Honour

Honour is a slippery topic in Amber at the best of times. It is no different with Mandrake. The making of a promise - with or without an oath attached - is not something a Mandrake does lightly, and if a promise has been made, they will do their best to fulfill it, come hell or high water.

However, this does mean that Mandrakes will usually attempt to leave themselves some leeway in giving their word; a process which strikes some as overcautious or even weaseling, but which Mandrakes regard as simply a sensible precaution in an uncertain world. If Lord Jared de'Mandrake promises Lady Etta Chantris that he will attend her soiree no matter what - and then has to be on the other side of Kolvir on that occasion, it is a matter for some small alarm for him. He will not commit suicide over such a thing, but it is likely to irritate him more than a little, and he is likely to seek Lady Etta to ask to be released from his promise rather than merely sending her a polite note regretting to inform.

Should Lady Etta refuse to release Lord Jared from his promise, however, while there is still a burden upon him, she will have assaulted his honour and lose face with Lord Jared, as were the errand not of significant importance, he would not request his release. He may or may not explain this to her in as many words; after all, a lady or gentleman of honour would understand without needing it explained.

It is more likely, however, that an experienced Mandrake will not make such a blanket promise. Instead, the promise will include some (overcautious or weaseling) qualifier : instead of 'I will be at your soiree no matter what', Lord Jared is more likely to say 'if at all possible, I shall attend, my lady'. Such polite qualifiers frequently recur in many Mandrakes' speech.

Similarly, Mandrakes are often reluctant to give their sworn oath, and not lightly. Their pride rests upon their unique sense of honour, and those who call that honour into question - by asking for oath or by outright question - will stand in danger of making an enemy.

This is not to say that Mandrakes do not or cannot lie. Mandrakes as a whole are no more or less honest than any other group in Amber; their qualifiers can be used for deceit as much as to preserve honour, and it is often a brush with the more deceitful members of Mandrake which may lead people to think those qualifiers weaseling rather than cautious. It is wise to remember that Mandrakes are ultimately individuals - diverse and disparate within the framework provided. They are, however, an undoubtedly proud family, and their honour is a part of that pride.

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