In Golden Daughter, Sunan took an exam to become as Presented Scholar in the Center of Learning. He passed the test, but wasn't permitted to join due to his parentage:

"You will be pleased to know," Overseer Rangsun said, his voice mild as a spring breeze, "that you far exceeded all expectations and achieved the top score of this year's Gruung... Unfortunately, due to the circumstances of your birth and less-than-desirable parentage, the Center of Learning does not feel that it can accept you into the Middle Court."

However, he offered him a position as a Crouching Shadow. Was that the main reason he was permitted to take the exam in the first place? The Overseer didn't seem aware of his uncle's (supposed) death until shortly before telling Sunan about their decision, and Sunan had been studying for the exam under his uncle for years. Given those facts, how could they possibly have known that Sunan would be expected to replace his uncle? And if that wasn't their plan, why was Sunan permitted to take the exam in the first place if they never intended to accept him as a scholar even if he passed the exam?


I think anyone is allowed to take the Gruung. They just don't expect anyone to they don't approve of to actually pass it. Members of low-caste usually don't have the opportunity to study and become good scholars, as Sunan did under his high-caste uncle. Both Sunan and his uncle were unaware that the Overseer would still reject Sunan even if he passed the exam.

Sunan is not truly offered a position as a Crouching Shadow. He doesn't undertake any training or guidance, he's never told exactly who and what the Crouching Shadows are and their true purpose. He's just threatened that if he doesn't finish his uncle's work, they'll kill him.

And I don't think they ever expected to use Sunan in this way--it was just happenstance. He was a convenient tool when they needed one.

  • Those are good points - I was actually wondering about the Crouching Shadows' lack of training of him. That seems like a reasonable explanation. – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Dec 3 '18 at 4:46

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