A deadman’s chair is a device associated with the watch-towers of the Guarded Land – each tower generally having four chairs: one facing up the road, another down; two more looking out across the land – one in each direction.
A deadman’s chair keeps the lookout sitting on it awake by threatening his life should he fall asleep. The seat itself is a freely rotating drum astride which the lookout sits. To stop himself falling off the lookout must keep a grip on a bracing hoop. This hoop is a fixed structure which surrounds the ‘chair’.
In The Chosen, Carnelian sits in a deadman’s chair:
“Carnelian took a few more steps forward. A cylinder pushed out from the end of the beam. The hoop formed a halo around this. He reached out, grasped the hoop, then swung down on to the cylinder. It rotated, almost throwing him out into space. Trembling, he used the hoop to pull himself back into balance. He shuddered. Now he understood why it was called a deadman’s chair.”