The greatest of the martially-oriented Houses in the Courts, Hendrake hones its battle skills by fighting wars almost constantly in Shadow, practicing a "survival of the fittest" philosophy which (theoretically) the weaker members of the House fall in battle, and only the strongest survive to carry on Hendrake's tradition of battle.
Hendrake supplied a great deal of the front-line troops during the Patternfall War, and took many casualties, including the loss of both the head of the House, Duke Larsus, and the heir, Lord Borel. This led to Hendrake being somewhat diminished for a time, but it quickly regained its strength under the capable leadership of Larsus's widow, Duchess Belissa Minobee. Hendrake provides a significant portion of the military might of the Courts, and is a very powerful House because of this.
It should perhaps be noted that there is a popular and ancient folksong in Chaos called "Never Wed a Hendrake Lass".
Some notable members of House Hendrake include the following:
"The woman on the card was large. Not fat, not even unattractive... simply very large. She reminded me of certain artist's conceptions of Wagner's Brunnhilde that I'd seen, and looked as though she could have gone a round or two with Gerard in unarmed combat. She wore heavily-ornamented plate mail in red and black, and I could see the hilt of the very large sword she had strapped to her back, protruding over one armoured shoulder... Duchess Belissa Minobee. I'd killed her son, and my brother Julian had reputedly killed her husband..."
The Dowager Duchess of Hendrake has headed the House since her husband's death in the Patternfall War, and is, so some outside gossip says, more up to the task than either Larsus or Borel was, at least from a pragmatic political perspective.
Like most Hendrakes, Belissa tends to be somewhat direct and plainspoken, but this is tempered by patience and wisdom, and an ability to find solutions to problems that don't necessarily involve shoving sharp things into people (something that was not possessed by Larsus or Borel). This combination has made her a valued and trustworthy ally to a number of other Houses, including the Royal House of Swayvill.
Belissa is in excellent health and appears unlikely to be giving up the leadership of the House to any of its heirs any time soon. Like her deceased husband and son, she is renowned for her warrior skills, and is often away in Shadow leading military exercises.
Belissa is currently in Amber, leading the diplomatic mission there, and trying to (awkwardly) get Prince Julian to agree to marry her--a Hendrake tradition of replacing the husband with the man who killed him in battle. She is currently aiding in the cleanup of Arden.
A niece of Belissa Minobee and a cousin to the deceased Borel, Gilva is the most renowned warrior of her generation among Hendrake (and perhaps amidst all the Courts), and is rumoured to have been the lover of Merlin of Sawall in her younger days. Gilva has risen high in the ranks of Hendrake in the decades following the Patternfall War, winning titles and honour through an ever-increasing skill in battle.
Gilva was recently appointed as Belissa Minobee's personal bodyguard. Not that Belissa particularly needs a bodyguard, but it's a great honour, and a visible symbol of how much trust Belissa places in Gilva.
Gilva is in Amber with Belissa, and is currently assisting in Arden, after helping Tobias shoot Benedict's old mummified arm (formerly a Hendrake battle trophy) off of Golden-Eyes.