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- See also: Paragons
As I studied among the dwarves, I became aware that their social system was as rigid as the stone that surrounded them. From the lowest servant to the king of Orzammar, each dwarf has a caste, a rigid social standing, which dictates what he may do and how he may do it. What fascinated me then was that the dwarves, stubborn and proud as they may be, have built in a way for even the lowliest dwarf to bypass the caste system and reach prominence. Any dwarf who has made an achievement of significance can be named Paragon, elevating that dwarf above all others.
To become a Paragon is to be recognized as, essentially, a living ancestor. Your words are considered ineffable, and the dwarves liken you unto a god. Your family, those you choose to ascend with you, become the founders of a new line of nobility. Indeed, every existing noble house among the dwarves traces its line back to a founding Paragon. It is a rare thing, however. In my visit, I learned that only one Paragon has been elected in generations: The smith Branka, exalted for her discovery of smokeless coal.
I met the Paragon Branka only once during my stay, and I consider it an odd occasion indeed. Surrounded by those of her house, this ill-tempered woman was draped in the finest clothing and jewelry, and was obviously revered even above the highest nobles--perhaps above even the king--yet she seemed to enjoy none of it. The burden of being a living legend is great, it appears.
Statues of the Paragons are found throughout Orzammar, though nowhere so prominently than in the Hall of Heroes through which one passes on entering from the surface. It is a breathtaking sight to behold, great works of stone all seeming to hold up the ceiling above. It is meant to impress upon visitors to Orzammar of all who have gone before, I think. It is also meant to remind dwarves going to the surface--and thus abandoning their brethren forever--of all they are leaving behind.
- It is false the statement that all noble houses are founded by Paragons. This could be an oversight of the writers, or an intentional mistake of Brother Genitivi.