"You were saying, Allayn?" Duchairn invited.


            "I was saying that according to Fern's report, the Dohlaran merchant fleet has taken extremely heavy losses. Apparently, these damned 'privateers' are operating virtually at will, despite the fact that they're thousands of miles from any Charisian port. They seem to be everywhere in the Gulf, including Hankey Sound and apparently Shwei Bay, as well. Losses are so heavy insurance rates have gone skyhigh. And even with insurance, many owners are refusing to allow their vessels to put to sea at all. From what the Duke has to say, the kingdom's maritime commerce has effectively come to a halt."


            "So?" Clyntahn's voice was at least moderately courteous this time, Duchairn noted, and the Inquisitor shrugged heavy shoulders. "With all due respect, Allayn, and fully admitting that the impact for Dohlar may be significant, I fail to see what's so immediately threatening about the situation. We always knew that once these damnable heretics started raiding, the consequences were going to be severe for everyone else's merchant fleets."


            "The point, Zhaspahr," Duchairn said, "is that the damage is being far worse than we'd originally anticipated. Despite what I just said, Allayn is quite right that many of these 'privateers' appear to be purpose-built vessels, armed with the best Charisian artillery. Artillery, I remind you, we still haven't managed to duplicate for our own vessels. I'm Mother Church's Treasurer General. I know how expensive our rearming program is being, which means I also have at least a feel for the sort of investment the Charisians must be making to produce the quantities of artillery their own fleet requires. Yet despite his navy's own obvious requirement for more and more guns, Cayleb is permitting privateers access to them. That indicates just how high a priority he and his advisers must place on those privateers' operations. And, again, speaking as Mother Church's Treasurer General, I may have a better grasp of some of the . . . indirect consequences than you do."


            "So enlighten us," Clyntahn invited in a half-growl.


            "Allayn is probably in a better position than I am to address the consequences for our building programs," Duchairn said, "but I already know Charisian attacks have been more than a minor irritation where they're concerned. Many of the items required for the construction of our new galleys are normally transported by sea, Zhaspahr. Spars, masts, timbers, artillery, anchors — anything that's heavy, or massive, or simply big and can't be supplied in the immediate vicinity of the shipyards themselves has to be freighted in, and attempting to haul loads like that overland, even when an overland route is available, is a nightmare. If they can't be shipped by sea, costs are going to rise sky-high, and construction times are going to become far longer.


            "But there's another, more direct consequence. If the Charisians succeed in effectively destroying the merchant fleets of their enemies — and producing a situation in which the surviving merchantmen cower in port rather than daring to put to sea will have the same effect capturing or sinking all of them would produce — the economies of those realms are going to take severe damage. Even our coffers are ultimately limited in terms of the subsidies and loans we can make to offset that sort of damage. And as their economies suffer, the tithes due to the treasury will also decline, with ultimately serious consequences to our own fiscal position.


            "At the same time, the carnage the Charisians are wreaking isn't something realms who aren't actively at war with them are likely to fail to notice. We've all had our concerns about the ultimate reliability of Siddarmark. Well, if they see the Charisians' enemies suffering this sort of devastation, it's going to make them even less inclined to add themselves to the list of those enemies . . . and to the privateers' target list. Besides, I rather doubt that someone like Greyghor Stohnar is going to be exactly heartbroken over watching the commerce of rival rulers being hammered. After all, as their merchant fleets decline, his can expand to fill some of the void."


            Even Clyntahn was listening attentively now, and Zahmsyn Trynair sat back in his own chair. There were times when he found the apparent rebirth of Duchairn's personal piety more than a little wearing. The Treasurer's newfound willingness to "trust in God" and to punctuate discussions of policy and planning with quotations from the Writ and The Commentaries might produce serenity for him, but it didn't do a great deal for all of the red-hot coals Trynair was required to juggle every day. On the other hand, his ability to convince even the increasingly belligerent Grand Inquisitor to stop and actually listen was impressive. So impressive that Trynair himself had actually considered spending some time with the Writ.


            "But even the impact on the thinking of his potential enemies is secondary to what Cayleb is really after," Duchairn continued now. "He's systematically eliminating the carrying capacity of other realms. Effectively, he's doing exactly what we accused his father of — deliberately setting out to secure complete control of the entire world's merchant shipping. And the reason he's doing that, Zhaspahr, is that if all the other merchant carriers are eliminated, the only ones left will fly the Charisian flag. Which means the mainland realms' need for shipping to transport the cargoes essential to their own economies will drive them into using Charisian bottoms. And, in effect, that means they'll be subsidizing Cayleb's military expenses. He'll be driving the kingdoms of Haven and Howard into literally paying for his war against Mother Church."


