- "He truly thought of himself as a Sun God. His mind was... broken. He believed that blood sacrifice would solve... well, everything."
- ―Avad speaking of Jiran to Aloy
Jiran, ceremonially referred to as His Radiance Jiran, 13th of the Line of Luminance, was the 13th Sun-King of the Carja Sundom in Horizon Zero Dawn. His reign is almost universally reviled, notorious not only for his brutality and despotism, but for the terror he inflicted on every tribe in the known world via the Red Raids. After a decade of pointless war and senseless brutality, he was finally deposed by his second son Avad. The fallout from his reign and overthrow play a crucial role in the contemporary events seen in Horizon Zero Dawn.
Jiran was the son of Hivas, the 12th Sun-King. He had at least two wives, with whom he sired three living children, all sons. His first wife, name unknown, presumably bore both of his two elder children; first Kadaman and then Avad. He is presumed to have married his wife Nasadi after the death of his first, since the Carja appear to be monogamous. Nasadi bore his third child, Itamen.
Jiran inherited a strong military from his father. He used this strength to defend the Sundom from encroachment by other tribes. When the phenomenon known as the Derangement began, the military adequately defended the people from the steadily more hostile and deadlier machines that were appearing. Thus Jiran was initially lauded as a strong leader.
Descent into Madness
Jiran’s success, however, was accompanied by a steadily growing megalomania. He began to perceive himself not as the Sun’s chosen vessel, but as the incarnation of the Sun itself. He would order bloodshed at any slight; indeed, he reached a point where under his reign the Carja had no peace with any tribe. One of the first major signs of his burgeoning despotism was his commissioning of an order of elite soldiers and personal guard, fanatically loyal not to the Sundom or its monarchy, but to him personally. He called these men his Kestrels. The first of them were the survivors of a training regimen that took place in the Sandwhisper Valley, lashed by sandstorms strong enough to scour armor. He chose the Kestrel commander Helis, the strongest, fiercest and most capable of these first Kestrels, to be his champion.
As Jiran’s rule degenerated into tyranny, so did tyranny spread throughout Carja society. Slavery, introduced by Jiran’s father Hivas, became a prominent feature of Carja life. Inhumane treatment of servants such as the severe floggings inflicted on the Carja spy Vanasha and her family, all servants during Jiran’s reign, were the norm. Even the free underclass was under the whims of the nobility and the Sun-Priests; no one in the underclass could refuse an instruction from a noble or priest, no matter how base, or they could be flogged as punishment, or worse. The Carja hunter Furahni, for example, was flogged as a teenager during Jiran’s reign for refusing the sexual advances of a Sun-Priest.
The Red Raids
Jiran’s despotism continued to grow, culminating in the Red Raids, the worst atrocities ever committed in the known world to date. Jiran became convinced that the ongoing Derangement could be ended by human sacrifice. He therefore ordered the Carja army, including the Kestrels, to raid other tribes’ lands, seize their people and bring them back to the Carja capital Meridian to be the victims. So began the Red Raids. For ten years, every known tribe, from nearby tribes such as the Nora to distant tribes such as the Utaru, was mercilessly invaded and victims seized and transported to their deaths. Jiran was cruelly calculating in how these raids were conducted; he would order an entire generation taken from an attacked village, to break the spirit of the tribe and reduce the number of defenders the raiders had to contend with the next time.At Meridian, and at Jiran’s summer palace at Sunfall when he was there, in a huge arena known as the Sun-Ring, the victims were driven in after being held in prison cells underneath the Ring. Before thousands of gathered Carja, huge, powerful machines such as Behemoths were loosed on them. The machines slaughtered the victims as the crowd watched. Some captives, such as the Banuk shaman Ourea, managed to avoid being sacrificed because of their skill at capturing machines; they were therefore used to capture machines to be loosed on the victims. Others, such as the Oseram warrior Ersa, survived the Sun-Ring, impressing Jiran so much, despite his cruelty, that he made them palace slaves. Additionally, Red Raid commanders such as Zaid and Jiran’s champion Helis were notorious for their egregious cruelty during raids conducted by their units, all with Jiran’s approval.
Not all Carja were in favor of the raids and sacrifices. Those who spoke up, however, met the same fate, as Jiran was not above using Carja dissidents as victims as well as foreign tribespeople. Several Hawks of the Carja Hunters Lodge, including then-Sunhawk Talavad Khane Padish, died in the Sun-Ring after publicly criticizing the bloodshed. As for the Sun-Priests, while a few objected, most of them blessed the killing, believing it to be the will of the Sun, as well as out of loyalty to Jiran.
Then came the breaking point. Prince Kadaman, Jiran’s eldest son, demanded of his father that the raids and sacrifices end. Jiran did not spare members of his house his wrath if they opposed him; he had Kadaman sacrificed in the Sun-Ring. However his brother Prince Avad was also a dissident, and Kadaman’s execution drove him to action. He and his honor guard fled Meridian to the tribal land of the Oseram, The Claim, hoping to organize an alliance of tribes to march on Meridian and depose Jiran. Jiran declared them all traitors upon discovery of their flight, and revoked Avad's right to succeed him. In The Claim, Avad met Ersa, whom he had become friends with during her time as a palace slave, and whom he had helped escape. She and her brother Erend had connections to Oseram warlords and freebooters who fought against the Carja raiders. She and Erend helped Avad form the alliance that spawned his liberation army.
