As with many Seanchan words, its roots come from the Old Tongue. The closest translation would be "a height among lowness," though some translate it as meaning "both sky and valley" among several other possibilities.
The so'jhin have the left side of their head shaved and the remaining hair braided.
They are usually trained since childhood although it is not absolute requirement. The so'jhin learn to respond to subtle gestured commands of the Blood. Any person can be raised to so'jhin.
Seanchan are very touchy about their so'jhin (WH, Ch. 17).
So'jhin can only marry other so'jhin (WH, Ch. 21).
Voices of the Blood are so'jhin, and knew they could be punished if their owners were displeased by what they said. A Speaker of Truth could not be commanded or coerced or punished in any way. A Truthspeaker was required to tell the stark truth whether or not you wanted to hear it, and to make sure that you heard (WH, Ch. 14).
The so'jhin hold higher rank than free men and women. The so'jhin to the High Blood is at least equal in status to the Low Blood and the Blood step carefully around so'jhin of the Imperial family, and speak to so'jhin of the Empress herself as to equals. They are da'covale although this position give them considerable authority and often power. So'jhin to the Empress are one of the few allowed to speak directly to her. It is considered honorable for the so'jhin to follow his master into death (WH, Ch. 20).
Freeing a So'jhin
Freeing a so'jhin is not easy. The owner of the so'jhin is required to provide for the so'jhin's livelihood as a free man. She or He must be certain that the freed so'jhin can support himself or herself. But freeing a so'jhin, casting him off from the rights and privileges is considered the height of cruelty in Seanchan Empire (WH, Ch. 21).
So'jhin in the books
- Huon was Turak's so'jhin. He was killed presumably by Padan Fain (TGH, Ch. 45).
- Alwhin was Suroth's so'jhin. She was raised because of secrets that she knew. She is the only sul'dam to be raised as a so'jhin. She was killed by Liandrin (KoD, Prologue).
- Selucia is Tuon's so'jhin. She was trained from birth to be Tuon's nursery maid and bodyguard.
- Bayle Domon was Egeanin's so'jhin. He was bought by Egeanin. Later they married (WH, Ch. 21).
Suroth’s mouth tightened momentarily at the sight of Alwhin. No sul’dam had ever before been raised to the so’jhin, the hereditary upper servants of the Blood, much less to a Voice of the Blood. Yet there had been reasons in Alwhin’s case. Alwhin knew too much. (TSR, Ch. 1)
Many of the Blood called their Voices Soe'feia, but Voices of the Blood were so'jhin, and knew they could be punished if their owners were displeased by what they said even if they were called Soe'feia. A Speaker of Truth could not be commanded or coerced or punished in any way. A Truthspeaker was required to tell the stark truth whether or not you wanted to hear it, and to make sure that you heard. Those Blood who called their Voices Soe'feia thought that Algwyn, the last man to sit on the Crystal Throne, almost a thousand years ago, had been insane because he let his Soe'feia live and continue in her post after she slapped his face before the entire court. They did not understand the traditions of her family any more than the goggle-eyed captain did. The Deathwatch Guards' expressions never altered behind the half-concealing cheek-pieces of their helmets. They understood. (Tuon's thoughts after experiencing one of Anath's lectures, Winter's Heart, Chapter 14)
Tuon smiled. Selucia’s mother had given her to Tuon for a cradle-gift, to be her nursemaid, and more important, her shadow, a bodyguard no one knew about. The first twenty-five years of Selucia’s life had been training for those jobs, training in secret for the second. (Tuon's thoughts, Winter's Heart, Chapter 14)
When she departed Tanchico, she was traveling on a ship commanded by a man named Bayle Domon. He made some disturbance at having his ship boarded and was made property. She bought him and immediately made him so'jhin, so plainly he is of some importance to her. (Seeker to the sul'dam Bethamin, Winter's Heart, Chapter 20)