Trynair looked at Duchairn, and the Treasurer General understood the Chancellor's dismay perfectly. Any escapees from Ferayd must be well on their way back to Charis by now, complete with their version of what had happened. And despite Clyntahn's cavalier attitude, Duchairn was sickly certain the Charisians would be able to describe what had happened as a "massacre" with complete accuracy. Worse, many of the ships involved would have been family-owned enterprises, and given traditional Charisian practice where crewing such ships was concerned, a lot of those dead Charisians would have been women and children.


            Has it come to this so quickly? Duchairn demanded. And why is the message about this from this Father Styvyn, and not his bishop?


            He could think of at least one reason for the intendant to have sent his own messages independent of the bishop, and he didn't like that reason one bit. But if Clyntahn suspected that the Inquisition's agent in Ferayd was getting his report in early in an effort to put his own spin on a disaster at least partially of his own creation, no sign of it crossed the vicar's face. For that matter, Clyntahn seemed totally oblivious to the potentially disastrous consequences of the incident.


            And for all we know, this isn't the only "incident" like it, either, Duchairn thought. It could be simply the first one we've heard about. So far.


            "This is very serious news," Trynair said, with what Duchairn privately considered to be dizzying understatement. "Once word gets back to Charis, they're going to denounce this entire unfortunate affair as a deliberate massacre carried out at the Inquisition's direct orders."


            "It was nothing of the sort," Clyntahn said. "On the other hand, I'm not going to pretend I'm shedding any tears for a batch of heretics who got exactly what their own heresy and stupidity deserved. For that matter, they got off lightly."


            "I'm not asking you to pretend anything." Trynair kept his voice level, his tone even. "I'm simply pointing out that Charis is going to proclaim to the entire world that we ordered the deliberate slaughter of merchant seamen — and their families, Zhaspahr — as part of our campaign against the schismatics. They'll use it to justify their rebellion . . . and whatever counter-atrocities they decide to stage."


            Clyntahn looked at the Chancellor as if he were speaking a foreign language, Duchairn thought. And from the Grand Inquisitor's perspective, perhaps Trynair was. After all, they'd been prepared to unleash fire, slaughter, and devastation on the entire Kingdom of Charis from the outset, so why should anyone get particularly upset over the deaths of a few dozen — or a few hundred — Charisian sailors and their wives and children?


            "All right," Clyntahn said after a moment. "If you're so worried about how the Charisians can use this, then let's use it ourselves. Father Styvyn's dispatch makes it abundantly clear it was the Charisians who began the fighting. And, I might add, the Delferahkans' casualties weren't exactly light. Since they started it, I think we should tell the world exactly that. The Delferahkan authorities attempted to peacefully sequester their vessels, and instead of submitting to the instructions of the legal authorities, they resisted with deadly force. I'm sure the Charisians are going to hugely exaggerate their own casualties, so I don't see any reason why we should downplay the Delferahkans' losses. In fact, I think we should probably declare that anyone who was killed attempting to carry out Mother Church's orders to sequester those ships should be declared a martyr of God."


            It wasn't "Mother Church's" decision to close the mainland ports against Charis, Duchairn thought grimly. It was yours, Zhaspahr. And it was done on your authority. Amazing how your new formulation of what happened gets you off of that particular hook, isn't it?


            But that wasn't the worst of it — not by a long chalk. If they declared the dead Delferahkans martyrs, then they moved an enormous stride closer to declaring all out holy war against Charis. No doubt that was inevitable, in the fullness of time, but Rhobair Duchairn was in no hurry to embrace that cataclysm.


            And is that simply moral cowardice on your part, Rhobair? If that's our inevitable destination, why hesitate? It's God's will that His Church's authority be maintained in accordance with His plan, so how can you justify trying to avoid doing whatever is required to accomplish His ends?


            "I don't know . . . ." Trynair said slowly.


            "I think Zhaspahr's right," Maigwair said. The others looked at him, and it was his turn to shrug. "The smartest thing we can do is to use the semaphore to see to it that our version — the true version –" he actually managed to say that with a straight face, Duchairn noted "– reaches all the mainland realms before any lies Charis may choose to tell. And if these men were killed carrying out Mother Church's orders, then what are they, if they aren't martyrs?"


            "Exactly!" Clyntahn agreed vigorously.


            Trynair looked at Duchairn again, and the Treasurer General knew exactly what the Chancellor's eyes were asking him. He started to open his mouth to disagree with Clyntahn and Maigwair, then hesitated.


            "Besides," Maigwair continued while Duchairn wavered, "when you look at this news alongside Nahrmahn's decision to betray us — Mother Church, I mean — there's a pattern."


            "A pattern?" Trynair didn't quite manage to keep his incredulity out of his tone, and Maigwair's lips tightened.


