Ista Hold is one of the Major Holds in the Northern Continent. Does not have overland borders. The nearest neighbor is Igen Hold. Ista Weyr fights Threadfall over Ista Hold.


A detailed description of the Hold, established, the surrounding countryside, the economy and the other (on the basis of the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern)

The name «Ista» is an acronym for the four families of colonists who settled the Big Island. The island seemed to be unlucky for those who claimed it as their stakehold: first Avril Bitra, then Nabhi Nabol, both of whom died before the Second Crossing. Those who came to stay on the island afterward kept its reputation in mind, but if Ista had once had any malice toward the settlers, it appeared to have been spent.

Joel Lilienkamp spent his last years here after the last of the mechanized transports wore out. One of his children helped establish Ista Weyr in the forty-second year of the colony.

Ista is well into the tropical zone. Its temperature throughout a Turn never goes below 55 degrees during the day, and is often very hot indeed. Like the people of Southern Boll, Istans sleep on hammocks instead of rope beds, and wear either many layers of thin fabric or very little at all, depending on how each person chooses to deal with the heat.

All the seagoing traders stop at Ista coming and going along their routes. Ista exports native fish and spider claws, fine handiwork, gems, and herbs. Fiber plants of all kinds grow huge here. Ista occasionally supplies Southern Boll with sisal. Healers come from the Healer Hall in Fort Hold to gather needlethorn. Mariko, the wandering «nose», spends a few months every Turn here, purchasing essences from certain Ancient suppliers who claim they are even older than she — but they decline to say how old that is.

A past Lord Holder with a green thumb managed to propagate citrus trees in Ista. The fruit is popular, especially in the coldest Holds, where the juice is used to help stave off colds. The groves of orange, yellow, and green fruit with mottled rinds are a particular treasure of the Istan Lord Holders. Sweet-cane, the source of sweetening in the South as sweet-roots are in the north, is grown in Ista and Nerat. For those who like spicy dishes, the farmercrafters also raise endless varieties of peppers, ranging from very mild to dragon-fire.

Shell jewelry is popular here. Mother-of-pearl, scrimshaw, and cameos, not to mention strung lengths of tiny, pretty shells, are common adornments for both men and women. Ista is also known for the emeralds of a clear, deep blue-green that are still found occasionally in its mines. The official badge of a Lord Holder requires one of these marvelous emeralds, as a Craftmaster's makes use of a sapphire, which also can be found in Ista.

An intermittent crater peak that surfaces occasionally off the southwest coast of the island is believed to be the source of the black stone beach, which the local stonecutters from Ista's Minecrafthold say is made up of granulated black diamonds. The Smithcrafthall in Telgar appreciates an occasional sack of the dust, which has numerous applications in toolmaking.

Ista is very well populated, though its people are spread out over a wide area. Ista island is very large. In every cove where there is access to the sea, a few hundred people live by taking what they need off the land, and by fishing. As all along Nerat and Southern Boll, the Istan coastline is dense with humanity. It is possible, in fact comfortable, to live in a thatched cottage during an interval. Holds in the tropics have more access to fruit, which they barter to other Holds for goods they need, especially in seasons when the harvests were bad elsewhere.

The Island is the site of the great harpers' enclave at Turnover Gather. One of the Lord Holders had a huge Harper Hall built in Ista for the sake of his Lady wife, a journeywoman harper with whom he fell in love. For her sake, he determined to make their Hall «the next center of the Harpercraft», a rival center for music. Ista only has two or three harpers at a time, who rattle around like beans in the big, echoing, empty Hall. There is rarely need for more than a voice Master, an instrument Master, and their apprentices. In all its history, it was never packed to the brim until the idea was proposed to hold Turnover Gather in it.

For those from the temperate climate, celebrating Turnover in Ista is a treat. Because there is no need to sleep under a roof when Thread is not falling, Ista can host many more harpers and guests than almost any other Hold. The Gather has grown in size since its inception and is now a major event in the Northern Continent.

Minor Holds and Crafthalls

Ista Hold was once home to Bitkim Camp, a mining stake established by settlers Avril Bitra and Stev Kimmer prior to the First Pass. Its exact location is uncertain.


First Pass / First Interval

The name Ista comes from the initials of the four families that settled there.

  • Dynast:
  • Other holders:

First Interval / Second Pass

  • Dynast: Lord Richud.
  • Other holders:

Second Interval / Third Pass

  • Dynast:
  • Other holders: Master Fishman Tanner.

Sixth Pass

Eighth Interval / Ninth Pass

Additional Information

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