No one spoke. In fact, Gray Harbor thought, the odds were good that very few of them were even breathing at the moment, and he was almost certain White Church wasn’t. The empress had never even raised her voice, but the Keeper of the Seal looked remarkably like a man who wished he could melt and ooze down under the council table.

Idiot, the first councilor thought without much pity.
In some ways, it wasn’t all that difficult to sympathize with White Church. Part of his worries were easy enough to understand in terms of simple human self-interest. White Church was a wealthy man, but most of his personal and family wealth was tied up in trade, and in the sizable merchant fleet they collectively owned. No doubt he was delighted that Rock Point had managed to recover all but two of the ships originally seized in Delferahk, yet a part of him seemed unable to grasp that the confrontation between Charis and the Temple had moved into a realm which made even the trade vital to the Empire’s existence a secondary issue. Perhaps that wasn’t so surprising, since any Charisian understood, on an almost instinctual level, just how vital that commerce was. Unfortunately, deep down inside somewhere, White Church obviously wasn’t able to recognize the need to prioritize on a realistic basis. Or, at least, to set aside his own, personal interests in the interests of Charis as a whole. Anything likely to interrupt the Empire’s trade, to close ports to those ships of his, threatened his family’s future, and he’d been a persistent voice of caution from the beginning.
But there were other reasons for his position as well, and most of them were considerably less self-interested. That didn’t mean Gray Harbor agreed with them, but at least he understood the reasoning behind them.
The responsibilities of the man’s office included the official drafting and receipt of the Kingdom’s diplomatic correspondence. He was accustomed to thinking not in terms of great and sweeping struggles, but in terms of communications between a relatively small number of people whose decisions governed the fates of realms. He hadn’t yet made the transition to understanding that the forces unleashed here in Charis went far beyond the councils of kings and princes, or even priests and vicars. Those decision-makers remained vitally important, of course, but the tides against which they must contend had fundamentally changed.
Unfortunately, if White Church hadn’t already grasped that, it was unlikely he ever would. And whether he had the wit to do that or not, he was obviously tone-deaf where the realities of the new Charisian political equation were concerned.
He probably thinks Sharleyan belongs in the royal bedchamber, pregnant and punching out heirs to the throne, Gray Harbor thought bitingly. As if Cayleb would have married a mere brood mare! Or as if she were likely to put up with that kind of kraken shit!
“I’m relieved and gratified to discover we’re all in agreement upon that point, My Lords,” the empress observed now, her smile marginally warmer. “I trust we won’t find it necessary to . . . revisit it in the future.”
White Church seemed to cringe ever so slightly, although she wasn’t even looking in his direction as she spoke. Then she sat back in her chair at the head of the table.
“Clearly, Rayjhis,” she said to Gray Harbor, deliberately using his first name, “we have to consider the fact that the execution of so many priestly murderers is going to have an impact both in Zion and elsewhere. I would appreciate it if you and Baron Wave Thunder — and you, Your Eminence,” she added, glancing at Maikel Staynair “– would give some thought to that very point. I’d like your analysis of how the more immediately important rulers are likely to react.”
“Of course, Your Majesty,” Gray Harbor murmured. “Do you have any particular concerns you’d like us to consider?”
“Obviously, in many ways, I’m most interested in how the Group of Four is likely to respond. I realize, however, that any advice you could give me on that particular topic would be little more than speculation. By all means, go ahead and speculate — I have great respect for your judgment, and I’d like to hear anything you have to say about it. I’m more immediately concerned, however, with people like Lord Protector Greyghor, and perhaps King Gorjah.”
“Gorjah, Your Majesty?” Surprise startled the three-word question out of Gray Harbor, and Sharleyan actually chuckled.
“I do fully realize, My Lord, that King Gorjah isn’t particularly . . . well thought of here in Tellesberg, shall we say?”
Several of the other people seated around that table chuckled this time. The Kingdom of Tarot had been a Charisian ally for decades, and King Gorjah of Tarot had been obligated by treaty to come to Charis’ assistance against attack. Instead, he’d joined the “alliance” the Group of Four had hammered together for Charis’ destruction. And, unlike Sharleyan and Chisholm, there was precious little evidence that Gorjah had hesitated for a moment.
“All the same,” Sharleyan continued, her voice and expression both rather more serious and intent, “Prince Nahrmahn wasn’t very well thought of, either, and with a much longer history of enmity, at that. Eventually, we’re going to have to deal with Tarot, one way or another. It’s simply too close to Charis itself not to be dealt with, and it, too, is an island.”
Her eyes swept the council chamber once more.
“We lack the resources, the manpower, to establish a foothold on the mainland. Oh,” she waved one slender hand, “I don’t doubt we could seize a single port — like Ferayd, let’s say — and even hold it for an extended period of time. Given our control of the sea, we could support such a garrison indefinitely, and if the time came that supporting it seemed too costly, we would be well placed to withdraw. But we have neither the time, the manpower, nor the wealth to waste on such adventures.
“By the same token, however, we do control the sea, and if we lose that control, we’re all doomed, anyway. I think, therefore, that we should be making our plans on the basis that we will not lose control. Would you not agree with that, My Lords?”
Despite years of experience at the very highest levels of politics, Gray Harbor found himself forced to raise a hand to hide the smile he could not restrain as Empress Sharleyan’s councilors looked back at her and nodded like marionettes.
“Excellent, My Lords!” The empress’ white teeth flashed in a broad smile. “If we’re in agreement upon that point, however, it would seem to me to follow that we should be seeking every opportunity to make use of our seapower. Admittedly, we must be careful not to overreach, yet anywhere there is a strip of seawater, that water belongs not to the Group of Four, but to Charis.”
Spines straightened subtly around the table, and Gray Harbor’s temptation to smile faded into sober appreciation of the empress’ skill, her grasp of her listeners’ psychology.
“We’ve already added Emerald — and Chisholm,” she allowed herself a more rueful smile “– to the Empire. By this time, I feel confident, his Majesty has done the same with Zebediah, as he will soon do with Corisande.”
Her smile disappeared completely with the final word, and her nostrils flared slightly as she shook her head.
“With the exception of Corisande, all of those other additions were accomplished reasonably peacefully, with little or additional loss of life. And all of those lands will remain secure so long as Charisians remain masters of Safehold’s seas. As would Tarot. Inevitably, Tarot will be added to the Empire. In many ways, we have no choice in that regard, and I strongly suspect that King Gorjah understands that. Moreover, given the existence of the Tarot Channel and the Gulf of Tarot, we would be well placed to retain Tarot without greater effort than we would already be forced to expend to ensure the security of Charis itself. And at the same time, while I would never wish to appear too coldly calculating, let us not overlook the fact that Tarot’s proximity to the mainland would almost certainly make its conquest inviting to the Group of Four as a staging point for any future invasion of Charis. In short, it would provide a bait, a prize dangled before them to draw them out into the waters of the Channel and the Gulf where we could trim back their naval strength without risking the invasion of Charis itself, should they somehow manage to sneak past us.”

