David Weber

October, Year of God 892

The Temple,
City of Zion,
The Temple Lands

The snow outside the Temple was deep for October, even for the city of Zion, and more fell steadily, thickly only to be whipped into mad swirls by the bitter wind roaring in off Lake Pei. That wind piled thick slabs of broken like ice on the bitterly cold shore, swept dancing snow demons through the streets, sculpted knife-edged snowdrifts against every obstruction, and chewed at any exposed skin with icy fangs. Throughout the city, its poorest inhabitants huddled close to any source of warmth they could find, but for far too many, there was precious little of that to be had, and parents shivered, watching the weather — and their children — with worry-puckered eyes as they thought about the endless five-days stretching out between them and the half-forgotten dream of springtime’s warmth.

There was no cold inside the Temple, of course. Despite the soaring ceiling of its enormous dome, there weren’t even any chilly breezes. The structure reared by the archangels themselves in the misty dawn of Creation maintained its perfect interior temperature with total disdain for what the merely mortal weather of the world might be inflicting upon its exterior.
The luxurious personal suites assigned to the members of the Council of Vicars were all magnificent beyond any mortal dream, but some were even more magnificent than others. The suite assigned to Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn was a case in point. It was a corner apartment on the Temple’s fifth floor. Two entire sides of its main sitting room and dining room were windows — the miraculous, unbreakable, almost totally invisible windows of the archangels’ handiwork. Windows which were completely transparent from within, yet flashed back exterior sunlight like mirrored walls of finely burnished silver, and which were utterly impervious to the heat — or cold — which passed through and radiated from windows of mortal glass. Paintings and statuary, all chosen with a connoisseur’s exquisite discernment, added their own luxurious beauty to the suite’s interior, with its thick carpets, indirect, sourceless lighting, and perfect temperature.
It was far from the first time Archbishop Wyllym Rayno had visited the Grand Inquisitor’s personal chambers. Rayno was the Archbishop of Chiang-wu in the Harchong Empire. He was also the Adjutant of the Order of Schueler, which made him Clyntahn’s executive officer within the Office of the Inquisition. As a result, Rayno was privy to far more of Clyntahn’s innermost thought than anyone else, including his colleagues among the Group of Four, yet there were places inside Clyntahn where even Rayno had never been. Places the archbishop had never wanted to be.
“Come in, Wyllym — come in!” Clyntahn said expansively as the Temple Guardsman always stationed outside his chamber opened the door for Rayno.
“Thank you, Your Grace,” Rayno murmured, stepping past the guardsman.
Clyntahn extended his ring of office, and Rayno bent to kiss it, then straightened and tucked his hands into the voluminous sleeves of his cassock. The remnants of a truly enormous meal lay strewn in ruins across the large dining table, and Rayno carefully avoided noticing that there had been two place settings. Most vicars practiced at least some discretion when it came to entertaining their mistresses within the Temple’s sacred precincts. Everyone knew it happened anyway, yet there were standards to be maintained, appearances to be satisfied.
But Zhaspahr Clyntahn wasn’t “most vicars.” He was the Grand Inquisitor, the keeper of Mother Church’s conscience, and there were times when even Rayno, who had served him for decades, wondered exactly what passed through his mind. How the same man could be so zealous when it came to rooting out the sins of others even while he indulged his own.
Fair’s fair, Wyllym, the archbishop told himself. He may be a zealot, and he’s definitely self-indulgent, but at least he’s not hypocritical among his peers. And he does draw a remarkably sharp line between sins which are merely venal and those which constitute mortal offenses in the eyes of Schueler and God. He can be as irritatingly sanctimonious as anyone you’ve ever seen, but you’ve never heard him condemning any of his fellow vicars for weaknesses of the flesh. Spiritual weaknesses, yes; he can be utterly ruthless where they’re concerned, but he’s remarkably . . . understanding where those perquisites of high office are concerned.
He wondered who tonight’s visitor might be. All of Clyntahn’s appetites were huge, and he craved novelty. Indeed, few women could hold his attention for long, and once his interest in them waned, he tended to turn to another with sometimes startling abruptness, although he was never ungenerous when he transferred his interest to another.
Rayno, as the Inquisition’s adjutant, was well aware that there were those within the Temple’s hierarchy who disapproved — in some cases, strenuously, if quietly — of Clyntahn’s addiction to the pleasures of the flesh. No one was likely to say so openly, of course, and Rayno had very quietly quashed a few reports of condemnatory comments before they ever reached the Grand Inquisitor’s ears. Still, it was only natural for there to be a certain . . . unhappiness. Some of it could probably be put down to pure envy, although he was willing to concede that there was genuine disapproval of such sensuality behind much of it. Indeed, there had been times when Rayno had found himself feeling much the same sort of disapproval. But the archbishop had concluded long ago, even before Clyntahn was elevated to his present office, that all men had flaws, and that the greater the man, the deeper his flaws were likely to run. If Clyntahn restricted his particular faults to the pursuit of fleshly pleasure, surely that was far better than what Rayno had observed in the occasional Inquisitor who found himself using the cover of his high office to indulge his own taste for unnecessary cruelty.

