Holderkin society is patriarchal. Men are the heads of the family, their authority is absolute. Women are submissive in all aspects of life. Families are polygamous, with several wives to each husband. The FirstWife is in charge of all the Underwives and the children. The widowed mother of the head of the household has a specially honored place in the family. At age thirteen, daughters are expected to marry or go to the temples to be devotees of the goddess.[Arrows of the Queen]
The Holderkin worship a patriarchal god who dominates a passive goddess. Girls sent to the temples to serve the goddess are kept isolated and cloistered and live under a vow of silence. The Holderkin left Karse due to religious differences (and probably persecution). The state religion of Karse is a monotheistic one, worshiping Vkandis the Sunlord.
Holderkin prefer to remain isolated in order to maintain their rigid culture and society without outside interference. Though they are quick to accept a Herald's help in dealing with bandit raids, they do not approve of Heralds and what they regard as their "licentious" lifestyle. At the time Talia was growing up among the Holderkin, the children were prevented from encountering Heralds or learning anything about them. After discovering Talia's ignorance of Companion's Choice, Selenay passed a law through the Council that mandated Heralds must have free access to all children at all times, so that they may be properly educated in the laws of Valdemar. The Heralds made it very clear that they would also take anyone with them who wished to leave the Holderkin. While it meant being disinherited and exiled from their families, at least misfits like Talia now had an escape route. Though the Hold Elders were initially upset by this, they eventually came to appreciate potential troublemakers leaving of their own accord.