City of Cherayth,
Cherry Bay,
Kingdom of Chisholm

Cayleb Ahrmahk stood once again at the foot of his flagship’s gangway. The weather was different today — even colder, but with a heavy overcast and a raw, wet humidity. Baron Green Mountain had assured him there would be snow by nightfall, and a part of him wished rather wistfully that the snowfall would go ahead and begin. It wasn’t something anyone saw very often in Tellesberg, after all.

Unfortunately, he really couldn’t stay to watch snowflakes. In fact, he’d spent a five-day and a half longer here in Cherayth than his schedule had originally allowed for already. The harbor was less crowded now, since Bryahn Lock Island had taken the majority of the invasion fleet — and the Chisholmian galleys which had been added to its escorts — on ahead. Empress of Charis and the rest of her squadron should be able to overtake the lumbering main body without any difficulty. It felt decidedly odd to look out across Cherry Bay’s waters and not see Charisian transports lying to their anchors, though, and he couldn’t help feeling impatient. The extra delay on his part might not have made any difference at all in the timing of the invasion of Corisande — in fact, he knew it hadn’t — but it didn’t feel that way.
Not that he could begrudge the extra days here in Sharleyan’s capital. He’d spent most of them conferring with Mahrak Sahndyrs, Queen Mother Alahnah, and their closest allies from Sharleyan’s royal council, and he’d sensed the gradual relaxation of muscles and spines . . . especially after his address to Parliament. Even those closest to Sharleyan had nursed inevitable reservations about their new “Emperor.” Cayleb could hardly blame them for that. In fact, he was gratified — and more than a little surprised, if he was going to be honest about it — by how quickly they’d managed to get beyond it. Taking the time to accomplish that would have been worthwhile entirely on its own merits, but that wasn’t all he’d managed to accomplish with Green Mountain and Alahnah’s assistance.
Of course, not everyone’s been so delighted with my visit, have they? he mused with a certain gleefulness.
Despite their outwardly expressed enthusiasm following his appearance in Parliament Hall, his speech had more or less confirmed the Chisholmian nobility’s worst suspicions. But if they’d been dismayed to discover just how completely their new Emperor shared their Queen’s view of the proper balance between royal (or imperial) authority and that of the aristocracy, they’d been careful not to show it too openly. The Commons, on the other hand, had been downright exuberant — one might almost have said jubilant — at the same confirmation. And much of the uncertainty and even fear many Chisholmians had nourished about Cayleb’s own religious views had been ameliorated, if not totally dismissed, by the masses he had attended in Cherayth Cathedral at the Queen Mother’s side. The hard-core Temple Loyalists weren’t going to care what he did, but his obvious piety had greatly reassured those who’d been concerned by the tales of heresy, apostasy, and Shan-wei worship put about by the Group of Four and their adherents.
How little they know, he thought, rather more harshly as he looked up at the dark gray clouds riding above the steel-colored winter waters of Cherry Bay. How little they know.
A part of him had found it increasingly difficult to go through the motions of the Church’s liturgy ever since he’d read Saint Zherneau’s journal. In fact, he often thought, the Church propagandists were far closer to the truth than they ever suspected when they accused him of Shan-wei worship. If there’d been any of the so-called “archangels” worthy of reverence, it had been she and the members of the original colony command crew who had stood with her in their defiance of “the Archangel Langhorne’s” megalomania. Which was why Langhorne had murdered all of them, of course. Knowing the entire Church of God Awaiting was one huge perversion, a monstrous lie, deliberately calculated to bind an entire planet into an antitechnology mindset and based upon the murder of any who opposed it from the very beginning, made it difficult to pay even lip service to its doctrines.
But Maikel was right about that, too, the Emperor reflected. Men can tell all the lies they want about God, but it doesn’t change the truth. And the worship of those lied to by the Church is no less real, no less sincere, simply because they don’t know the truth.
And the brethren were right about “the impatience of youth” where I’m concerned in at least one respect, he admitted grimly. I really do want to yank away the mask, tell everyone on Safehold the truth. It sickens me not to.
Perhaps it did, he reflected now, gazing out across the crowded harbor. Yet however sickened he might be, he also knew Maikel Staynair was also right that they dared not reveal the truth about “the Archangel Langhorne’s” divinity. Not yet. The truth must be told, on that point the Archbishop of Tellesberg and the Brethern of Saint Zherneau were as grimly determined as Cayleb himself. But it could not be told yet. The tyrannical power of the Church of God Awaiting must be broken before the lie upon which that power was based could be denounced. Every single human being on the planet of Safehold had been reared in the Church, taught since childhood to believe the lie, and they did. To attempt to denounce that lie would only give the Group of Four and Council of Vicars a priceless — at almost certainly fatal — weapon.
The Church of Charis’ position in Chisholm was a bit more precarious than its position in Charis itself. That wasn’t too surprising, given the fact that Chisholm had no equivalent of the Brethern of Saint Zherneau. There’d been no one to do the work of preparing the ground, the way Staynair and his predecessors among the brethren had done in Charis. Still, Pawal Braynair, who had become the Archbishop of Cherayth when Sharleyan made her decision to defy the Group of Four, had not impressed Cayleb as much as Maikel Staynair. Of course, Staynair was a hard act for anyone to follow, and the fact that Cayleb had known him literally for his entire life only made that even more true.
Braynair seemed a bit more timid, a bit less willing to confront opposition head on, and less flexible. Cayleb never doubted the man’s sincerity, but Archbishop Pawal lacked that intensely, almost radiantly caring aura which enveloped anyone who came within ten paces of Maikel Staynair.
Well, of course he lacks it! Cayleb scolded himself. Just how many Maikel Staynairs do you think there are in a generation, Cayleb? Spend your time thanking God for the one you’ve got, not complaining about the others you didn’t get! And don’t hold the fact that Braynair isn’t up to Maikel’s weight against him, either.