About Eric Flint

Author and Editor
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33 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 1

  1. Mike says:

    There’s a reason why it’s not really a good idea to do things like name characters after contemporary politicians. As time goes by, it just seems more and more petty, not to mention out of date.

  2. Craig says:

    Mike…speaking of petty ?

    And I hadn’t even made the leap until you wrote.

  3. Rick says:

    My mind tends to skip over the n for some reason — until I saw it pointed out, I was mentally pronouncing it as “Clayton”. Actually, I still do that.

    I’m glad we’re getting snippets from this story now, though — I liked the first book a lot and am looking forward to it.

  4. Steve says:

    Yeehaw! Been waiting for these snippets to start!

  5. D says:

    Ah the snippeting pain begins again :)

    Thanks Eric and David :D

  6. Lance says:

    Thank you!!!!

    Made my day and will probably wreck my next few months!!!!

  7. Lance says:

    RE: Comment #1.

    Strikes a bit too close to home and reality eh? Just think of the fun the next book could have with a Barry Hussein type of politician… :)

  8. Ron says:


    However I hope you will not post as much of the book as you did last time.

    I was disappointed as too how little remained to read once BSRA came out.

    Like any other addict, if you post it….I can’t help but read it.


  9. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ron, David Weber realizes that too much was posted of the last Safehold book. While I don’t know how much of this one will be posted, it will be less than the other one.

  10. cedarcreekreader says:

    @3,above, most egregious “naming”, bordering on the unforgiveable, has to be Prince Norman Bates.

  11. Maggie says:


    Now I wonder if Merlin/Nimue could remodel into something “exotic” to get close to Clyntahn…..

  12. Alejo says:

    Very exciting! Oh, and comment 1, just be glad the whole book and story plot don’t revolve around one man’s bleak view of how things are going during one campaign year. Look at the Last Centurian by Ringo. Thing became obselete before it was a year old.

  13. JN says:

    With a release date of 16 weeks from now, that would be about 45 – 50 snippets. If the length is the same, about 1/2 the amount of the middle book. Frankly, I am hoping for bigger snippets. This one is a little disappointing.

    On another subject, he may be named Clinton, but he seems more patterned after Henry VIII.


  14. Paul says:


    I don’t think s/he’d even consider that. None of the SNARC bugs are being placed in the temple proper for fear of what devices would be there. What kind of alarms would a full PICA set off?

  15. Maggie says:


    The same kind of alarms that failed to prevent Commodore Pei from coming to call with a vest pocket nuke.

    I’m just sayin’…..

  16. Michael says:

    Actually I think it works out to only just over the first third of the book. I believe SftS ended around 110 or so and went 2/3 in, so 45 would be, at best, a third. The book comes out in July, right?

  17. Karsten says:

    I just checked it – the last snippet from BSRA covered the page 411 (from a total of 494 textpages in the Hardcover-edition). But, according to Joe Buckleys homepage “”, the snippeting began at October, 8, 2007 and ended at July 18, 2008. That’s about _10 Months_ of snippeting!
    BHD, on the other side, is scheduled for hitting the bookshelves in July, 2009 – only about 4 Month from now.
    So – no, imho you don’t need to worry about oversnippeting this book ;)

  18. Paul says:


    And I’d think the security protocols would have been augmented because of that incident. Granted, hardly anyone on Safehold would have any idea of these things.

  19. Harpoon says:

    I was really PO’d when the last book came out, and realized I had read so much of it here, already!

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well, the Temple dates to after the Commodore Pei’s attack so it is possible that something would sound an alarm if a certain PICA paid a visit.

  21. Allen says:

    Yeah the snips are finally out, the wait is over. Let the games begin.

  22. Alejo says:

    I see little resemblance to Henry VIII in the Clinton fellow. Plenty of people in history have been sadistic and lecherous while donning the robe of piety. Perhaps, if he made his mistresses disappear never to be heard from again when he tired of them, I’d see it. Sorry, you say Henry VIII, I think headsman and pretty ladies..

  23. red horseman says:

    I belive the second sentence should be “lake ice”, not like ice.

  24. wyrm says:

    “Identifiable” characters.

    (1) Mike – You are making a politically-based assumption that “Clyntahn” is based on a former US president. Where’s the evidence?? The HH series emulated the French revolutionary period, and Weber made this clear to us by giving us characters whose names are mutilations of the historical characters. Surely if you are looking for real characters, you should be looking for Luther, Calvin, Leo X, Charles V, etc. However, what we see here are jokes like Norman Bates. I think you’re seeing phantoms that aren’t there.