About Eric Flint

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37 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — snippet 33

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    As Randall Garrett once wrote:

    Now the plot begins to thicken–as it should.
    It’s the thickening in plots that makes ’em good!

  2. E says:

    Hoho…. client states and buffer zones. This is looking like the USSR vs Western powers in Poland, but with navies. Tarot is going to become Charis’ main staging point for exporting technology as well, just like what happened when the US rebuilt Germany and Japan. Admittedly, this tech isn’t so shattering in terms of generating new technologies and markets as what we had in post-WWII, but it’s centuries ahead of what they’d have developed on their own. If the Church bogs down in Tarot, (possibly holding the quarter closest to them on Merlin’s sufferance) Charis will also have a zone for direct communication, if the war stalemates there. Also, Temple Loyalists in Charis might be drawn to the Tarotisian front, a good and bad thing depending on their survival rates.

  3. E says:

    Substitute Poland with Germany… I’m getting ahead of myself with the next potential cold war in which US friendly Poland (because Germany and France are content to do nothing) gets to recieve a lot of US tech for the next hurdle the Russians face if they want their old satellite states back as shields.

  4. lockswriter says:

    A lot depends on what exactly Gorjah is planning. I assume if he wanted to kiss and make up with Charis, he would have said so by now.

    Is he concentrating on rebuilding his navy, with the emphasis on blockade-running ships? Or is he working on land-based defenses, with an eye towards making Tarot an expensive place to fight? With such a small kingdom, he probably can’t do both at once — and the first approach will let him stay loosely connected to the realms loyal to Zion, while the second will leave Tarot a de facto part of the Charisian empire, but with as much autonomy as possible.

