The Atan are a human race native to the Daresian Continent to the east of Eosia. They are native to a region of Tamuli of the same name as their race (it is unknown if they gave the region their name or took theirs from the region; alternately, their name may come from their relatively-anonymous god, who is often referenced but is never called by name in the story, though this fact seems unlikely given the mostly sophisticated nature of the race as a whole). The Atans are distinguished from the other human races by virtue of their size (many are between seven and eight feet tall, with only the Trolls surpassing them at roughly nine to ten feet tall) and their combat proficiency (they are highly proficient with the sword, greatly surpassing even the Church Knights; only slightly less so in barehanded combat; can use javelins and lances to great effect; and have even been known to use the bow with a great deal of accuracy, though they refuse to use it in war and only use it for hunting purposes; in The Tamuli, they were also taught how to use crossbows and ride horses). They are directly related to all the races in Tamuli, most notably the Tamuls and the Delphae, though differ from them widely.
It is widely held that, in prehistory, the Atans were comparable in size and temprament to the other human races. However, the early Atans observed that larger and more agressive people tended to do better in warfare than their smaller brethren. As a result, the Atans began a de-facto selective breeding program to increase their race's collective height and battle instincts (an idea which somewhat distressed Talen, who felt this was unfair to those Atans of shorter stature and more mild temprament). Unlike the Cyrgai, however, the Atans still valued intelligence and innovation, and so included these traits in their breeding considerations (albeit as secondary considerations). The "program" took place for over fifty generations, until the Atans attained their current stature (and indeed, it is likely that the practice was continued through the events in The Tamuli).
However, the idea backfired somewhat, a fact which became apparent when the Atan nation became embroiled in a countrywide civil war in the twelfth century. Apparently, the Atan fighting instinct had grown so strong that they would fight and kill one another over the most trivial of arguments, such as weather predictions. Under such conditions, the nation began to disintegrate. Fearing for the safety of his kingdom and people, the Atan king at the time (who was, by all accounts, very wise) contacted the Tamul government in Matherion and sold his entire nation into slavery. Ás a result, the Atans could no longer engage in warfare with each other or other races without Imperial consent; thus, the Atan race was saved from destruction and the Tamuls gained the finest military force in the world.
The slavery of the Atans is unconventional in that it does not hinder their affairs greatly. The Atan government is subject to orders from Matherion and the authority of the Emperor, and must respond during times of war. At all other times, however, they control their own affairs- they can use their own land, manage their own economics, and worship their own god.