of a Dzurlord. It also appears that she has some involvement with the Dragon Council, the very nature of which is unclear (it could perhaps be a mere association). Her character is not unpleasant; unlike either Dragons or Dzur, she rarely displays temper.
Her title at Court is Baroness of Dzur Mountain and Environs but she is not known to insist on its use elsewhere. She was Warlord multiple times (including during the 13th Lyorn Reign under Emperor Tiska, the 14th Dragon Reign, the 17th Jhegaala Reign under Empress Viodonna VI and the 18th Phoenix Reign, under Empress Zerika IV). "Recently" she has disappeared from Court, but retains a relation with the current Empress. During the Revolt of 244, she appeared in Court and caused quite a stir.
Sethra is or was, depending on the period, also Captain of the Lavodes -- a group of highly trained individuals who seek to protect the Orb and Cycle from harm, especially from the Jenoine. All members of the Lavodes (but for Sethra herself) were killed in the events leading up to and during Adron's disaster. Shortly after, Sethra apprenticed Tazendra, who took on the Lavode title and surname, but she was killed in only the second year of Zerika's reign. There were no more Lavodes for hundreds of years, until it was revealed in Brust's translated history, Issola, that Sethra is rebuilding them (there being one Lavode-in-training). Sethra has had a number of apprentices over her long history, all of whom tried to kill her except Sethra the Younger, who hasn't yet.
Around the time she met Morrolan e'Drien, she presented him with Blackwand as a gift. Other than Blackwand, it is unknown whether she has any other of the seventeen Great Weapons in her stores.
An image of Sethra Lavode can be found here by Danielle Sylvie Taylor.
By one account (Jhereg), she was involved in the fall-out of Dolivar's betrayal of Kieron and the House of Dragon. Aliera (who was present in a past life) says that Sethra was supposed to "hamstring the yendi," by whom most assume she means Dolivar, but deliberately missed, allowing him to escape. (Further clues are provided about these events in the present, in which she continues to be concerned with Dolivar's reincarnation, Vlad Taltos, and to watch over him, partly out of a sense of guilt, and partly for reasons she herself isn't certain of, by her own account in Orca. )
She is known to have served as Warlord in the 13th Cycle, under the Lyorn Emperor Tiska, and again during the 14th Dragon Reign (and presumably countless other times during the history of the Empire).
Some thousand or so years before the Interregnum, Sethra died, but was allowed by the Lords of Judgment to return to Dragaera as an undead. It is also known that at one point she was offered godhood, but declined.
At some point, Sethra founded a group called the Lavodes, a group of warrior-sorcerers formed to protect the Empire from non-military threats. Sethra is currently the last true Lavode. At some point she was involved in the Lavode Scandal, though details about this event are few.
As part of her role as a Lavode, Sethra created another identity for herself, Kiera, a Jhereg thief, who would be able to move in different social circles and gather different information (Orca). Kiera is well known in the Empire as a master thief. Only Vlad Taltos has ever realized that Kiera and Sethra are the same person, even though the two identities have some other friends in common, such as Aliera.
It has been implied by Sethra (to Vlad) that she may have other alter egos in addition to Kiera. However, these are persons which Vlad has never encountered, and that he likely has never even heard of. It is unclear whether any of these other personae have been active recently, however.
- See also Speculation:Sethra Lavode.
"For some reason, Morrolan, I am loath to destroy you. And yet, you seem insistent..."
- "It is good to find one's self in agreement with the gods."
- "Is it?"
- "Yes. It shows that the gods have some wisdom."
- -- Sethra expresses her opinion on divine wisdom
- The earliest authentic records of Sethra predate the founding of the Lavodes, and consist of a rough drawing of her device, which appears to have remained unchanged throughout her life, consisting of white Dragon's Head and Dzur's Claw against black [...]. In the oldest drawings of her device, a motto is shown at the top, but not only is the language on one which no scholar has penetrated, there are even a few unfamiliar symbols, as if the very alphabet in which it was written were ancient and forgotten. [...] Sethra has, by all reports, been silent on the subject, even to those few who have been close enough to be considered her friends.
- Her lineage block, similarly, is in the form of a downward pointing arrowhead or triangle, entirely self-contained, with no lines either entering or emerging, as if her maternal and paternal ancestor had appeared from nowhere at all, begotten her, and vanished.
- "We'd like to bring you here."
- "Right away."
- "Mind if I break my fast first?"
- "That will be fine. Would you like us to have a bucket ready for you to throw up in?"
- -- Sethra requests that Vlad teleport to Dzur Mountain in the early morning