    So what’s in the Tarot cards? (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

  5. Peter says:

    Looking at the map, I see some logistical awkwardnesses for Charis’ navy in the big gulfs between Howard & Harchong. I suspect some islands are going to be annexed and fortified as forward bases to project naval power – a sort of ‘Diego Garcia’ solution that solves part of the Charisian Navy’s communications / logistics problem through an independent base. Maybe even a populated one – there might be some inhabited islands that would consider Charis’ sovereignty an improvement over what they presently have.

  6. laclongquan says:

    The chance to receive enormous financial aids for building and expanding his seafaring construction capacity, though unbeneficial in longterm, must also be counted upon on deciding gorjah’s course. Tarot will be the battlefield deciding future sea battles outcomes, which bode ill for peace-loving merchants, but if the Go4 wave a big enough carrot under Tarot’s lord and master, plus liberal promises of land-armies reinforcement in the event of a Charisian invasion… there’s a chance Gorjah will jump toward Go4’s flag.

    Enormous financials aids, and land-troops, that’s the ticket.

    It’s too much to hope that Gorjah will see reason, given the way the jumped in the last war.

  7. erispope says:

    The problem Gorjah faces in that way is that the Go4 can promise all they want, but they can’t get actual materials and goods (nor troops) to him currently. Remember, Charis is sinking almost any ship that carries a hostile flag (and I doubt the intelligence service and Merlin would both fail to spot any significant reinforcement).

    Sailing under false flags are of course possible, but only to smuggle limited amounts of goods and people into or out of Tarot.

    Once again, remember the limitations currently in place – there are few sailors left who are not sailing with a Charisian blessing, and fewer still who are trained to serve in a warship. Building new ships costs quite a bit of money – but that is not the worst part, they actually take a chunk of resources to build and crew, both manpower and goods.

  8. Chuck S. says:

    The biggest manpower and materials drain is in the construction & maintenance. The second biggest is in training. Actual combat involves a relatively minor drain, provided the first two are done right. Maintenance and training go on for ever, week in and week out. Comabt is maybe 1% of a ship or crewmember’s career.

  9. JN says:

    @8 While that is normally true, an exception is in force here. The sailing manpower has been largely wiped out by the battle of book 1. Sharlyan has put her thumb in the pie, and hooked a juicy piece of fruit. The amount of leverage she can bring to bear, even with the fleet elsewhere, is considerable. Also the advantages to dealing before the fleet returns are obvious even to a moron, which Gorjah is not.

    On the other side of things, IIRC there have been indications that the Go4’s counter reformation is HQed on Tarot. Someone might help me out here. Something about a priest and the deposed ruler from Margaret’s land.


  10. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Yeah, JN, except the *entire* fleet isn’t actually “elsewhere”. A good chunk of it is, but the “revenge” fleet is back in Tellesberg now and ready for reassignment. Plus there’s whatever was left behind for “emergency defense” (maybe nothing, but not terribly likely) plus whatever has completed the build and workup process in the meantime. And that’s just the fleet. I highly doubt the marine training just stopped the minute Cayleb left for Chisholm. Which means there are almost certainly some more of them available as well.

    She’s got a carrot to offer Gorjah, yeah, but she’s also got a decent sized stick to wave under his nose as well. Maybe not enough to conquer him outright but certainly enough to really cause him a nice bellyache if he doesn’t “play ball”. Which could make the next few chapters *quite* interesting… :)


  11. Peter Z says:

    RH, Gorjah is done. Charis can’t leave him on his throne. By betraying his obligations to Charis in such a secretive way, Gorjah has acted contrary to the oath of fealty Cayleb asked Nahrmahn to swear to. No, Gorjah hasn’t sworn fealty, but he did enter into a binding agreement and didn’t rescind it prior to his betrayal. Cayleb and the Empire has promissed to reward loyalty and punish betrayal. Gorjah just happens to be the most prominent and politically feasible example to stress that point.

    Were you to substitute Tarot for Gorjah, then I think you are right on the ball. Getting White Ford or some other noble to see that Tarot would be better off without Gorjah may be a problem. Yet it is a much smaller problem than allowing a clear betrayal to stand unpunished, at least in the long run. Because if Gorjah is allowed to enter the Empire in charge of Tarot but Corisande is hammered under, Corisanders will never stop seeing the Empire as capricious and vengeful rather than just but firm. A just but firm Emporer may be respected while a capricious a vengeful one can only be feared. Cayleb needs respect to make enemies into friends over time rather. I think by relying on fear alone Charis will encourage Corisanders to think of themselves as a subject people rather than citizens of the Empire. I can’t see anything worse than turning Corisande into a Napoleonic Spain.


