The Five Families are the oldest noble families in the Human-controlled Northern Izril.
Several thousand years ago, Humans invaded Izril with armies and powerful artifacts, laid siege to Walled Cities and destroyed them in a lengthy war that divided the continent in two halves. The Humans took the northern half and the Drakes and Gnolls were forced into the southern parts of the continent. Witch covens also played their part in this conquest.
The Five Families, leading that assault, were aristocracy related to kings from the continent of Terandria. They were the first humans to ever settle on Izril. They had actually fled Terandria and had always been wary of more invaders who might follow them.
As Nobility of Izril
All the really powerful nobles, especially the Five Families, live in the northern most parts of Izril, near First Landing. There, they are important landowners who also were crucial in rallying the defense against Velan. These old families of nobility own huge arsenals of magical defenses, most notably the Reinhart Family which has safeguarded their artifacts even against their own family members so that they are not squandered in vain.
They’re still very rich and influential today, and even powerful guilds refrain from antagonizing them. While still well off at the surface, all of the Five Families have also waned in their power.
Magnolia Reinhart and Tyrion Veltras are currently the foremost scions of the Five Families in Northern Izril, and the three other Families have not much appeared in the storyline before Volume 7. Only a single decade ago however, Fulviolo El, Petria Terland and Ulva Terland were powerful military leaders, albeit utterly defeated when they met the Goblin King Velan.
The Five Families
Note that the reputation of each family doesn't reduce the family members to universally follow a stereotype.
- Reinhart Family (reknowned for underhanded politics, tricks, and poison)
- Veltras Family (reknowned for beast-taming, recently their leadership in war)
- Terland Family (reknowned for magical fortifications)
- Wellfar Family (reknowned for business acumen and their trade fleets)
- El Family (reknowned for craftsmenship and magical artisanry)
- On Earth, there are several cases of noble families that claim to be more than a thousand years old - but those claims can mostly be considered fictitious, since at some point, there have been cases of document forgery, usurpation or adoptation when the bloodline expired. The older a noble family on Earth, the more unlikely it is that the bloodline was uninterrupted. Also, for every family that survives several centuries, even more noble lineages die out beyond the possibility to "fix it". That makes it likely that the history of the Five Families has either been forged or patched at some points, or that there were many more invader families that did not survive the millenia; and the Five Families are simply the ones that remained until now. On the other hand, at least some of the Five Families had access to magical means not available on Earth, like immortal guardians or other invulnerable means to preserve a family's legacy.