            "What I mean," he said, "is that as you pointed out just a few minutes ago, other secular rulers are going to be tempted to seek some sort of accommodation or understanding with Charis if they find themselves between the rock and the hard place. I think we need to give them a reason to think long and hard about that. And we need to make it clear to everyone in Charis exactly what stakes they're allowing their king to play for."


            "How?" Duchairn asked with a distinctly sinking sensation.


            "I say we formally excommunicate Cayleb, Staynair, and every single person who signed Staynair's appointment as archbishop, or Cayleb's writ of succession, or Staynair's letter to the Grand Vicar. We excommunicate Nahrmahn, Pine Hollow, and anyone else who reaches an 'understanding' or 'accommodation' with Charis. And we place all of Charis and all of Emerald under the interdict."


            Duchairn's sinking sensation accelerated abruptly, but Clyntahn's eyes flashed.


            "That's exactly what we ought to do," he agreed harshly. "We've been tiptoeing around from the outset, trying to avoid 'inflaming the situation,' when we've all known all along exactly where it has to end! What we should have been doing instead was putting the damned schismatics on notice, telling them exactly where they're going to end up if they persist in this defiance. And we need to tell every single one of Cayleb's subjects what sort of disaster their precious king is leading them directly to!"


            "This isn't a step to take lightly," Duchairn cautioned. "And if we do take it, it isn't one we'll be able to take back later."


            Excommunicating Cayleb and the others would be bad enough. Under Church law, it would absolve every child of God from obedience to them. Indeed, it would make continuing to obey them an act of defiance against the Church and against God. Assuming most Charisians were prepared to follow Church doctrine, it would in effect dissolve all legal authority in the kingdom. Yet, in many ways, the interdict would be even worse. As long as the interdict was in effect, all Church sacraments, offices, and functions within Charis would be suspended. There would be no baptisms, no weddings, no masses, no burials. And that would continue until the interdict was lifted.


            Inflicting such severe and weighty punishment was, as Duchairn had said, never something to be undertaken lightly. Its consequences for the souls of those caught up in it might well be dreadful.


            That was bad enough, yet it was scarcely all that might follow from Maigwair's proposed actions. The declaration of excommunication and the interdict was only one tiny step short of the declaration of holy war, and once holy war was openly declared, there could be no stepping back from a life or death grapple between the Church and those opposed to her.


            And the one thing this isn't going to do is convince Charis to return willingly to the fold, he thought. Cayleb and Staynair would never have gone as far as they have already if they weren't prepared to go all the way, and even Zhaspahr's reports make it clear the overwhelming majority of Charisians agree with their king and their new 'archbishop.' So even if we declare Cayleb excommunicate and all of Charis under the interdict, they won't care. Or, at least, they won't pay any attention. They'll continue in their allegiance to him, which will mean we've created a situation in which they'll be in direct, open defiance of Mother Church. And that will leave us with no choice but to declare holy war in the end, whatever we might wish.


            I wonder if that's exactly why Zhaspahr and Allayn are so in favor of this? Because it will commit us once and for all, before the entire world, to the complete destruction of Charis?


            "It may not be a step to be taken lightly," Clyntahn said, "but it's a step we'll have to take sooner or later, Rhobair, and you know it. Given what Zahmsyn's already said, I think we have no choice but to go ahead and do it now. Take the offensive and preempt whatever distorted version of events Charis might choose to publish to the world. Unless, of course, you have a better idea?"



About Eric Flint

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28 Responses to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER — snippet 126

  1. Alan says:

    U jnow the author’s are trying to show us the metal processes of these people, but it’s painfully obvious that an excommunication will not stop the sacraments being celebrated by the Church of Charis. I’d expect at lest some thought of that somewhere in the chapter.

  2. Jerry says:

    No mention of Sharleyan’s decision to marry. Jeff is likely correct that the top-level church officials in Chisholm were placed in custody. Bishop Executor Wu-shai Tiang was just too demanding re Gray Harbor to then not attempt to share the facts with Zion if he could.

    The blessing by Sharleyan’s confessor Father Carlsyn Raiyz was intriguing. As someone said, Chisholm is a likely place for another “data anomaly”.

  3. Alistair says:

    “and even Zhaspahr’s reports make it clear the overwhelming majority of Charisians agree with their king and their new ‘archbishop.”

    I imagine those reports came from agents maybe in Charis or in the ports Charis merchant fleet visits I wonder what the chances that the church can get agents in Charis without merlin noticing?

    If they report directly inside the temple there would be no way merlin could know at that end and if they were careful at Charis’ end they might miss merlin’s net.

    In fact the church is the only place where spies in theory would work at the moment

    maybe the church could find something useful unlikely but not impossible.