  12. robert says:

    @11 Peter, I agree with you, but we don’t know what Cayleb’s plans for Corisande are. I am sure this would/should have been discussed as part of the war planning, but we were not there if it was.

    So short of deposing or killing or imprisoning the WHOLE ENTIRE ruling apparatus of Corisande, and given the fact that the population does not look unfavorably at their rulers, what will the Empire do with that island?

  13. robert says:

    On another, possibly sadder topic, I note that the driblets corresponding to these snippets that have been appearing at have ceased with the previous snippet. Does this mean we are at the end of the snippets with a month to go to publication?

  14. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Well, yeah, PZ, that makes perfect sense… which is why the Mad Wizard will no doubt find some way to throw us for a loop. Perhaps he’ll find a way to let Gorjah survive after all. Abdication and/or fleeing for his life come to mind. But otherwise yeah I figure you’re right on. I claim lack of coffee as my excuse for using the wrong name. :)

    Oh and JN, forgot to mention that the deposed usurper from Margarette’s Land was supposed to be headed for Zion. His “manager” wanted to get the false Earl somewhere safe such that his own skin wouldn’t be threatened by Charis anytime soon, and the fact that such helps to keep the “Earl” safe was a nice bit of lagniappe. They might have stopped off in Tarot on the way I suppose, but if so there is no textev I’m aware of for that.


  15. Peter Z says:

    @12 I suppose that I was thinking that Hektor has called all the shots without significant advice from the Corisandian nobility. The war was primarily his creation. It would be just to hold him accountable but only him. Finding an amenable replacement from the Corisandian nobility may even be regarded as mercy not caprice(pragmatic mercy granted but mercy all the same).

    I thought Cayleb and Sharley did discuss the Corisandian matter. Did Sharley not mention the potential need to marry Cayleb’s sister to an emenable Corisandian noble? This suggests that Hektor and family will be removed and replaced by a local noble. If said noble can find a way to keep Irys and her brother alive and remove them as threats to Charis, he will go a long way to cementing his reputation with Joe Corisandian. How he may manage that is anyone’s guess.


  16. Peter Z says:

    @13 RH, one thing the Mad Wizard has always done is to make the villians who survive crafty enough to earn the readers grudging respect. Gorjah is not crafty enough to weasel his way out of the doomed alliance like Nahrmahn. We already have hapless a villian, Raynahld(sp?)of Dohlar. We have the true evil fellow in Clyntahn. The noble but misguided fellow in Ducharin. The ambitious villian in Hektor.

    The only villinaous archtype left is the hero’s object lesson pour encourager les autres. Hello Gorjah! please play the part well.


  17. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Peter, Peter, the “object lesson pour encourager les autres”… as Gorjah?? Do you forget Hektor so quickly? Or if you need a (future, at least) object lesson for what happens to those who double-cross Cayleb, do you forget our dear friend the Grand Duke of Zebediah? A person whose pending and expected betrayal Cayleb was actively, and on-camera discussing with Merlin just a few pages ago?

    No I think you are grossly underestimating poor Gorjah. Remember that Cayleb has always taken Gorjah lightly and expected he could deal with him later without any trouble. There’s only one way this is a remotely realistic assumption, and that was that Gorjah had a GROSSLY oversize navy for the actual power of his realm, and that he had pretty much nothing else. No massive fortifications, no huge population to draw a replacement army from, no massive economy to pay for the rearmament program… etc. Which both explains why Gorjah’s father was willing to agree to the treaty in the first place (he got the local “big dog” to watch his back so he didn’t HAVE to try to find the money for such fortifications and whatnot) and why Gorjah wanted out as well (because he wanted to be able to have that money back for local use of some sort, whether military or otherwise). And if such assumptions are in fact true, Gorjah HAD to be smarter and craftier than you make him out to be, because he both wanted out of his treaties and knew full well that if Charis wasn’t absolutely crushed like a bug first that it would be his head. And this is why he was both willing to join the alliance with Hektor, so very cautious about trying to hide that fact, so lightning-quick to be willing to repudiate that new alliance when he thought there was the slightest hint that the CoGA was pissed off at Hektor, and so lightning-quick to accept the larger new alliance when he thought he was being given practically everything he’d wanted for his entire life.