Overthrow and Death
After months of preparation, the liberators marched on Meridian. According to the Carja spymaster Marad, Jiran’s chief advisor and a dissident himself, he helped prepare them from within Jiran’s court though as yet unrevealed means. As the liberators advanced deeper into the Sundom, dissident Carja soldiers they encountered joined them, swelling their ranks. Jiran therefore quickly found himself facing a large invasion force composed of much of the Carja army. Only the Kestrels and a relatively small number of Carja soldiers remained loyal to him. Among the civilians, much of the of the nobility remained loyal to him, but the oppressed underclass sided with Avad.
The liberators successfully invaded the city, but Jiran’s megalomania would not allow surrender. “Ever the strong are beset upon by the weak,” he told Helis as he gave him his final orders: take his queen Nasadi and his youngest son Itamen, along with all his loyalists - the Kestrels, nobles and Sun-Priests, as well as their slaves - to his summer palace at Sunfall, while he remained in Meridian and faced Avad. With his Kestrels and loyal soldiers gone, Jiran met Avad alone in his Solarium. Avad desperately attempted to persuade him to surrender, but Jiran utterly refused to do so, forcing Avad to kill him. Carja belief holds that the murder of the Sun-King would destroy the world by extinguishing the Sun. To the Carja who supported Avad, the aftermath of Jiran’s death at his hand was, therefore, conclusive proof that the Sun had never been in support of his brutality and had renounced him, as the Sun continued shining.
Jiran’s reign and the atrocities it spawned are universally considered, with the exception of his loyalists, to be the darkest and most horrific period in the history of the known world. In addition to those who were killed in his despotic rule over his people, untold numbers of foreign tribespeople, likely numbering in the thousands, were killed in the Red Raids and human sacrifices he ordered. The consensus among Sun Carja and non-Carja alike is that he was an insane maniac; he is thus almost universally derided as “the Mad Sun-King”.
Furthermore, his brutal reign had far-reaching direct and indirect consequences, some of which only became evident years after his death. The Oseram warlord Dervahl, whose wife and daughter Jiran specifically had captured and sacrificed in the Sun-Ring, became so consumed with hatred for the Carja that, years after the Liberation, he planned and almost succeeded in a terrorist bombing in Meridian that would have destroyed most of the city, as part of his plan of genocide against the Carja. The plan was foiled by the Nora huntress Aloy.
Even greater consequences almost resulted years after Avad’s Liberation, one of which was the worst possible: the destruction of life on Earth. The Carja who went to Sunfall became a splinter tribe known as the Shadow Carja. Their de facto rulers were Helis and the High Priest Bahavas. The two men’s desire to retake the Sundom and kill Avad was used by the artificial intelligence HADES to manipulate them into forming a secret cult known as the Eclipse. This cult almost destroyed the Nora, first in an attack ordered by HADES to kill Aloy known as the Proving Massacre, then in a genocidal attack ordered by Helis as retribution against Aloy’s dogged interference in Eclipse operations. HADES’ ultimate purpose for the Eclipse was to use them to secure the ancient monument in the Sundom known as the Spire, the means by which it intended to reactivate the Faro Plague and allow it to permanently exterminate all life on Earth. It had ordered the attack on Aloy because it knew her to be a threat to its existence. However the Proving Massacre failed to kill Aloy, and she went on to rally the Nora to defeat the Eclipse and ultimately assemble an alliance of warriors of various tribes that foiled HADES’ plan.
At the start of his reign, Jiran was a strong, capable leader, though this was largely due to the successful reign of his father who had built up the Carja's strength. As Jiran continued to be successful in defending the Sundom from threats including the Derangement of the Machines, he grew grandiose and arrogant, believing himself to be the Sun's incarnation, and therefore a god among men. This unchecked arrogance led him to treat every criticism as defiance of his divine rule. The added stress of the Derangement of the Machines, his inability to stop it, and his own belief of being the embodiment of the Sun caused Jiran to descend into madness, becoming a cruel and tyrannical despot. As the Derangement grew worse, Jiran became more paranoid that the Derangement would not stop and he would be seen as a failure. His already fragile ego could not comprehend or accept that he was mistaken, and those he kept by his side affirmed this belief, knowing that being his yes men would lead to their own advancement. This only aided in worsening the brutal reprisals he exhibited for every slight and raids for human sacrifices in a deranged belief that these atrocities would end the Derangement, while the reality of the situation was beyond his control.
Nonetheless, Jiran maintained one somewhat redeeming quality: rewarding loyalty. For example, while the exact timeframe is unknown, when Helis' wife died in childbirth, Jiran allowed them to be buried at the Alight, an honor reserved for the royal family and national heroes. It must be noted, however, that he rewarded people who exemplified service to him, rather than service to the Sundom. Any perceived disloyalty, however minor, was met with deadly wrath, even if was from his own heir, as was the case with Kadaman.
- Jiran is referred to as Jahadin in the Art of Horizon Zero Dawn companion book.
- Jiran has the longest confirmed reign of any Sun-King; according to the scanned glyph The Liberation, he served as Sun-King for approximately 21 years.
- The three versions of Song to the Sun - sung at dawn, midday, and dusk - are the names of all the Sun-Kings. Jiran is the only Sun-King whose name is not heard in any song: it is likely that his name was removed.
- When starting the quest Honor The Fallen, the Sun-Priest Mournful Namman mentions his Sun-robes were originally dyed red with cinnabar. Cinnabar contains mercury, which is highly toxic and causes psychotic reactions, and could be what caused Sun-King Jiran to go mad.