It was amazing all the ways a man could find to doubt and second-guess himself. And whatever the limitations of the roadways in his own rear might be, the road over which the Charisians were currently advancing was even worse, in many ways. So if they were the ones who had to retreat . . . .

“I think you’re right, Alyk,” he heard himself saying. “And if they’re kind enough to keep coming to meet us, especially without an adequate cavalry screen of their own, then I think we should plan on greeting them right about here.”

He tapped a symbol on the map, then bent closer to peer at the name.

“Haryl’s Crossing,” he read aloud.

“Ah?” Doyal climbed out of his chair and leaned forward, studying the map.

The town Gahrvai had selected wasn’t very large. Its total population, including the outlying farm families, probably didn’t exceed four thousand, and many of them had found urgent reasons to be elsewhere once armies began heading in their direction. It sat directly on the Talbor River, which flowed out of the mountain gap of the same name, where the royal highway crossed the stream on a stone bridge. The artillerist considered the terrain east of the river thoughtfully for several seconds, then nodded.

“It looks reasonable to me,” he agreed. “This might be a bit of a problem if things don’t go smoothly, though.”

He indicated the single stone bridge.

“There’s what looks like a fairly big wooden bridge down here, to the south, at Haryl’s Priory,” Gahrvai countered, waving his finger at another map symbol, this one representing a substantial monastery. It lay south of Haryl’s Crossing and on the western side of the river, where the foothills of the Dark Hill Mountains began to rise. “There are fords north of the priory, as well, according to the map, at any rate.”

“Let me see it,” Windshare requested. He bent over the map, lips pursed, then looked back up at Gahrvai.

“I’ve got a report somewhere about this wooden bridge,” he said. “It’s not in very good shape, if I’m remembering correctly. We could probably get infantry across it, but only a lunatic would try to take cavalry or artillery across. On the other hand, I think my scouts also indicated that the river is pretty shallow along here, where the map shows your fords. I know we could get cavalry across even without the bridge, although I wouldn’t want to make any promises about infantry without doublechecking. And we definitely don’t want to take any of Charlz’ artillery across this thing.”

“Do any of Sir Farahk’s militiamen know the area well enough to provide us with more information?” Doyal asked.

“I can check,” Windshare replied. “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they do, though. They’ve been remarkably helpful so far.”

The earl sounded almost bemused, as if he still found it peculiar that the Baron of Dairwyn’s men had been so useful. Gahrvai wondered if part of that was because of how . . . unsoldier-like the baron’s militia were. They were obviously civilians who intended to go back to being civilians as soon as they possibly could, and they didn’t care who knew it. At least equally obviously, some of them, like the inhabitants of Haryl’s Crossing, would have preferred to be somewhere else. Anywhere else, if it came to that. But they appeared to feel a degree of loyalty to their baron which was rarely seen, and their assistance not simply as guides, but as go-betweens for the army and the local farmers, as well, had been invaluable. No farmer ever really wanted to see an army — any army — marching through his district, and unhappy locals could create all sorts of problems if they put their minds to it. So far, at least, the ability of Dairwyn’s men to put a friendly face on Gahrvai’s army had kept that sort of thing from happening. Whether it would remain effective once the two sides came to grips and combat started turning fertile fields into wastelands was an entirely different question, of course.

And one to which the answer is almost certainly “no,” Gahrvai thought sourly.

“I’m sure they’ll have some useful additional information,” he said aloud. “Please do check with them.”

Windshare nodded, and Gahrvai returned his attention to the map.

“I take your point about the bridge, Charlz,” he said reflectively, folding his arms while he contemplated the terrain once more. “And fighting with a river in your rear is usually considered a bad idea, even when you don’t have to worry about getting artillery across a single bridge. Still, if we take up a position on this side of the river, then whoever’s in command over there is going to stop on his side and send back for reinforcements. Which means we’d have to fight our way across the river to get at him.”

“It also means he’d have to fight his way across to get at us,” Doyal pointed out. “And the longer he stays put out here, the longer your father and Prince Hektor have to get more troop strength transferred to us.”

“Unless Cayleb decides to just sit here with a part of his army and demonstrate how determined he is to attack us while he’s actually loading all the rest of his troops back aboard his transports to strike directly at Manchyr,” Gahrvai replied. “And as for getting more troops to us, how are we going to feed and supply them all through Talbor Pass? That’s over twenty-five miles of narrow road and bottlenecks, especially as you get towards the eastern end. We could feed our entire army through the western half, but I doubt we could support more than thirty thousand men on this side of the mountains. Not if they’re going to have to sit in one place for very long, at any rate. We’d run out of forage pretty quickly, and somehow I don’t think even Baron Dairwyn would be able to keep the local farmers friendly once we’ve eaten all their cattle, trampled all their crops, and emptied all their granaries.”