About Eric Flint

Author and Editor
This entry was posted in Snippets, WeberSnippet. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top


15 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 22

  1. lockswriter says:

    “The Church of Charis’ position in Chisholm was a bit more precarious than its position in Charis itself.”

    Maybe you could… stop calling it the Church of Charis? Call it the Reformed Church or the New Church or something else that will make it easier to export.

  2. Alistair says:

    The tyrannical power of the Church of God Awaiting must be broken before the lie upon which that power was based could be denounced.

    It will be interesting to see how that works out

  3. Karina says:

    I don’t know where Weber is in the editing part but I think this sentence is a bit awkward.

    “Perhaps it did, he reflected now, gazing out across the crowded harbor. ”

    If feels unfinished somehow.

    On the other hand I’m not a writer or editor.

  4. lockswriter says:

    Speaking as an (aspiring) novelist who felt terrible pain as he cut five thousand words from his manuscript… I’d say that sentence is not so much unfinished as unnecessary. The text would flow much better if it went from “It sickens me not to.” to “Yet however sickened…”

  5. E says:

    What’reya writing?

  6. Alejo says:

    Yeah, Lockswriter. What are you writing? Make you a webpage and toss us some snippets. Get you a paypal account and post the eBook. I’ll support ya. Any alternate history? Linguistic twists? Huh? Huh? :)

  7. Chuck S. says:

    Just to stick my oar in, anyone interested in a “history” in which the Bismark makes port? Hitler is crippled and most of the Nazi hierarchy killed by a British air strike just as they are pinning on the medals in Brest. Heydrich takes over the Reich and decides that Russia is not such a smart idea, so goes after the Middle East with half the troops that would have invaded Russia while building up the resources (including jet fighters) to invade England. It’s a book I put on the back burner about ten years ago. I am retiring in five months (God willing and the crick don’t rise) and plan on reviving it, among other things.

    My apologies to Dave W, and Eric F. for hijacking the site for my own purposes, if only momentarily.

  8. RobertHuntingdon says:

    CS, I suspect you’d get more takers over on the Bar, or some other site with more evidence that people actually read the comments… that said I’d bet there are quite a few who would at least give it a look. I’m not sure if I’d actually like it much but I would be interested to see how you handle the alliance possibilities between the Nazis and the Sheiks/Imams/etc…

    And now for something completely different… (back to topic)

    My only complaint about this scene is that (so far at least) it leaves us with almost no info about what the old Archbishop is up to and how many of his friends got comfortable “guest quarters” with him. Of course we don’t have that about Emerald either, and I’d like to know there too.