            "Then stop them from doing that," Clyntahn growled.


            "That's far easier to say than to do," Duchairn countered. "The trading houses need that shipping just to survive, and the rulers of those countries require the taxes and import duties levied on those trading houses to support their economies . . . and to pay their tithes to Mother Church. The entire edifice is far more fragile than it might appear from the outside, and the imperatives of economic survival are going to drive even godly men into the Charisians' arms if that's the only way for them to survive."


            "And that's not the only worry," Maigwair put in. He'd clearly been willing to allow Duchairn to carry the major burden of the explanation, but now he leaned forward, his own expression a combination of anxiety and anger. "It's not just a matter of harming their enemies and bolstering their own economy. There's also the corrupting effect."


            "Corrupting effect?" Clyntahn sat abruptly straighter in his chair as Maigwair captured his full attention at last. "What sort of 'corrupting effect'?" he demanded.


            "There's an enormous amount of money being made by these 'privateers,'" Maigwair said. "Whatever else they may be, they're still Charisians when it comes to finding ways to squeeze marks out of any situation. And they've been spreading some of those marks around. I have confirmed reports that they're managing to dispose of their prizes in mainland ports. That means they don't have to put prize crews aboard them and sail them all the way back to Charis. They only need to crew them long enough to reach one of the ports which are open to them, at which point their prize crews can immediately return to them. And that  means they can take a lot more ships before shortage of manpower forces them to go home and recruit new crews. Even worse, in some ways, it also means they're building cozy relationships with the authorities in those ports. They couldn't be selling captured ships there, or disposing of cargoes from their prizes, without the knowledge and consent of those authorities."


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36 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 86

  1. kari says:

    I’m betting that the Go4 have an obscure, ‘only to be used for direct threat’ ritual/prayer which can unleash the platforms against an enemy.

  2. Alistair says:

    Possibly but I don’t think the arch anglels would give such power to there successors and If they did have they would be able to burn Charis to the ground at any time so why bother doing it the slow way?

    My suspicion is that an AI controls the platforms

    I think that this snippet will lead to an attempt at a blockade of sorts or at least a disscussion of the possibilty of having one agaisnt Charis

  3. John says:

    I don’t know about that….after all, such a setup would likely mean the elimination of Charis, and Merlin/Nimue with it. Would seem to somewhat end the series right there, since Nimue is the main charecter.

    It seems more likely that this will force the Group of Four (and the Church of God Awaiting) to adopt many of the inovations occuring in Charis. They need at least the cannon to have any chance of fighting off the hoards of privateers raiding their income sources. They will most likely need either multiple galleys or a sailing ship rigged much like the privateers to have much chance. That, or mount some cannon (new style) on all the merchant vessels…perhaps merchant convoys protected by warships? All these ideas would provide some protection, but would at the same time require at least some changes to the warships and cannon mounted on them.

  4. E says:

    It looks like the Church is going to be forced into having its nations not pay their tithes; that can’t be good for the authority of the Church.

    It also looks like some sort of small-district witch hunting is about to occur, with larger nations using their armies against smaller nations and their own provinces.

    Perhaps the Church should have issued the order “build roads” instead of galleys, since it looks like even the latter blunder will be inhibited by the current infrastructure crisis.

  5. adis says:

    I expect that the angels/archangels did not leave control of the weapons platforms in the hands of the Church, because they church might use it, and thereby draw attention from the Enemy… it’s likely AI controlled, and programmed to destroy electricity sources…

  6. Alan says:

    ‘I know how expensive our rearming program is being, ‘

    Perhaps this would read better as ‘I know how expensive our rearming program is,’

    I do not think he orbital weapons are still live. Langhorne was too much of a maniac to share that power with anyone, even his church (he would have seen them as servants, not successors) or an AI. I think the AI particularly unlikely because it would have offended Langhrne’s feelings about tech and because Langhorne almost certainly expected to live forever. On the other hand, it s also possible that Shan-wei’s allies sabotaged the system after Langhorne’s destruction.

    Besides, it would mean a chapter that reads: ‘Without warning the orbital platforms opened fire reducing Charis, Chisholm, and almost all our characters to ashes.’

  7. Paul Howard says:

    On the orbital platforms, first we know that they are still active (at least the defenses are). I suspect that they are on automatic and not directly under the control of the Safehold Church. I suspect that the auto controls are looking for early evidence of high tech (most likely generated electricity).

    There’s been speculation that the mysterious Power sources in the Temple are sleeping ‘Archangels’. The Council of Vicars and/or the Grand Vicar might have the authority to wake them.