    Now all that said it’s also quite likely his advisers know all that too, and I’m still betting on your idea of Sharleyan finding a “friend” in his court interested in “moving up the food chain” so to speak. But it’s not *impossible* that the other could happen, either.


  18. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, the snippets on come from here. Joe Buckley may just behind in his posting there.

    As for the snippets here, right now we’re good until June 15th but I expect the snippets to continue until July 7th, the offical release date.

  19. robert says:

    @18 Whew

  20. Brian Busse says:

    Many comments above infer that this Charis goal is conquest and rule. The real goal is to break the G4 and the governmental power of the church. With that accomplished, the other nation states lose the ability to safely turn their backs on their other neighbors/enemies to concentrate on breaking Charis. Once the power of the inquisition is broken, the industrial revolution taking place in Charis will tear away from the church those nations that take it up, and render irrelevant those that don’t. IMHO, we won’t see much more annexation into the empire line Emerald, that gives other rulers no reason to split from the church.

  21. E says:

    Along with the Church realizing they cannot support multiple fronts against Charis, it is entirely within their interests to focus on a single front, Tarot, under the pretext of liberation and future counterattack. Charis will have to take over Tarot first for this to happen, and if the Church has no foothold on the island they won’t be able to delay this. If Charis scores a victory by peaceful means, then the Church loses some impetus for invading Tarot but they could still get the ball rolling by crying traitor if they have not declared full Holy War by that time.
    The technical aspect of this requires that the Church somehow be able to hold the sea lanes to Tarot, something they might accomplish if they adopt Charisian designs, but it might be in Merlin’s interest to allow a foot invasion for enhancing the defeat of enemy morale. In this case, the whole world is gearing up and the technological gap is what’s keeping the relatively small forces of Charis ahead. But Tarot represents an area where the Church can utilize its greatest advantage: Mass (not the ones every week). It wouldn’t matter to the Church (if Clyntahn gets the reigns of this operation) that a hundred thousand died to kill ten thousand, just that they score some kind of victory on the ground. The Church would play by numbers and simple strategies because of it (The enemy is that way, move that way and stab. Repeat as necessary). Charis has to play quality and force multiplication because they don’t have numbers, inspite of their recruiting and training progress. I’m not sure where the wars on Safehold are as far as ranged/melee but I’m pretty sure that the Mainland regions are still in the melee era of armed conflict because of Siddarmark’s reputation for pikemen. If Charis switched to a mostly-ranged version of land combat then the only ones they’d really be challenged by are the troops on Corisande where their leader has anticipated this mode. A simple solution for the Mainlanders might be to employ “shield teams” that would walk ahead of regulars with large, thick metal shields on carts or something until a melee could be joined, but this does nothing against explosive rounds and only adds to the shrapnel if cannon shot penetrates it (Ref: Chinese war wagons and variations). All this assumes that Charis doesn’t raise its advancements by the time the Church gets around to actually getting a fleet and army into Tarot, and Charis owns the seas. Given the pace, I’d say an invasion of Tarot might begin soon after Cayleb finishes in Corisande if not when he returns home (and maybe after switching roles and capitals with Sharleyan?) and conclude by the end of the book if not the beginning of the next.

    The hanging chad for this, however, is how the Mainland nations will react to an invasion of Tarot and Church desires for a counterattack.

  22. E says:

    @20 Charis is a coalition to counter the Church’s hegemony, but the Church’s hegemony rests on a confederate coalition of semi-independent states. Charis seems to be forming a single entity of government above its parts, so there is more unity and direction in the coalition that Charis has formed. In most ways, this war is one to seperate the Church’s power from the secular power of rulers. After the excisement of that power, the arguments over doctrine might then take prime importance and reach a different kindof war, and, as Patrician Vetinari put it, brain wars are typically less messy. Zebidiah was not conquered or incorporated into Charis, and it is probable that Corisande and Tarot will not be annexed either. By keeping them seperate but at the knife, Charis sets the ground for producing client states that will serve as buffer zones and points of introduction for Charisian technology and ideals. The Church would probably half suspect/half trust refugees from nations that Charis defeats, and if those refugees carry knowledge of Charisian ideals or sympathies with Charisian methods then Charis has introduced amongst her enemies people that will push for changes at many levels if only to counter Charis.

