As a follow up: I'm on Chapter 5 of book two (The Great Hunt). Possible Spoiler ahead.
In it there's a company of 2000 whitecloaks marching through Tarabon. When Bornhald asks a Questioner why this is, he replies "There are towns and villages across Almoth Plain with none in authority above a mayor or a Town Council. It is past time they were brought to the Light."
Since they don't have real authority, this sounds to me like a band of militia going around passing judgement and carrying out severe punishment on whomever they want. Here's what I don't get. There's no one to stop them because they are doing this in remote villages. But if the queen finds out that this group is doing such things, then wouldn't they be branded terrorists, bandits, enemies of the state? Furthermore, their presence wouldn't be tolerated in the queen's city, right?
I guess my mind is frustrated trying to rationalize how this band (with high numbers) of well armed (and therefore well funded) bullies seems to have free reign everywhere, even in the city, when they brazenly usurp authority and execute their own justice. Am I looking to deep into it? Should I just accept it that we need bad guys here to move the plot along and just let it go?