  4. Ran Cossack says:

    I got the book today, but I’m still reading snippets. :)

    Can’t wait until I finish reading this one and then we get snippets from the next. This snippet thing is addicting!

  5. Elim Garak says:

    No, I think that spies would not work – not well. The only way for Merlin to not know what was said is for the person to physically leave Charis and go into the temple. That fact alone will it obvious who is who. Furthermore, the espionage will thus be painfully slow – 2-3 months to get to Charis to the temple lands? And 2-3 months to go back?

  6. rafe says:

    one has to wonder too if clyntahn and allayn actually know the same secrets that the order of St. Zherneau knows ..

    mebbe that could explain why they are so eager to get rid of Charis and her friends once and for all ….

    otherwise they are either plain stupid or just ignorant and uncaring in considering the consequences of their all out holy war plans …

  7. Paul Briggs says:

    The irony is, if this interdict goes through, the Temple Loyalists in Charis and Emerald will be the only ones not going to church.

  8. Mike says:

    You guys are falling into the trap of thinking that Merlin is omniscient. He can’t tag every person in Charis with a bug. And if he doesn’t, how is he going to know who the spy is? He doesn’t even know who started the fire in the Royal College.

    And Weber has already said that Merlin can’t effectively even tap into the semaphore system (although I didn’t buy his explanation as being reasonable, but OK, author’s choice…).

    There are going to be spies, and not all of them are going to be stopped.

    One of my biggest problems with this whole setup, however, is that the Go4 is much too stupid to have been able to have risen to power in such a Byzantine organization as the all-powerful Church. It’s just not plausible. Weber loves to have his ranting, stupid tyrants — but I do get so tired of them after a while.

  9. Daryl says:

    Mike, there are lots of real world examples of how otherwise thick individuals rise to power. Somewhat of an idiot savant effect in that they may be superlative at “office politics” and infighting but hopeless in other areas. I’m Australian and some of our politicians fit this as I believe have some US Presidents, not to mention many of the Roman dictators (Nero & Claudius).

  10. Chuck says:

    Add Idi Amin, and Poppa Doc Duvalier-neither were rocket scientists, both were very effective at using terror to maintain power. The problem with the Go4 is that they ARE a group, not an individual. That makes them less believable than Clyntahn as a supreme spiritual leader. I suspect he would be a very powerful fundamentalist Mullah in today’s Iran or Iraq.

  11. MarkR says:

    I missed that. How the hell could he not tap into the semaphore? All he has to do is park one of the remotes to watch the messages being signaled from a semaphore tower and have OWL break the code. Granted there are some key systems using books that would be damn hard to break, but if he backtracks messages from the Temple to their source he should be able to see who is encoding it and what they are using. Unless it is a different person each time.

  12. Ron says:

    “I got the book today, but I’m still reading snippets.

    Can’t wait until I finish reading this one and then we get snippets from the next. This snippet thing is addicting!

    Comment by Ran Cossack”

    I as well. I wish I had the self control to NOT have read the snippets when I found this place. :(

    It is unreal that they published almost the whole book and there was not much left to read for me to savior once I got my copy of the book.

    Then again I read OAR 6 times from the library before I broke down and bought the book which I read 7 more times. So it really was a foregone conclusion that I would be buying this one even if they DID publish the whole book online. :)

    Now, I have Storm from the Shadows to tide me till the next book in this series start up, assuming they are going to do snippets from that one as well.

  13. Kim says:

    I appreciate this site. it has gotten me to read and buy books I might not have otherwise done.

    Some historical viewpoints, since history tends to repeat itself. When the Church of England broke with Rome, the were still many practicing Catholics in England. I would venture that 1/3 remained loyalists, 1/3 were borderline and 1/3 fully support the schism. Similar percentages were present during the American Revolution; Tories, fence sitters, successionists.

    As for the Go4, Clyntahn reminds me possibly of Stalin or Pompey. They started as part of a troika/triumphirate and then used their power to subvert their partners. Pompey failed when Caesar broke the unwritten law and crossed the Rubicon and the head of his legion.

    Merlin is an impressive but limited construct. He is overwhelmed by data. Just picture yourself in today’s world being able to listen and record every cellphone conversation looking for a key set of words like ‘ice cream’ or amusement park’. He can pick and chose where the SNARC are set but he is not infallible. On top of that, he can’t mass download since his program was hacked. A true needle in the haystack.

    It’s interesting how Weber is using the Writ to ‘support’ the schism.

    Good reading all!

  14. JNees says:

    THe use of excommunication and interdiction, during the Reformation, is an historical study of macbre interest. Suffice to say, once certain lines were crossed, it was frequently counterproductive. With regard to the directly intended, it became a mark of value, since the Church did not bother with lesser fgures. Worse, it had the effect of crystalizing opposition, by simultaniously drawing a clear line, and raising the stakes. In the end, the persons most harmed were often those who wished to stay loyal to the church, but could not remove themselves from the vicinity of the rebels.


