The Syrics are a major races in The Elenium, a series of fantasy novels by David Eddings. The same races also appear in the sequel to The Elenium, The Tamuli.
Along the northern coast of Ambyor live the Styric people. Originally thought to be descendants of the Mhongols they stand slightly taller than 5 ½ feet with medium tanned skins. They have slightly almond shaped eyes and commonly dark hair. Few Styrics develop facial hair, and those that cultivate such things manage small thin moustaches and beards only. They are a very emotionally lead people that lead outsiders to view them as un-intelligent.
The Bulk of Styrics live in a specific area of land between the coastal waters of the Circld Sea up to the edges of the Ahrad Desert. Most are simple herders who tend herds of goats which they herd from feeding ground to feeding ground until the summer sun drives them back to the few coastal cities and towns to await the cooler autumn.
In these cities and towns they are often targeted by Desert Prophets who stir up the farmers, inciting them into violence against non-believers (i.e. anyone non-Styric). But then the summer months pass and they move back out to their grazing grounds before any true momentum can be gained.
Zemoch is the largest city of the Styrics (indeed their only settlement worthy of the name in Arnor terms), which has been built on the edge of a large bay, a perfect natural harbour. This has become a gathering point for the Ahrad and Arnor ships and the Styrics there have built great storehouses and markets to trade the wares brought there.
Zemoch contains a number of temples dedicated to the Styric god/gods, and a number of them claim to contain the remains of their greatest prophet Ashand, meaning either his body was dismembered and shared (which they all deny), or that some of them have it wrong (which they also hotly deny).
Styrics either worship a thousand gods, or a single, multi-faceted god with a thousand faces, no one appears sure (not even the Styrics it appears). Each of these gods or facets commonly represents their own spheres of influence that often overlap or merge. For example there are gods/facets for various aspects of war (riots, slaughter, cunning), also lust, greed, love, hatred, madness, insanity, power, domination, storms, etc.
Each of the temples is lead by its own priests who each teach their view of the gods and the religion. This has lead to a very broken view of the gods and their teachings as each temple has its own slant on how the teachings are interpreted. The changes can be subtle or wider ranging, and can change as the priests change. The differences can lead to marked viewpoints between worshipping Styrics and violence has erupted between temples over interpretation of the teachings.
To complicate matters further, around 500 years ago a prophet emerged named Ashand. He claimed to receive new messages and teachings from the god/s, and set up his own temples and developed his own following. Now the Cult of Ashand is hailed as the true religion by some and decried as the ramblings of a madman by others, thus splitting the temples further.
One aspect that seems to have filtered on to all the temples however is the sanctity of the Goat. Ashand was, like many other Styrics, a goatherd. Goats are considered a sacred animal to the Styrics. They remain the chief source of food also, but they are granted a right of passage to walk unmolested and all must move out of the way of the animals when they wish to walk down a path.
Styrics believe that their land, Xanthes as they call it, is a holy land gifted to them by their god/s, and many refuse to leave it. Yet Ashand preached that others should be allowed to know the enlightenment of the teachings of the Styric god/s, and so many of his followers leave Xanthes to travel and spread word of Ashands teachings.
No Styric, however, will listen to the teachings of other gods and they do not have much tolerance of other religions in their own homeland. The brave few who have set up temples with a view to converting the Styrics have often met with a bloody and sudden fate.
Outsiders Views of the Styrics
Those from outside Xanthes tend to view the Styrics as a confused people lacking in intelligence. Popular opinion has it that the hot desert sun has baked their brains to mush. However, they are tolerated, as they are needed to man the harbour of Zemoch and maintain a vital trade point for the fledgling Arnor trade ships.