    (12) Alejo – I disagree with you that The Last Centurion “became obselete”. Did Animal Farm become obsolete because Stalin died? Did 1984 become obsolete because the UK didn’t become Airstrip 1 and no atomic bomb was dropped on Colchester? Did the Barsoom novels “become obsolete” because “the canals” don’t exist? We are talking about fiction. Ringo is trying to illustrate, through fiction, what he considers the outcome of contemporary developments. If Orwell had written a novel where you could not identify Marx, Stalin, Trotsky, etc., Animal Farm would not have achieved Orwell’s objective to illustrate what the author considered Stalinism’s faults. If Ringo had written a story where you could not identify Clinton or the Democrats, the book would have not achieved Ringo’s objective to illustrate what he considered Clinton & the Democrats’ faults.

    HG Wells wrote “The Shape of Things to Come” to illustrate a way to his socialist utopia. Did the things “come”? No. Did this make the book obsolete? No. We’re not talking about a factual biography of Clinton or Ringo’s unnamed centurion. We’re talking about a piece of fiction. Did the author achieve his objectives? Your reaction suggests he did. It may be a caricature, it may be an unfair caricature, but even though Clinton was not selected or elected, the author achieved his objectives – he conveyed to you his opinion of an important politician and the policies he believes she advocates. Ringo followed in Orwell’s footsteps. Not as well, but few individuals could match Orwell’s writing.

    (And before any lunatic accuses me of being a “neo-con”, I’m English, and politically I would describe myself as a “Gladstonian Liberal”. When I look at the US system, I keep thinking “Monarch or President, no contest, GW made the wrong decision.”

    … the GW I mention above is, of course, George Washington not any species of Bush.

  25. lockswriter says:

    This and the Arkansas series are the reason I keep coming back.

    I don’t think Clyntahn, Trynair and the rest have to be modeled after any specific people in history. They’re basically Defenders of the Status Quo. (And I hope DW didn’t really mean to model this iron-fisted, bloodthirsty religious tyrant after that glib, compromising schmooze machine. That would be like casting Matthew Broderick as Dracula.)

  26. catboy says:

    I thought the last honor book had lots of snippets.

  27. E says:

    And so we return. Bit disappointing that Clyntahn is the first subject of scrutiny, but it is a tad refreshing to start at villainy and work our way up.

    Given the amount of posturing in Book 2, my initial guess is that Clyntahn will soon be forced to concede the death of the galley, members of the Inquisition will be hanged from yardarms on piers, and Charis will get a staging ground closer to Corisande by liberating Zebediah first; Empress making a successful export of female rule to Charis in the meantime.

    If I were Merlin I’d be tempted to cheat a little and spark the occasional fire in an enemy powder store, leaving burnt out cigarrete butts nearby as “evidence.” But Merlin has more self restraing and thus I trust he’ll keep things interesting. :)

    I am still wondering at this point why Merlin has not thought to use low level ground sonar or something to get a look at how big the Temple’s basement is. Given that the region has plenty of nearby mountain ranges a sonar pulse might simply register as a minor shift below the crust.

  28. JD says:

    True, the last book (BSRA) was almost complete in Snippets. But, I don’t see that as a problem. I still purchased the book in hard copy when it was released and enjoyed a full re-read without the extended, disjointed reading that individual snippets created. And then, I’ve re-read it again since just for fun and to focus on particular bits that I especially liked. I doubt that sales of the hard copy of BSRA were harmed by the size of the full snippet file. And, at the end of the day, sales of the book are what it’s all about from the author’s and publisher’s perspective. Although only the publisher could say for certain. But I doubt that lengthy snippets, as long as the ENTIRE book is NOT snippeted, would harm BHD either. Just my opinion, YMMV.

  29. Terry L says:

    On the question of whether or not the temple is monitored for small power sources, it would have some exceptions at least for low level sources. An example would be the lie detector that the priest used in OAR that had been in his family since the beginning. The odds are high that someone brought that into the temple at some point. Either that was specifically registered as safe or it was below a monitoring threshold or there is now monitoring. The first case says “you see if you can modify a SNARC to have a similar signature”, the second case says “just keep it below the threshold”, the third says don’t worry.

  30. jgnfld says:

    Yeah, BSRA was over-snippeted but ONLY because there really wasn’t a satisfying ending. ONE completed battle would have been fine. Zero completed and just a cliffhanger was not. That, to me, is what most people, possibly including David, miss.

  31. NinjaKittens says:


    Snippets of a good Weber book are here again~

  32. Timothy U says:

    Yay! they are coming out. Regarding length, etc of the snippets, I actually might try to make a point of simply not reading them, the several times I’ve read through a thoroughly snippited book it actually made reading the book itself rather disappointing.

  33. Hiroki says:

    If Zhasper Clyntahn is modeled after real politician, then his carnal tastes would not have been similar to a certain 18th Century French noble (as implied in this snippet), but would have depicted ladies with Cleopatra’s sexual quirks…
    Also, in HH series, any similarity between Mayhew Restoration and Meiji Restoration, or between Harrington Treecats and Hanshin Tigers are purely coincidental as well….

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