    On the other hand, the fact that we aren’t spending a lot of time on this means we *hopefully* get to Corisande all that much faster… and that I quite definitely DO approve of…


  9. lockswriter says:

    I think we have to take Cayleb’s fretting about Braynair’s seeming weakness as a sign that there will be opposition in Chisholm, no matter how well-received Cayleb was at Cherayth. (Hopefully this won’t come up before we get a glimpse at the action on Corisande.)

    The book I’m writing is about a kid who discovers a portal to the future and finds that the human race has disappeared. (I know, the thing about the kid finding a gateway to another world is not exactly new. I have one character actually say, “I’m telling you right now — if a weird little dude with hooves and hairy legs comes by, or any kind of talking animal, I’m outta here.”) It’s actually the first book in a trilogy — the second, where we learn how and why the portal was made, does have a little alternate history in it.

    CS, I like your idea. I notice Hitler is just crippled, not killed — if he tries to get his own back, there would be another element of drama right there…

  10. Evan says:

    “Maybe you could… stop calling it the Church of Charis? Call it the Reformed Church or the New Church or something else that will make it easier to export.”

    Ah, but Henry VIII didn’t do that. The historical model being England and the Church of England vs Spain, France and other Catholic nations.

    So the particular scenario Weber has set up doesn’t fit that; it’s a schism, a local church that doesn’t accept the world leadership at this point. Rather than something seeking to export itself and become the new world church. Historically, the Catholic Church experienced a number of schisms with contending factions which eventually re-united; at this point some characters still hope for that.

    I expect that’ll be the “Heresies Distressed” as opposed to the “Schism Rent Asunder”; some analogue to Lutheranism and/or Calvinism, etc.

    This whole medieval Europe scenario doesn’t make a lot of sense as something set up to block technological progress, BTW; medieval Europe led to modern Europe in mere centuries. A united world state headed by a priestly hierarchy or religiously sanctified monarch would make more sense. As it is, with power divided among numerous states plus the Church, each center of power has an incentive to seek technical progress to maximize its economic and military power.

    Taking everything back to an early hunter-gatherer level would work for longer than that probably would……especially if readily domesticable plants and animals were removed from the ecosystem. Maybe move the most accessible copper ores to the seabed, if that’s practical. (No Bronze Age)

  11. KenJ says:

    @10 “Taking everything back to an early hunter-gatherer level would work for longer than that probably would……especially if readily domesticable plants and animals were removed from the ecosystem. Maybe move the most accessible copper ores to the seabed, if that’s practical. (No Bronze Age)”

    One big downside I see is the native fauna… Without at least some level of sophisticated weaponry such as the spears Cayleb used in his hunt in OAR or bows, Mankind would likely be extinct in just a few generations and save the Gbaba(?) the trouble of looking for the remaining humans.

  12. Richard says:

    The idea of reduced technology was for mankind to survive by hidding from the Gbaba. At a hunter-gatherer level mankinds survival would be in question.

  13. E says:

    It makes more sense for Safehold to be as it is now instead of in the bronze age. An extremely manual but somewhat comfortable social matrix (as far as standard of living VS struggle goes) coupled with a stability minded theocracy of sorts would supress the percieved needs for advancement of technology. For the people of Safehold, the fact is that they’ve pretty much been at a certain level of technology for 800 years. They’re a mix of iron-age weapons (plus cannon and now more guns in Charis), medieval sailing, and rennaissance architechture. By starting them off at this level, the Angels were able to essentially make mankind comfortable enough to not question things too much. Apart from the gunpowder anomaly, the most likely empetus for advancement on Safehold is war. If humanity hadn’t rediscovered war then the matrix instigated by the Angels might have held out for another two or three hundred years past this point if only because of sheer naivete on the part of humans. Having lives at stake tends to override the “let’s take things slowly” mechanism of the proscriptions.

  14. robert says:

    I know that Weber set this up to tell the tale of Safehold, the failure of the theocratic model and the stagnation E writes about. But what happens to humanity in the long run? Will it survive the transition to an advanced technological planet, and how will it deal with the threat of the Gbaba if/when it finally becomes discoverable and later breaks out into space again? That is always on my mind while I read these books. Has Weber figured that out?

  15. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, I believe that David Weber has some ideas for the rematch. IMO he’s too good of writer/plotter to not have them.

Leave a Reply to E Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.