    I imagine at some point Charis will be forced to produce a “sham fleet” that will serve at levels the Church can understand while a truly advanced fleet operates elsewhere and beyond the Proscriptions.

  23. robert says:

    If I read the map right it seems that any invasion of Tarot by the Church’s military needs to be with the acquiescence of Siddarmark. Tarot is much closer to the Charisian Empire than to the Temple Lands absent the assistance of the Republic. And as we have read, Siddarmark’s ruling classes seem to be inclined to avoid helping the Church’s aims against Charis. The Gulf of Tarot may be problematic but the Sea of Justice is a sure death trap for the Church’s fleet-to-be.

    But wait! Still another map shows the Desnarian Empire where Siddarmark was on the first map I looked at. The first map shows Howard (Desnar) on the far side of the Sea of Justice while the second map shows it right across the Gulf of Tarot. Continental Drift?

  24. Virgil says:

    Tarot has one very convience to add, A favorite idea that America has really taken to heart since the early 1900’s Fight your wars on somebody else land.

    I had to go get my map of Safehold. Really its as complex as the Earth itself. Tarot is not a little bitty island. I mean it is an island but it consist of three Duchy. It almost half the size of Charis (the kingdom) which means you can’t just sail a fleet into a harbor and conquoer it. It going to be a lot more complex then that.

    Next Irys is the one to look out for. Being a girl, I think she will e overlooked by the Charisian when and if they take over. But she has more of grudge against Charis then her father. So if they dispose her father or execute him they better be sure theres two ropes or she will come back with a big bite later. At least a lot like Prince Charles in Great Britain in the 1700’s. When Elizabeth took Mary head the best thing she could of done was keep that axe of waving till there were no more Stuart(sp) left. That very act might of prevented the civil war of the 1600’s

  25. Cayleb is quite aware of Irys, notably that she is one of the two smartest women in ruling classes in the vicinity, and he has already married the other. He also sees not to trust her. It seems unlikely that her gender will cause her to be ignored, not given the chief Imperial bodyguard and adviser.

    I do expect that Corisande, like Emerald, will volunteer for incorporation into the empire, especially after its I expect heavily nobility-thick cavalry gets shot to small pieces.

    I do not believe there is any historical precedent for those shield carts that were proposed above, though you could invoke the Hussites. Once you hit rough ground, damp ground, or snow, they are fairly challenged, and a faster moving army will do something impolite like getting onto your flanks or engaging with artillery.

  26. Peter Z says:

    @22 E, Charis needs to control Tarotisian waters, the eastern end of the that northern channel and the passage around delfahrak. Control those passgaes and they can cut any economical trade from one coast of Howard & Haven to the other. By leaving Tarot open without installing a naval base Charis increases the time and distance it must cover to patrol those Gulf waters where Howard and Haven meet.

    So, whether they annex, conquor or make Tarot a separate but willing participant in their crusade doesn’t matter. They will need to control that island. This small fact and Gorjah’s betrayal suggest that Tarot will not remain even nominally independant long. Also, consider that the G4 cannot trust Gorjah. Either his nation is so thoroughly penetrated or he is complicit with Charis. These are the two alternatives they see after OAR. Sharley and Wave Thunder don’t have to do much to highlight these alternatives to the G4 in small and consistently obvious ways. Making Gorjah aware of this small fact will make abundantly clear to him how friendless he truly is. If he tries to root out Charisian “spies” strongly enough, he will allienate even his nobles rather quickly.

    If he is smart, he will abdicate upon Sharley’s request. If not, he will let Merlin, Wave Thunder and Nahrmahn turn him into a drooling, paranoid idiot to be replaced by some frustrated Tarotisian noble. Of course DW may have other plans, I just don’t see him letting Gorjah escape this particular trap unscathed and in charge of Tarot.


  27. E says:

    If Gorjah is smart, he might also decide to ride the complicity wagon into the ground and claim he had the information leaked to Charis on principle but sent his sailors to die because he thought he couldn’t openly defy the Church’s will. That might keep him alive and maybe exiled.

    If he’s the kindof man to let his resentments and frustrations get aheda of him, he might start purging nobles to find the spy that would have been sitting next to him in council if there had ever been one. Merlin could heighten his paranoia in little ways… leaving him notes from Cayleb/Sharleyan where he’d find them personally before someone else delivers an official one bearing the same message.

