Study Guide

"The Traders" Minor Characters in Foundation

By Isaac Asimov

"The Traders" Minor Characters

Eskel Gorov

Gorov moonlights as a Master Trader, even though he's really an agent for the Foundation. Gorov trades technology with the Periphery planets and uses the technology to ensnare the population of the planet in the Foundation's religious schemes. Eventually it catches up with him, and he's jailed for trying to trade on Askone, a planet that's made technology illegal after some bad history with the Galactic Empire.

Gorov is our foil for Poneyts, much the same way Pirenne served as a foil for Hardin. He disagrees with Ponyets's methods of trade with Askone:

Your entire salespoint rested on the fact that the transmuter was a means to an end, but of no value in itself; that [Pherl] was buying the gold, not the machine. (IV.6.10).

In other words, Pherl was buying the gold and not the value of the technology. And if he did not see the value in the technology, then he would not see the value in the Foundation's religion and this could curb whatever power the Foundation could have over Askone.

But when Ponyets explains his scheme to trap Pherl into accepting technology, Gorov sees the logic, even claiming it to be "a good sale" (IV.6.41). So Gorov is actually one of only a few antagonists who actually realizes the virtue of logical non-violence.

The Grand Master

The leader of Askone, the Grand Master holds Eskel Gorov hostage and threatens to have him executed. Like most non-Foundation leaders, the Grand Master has no problem using violence to meet his own ends. The only difference is that the violence is narrowed down to a single person rather than galaxy-spanning warfare.

Councilor Pherl

Councilor Pherl is a young member of the Askone council. He isn't exactly in the best standing though since his family is not one of the original Five families of Askone. As such, he seeks power and recognizes his chance in Ponyets.

Pherl agrees to trade in technology with Ponyets even though the Grand Master will only trade in goods such as gold. When Ponyets traps him by recording the sale, Pherl agrees to secretive trade with the Foundation. It is hinted that he'll eventually become the Grand Master and will open trade with the Foundation further when he does.