  15. Chuck says:

    Off the wall thought-if the order of St. Zherneau has been functioning within the church for 800 years, how many other secret organizations are out there that don’t agree with every pronouncement of Mother Church? One reason why churches are much tougher on heretics and apostates than unbelievers is because they are dangerous to the structure of an organized religion. They can degrade both its intelligence (in the military sense) and its ability to respond to challenges, within and without. Apostasy is like a Parkinson’s disease to a hierarchical organization.
    My copy shipped from Amazon on Monday, so I am hoping for 2day. I suspect DW will try to get the next book on line around new years, given a projected publishing date of next August (I think I read that somewhere).

  16. wyrm says:

    It strikes me, and I would assume that it would strike Merlin, that a few sabotage units blowing up some critical semaphore towers would send the church into near-terminal chaos. The church depends on the system so much, has built so much of it’s internal systems around the semaphore, and has such a massive investment in it that the effect on church organisation and morale would be catastrophic. Furthermore, the church has been so dominant over the secular lords that I would be surprised if they have appropriate precautions in place. Ideally start near to Zion, take out some key nodes to cut the G04 off, and then head for the coast, blowing up towers on a target of opportunity basis. Since they would be outpacing the non-functioning semaphore, there should be plenty of targets. It would disrupt the church for months and months. Charis and Siddarmark would have the opportunity to get up to all sorts of mischief.

  17. Mike says:

    The rationale from Weber about why Merlin can’t read the semaphor messages is on the web somewhere. I won’t try to repeat it, because I didn’t really buy into it anyway.

    It seemed to me that Weber just knew he couldn’t make Merlin too omniscient, so he needed some rationalization. And you know, it’s fiction. If it makes for a more interesting story, that’s fine by me.

    I’m actually pleased that he didn’t technobabble it into the text of the book. IMO, Weber does far too much of that already.

  18. Paul Breed says:

    Is there a place on the web to discuss this book and series other than just here at the end of the snippets?

    Any announcements on when the “By Heresies Distressed” will start snippeting…?

  19. Jerry says:

    When snippets start for BHD will depend on the issue date (Mar 2009 is one date given) and on how much and how often to snippet. On the bar is a discussion re how much to snippet. Most comments state 80% is too much. The sense seems to be between 25% and 50%.

    Note that the first snippet for BSRA was early October 2008, about 9 1/2 months before the publication date. If the same were done for BHD, then we’d already have a snippet.

  20. Lance says:

    Can I kill DW now? (Just kidding…)

    I got my copy of BSRA today and finished it today. (No, I’m not going to spoil it…) Based on what I saw of the book and where we are at now snippet-wise – we’ve got something beyond 80% of the book on this site. There’s a few things that have been speculated upon that happen…soon. But my point is that we’ve got most of it now.

    So can we have BHD snippets Friday? Please? If I ask nice?

    The one thing I will say is this book is pretty much a *journey* book. Things are headed towards resolution but the end of the book is certainly NOT any big resolution and it leaves things hanging and me going damn damn damn…I gotta wait until NEXT YEAR???

    So I’ll reread it again this weekend.


  21. Peacoats says:

    Can we all stop for a second to give a big thank you to Eric and David for publishing these snippets? Speaking solely for myself, I love ’em!. Thanks, guys!

  22. Lance says:

    I think that’s worth an offering or two to Langhorn himself… 8-)

  23. Aaron Van Dessel says:

    lol, I like that idea

  24. James Earnhart says:

    I tried to go to the baen bar but no matter what user name I use to try to register it kicks it out saying for me to chose a different one. So am I just an idiot or is there something up? My user names fit within the rules on the help page (James1229, greyotter, olegreyowl, and many others) I love DW’s books and would like to be able to take part in the forum. Thanks for any help.

  25. Chuck says:

    I just received my copy & frankly I am very disappointed in DW. I know some publishers and authors are setting up series books so each one leads to a major action in the next, but it is frustrating, if not infuriating when there is as much as a year between issues. I stopped buying Patterson for that reason, and I never bothered to see if Tiger by Clancy had a sequel or not. I had hoped DW was above such cheap tricks. If the publishers or authors of a series make the books interdependent, then let them publish them monthly like any other serial. Books published at long intervals should have closure of the major action.

  26. Alistair says:

    Still waiting for book..AHHH will be here soon. but it is nice to be forewarned about me having already 80% of it already.

    I am already getting myself ready for the “post-book” let down.

    I am very glad to have SFS snippets starting

  27. Drak Bibliophile says:

    James, I don’t know why you’re having problems but maybe Arnold Bailey could help. He’s the web-master of the Bar and his email is

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