    If he’s going to aim for assistance, he’ll probably waste men and resources trying to regain control of the Tarot-Desnair strait, but we’ve had no reports of what’s been going on in Tarot so anything could be happening as far as their military goes. Maybe Charis will harass them like Emerald, raiding wherever and whenever they want and pruning back any coastal development.

  28. Peter Z says:

    E, OK, now that bit about announcing that he openly betrayed the Church from the get go may keep him alive and although I am loathe to admit it in charge of Tarot. He paints Cayleb into a corner because Tarot appears to have done Cayleb a good turn and tried to meet its treaty obligations to Charis as best it could. Hammering Tarot then would be vengefull and petty. Not to mention confirming that Gorjah betrayed the Church of his own free will prior to knowing the outcome of the battles of OAR. That places Gorjah above anyone but Cayleb, Sharley and Staynair on the G4 hitlist.

    Darn it! If Gorjah is that sneaky he desrves to live and be cast as “the ignoble character who happens to be a supporter of truth and light”. We don’t have that archetype as I recall. Nahrmahn has been rehabilitated to a pragmatic nobility from his apparantly baser beginnings.

  29. Drak Bibliophile says:

    On Irys, everybody’s correct that Cayleb is likely at the top of her hate list. If her father is killed by Cayleb or fighting Cayleb, then he’ll remain at the top of her hate list.

    However, what if something happens to Hektor that she knows is somebody else’s doing? Say one of Hektor’s nobles kills him, and tries to have Cayleb accept him as the new Prince. If she had escaped the attempt on her life/freedom and Cayleb refuses to accept this murdering noble as the Prince, what then?

    I could see a way for her and Cayleb to ally to punish this Noble (especially if he’s a SOB to his serfs). Now the price might be that Cayleb would expect her to accept his overlordship but Cayleb might find ways to make it more acceptable to her.

  30. KenJ says:

    I see this as a setup for the next book. BSRA dealt with the problems of Chissolm and Emerald while setting up for Coresand(sp) BHD seems to be dealing with Corresand and the political relationship with Siddamark while this is a good beginning of the setup for Tarot. I also suspect a church-lead aggression relatively soon against Siddamark for “complicency with the the herritic apostates..” or some such as Clyntahn finds out about the “purchases”of Charissan ships and crews as “Siddemark” vessels

  31. robert says:

    @29 Hektor has a son who is his heir. Irys is not his heir. If Hektor is killed, then setting up his son as a puppet, even though the son is a moron, could be an out for Cayleb. Or if Hektor is assassinated by one of his disloyal followers, then the son must be killed as well. This gets too complicated. Cayleb is not one for complex solutions, just shrewd or very direct ones. DW will surely save Irys for later, whatever happens to Hektor.

  32. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, you may be right. Of course, if I were a disloyal follower of Hektor, I’d want his sons dead as well. If I was stupid, I might try to wed Irys to give me a stronger ‘right’ to Hektor’s throne. I’d note that Irys apparently loves her younger brother so killing him would be as ‘bad’ as killing her father.

  33. Hector’s son is a cavalry romantic. Hector’s son is established as ‘going to be a terrible ruler’. The likelihood that Hector’s son will survive the major battles is

    a) small
    b) none
    c) negative
    d) Is it proper to mention that the Crown Prince of Corisande uses the incognito name “Joe Buckley”?

  34. Peter Z says:

    George, Hektor’s son is also only about 13 years old. He won’t go into combat. His life depends on Irys and Hektor protecting him. Should they go away, his life won’t last as long as spit in a blast furnace.


  35. E says:

    Wonder if all this bloodshed amongst nobles will lead to the whole knight/chevalier nonsense that arose from upper castes not wanting to kill of the stock they were willing to breed with…

  36. E says:


    When Cayleb wins he can install Irys on the throne and take Hektor’s son as hostage to the Empire of Charis to ensure her good behavior since it would be politically unwise to get your little brother killed by how you rule. Charis gets a royal-class ward to learn her ways and Corisande keeps some continuity of dynasty.

  37. James says:

    Though i consider it doubtfull that Zion or its puppet states will be able to reinforce tarot because of the blockade. The fact that Zion is building its own navy and has such huge resources to draw upon should be considered.

    And like stalin said “Quantity has its own quality..”

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