    Oh David Weber has stated that there’s a reason for the weapons stored in Nimue’s Cave.

  8. JNees says:

    I agree that the orbital platforms will not enter into the situation for some time. I think the better point is that innovation will spawn innovation. It is possible that Clyntyn will endorse the changes. If so, it could lead to his eventual destruction.


  9. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Alistair said: “…this snippet will lead to an attempt at a blockade of sorts […] against Charis”

    I think the idea is something they might want to try… but with no navy the only thing they can actually do is try to close the mainland ports to the Charisian shipping. Which will, of course, in turn lead to the smuggling and “corruption” that they so fear here (and was predicted long ago by one of the Charisian nobles back in the day). Which will also further undermine the authority of the church.

    I also think there may be the possibility of “flags of convenience” being re-invented in the near future.


  10. kar says:

    Stupid church officials. The fact they’re smart enough to come to some of these realizations is actually amazing. However they’re still way below normal intelligence levels. I mean come on… of all the things they just talked about they’re forgetting the primary thing. The ships for god’s sake. I mean.. they can discuss artillery and economics until the world ends, but they leave out any discussion of new ship technology. I mean.. they’ve received info about the deadliness of galleons, but they still go ahead with galley construction. Personally, I can’t wait to see the four morons crucified or impaled on the gates into the capital.

  11. hank tiffany says:

    Not so much stupid as out of touch with reality. Generals ready to fight the last war and all that. Not seamen themselves, and not willing to take advice from those who are, so they don’t realize the advantages of the galleons. Also poor workmen, in that they blame their tools for the previous defeats. Amazing that they do believe the stories about the improved artillary, actually. Not surprising that they wouldn’t know what to do with it if they had it. Innovation is not a mindset they were raised to appreciate, much less use. Dinosaurs.

  12. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Anyone else noticing the parallels with the 1632 series? Specifically the comparison between what Merlin is doing and what Mike Stearns is doing. In both cases, the enemy establishment is being put in the position of “innovate or die”. If they just keep on doing the same thing they have been doing, they can’t match the technological prowess of the “rebels”, but if they start doing the same thing as them, they become their own worst enemies – because it destroys the establishment that they’re trying so desperately to preserve.

  13. John says:

    I recall reading in the first book that the prescriptions limit Safeholdians to wind, water, or muscle power.

    This would seem to eliminate the possiblity of steam power. Although…..I suppose steam is just another form of water…..heh heh. I agree that if an AI is watching Safehold for signs of higher tech, electricty would be one of the main ones…but perhaps it could be watching for steam power as well. Of course, that is assuming that Langhorn was willing to put that kind of power under the control of a machine.

  14. Maxim says:

    I think the power sources could be sleeping Archangels, but I don’t think The Council of Vicars and/or the Grand Vicar have the autority to wake them, I think it is AI controlled event which will be executed under certain conditions.

    And I would not call the church officials stupid. It is to see through all history, that even very intelligent men are more often than not set in a certain mindset. It is very seldom that somebody can be a visionar and grasp new concepts very fast.
    As hank tiffany said the were not raised to appreciate innovation, which makes it so much more difficult for them.
    But that doesn’t make them stupid. I would call them ignorant and arrogant.

  15. Maxim says:

    I don’t think the steam power would be watched, but it is probably prohibited in the proscriptions. But how would you want to look for the use for steam power, as you said it is only hot water. But with the electricity you are probably right.

    And I think that there isn’t another choice for Langhorn. He had to give the control to a AI. Either to execute bombing with help of the orbital weapon systems or to wake somebody up.

  16. Mike says:

    The church leaders are not being “stupid”, as much as following the “not invented here” mindset. Just what is Charis supposed to be blockaded with I am not sure since they have effectively destroyed all the other major navies of the planet though. And there are too many examples through history of the leadership being so out of touch with reality that countless lives were lost in failed military blunders.

  17. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    Undoubtably true.

    If there is to be a schism within the Church, these last snippets seem to be giving an idea of how it might work. Duchairn’s new piety is the first crack. How long until the corruption the Go4 is constantly doing begin to get under his nerves? How long until he actually thinks about why Charis refuses Mother Church’s authority? Because the Go4 no longer truely followed God’s will. Either that, or he’ll annoy one of the others so badly that they remove him.

    or so I think

  18. Paul Howard says:

    I suspect that Duchairn is in “one war at a time” mindset. He may want to reform the Safehold Church but believes that he must preserve the Church as a single entry first. To leave the Gof4 (if possible) would mean that he’s just one voice and could easily silenced. Even if he found reformer allies, that might speed up the Bread-Up of the Safehold Church.