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32 Responses to BY HERESIES DISTRESSED — Snippet 51

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    As they say in Germany, ‘Wer andern eine grube grabt, fallt selbst hinein!’ Guess who eine grube grabt, und fallt selbst hinein:
    a) Cayleb
    b) Gahrvai
    c) both
    d) neither


  2. OBelow says:

    Getting yourself into a position where you have no good line of retreat is one of the most stupid things a military commander can do, especially if he on the one hand knows the enemy has come up with lots of new military hardware lately and on the other hand has no information whatsoever what new hardware and tactice the enemy might have in the area of land-warfare!
    I think there will be some very nasty surprises for the defenders. For example the use of shells instead of roundshot, cannister or grapeshot. The Royal Marines might get some surprises too, but since they should have a very good idea what hardware faces them thanks to the SNARKs, the surprises should be less severe at least.

  3. Bret Hooper says:

    @2 OBelow: True, but in this situation, neither side has a good line of retreat. Gahrvai intends to have his cavalry circle around Cayleb’s forces and cut off even that poor line of retreat, but that may be easier said than done; and Gahrvai himself (altho he doesn’t expect to need any line of retreat) would be hard put to get all his troops back thru Talbor Pass, should the need arise. But neither has the option of not getting into that position.

    But the difficulty of effecting a retreat, as we shall soon see, will be greatly reduced for the loser of the coming battle, for a reason he will not find pleasing.


  4. Karina says:

    I got the book unexpectedly Fri. Whan Amazon said I would have it on Tues so, I’m impressed. So, I already know what happens. Finished it by Sat am.

  5. Hi,

    my copy of BHD just arrived… Thanks for the Snippets but
    i’m switching to the paper version now :-).

    CU, Martin

  6. P.S. Snippets currently at page 155 of 475.

  7. Eagledes says:

    Earlier snippets say that Gahrvai is a very agressive commander – agressive enough to have got himself in trouble befor now. The wise thing for him to do is to set up on his side of the river, let Cayleb across then pin him against the river with the problems of the line of retreat. With longer tubes he should out-range Cayleb’s artillery so Cayleb will have to bring them over the river. If Gahrvai can push Cayleb back, Cayleb will probably have to abandon the guns which means Gahrvai will have at least a good chance of an assault crossing succeeding.

    However, as an agressive commander this type of fighting probably would not occur to him because it’s not the way his military instincts work.

    Just a thought.


  8. OBelow says:

    @3.Bret Hooper
    LoL, I guess the great reduction of the difficulty to retreat for the looser that you mentioned will come from either not having many troops left that have to retreat or for being forced to surrender, so making a retreat superflous…
    I think the intelligent thing would have been to keep infantry and cannon on his side of the river and use the mobile cavalry-force to harrass the Charisian troops if they should retreat. If anything went wrong the cavalry would have the mobility to evade the Charisian Marines….

  9. E says:

    He’ll move to the field across the river counting on his numerical and pike advantage and not taking into account Charisian rifle range.

    If you’re still on the snippets I highly reccomend picking up a copy since the war makes for a very good read.
    Can’t wait for the steam era… well, yes I can.

  10. Pyrrhic says:

    Dear fellow snippet-addicts:

    Alas, some of us are still reading snippets because our copies have not yet arrived. While Amazon has shipped mine 2 days earlier than estimated they state arrival will not be till the 18th….so, please another couple of snippets for us poor shipping sods.



  11. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Pyrrhic, regretfully Wednesday’s snippet will be the last one.

  12. Chuck S. says:

    Suggestion-leave the snippets up & do the whole book- by the time you hit the end anyone who doesn’t want to buy it will have read a library / friend’s copy anyway and keeping the discussion going is providing free analysis by the customers.


  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Chuck, I don’t think you were around with the snippet of the prior Safehold book. There the snippets went to almost 3/4 of the book and people were annoyed by that. This stopping point IMO is better. In any case, Eric Flint and David Weber decide where the snippets stop. I don’t have any control over that.

  14. Dawn Falcon says:

    Pontoon Bridges. I’m thinking Pontoon Bridges.

  15. robert says:

    Just finished the book. It was good. One not so nit. The only map in the whole book is of Chisholm. Did nobody at Tor read the book? How did they decide which map to print? Oh, yes, they picked the one map where virtually nothing takes place except for Cayleb in Chisholm to meet the in-lwas and to address the Chisholmian Parliament (Snippets 12 through 20) and a few “discussions” at the end of the book. Oh, well. For those who have yet to read the book or are reading it wondering where THAT is, if you have not yet looked at
    go to that map and play with it as if it were a Google map. Would that it could be enlarged even more.

  16. Bret Hooper says:

    @13 Drak: I think EF & DW are probably right about that. I notice that the number of comments per snippet is greatly reduced now that many of us have received & read our copies of BHD. But many of us are eagerly awaiting snippets of 1635: The Kalmar Union and/or 1636: The Papal Split (or whatever the actual titles turn out to be). Will Thomas Wentworth and/or Archbishop Laud stay in Amsterdam or come on to Grantville? Will Maffeo Barbarini (Urban VIII) continue on to Grantville and establish a temporary papal seat there? Will Alex & Julie McKay ever get back to Grantville, and will they bring Oliver Cromwell with them? etc. etc.


  17. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert on the map problem. David Weber commented on it on the Bar.


