There are ten clans amongst the Kyrinin (formerly eleven, but the Wolf clan was all but destroyed during the War of the Tainted; its meagre remnants were absorbed by the Bull), each bearing the name of one of the animals the Walking God is said to have conversed with during his great creative peregrination.
Though many share close links and affinities, each clan is different in its language, traditions and lifestyle. Sometimes these differences are minor: the languages of the Heron, Snake and Bull clans are so similar as to be almost interchangeable. Sometimes the differences run deeper: several clans, such as the Fox and the White Owl, maintain semi-nomadic ways of life, while others, such as the Bull and the Boar, have long been wedded to more sedentary ways, and dwell in villages and fortified towns amidst productive farmland.
The leader of each clan is known as the Voice. In some the Voice is elected each year from amongst the elders of the clan; in others it is a hereditary role, and in one (the Great Bear) it is determined through trial by combat. The oldest tradition is probably for Voices to be women, but a handful of the clans changed to a tradition of male Voices before and during the War of the Tainted.
The clans vary greatly in size, though few are now as populous as they were before the War of the Tainted. The Fox number fewer than two thousand. The Horse, in the far south-east, are, by their own estimation, too many to be counted – as they have to be to sustain their never-ending struggle against the Adravane Kingship.
A listing of the clans, in very approximate order of their home territories, from north to south:
- Great Bear
- White Owl