  19. It is perfectly clear how to deal with the pirates. Build more galleys!

    They are not quite so clear on recognizing that if Charis dominates the merchant marine then those unemployed Dohlar sailors will be interested in new jobs on Charisian merchant ships. Soon, they will have a shortage of seamen to press onto navy ships.

    They also have a *real* supply problem with their galley fleet. Oarsmen.

    Trained oarsmen are like trained pikemen, except the skill level is higher. You cannot have people handling galleys unless they are good at the oars or they will do poorly. The Church navies lost their good oarsmen, most of them, in the last book, and the ones who survived may not be too interested in fighting Charisians again.

    Duchairn might give us the equivalent of the Jesuits.

  20. E says:

    The Jesuits gave us Descartes.

  21. Daryl says:

    Don’t forget that Merlin/Nimue is essentually an AI, so any postulated AI could be expected to be more sophisticated than a simple electricity yes/no decider.

  22. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    If the Go4 keep messing up, then Duchairn might wonder why God isn’t supporting them. if he decides it because of his compatriots, then that could end the Go4. of course, its unlikely, but I like the idea of the High Inquisitor being tried for heresy.

  23. kari says:

    cougd a high concentration of carbon monoxide from burning an x-amount of coal from a plant might also be a trigger?

  24. Maxim says:

    An interesant idea with the high concentration of carbon monoxide, but a bit difficult to implement, because of so much natural carbon monoxide from the animals, vulcanos ect.

  25. Wyrm says:

    I don’t think that burning coal would be a triger for a strike. The northern “Temple Lands” is cold enough to need winter heating (Snow in Zion, remember) so coal would be used as a heat source. “Coals to Newcastle” was a phrase in English well before the development of steam engines. Visit London, and you can walk down “Sea Coal Alley” where the collier ships from the North-East docked.

  26. E says:

    If it is decided that the corruption in the Church must be cleansed, that opens the door for someone to consolidate the power of the Church under an individual (probably with certain “safeguards” in the hands of the Council of Vicars). If such an office is made, then the potential for abuse will range greater than that of the Go4 in a manner of a few office holders. Given the recent blunders, the restructuring of the Church hierarchy seems inevitable, but the question is what will the church become…

  27. Kim says:

    How about this. The AI on the orbital platform recognizes a forbidden energy source. It can’t be just electricity because it would have seen the aircars Merlin has used. It, the energy pattern, must reach a certain critical level. Then the AI awakens a ‘sleeping’ archangel with the requisite authority to initiate the cleansing. It takes the reawakening out of ‘human’ hands. Gives Merlin something else to deal with.

  28. E says:

    All this speculation about the KE Sats is old. We’ve already discussed these same points before in previous snippets. The most likely theories in my opinion are the “Emissions Reading Theory”, the “Archangel Awakening (My bet is for year 1000) Theory”, and the “Say X Prayer in Y Location for Representative Angel Z Theory.”

    Does anyone feel like talking about the economic ramifications for Charis if the church finds a way to strike back economically and what ways the church might do so?

  29. Brom says:

    Didn’t DW (thru Joe Buckley) give us a peek of the Go4 trying seize all Charisian ships in every non-Charisian ports worldwide … and various responses in different nations?

  30. Summercat says:

    Brom –

    There was a reading of the third book in the series that involved A) The Church ordering all Charisian ships captures, and B) Emperor Cayleb’s response. I think you’d have to look elsehwere for the details.

  31. E says:

    Someone please find this reading and post a link or copy. I’d really like to see it :)

  32. jmbm says:

    Yes, that was posted at

  33. If Dohar is having modest difficulties with Charisian privateers, Tarot must be in real trouble. If you are an archipelago, and your opponents rule the waves, you don’t even have internal communications. Corisande must be having similar difficulties, so that the allegedly somewhat dim noble of the lesser island may get his chance to change sides. Indeed, we have not yet heard anything about Tarot, unless of course Nahrman gave advice on the matter.

  34. Lance says:

    Can you give us specifics on how to find that third book reading?

  35. E says:

    International communication may be severely inhibited, except those connected by semaphore, but internal communication should still function at horse speed. And I would really like to have that reading transcribed since I don’t want to register for the Baen Bar.

  36. Brom says:

    What we got was JPB’s recap of DW’s reading at Boskone of two chapters from By Heresies Distressed, posted on Baen’s Bar, in the Snerker’s Folder. Joe had David’s permission to post in on the Bar.
    I won’t repost here without Joe’s and Eric’s permission, but if all you want to do is “read”, registration is not required, simply enter the Bar as “guest”.

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