    Short version? The production people screwed up. There were supposed to be several additional maps — including Corisande and Zebediah. The last time I talked to Liz Gorinzky at Tor, she was trying to figure out why the final product didn’t match her work orders. Unfortunately, the maps are done separately and aren’t part of the standard page proofs/blueline process (thus the “TK” notations in ARCs), so no one at Tor (including Liz) knew the maps weren’t there until I got my author’s copies and called her about it. As they say s . . . tuff happens.

    End Quote

    By the way, David Weber later commented that he’ll try to get Joe Buckley additional Safehold maps.

  18. Lance says:

    So when is the next book being published and the next set of snippets starting? :)

    Need more SAFEHOLD!

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Lance, David Weber paid a quick trip to the Bar last week and dropped off some tid-bits for us.

    He’s starting work on _A Mighty Fortress_ (Safehold 04) and an unnamed fifth Safehold book. He’s planning on getting both of them to TOR by January. Obviously no word on when TOR will schedule them and snippets can’t start until DW knows when they are scheduled.

  20. robert says:

    @19 Thanks for the map snafu info Drak. I still think it is sloppy work on Tor’s part and DW should be annoyed.

    So the saints won’t be keeping watch. Instead we have a mighty fortress. I blame all this on Grayson. Fortunately DW’s head is screwed on tight, unlike a certain old-timey SF author who went out and invented a whole new religion for real. I…am…hold…ing…my…tongue…

  21. Malcolm in NZ says:

    @10 think of us poor country cousins over the seas waiting for the vagaries of international shipping to deliver my copy…. snippets just couldn’t come quick enuf

  22. Nomad says:

    @All: Delurking Alert:)
    @20: Which author did not? Starting from Heinlein and Asimov, every sf writer has created a new-age/neo/whatever you want to define them, creed for at leastsome of his/her stories

  23. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ah Robert, how do we know that Safehold #5 won’t be ‘Saints Their Watch Are Keeping’? [Evil Grin]

  24. shadowsryder says:

    Here is something to think about while waiting for the next book. Recall earlier discussions about Merlin providing protective garments for certain VIPs. Read this aritcle: Scientists Strengthen Spider Silk by Mixing In Metal
    by David Brown of the Washington Post, April 27, 09. Thus Merlin could treat an entire existing wardrobe, even the original stitching and keep the existing wear patterns. Multi-layer armor. Think about it.

  25. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Nomad, the comment was about Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Most other SF authors create a religion/etc only in their stories not out in the Real World.

  26. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Malcolm, since Eric doesn’t view the Snippet Comments (to the best of my knowledge), you’re out of luck. I only have what Eric has given me.

  27. robert says:

    @23 Drak–So first we have the mighty fortress, which can be taken any way we want, and then the saints will be watching. Wow! And thank you for the comment at 25. I did not want to start a thread on religion. Really I didn’t. Not religion nor politics.

    @22 Nomad, I am sorry I was unclear. But Drak understands ALL.

    @21 And now the laggardly Tor ebook-later-not-now practice shows how much that marketing philosophy sucks. Malcolm could be reading it already. And think of the trees, petroleum, etc. that would be saved by having the ebook out. My Barnes&Noble is already sold out. Fans are sitting in the street crying for want of a copy.

  28. RobertHuntingdon says:

    @27 Not to mention the fact that they could actually get my money instead of my putting a hold on my libraries incoming copy… not quite ideal as I’d prefer to not even indirectly give them ANY of my money but since the library was going to be buying it anyway and my taxes pay for the library I might as well get my “free” copy out of it…

    I was already pissed at them anyway, but the extra delay for my library to get its copy in is not helping.

    Not that the putzes will ever know unless they have some employee trolling these comments (and given their obvious lack of intelligence beforehand I’m sure they weren’t smart enough to think of that either), but my wallet vote is in. When they start selling eARCs and reasonably priced e-books that I don’t have to spend a fortune on some crappy reader to be able to read then I will start directly giving them my money again. Not before. Which probably *sigh* means never. Oh well.


  29. KenJ says:

    Just did a little looking and found a 13 April 2010 tentative release date for “A Mighty Fortress” on website. By my fingers, that comes out to a 9-month wait and we could probably expect to start seeing snippets around October or November based on 3/week and the number of snips for this book. Looking forward to it!

  30. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Well that would be nice… but I’m not going to even *think* about holding my breath…

  31. robert says:

    @28 Tor is (finally) selling the BSRA eBook for $14. No info on BHD. I had also put the book on hold at the public library but then my copy was shipped and there were too many people on the list ahead of me so I canceled the hold. As I get older (hurry and write, David) I find the public library in cyberspace is a good place and in bricks and mortar it has become an internet cafe minus the food and drink. And there always seem to be kids around which is hopeful for the future, assuming there will be one (hurry up and write, David).

    @29 That is for the audio book, which is usually released about the same time as the hardcover. I really hate audio books.

  32. Chuck S. says:

    I was a BSRA snippit addict and agree that the snippits ran too far BEFORE the book was released. My comment was that the snippits could be continued AFTER the book’s release, as a general comment and meeting site for Safehold enthusiasts. A think D & E hit the right balance for percentage of book in snippit form before release with BHD.


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